Realism Vs Multilateralism

1993 Words 8 Pages
There is a strong connection between theory and policy: the former inspires policy and the latter provides examples to theory (Jervis, 2004). Building upon this correlation, this paper analyses whether Australian Labor and Coalition approaches to Foreign and Defence policy are biased towards two main theories of International Relations: Realism and Liberalism. To this extent, it will be argued that the Labor Party tends to adopt a Liberal lens in Foreign and Defence policy, while the Coalition has a more Realist approach. However, as pointed out by Walt, theories are ‘casual explanations’ that ‘invariably simplify reality in order to render it comprehensible’ (Walt, 2005: 26). Indeed, although they provide a useful tool for understanding
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Therefore, as democracies arguably do not go to war with each other, Liberal values such as free trade should be promoted throughout the world to ensure a ‘perpetual’ peaceful environment (Doyle, 2005). Moreover, international institutions should constitute the starting point for cooperation. After having discussed the tenets of Realism and Liberalism, this paper will proceed by evaluating whether those two theories can be applied to Labor and Coalition approaches to multilateralism and bilateralism.

Multilateralism versus bilateralism
Multilateralism is defined by the neoliberal institutionalist Robert Keohane as ‘the practice of coordinating national policies in groups of three or more states, through ad hoc arrangements or by means of institutions’ (Keohane, 1990: 731). On the other hand, bilateralism can be regarded as two states cooperating and engaging in two-way policies, while unilateralism as a state addressing international issues with a one-way approach. Nevertheless, despite their differences, those three approaches should not be perceived as mutually exclusive but rather as diverse patterns of a larger strategic plan. Historically speaking, the Labour Party has always privileged a
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Indeed, starting from $ 19 billion in 2000-01, the total expense for the Australian military has massively increased to $ 35.6 billion in 2015-16 (Defence budget, 2016). Therefore, it is self-evident that both the Labour Party and the Coalition have indistinctively favoured the expansion of the Australian Defence Force, primarily because of the overall militarisation of the region and with China as the first ‘scariest’ case. However, it would be wrong to assume that this increased defence expenditure necessarily leads to a physically larger ADF. Indeed, through the analysis of past Defence White Papers from 2000 to 2016 it can be noticed that the two parties invested money differently. On the one hand, the Labour Party, without denying the significance of a capable and strong ADF, has been focused on research and innovation with special regards to cyber-security and intelligence. Indeed, it firmly believes that Australia should be engaged in maintaining its military force rather than increasing it, while redirecting money towards trade and peacekeeping operations (Defence White Paper, 2013). This approach sounds therefore Liberal in its willingness to promote cooperation and humanitarian aid or intervention in opposition to an increase in Australia’s military power, which would be likely to stimulate a regional arms-race. On the other hand,

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