No Enemies No Friends: Restoring Australia’s Global Relevance


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Deeply informed, finely written and passionate, Allan Behm’s No Enemies No Friends shows how much of Australia’s ability to successfully navigate an increasingly dangerous world demands that we look with the same sharp clarity at ourselves as at the world outside.” Allan Gyngell

In an era where the world seems divided and fractious amongst seismic geo-political shifts, Allan Behm offers optimism in the form of a way forward – one where Australia’s position is securer and our reputation improved. Behm’s thoughtful, insightful analysis, policy insights and strategic vision for the future offers hope in a time of political cynicism – one that would see us become our best self not just internationally but domestically as well.” Professor Larissa Behrendt

This is a necessary and valuable work, bursting with the wisdom of scholarship and to put it plainly, the accumulated confidence of age. Destined to become and remain important long after comparable works have been forgotten.” Professor Mark Kenny

A provocative book that turns the mirror on ourselves, our delusions, and our assumptions. In arguing for a recalibration of our strategic future it offers insights into the possibilities, more suited to our Realpolitik.” Former Chief of the Defence Force Admiral Chris Barrie AC, RAN (Ret’d). Honorary Professor, Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, ANU.

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No Enemies No Friends: Restoring Australia’s Global Relevance
Allan Behm

Weight 0.5 kg





320 Pages

About the book: The orthodoxy that increased defence spending will deliver increased national security confirms the status quo. But it does not help us to deal with shocks and surprises. How should Australia re-calibrate its national security settings to deal with global disruption? Australia’s cultural and historical experiences have shaped our security thinking. Our mindset is built around interlocking pathologies: racism, misogyny, isolation, insecurity, a brashness that masks a deep lack of self-confidence, and the perverse effects of the cultural cringe. This book is not about why Australia has become so good at getting things so bad. Rather, it suggests we have every capability to improve. It is less a lamentation for what might have been than a meditation on how to learn sure-footedness in our international affairs, in a new and less predictable world. We need to maintain a credible defence force, and invest in diplomacy to reduce our dependence on military force and defence alliances. This is crucial for the maintenance of our long-term security and confidence to become a significant international actor. Allan Behm has been thinking about international relations, national security and defence matters in the service of a strong democracy over his long career in public policy. About the author: Allan Behm specialises in political and security risk evaluation, policy analysis and development, and negotiating the policy/politics interface. Following a career spanning nearly thirty years in the Australian Public Service, he was Chief of Staff to Minister for Climate Change and Industry Greg Combet (2009 to 2013) and senior advisor to the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Penny Wong (2017–19). No, Minister – an insider’s account of what actually goes on in Parliament House – was published by MUP in 2015. Allan Behm is Director, International & Security Affairs Program at The Australia Institute in Canberra. In No Enemies No Friends, Allan Behm offers a forensic analysis of the “pathologies” of Australia’s strategic mindset. Unlike so many of his contemporaries, Behm’s detailed and historically grounded explanation of that mindset engages in an important critique of the stale, self-reinforcing orthodoxy of Australia’s national security policy club. Behm skewers the false promise of deterrence, offers a blistering critique of Australia’s relationship with the United States and the recently announced AUKUS alliance, and makes a compelling argument for a complete overhaul of Australia’s engagement with our region. And unlike so many of his fellow club-members, Behm refuses to draw artificial boundaries between Australia’s domestic and international politics and history. No Enemies No Friends faces the truth of Australia’s racist history and present head on, showing how central that is to this country’s security mindset – and, critically, the reactionary and shameful role Australia plays in the world today. As Behm so clearly demonstrates, there’s no remedying Australia’s foreign policy morass without first coming to terms, collectively, with our past. It is only then that we might begin the radical reconceptualisation of Australian foreign and security policy that we so urgently need. No Enemies No Friends calls for a collective reckoning, and a collective renewal of leadership, ambition and imagination. The book outlines practical ways to begin such a transformation, without ever pretending that it would be easy or that one analyst alone could possibly have all the answers. In his embrace of that complexity, Behm offers real hope for a radically different future for this country and its place in the world. Dr Emma Shortis RMIT University