Essay Sample about Middle Power Concept in Australian Foreign Policy

Published: 2022-02-10
Essay Sample about Middle Power Concept in Australian Foreign Policy
Type of paper:  Article review
Categories:  Foreign policy
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1166 words
10 min read

The article focuses on tracing the operational and conceptual foundations of middle power diplomacy in Australia. It examines various speeches and parliamentary debates made in Australia since the year 1945. Conservative governments and the post-war labor governments' tenure have theories on Australia's position and place in the global stage. Since world war 11, the policymakers and practitioners of foreign policy in Australia have adopted diplomatic activities within of country's status of middle power and function in international affairs. The Australian middle power originated through a series of foreign policy initiatives which includes the building of peace in Cambodia, Antarctic environment protection, and disarmament and arms control. Despite using waned and waxed official policy discourse, the concept of middle power exists as one of the most consistent and durable factors of Australia's diplomatic practice. The paper further provides a review of the Australian journal of history and politics.

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According to the author, when a nation exercises middle power, it employs specific shorthand, pre-defined and a generally agreed foreign policy behavior which includes a commitment to facilitating the use of economic, diplomatic and military measures in order to achieve various political outcomes. Australia's middle power began in the year 1988 during Evans' tenure as a foreign minister. The concept of middle power focused on capturing the attention of labor and conservative leaders. In 1945, Dr. H.V. Evatt, Australia's minister for External Affairs, encouraged an approach of independent middle power for the Australian foreign policy. His aim was to progress the interests of Australia from decolonization to discrimination during the United Nations Conference on International Organization. During the conference, Evatt the label of a middle power in terms of the pursuit of regional security interests and military capability in Australia. Australis encouraged its middle power leadership brand by establishing regional institutions which include the South Pacific Commission. Evatt's term established three middle power tradition characteristics, activism, internationalism, and nationalism. In the period between 1949 to 1972, Robert Menzies together with his successors developed a foreign policy around various conservative assumptions of Australia's position in the international system (Ungerer, 2007, 540). Menzie promoted global relations in Australia. Fraser and William of the period between 1972 to 1983 promoted the middle power role in Australia by emphasizing on closer relationships with the Asia-Pacific region countries. Evans, Australian minister of foreign affairs from 1988, encouraged qualitative and quantitative attributes of the position of Australia in International affairs as the key principle of decision making on foreign policy. Ever since. Australia uses activism, internationalism, and nationalism to create a diplomatic position and behavior.

From the article's idea of middle power development in Australia, the concept of middle power encouraged the country's participation in international affairs. Since the period of the mid-1940s, the Australian governments have supported the idea of a middle power in the country. Politicians and policy practitioners use the middle power policy as a guide to conduct external relations. The history of the external affairs of Australia exists as a series of responses of incremental policy that depend on the international system structure and the national interests' pursuit. Australia developed its foreign relations through activism, internationalism, and nationalism (Beeson & Higgott, 2014, 217). The three aspects of middle power were created by Evatt in order to improve the country's relation with other nations. Nationalism focuses on constructing a more independent line of foreign policy in Australia by encouraging bureaucratic independence. Internationalism deals with progressing various issues in the expansion of international agenda and persuading the countries of interest to develop an interest in Australia. Activism includes diplomatic skills and energy used in pursuing national interests. Australia's international relations depends on its success in promoting and sustaining foreign policy at the international level. The successful performance of Australia in international level roots to its diplomacy that produces various foreign policy patterns which relate to the middle power policy such as action independence in responsibility alliance, sensible approach to regional engagement and focus on improving political outcomes which advantage the international community.

The article meets its main objective of tracing the middle power historical evolution in the Australian foreign policy. It gives chronological dates and the political influencers of the development of middle power role in Australia. According to the article, Middle power concept began in the early 1990s after the onset of the Cold War structures. Several political leaders such as Evatt, Minister of External Affairs from 1941-1949, Menzie who acted as the leader of Liberal-Country Party Governments, Paul Hasluck, Fraser, among others, facilitated the attributes of middle power by encouraging activism, internationalism, and nationalism in Australia (Shin, 2015, 1). The article mentions diplomacy as a major contributor to the middle power role in Australia. It introduces the shift of the country from multilateralism to bilateralism as one of the factors that facilitated Australia's diplomacy. The connection between multilateralism and bilateralism to Australia's diplomacy suggests that bilateralism influenced the country's middle power concept. The author, however, does not give clear information on the impact of Australia's shift from Multilateralism to bilateralism on the middle power label. Additionally, at the beginning of the article, the author mentions labor as one of the factors that contributed to Australia's middle power concept. He instead limits his discussion to conservative leaders only as the primary facilitators of a middle power in Australia. The author of the article contributes significantly to Australian foreign relations' study. His inclusion of specific dates and political leaders gives the scholars a clear understanding of the current position of Australia in international relations. It provides an understanding of the historical background of Australia's adoption of international relations and the factors that promote the country's success in foreign relations.

In conclusion, the article Australia's middle power concept developed in the post-war period through the quest for diplomacy. The diplomatic style entails idealism, legalism, and practicality. Various foreign affairs leaders in the country focused on improving international relations and creating tight foreign involvement of the nation. With the help of thee, three concepts developed by Evatt, activism, internationalism, and nationalism, Australia has managed to maintain a substantial position in the international stage. The country's government uses the middle power concepts to determine the country's diplomatic behavior and position. The author of the article provides a clear historical background of a middle power in Australia but does not include the influence of labor and the country's change from multilateralism to bilateralism as possible factors that contributed to the concept of a middle power. His idea helps in understanding the political background of the nation's foreign affairs. The political consensus indicated in the article contributes to the interpretation of the foreign policy in Australia as a bipartisan venture. Middle power concept helps Australia to articulate a foreign policy self-conscious theory.


Beeson, M. and Higgott, R., 2014. The changing architecture of politics in the Asia-Pacific: Australia's middle power moment?. International Relations of the Asia-Pacific, 14(2), pp.215-237.

Shin, D.M., 2015. A Critical Review of the Concept of Middle Power. E-International Relations, 4.

Ungerer, C., 2007. The "middle power" concept in Australian foreign policy. Australian Journal of Politics & History, 53(4), pp.538-551.

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