Piers Akerman knows nothing about foreign policy (and why we should attempt a UNSC bid)
While prime ministerial special envoy Joanna Hewitt and UN ambassador Gary Quinlan were designated as observers to the Non-Aligned Summit in Tehran, their presence in the rogue state along with representatives from the world’s more reprehensible nations including North Korea, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Cuba and Ecuador, put us in extremely bad company.
Further, dispatching two senior representatives to a nation in which we already had an ambassador perfectly capable of observing the non-aligned nations’ summit gives the world the impression that, despite all the sanctions we may apply to Iranian officials, we will still deal with them at the highest level.
You can obviously tell I have a distaste for this man - mainly because Piers is an idiot. However, Akerman knows nothing about international relations. The fact that we shouldn’t observe a meeting that had North Korea, Zimbabwe, Cuba and Ecuador is laughable. Should we cut up our UN membership because those countries are also there? Should we stop participating in the Olympics because North Korea is there, and so is the big and scary Iran? Of course not.
First off, we were invited (so was Russia, Switzerland and Turkey) to attend a meeting with two-thirds of the UN membershipin a conference. Why is this important? We were the only ‘western’ power there invited. Second, our neighbours are also members of this organisation - including PNG and Indonesia. By not attending, it could hamper our relations because it shows ignorance and could be seen as a move in response to America’s displeasure - which has hampered our relationship in the past with the Asia-Pacific region.
Also, it’s nice to show off an independent foreign policy. Regardless what Mr. Abbott or Mr. Akerman thinks, we are an independents tate - we should be following an independent agenda. Yes, those ideas can be similar ideas from our ‘big friends’ (US and UK); but in a century where we are seeing power shift from a unipolar world with the US in charge to potentially a multipolar world again, it is in Australia’s interest to be aligned differently.
And if it means displeasing America, so be it. They are already powerful, surely they cannot be that hurt by us going to an event such as the Non-Aligned Movement.
But what is this Non-Aligned Movement. The name pretty much suggests it all - it was a group of countries that declared that they were not aligned with the Soviets, nor the Americans. That said, you have countries like Cuba who was backed by the Soviets - which sort of defeats the purpose of the Non-Aligned Movement. The movement is not a powerful voting bloc (since members usually are aligned now to different blocs, like ASEAN or the Group of 77) - it was to promote the idea of peace.
Now, since the Cold War has ended, it hasn’t properly redefined itself in this current world.
Yes, the bid may be excessive - why the hell are we bidding for a UN Security Council seat? The best quote I’ve seen as a good reason why are we doing this is: “For Australia, winning is about seeking to advance the national interest by having more influence on events from which, in a globalised world, the country is even less immune.”
Australia, as a middle power, has always used the idea of multilateralism to achieve goals. We created the idea of the Australia Group - a group that controls the export of chemicals so not to spread the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons. There’s also the Cairns Group we formed with some agricultural exporting countries to push for the removal of protectionist policies. Its main success so far has been to put agriculture onto the agenda during the Uruguay Round of WTO negotiations, leading to an agreement.
The United Nations has also been the primary vehicle for our humanitarian efforts. We are the twelfth-largest contributor to the UN, support all of its organisations (especially humanitarian) and have been involved with all peacekeeping operations. Having a seat in the UN Security Council lets us be more involved in the UN - and even having a voice in future peacekeeping efforts.
Of course we are at a disadvantage - not only because we can’t rely on blocs or we came to this late; but because the UNSC seats usually are given to smaller countries in order to balance out the big five. We also have a perception of being simply American’s lackie - a perception that grew after years of struggling who we are: we are in the Asia Pacific, not next to Europe or America.
But of course, this might be an advantage - we can balance both our western culture and our Asian geographical position.
That is a fine line to thread - because it’s very easy for us to fall in with our culture.
I’m sort of annoyed… actually, fucking furious, at many people saying we shouldn’t bid for this. We should bid for this. We must pursue a (somewhat) independent agenda unless we want to be pariah around the world for simply being a ‘yes’-man for America and if we want to remain a middle power in the world.