Monday, October 23, 2006

Australia: Bully of the South Pacific?

The Land Down Under has generally been seen as one of the leading powers in the Asia-Pacific region, both for its long standing and stable democracy as well as the influence -- undue from some perspectives -- it holds over a number of South Pacific countries. Today, Canberra indicated that it wanted to continue to help other countries in the Southern Hemisphere but along with aid would have to come financial and political reforms.

Some countries, like the Solomon Islands and Papua-New Guinea, fear that this could mean that Australia could pull out peacekeeping forces and plunge both nations back into civil war. Others see it as just plain bullying. Frankly, I think there's nothing wrong with what the John Howard government is demanding.

This is often called "linkage," and until recent times it was also a hallmark of Canada's foreign policy -- until Jean Chrétien et sequens started to coddle the butchers in Beijing, Rangoon and Singapore. I've said it before and I'll say it again: We should not trade with any country who continues to treat its citizens with contempt. We need to make linkage national policy again here in Canada.

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