The conduct of Australia’s foreign policy under the Rudd and Gillard governments was anything but inspiring. Under Tony Abbott, we have so far been treated to a succession of gaffes bordering on farce.
Every so often over the last 50 years, Australia’s relations with Indonesia have hit stormy waters. The present tensions over the spying scandal may not be the most serious, but they are serious enough.
We have yet to devise policies that acknowledge the richness of Asian cultures, their literatures, their values, their ancient and still living wisdom. Our much vaunted multiculturalism could gain much from a deeper religious and ethical understanding as well as the political and legal systems that are integral to a re-emerging Asia.
One thing is clear: North Korea, regardless of its belligerence, lacks the means to defeat South Korea, or to inflict any military damage on the United States. The motive therefore lies not in the execution of any military threat but in the theatre of threat-making.
The new year is scarcely a month old. Yet we have seen enough to know that the fires raging in different parts of the Middle East and North Africa will not easily abate – and that the firefighting efforts of Western governments may prove no more successful than in the past.