Australia is only five times our population which in theory still makes it a pretty small country, at best a small – medium one.
But what I like about them, is they have never thought of themselves as a minor country. They never go oh wow we are only 0.4% of the world’s population so lets not think we can’t have a proper defence force. They see themselves as a medium sized power, and in fact they are.
Howard shows this again today with a staggering A$1billion aid pledge just to Indonesia for tsunami relief.
Apart from the obvious humanitarian reasons for the aid, Howard has also set the stage for a radical redefining of the relationship between Australia and Indonesia, which could be hugely beneficial for regional stability.
Howard sees Australia as the major western power in this part of the world, despite their small population, and he is not afraid to be bold. Pledging that much aid to a country which many Australians worry is a likely adversary, could be unpopular back home, but I am sure Australians will back his leadership on this.
As tragic as the tsunami is, one has to take advantage of events as they happen. There is the potential to end the civil wars in Aceh and Sri Lanka, and redefine the relationship between Australia and Indonesia. Let’s hope such good does come out of such suffering.