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Foreign Policy Essay, Research Paper
Politics CAT 2
Analysis of Australian Foreign Policy with the United States since 1941
“Australia looks to America, free of any pangs as to our traditional links or kinship with the United Kingdom” . Curtin s historic speech of December 1941 marked a radical change in Australian foreign policy and the beginning of what would become a “dynamic alliance relationship” . The Australian-U.S relationship has, since it was formally established, undergone amazing transformations to become an alliance of several facets.
In 1941 Australia turned to America for protection, primarily due to a fear mentality in Australian society: that of invasion from our Asian counterparts. Therefore, initially the alliance was formed from a simple military request, however, it evolved to a multi-dimensional alliance, partnership and friendship encompassing trade, security, and cultural and diplomatic links.
Of the several components of the relationship (military, trade and diplomacy), the military aspect formed the basis for the concordance and was integral to Australia s survival. The alliance, formed during World War Two, has been fortified and developed through much conflict; “in this century our bonds have truly been forged in the fires of war. War after war after war” . Australian and American forces have fought alongside each other in both World Wars (1914-1918, 1939-1945), Korea (1950-1953), Vietnam (1962-1975) and in the Gulf (1990-1991). Australia gave its support primarily for reciprocity; Australia backed America in the hope that the U.S would help us in the future if needed.
This sense of being allies in war was made official in 1951 when the ANZUS Treaty was formulated. Signed at the height of the anti-communist sentiment during the Korean War, ANZUS symbolizes “a close alignment of enduring strategic interests” between Australia, New Zealand and the United States, and conventionally guarantees that if any member is threatened it binds them to consult to meet the common danger. ANZUS thankfully has never been tested, however it still exists today.
Joint training exercises are an important aspect of the alliance, especially during peace time. The largest and most recent training exercise was Tandem Thrust 97 and involved 17,000 American troops and 5000 Australian soldiers. In both training and in actual war “the two governments have emphasised a high degree of interoperability between their armed forces” . There are also three main joint facilities in Australia, of which Pine Gap (built in 1966) is the most significant.
Trade and diplomacy are arguably less important than security, however, they are both imperative to the prosperity of the partnership. Although the trade relationship obviously looms larger for Australia, the commercial relationship is vital to both countries economies. The United States is Australia s second largest trading partner and largest investment partner. In 1996 Australian imports from the U.S stood at $18 billion, while Australian exports to the U.S were valued at $5 billion. This created a bilateral trade deficit of approximately $13.1 billion . Regardless, America is a key export market for Australia and “has remained a major destination for our traditional agricultural exports” plus such things as motor vehicle parts, bauxite and office equipment. Australia s long trading history with the U.S has generally been uncontroversial, however, in 1985 the U.S introduced export subsidies, instituted through their Export Enhancement Program (E.E.P), which meant that the U.S was undercutting Australian prices in traditional Australian markets. A continuing source of friction, compounded by quotas on what they import, Australian access to the U.S markets are severely limited, as evidenced by the 40% lamb tariffs this year.
Diplomacy, and enhancing diplomatic links, between Australia and the U.S is seen as vital. “The United States is important to Australia because of the crucial influence it is able to exert the United States is keen to secure Australia s support because of our reputation as active, independent and influential” . The two countries, led by America, hold similar views on a great many international political and security issues, however, Australia will not always agree and will vigorously pursue its own interests.
Foreign Policy formulation is theoretically pluralist in nature; involving the cabinet formulating policy initiatives based on the majority approbation of the legislative. However, in practice the process is significantly different, and is characterised by an oligarchic, or even autocratic method of formulation.
Foreign Policy formulation begins with the executive; a policy is detailed by the Prime Minister and/or the Foreign Affairs Minister, often in consultation with a Minister immediately concerned eg Defence, aided by the bureaucracy in Foreign Affairs. The community s reaction follows, with the media, pressure groups, opinion leaders and backbench parliamentarians commenting. A reaction, no matter how vociferous, may influence a Government s decision in future, however, “rarely does a Government change its policy due to a reaction in the community” .
The Prime Minister s ability to act on Foreign Policy matters without broad consultation is part of the royal prerogative power and therefore “only a handful of matters will lend themselves to full-scale cabinet deliberation” and even less to a vote in parliament. Because of this, and the general lack of controversy in Australia s Foreign Policy with the U.S, political parties, pressure groups and the media exert relatively little influence upon the formulation process, and community interest is usually only marginal because “rarely do Foreign Policy decisions affect voters” .
Foreign Policy has rarely been an election issue due to bipartisanship between the two main parties. Furthermore, there is often consensus within the general community, therefore the public has generally been amenable to transfer their power to two or three people in Government. However, this power can be regained by the people at any time. This was illustrated during the Vietnam War, when Australia s involvement, linked with the highly emotional issue of conscription, became election issues on several occasions (1966, 1969 and 1972).
The recent White Paper which commissioned a comprehensive review of Australia s Foreign and Trade Policies, marks a significant change in Foreign Policy formulation. The extensive consultative process, which occured in 1996, involved a panel of 16 influential and esteemed advisors, including former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser. Consultation of bodies outside the panel also took place; engaging the opinions and views of State Governments, business people, acedemics and non-government organisations. As a result, the P.M is markedly more informed and apparently prepared to consult on Foreign Policy issues, which historically has been lacking.
Foreign Policy, in theory, is a process whereby broad participation is paramount, however, in practice we see that Foreign Policy formulation does not entail broad consultation and is predominantly developed by an exclusive clique in Government. However, there are numerous factors which can influence the development of Foreign Policy. These can be categorised into internal and external.
The first of these factors, which is both internal and external, is Governments. Australian Governments, especially two or three, have had great influence on our Foreign Policy with the U.S. Since 1941 there have been a number of themes apparent. There has been strong support for ANZUS, and America on the whole. The Liberal/National Party Governments have unequivocally supported the alliance, as has the Australian Labor Party aside from discord over American bases in Australia, and conscription for and involvement in Vietnam. Also, there has been a greater move to independence on Australia s behalf, especially since 1972.
American Presidents, from Roosevelt to Clinton, have enthusiastically endorsed the alliance. Undoubtedly the biggest influence American Government has had on Australian Foreign Policy was the decision to support Australia. The United States entry into the Korean, Vietnam and Gulf wars, directly influenced Australia into doing the same and supporting them. Therefore, as a result of the alliance, Australia entered three wars otherwise unnecessarily.
Foreign Policy since 1941 has rarely been an election issue due to the general lack of controversy and bipartisan support for the alliance. Pressure groups and the general public, which has shown passive support, have played a minor role in Foreign Policy, however, during the Vietnam War moratorium marches had a direct influence; the Government was forced to scale down its commitment in Vietnam, despite the media s congruent perspective of pro-involvement. In 1990/91 peace groups protested against Australian involvement in the Gulf, but to little effect. The National Farmers Federation has been vocal in its opposition to America s E.E.P, suggesting that the Government should close Pine Gap if the U.S would not abandon its export subsidies.
Defence motives have greatly influenced Australian Foreign Policy with the U.S since 1941. The alliance, which ultimately forms the foundation for our Foreign Policy with the United States, was formed due to our lack of defence and fear of invasion. Australia stands to gain much from the close defence links; not only is there a guarantee of protection, but opportunities to obtain weapons and intelligence information.
The U.S has responded to world events by adopting a Foreign Policy stance, and Australia has generally responded in a similar fashion, often in complete agreement. Such events/views include: opposition to Soviet uprise in Eastern Europe, support for the Truman Doctrine, belief in the Domino Theory , and more recently, support for NATO in the Balkans. These and many other events, and America s response to them, have all influenced the formulation and implementation of Australian Foreign Policy with the U.S since 1941.
Both Australia s and America s economic motives and trading opportunities have influenced Australian Foreign Policy with the U.S. No doubt the U.S is an integral part of Australia s economic motives; however, America s economic objectives have been slightly controversial in the past twenty years; with their increasing interest in world-wide trade, they have, from Australia s point of view, intruded upon Australia s markets in Asia; putting them in direct competition. Through the implementation of their E.E.P and quotas, the U.S has indeed influenced Australian Foreign Policy.
Australia s actions in relation to Foreign Policy with the U.S have generally been reactive rather than proactive; however, Australia has made a shift towards independence and no longer mimics the U.S on issues. As previously discussed, Foreign Policy can only be made by the government, however, there are both internal and external factors which can and do influence Australian Foreign Policy with the U.S.
Since 1941 there have been diverse effects, both positive and negative, on Australia as a result of Australia s Foreign Policy with the United States.
The effects on different aspects of, and groups within, Australia have generally been positive. The effect on the public has been positive, due to the usually uncontroversial nature of Foreign Policy, with the exception of the division in society during Vietnam. The effect of the alliance on the media, which influences the public, has been the positive portrayal of the relationship, especially as much of the world information we receive comes from America and is, arguably, biased. The effect on the Australian military has been largely positive, with joint military training exercises, intelligence sharing and weaponry advancements. However, our dependence on the U.S has led to the neglection of our defence forces. There have been disastrous effects on Australian farmers, fueled by America s E.E.P and import quotas; “the U.S.A has virtually declared war on Australian wheat growers” . On the economy, the effect has been both positive and negative; American investment has been and still is extremely positive and a vital part of our economy, although this is overshadowed by the fact that a $6 billion trade deficit exists.
The effects on the key elements of Australia s Foreign Policy with the United States are debatable. The most extensive aspect, security, has produced several positive and several negative effects. Firstly, the alliance has given Australia protection by “a great and powerful friend” , which we would otherwise lack, and their support deters potential aggressors. Under ANZUS, if Australia was attacked, America would come to our aid; “America guarantees our security and is our protector ” . However, “ANZUS really guarantees nothing in concrete terms” and though it is highly unlikely that America would ignore Australia s plea for help, it is possible. In addition, if they did not come to our rescue, we would be in dire straits as our dependence on the U.S has led to the neglection of our own armed forces and lack of independence. Another negative effect from the alliance is our involvement in wars. Australia has fought alongside America in three wars unnecessarily in order to support the U.S. Although, Australia did fight for reciprocity; “it (supporting America) may have grave consequences, but it deepens the friendship we need” , and therefore ensured that the U.S would defend us in the future. Also, due to the American bases in Australia, there is added incentive for them to protect us. However, it could be argued that the bases make Australia a target, though this also seems unlikely.
In the economic and diplomatic facets the effects are not as debatable as with security. There is no doubt that Australia has benefited economically, especially through U.S investment, however, “the bilateral balance of trade has tilted significantly in favour of the U.S” . Australia gains much military, economic and political know-how through consultation with the U.S. On diplomatic matters, there is enormous pressure on Australia to follow and agree with the U.S due to our dependence on America.
It is clear that the alliance favors the U.S in all areas of Foreign Policy, with few negative effects; the same cannot be said for Australia. “If the U.S alliance is an insurance policy, then the premiums Australia has paid, and is still paying, are excessive” ; however, it is nevertheless arguable that the alliance is more important and valuable to Australia. Although the costs of the alliance for Australia have been inflated, that which Australia receives in return is priceless.
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