National interest in an increasingly globalised world
Date of this Version
‘National interest’ is a complex term and has defied successful definition. Like ‘justice’, it can be an emotive term on which opinions differ. This indeterminateness impedes rational debate on foreign policy. In origin, ‘national interest’ is linked with the idea of a nation-state. The problem here is that many modern nations are not states, and many states do not represent nations. Australia was comprised of a number of British colonies, which subsequently joined together in a federation. This is also true of the US, but its revolutionary origins and the passage of time have perhaps melded the former colonies in a way that has not occurred in Australia. In the case of Australia, the colonists invaded land over which indigenous inhabitants had wandered for centuries with no concept of ownership other than a mystical relationship with that land, nor any concept of nationhood or state other than clans or tribes. Whether there is a law of peoples is still highly controversial in international law…
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