Book Review: Mark Beeson and Shahar Hameiri. 2017. Navigating the New International Disorder. Australia in World Affairs 2011–2015

Published date01 August 2018
Date01 August 2018
Subject MatterBook Reviews
Book Reviews 219
Mark Beeson and Shahar Hameiri. 2017. Navigating the New International
Disorder. Australia in World Affairs 2011–2015. Oxford: Oxford University
Press. 320 pp. ISBN: 978-0-19-559624-3
DOI: 10.1177/2347797018783126
The latest in the quadrennial series of ‘Australia in World Affairs’ adopts a new
format under the helm of this volume’s distinguished editors Mark Beeson and
Shahar Hameiri. Specifically, Navigating the New International Disorder employs
a thematic approach rather than capsule reviews of Australia’ bilateral relations
previously undertaken. The contents span 15 chapters, including the introduction,
and are divided into five parts under the rubrics of: (a) ‘Australia and ‘World
Order’, (b) ‘Security’, (c) ‘Prosperity’, (d) ‘Global Issues’ and (e) ‘Managing
Australia’s Foreign Policy’ (with a ‘foreword’ provided by former diplomat and
Deputy Prime Minister, Kim Beazley). The editors tap into the notion of global
disorder as an overarching leitmotiv, exploring the difficult challenges for an
Australian establishment too attuned to the status quo and reluctant to depart from
previously beneficial foreign policy formulas. On this basis, the book provides a
comprehensive digest of the latest events, trends and perspectives in Australian
foreign policy.
To expedite this task, the editors have assembled a thoroughly impressive and
diverse range of scholars. Beeson and Hameiri perfectly set the stage for the
following parts in their superb introduction. They point out that ‘Australian foreign
policy-making has never been simple, but the current global environment is
rendering it increasingly difficult and unpredictable’ (p. 15). The ‘power transition’
underway from a declining USA to a rising China, the prevalence of many
complex or ‘wicked problems’—especially in the sphere of ‘non-traditional
security’—the emergence of populism in Australian politics and the tighter
interplay of the domestic and international policy spheres (intermestic politics)
are just some of the destabilizing trends identified by the authors. All of these issues
set the tone for the chapters that follow, focusing on more specialist topics. As is
always the case for edited volumes, no reviewer can do complete justice to all
the contributions. I have opted here to profile chapters that stood out for me
on the basis of my own particular research interests and perspectives (a fact
that in no way detracts from chapters not commented upon). I therefore
largely, but not exclusively confine my appraisal to the first two parts: ‘world
order’ and ‘security’.
First, Andrew Philips provides a brilliant backgrounder on ‘Australia and inter-
national order-building’ from Federation to the present. He charts the ‘evolving
systemic context in which Australian foreign policy-making has played out’
(p. 19). He makes three central claims—that Australia has been an ‘extraverted
power’ seeking support from a dominant Anglo/American hegemon, that a secure
international environment has been seen as a prerequisite for internal nation-
building, and it has experienced ‘punctuated equilibrium’—periods of stability
and continuity interrupted by moments of crisis and rapid shifts in Australia’s
position. In a very interesting follow-on from this, Nick Bisley then points to a

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