Dreams and Nightmares Australia’s Past, Present and Future in Asia

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  By Tom Conley. Asie Visions 42, August 2011. This paper argues that Australian governments of both political stri-pes have responded pragmatically and effectively to the rise of China, the relative decline of the United States and the increased asser-tiveness of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). When they have made mistakes, the Howard, Rudd and Gillard gov-ernments have worked hard to improve relations. Into the future, successful Australian foreign policy in Asia will require continuing pragmatism and heightened resistance to the immediate temptations of either dreamy or nightmarish scenarios. While it is possible either extreme could eventuate, relying on the former prognostication might leave Australia and the West unpre-pared and the latter overprepared. An excessive focus by the West on a nightmare scenario centered on China’s rise might have the added disadvantage of generating a self-fulfilling prophecy.
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     ______________________________________________________________________    Dreams and Nightmares Australia’s Past, Present and Future in Asia  __________________________________________________________________  Tom Conley August 2011 AAssiiee..VViissiioonnss4422  Center for Asian Studies    The Institut français des relations internationales (Ifri) is a research center anda forum for debate on major international political and economic issues.Headed by Thierry de Montbrial since its founding in 1979, Ifri is a non-governmental and a non-profit organization.As an independent think tank, Ifri sets its own research agenda, publishing itsfindings regularly for a global audience.Using an interdisciplinary approach, Ifri brings together political and economicdecision-makers, researchers and internationally renowned experts to animateits debate and research activities.With offices in Paris and Brussels, Ifri stands out as one of the rare Frenchthink tanks to have positioned itself at the very heart of European debate. The opinions expressed in this text are the responsibility of the author alone  .   ISBN: 978-2-86592-922-1 © All rights reserved, Ifri, 2011 W EBSITE : Ifri.org  I FRI -B RUXELLES  R UE M ARIE -T HERESE ,   211000    –    B RUXELLES  –    B ELGIQUE  Tel:   +32   (0)2   238   51   10Fax:   +32   (0)2   238   51   15Email:info.bruxelles@ifri.orgI FRI  27, RUE DE LA P ROCESSION  75740   P ARIS C EDEX 15    –    F RANCE  Tel: +33 (0)1 40 61 60 00Fax: +33 (0)1 40 61 60 60Email:ifri@ifri.org    1 © Ifri Ifri Center for Asian Studies  Asia is at the core of major global economic, political and securitychallenges. The Center provides a documented expertise and a plat-form of discussion on Asian issues through the publication of rese-arch papers, partnerships with international think-tanks and the orga-nization of seminars and conferences.The Fellows publish their research in the Center’s two elec-tronic publications: La lettre du Center Asie  and Asie.Visions  , as wellas in a range of other academic publications. Through their inter-ventions in the media and their participation in seminars and confe-rences, the Fellows contribute to the national and international intel-lectual debate on Asian issues. Asie.Visions  Asie.Visions  is an electronic publication dedicated to Asia. With con-tributions by French and international experts, Asie.Visions  deals witheconomic, strategic, and political issues. The collection aims to con-tribute to the global debate and to a better understanding of the regio-nal issues at stake. Asie.Visions  is published in French and/or inEnglish. Our latest publications:  A. EKMAN, “Toward Higher Household Consumption? An Up-to-Date Analysis of China’s Economic Transition”, Paris, Ifri, Asie.Visions  ,   n°41, June 2011.B. LEE, M. OTSUKA and S. THOMSEN, “The Evolving Role ofSoutheast Asia in Global FDI Flows”, Paris, Ifri, Asie.Visions  ,   n°40,June 2011.C. LOWIRA-LULIN, « Thaïlande, le tourment démocratique”,Paris, Ifri, Asie.Visions  ,   n° 39, June 2011.A. G. MULGAN, “No Longer the ‘Reactive State’: Japan’s NewTrade Policy Activism”, Paris, Ifri, Asie.Visions  ,   n°38, May 2011.G. BOQUÉRAT, “La coopération militaro-industrielle au cœur dela relation indo-russe”, Paris, Ifri, Asie.Visions  ,   n°37, April 2011.J.-R. CHAPONNIÈRE, “L’Indonésie face à la montée enpuissance économique de la Chine”, Paris, Ifri, Asie.Visions  ,   n°36,December 2010.T. TERADA, “Evolution of the Australia-Japan Security Partner-ship: Toward a Softer Triangle Alliance with the United-States”, Paris,Ifri, Asie.Visions  ,   n°35, October 2010.  T. Conley / Dreams and Nightmares  2 © Ifri   Executive Summary This paper argues that Australian governments of both political stri-pes have responded pragmatically and effectively to the rise of China,the relative decline of the United States and the increased asser-tiveness of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).When they have made mistakes, the Howard, Rudd and Gillard gov-ernments have worked hard to improve relations.Into the future, successful Australian foreign policy in Asia willrequire continuing pragmatism and heightened resistance to theimmediate temptations of either dreamy or nightmarish scenarios.While it is possible either extreme could  eventuate, relying on theformer prognostication might leave Australia and the West unpre-pared and the latter overprepared. An excessive focus by the Weston a nightmare scenario centered on China’s rise might have theadded disadvantage of generating a self-fulfilling prophecy.
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