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IR Working Paper 1992/7
James L. Richardson, ‘The Gulf War and Australian Political Culture’, IR Working Paper 1992/7, Canberra: Department of International Relations, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University, November 1992.
This paper surveys the domestic political debates occasioned by Australia’s participation in the Gulf War, and locates the survey within a series of broader, ongoing concerns about the distinctive features of Australian political culture. The analysis dwells upon three issues: the tensions between regional ambitions and alliance imperatives that tug at the overall orientation of Australian policy; the characteristics and determinants which limited the political debate about the war; and the attitudes to war revealed through the crisis. The argument points to the relevance of some unflattering manifestations of what is, in essence, a utilitarian political culture; a deep-seated sense of isolation; an unreflective provincialism; and all too easy embrace of arguments of the last resort.