The Howard government's foreign policy: Really realist?

Several scholars have suggested that the Howard government took a Realist approach to foreign policy, and others have claimed that it made important deviations from Realism. This article constructs a template of a Realist foreign policy and examines the Howard government's policies against it. It finds that the government scores highly on two of the indicators of Realism – emphasis on military power and lack of enthusiasm for multilateral institutions – and scores fairly well on the third, the subordination of values promotion to the advancement of interests. The Howard government, however, promoted democracy and human rights in situations in which no other Australian interest was involved, so its Realism was somewhat modified. The foreign policy of the Howard government has been characterised by several scholars as being in the Realist tradition of all Australian Liberal–National governments. Other scholars, however, have noted an important set of departures from that tradition, sparked, they say, by the imperatives of domestic politics. This article seeks to examine more closely the question of the Realist nature of recent Australian foreign policy. It will seek to establish a template of a Realist foreign policy, assess the Howard government's policies against that template and, finally, suggest how the Howard government's foreign policy may best be characterised.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
McCraw, D. (2008). The Howard Government s Foreign Policy: Really Realist? Australian Journal of Political Science, 43(3), 465-480.
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