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From Geocities 5: History essay

Essay 3: Year 10 History/Current Affairs 

This is a remarkably sophisticated piece of writing. The comments in orange are the writer’s questions addressed to me. The writer is of Cantonese background, and if you read carefully you will see that some of the characteristic sentence-level issues (tense, subject-verb agreement) are happening here. The overall quality of the writing, however, does put such issues in perspective. Like accent in speech, they are likely to persist, in some cases for a very long time, especially when the writer is under pressure, as in an exam. While students should try to correct such things, it is more important to focus on having something to say. This writer has done that extraordinarily well.

What have been the effects of the ‘War on Terror’ on Australia’s relationship with South-East Asia?

Word limit—1500… Can you find any cuts? Which paragraph/argument should I cut out? Do you think I can get away with writing SE Asia rather than South East Asia?

 

Since the end of the Cold War, acts of terrorism, like the September 11th attacks and the Bali bombings, has led Australia to play an active role in the ‘War on Terror’. As shown in the War on Afghanistan, this new threat is not easily met by the policy and military “tools of the Cold War era”[1]. Instead this war has to be won through the diplomatic channels between countries. Hence it is important to investigate how the ‘War on Terror’ has impacted on Australia’s relationship with South-East Asia positively and negatively. Unfortunately, events such as the crisis in East Timor and the “Hanson” phenomenon, has already projected a negative image of Australia among South East Asian countries before the September 11th attacks. As a result, acts of terrorism began to be seen by the majority of the South East Asian public, as a patriotic battle against colonial ties and imperialism, while Australia’s support of America in the ‘War on Terror’ proves to Asia, that Australia is a symbol of American hegemony. Furthermore, Australia’s travel warnings have only increased this rift between Australia and its region. These events has led South East Asia to adopt the policy of Asia only regionalism, claiming that Australia and Asia are heading towards a “clash of civilisations”. On the other hand, Australia has formed many economic ties with Asia, while the ‘War on Terror’ gave Australia the opportunity to enhance political and military relations with South East Asia.

 

In order to see the effects of the ‘War on Terror’ on Australia’s relationship with South East Asia, it is important to see where the relationship stood before the September 11th attacks. While there had been many attempts on both sides to improve diplomatic relations, such as Alexander Downer[2] claim to create “a sense of strategic community in the Asia Pacific.”[3], two events in particular damaged Australia’s reputation in the area; the “Hanson phenomenon” and the East Timor Crisis. The Hanson phenomenon confirmed that anti-Asian racism persisted in Australia, and that Australia did not identify with its region. As a result, South East Asian media began to marginalise Australia through assertions such as “Don’t look south for examples of moral leadership.”[4] Bangkok Post. The East Timor crisis was a much bigger issue, and South East Asian politicians and media formed a united front and criticised the “intrusive and boastful”[5] Australians for their “re-colonisation of East Timor”[6]. Similarly, stories of Australians violating human rights and pictures of Australian soldiers aiming guns at civilians were widely publicised in South East Asia. These events were very damaging for relationships between Australia and South East Asia, and hence, these pre-conceptual ideas of Australians affected the way the South East Asian public viewed the Bali bombings.

 

Is the above paragraph necessary?

The reactions of the general public in South East Asia to the Bali bombings on 12 October 2002, in which 89 of the 202 people who died were Australians, revolved around the accusation that Australia “provoked the whole thing”[7]. Due to Australia’s bad reputation in the region and the xenophobic attitudes of South East Asia caused by the spread of First World tourism in Third World countries, the Bali bombings was seen as a good opportunity for South East Asia to scapegoat Australia. A Balinese academic even described the bombing as a “good thing that would cleanse Bali of the evils introduced by foreigners” and that he "welcomed the prospect of Australians not returning for some time.”[8] This opinion clearly show that some of the South East Asian public see acts of terrorism, as positive moves to keep the West out of their region, and in turn prevent the spread of imperialism. Even the media encouraged this opinion by portraying the terrorists as patriots, as shown by the images of a proud Amrozi[9], surrounded by smiling police in the Jakarta Post. As a result, Australia’s commitment to the “War on Terror” was seen as an attempt by Australia to assert their authority over South East Asia, and furthermore, as a re-introduction of colonial superiority into the region. Hence, the reputation of Australia among the general populace of these countries greatly declined owing to Australia participation in the War against Terrorism.

 

Is the previous paragraph relevant to the question?

 Is the previous argument convincing? Or too vague? Or unrealistic….. esp. the sentence in orange?

 

  While the South East Asian populace did not totally agree on Australia’s decision to participate in the “War on Terror”, the fact that Australia is politically and militarily backing America as a result of this war, has only worsened relationships. Recently, the Pew Research Centre has conducted an investigation on attitudes towards America around the world, and the results shows that in May 2003, only 15% of Indonesians held a favourable view of America, as compared to 75% in year 2000. This dramatic drop in America’s popularity inevitably shows that Australia’s “commitment to a dynamic and diverse relationship with the United States”[10] has not improved the relationship between Australia and South East Asia at all. On the contrary, this alliance with America has projected the image to Asia, that Australia is “merely the regional agent for the US”[11] and hence, a symbol of American imperialism. These views are nicely summarised by Mahathir Mohamad[12] who claimed that “Australia could not be accepted in Asia while it stood so close to the US.”[13] Furthermore, the coming to power of the Bush administration in 2001, has led to a failing Sino-American relationship, due to differences concerning Taiwan, WMD[14] proliferation and the US plans on missile defence programs which were strongly opposed by China. As a result of this rivalry, China, being the major player in South East Asia, has spread an anti-American sentiment in the region, and subsequently, fuelled the hatred of Australia. Hence, due to the decreasing popularity of America among South East Asian countries, caused partly by failing Sino-American relationships, it is clear that Australia’s support of America has led to a worsening in Australia’s relationship with South East Asia

 

Can you think of a way to join the above argument with the one below?

 

One of Australia first reactions to the Bali bombing was to heighten travel warnings in South East Asian countries. Many South East Asian countries criticised these warnings as unreasonable, in particular, Malaysia. In response, Mahathir even declared “Australia unsafe for Muslims.”[15] In Singapore, there was uproar over the warning, in particular the phrase “extreme caution”[16] but shortly afterwards Singapore managed to coax the Australian government to rephrase the warning. In addition, Australia also insulted many Asian countries through actions such as the closure of the Australian embassy in Manila in November 2002 and Howard’s[17] speculation in December 2002 about pre-emptive strikes on terrorism in neighbouring countries, leading to Australia’s reputation among South East Asia, as the “white-man sheriff in some black country”[18]. Together, the travel warnings, closure of embassies and Howard’s threat of war caused a further weakening of Australia’s relationship with South East Asia.

 

Australia’s commitment to the ‘War on Terror’ and America, along with Australia’s responses to Bali has all resulted in a worsening of Australian relationships with South East Asia, which in turn has led to the “strengthening of exclusive, Asia-only regionalism”[19] as opposed to the open APEC[20] regionalism favourable to Australia, This once again raises the age old question about whether Australia is part of Asia. While globalisation is vital to the growth of Asia and Australia, this does not necessarily bring “cultural homogeneity”[21]. Figures from the ASCA[22] shows that targets set in the 1980s, for Asia-teaching in Australian schools has never come close to being met, once again proving that Australian affinities sits with the West. This has led to Huntington theory that Australia and Asia are just too different to each other; a “clash of civilisation”. This viewpoint though has many faults. Firstly, it “underestimates the possibilities of cultural negotiation and of change”[23]. Secondly, it “assumes a degree of homogeneity among Islamic rebellions”[24], which they evidently do not possess. After all, these Islamic rebellions do not necessarily have religious goals; the Abu Sayaaf in the Philipines, which has mercenary interests, and the rebellion in Aceh, fighting for political change, are two such examples. Hence in these instances, it is more of a clash within civilisations rather than between. Thirdly, cooperation between Australia and South East Asia has in fact increased, due to the fight against terrorism.

Is the word “affinities” the right word to use in the context?

Are there too many quotes in the above paragraph?

In the above paragraph, I tried to smoothly link the transition of the negative to positive arguments. Is it too confusing? unnecessary? longwinded? Irrelevant to the question?

 

Australia’s commitment to the “War on Terror” has given many opportunities for Australia to enhance its relationship with South East Asia. In fact, since the September 11th attacks, Australia has signed eight counter-terrorism memorandum of understanding with regional countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, which has “facilitated co-operation between Australia and Asia’s security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies”[25]. Such agreements have led to various accomplishments against terrorism, such as the freezing of $US137 million of terrorist assets and the capture of 65% of senior al-Qaeda members. These MOUs[26] and successes clearly show that many political leader of South East Asia agree with the concept of anti-terrorism and hence Australia’s support of the ‘War on Terror’ has in fact better Australia-South East Asian relationships. Militarily speaking, Robert Hill[27] has also suggested resuming joint operations with the South East Asian military; in particular Kopassus[28], the Indonesian special forces which is notorious for human rights violations. This has stirred up much public debate, but this proposal at least shows that Australia is willing to forget past differences to advance the cause of the ‘War on Terror’. Furthermore, Australia has also begun training regional countries in counter-terrorism military techniques. Together these agreements and successes have tightened Australia’s relationship with South East Asia both politically and militarily.

 

Should I use these phrases? Or are they too awkward?

Is there anyway of eliminating the two consecutive “these agreements” ?

Kopassus argument- convincing? Or dubious? Or improbable ?

 

Economically, Australia has already developed strong ties with Asia even before the War on Terror. In fact, since the start of the 1990s, Asian countries has accounted for more than 60% of Australia’s total international trade and 15% of Australia’s total FDI. After the September 11th attacks though, Australia has worked closely with APEC to ensure that these economic ties would be kept up and improved regardless of the ‘War on Terror’. This aim has led to, firstly, the signing of the Shanghai accord, which promotes the revitalising and acceleration of regional commitment to trade and investment. Secondly, the concept of paperless trading to save transaction costs, and thirdly trade facilitations to “remove regulatory impediments to competition and improve corporate governance”[29] These economic commitments and cooperation has greatly improved the relationship between Australia and South East Asia.

 

Is this the right sentence structure? i.e. should all three points be in one sentence?

 

In conclusion, the ‘War on Terror’ has impacted on Australia’s relationship with South-East Asia both positively and negatively. Due to the East Timor Crisis and the Hanson phenomenon, Australia already has a bad reputation in South East Asia, and as a result, Australia’s ‘War on Terror’ has been criticised as an imperialist and colonialist movement. Furthermore, the falling popularity of America has meant that Australia’s support of the US-led war against terror has provoked a worsening of Australia-South East Asian relationship, while Australia’s travel warnings has only added to this opposition. As a result, South East Asia has adopted an Asia-only regionalism policy, once again raising questions on whether firstly, Australia is part of Asia and secondly, whether Australia and Asia are headed towards a “clash of civilisations”. The recent ‘War on Terror’ seems to contradict the latter point, since it has in many ways, led to the strengthening of political, military and economic ties between Australia and South-East Asia. While this is a good sign that Australian-South East Asian relationships are improving, it seems that the ‘War on Terror’ has more negative impacts on Australia’s relationship with South East Asia, then positive one. This is due the fact that repairing diplomatic relationships are often much harder than damaging them, and furthermore, that the negative impacts are much more widespread among the populace of Asia, while the positive impacts are constrained within the political circles of South East Asia.

 

 

Is there such a thing as “colonialist movements”? i.e. Is it the right word to use?

Does the last few sentences, showing why I think the war on terror has impacted on Australian-South East Asian relationships negatively more than positively, make sense?

Should I put a quote in at the end of the conclusion? If so, can you think of any?

Do you think it’s alright if the “negative” arguments in this essay (800 words) are twice as long as the “positive” ones (400)?

If I cut out the first paragraph, should the negative arguments be before or after the positive ones?

What do you think of the essay as a whole? A convincing essay? Any comments?


[1] M.Lankowski ‘American’s Asian alliances in a changing world’ Australian Journal of International Affairs vol. 57 no.1 p.123

[2] Foreign Minister of Australia

[4] Alison Broinowski About Face p.171

[5] Ibid p.182

[6] Ibid p.180

[7] Ibid p.194

[8] Ibid p.195

[9] Alleged bomber responsible for the Bali bombings

[11] Paul Kelly ‘What is ANZUS for?’ The Diplomat June-July 2003

[12] Prime Minister of Malaysia

[13] D.Filitton ‘Perspectives on Australian foreign policy 2002’ Australian Journal of International Affairs vol. 57 no. 1

[14] Weapons of mass destruction

[15] Flitton ‘Perspectives on Australian foreign policy 2002’ loc.cit

[17] John Howard , Prime Minister of Australia

[18] Broinowski op.cit p.195

[19] A Milner ‘Reviewing our Asian engagment’ Australian Journal of International Affairs vol.57. no.1

[20] Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation

[21] Ibid p.12

[22] Asian Studies Association of Australia

[23] Ibid p.15

[24] Booth and Dunne Worlds in Collision; terror and the future of global order p. 196

[26] memorandum of understanding

[27] Defence Minister of Australia

[28] Indonesian special forces- Komando Pasukan Khusus

 

 

Neil Whitfield’s English and ESL Pages: Essay 3: Year 10 History/Current Affairs: Annotated Version

 

 

What have been the effects of the ‘War on Terror’ on Australia’s relationship with South-East Asia?

Word limit—1500…

 

If you don’t count footnotes you have 1957 before I start chopping. Now it is 1724, but if you take out the paragraph I have indicated it will be 1614. Near enough? You might find the extra hundred words to chop yourself.

 

Can you find any cuts? Some

 

Which paragraph/argument should I cut out? See as you read through the essay.

 

Do you think I can get away with writing SE Asia rather than South East Asia? Yes.

 

Since the end of the Cold War, acts of terrorism, like the September 11th attacks and the Bali bombings, have led Australia to play an active role in the ‘War on Terror’. As shown in the War on Afghanistan, this new threat is not easily met by Cold War era policies and military tools[1]. Instead this war has to be won through diplomatic channels. Hence it is important to investigate how the ‘War on Terror’ has impacted on Australia’s relationship with South-East Asia positively and negatively. Unfortunately, events such as the crisis in East Timor and the Hanson phenomenon, have projected a negative image of Australia among South East Asian countries, even before the September 11th attacks. As a result, acts of terrorism began to be seen by many in South East Asia as patriotic acts against neocolonialism and globalisation, while Australia’s support of America in the ‘War on Terror’ makes Australia a symbol of American hegemony. Travel warnings have only increased this rift between Australia and its region. These events have led South East Asia to favour a policy of Asia only regionalism, claiming that Australia and Asia are heading towards a “clash of civilisations”. On the other hand, Australia has formed many economic ties with Asia, while the ‘War on Terror’ has given Australia the opportunity to enhance political and military relations with South East Asia.

 

In order to see the effects of the ‘War on Terror’ on Australia’s relationship with South East Asia, it is important to see where the relationship stood before the September 11th attacks. While there had been many attempts on both sides to improve diplomatic relations, such as Alexander Downer’s[2] claim to create “a sense of strategic community in the Asia Pacific.”[3], two events in particular damaged Australia’s reputation in the area: the “Hanson phenomenon” and the East Timor Crisis.

 

The Hanson phenomenon confirmed that anti-Asian racism persisted in Australia, and that Australia did not identify with its region. As a result, South East Asian media began to marginalise Australia through assertions such as “Don’t look south for examples of moral leadership.”[4] Bangkok Post. The East Timor crisis was a much bigger issue, and South East Asian politicians and media formed a united front and criticised the “intrusive and boastful”[5] Australians for their “re-colonisation of East Timor”[6]. Stories of Australians violating human rights and pictures of Australian soldiers aiming guns at civilians were widely publicised in South East Asia.

 

Is the above paragraph necessary? The last sentence isn’t.

 

Public reaction in South East Asia to the Bali bombings on 12 October 2002, in which 89 of the 202 people who died were Australians, revolved around the accusation that Australia “provoked the whole thing”[7]. Due to Australia’s bad reputation in the region and S-E Asian xenophobia caused by the spread of First World tourism, the Bali bombings were seen as a good opportunity for South East Asia to scapegoat Australia. A Balinese academic even described the bombing as a “good thing that would cleanse Bali of the evils introduced by foreigners,” welcoming the prospect of Australians not returning for some time.”[8] This opinion clearly shows that some of the South East Asian public see acts of terrorism as positive moves to keep Western neocolonialism out of their region. Even the media encouraged this opinion by portraying the terrorists as patriots, as shown by the images of a proud Amrozi[9], surrounded by smiling police in the Jakarta Post. As a result, Australia’s commitment to the “War on Terror” was seen as an attempt by Australia to assert their authority over South East Asia, and furthermore, as a re-introduction of colonial superiority into the region.

 

Is the previous paragraph relevant to the question? Yes, but again I have cut the last sentence. (I also note a sprinkling of subject-verb agreement issues still happening: check the relevant item on my http://neilwhitfield.tripod.com/faq.html FAQ Page.)

 

 

Is the previous argument convincing? Or too vague? Or unrealistic….. esp. the sentence in orange? It is convincing, but of course represents the opinion of some (however large a number) in the region. Needs to be said though.

 

 

While the South East Asian populace do not all share such views, the fact that Australia is politically and militarily backing America has only worsened relationships. Recently, the Pew Research Centre conducted an investigation on attitudes towards America around the world, and the results show that in May 2003, only 15% of Indonesians held a favourable view of America, as compared to 75% in year 2000. This dramatic drop in America’s popularity inevitably shows that Australia’s “commitment to a dynamic and diverse relationship with the United States”[10] has not improved the relationship between Australia and South East Asia at all. On the contrary, this alliance with America has projected the image to Asia, that Australia is “merely the regional agent for the US”[11] and hence, a symbol of American imperialism. These views are nicely summarised by Mahathir Mohamad[12] who claimed that “Australia could not be accepted in Asia while it stood so close to the US.”[13] Furthermore, the coming to power of the Bush administration in 2001has led to a failing Sino-American relationship, due to differences concerning Taiwan, WMD[14] proliferation and US plans on missile defence programs which were strongly opposed by China. As a result of this rivalry, China, being the major player in South East Asia, has spread anti-American sentiment in the region, and subsequently, fuelled the hatred of Australia.

 

Again, I have chopped off the last sentence above.

 

Can you think of a way to join the above argument with the one below? I hope I have 🙂

 

When, following the Bali bombings, Australia heightened travel warnings in South East Asian countries, many South East Asian governments criticised these warnings as unreasonable, in particular, Malaysia. In response, Mahathir even declared “Australia unsafe for Muslims.”[15] In Singapore, there was uproar over the warning, in particular the phrase “extreme caution”[16] but shortly afterwards Singapore managed to coax the Australian government to rephrase the warning. In addition, Australia also insulted many Asian countries through actions such as the closure of the Australian embassy in Manila in November 2002 and Howard’s[17] speculation in December 2002 about pre-emptive strikes on terrorism in neighbouring countries, leading to Australia’s reputation in South East Asia, as the “white-man sheriff in some black country”[18]. Together, the travel warnings, closure of embassies and Howard’s threat of war caused a further weakening of Australia’s relationship with South East Asia.

 

Australia’s commitment to the ‘War on Terror’ and America and responses to Bali have resulted in a worsening of Australian relationships with South East Asia, which in turn has led to the “strengthening of exclusive, Asia-only regionalism”[19] as opposed to the open APEC[20] regionalism favourable to Australia, This once again raises the age old question about whether Australia is part of Asia. While globalisation is vital to the growth of Asia and Australia, this does not necessarily bring “cultural homogeneity”[21]. Figures from the ASCA[22] shows that targets set in the 1980s for Asia-teaching in Australian schools have never come close to being met, once again proving that Australia’s affinities are with the West.

 

Since the late 1990s there has also been the effect of the Huntington theory that cultures are just too different to each other; a “clash of civilisation”. This viewpoint though has many faults. Firstly, it “underestimates the possibilities of cultural negotiation and of change”[23]. Secondly, it “assumes a degree of homogeneity among Islamic rebellions”[24], which they evidently do not possess. After all, these Islamic rebellions do not necessarily have religious goals; the Abu Sayaaf in the Philippines has mercenary interests, and the rebellion in Aceh, fighting for political change, are two such examples. Hence in these instances, it is more of a clash within civilisations rather than between.

 

Is the word “affinities” the right word to use in the context? Yes, but note I restructured it.

 

Are there too many quotes in the above paragraph? No

 

In the above paragraph, I tried to smoothly link the transition of the negative to positive arguments. Is it too confusing? unnecessary? longwinded? Irrelevant to the question? Note I have again cut the final sentence of the above paragraph. No, I don’t think it is irrelevant, but if you wanted to cut a paragraph out it could be this one. Hence putting it in italics. Note also the transitional device at the beginning of the following one.

 

On the other hand, Australia’s commitment to the “War on Terror” has given many opportunities for Australia to enhance its relationship with South East Asia. In fact, since the September 11th attacks, Australia has signed eight counter-terrorism memoranda of understanding with regional countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, which has “facilitated co-operation between Australia and Asia’s security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies”[25]. Such agreements have led to various accomplishments against terrorism, such as the freezing of $US137 million of terrorist assets and the capture of 65% of senior al-Qaeda members. These MOUs[26] and successes clearly show that many political leaders of South East Asia agree with the concept of anti-terrorism and hence Australia’s support of the ‘War on Terror’ may at some levels have improved Australia-South East Asian relationships. The Australian Defence Minister, Robert Hill, has also suggested resuming joint operations with the South East Asian military; in particular Kopassus[27], the Indonesian special forces which is notorious for human rights violations. This has stirred up much public debate, but this proposal at least shows that Australia is willing to forget past differences to advance the cause of the ‘War on Terror’. Furthermore, Australia has also begun training regional countries in counter-terrorism military techniques.

 

Should I use these phrases? Or are they too awkward? Again the final sentence is unnecessary.

 

Is there anyway of eliminating the two consecutive “these agreements” ? I think I have (?)

 

Kopassus argument- convincing? Or dubious? Or improbable ? Fine, and has just been in the news in the past few days.

 

Economically, Australia had been developing strong ties with Asia even before the War on Terror. In fact, since the start of the 1990s, Asian countries have accounted for more than 60% of Australia’s total international trade and 15% of Australia’s total FDI. Since the September 11th attacks Australia has worked closely with APEC to ensure that these economic ties would be kept up and improved. This aim has led to:

 

  • The signing of the Shanghai accord, which promotes the revitalising and acceleration of regional commitment to trade and investment.

  • The concept of paperless trading to save transaction costs.

  • Trade facilitations to “remove regulatory impediments to competition and improve corporate governance”[28]

 

These economic commitments and cooperation have greatly improved the relationship between Australia and South East Asia.

 

Is this the right sentence structure? i.e. should all three points be in one sentence? Point form seems OK to me in this text type.

 

In conclusion, the ‘War on Terror’ has impacted on Australia’s relationship with South-East Asia both positively and negatively. Due to the East Timor Crisis and the Hanson phenomenon, Australia already had a bad reputation in South East Asia, and as a result, Australia’s ‘War on Terror’ has been criticised as an imperialist and neocolonialist movement. Furthermore, the falling popularity of America has meant that Australia’s support of the US-led war against terror has provoked a worsening of Australia-South East Asian relationships, while Australia’s travel warnings have only added to this opposition. As a result, South East Asia has adopted an Asia-only regionalism policy, once again raising questions on whether Australia is part of Asia and secondly, whether Australia and Asia are headed towards a “clash of civilisations”. The recent ‘War on Terror’ seems to contradict the latter point, since it has in many ways, led to the strengthening of political, military and economic ties between Australia and South-East Asia. While this is a good sign that Australian-South East Asian relationships are improving, it seems that the ‘War on Terror’ has more negative impacts on Australia’s relationship with South East Asia than positive ones. Repairing diplomatic relationships is often much harder than damaging them, and furthermore the negative impacts are much more widespread among the populace of Asia, while the positive impacts are largely confined to the political elite of South East Asia.

 

 

Is there such a thing as “colonialist movements”? i.e. Is it the right word to use? Yes, but it is better to use the term neocolonialism to describe the current phenomenon.

 

Does the last few sentences, showing why I think the war on terror has impacted on Australian-South East Asian relationships negatively more than positively, make sense? It does now 🙂 (I hope)

 

Should I put a quote in at the end of the conclusion? If so, can you think of any?

 

Do you think it’s alright if the “negative” arguments in this essay (800 words) are twice as long as the “positive” ones (400)?

 

If I cut out the first paragraph, should the negative arguments be before or after the positive ones?

 

What do you think of the essay as a whole? A convincing essay? Any comments?

 

In answer to all of the above I think it is very well researched and very good.


[1] M.Lankowski ‘American’s Asian alliances in a changing world’ Australian Journal of International Affairs vol. 57 no.1 p.123

[2] Foreign Minister of Australia

[4] Alison Broinowski About Face p.171

[5] Ibid p.182

[6] Ibid p.180

[7] Ibid p.194

[8] Ibid p.195

[9] Alleged bomber responsible for the Bali bombings

[11] Paul Kelly ‘What is ANZUS for?’ The Diplomat June-July 2003

[12] Prime Minister of Malaysia

[13] D.Filitton ‘Perspectives on Australian foreign policy 2002’ Australian Journal of International Affairs vol. 57 no. 1

[14] Weapons of mass destruction

[15] Flitton ‘Perspectives on Australian foreign policy 2002’ loc.cit

[17] John Howard , Prime Minister of Australia

[18] Broinowski op.cit p.195

[19] A Milner ‘Reviewing our Asian engagment’ Australian Journal of International Affairs vol.57. no.1

[20] Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation

[21] Ibid p.12

[22] Asian Studies Association of Australia

[23] Ibid p.15

[24] Booth and Dunne Worlds in Collision; terror and the future of global order p. 196

[26] memorandum of understanding

[27] Indonesian special forces- Komando Pasukan Khusus

 

 

Neil Whitfield’s English and ESL Pages: Essay 3: Year 10 History/Current Affairs: final version

 

 

 

What have been the effects of the ‘War on Terror’ on Australia’s relationship with South-East Asia?

 

Since the end of the Cold War, acts of terrorism, like the September 11th attacks and the Bali bombings, have led Australia to play an active role in the ‘War on Terror’. As shown in the War on Afghanistan, this new threat is not easily met by Cold War era policies and military tools[1]. Instead this war has to be won through diplomatic channels. Hence it is important to investigate how the ‘War on Terror’ has impacted on Australia’s relationship with S-E Asia positively and negatively. Unfortunately, events such as the crisis in East Timor and the Hanson phenomenon, have projected a negative image of Australia among S-E Asian countries, even before the September 11th attacks. As a result, acts of terrorism began to be seen by many in S-E Asia as patriotic acts against neocolonialism and globalisation, while Australia’s support of America in the ‘War on Terror’ makes Australia a symbol of American hegemony. Travel warnings have only increased this rift between Australia and its region. These events have led S-E Asia to favour a policy of Asia only regionalism, claiming that Australia and Asia are heading towards a “clash of civilisations”. On the other hand, Australia has formed many economic ties with Asia, while the ‘War on Terror’ has given Australia the opportunity to enhance political and military relations with S-E Asia.

 

In order to see the effects of the ‘War on Terror’ on Australia’s relationship with S-E Asia, it is important to see where the relationship stood before the September 11th attacks. While there had been many attempts on both sides to improve diplomatic relations, such as Alexander Downer’s[2] claim to create “a sense of strategic community in the Asia Pacific.”[3], two events in particular damaged Australia’s reputation in the area: the “Hanson phenomenon” and the East Timor Crisis.

 

The Hanson phenomenon confirmed that anti-Asian racism persisted in Australia, and that Australia did not identify with its region. As a result, S-E Asian media began to marginalise Australia through assertions such as “Don’t look south for examples of moral leadership.”[4] Bangkok Post. The East Timor crisis was a much bigger issue, and S-E Asian politicians and media formed a united front and criticised the “intrusive and boastful”[5] Australians for their “re-colonisation of East Timor”[6]. Stories of Australians violating human rights and pictures of Australian soldiers aiming guns at civilians were widely publicised in S-E Asia.

 

Public reaction in S-E Asia to the Bali bombings on 12 October 2002, in which 89 of the 202 people who died were Australians, revolved around the accusation that Australia “provoked the whole thing”[7]. Due to Australia’s bad reputation in the region and S-E Asian xenophobia caused by the spread of First World tourism, the Bali bombings were seen as a good opportunity for S-E Asia to scapegoat Australia. A Balinese academic even described the bombing as a “good thing that would cleanse Bali of the evils introduced by foreigners,” welcoming the prospect of Australians not returning for some time.”[8] This opinion clearly shows that some of the S-E Asian public see acts of terrorism as positive moves to keep Western neocolonialism out of their region. Even the media encouraged this opinion by portraying the terrorists as patriots, as shown by the images of a proud Amrozi[9], surrounded by smiling police in the Jakarta Post. As a result, Australia’s commitment to the “War on Terror” was seen as an attempt by Australia to assert their authority over S-E Asia, and furthermore, as a re-introduction of colonial superiority into the region.

 

While the S-E Asian populace do not all share such views, the fact that Australia is politically and militarily backing America has only worsened relationships. Recently, the Pew Research Centre conducted an investigation on attitudes towards America around the world, and the results show that in May 2003, only 15% of Indonesians held a favourable view of America, as compared to 75% in year 2000. This dramatic drop in America’s popularity inevitably shows that Australia’s “commitment to a dynamic and diverse relationship with the United States”[10] has not improved the relationship between Australia and S-E Asia at all. On the contrary, this alliance with America has projected the image to Asia, that Australia is “merely the regional agent for the US”[11] and hence, a symbol of American imperialism. These views are nicely summarised by Mahathir Mohamad[12] who claimed that “Australia could not be accepted in Asia while it stood so close to the US.”[13] Furthermore, the coming to power of the Bush administration in 2001has led to a failing Sino-American relationship, due to differences concerning Taiwan, WMD[14] proliferation and US plans on missile defence programs which were strongly opposed by China. As a result of this rivalry, China, being the major player in S-E Asia, has spread anti-American sentiment in the region, and subsequently, fuelled the hatred of Australia.

When, following the Bali bombings, Australia heightened travel warnings in S-E Asian countries, many S-E Asian governments criticised these warnings as unreasonable, in particular, Malaysia. In response, Mahathir even declared “Australia unsafe for Muslims.”[15] In Singapore, there was uproar over the warning, in particular the phrase “extreme caution”[16] but shortly afterwards Singapore managed to coax the Australian government to rephrase the warning. In addition, Australia also insulted many Asian countries through actions such as the closure of the Australian embassy in Manila in November 2002 and Howard’s[17] speculation in December 2002 about pre-emptive strikes on terrorism in neighbouring countries, leading to Australia’s reputation in S-E Asia, as the “white-man sheriff in some black country”[18]. Together, the travel warnings, closure of embassies and Howard’s threat of war caused a further weakening of Australia’s relationship with S-E Asia.

 

Australia’s commitment to the ‘War on Terror’ and America and responses to Bali have resulted in a worsening of Australian relationships with S-E Asia, which in turn has led to the “strengthening of exclusive, Asia-only regionalism”[19] as opposed to the open APEC[20] regionalism favourable to Australia, This once again raises the age old question about whether Australia is part of Asia. While globalisation is vital to the growth of Asia and Australia, this does not necessarily bring “cultural homogeneity”[21]. Figures from the ASCA[22] shows that targets set in the 1980s for Asia-teaching in Australian schools have never come close to being met, once again proving that Australia’s affinities are with the West.

 

On the other hand, Australia’s commitment to the “War on Terror” has given many opportunities for Australia to enhance its relationship with S-E Asia. In fact, since the September 11th attacks, Australia has signed eight counter-terrorism memoranda of understanding with regional countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, which has “facilitated co-operation between Australia and Asia’s security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies”[23]. Such agreements have led to various accomplishments against terrorism, such as the freezing of $US137 million of terrorist assets and the capture of 65% of senior al-Qaeda members. These MOUs[24] and successes clearly show that many political leaders of S-E Asia agree with the concept of anti-terrorism and hence Australia’s support of the ‘War on Terror’ may at some levels have improved Australia-S-E Asian relationships. The Australian Defence Minister, Robert Hill, has also suggested resuming joint operations with the S-E Asian military; in particular Kopassus[25], the Indonesian special forces which is notorious for human rights violations. This has stirred up much public debate, but this proposal at least shows that Australia is willing to forget past differences to advance the cause of the ‘War on Terror’. Furthermore, Australia has also begun training regional countries in counter-terrorism military techniques.

 

Economically, Australia had been developing strong ties with Asia even before the War on Terror. In fact, since the start of the 1990s, Asian countries have accounted for more than 60% of Australia’s total international trade and 15% of Australia’s total FDI. Since the September 11th attacks Australia has worked closely with APEC to ensure that these economic ties would be kept up and improved. This aim has led to:

 

  • The signing of the Shanghai accord, which promotes the revitalising and acceleration of regional commitment to trade and investment.

  • The concept of paperless trading to save transaction costs.

  • Trade facilitations to “remove regulatory impediments to competition and improve corporate governance”[26]

 

These economic commitments and cooperation have greatly improved the relationship between Australia and S-E Asia.

 

In conclusion, the ‘War on Terror’ has impacted on Australia’s relationship with S-E Asia both positively and negatively. Due to the East Timor Crisis and the Hanson phenomenon, Australia already had a bad reputation in S-E Asia, and as a result, Australia’s ‘War on Terror’ has been criticised as an imperialist and neocolonialist movement. Furthermore, the falling popularity of America has meant that Australia’s support of the US-led war against terror has provoked a worsening of Australia-S-E Asian relationships, while Australia’s travel warnings have only added to this opposition. As a result, S-E Asia has adopted an Asia-only regionalism policy, once again raising questions on whether Australia is part of Asia and secondly, whether Australia and Asia are headed towards a “clash of civilisations”. The recent ‘War on Terror’ seems to contradict the latter point, since it has in many ways, led to the strengthening of political, military and economic ties between Australia and S-E Asia. While this is a good sign that Australian-S-E Asian relationships are improving, it seems that the ‘War on Terror’ has more negative impacts on Australia’s relationship with S-E Asia than positive ones. Repairing diplomatic relationships is often much harder than damaging them, and furthermore the negative impacts are much more widespread among the populace of Asia, while the positive impacts are largely confined to the political elite of S-E Asia.

 

 


[1] M.Lankowski ‘American’s Asian alliances in a changing world’ Australian Journal of International Affairs vol. 57 no.1 p.123

[2] Foreign Minister of Australia

[4] Alison Broinowski About Face p.171

[5] Ibid p.182

[6] Ibid p.180

[7] Ibid p.194

[8] Ibid p.195

[9] Alleged bomber responsible for the Bali bombings

[11] Paul Kelly ‘What is ANZUS for?’ The Diplomat June-July 2003

[12] Prime Minister of Malaysia

[13] D.Filitton ‘Perspectives on Australian foreign policy 2002’ Australian Journal of International Affairs vol. 57 no. 1

[14] Weapons of mass destruction

[15] Flitton ‘Perspectives on Australian foreign policy 2002’ loc.cit

[17] John Howard , Prime Minister of Australia

[18] Broinowski op.cit p.195

[19] A Milner ‘Reviewing our Asian engagment’ Australian Journal of International Affairs vol.57. no.1

[20] Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation

[21] Ibid p.12

[22] Asian Studies Association of Australia

[24] memorandum of understanding

[25] Indonesian special forces- Komando Pasukan Khusus

 

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