Category Archives: Foreign Affairs and Trade

RICHARD BUTLER. The many risks we run – Trump and the US. (Part 2 of 2)

The deep-seated argument taking place within the US polity, partly but not only because of the mess being presided over by President Trump, makes even more urgent the need for a thorough-going review of Australia’s foreign policy, including how we … Continue reading

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RICHARD BUTLER. The many risks we run – United Nations (Part 1 of 2)

The United Nations continues to be vital in the humanitarian field, but is failing in its role of maintaining international peace and security. The continuing abuse of their veto power, by the permanent five members of the Security Council, is … Continue reading

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RAMESH THAKUR. India’s democracy is strained by illiberalism

India continues to be robustly, even chaotically, democratic. But its freedom is under growing threat. 

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MACK WILLIAMS. Canberra wrong-footed in our region?

For Ms Bishop to be talking in Singapore about China and democracies, the Japanese “big ship” and rallying the claimants while pleading with the US to remain staunchly committed in the region certainly is risky. We could be exposed as … Continue reading

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DUNCAN MacLAREN. ‘Game On’ as UK Split Looms over Brexit

Just as David Cameron’s idiocy in calling for an EU referendum to appease his rabid right-wing has made him the godfather of Brexit, so May, in treating Scotland like a trinket which the UK has to “keep”, to say nothing … Continue reading

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GEOFF MILLER. Too Nuclear to Fail?

The North Korean launch of four missiles towards the west coast of japan, reportedly accompanied by boasts about a coming ability to hit the continental United States with an ICBM, has raised the level of tension in North East Asia. … Continue reading

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RICHARD BUTLER. Contemplating the Use of Nuclear weapons?

A nuclear arms race between the US and Russia has resumed. The US is increasing the power and effectiveness of its weapons threefold, President Trump has indicated that he is prepared to contemplate using nuclear weapons to achieve some of … Continue reading

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CAVAN HOGUE. Why do we hate President Assad of Syria?

The US opposes Assad because he is not their son of a bitch and so supports a motley bag of groups with little in common who are probably no better than Assad. The elimination of ISIS is certainly desirable but … Continue reading

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MACK WILLIAMS. Joint patrols with Indonesia in the South China Sea?

Has Foreign Minister Bishop finally been able to kill off the proposed joint Australia: Indonesia patrols in the South China Sea ?  

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ANDREW FARRAN. The Tactical Strike Force fighter to stalk terrorists – really!

Why does the Prime Minister extoll our expensive F-35s as instruments for killing terrorists in irrelevant conflicts when their purpose is to protect the nation against threats of strategic dimensions were they to arise, not now but in the decades … Continue reading

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RICHARD BUTLER. It Now Begins, in Earnest.

Governing in earnest now begins in the US under the new Administration. The Congress, still deeply divided, will need to make sense of Trump’s sketchy proposals. They are unlikely to agree or succeed. The need for Australia to review and … Continue reading

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JAMES O’NEILL. Australian foreign policy and Israel: an enduring disgrace.

The recent visit to Australia by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the forthcoming foreign policy White Paper should provide an opportunity for Australia to re-examine its support for the State of Israel. There is however, every indication that the … Continue reading

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RAMESH THAKUR. The Trump effect and Japan

Japan has an exceptional opportunity, while maneuvering to remain close to Washington, to reduce its unhealthy security and economic dependency on the United States, and to educate the U.S. administration on the merits and benefits of the key planks of … Continue reading

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ANDREW FARRAN. Some good news on trade at last.

The WTO’s long awaited multilateral Trade Facilitation Agreement has at last received the required number of ratifications and entered into force on 22nd February. It will expedite the movement and clearance of goods at the border and at airports, and … Continue reading

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RICHARD WOOLCOTT. The US has ‘wasted $6 trillion’ in the Middle East without achieving any success.

In a statement on 27 February President Trump said that the United States had spent $ 6 trillion in the Middle East and had ” got nowhere “. It had produced  a “mess” and a ” hornet’s nest “. In … Continue reading

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JAMES O’NEILL. Iran and the new multipolar world.

During the last Presidential campaign, the Republican nominee Donald Trump made a variety of statements that suggested a changing focus in US foreign policy.      He promised, inter alia, no more attempts at regime change, an effective fight against the terrorist … Continue reading

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RAMESH THAKUR. Contrasting US and UN leaders: The brash disruptor vs. the softly softly conciliator

Both UN Secretary-General (SG) Antonio Guterres and US President Donald Trump took office in January. They could not be more different in background, temperament, experience and leadership style. Trump is brash, loud, vulgar, an amateur outsider and the ultimate disruptor, … Continue reading

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JAMES O’NEILL. Australia and the Iraq War: some new revelations.

“It is difficult not to conclude that Howard’s statement to Parliament on 18 March 2003 following his telephone conversation with Bush was a political statement designed to bolster what was an untenable decision to commit Australia to yet another foreign … Continue reading

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PAUL CLEARY. How Australia wasted the mining boom.

The countries that have mastered the development of their resources, most notably Norway, worked out long ago that to truly prosper in the long run, the citizens who own these assets are entitled to share in the super profits derived … Continue reading

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TIM LINDSEY. Jokowi Lite: The Indonesian president’s non-visit

The relationship between our two countries is now back on a more normal diplomatic footing for the moment but we need to do better than that if we are to make the most of our proximity to this gigantic nation … Continue reading

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RAMESH THAKUR. Trump’s assault on the liberal international order

There is considerable skepticism about U.S. President Donald Trump’s commitment to uphold the post-1945 liberal international order crafted under American leadership and underwritten by U.S. military power, economic heft and geopolitical clout. Trump’s pre-election statements on trade, immigration, alliances and … Continue reading

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RICHARD WOOLCOTT. Policy for now and the future.

The United States has led Australia into one lost war ( Viet Nam),two ongoing losing wars ( the second invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan ) and,most recently, into the dubious operations in Syria opposing Assard . Russia ,China and Iran … Continue reading

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CAVAN HOGUE. Ukraine – a pox on both your houses?

A solution to the fighting in Ukraine will require agreement and cooperation by three parties without undue interference from outsiders. The three parties are the Russian Government, the Ukrainian Government and the Eastern Ukrainian rebels. The outsiders are NATO and … Continue reading

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GREGORY CLARK. Amazing 1964 Hasluck request to Moscow for help over Vietnam

In 1964, I was witness to another independent Canberra initiative over Vietnam. It was a bizarre attempt by then External Affairs minister, Paul Hasluck, to persuade Moscow to join with the West in Vietnam to stop alleged Chinese aggression. 

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RAMESH THAKUR. The nuclear deal with Iran was a triumph of global diplomacy, not a success of US sanctions

The deal (with Iran) is worth defending for three reasons: it is a good accommodation of each side’s bottom lines; sanctions may not have been as decisive as the hawks seem to believe in explaining Iran’s signature; and unilateral US … Continue reading

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GEORGE BROWNING. Benjamin Netanyahu – Hero or Villain?

Benjamin Netanyahu is about to make an historic visit to Australia.   Should he come and how should he be received? Having just guided legislation through the Knesset ‘legalising’ the illegal: settler outposts on private Palestinian land; he has seemingly set … Continue reading

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JOHN TULLOH. What will Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop say to Benjamin Netanyahu?

     It would be intriguing to know the position Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop intend to adopt in talks when the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, visits Australia this week. It comes a week after Netanyahu had startling discussions with … Continue reading

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TONY KEVIN. Update on Trump impeachment possibilities, and reaction in Moscow

The US liberal media onslaught on Donald Trump’s claimed absolute unsuitability for the US presidency continues. In every possibly way, Trump is being dissected forensically and brutally.   

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JAMES O’NEILL. General Flynn’s resignation raises fresh dangers.

As is now customarily the case, the mainstream media both failed to put Flynn’s actions in their proper context, and even more seriously failed to understand the significance of this week’s events.  

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RAMESH THAKUR. Australia needs to wake up, grow up.

Without abandoning ANZUS but downsizing it considerably, Australia must chart an independent foreign policy according to a Canberra-based calculation of national values and interests. Or does Australia really want to make the transition to aligning with Trump’s view that if … Continue reading

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