Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

THE WORLD FROM.Sydney with End of Cold War, Australia Explores 'Middle Power' Role as Coalition Builder on Key Issues

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

THE WORLD FROM.Sydney with End of Cold War, Australia Explores 'Middle Power' Role as Coalition Builder on Key Issues

Article excerpt

WHAT role do middle powers play in the New World Order? The answer in Australia's case, is that of a facilitator, a coalition builder of like-minded nations.

In recent months, "kangaroo diplomacy" has had some success. For example, Australia, working with Indonesia and the five permanent members (the United States, France, China, Britain, and the Soviet Union) of the United Nations Security Council, has helped to bring together the four warring Cambodian factions. Not being a central player in the conflict, Australia was able to talk to all sides.

"By sheer persistence, and the devotion of personnel and resources, Australia came up with the germ of the proposal adopted by the United Nations and translated into a settlement," says Richard Baker, an analyst with the East-West Center in Honolulu. Australia is also playing a role in the implementation of the peace accord, sending 40 men to help monitor the agreement.

And Australia and France recently headed a coalition of countries signing an international treaty to ban mining in Antarctica. Other coalitions Australia belongs to include: the Cairns Group, which supports free trade in agriculture; Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), a forum for Asian and Pacific rim nations; and the Australia Group, 20 industrial exporting countries which meet to try to control the proliferation of chemical weapons.

To be successful, a middle power has to pick its issues carefully.

"There is no prestige or likely result in enthusiastically pursuing ideas which are premature, over-ambitious, or for some other reason unlikely to generate any significant body of support," writes Sen. Gareth Evans, Australian minister for foreign affairs and trade, in a book to be published in November.

Success also requires the physical capability to network with other countries through a fair number of diplomatic posts. …

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