This chapter shows how hegemonic attempts to define and solidify Australian national identity have always been contested and unstable. It elucidates how Australian national conflict has been linked with tangible conflicts over land, injustice and power, and how they have been closely intertwined with anxieties about insecurity. The chapter argues that such a politics forestalls the achievement of a holistic and non-militarized security based upon the emancipation of human beings. It also argues that the operation of security politics gravely distorts Australian defence and foreign policy and directly endangers both others and the state's own citizens. The chapter suggests a range of ways in which the practices and conceptualizations of security, identity and sovereignty in Australia need to be refigured if Australian defence and security policy is to be rebalanced. It is important to place systems and processes of representation in security affairs, and politics more generally, under critical scrutiny.
This book addresses some of the neglected problems, people and vulnerabilities of the Asia-Pacific region. It talks about emancipation, human security, 'security politics', language and threat-construction. The book is divided into three sections: agents; strategies and contexts; and futures. The first section outlines a range of possible agents or actors potentially capable of redressing individual suffering and vulnerability in the region. It examines East Asian regional institutions and dynamics of regionalism as potential sources of 'progressive' security discourses and practices. There is focus on the progressive security potential of regional institutions and regionalism has become increasingly prominent in literature on security in the Asia-Pacific. Two common interpretations of the role of epistemic communities in the construction of security are contested: that they are either passive sources of governmental legitimacy, or autonomous agents with the capacity of constructing or creating state interests. The second section reviews strategies and contexts, outlining a range of different sites of insecurity in the region, the ways in which dominant security discourses and practices emerge, and the extent to which such discourses are contested in different contexts. Indonesian government's approach to minority groups and separatism, the issue of civil unrest and human rights abuses in Burma, and the Australian government's attitude towards refugees and asylum-seekers are discussed. The third section deals with security futures, specifically discussing the question of what alternative security discourses and practices might look like. Finally, the book outlines a feminist critical security discourse and examines its applicability to the Asia-Pacific region.
The Asia-Pacific region is divided into distinct security paradigms that are governed by differing normative and structural frameworks and differing levels of greater power influence and involvement. This chapter outlines the combination of theoretical, policy and institutional frameworks in the region and the ways that they can be challenged by a critical security analysis. The first approach to critical security can be defined as a reconstructive project, aimed at advancing alternative claims of what security is or should mean. The North Korean regime's nuclear test in October 2006 served to underscore the sense of volatility associated with the Northeast Asian region, for some indicating the primacy of traditional modes of thinking about security and threat. The comprehensive security appears to capture the holistic and interdependent nature of insecurity processes and to incorporate the kind of liberal norms present in numerous Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) documents.