Australia's Domestic and Foreign Policy essay

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S. President George W. Bush. Thus, when the blast in Bali, at the
southern point of Indonesia, directed the fury of 9/11 at a popular
attraction to Australian holiday-makers, Australia became a nation
motivated in foreign policy by the apparent threat of global terrorism.
This would be demonstrated by its unwavering willingness to follow the
United States even into its poorly-informed and ill-advised invasion of
Iraq, providing combat troops and civilian military aid. During the lead-
up to this war, in fact, John Howard would perhaps have been noted as only
second to Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair in the ranking of Iraq War
cheerleaders, appearing frequently in the media in order to endorse the
alleged provocations made by the U.S. and later proved false. Howard
echoed well the terms which Bush used to prompt war, remarking in a
February 2002 appearance that the Australian government was firm in
"backing strong action against Iraq if it continues to ignore demands for
it to give up its weapons of mass destruction." (AAP, 1) This helps to
capture the policy ideals underscoring the Australian position, with the
ramifications of its regional proximity to such terror-implicated states as
Indonesia and the Philippines becoming part of a difficult balancing act.
Indeed, this is a significant concern given the centrality of
Australia's relationship with its Asian Pacific trade and diplomacy
partners. Its membership in APEC has long been a defining aspect of
Australia's immediate orientation toward its foreign relations within its
region. Any break from this pattern on Australia's part can be perceived
as a transition away from a policy in place since 1989 when, acknowledging
the changing tide of the world economy, the various countries which make up
what is today characterized as the Pacific Rim, or Asia-Pacific, gathered
at a summit in Canberra, Australia to discuss the implications of a joint
regional agreement designed to reduce trade barriers amongst the countries
aligned toward shared goals on the borders of the Pacific Ocean. (Faiola,
1) This would include many of the countries of Southeast Asia, Asia, the
Australasia region and North America. These nations, of a wide range of
differing cultural, political and economic dispositions, would establish
through the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation an agreement that would
alter global politics; establishing a grounds for excluding so-called rogue
nations from the benefits of economic interaction, for cultivating the
increasing interdependency of diplomatic nations by reducing trade
barriers, and for honing establishing a tool helping to bring
industrializing progress to developing nations.
An alliance of this nature would serve as a powerful political tool,
helping to create a consensus against which rogue nations would be held to
either suitable standards of diplomatic and civil behavior or to a
destructive economic isolation. The eventual inclusion of Japan, the
United States, China, Russia and South Korea in APEC would serve to
establish a strong unification against actions such as North Korea's
nuclear tests this past October. The APEC has now come to serve as the
primary channel through which said nations volley the notion of levying
international economic sanctions against the totalitarian communist nation.
(Faiola, 1) In the case of the War On Terror however, Australia has
somewhat departed from this approach as we have noted, appealing to a
unilateral response specific to each of its diplomatic and military
partners. This has engendered resentment from some and relative policy
equanimity with others, drawing a complex web of regional relationships.
This would be further underscored by Australia's treatment of many
immigrant groups on its own soil, many of whom would object to what they
viewed as ethnic persecution. To this end, one of the immediate responses
to the initiation and acceleration of the war against terrorism would be
Australia's toughening of its own laws for the domestic treatment of those
suspected of funding or participating in the planning or implementation of
terrorism. Just as the United States rushed its notoriously draconian
Patriot Act through its Congressional bodies as a means to enhancing the
tools of law enforcement and intelligence agencies in investigating or
fighting terrorism, so too would Australia produce an array of policy
initiatives for domestic enforcement of security initiatives. To this end,
"the potential for the criminalisation of politics is demonstrated here
through an examination of the ASIO Act Amendment Bill 2002 and the Security
Legislation Amendment (Terrorism) Bill 2002," wherein which it would
increasingly become the power, entitlement and initiative of the federal
government to use the power now designated to it as a way to undermine,
disrupt or penalize political groups, ideals and figures of contrary
ideologies to its own. Legislated in the wake of September 11th, such
legislation would mean that "it is now a criminal offence for Australians
to belong to, train with, fund or recruit members for a proscribed terror
group." (BBC News1, 1) Countless groups would be added to this
classification in an attempt to ratchet up Australian intelligence and
enforcement concerning potentially disreputable groups or organizations.
Naturally, there is a degree of subjective philosophy which influences this
disposition, highlighted most recently by a highly contentious case where
"opposition to a proposed Islamic school in Camden has reached the highest
office in the country with Labor leader Kevin Rudd becoming Prime
Minister." (Kinsella, 1) Rudd entered his support for groups trying to
prevent the construction of the Islamic school, but balked at venturing a
security objection, instead describing the decisions as a planning and
zoning issue. This would cynically undercut the issue as it is largely
seen by Australians who, regardless of disposition on the matter, recognize
its implications in the broader War on Terror.
Anecdotal evidence such as this contributes to a broader policy
orientation which would have a direct impact on its relationship with the
various parties making up the South Pacific region. With Indonesia serving
as home to the largest global population of Muslim citizens and the region
in general placing itself on the anti-western side of an intensifying
dividing line carving up the globe, Australia would have to find ways to
work with its neighbors in order to mitigate threats coming from their
borders. Thus, the Howard government had firmly pursued individualized
relations with each of his neighbors over the specific subject of terrorism
as an emerging threat still coming into sharper definitional focus. To
this end, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) would point
out that "we have concluded thirteen bilateral memorandums of understanding
(MOUs) on counter-terrorism with Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Fiji,
Cambodia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, India, East Timor, Brunei, Pakistan,
Afghanistan and Turkey. This extensive network of bilateral MOUs support
practical, operational-level cooperation." (DFAT, 1) This would be the
primary channel through which the Australian government would seek to share
intelligence on the subject of terrorists cells and organizations as a way
to identifying problematic groups, freezing lines of finance allowing such
groups to operate and working to be a part of the global network aligned
against the prevention of future attacks.
Even to date under Rudd, Australia continues to attempt to implement
its foreign policy on counter-terrorism through the diplomatic process,
engaging new enforcement actions tailored specifically to each of these
fronts. As a prime example reported in 2006, "Malaysia and Australia
sealed two treaties Tuesday aimed at facilitating cross-border evidence
collection and the extradition process in an effort to boost fight against
transnational crimes and terrorism." (KNI, 1) This is an indication of the
way in which the Australian government has worked within the parameters of
globalization to pursue to the deconstruction of legal barriers
traditionally obstructing to legal cross-border collaboration.
Naturally, these elements of implementation tend to vary based on the
relationship which Australia possesses with each of these nations. One
could devote a considerable wealth of scholarly energy to the investigation
of Australia's counter-terrorism aims just in its relationship with
Indonesia or Pakistan. However, a foreign policy orientation impacting the
Australian international and regional standing more than any of these
individual relationships is its relationship with the United States. The
global resentment which is directed at the United States for its exploitive
and bellicose policy approach to global partnerships has been magnified by
its unilateral commission of war against Iraq, against the position of the
United Nations and without evidence of a provocation. The Howard
government's unwavering support of this war had been the central
controversy of its policy implementation, with its commitment of troop
support to the war meeting intense scrutiny. For Rudd, the decision to
begin withdrawing troops from Iraq does represent a transition, but is not
explicitly loaded with a sentiment of reversal on the war itself. Instead,
it is seen as a new phase in the approach taken by Australia to its support
role in the War on Terror.
Ultimately, and directed by its friendship with the United States,
the Australian government has experienced a decline in favorability in the
region. Particularly with its staunch interest in pursuing hardline
regional enforcement…[continue]

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