Today, the Lowy Institute launched Reports from a Turbulent Decade, our tenth anniversary anthology. Published by Penguin Australia and edited by Lowy Institute Executive Director Dr Michael Fullilove and Research Director Anthony Bubalo, the anthology features some of the best papers, speeches, op-eds and blog posts from the Lowy Institute's first decade.
Gareth Evans, Chancellor of the Australian National University and Australia's foreign minister from 1988 to 1996, launched the anthology at the Institute's Bligh St headquarters. The book is available from all good bookstores and online.
Just a few of extracts from the collection, starting with Allan Gyngell's funny and devastating take-down of the Commonwealth:
The main reason we are still a member, of course, is that the Commonwealth doesn’t matter. No one cares enough. It’s hard to get fussed about it. It would require more effort to walk away than it does to let things run on.
The Commonwealth is a fine example of one of the immutable rules of international organisations, which is that it is a good deal easier to start them up than to finish them off.
Malcolm Cook and Anthony Bubalo re-imagine the geography of Asia:
The Cold War and US naval supremacy divided the Asian continent vertically into three strategic subregions: the Middle East, South Asia and East Asia. Each region was largely insulated from the other. For decades, Soviet, Chinese and Indian autarky bolstered this continental divide through malign neglect. US primacy meant that East Asian countries looked east to the United States and US Pacific Command, and Middle Eastern ones looked west through Europe to the United States and US Central Command. The comparatively early development of maritime East Asian economies led by Japan and their focus on exports to the United States further strengthened the idea of Asia and the Pacific as a discernible strategic region distinct from continental Asia. APEC’s membership, particularly its exclusion of India, loyally mirrors this strategic subdivision of Asia.
Yet, the re-emergence of China and India economically and strategically as major regional and global powers could well mean that Asia's strategic future will be defined by continental Asian powers and their interests in Asia. If so, the vertical subdivision of Asia into the Asia-Pacific region, South Asia and the Middle East will fade away.
Michael Fullilove on the Bush Administration and the Iraq war:
In recent times US grand strategy has been guided by a new kind of doctrine, named after not its author but its exemplar: the Costanza doctrine. This doctrine, which had its heyday in 2002–04 but remains influential, recalls the classic episode of the TV comedy Seinfeld ‘The Opposite’, in which George Costanza temporarily improves his fortunes by rejecting all the principles according to which he has lived his life and doing the opposite of what his training indicates he should do. As Jerry tells him, ‘If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.’