Australians used to call themselves "the lucky country," after the title of a 1960s' best-seller saying how farming wealth had allowed Australia to create a stable, prosperous and fairly egalitarian society.

But today's minerals wealth seems to have worked in reverse, to create a nation prone to quick fixes, whimsical political changes, flip-flop foreign policies and crazy economic strategies. From the sober lucky country we move to the feckless happy-go-lucky country.

For example, Australia's economy has long depended heavily on minerals exports to China. But Canberra is still so caught up in its long-festering anti-China fears that it is now offering Washington the bases and other cooperation needed for U.S. anti-China military strategies. And it is busy creating close military links with a Japan also now girding up for future confrontations with China. Despite these moves it tries to insist that they will not harm its heavy resource reliance on China.