Winning the Peace: Australia’s Campaign to Change the Asia-Pacific by Andrew Carr (review)
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Winning the Peace: Australia’s Campaign to Change the Asia-Pacific. By Andrew Carr. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2015. Softcover: 336pp.

This is a curiously titled book that the subtitle suggests will be an analysis of Australia’s efforts to promote region-wide organizations such as the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Asia in the 1990s and the Asia-Pacific Community of the 2000s. Indeed the subtitle implies that the aim of the book is to assess how effective Australian governments have been in their attempts to influence and shape the region. However, rather than examine the record of Australian Labor governments in promoting region-wide multilateral organizations, the focus of the book is actually on the success (and failure) of both Labor and Coalition governments to promote specific norms in three areas of Australian foreign policy: irregular migration; weapons of mass destruction (WMDs); and trade liberalization. What is even more curious is the title Winning the Peace, as this creates an image of a post-conflict era that does not fit well with the contemporary status of Asia-Pacific relations.

Luckily, what the book is about is much more interesting, and its real strength is its contribution to the debate over the role of Middle Powers. It is disappointing that this was not more clearly expressed in the title as this will limit its impact on the debate. Nevertheless, it is essential reading to anyone interested not only in Australia’s relations with its regional partners, but also for those analysing the role of Middle Powers not only in regional politics but also in being able to sufficiently influence the development of norms to shape the construction and maintenance of the regional and global order.

In setting out the context of the study, Andrew Carr identifies a key gap in the literature on Middle Powers and in norm promotion. Most of the literature on the former examines their preference to promote coalitions and multilateral mechanisms, whereas most literature examining the latter looks at the role of Great Powers, activists, bureaucrats and non-governmental organizations. What is missing is the role that Middle Powers play in promoting norms. It is this that Carr tests through a close examination of the past three decades of Australian diplomacy. In this he examines three factors that influence Middle Power promotion of norms. The first is the form of such norm development. That is, can Middle Powers achieve this alone, through multilateral organizations or in alliance [End Page 323] with Great Powers? The book’s conclusion is that the support of the United States allows Australia to play the role of norm diffuser especially at the global level. Carr also concludes that Australia has had greater success in norm promotion when acting independently than through large multilateral organizations which may prove to be too cumbersome rather than beneficial. The second factor that Carr examines is whether this influence has any geographic limitations. The study concludes that Australian influence is greatest in the near regions of the South Pacific and Southeast Asia and to a lesser extent Northeast Asia, while at the global level Australia has only limited influence on norm development. The final factor is whether Middle Power influence is more or less effective in the various phases of norm development: that is, during its emergence, cascade or internationalization. Carr argues that Australia has been effective as a norm entrepreneur and diffuser, but in the final stage of norm development it has been unwilling, or incapable, of acting as a norm stabilizer.

As a revised PhD dissertation, this book has an excellent conceptual framework chapter that explores the theoretical debate over the role of Middle Powers and norm promotion, and one that deserves wider exposure than this book will give it. Indeed the conceptual framework chapter should be used as an exemplar to all aspiring PhD candidates working on foreign and security policy-making dissertations. The book also contains individual chapters on the history of Australia’s foreign and defence policies, as well as Australia’s policies for each of the three norms under study. Each of these are useful standalone chapters for those interested in these issues...