Overview: Coral Mary Bell AO, who died in 2012, was one of the world’s foremost academic experts on international relations, crisis management and alliance diplomacy. This collection of essays by more than a dozen of her friends and colleagues is intended to honour her life and examine her ideas and, through them, her legacy.
Part 1 describes her growing up during the Great Depression and the Second World War, her short-lived sojourn in the Department of External Affairs in Canberra, where she was friends with some of the spies who worked for Moscow, and her academic career over the subsequent six decades, the last three of which were at The Australian National University.
Most of Coral’s academic career was spent in Departments of International Relations. She was disdainful of academic theory, but as discussed in Part 2, she had a very sophisticated understanding of the subject. She was in many ways a Realist, but one for whom agency, in terms of ideas (the beliefs and perceptions of policy-makers) and institutions (including conventions and norms of behaviour), essentially determined events.
Part 3 is concerned with power politics, including such matters as Cold War competitions, crisis management, alliance diplomacy, and US and Australian foreign policies. She recognised that power politics left untrammelled was inevitably catastrophic, and was increasingly attracted to notions of Concerts of Power.