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

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

6
Addressing the Widening Global Agenda: Australian and Canadian Perspectives

Introduction

The previous chapters have examined four important case studies in Australian and Canadian foreign policy; by focusing on the changing nature of leadership in contemporary international politics and its impact on coalition diplomacy, we sought to explore the opportunities and constraints that middle powers face in an era of waning hegemony. Central to our argument about the nature of middle power leadership has been the contention that leadership and coalition-building is highly issue-specific: the conditions that allowed Australia to exercise a leadership role in the Cairns Group, for example, were simply not present during the Gulf conflict. As we showed in the Gulf case, a rather different leadership-followership dynamic obtained under those conditions.

In this chapter, we seek to extend our analysis by examining a number of other issues on what some have called the new, or widening, agenda of international politics in the 1990s. 1 To be sure, some of the 'new' issues are, in fact, old issues being addressed in renewed, revitalized, or revised form; others are indeed new, making their appearance on the international agenda for the first time. However, all of these issues, whether recirculated or new, have in common one important feature: they are being addressed by the system's secondary states in ways that conform to the theoretical expectations that we laid out in Chapter 1. That is, many of the players of this size and rank, Australia and Canada included, are demonstrating a relative autonomy from the dominant idea-systems of the major players, engaging in a particular brand of diplomacy that places a premium on technical and entrepreneurial initiatives aimed at advancing international coalitions along a path to greater institutionalization in the international system. It also involves

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