John Howard’s Australia and September 11

Anwyl, Ben (2016) John Howard’s Australia and September 11. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


The literature on the performance of Australia’s centre-right government led by John Howard (1996-2007) has tended to underplay the role of September 11 in his electoral success. To win four terms of continuous government in the contemporary political scene is, however, no mean feat, ensuring Howard a place in the pantheon of celebrated conservative leaders in the English-speaking world. Our framework is the celebrated gestalt developed by Fred I. Greenstein to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of each American President. Based on a series of interviews with Howard, the inner sanctum around him, other players in the political scene, and expert commentators, this thesis interrogates the leadership of John Howard in Greenstein’s terms. Each of the six skills and attributes in the Greenstein typology is viewed in specific ways from the standpoint of the two dozen interviewees. In areas where Howard was in some sense or other deficient or lacking, his experience in government, notably September 11, had a positive effect on his capacity for leadership. This analysis serves to help us approach the central question of this thesis, namely, what is the role of leader in the formation of a nation’s foreign policy? This question has been debated in the International Relations (IR) field for several generations of scholarship, and is most closely associated with the name of James N. Rosenau. The case of John Howard in the reformulation of Australian foreign policy in the aftermath of September 11 is an example on the ‘yes’ side of the ledger in that important debate. Where the Greenstein framework is important is to help us to see that these epochal events in IR can shape leaders as well as be shaped by them.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1605 Policy and Administration
Historical > FOR Classification > 1606 Political Science
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > College of Arts
Keywords terrorist attacks, 2001, 2000s, government, politics, political theory, foreign policy, biography, John Howard, prime ministers, cognitive style, emotional intelligence, vision, public communication, organisational capacity, leadership skills, Australia
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