In the following pages we shall be concerned with recording the facts of Australian experience in the world organization in a period when, for a number of reasons, Australia's connexion with that body was more important than it has been since. But a mere recital of the main events of that time is not sufficient; an attempt has been made to interpret the facts in a particular way.
The broad assumption in what follows may be stated thus: there is, in any nation*s relations with other nations, a hard core of well-defined and traditional interests more or less explicitly recognized by all groups as sacrosanct. External forces tending either to advance or to detract from these interests will be reacted to by nearly all groups in a fairly predictable manner# No group in Australia would, for instance, contemplate for one moment a radical alteration_of the general pattern of immigration into Australia.
The extent to which these 'high-priority' interests are effectively preserved of course depends upon considerations of power. The preservation of such interests is, in effect, a useful criterion for determining whether national power is adequate. The continuity over a long period of time of a state incapable, through lack of sufficient power, of preserving its well recognized 'high-priority' interests may be regarded with suspicion. Conversely, an increase of national power may increase proportionately the number and breadth of interests regarded as vital.
But the pattern of international relations in the modern world, especially in peace-time and especially with the growth and complexity of international organization, is not wholly determined by nation-to-nation contacts of the kind indicated above. Less and less, nations are interacting solely on questions of peace and war; more and more are they co-operating in economic and social, as well as political, matters. As we should expect from the arena of international contact to be considered in the following pages, more emphasis will necessarily be given to this latter kind of international contact, although occasionally high-priority interests will be encountered (as on the question of immigration policy at San Francisco, and on the question of the retention of control in New Guinea and Nauru after 1945).
It is in the latter field of international contact that a nation's 'view of itself' or 'role' tends to be important. In international relations the role fulfilled by this or that unit (the nation) tends to be more a matter for its own determination than is encountered in other, tighter groups. ..................................