Chasing the Norm

Australian academic and blogger on politics, international relations, and culture

Australia as a Middle Power

‘Australia as a Middle Power’ in Australia’s Defence: Towards a new era, Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 2014.


This chapter examines Australia’s defence in the larger context of national policy, especially its diplomatic, economic and social aspects. It shows how, through the use of the middle power label, Australian governments have developed strategies for national flourishing. It is only now with the hindsight of our current position that we can appreciate the sheer radicalism and success of many Australian initiatives. Yet T.B Millar’s concern seems of more importance today than it has been at any time in the last thirty years. The successful achievement of Australia’s basic security and prosperity has allowed the debate about the ends of national strategic policy to lapse. In the last decade we have seen a celebration of both pragmatism and activism as defining elements of government policy, yet without a coherent national strategy both approaches have essentially frittered away the good fortune of our times. This chapter argues that by taking Australia as a middle power as our starting point, a much needed debate on the ends of national strategic policy can occur, one that hopefully restores the role of strategy and long term thinking in Australian political life.

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