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Fear of security : Australia’s Invasion Anxiety : [book review] Flower, Scott 2010

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Pacific Affairs: Volume 83, No. 4 – December 2010  80 FEAR OF SECURITY: Australia’s Invasion Anxiety. By Anthony Burke. New York; Port Melbourne (Australia): Cambridge University Press, 2008. xiii, 289 pp. US$29.99, paper. ISBN 978-0-521-71427-3. This book is an updated version of work previously published by Burke in 2001 under the same title. It traces the history of Australian conceptions of security from 1788 to the present and argues that themes of white racial supremacy and fear of non-whites have impacted on Australia’s attitudes and security policies towards Asia. Burke uses broad and sweeping yet accurate historical case studies to emphasize his central claim that Australian security policy is affected by Australian society’s long-held fear of foreign “others” (non-British/non-European peoples) and the possibility of losing “their” country as a result of invasion (and migration) by such foreigners. Furthermore, Burke claims this widely held invasion anxiety has been leveraged by Australian political figures over time to generate levels of fear that are disproportionate to actual threats (sometimes for political gain) to the detriment of security policy. A major aim of the book is to show that concepts of “security” and “Australianness” are artificial constructs and that these organizing principles have provided powerful symbols which have been used by respective Australian governments for their own purposes; the result being a poor understanding of the security environment and the implementation of sub-optimal security policy. The author clearly reviles this situation and encourages readers to break away from what he sees as an “inherited” and flawed approach to security, toward actively “making” a more “ethical” and “inclusive” approach to Australian security policy (235). Despite adding new material Burke’s over-arching approach and thesis remains largely unchanged since 2001. The critical security studies analysis labours on a relatively long-winded historical narrative to argue that security and foreign policy in Australia continues to be based on racist and exclusivist notions of security, “bounded by a power which seeks to enforce sameness, repress diversity, and diminish the rights (and claims to being) of those who live outside its [Australia’s] protective embrace” (20). The new material emphasizes the continuity between the more recent Howard era of Australian government with the past, claiming that under Howard there was a deliberate fostering of perceived insecurities including “the loss of home” and “the loss of an (imaginary) homogeneity” in a period of “increasingly visible diversity of Australian society and the enhanced power of Asian” countries (169-206). Fear of Security provides an interesting alternative assessment of Australian security policy from a cosmopolitan and moral philosophical perspective. However, the book left this reader with the impression that the author drew an extremely long bow to make his argument. Concluding that successive Australian governments’ racism has tended to justify security policy making  81 Electronic Book Review: Australasia and the Pacific Region by defining security in a way that justifies “massive insecurity and obliteration of others” is a polarized and unbalanced view that essentially misrepresents and downplays the full variety of other different and more influential factors influencing security policy. It also tends to overly conflate domestic issues involving migration and racial policy with security and foreign policy behaviour by effectively claiming racism as a major causal factor of security- policy decision making. The validity of Burke’s strong perspective on security policy would likely benefit from some testing via the greater use of extant, more specific, detailed and rigorous approaches to security-policy decision making at the elite and individual decision-maker levels (i.e., drawing psychological research and ethnographic methods to examine the relationship between race and policy). Despite these shortcomings Burke’s historical approach is useful in highlighting the ways in which some specific xenophobic fears have contributed to Australian government policies. This background is of contemporary importance given recent increases in the number of physical assaults on Asians in Australia, the impact of these assaults on how Australia is perceived by other countries in the Asian region, and the implications of such perceptions for foreign relations. I recommend the book to readers interested in international relations and global politics, and especially those interested in critical security-studies approaches to Australian security and foreign-policy decision making. The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia  scoTT floWer REMAKING THE TASMAN WORLD. By Philippa Mein Smith, Peter Hempenstall and Shaun Goldfinch. Christchurch, New Zealand: University of Canterbury Press, 2008. 296 pp. (Tables, figures, B&W and coloured photos.) US$24.95, paper. ISBN 978-1-877257-62-9. In 2001, one hundred years after Australian federation, James Belich published a general history of twentieth-century New Zealand in which he argued that the creation of the Commonwealth of Australia led to the death of the “Tasman World.” Prior to 1901, according to Belich, New Zealand and the states that came to be known collectively as Australia enjoyed an extensive economic, political, social and cultural relationship. But when Australia federated New Zealand turned its attention to the motherland, and entered into a “recolonial” relationship with Britain (James Belich, Paradise Reforged: A History of the New Zealanders From the 1880s to the Year 2000, Allan Lane/ Penguin, Auckland, 2001). Remaking the Tasman World says very little about New Zealand’s ties with Britain, but Philippa Mein Smith, Peter Hempenstall and Shaun Goldfinch, along with contributors Rosemary Baird and Stuart


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