Looking for a foreign policy, Mr. Harper? Try Australia’s John Howard (PAUL EVANS AND YUEN PAU WOO, 5/18/06, Globe and Mail)

Australian Prime Minister John Howard has a record that is the envy of conservative leaders around the world. Recently elected to a fourth term (with an enhanced majority, to boot), he has charted a distinctive and largely successful course for Australia’s international relations over the past decade.

As the Harper government begins to formulate its own approach to foreign policy, Mr. Howard arrives in Ottawa at an opportune moment.

Under Mr. Howard’s leadership, Australia’s ties with the United States have warmed considerably, stemming in large part from Canberra’s staunch support for U.S.-led anti-terrorism initiatives and the invasion of Iraq. Mr. Howard has a relationship with George W. Bush that Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin were never able to strike. In 2005, Australia signed a free-trade agreement with the U.S., joining an elite club of countries that have preferential access to the richest market in the world.

The most important lesson from Canberra is not the closer relationship to Washington. Rather, it is the way that Australia has burnished its credentials as a serious player in Asia and invested in a long-term strategy for commercial and diplomatic success in the region.

Even allowing for geography, Australia has outperformed Canada in a variety of areas.

The Canadians just need to accept that they’re a part of the Anglosphere/Axis of Good and not geopolitical virgins.

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