Category Archives: International Affairs

HAJO DUKEN. Brexit, preservation of the UK union and a deep and special relationship with the EU – two out of thre e ain’t bad (but far from certain)

Whenever we think that the level of absurdity in this drama cannot be exceeded, we are proven wrong. It appears that England (not the whole of the UK) has virtually decided that the earth is flat. Is a no-deal horror … Continue reading

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STUART REES, Trump/Kushner Deal of the Century: ‘Money, Money, Money, It’s A Rich Man’s World’

  The Trump/Kushner Israeli/Palestinian Peace Plan, ‘the deal of the century’, was presented in a workshop held in the Manama Hotel, Bahrein on June 25. The authors emphasised economic proposals not political considerations, but their deal had a more sinister … Continue reading

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RAMESH THAKUR. Trump’s strategic incoherence on India policy Part 2

In an editorial to mark Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent visit, The Times of India alluded to US policy incoherence in urging Washington to make up its mind between dealing with India as an ally or a frenemy. Earlier, in February … Continue reading

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HUGH WHITE. Australia needs to give up its South Pacific dream (AFR 13-14.7.2019)

What can Australia do to restore and preserve our sphere of influence in the South Pacific, and deny it to China?  

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RAMESH THAKUR. Trump’s strategic incoherence on India policy Part 1

The distance from hubris to delusion is short and the Trump administration is bent on covering it in a sprint in its India policy. Diffuse reciprocity is the diplomatic glue that holds international relationships together. A healthy and long-lasting bilateral relationship rests upon … Continue reading

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JOHN McCARTHY. The Darroch Affair.

The comments from Sir Kim Darroch, British Ambassador to Washington, in a wad of his classified messages to London are a juicy read. President Trump “radiates insecurity” while his administration is “uniquely dysfunctional” and riven by “knife fights”. Trump could … Continue reading

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HUGH WHITE. Why Pacific nations would host a Chinese military base (AFR 13-14.7.2019)

Our neighbours’ commitment to values and interests shared with Australia might prove feeble in the face of Chinese persuasion.  

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CAVAN HOGUE.  Canada, Australia and the USA

Canada tries to differentiate itself from the USA but because of its proximity and similarities this is not easy. Australia has the opposite problem: we try to find similarities. Canada’s geography makes it easier for it to defy requests to … Continue reading

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FINTAN O’TOOLE. Brexit Britain is wallowing in dangerous talk of national humiliation (The Guardian 15.6.2019)

The UK can only feel humiliated by the EU if it expects to be superior. This poisonous idea should be banished.

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DUNCAN GRAHAM Focusing on Washington, glancing at Jakarta

The 17 April Indonesian elections and fallout could have been big news in Australia.  According to some experts they should have been. Instead media consumers Down Under got more of US President Donald Trump’s distant domestic political shenanigans than they did of … Continue reading

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CAITLIN JOHNSTONE. US Foreign Policy Is A War On Disobedience (Medium, 7 July 2019)

In an excellent new essay titled “We’re Not the Good Guys — Why Is American Aggression Missing in Action?”, Tom Engelhardt criticizes the way western media outlets consistently describe the behavior of disobedient nations like Iran as “aggressions”, but never … Continue reading

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KERRY BROWN. Whither ‘one country, two systems’? (East Asia Forum)

If reportedly a quarter of the population of the country or city where you live go out on the streets to demonstrate, there is a serious problem. We can quibble about whether it was indeed two million that demonstrated in … Continue reading

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JOANNE WALLIS. Australia’s one step forward, two steps back in the Pacific (East Asia Forum)

In 2016, former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull expressed Australia’s commitment to a ‘step-change’ in its engagement with the Pacific Islands. The 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper sketched the skeleton of this ‘step-up’ but it wasn’t until 2018 that those bones … Continue reading

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LEONID PETROV.  “Love the North Korean Style: Alek Sigley’s Misfortune is a Coded Message”

Alek Sigley was expelled from North Korea for using the Internet Last weekend the world was baffled by the statement of the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) which explained why Alek Sigley, the Australian student who had studied at the Kim Il-sung University in Pyongyang, was detained, investigated and expelled. Nobody, including seasoned North Korea watchers, could make … Continue reading

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GEOFF RABY and IRVIN STUDIN. Can Australia think for itself?

Some years ago, in his usually provocative way, Kishore Mahbubhani published a polemic, Can Asians Think? It was his push back against the uni-polar moment and the perceived arrogance of the Washington Consensus. Asia was capable of working out its … Continue reading

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CAI FANG. A trade war will only hasten China’s structural reforms (East Asia Forum)

On 22 March 2018, the United States, invoking Section 301 of the Trade Act, increased tariffs on imported goods from China. Since then, the trade war has severely harmed both the Chinese and US economies. Yet despite 11 rounds of … Continue reading

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GEETA PANDEY. Indian MP Mahua Moitra’s ‘rising fascism’ speech wins plaudits (BBC News)

A spirited turn at the mic by a first-time female MP in India’s parliament, in which she listed the “signs of early fascism”, has been hailed as the “speech of the year” on social media.

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TOM ENGLELHARDT. We’re Not the Good Guys  Why Is American Aggression Missing in Action? (TomDispatch.com 2.7.2019)

Headlined “U.S. Seeks Other Ways to Stop Iran Shy of War,” the article was tucked away on page A9 of a recent New York Times. Still, it caught my attention. Here’s the first paragraph: “American intelligence and military officers are working on additional … Continue reading

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ALLAN PATIENCE and GARRY WOODARD. Morrison as a middle power statesman?

  In attempting to predict how Scott Morrison will develop as a foreign policy Prime Minister, the obstacles in his way should first be noted. While his potential authority within the party room is considerable, he lacks the foreign policy … Continue reading

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China is not an enemy (Washington Post letter, 3 July 2019)

Dear President Trump and members of Congress: We are members of the scholarly, foreign policy, military and business communities, overwhelmingly from the United States, including many who have focused on Asia throughout our professional careers. We are deeply concerned about … Continue reading

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TREVOR WATSON. Crossing a line in the Korean sand; Trump goes where others have been before

Donald Trump’s crossing of the 38th Parallel into North Korea was a ten out of ten for symbolism. It was wonderful television and an outstanding PR move by the US President and the North Korean Leader, Kim Jun Un. The … Continue reading

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LOUIS COOPER. Trudeau fights for re-election

Canada has a national election in October and a recent poll shows the electorate is feeling worried and conflicted. Will Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party be re-elected?

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GEOFF MILLER:  Trump in North Asia; policy changes?

A lot of the reactions to President Trump’s visits to the G20 in Osaka and to Korea have been scathing, but there are some positive signs in regard to both US-China trade issues and negotiations with North Korea.  But having … Continue reading

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PETER RODGERS: Israel-Palestine and the Bahrain conference – Jared in wonderland

Whatever happens with Donald Trump’s presidency, the future of his son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, is assured. A career as writer of romantic fiction is his for the asking.

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NARGES BAJOGHLI. Trump’s Iran strategy will fail (New York Times, 2 July 2019).

As tensions with Tehran escalate, Washington has been struggling to understand the internal thinking of the Iranian government, and especially that of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. The organization, which functions as an elite military branch and a bulwark of … Continue reading

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RAMESH THAKUR. Trump’s disdain for Japan is insulting and high-risk

In his forays abroad, US President Donald Trump increasingly resembles a bull carrying his own china shop on his back, to be set down for wrecking at diplomatic confabs. At the moment a grave crisis seems imminent with regard to … Continue reading

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PAUL BARRATT. What are we to make of Iran’s nuclear program?

Iran’s nuclear program, never out of the news for long, is on the front pages of the world with President Trump’s insistence that his belligerence towards Iran is driven by a desire to ensure that Iran does not acquire nuclear … Continue reading

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TONY WALKER. Acting on Iran has painful shades of joining the US in Iraq. (SMH 1.7.2019)

Here’s a word of advice to Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Unless he wants to risk a smudge on his reputation of the sort that accompanies John Howard to this day: don’t get involved in conflict with Iran beyond limited naval … Continue reading

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JOHN CARMODY. The enduring farce of British politics

To Australian eyes, British politics appear relentlessly chaotic, even anti-social.  The solutions seem impossible to find, forever out of sight, let alone reach and – as in true tragedy – entirely self-inflicted.

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RORY MCGUIRE. Middle East: Comedy or Tragedy?

It is increasingly difficult to decide whether the ongoing drama in the Middle East is a comedy or a tragedy. The actors are performing roles written for comedians but the consequences of their actions are tragic too often.

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