Category Archives: International Affairs

ALISON BROINOWSKI. War on demand

The UK and the US moved closer this week to enabling their governments to bypass legal and  democratic processes in committing forces to war, virtually anywhere, at any time and continuously. Australian politicians and the mainstream media seem to assume … Continue reading

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RAMESH THAKUR. ‘We know where your kids live’ – John Bolton to OPCW DG José Bustani, March 2002

In justifying her decision to commit the UK to joining the US and France in the unilateral air strikes on Syria on 14 April, PM Theresa May said in Parliament on 16 April that a requirement for UN authorisation would … Continue reading

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RAMESH THAKUR. Syria a symptom of a broken international order

Last Saturday US, British and French forces bombed three chemical weapons facilities in Damascus in retaliation for the alleged use of chemical weapons by Syrian forces in Douma on 6–8 April that killed around 70 people.

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SCOTT BURCHILL. What The West Really Thinks About Chemical Weapons Attacks.

How genuine is the West’s concern about the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria last week? Did they constitute a “line in the sand”, a crime so egregious that military strikes by Washington, London and Paris were necessary and … Continue reading

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ROBERT FISK. The search for truth in the rubble of Douma – and one doctor’s doubts over the chemical attack

This is the story of a town called Douma, a ravaged, stinking place of smashed apartment blocks – and of an underground clinic whose images of suffering allowed three of the Western world’s most powerful nations to bomb Syria last week. … Continue reading

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ANDREW FARRAN. Stalemate and Lawlessness over Syria.

On ABC News Radio (Monday 16th April) Paul Barrett, a former Deputy Secretary of DFAT and former Secretary of the Department of Defence was asked in an interview whether the military actions over the past weekend in Syria by the … Continue reading

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RICHARD BUTLER. Hypocrisy and Sanctimony: a Poisonous Brew.

The arguments advanced to justify the illegal US/French/UK attack upon Syrian CW related facilities incorporated buckets of sanctimony and numbing hypocrisy. There has been no serious discussion of the justification given by the three; because it was known to be … Continue reading

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MORTON HALPERIN, PETER HAYES, LEON SIGAL. Options for denuclearising the Korean peninsular

A critically important part of assembling the Korean peninsula-wide denuclearization jigsaw puzzle is the institutional and legal form of North Korean commitments on the one hand, and the nuclear negative security assurances by the NPT-Nuclear Weapons States (NWSs), especially the … Continue reading

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RAMESH THAKUR. Was DT Mouse-Trapped Into Attacking Syria?

Those of us of a certain age will remember the phrase ‘DTs’, short for delirium tremens: a rapid onset of confusion caused by an alcoholic’s immediate abstinence. Is the world suffering from a different set of DTs: the rapid-fire onset … Continue reading

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DAN MCGARRY. Want to lead in the Pacific? Try listening first

The average Australian’s conception of Pacific island nations is so limited it makes some of us wonder if they even want to understand. Our voices—and our reality—have been pointedly and repeatedly ignored in the media, and in the corridors of … Continue reading

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HAMISH MCDONALD. Downer leaps into British political fray with gratuitous advice

There was a time, back in the days of childhood, when everything that was modern and power about Britain seemed to begin with a “V”: Vanguard and Vauxhall cars, Vickers Viscount aircraft, the Victor, Vulcan and Valiant bombers…Alexander Downer wants … Continue reading

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JOCELYN CHEY. China Watchers Are Not China Stooges.

Australia needs informed and balanced study and reporting on China more than ever before. Informed opinion depends on the ability to see both sides of the picture and to avoid over-simplification. 

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SCOTT BURCHILL. The attack on Syria

There are seven points to consider after the US, UK and French attacks on Syria last week.

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MACK WILLIAMS. Vanuatu : Chinese Cargo Cult ?

Fairfax Media’s awakened interest in the South Pacific would have been only too welcome if it had not been sparked by a leak from the all too familiar ‘senior defence sources’ in Canberra and Washington which so distorted the scene.  

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MICHAEL O’KEEFE. Response to rumours of a Chinese military base in Vanuatu speak volumes about Australian foreign policy

Rumour has it that Vanuatu has agreed to a Chinese request to establish a military base. The substance of this rumour is highly speculative at the least and disingenuous at most. Regardless of the truth, the fact that it raises … Continue reading

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RAMESH THAKUR. Substituting question marks for exclamation marks

‘Fake news’ seems unavoidably associated with Donald Trump. He insists on casting himself as the victim of fake news even as any resemblance between his compulsive tweeting and facts seems largely coincidental. Still, it seems a pity that the rumours … Continue reading

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CAVAN HOGUE. Morals, slogans and PR hype

Australian politicians and media have been beating their hairy chests accusing and warning China and Russia over their failings. One is reminded of the famous  thundering headline in The Launceston Examiner ‘We warn the Tzar of Russia’ . The question … Continue reading

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RAMESH THAKUR. All bets off on the Korea summit outcome.

CANBERRA – The pieces of the jigsaw are falling into place on the Korean Peninsula. But the overall picture — a denuclearized North Korea, a nuclear-weapon-free zone for all of Northeast Asia and/or a U.S. withdrawal from East Asia — remains … Continue reading

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JOHN TULLOH: Be careful what you say about Malaysia.

Perhaps it is time for DFAT to issue a travel advisory about Malaysia, namely be very careful what you say about the country. Uttering anything amounting to ‘fake news’ is now a criminal offence. Offenders can be fined up to … Continue reading

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MAX HAYTON. Inexperience in government brings problems for smiling Prime Minister.

Inexperience, arrogance or ignorance among members of the administration are causing problems for the New Zealand government of Jacinda Ardern.  After nine years in opposition, too few members of Ardern’s cabinet have previous experience as ministers and some prefer to … Continue reading

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FRANK JOTZO. China’s emissions trading takes steps towards big ambitions.

China’s new emissions trading scheme will start small, but comes with big potential, Frank Jotzo writes. China recently announced that it will begin to introduce a national emissions trading scheme for carbon dioxide this year. The promise for more market-oriented … Continue reading

Posted in Asia, Environment and climate, International Affairs | 1 Comment

GEOFF MILLER. Korea: a comprehensive and step-by-step solution?

That is the phrase that senior South Korean officials are using for what they hope to see resulting from coming summits, which they now envisage as involving, after the North Korea-US meeting, a tri-partite summit between the two Koreas and … Continue reading

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JERRY ROBERTS. The Dalai Lama, Falun Gong and Australian Democracy.

In his 2010 book, “The Party,” Richard McGregor described the iron grip exercised by the Chinese Communist Party on its homeland. Now Clive Hamilton in “Silent Invasion” traces the tentacles of the Chinese Communist Party as it squeezes Australia’s political, … Continue reading

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CAVAN HOGUE. Russia and Australia: The Empire strikes back?

Russia is the prime suspect in the poisoning but cannot be convicted on the basis of the circumstantial evidence before we get the report of the independent commission. But this article is concerned about what this exercise tells us about … Continue reading

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DUNCAN GRAHAM. Australia Plus – unfit for export.

Though this starts like a fairy story it’s really a frightener: Once upon a time, Australian governments believed that broadcasting beyond our shores – and particularly into Southeast Asia – was an important responsibility, sowing ideas, informing and influencing.  Radio … Continue reading

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JOHN MENADUE. The Quad and the Japanese Prime Minister

To contain China, Japan has been keen, along with Australia and the US, to develop the Quad, a defence relationship or alliance with India. The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has a particular reason to include India. It would burnish … Continue reading

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PURNENDRA JAIN AND TAKESHI KOBAYASHI, LDP MEMBER. Political dynasties dominate Japan’s democracy

Hereditary political succession is not limited to monarchical and autocratic systems of government. Politicians from families that have previously occupied high office take top positions in many democratic countries. In Japan, hereditary politics show little sign of abating.

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Mapping the division of Malaysia.

Nation’s parliament set to ratify new boundaries to boost the government’s electoral prospects. 

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EAST ASIA FORUM. Moritomo scandal miseries

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has led a rollercoaster, but often charmed, political life. After being forced to resign prematurely during his first stint as prime minister in September 2007 due to a stinging July 2007 upper house election defeat … Continue reading

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SCOTT BURCHILL. On the Russian gas attack

Given the “sexing up” and outright distortions of dodgy intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s “WMD” in 2002-3 by both the UK government of Tony Blair and US administration of George W. Bush, one can only be astonished at the credulity of … Continue reading

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