Student Perspective: Australian Ambassador Kim Beazley Visits IR 303
By Yining Bei
Seeing abstract classroom concepts translate into real-life figures or events has always been an awe-inspiring experience. The visit of Kim Beazley, the Ambassador of Australia to the United States, to our Diplomacy and Leadership class was no exception.
In his one-hour talk, Ambassador Beazley gave a broad overview of Australia’s foreign policy strategies from the end of WWII, a period of wholehearted support for UN collective security, to the Cold War, when Australia’s preoccupation shifted to its alignment with the west for survival, and finally to the present. Beazley elaborated on Australia’s growing importance to the US due to increasing geopolitical significance of Southeast Asia, its leadership in multilateral regional organizations, and its role as a “channel of communication” between the US and the rest of the US allies in Asia. On the other hand, Beazley emphasized that Australia’s dependency on the US was far greater now than ever. According to him, Australia was only able to surpass its neighbors, in a more and more trouble-filled region, with access to American technological, economic and security support.
Beazley dedicated the final and most revealing part of his talk to describing his job as the Ambassador. He generously shared inside stories of how he played a role in negotiating with the Congress to pass the Defense Trade Cooperation Treaty and more recently, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Moreover, he contributed to such debates that we had in class as “political appointments v. career ambassadors”, as one of the only three political appointees of Australian Foreign Service. Also, he spent time detailing his handling of diplomatic cables, complementing our previous class discussions on George Kennan’s Long Telegram and assignments that analyzed cables sent by the US Embassy in Kenya.