By Peter Woolcott AO
I have recently responded to correspondence asking why Australia has decided not to participate in recent negotiations towards a nuclear ban treaty. Given that this is an important policy position – and one where Australia’s position differs to that taken by New Zealand – I thought it would be useful to share my response more widely. I have also addressed comments regarding Australia’s support for progressing the Arms Trade Treaty.
“Geography is destiny” is a much debated diplomatic polemic, reportedly first uttered by Napoleon.* The saying may be an oversimplification, but it has always had an element of truth to it. There is no doubt that people’s opportunity and threat analysis has always been heavily influenced by who is nearby. States such as Singapore, Italy or Kazakhstan have traditionally had a fundamentally different set of strategic calculations than Australia and New Zealand because of geography.