International Relations in an Age of Volatility
Chapter 6: Between two worlds: Australian foreign policy, the rise of China and middle-power responses to new and old security dilemmas
Australian foreign policy has in the twenty-first century entered an era of complexity and strategic uncertainty. Deformed globalization has given rise to new threats in the form of international crime syndicates smuggling drugs, people and weapons, together with other violent asymmetric challenges that have emanated close to Australian shores in Southeast Asia. Once thought to be confined to weak and failing states on the periphery of the developed world, and at most extended to diaspora communities in advanced Western societies, the events of 9/11 marked the date at which these threats demonstrated their capacity to penetrate Western heartlands. Adept at using and adapting the infrastructure of globalization to attack and undermine the free and open societies that emerged successfully from the Cold War, the specific threat of violent Islamist inspired jihadism began to present a security dilemma for the interconnected world of the twenty-first century. Yet, at the same time as these ostensibly ‘new’ security challenges have manifested themselves, the twenty-first century order in Pacific Asia is beginning to look more like a traditional geo-political chessboard rather than a borderless world united by the invisible hand of the market and, since 2012, underpinned by the visible presence of American military power as regional centre states in Asia, notably China, emerge that ultimately seek to balance American hegemony.
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