Author Archives: Ramesh Thakur

RAMESH THAKUR. Nuclear arms treaty and umbrella states (Japan Times 12 Sep)

In 1984, U.S. President Ronald Reagan noted the nuclear emperor had no clothes: “The only value in our two nations [United States and Soviet Union] possessing nuclear weapons is to make sure they will never be used. But then would … Continue reading

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KEVIN RUDD. Australia destroys its own reputation in the Pacific (East Asia Forum 9-9-19)

The dust-up at the Pacific Islands Forum was not simply a zero-sum game between the Pacific and Australia over coal. While this may have been the tip of the spear, it went to a far deeper divide over climate and … Continue reading

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ABUL RIZVI: Bob Birrell’s War on Partner Visas

The partner visa categories are for people who have formed a genuine relationship (formally married or de facto or prospective marriage) with an Australian citizen or permanent resident. In July 2019 Bob Birrell continued his long-standing war on partner visas, … Continue reading

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RYAN MANUEL. The United Front Work Department and how it plays a part in the Gladys Liu controversy (ABC News 15-9-19)

Gladys Liu is in hot water over her alleged association with the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party. Yet no-one has alleged that Ms Liu herself, nor the Liberal Party she belongs to, holds any communist sympathies. … Continue reading

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MIKE WALLER.What Westminster system, Prime Minister

“These core elements of the Westminster tradition are as important as they have ever been…” Scott Morrison Speech to IPAA “When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said…, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean…’ ’The question is,’ … Continue reading

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JOHN CASSIDY. Trump’s Awful Middle East Policies Are Coming Back to Haunt Him (New Yorker 17-9-19)

Trump’s in a pickle, and he’s the one responsible for it. By needlessly reneging on the U.S.-Iranian nuclear deal and launching a sanctions campaign that amounts to economic warfare against Tehran, he has strengthened the Iranian hard-liners and further destabilized … Continue reading

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MACK WILLIAMS. The CSIS report on Iran’s missile program

In The Iranian Missile Threat, published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (Washington DC: 30 May 2019), Anthony Cordesman examines Iran’s view of the threat, the problems in military modernization that have led to its focus on missile … Continue reading

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FINIAN CUNNINGHAM. China Slaps Britain: You Can’t Afford Hostility (Strategic Culture 13-9-19)

China gave Britain a stern warning this week that any naval maneuvers conducted with the US near its declared territories in the South China Sea will be met with a military response. Beijing rapped London further, telling it to dump its “colonial … Continue reading

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AMY VERDUN. What to Make of the Win of the AfD in Germany? (Australian Outlook 13-9-19

On 1 September 2019, the German far right-wing political party, Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) had a historical win in state elections. It won 28 percent of the votes in Saxony and 24 percent of the votes in Brandenburg — the … Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs | 2 Comments

GEORGE FRIEDMAN. US Military Options in Iran (Geopolitical Futures 17-9-19)

The United States has openly accused Iran of being behind the drone and cruise missile attacks on Saudi Arabia’s largest oil refinery.

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NICOLA NYMALM. Washington’s old ‘Japan problem’ and the current ‘China threat’ (East Asia Forum 11 Sep)

In April 2019, Kiron Skinner — former director of policy planning at the US State Department — described Washington’s new China strategy as built on the understanding that the current clash with Beijing ‘is a fight with a different civilization and a … Continue reading

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ANDREW FARRAN: A diplomatic niche in early Australian-Afghan Relations

Given that Australia has been engaged in military operations in Afghanistan, in addition to military/civil reconstruction and stabilisation efforts, in the provinces for over 18 years, it is only appropriate that we should greet the publication of a considered history … Continue reading

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CLINTON FERNANDES. Worried about agents of foreign influence? Just look at who owns Australia’s biggest companies (Conversation 12-9-19)

The attention being given to possible covert influence being exercised by China in Australia shouldn’t distract us from recognising that very overt foreign influence now occurs through investment.

Posted in Economy, Politics | 3 Comments

TIMOTHY L. O’BRIEN. Trump Is Cornered by the Saudi Drone Attacks (Bloomberg 16-9-19)

Regarding the drone strikes on Saudi oil facilities, writes the executive editor of Bloomberg Opinion: “Not everyone is telling the truth here (although everyone might think they are) and any prudent response to the attacks hinges on more factual certainty.”

Posted in International Affairs | 1 Comment

GARETH EVANS. Emotion, reason and nuclear disarmament

I first came to Hiroshima in 1964 as a twenty-year old student, and it was one of the most formative experiences of my life. Nothing had quite prepared me for the experience of standing at the epicentre of that first … Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, International Affairs | 3 Comments

GEORGE GRUNDY. Already Gone

As the Democratic field narrows and the political commentariat speculate which candidate is best placed to defeat Donald Trump in 2020, America’s national conversation continues to ignore an elephant in the room – the profound threat to democracy posed by … Continue reading

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MOUIN RABBANI. Jerusalem and the Trump administration

In December 2017, the administration of U.S. president Donald Trump upended seventy years of U.S. policy by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In doing so, it also effectively recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the city.

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JACK WATERFORD. Politics and the rustle of folding money (Canberra Times 13-9-19)

I wouldn’t hang a dog on the evidence so far assembled in support of the proposition that Gladys Liu, Liberal MP for Chisholm, is an active agent of the Chinese government, engaged in nefarious and illegal activities against Australia. On … Continue reading

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JOHN ENGLISH. Canada goes to the polls: “It can’t happen here”.

Looking south as Canadians must and can do invariably provokes the comment, “It can’t happen here.” But it already has. While Donald Trump certainly cannot be replicated, the nativist, populist, and authoritarian tendencies of American Republicans have often appeared in … Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs, Politics | 1 Comment

ABUL RIZVI: Morrison’s Mixed Messages on Migration

A string of immigration related articles in The Australian on 5 September 2019 and on 7 September 2019 again dutifully conveyed the Government’s mixed messages on immigration policy without asking a single question about the inherent inconsistencies and loss of … Continue reading

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RAMESH THAKUR. Kashmir: the international dimension (Strategist 10 Sep 2019)

India’s decision last month to revoke Kashmir’s autonomy and statehood, break it into two union territories and merge them fully with the Indian union caught everyone unawares. The changes give effect to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s vision of India as one nation … Continue reading

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TSUYOSHI MINAMI. Are Japan and China really getting along? (East Asia Forum 7 Sep 2019)

Following the 2019 Osaka G20 summit, Japan–China relations appear to have entered a new period. While improved Japan–China ties are in the national interests of both countries, the ongoing US trade war with China is beginning to have significant effects … Continue reading

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DUNCAN GRAHAM. Indonesia’s Dr Strangelove takes final flight

Indonesia’s fourth president, the late Abdurrahman ‘Gus Dur’ Wahid, was never short of a quip. “First president (Soekarno, who had nine wives) was crazy about women. The second (Soeharto, who allegedly stole US$35 billion) was crazy about money.  The third (Habibie) … Continue reading

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WASHINGTON POST Editorial Board. John Bolton’s legacy: Chaos, dysfunction and no meaningful accomplishment (11-9-19)

Apparently Mr. Bolton was picked because Mr. Trump had enjoyed watching him on television. The result was to compound the chaos that has characterized the administration’s foreign policy and left Mr. Trump without meaningful accomplishments.

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FLAVIA BELLIENI ZIMMERMANN. Lula’s Interview in the Light of the Amazon Fires (Australian Outlook, 3 Sep 2019)

Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro made international headlines for all the wrong reasons. He publicly denied reports released by Brazil’s Space Agency (INPE), which indicated a steady rise in the Amazon’s deforestation, and then subsequently sacked the institute’s director Professor … Continue reading

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TROY BAISDEN. New Zealand launches plan to revive the health of lakes and rivers (The Conversation 6 Sep)

New Zealand’s government released a plan to reverse the decline of iconic lakes and rivers this week. It proposes higher standards for water quality, interim controls on land intensification and a higher bar on ecosystem health.

Posted in Environment and climate | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

PETER HUGHES. The Sri Lankan family – just a case of bloody mindedness

We await further operation of Federal Court processes before the future of the Sri Lankan family being held on Christmas Island is finally known. In the meantime, it’s worth reflecting on why the government has chosen to take such a … Continue reading

Posted in Refugees, Immigration | 7 Comments

COLIN BROWN. The Indonesia-Australia Closer Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA): A Game Changer? (Australian Outlook, 5 Sep 2019)

Despite their geographical proximity, Australia and Indonesia are minor trading partners. In 2018, Australian merchandise exports to Indonesia were valued at just $6,823 million, and imports from Indonesia $4,996 million. Trade in services was smaller still, as the exports to … Continue reading

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ANTHONY ALBANESE. Tribute to Graham Freudenberg (House of Representatives 10 Sep 2019)

Graham Freudenberg climbed inside the soul of the Australian Labor Party in search of the words that lay there. He came back to us with an entire language. When Freudy said the Labor Party was built on speeches, the identity … Continue reading

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RAGHURAM G. RAJAN. The True Toll of the Trade War (Project Syndicate, 5 Sep 2019)

Another day, another attack on trade. Why is it that every dispute – whether over intellectual property (IP), immigration, environmental damage, or war reparations – now produces new threats to trade? 

Posted in Economy, International Affairs | 1 Comment