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Peace and Development in the Asia Pacific Region

By Denis Bright

Paul Keating needs support in his promotion of balanced engagement with Asia and the Pacific. The concept of America First as advocated by Donald Trump is a challenge to Australia’s regional identity and should be opposed in a bipartisan manner.

Stopping the rise of legitimate emergent great powers with economic and strategic diplomacy is a dangerous political game. Take the example of Germany in the 1900s, Japan in the 1920s and Russia in the Cold War.

On our northern door-step, the ASEAN Countries have emerged as a bastion of commitment to peace and development in South East Asia and positive links to China as the emergent Asia economic power.

With its headquarters in Jakarta, ASEAN should be growing in stature and influence in global affairs. ASEAN countries are all members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) which rejects the value of hegemony in international relations.

Timor-Leste is likely to become the 11th member of ASEAN in 2017. Bangla Desh, Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Fiji are all NAM countries with observer status in the ASEAN Forum.

Of the major Asian economies, only Taiwan is not part of the diverse ASEAN forums. In discussing strategic matters, ASEAN countries have chosen not to become involved in the long-standing differences between China and Taiwan.

Image from

Image from

Past Labor leaders like Paul Keating have a proven record in being tactful about the vital structural issues in domestic and international affairs.

It is Paul Keating who won the impossible election in 1993 with a strident populist commitment to traditional Labor values. This attracted widespread support in heartland urban and regional electorates. Despite the swing back to Labor in 2016, this heartland is only partly recovered.

In 2016, One Nation and other far-right preferences are still re-electing old style LNP federal members like the member for Dawson.

The LNP’s support for gunboat diplomacy is one of the great tragedies of Prime Minister Turnbull’s policy settings.

China is our most profitable trading and investment partner and should remain so. Supporting the formation of a Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) without China is an appalling breach of protocol. This predates last week’s congratulatory call from Prime Minister Tsai Ing-wen in Taiwan to Donald Trump.

Appeasing Donald Trump is the biggest challenge to our national security in 2017.

dbDenis Bright (pictured) is a registered teacher and a member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis has recent postgraduate qualifications in journalism, public policy and international relations. He is interested in promoting discussion about progressive pragmatic public policies compatible with contemporary globalization.



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  1. Theresa

    An article that gives me hope. Thanks Denis for taking up ASEAN!

  2. Jacki

    ASEAN works for peace and development unlike ‘America First’ – a crude form of jingoism .

  3. Matters Not

    Great article Denis but what’s with the use of apostrophes when simple plurals are in use and don’t require same. For example:

    in the 1900’s, Japan in the 1920’s

    Can’t see a ‘contraction’ nor a ‘possessive’ – can you? Or should I refer my pedantry to Denis’? Or perhaps Deni’s? After all Denis does end with an ‘s’?

    Please explain.

    Yes I know it doesn’t matter in the whole scheme of things – but it annoys this reader when there’s no apparent logic.

  4. Leila Smith

    Couldn’t agree more Denis with your comments in this article.
    Paul Keating made us proud to be Australians & develop our place in South East Asia

  5. maxpowerof1

    The global trade network is changing; obvious action is to revise and rebuild both national and international terms.

    The juxtaposition of what ‘was’ to what ‘now is’.

    (An extra one)

  6. Michael Taylor

    MN, I got rid of those apostrophes but obviously didn’t save my work. I will remove them immediately.

  7. Michael Taylor

    This time I saved my work.

  8. Fair Comment

    ASEAN Countries can help to protect Australia’s in the America First Era. Despite the apostrophe problem, the overall message is quite clear. But is the LNP listening?

  9. Denis Bright in Brisbane

    Unconditional apologies to Matters Not for my reflexive typing error. It is not just a random typing error.

    I am in the habit of reducing the size of longer words in texting. This predisposes me to text M’bourne or C’church without any hint that an apostrophe is necessary. This is not allowed in more formal writing of course.

    In writing 1920s, the use of 1920’s was just code for some missing details. It is easy to type ‘the twenties” or “the fifties” or perhaps turn of the century for the 1900s but this adds some ambiguity about the relevant century. Even 1900s would not be totally clear. This would be the case with use of the term “the twenties”.

    The new American First Movement in international relations is the global application of the Monroe Doctrine of 1823. This justified the application of a US sphere of influence in consolidating the continental boundaries of the US itself and interfering in those locations perceived to have strategic value to the US. This included formation of the African colony of Liberia.

    I am really sorry about this error and hope it has not distracted too much from the important arguments presented about the value of Australia defending itself by seeking greater association with ASEAN and less naval diplomacy.

    The bad news is that President James Monroe won two terms of office and as secretary of state tried to oust the British from Canada with disastrous consequences. The resultant war did not really help the US and resulted in the burning of key monuments in Washington D.C. by British troops.

    I will be more careful about the intrusion of texting codes if I am still able to write another article for AIM Network. by our editor.

  10. Denis Bright in Brisbane

    Looking back 200 years to the appointment of James Munroe as US Secretary of State, highlights the importance of Donald Trump’s choice for this position in 2016-17 (Article from yesterday’s NY Times Online:

    Talking up the value of naval patrols with Indonesia in the South China Sea as favoured by Julie Bishop only emblazons the Taiwan Lobby which very active on our doorstep in relationships with island nations in Oceania.

    Ironically, Julie Bishop still supports a One China Policy and would commend the improvement in economic diplomacy between the PRC and Taiwan.

    Any deterioration in international relations under Donald Trump’s choice of secretary of state, risks the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

    The US could indeed supply nuclear weapons to Taiwan, Japan and Saudi Arabia as part of its America First Strategies and strengthen its relationship with a nuclear armed Israel which is not a signatory to the NPT.

    All this reinforces the importance of ASEAN as a defence for Australia against the intrusion of big power rivalries on our northern doorstep.

    I do hope that PNG can join ASEAN and that observer status will be extended to other states in Oceania as a preliminary to the extension of ASEAN to our immediate environs.

    Commitment to peace should have bipartisan support in Australia and Labor is somewhat coy about speaking up. Perhaps our Labor leaders are given too many strategic intelligence Briefings.

  11. vaughann722

    TPP was always appalling as Harquebus says. It interfered with the rights of sovereign states to promote a mixed and/or democratic economy, including natural public monopolies. It doesn’t matter whether it was the US promoting it or China – it was wrong.

  12. townsvilleblog

    Keating was the most unLabor PM Australia has ever had, next in line to Hawke. If the TPP is dead I say good, all it did was to undersell Australian labour and was yet another attempt to bust unions in Australia.

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