Wanted: a pessimistic Foreign Minister

As I write this I have playing in my headphones an excruciating live stream of Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, launching something called the New Colombo Plan.

Apparently in the 1950s Australia brought in foreign students from the surrounding region, to learn all about us and then go back home, in the interests in building good relations. All well and good.

So, now the Abbott government feels the need to reverse the process. The government will now pay to send our kids out into the region to learn about foreign countries.

The obvious question is: why go overseas when our major cities are chock-a-block full of Asians and Indians and Pacific Islanders? The region is already here by the millions. These immigrants are on planes every day going back home for holidays. The region knows all about us.

But, more importantly, it's a diversion from the main game in Asia. China just annexed a new chunk of the East China Sea as a new Air Defence Zone. I'm guessing our friends in Asia are more interested in what we're going to do to stop China than in exchanging students i.e. are we and the USA going to stop China's expansion?

The New Colombo Plan is a symbol of a government which is all optimism, all smiles, and no brains, and no prudence.

The globalisation chickens are coming home to roost. Trade is not leading to peace, it is leading to war. We're seeing more local companies die off (Qantas, Holden) and what do we get for it? China on a war path: bought and paid for by your trade dollars.

It's like John Kerry and Hillary Clinton rushing off for another round of Middle-East talks as if, finally, all it needed was a new foreign minister with a smile to come along and solve everything.

China and the Middle-East will not be solved with smiles and good will.

File under: less smiles and more stares please.

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