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Subject: theaustralian: 'Push to join ASEAN defence talks'
fall out    6/4/2008 12:41:42 AM
Patrick Walters, National security editor | June 04, 2008 AUSTRALIA wants to join the annual ASEAN defence ministers meeting in a move that would help cement Canberra's security ties with Southeast Asia. Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon said yesterday he was keen to explore the idea of Australian membership of the two-year-old forum with his 10 ASEAN counterparts. He said he had had informal discussions on the ADMM issue during last weekend's Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual conference in Singapore involving regional defence ministers and military chiefs. The aim would be to have Australia and New Zealand join the ADMM in an "ASEAN-Plus" meeting, which would link ASEAN with the South Pacific's principal defence players. Mr Fitzgibbon said he hoped to pursue the issue with key ASEAN counterparts. "I am very conscious this would only work if there were consensus amongst the existing members," he said. The issue of expanding the ADMM into an ASEAN-Plus forum was raised publicly in Singapore but the ASEAN ministers declined to comment publicly on whether they would support such a move. The ADMM was first convened in 2006 as a regional security forum bringing together the 10 ASEAN countries. The inaugural ADMM agreed that the forum should be "open, flexible and outward looking" in terms of engaging ASEAN's friends and dialogue partners. The idea of creating an ADMM-Plus with Australia and New Zealand would only proceed with the consent of all 10 members, including Burma. ------- Just wondering on your thoughts on what our play should be regarding ASEAN; our combined trade with the group is bigger than any single trading relationship we have, bigger than China or Japan or the US. Our economy is over $1.1trillion AUD which is larger than the combined ASEAN economy (not on PPP but nominal) and our defence budget is by far the biggest out of any of the ASEAN members. It would make sense economically and militarily for ASEAN to include Australia (and NZ) into the group, however the cultural barriers to still exist, particularly with Burma needing to approve which is doubtful. Anyway, thoughts anyone? FO
 
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Aussiegunneragain    FO   6/11/2008 9:41:22 AM
PS, what are you doing with yourself nowdays, have you finished uni yet? If not it must be getting pretty close. Any plans?
 
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fall out       6/11/2008 7:37:22 PM

PS, what are you doing with yourself nowdays, have you finished uni yet? If not it must be getting pretty close. Any plans?


Last year currently; once that is done I've been thinking of taking up Mandarin with possibly living in China for a few months.  Also wouldn't mind maybe doing something regarding journalism.  Not entirely sure really.

I would love to work as an analyst in the Canberra field; ONA, ASIS, DSO, DFAT, etc.  I do love living in Melbourne but!!

Pretty keen on travelling overseas just a for a while regardless of career; China, India, and then perhaps parts of the Mid-East, North Africa and maybe Europe or America.

What about yourself?  You still in Canberra?
 
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DropBear       6/11/2008 10:02:39 PM
Mate, I hate to say it but if you believe that having a chat to Burma's military leaders through ASEAN is going to have any influence on them, then you may as well start believing in the fairy's at the bottom of the garden. Furthermore, if you believe that ASEAN is going to issue any ultimatums to it's members in their internal affairs, then you could safely believe that Tinkerbell is f*cking the Chief Gnome ;-).
 
I always thought of the Australian Democrats as the political equivalent of the garden dwelling variety. 
 
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fall out       6/12/2008 12:09:57 AM








I don't think we should be tripping over ourselves to engage with ASEAN. Most of their work is ineffectual, they are far too tolerant of lousy regimes like Burma's and thier membership criteria has strong racist overtones. I don't want Australia to be seen to be lending credibility to that sort of rubbish by kow-towing to them. We have strong bilateral and multi-lateral defence ties in the region, so AFAIC we can afford to ignore this.






And what better way at influencing Burma's despotic regime than by joining in dialogue with them.



 Personally I think ASEAN should show some balls and issue an ultimatum, democratize or your not part of ASEAN anymore...



 On another note, what would people here think of a unified currency for the Asia-Pacific region?  Economics aside, travelling would be awesome, one currency, free movement across the world's largest and most populated area.




Mate, I hate to say it but if you believe that having a chat to Burma's military leaders through ASEAN is going to have any influence on them, then you may as well start believing in the fairy's at the bottom of the garden. Furthermore, if you believe that ASEAN is going to issue any ultimatums to it's members in their internal affairs, then you could safely believe that Tinkerbell is f*cking the Chief Gnome ;-).

 I didn't say that I believe it would do any good, I just said on principle in theory I'd like them to do it; however with International Relations being all about realism, sovereignty and authority revolving around the post-Westphalia nation-state, I know full well it ain't happening.

ASEAN is built on the principle of "non-interferance", i.e. don't tell the elites who run your neighbouring state that they are being naughty for oppressing and ripping off the great unwashed. In fact I think that "non-interferance" has even been allevated to the status of an "Asian Value", by those who it suits to do so. That's why ASEAN a particularily useless forum through which to address human-rights.

 A non-interferring pact that interferes with each other's trade and economy?  They do steer well clear of any reduction in their political, military or macroeconomic sovereignty and I don't see them reducing that.  However this particular issue is more about Australia joining ASEAN in it's current conception, not Australia changing the composition of the pact.

As for a unified currency, it ain't going to happen while there is so much economic disparity between the countries in the region. Can you imagine how difficult it would be if you had an event like the Asian financial crisis in 1997, which affected the likes of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Phillipines, but not Australia and Singapore? The central bank would have the impossible task of setting interest rates for widely varying economic circumstances. Also, if a strong economy like Australia dragged up the value of the regional currency it would destroy the competitiveness of weaker economies like Thailand, which rely on cheap exports and tourism for their economic development. It can only work in a place like Europe where there is a comparable levels of wealth.

I totally agree, I do believe that it should be a goal to be achieved towards in the medium to long term.



On another side note, I was pleased to see Rudd compare Europe and the EU to the newly proposed Asia-Pacific union.  People tend to have a very short memory when they look at Europe now and the terrific advancements they have made.  People tend to forget that humanities two most destructive conflicts occurred within 40 years, both fought primarily on European soil with Europeans v Europeans.

Asia is definately a different big picture but...

 
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Kevin Pork       6/12/2008 7:18:32 AM


On another side note, I was pleased to see Rudd compare Europe and the EU to the newly proposed Asia-Pacific union.  People tend to have a very short memory when they look at Europe now and the terrific advancements they have made.  People tend to forget that humanities two most destructive conflicts occurred within 40 years, both fought primarily on European soil with Europeans v Europeans.

Asia is definately a different big picture but...

There are a number of reasons to not care about Krudds APU, the main one is that it is just another bit of fluff created on the run to cover the embaressment generated by his last bit of off the cuff policy making - still, once he has achieved this he will be moving on creating a commision devoted to removing all nukes from the world (its funny no-one has thought of that before...)
regardless, I wouldn't be promoting the EU as something to aspire to, they all have unsustainable social services liabilities and are not making any effort to deal with them which means financial  collapse and the only people breeding to any significant degree in most EU countries are muslim immigrants - culturally the EU is circling the drain.
 


 
 
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Aussiegunneragain    FO   6/12/2008 9:00:34 AM
A non-interferring pact that interferes with each other's trade and economy?  They do steer well clear of any reduction in their political, military or macroeconomic sovereignty and I don't see them reducing that.  However this particular issue is more about Australia joining ASEAN in it's current conception, not Australia changing the composition of the pact.
 
That's not a very accurate characterisation of the effects of the non-interference principle. The trade arrangements were achieved only with the agreement of all the member states, so don't constitute interference in the affairs of other ASEAN countries.
 
The non-interference principle basically means that countries who are part of ASEAN are not free to even publicly critisise what is going on in another country. Acquescience to that sort of principle would create a major moral problem for Australia. Do you want our PM to have to keep his mouth shut about the barbarity wrought by the Burmese military during the recent cyclone? Do you want our Defence Minister and military brass sitting next to them at this military conference that is being talked about in the article? Would you have liked the Howard government to have felt constrained from pressuring the Indonesians to release East Timor in'99 when things went to the pot there?
 
I believe that we should be confident about promoting democracy and human rights in our region, as it is the best way to ensure our own security and is frankly just the right thing to do. As such signing up to these sort of ASEAN activities with the inevitable strings attached is folly AFAIC. We should continue to work on our bilateral relationships outside the ASEAN framework, as they combine to achieve better collective results than ASEAN membership would anyway.
 
 
 
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Aussiegunneragain    DB   6/12/2008 9:09:01 AM

Mate, I hate to say it but if you believe that having a chat to Burma's military leaders through ASEAN is going to have any influence on them, then you may as well start believing in the fairy's at the bottom of the garden. Furthermore, if you believe that ASEAN is going to issue any ultimatums to it's members in their internal affairs, then you could safely believe that Tinkerbell is f*cking the Chief Gnome ;-).
 

I always thought of the Australian Democrats as the political equivalent of the garden dwelling variety. 



That is the usual characterisation, though I think the Greens take the fairy godmother's crown nowdays.
 
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Aussiegunneragain    FO   6/16/2008 8:30:52 AM




PS, what are you doing with yourself nowdays, have you finished uni yet? If not it must be getting pretty close. Any plans?




Last year currently; once that is done I've been thinking of taking up Mandarin with possibly living in China for a few months.  Also wouldn't mind maybe doing something regarding journalism.  Not entirely sure really.

I would love to work as an analyst in the Canberra field; ONA, ASIS, DSO, DFAT, etc.  I do love living in Melbourne but!!

Pretty keen on travelling overseas just a for a while regardless of career; China, India, and then perhaps parts of the Mid-East, North Africa and maybe Europe or America.

What about yourself?  You still in Canberra?

Yeah, I'm still in Canberra. I like it, mainly because its where the jobs that I want are but also because its got a nice natural environment, is easy to get around and has a very educated, interesting population. Melbourne is a great town too though, lots of people who move here from there miss it.
Anyway, good luck with the travel and at becoming James Bond ;-).
 
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fall out    Asia-Pacific idea gaining suport: Smith   7/23/2008 7:25:47 PM

Australia's proposal for an Asia-Pacific Community by 2020 has received a warm response at regional talks in Singapore, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith says, denying Asian nations are wary.

Australia has been canvassing support for the plan in recent months, but Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia have reportedly been cool to the idea which some fear would see the Southeast Asian bloc lose influence.

"I've been very pleased with the response I've had from the colleagues I've spoken to ... largely because our intention here is to start a conversation ... about where we think the regional architecture might end up," Smith said.

"Neither Malaysia or Indonesia have told me they're not prepared to have the conversation."

Smith said that none of the current array of regional groupings, including ones linked to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Singapore this week, was comprehensive.

"The East Asia Summit, for example, doesn't include the United States. APEC doesn't include India, so there's no one piece of architecture where all the interested parties are in the room at the same time, talking both about economic and strategic and security matters," he said.

The East Asia Summit groups the 10 ASEAN nations together with partners Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

ASEAN secretary general Surin Pitsuwan last month welcomed the Asia-Pacific Community plan which would embrace the United States, China, Japan and India, saying it was a natural next step for the region.

"We welcome your new vision. We want to know more about it. We want to help you construct that community of a wider expanse with existing institutions serving as its foundation," he said.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has stressed the proposed community would build on existing regional institutions and would look to the successes of ASEAN in fostering cooperation in Southeast Asia.

Smith said the forum could either be a new creation, or evolve out of one of the existing groups, but stressed it was a long-term vision.

"The timetable that the Australian prime minister referred to was essentially 2020, so we're not talking about tomorrow here."

© 2008 AFP
 
---------
 
 
Long way to go is an understatement but every big journey starts with one small step so who knows.
 
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