The outbreak of war in Ukraine is a bleak reminder of just how disrupted and unpredictable the world has become. Nations like Australia must invest more in regional diplomacy to advance their national interests, thereby providing the force multiplier that makes armed force and military alliances options of last resort, argues Allan Behm, Director of International & Security Affairs at the Australia Institute.
Launching his new book ‘No Enemies, No Friends: Restoring Australia’s Global Relevance’ Allan Behm argues for a re-think in Australian foreign policy.
“The convention that defence spending alone will deliver increased national security does not help us to deal with inevitable shocks and surprises.
“We have persuaded ourselves that the more we invest in the instruments of war, the safer we will be from having the instruments of war used against us. This is a paradox.
“Australia’s agency is severely constrained by a set of deep and interlocking problems that shape our strategic mindset: racism, misogyny, isolation, a lack of self-confidence, dependence on great powers and an inability for self-affirmation – the “cultural cringe”.
“We need to create a genuine reconciliation between the First Peoples and the immigrant communities, whereby all Australians belong to this fabulous continent rather than just occupy it. And we need to build inclusion and harmony that accords social, economic and political equality to everyone regardless of gender and race. Then Australia will model the kind of agency that delivers peace and prosperity to all of humanity.
“Recommitting our efforts towards international nuclear disarmament, where Australia was once an active international player, is but one example of how Australia could reinvigorate its national security settings.
“Australia’s international and security interests lie in building a better world, not simply a better armed one.
No Enemies, No Friends: Restoring Australia’s global relevance (Upswell) is out now.