Australia and Canada are frequently held up as exemplars of middle powers in contemporary international politics. We argued at the outset of this book that traditional perspectives on middle powers tend to emphasize such characteristics as size, capacity, or geographical location; analyses of middle powers frequently have a celebratory rather than an analytical tenor. The case studies we have presented suggest the appropriateness of a 'relocation' of middle powers. It is, we have suggested, a relocation in two senses.
First, the case studies suggest that both of the middle powers we examine, Australia and Canada, underwent a process of relocation in the international economy. During the 1980s, both states faced economic problems as they sought to negotiate their way in a changing international economy. American decline was occurring at the same time as was the rise of new economic powers, particularly the European Community and the dynamic economies of the Asia-Pacific region. These developments prompted a growth in international economic tensions, which neither Canada nor Australia could avoid. Both states had to redefine their location in the international system and, particularly, to give primacy to economic statecraft. We argued that the emphasis these middle powers gave to multilateral and regional economic diplomacy reflected this concern.
Second while we recognize the difficulties inherent in the concept of the 'middle power,' the case studies in this book suggest that we can appropriately 'relocate' middle powers as a useful category of states in the contemporary international system. In particular, we offer several generalizations about the nature of leadership and followership in an era of declining hegemony. Focusing on middle powers like Australia and Canada, we explore the role of initiative and coalition-building in