Relocating Middle Powers: Australia and Canada in a Changing World Order

By Andrew F. Cooper; Richard A. Higgott et al. | Go to book overview

2
Changing with the International Agenda: State Reorganization and Middle Power Diplomacy

Introduction

We suggested in the Introduction that both Australia and Canada adopted a particular kind of diplomacy in the 1980s to deal with the changes in the international system. However, we also suggested that taking such middle power diplomatic initiatives required technical expertise, particularly concentrated in the bureaucracy. It perhaps should not be surprising, therefore, that in the 1980s, both countries had to confront the question of how best to organize their bureaucracies for the most effective and efficient conduct of entrepreneurial and technical diplomacy in both traditional 'high' policy issues and the newer 'low' policy issues dominating foreign policy. While this was an issue that was also exercising policymakers in numerous other Western states, both large and small, 1 it was particularly problematic for middle powers, such as Australia and Canada, as they sought to grapple with the profound changes occurring in the international political economy.

The question that confronted both Australians and Canadians was deceptively simple: should the state embrace a bureaucratic centralist model and give responsibility for the conduct for all the elements of the state's external intercourse to one central agency, which would be responsible for the panoply of the state's relations beyond its borders? Or should a kind of administrative pluralism be encouraged, where numerous specialized, and relatively autonomous, bureaucratic units would deal with the variety of different aspects of life in the international system? Should the foreign ministry deal only with the issues of 'high politics' -- the great issues of war and peace that periodically face political communities? Or should it also try to deal with the numerous issues of 'low politics' that challenge a state's well-being on a more regular basis: economic development, trade, commodities, fisheries,

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