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Australia and Canada. Middle powers in a multipolar world or something more?

Essay 2014 14 Pages

Politics - International Politics - Region: Other States

Excerpt

Contents

Abstract

Introduction

What is a middle power?

Agencies/Structures that influence the foreign policy behaviour of middle power states - Australia and Canada

Comparative analysis of Australia and Canada as Middle Powers
Australia
Canada

Conclusion

Bibliography

AUTHOR: DIVINE S. K. AGBETI

SUBMITTED TO: UNIVERSITY OF PORTSMOUTH APRIL 2014

Abstract

This paper considers Australia and Canada as middle powers; and contends that that the term “middle power” is ambigous and relative because states classified as middle powers in one approach could be small powers in another, and are dependent on their relative capacity to contribute to a given situation. Having considered both “positional” and “behavioural” approaches, the study has adopted Cooper, Higgott, and Nossal’s “behavioural” approach to conduct a comparative analysis of Australia and Canada as middle powers in a multipolar world. The paper has observed that the foreign policy behaviours of middle powers are mostly conditioned by the structure of the international system. Therefore the study concludes that Australia and Canada are middle powers as their behaviours reflect “the tendency to pursue multilateral solutions to international problems, the tendency to embrace compromise positions in international disputes, the tendency to embrace notions of ‘good international citizenship’ to guide…diplomacy” (Neack, 2000, p. 2; Cooper, Higgott, & Nossal, 1993, p. 19).

Introduction

The term “middle power” has been consistently used in international relations and foreign policy analysis however; scholars argue that it remains a “deceptively ambiguous” term (Chapnick, 1999, pp. 73-74). Australia and Canada among other nations constantly project themselves as middle powers in the world, and the leaders of these countries always express the significance of their role as middle powers in global affairs (Michaud & Belanger, 2000, p. 97; Ungerer, 2007, p. 538). However, this paper observes that the term “middle power” is relative because states classified as middle powers in one approach could be small powers in another, and are dependent on their relative capacity to contribute to a given situation (Chapnick, 1999, p. 73). This paper adopts a comparative analysis of Australia and Canada’s foreign policy ambitions, and examines whether either or both countries befit a middle power status on the world stage.

Employing Cooper, Higgott and Nossal’s “behavioural” approach which will be discussed in the next section, the paper contends that Australia and Canada are middle powers in a multipolar world; taking into account the relative decline of US hegemony and relative rise of China and others such as the BRICS (Neack, 2000, pp. 2-4; Cooper, Higgott, & Nossal, 1993, p. 19; Bezglasnyy, 2013). The paper demonstrates that Australia and Canada’s middle power diplomacies sometimes adopt a coalition-building with other “like-minded” countries as a key feature that distinguishes them from other middle powers (Michaud & Belanger, 2000, pp. 97- 98; Ungerer, 2007, p. 538; Beeson, 2011). The paper is divided into three sections; the first section will establish the meaning and characteristics of a middle power. The second section seeks to investigate the agencies and structures that enable or limit a middle power’s foreign Australia and Canada: middle powers in a multipolar world or something more? policy ambitions. The final section will conduct a comparative analysis of the middle power status of Australia and Canada.

What is a middle power?

The term “middle power” remains an ambiguous and contested term among foreign policy and international relations scholars, and there are various interpretations of middle power (Chapnick, 1999, p. 73). Adam Chapnick posits that a middle power is a state which is neither small nor great. Chapnick argues that the word “middle” means “equidistance from extremes,” therefore, to find the middle, it is imperative to identify the extremes (Chapnick, 1999, p. 73). In his subsequent article Adam Chapnick argues that states such as Russia, France, Britain and China do not have the same power status as the USA since the end of the cold war therefore, states such as Canada and Australia can only be located in the small tier (Chapnick, 2000, pp. 200-204).

Chapnick (2000) maintains that Russia, France, Britain and China are the states that can claim to be middle powers because these states are now between the small states and the USA in terms of capacity and international status (p. 202). Instead, Adam Chapnick describes “self- identified” middle powers such as Australia and Canada as “small powers with specific functions” (Chapnick, 2000, p. 195). Chapnick (2000) observes that the term “middle power” which has been a “positional” term to define states in an international hierarchy of power has become descriptive, purporting a specific state role in the international community (p. 195). According to Chapnick, Australia and Canada are more accurately labelled as functional powers: “states that are capable of exercising influence in the international community based on their relative capabilities, interests, and involvement in specific issues at specific times” (Chapnick, 1999, p. 78). He contends that states like Australia and Canada are no more than occasionally strong small powers (Chapnick, 1999, p. 78).

On the other hand, Cooper, Higgott, and Nossal (1993) disagree with the “positional” approach to defining middle powers although they agree that this method satisfies the intuitive desire to distinguish between states which noticeably are not great powers but are not minor powers either (p. 17). A middle power by its “position” in the international hierarchy is measured by certain quantifiable attributes such as area, population, size, complexity and strength of economy, and military capability (Cooper, Higgott, & Nossal, 1993, p. 17). Cooper et al. (1993) argue that middle powers are defined by their “behaviour” on the world stage rather than their “position,” and this is termed the “behavioural” approach (p. 19). This approach defines middle power diplomacy as “the tendency to pursue multilateral solutions to international problems, the tendency to embrace compromise positions in international disputes, the tendency to embrace notions of ‘good international citizenship’ to guide…diplomacy” (Neack, 2000, p. 2; Cooper, Higgott, & Nossal, 1993, p. 19).

Additionally, Laura Neack posits that middle powers are states who entrust their relative capabilities, managerial skills, and international prestige to preserve international order and peace (Neack, 2000, p. 2). Laura Neack observes that middle powers help to maintain international order through coalition-building, serving as mediators and “go-betweens,” as well as through international conflict management and conflict resolution activities such as UN peacekeeping (Neack, 2000, p. 2). Neack (2000) claims that there is this imperative that middle powers have “a moral responsibility and collective ability to protect the international order” from those who would threaten it; and this is the rationale behind middle powers performing these internationalist activities (Neack, 2000, p. 2). Some scholars argue that engaging in middle power diplomacy is no less self-interested than the behaviour of any other state in the international system (Ungerer, 2007, pp. 540-542).

According to Carl Ungerer (2007), that self-interest of middle powers is demonstrated through the practical consideration of when and where middle powers can achieve successful diplomatic outcomes in pursuit of national interest (p. 540). Ungerer (2007) iterates that middle powers look for specific, niche opportunities to exercise their influence (p. 540). It should be noted, however, that Laura Neack’s argument pattern is consistent with Cooper, Higgott, and Nossal’s “behavioural” descriptions of a middle power. The ensuing paragraphs will investigate the agencies/structures that influence the foreign policy behaviour of middle powers; and will adopt the “behavioural” approach to conduct a comparative analysis of Australia and Canada as middle powers.

Agencies/Structures that influence the foreign policy behaviour of middle power states - Australia and Canada

It can be argued that the foreign policy behaviour of such states as middle power states is shaped by the structure of the international system (Neack, 2000, p. 1). Laura Neack observes that scholars have always emphasized the critical role of endogenous variables in shaping foreign policies, however, claims that the exogenous variables such as the international system are as equally important (Neack, 2000, p. 1). Like Neack (2000), Carsten Holbraad also argues that a middle power’s tendency to act as mediator is dependent upon the structure of the international system (Holbraad, 1971, pp. 78-88). While a unipolar order restrains the foreign policy freedom of middle power states, competitive balance of power situations, for example, allow a larger scope of action for middle powers (Holbraad, 1971, pp. 87-89).

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Details

Pages
14
Year
2014
ISBN (eBook)
9783668054011
ISBN (Book)
9783668054028
File size
976 KB
Language
English
Catalog Number
v307189
Institution / College
University of Portsmouth
Grade
73
Tags
middle power australia canada comparison international relations politics

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Title: Australia and Canada. Middle powers in a multipolar world or something more?