Friday, July 31, 2009

Vanguard of the Nuance

Our new president claims he will restore our relations with the world, repairing the damage President Bush did with his cowboy ways. I argue our problems stem not so much from us but from our foes and reluctant allies.

So far, we've gotten little to show from so-called smart and nuanced diplomacy. But perhaps it's too early to show results.

So how is Australia doing without the southern hemisphere's cowboy, Prime Minister Howard? Kevin Rudd has had plenty of time to undo the damage, right?

Sadly, Australian-Chinese relations are in the dumpster (tip to Mad Minerva) despite Rudd's impeccable credentials that just screamed "nuance":

Who would have thought that Australia’s relations with China would nose-dive under Mandarin-speaking Prime Minister Kevin Rudd?

When Rudd took office, expectations were high on both sides. He believed that as a friend of China, and one well-versed in Chinese culture, he had some latitude to speak to Beijing frankly about issues that would annoy them, like Tibet.

China also seemed inclined toward Rudd, the only leader of a Western country known for his fluency in Mandarin.Beijing naturally thought that he would be sympathetic to Chinese interests.

But things soon started to go wrong.


It's almost as if it is China that is the problem, and not Australia's responses to China.

Perhaps we could learn from Australia's experience with nuance before things start really going wrong for us.