Australia's Foreign and Defence Policy at the Millennium

David Martin Jones and Mike Lawrence Smith

This study examines why a largely successful tradition of Australian foreign and defence policy, which emphasized direct intervention to help stabilize Southeast Asia, was abandoned.

“Timely, independent minded and very stimulating” - Carl Bridge, Menzies Centre for Australian Studies, King’s College London.

In September 1999 Australia took the leading role in the United Nations Intervention Force in East Timor. This event crystallized the reversal of a foreign policy orthodoxy that for the best part of 25 years had regarded Australia's role as one of inexorable integration into an economically dynamic Asia. Yet the fracturing of political stability in the region following the Asian financial crisis of 1997/8 graphically revealed the fallacies that underpinned this assumption. This study examines why a largely successful tradition of Australian foreign and defence policy, which emphasized direct intervention to help stabilize Southeast Asia, was abandoned in the 1970s and 1980s in favour of an ultimately failed attempt to redefine Australia as an Asian country. The consequences of that failure is that instead of being at the forefront of the Pacific Century, Australia now finds itself on the front line of the New World Disorder.

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