Australia's Foreign Policy Research Paper

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Australia's Foreign Policy

Australia has constantly been referred to as a middle power in terms of international relations. The term of "middle power" has been attributed to many other countries that have a saying in international relations, but that are not great powers. Although Australia is not one of the most important countries in the world in terms of international relations, it clearly plays a very important part as a political actor in regional and international politics. The fact that Australia is considered a middle power has an impact on its foreign policy agenda as there is definitely a lot less pressure on deciding in matters of foreign policy. Australia's foreign policy has influenced its image as a middle power and also its middle power status has influenced Australia's foreign policy.

Australia's foreign policy has always been connected with that of Great Britain, as Australia is part of the British Commonwealth, and with that of U.S. And other Western states. This orientation towards the west has always been obvious. It is particularly because of this historic influence in foreign affairs that Australia can not be considered one of the great powers as it always followed more powerful actors such as Britain or the U.S. In contrast with the relations that Australia always had with western nations, its relations with Asian nations, which are geographically closer, have been tightened only in recent history. Therefore, Australia is not exactly a great power in Asia. The status of middle power accurately describes the positioning of the country in relation with other nations in terms of international relations.

The fact that Australia is part of the British Commonwealth has had a great impact on its international relations. Not only that Australia followed the international policies dictated by Great Britain, but it also follows the same values and principles. Its historic development is closely linked with western values, which makes it difficult for the country to relate to its neighboring Asian nations. However, Asia remains the closest trading partner of Australia and it is only natural that the country's foreign policy is greatly focused on improving and maintaining relations with neighboring countries.

When speaking of a country's foreign policy, the most important aspect is to understand what the international line that the country follows is. Australia has always been a reliable partner of the West and has developed close relations with Western countries. This aspect is very important when analyzing the country's foreign policy especially in the current international arena when the war against terrorism represents one of the most debated subjects in international relations.

The term of middle power refers to the military and economic capabilities of a country, but most importantly it refers to the international influence that the country exercises. Australia has always proved to be a strong nation, both in economic and military terms. However, it is not one of the great powers according to its influence. Australia has always followed the directions proposed by its allies and although it proved to be a reliable partner, it was not the leading power. This middle power status is also available for Australia's foreign relations policy when referring to its participation in the international coalition against terrorism.

The middle power status confers certain powers to a country and acknowledges the importance of a nation. However, it also clearly states that there are other great powers which have a greater influence on international relations. The status of middle power conferred to Australia also gives it certain vulnerability at the international level as it states that the country is not strong enough to act on its own in terms of international affairs, at least not on the large scale. What Australia and many other middle powers understand and apply in their foreign affairs is that they need to have close allies so that they can count on their support. Australia's traditional allies have always been western…

Sources Used in Document:


Australia's Foreign Policy, available at;

Dalrymple, Rawdon, "Looking for theory in Australian foreign policy," Symposium: Advancing the National Interest?, April 2003, available at;

Darwall, Rupurt, "John Howard's Australia," Policy Review, August-September 2005;

Downer, Alexander, "Should Australia Think Big or Small in Foreign Policy?," speech held at the Centre for Independent Studies: The Policymakers Forum, 10 July 2006, Sydney, available at;

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