Australia's Outlook on Asia

Australia's Outlook on Asia

Australia's Outlook on Asia

Australia's Outlook on Asia

Excerpt

In this book I have traced Australian attitudes and policies toward the peoples of East, South-east, and South Asia. Several handicaps have imposed limitations upon the completeness of the account. One was the rather slender publication by the Department of External Affairs of official documentation of policies: a practice equally sad for the historian and the democratic process. It is therefore not always possible to know with certainty the origin, motivation or purpose of official decisions. Another was the great difficulty in measuring or even knowing the existence, distribution, weight and influence of individual or group attitudes and opinions. The evaluation of these factors is a matter of individual judgment. However, the shortcomings of this situation would have been more serious had I intended to give an account of all relevant details. But such is not the case. My aim has been to be analytical rather than descriptive, and to discover the essentials of Australian attitudes and policies. Adequate evidence for these, I am convinced, can be gathered from the available sources. I should perhaps warn of a danger often present in the case of a monographic study. Since this book deals exclusively with Australian-Asian relations these naturally have the spotlight and they are of necessity lifted from their general context much of the time. The impression might thus be created that these relations have always had an important place in the affairs of the Australian people. This is not so. It might, on the contrary, be maintained that their place was much too minor in proportion to their importance. If this book can contribute to a change in this situation, it will have fulfilled its major purpose.

Many friends in Australia and the United States have read and commented upon the manuscript. I am grateful to them all. The fact that many of their suggestions and criticisms were mutually exclusive forced me to take complete responsibility for the text myself. I am indebted also to the United States Government for giving me a Fulbright Research Grant and the Graduate School of the University of Minnesota for granting me research funds, thus making the writing of this book possible.

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