Dr Wesley Widmaier - Constructing Friendships, Constructing Crises

Dr Wesley Widmaier - Constructing Friendships, Constructing Crises

Australian Foreign Policy Pragmatism across Imperial, Hegemonic and Reformist Orders

Over the past century, Australian foreign policy has been marked by the search for “great and powerful friends,” to provide security and economic guarantees. Yet, even where such friendships have provided initial benefits, they have over time suffered diminishing returns. In this talk, I highlight this interplay of stability and instability, arguing that even as great power friendships initially limit uncertainty regarding the balance of power and economic policy purposes, they can subsequently fuel misplaced confidence, risk taking, and instability. Deploying this framework, I then trace Australian foreign policy development over twentieth-century Imperial, Hegemonic, and Reformist eras, juxtaposing security and economic policy excesses. First, I trace the rise and demise of a UK-backed Imperial order through the Depression and collapse at Singapore. Secondly, I trace the emergence and fall of a US-backed Crusading order through Vietnam and the Stagflation of the 1970s. Finally, I address the construction of an eroding Reformist order, as it has faced new pressures across the War on Terror and Global Financial Crisis. In conclusion, I address theoretical, historical and policy implications.

About the presenter:

Wesley Widmaier is Senior Fellow/Associate Professor in the Department of International Relations at the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, and is also the Director of Research for the department. His research addresses the interplay of wars, crises, and change – and the ways in which stability can cause instability, a concern that spans International Political Economy and International Security debates. From the International Political Economy side, Widmaier’s work addresses the historical development of economic ideas, institutions, and interests, as the ‘lessons’ of past crises can be over-learned in ways that contribute to future crises. He has engaged these concerns across publications in leading journals spanning Review of International Political Economy, New Political Economy, International Studies Quarterly, Millennium, and Review of International Studies. Most recently, he has published a book-length study concerning these issues, Economic Ideas in Political Time: The Rise and Fall of Economic Orders from the Progressive Era to the Global Financial Crisis (Cambridge University Press, 2016).

Read more about Dr Widmaier

Date & time

Thu 16 May 2019, 12–2pm


LJ Hume Centre, Copland Building, ANU


Dr Wesley Widmaier


Feodor Snagovsky


Updated:  16 May 2019/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications