'This deeply researched and penetrating study of Australian foreign policy from the earliest days – with scrupulous use of secret files and close analysis of historical events – demonstrates convincingly that its essential continuity is rooted in the power and interests of the private sector, where fundamental economic decisions are made. Those demands determine the “national interest” and the goal of securing a political order that responds to them. A very valuable and instructive exercise in authentic realism, with lessons that generalize broadly.' - Noam Chomsky
'Fernandes' book, on a vital Australian theme, is stimulating and debate-arousing.' - Geoffrey Blainey
Island off the Coast of Asia: Instruments of Statecraft in Australian Foreign Policy is an unprecedented 230-year Australian study that reveals the central role of economic actors in defining and pursuing the ‘national interest’. Australia’s search for security has meant much more than protection from military invasion. It includes the security of economic interests, and the pursuit of a political order that secures them. This view of security has deep roots in Australia’s geopolitical tradition. Australia began its existence on the winning side of a worldwide confrontation between imperial powers and the rest of the world. The book shows that the ‘organising principle’ of Australian foreign policy is to stay on the winning side of the global contest. Australia has pursued this principle in war and peace, using the full arsenal of diplomacy, law, investment, research, negotiations, military force and espionage. This book uses many decades of secret files to reveal the inner workings of high-level policy.