Is Australia’s Strategic Foreign Policy

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Syed Atiq ul Hassan

Over the last 50 years, Australia has undergone a significant transformation from being an Anglo-Saxon nation to a multicultural one. Multiculturalism is something that Australians take great pride in, with the population now consisting of a blend of 150 different ethnicities. Given this unique status, Australian foreign policymakers must consider multiculturalism an important factor when playing a role on the global stage.
With multiculturalism in mind, Australian foreign policymakers need to pursue good relationships with all nations and countries. Today, younger Australians are unhappy when their leaders meet with European and American leaders and claim to state that they “have shared values.” When Australian leaders claim that the US, UK, and Australia share values and landmark events, what are they referring to? And what about shared values with other nations around the world? In Australia, there are people from 150 different ethnicities and historical roots. It’s worth noting that during the official commencement of the AUKUS deals in San Diego, world leaders, including Joe Biden, Rishi Sunak and Anthony Albanese were present. President Biden said, “we have shared values,” but this statement may have upset multicultural Australians, where millions of citizens come from countries other than the UK and the US. Even UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has Indian heritage.
When Australian leaders claim that the US, UK, and Australia share values in landmark events, what are they referring to? And what about shared values with other nations around the world? In Australia, there are people from 150 different ethnicities and historical roots. It’s worth noting that during the official commencement of the AUKUS deals in San Diego, three world leaders Joe Biden, Rishi Sunak, and Anthony Albanese were present in front of international TV media cameras. President Biden said, “we have shared values.” Claiming a world leader, this statement of Mr Jo Biden may have upset multicultural Australians, where millions of citizens come from countries other than the UK and the US. Even UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has Indian heritage.
It is important to remember that Australia now shares values with all nations of the world, not just with Europe and America. As such, Australia needs to play a unique role in the world as an impartial but multicultural nation. Australia’s multiculturalism is an integral part of its identity and foreign policy. By embracing its diverse population and values, Australia can make significant contributions to the global community and build meaningful relationships with nations across the world. Today, Australians are confused when their leaders make policies and deals, which annoyed one superpower and make happy others.
Australian policymakers, when focused on key areas like security, economic cooperation, and diplomacy, should not forget that Australia is a multicultural nation. For example, it is not in Australia’s benefit to make the US and the UK happy and upset China or Russia when dealing with any trade or defence agreement.
Located down under, Australia’s foreign policy was first based in a wide geographic region of Australia from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. Australia’s policymakers must keep the unique characteristics through equal and fair deals with all smaller or more powerful countries.
The rising superpower, China, international economic hub Singapore, then from West Asia, Central Asia, South Asia to East Asia, the most diversified and top manpower resources, growing economies, trade, and oil resources are the unlimited opportunities for Australia for the utmost benefits of the Australian nation. If Australian foreign policymakers lean towards UK and US and ignore others, they will isolate Australia within US and Europe.
Australian foreign policymakers should also focus on Asian countries and the Pacific region to establish closer economic, trade, and defence ties while maintaining good relations with the US, UK, and other countries from different regions. In other words, Australian foreign policy must be balanced to accommodate all states and superpowers. The world has changed, and Australia cannot rely solely on the UK and the US, and its allies. New powers are emerging, and Australia must adapt its foreign policy accordingly.
When Australia seeks to enhance security and modern defence capabilities, policymakers must keep in mind the geographical characteristics of Australia, which is the next-door neighbour to Asia, where the rising superpower China exists. Australia cannot afford to damage its long-standing relations with China at the cost of making deals with the US and the UK that offend China.
Australian policymakers must behave and play smartly to make China, the UK, US satisfied when making deals and agreements in the best interest of Australia and the Indo-Pacific region.
Compared to Europe and US, today, there are more opportunities for Australia to engage with Asian countries on a range of issues, including human rights, climate change, and regional security. The country has also been involved in a number of regional forums, such as the ASEAN Regional Forum and the East Asia Summit, where it has sought to promote regional cooperation and dialogue. Overall, Australia’s strategic foreign policy towards Asia appears to be coherent with the country’s interests and objectives in the region. The Indo-Pacific strategy provides a framework for Australia’s engagement with the region, and the country has worked to build stronger relationships with Asian countries in the areas of security, economic cooperation, and diplomacy.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and his Labour government are touting the AUKUS deal as the “deal of the century” between Australia, the UK, and the US. The agreement will see Australia invest $368 billion until 2050 to acquire its first nuclear-powered submarines, starting with three Virginia class subs from the US by 2030.
The three allies will also work together to develop a new fleet using cutting-edge technology, including UK-made Rolls-Royce reactors. According to the details of the deal, starting in 2027, the UK and US plan to establish a rotational presence of up to one UK Astute class submarine and four US Virginia class submarines at HMAS Stirling near Perth, Western Australia. This fleet will be called the “Submarine Rotational Force-West (SRF-West).” Australian officials contend that this rotational presence will comply with Australia’s long-standing position of not hosting foreign bases on its territory, as the submarines will be rotated through the location and not permanently based in Australia. The Australian government admits that it is difficult to estimate the program’s cost over its lifetime but has provided a range based on all costs, including acquisition and sustainment.
US President Joe Biden has said that the AUKUS deal aims to strengthen peace in the region and emphasized that the submarines will be “nuclear-powered” but not “nuclear-armed.” Meanwhile, China has condemned the agreement, claiming it will further deteriorate Australia and China relations. China’s warning must be very seriously taken by the Australian government and policymakers.
Legendary Australian politician and former Prime Minister, Paul Keating, has criticized the AUKUS deal, describing it as the “worst international decision by an Australian Labor government” since World War I. Speaking at the National Press Club in Canberra, Mr Keating said, “The Albanese government’s collaboration with Britain and the United States in a tripartite nuclear submarine build for Australia under the AUKUS agreement represents the worst international decision by an Australian Labor government since the former Labor leader, Billy Hughes, sought to introduce conscription to augment Australian forces in World War I.”