Staying true to his reputation for unpredictability, US President Donald Trump suddenly called off the Afghanistan peace negotiations with the Taliban last Saturday – a major policy decision announced, predictably, in a tweet. Trump cited continued Taliban attacks on US personnel as the reason for
Scott Morrison said it himself, only last week. “I mean he’s a very different President to previous Presidents.” And in another timely reminder ahead of the Australian Prime Minister’s visit to Washington, the revolving door at Donald Trump’s White House has turned again, with the
Between April and June this year, Chinese Coast Guard ships entered the contiguous zone around the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea for a record 64 consecutive days. In this flashpoint area between China and Japan, the number of Chinese incursions into the islands’ territorial
If the President Donald Trump’s behaviour in August did not drive away his voters and open discussion of the Constitution’s 25th Amendment fitness clause, what will?
Surely one of the great questions to emerge from the Trump presidency is the stubborn persistence of his low 40-per cent
The US decision to impose travel restrictions on Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif when he made a visit to UN headquarters in New York for a 17 July meeting inflamed already strained tensions between Tehran and Washington.
In a break from the usual courtesy extended to foreign dignitaries
Despite an optimistic bounce in global financial markets Friday, the relentless trade war between the US and China resumed Sunday. Threatened 15% tariffs by the US on another $250 billion of China imports went into effect Sunday morning, as did new China tariffs on US crude oil, soybeans and
Prime Minister Scott Morrison was at pains last week to emphasise the “modest and time-limited” nature of Australia’s contribution to the new US-led maritime security mission in the Strait of Hormuz known as the International Maritime Security Construct’ (IMSC). He batted away suggestions
Never one to shy from lofty goals, French President Emmanuel Macron used the G7 summit in the French seaside town of Biarritz to make tenuous first steps in rejuvenating the West as the world’s most powerful political alliance.
The summit ended yesterday amid improbable displays of goodwill and
Australia’s commitment to the US-led coalition to provide maritime security for the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf will be one maritime surveillance aircraft, to start operations later this year, and one frigate from early 2020. Military personnel will also help staff a coalition
Back in December, Scott Morrison went halfway in following Donald Trump’s change to the diplomatic recognition of Israel, deciding to leave Australia’s embassy in Tel Aviv while formally acknowledging “West Jerusalem” as the capital. But at the same time, Morrison decided not to follow Trump
The Australian government’s announcement today that it will contribute assets to a maritime coalition force in the Persian Gulf comes as no surprise, given the very public way the US request was delivered in Sydney at the recent AUSMIN meeting. Washington doesn’t make those type of requests
Many of The Interpreter’s readers are experts on the theory and conduct of international relations. So, quite reasonably, they look at armed conflict through the lens of inter-state relations, where one state resorts to the use (or the threat of use) of armed force to prevail over another. For
If Australia’s senior international ministers were surprised by the sharpness of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s approach to economic dependence on China at the recent AUSMIN talks, they should have studied the US trade data the previous day.
A great divergence
Already at its lowest ebb in decades, the Japan–South Korea relationship looks set to plummet further still. Leading this diplomatic descent are the perennial “history problems”, which have seen significant developments over the past year. Consequently, the issue of compensation for colonial-
In aligning himself with US President Donald Trump with regard to policing the Persian Gulf, new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has abandoned any pretence that his type of Brexit would exclude security and defence matters. This is in sharp contrast to the position of Theresa May before him,
After a week of turmoil following President Donald Trump’s decision to impose additional tariffs on imports from China, global markets are cheerful again. Shares are recovering and currency markets have stabilised. The bond rally is fading. No new retaliatory actions have been announced by either
Barely a month after the historic handshake at the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), North Korea returned to provocations by unveiling its new “strategic” ballistic missile submarine and testing short-range ballistic missiles.
US President Donald Trump and North Korea Chairman Kim Jong-un had
The United States has labelled China a currency manipulator. The move sent shock waves through markets early this week and left many speculating what may come next.
Trump has repeatedly called for lower interest rates and a cheaper currency to help him win his trade war with China (and the next US
Last month’s Oval Office meeting with US President Donald Trump was Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s first US visit since taking office in August last year. During the meeting, Trump hinted at resuming aid to Pakistan, as well as making a broader and surprising offer to mediate between
US foreign policy since the end of the Cold War has come under growing criticism for its expansive, even aggressive, character. Despite its name, “liberal hegemony” often seems illiberal, belligerent, even militaristic. The US has used force regularly over the last 30 years, often with dubious
While President Donald Trump’s bull-in-a-China-shop approach to reforming international trade doesn’t appeal, it is possible that some of his objectives might make sense. This was the logic behind comments by former Barack Obama adviser Daniel Russel, suggesting that Australia
Washington has asked for Australian support to participate in a coalition maritime Persian Gulf security force. The request was formally announced as part of Sunday’s AUSMIN talks.
It is the type of request that Australia would prefer not be made. Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the
Richard Nixon wasn’t fond of US intelligence, and neither was his alter ego, Henry Kissinger. But none of us who have served in intelligence could have imagined a president like Donald Trump with no interest in facts of any sort, who talks of “reining in” a US Intelligence Community that has
One evening every June for more than 20 years, a “Pacific Night” reception has featured as a mainstay of the diplomatic circuit in Washington DC. It is organised largely through the New Zealand embassy, and also sponsored by the Australian embassy and other Pacific island countries. This year,
On Wednesday former Special Counsel and former FBI Director Robert Mueller testified before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees on the findings of his two-year investigation into coordination between the Donald Trump 2016 campaign and the Russian government. These findings have been
With resumed contact between US trade negotiator Robert Lighthizer and China’s negotiator Vice Premier Liu He, the 12th round of trade talks between the US and China may take place in Beijing before the end of July. But the clock is now ticking very loudly. Contrary to the messaging from Beijing
Last week Paramount Pictures released the trailer for its much-hyped Top Gun sequel, Top Gun: Maverick. The new movie sees Tom Cruise reprise his role as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, now an aging fighter pilot facing the political and technological realities of a world in which there may no longer
The third meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korea Chairman Kim Jong-un has come and gone, again without much substantial progress, but its symbolism has continued to dominate Korea watchers’ assessments of the event.
Trump last month became the first sitting US president to set
What counts as aid? Whether it’s disaster relief, infrastructure, or a much longer term and less visible type of development assistance, in the end it all comes back to money.
But the many differing types of aid does create awkward discrepancies when seeking to rank the contributions by nations
The last abortion clinic in Missouri is running on borrowed time. At the end of May, the state let the license lapse for Planned Parenthood of St Louis. On 21 June, the Missouri Health Department denied the clinic’s application for a permit to perform abortions. A preliminary court injunction
“Burden sharing” has long been a totemic term in discussions about NATO. Behind the happy paeans to shared values and mutual security interests uttered publicly by national leaders has always stood the hard reality of American power and Europe’s complete dependency upon it.
Yet under the
Iran has announced that it has exceeded its enriched uranium limit under the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. This follows the decision in May 2018 when the Trump administration unilaterally pulled the US out of the deal and reimposed economic
US President Donald Trump is sliding into an increasingly obvious pattern in his dealing with small or rogue states who oppose the United States. In his presidency so far, Trump has already picked fights with four such countries – Syria, North Korea, Venezuela, and Iran. In each case, after
The Australia women’s national soccer team bowed out of the Women’s World Cup this past weekend following a dramatic loss to Norway on penalty kicks. It was the end of a rollercoaster campaign, with the highlight coming from a comeback victory against a Brazilian side led by Marta – whose goal
Ambiguity in foreign policy is no bad thing, and on Iran, the only certainty Donald Trump has displayed after a week of heightened tension was his weekend declaration that “the only one that matters is me”.
So the debate is on, hawks versus doves, over messages and intentions. Was
In a recent column in Foreign Policy, a slightly bewildered Stephen Walt asked two related questions: (1) Why do we not have better answers to major, overarching questions about international affairs? (2) What are five of “those very important things about the world nobody knows?” Walt rattles
Last month Alabama passed a law that would imprison doctors for up to 99 years for performing abortions, with no exceptions in cases of rape or incest. Even televangelist Pat Robertson, who in 2005 suggested Hurricane Katrina could be God’s punishment for allowing abortion, has said Alabama’s
As Washington is finding, maximum pressure campaigns have their own limitations, even with the most coherent and experienced foreign policy teams. But with the Commander-in-Chief sending mixed messages (overnight Donald Trump described the alleged Iranian attacks on oil tankers in the
Rare earth minerals have emerged as the latest front in the escalating US-China trade war. Nearly a decade after the Chinese government controversially suspended rare earth exports to Japan during the 2010 Senkaku dispute, similar threats are now being made if the bilateral trade dispute with the US
For the US to directly accuse Iran of attacking oil tankers just outside the heavily congested, economically critical and strategically vital waters of the Persian Gulf … well, it ought to be a big deal. A really big deal.
And it’s not as if this story is being ignored. As I checked this
When US President Donald Trump and former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull held their infamous, protocol-smashing phone call in the president’s first week in office in January 2017, largely lost in the international headlines about the exchange was the actual topic of conversation. Now,
Last month in The Interpreter, I argued that inter-Korean status quo is deeply persistent. US President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in have tried all sorts of tactics in the last 28 months to change things, yet nothing seems to work.
In 2017, Trump reached to the limits of
Midway through Lee Hsien Loong’s keynote speech at the Shangri-la Dialogue, I found myself turning to others on my table to register my surprise at how critical he seemed to be about China.
Afterwards, talking to many of the Americans who had travelled from Washington for the annual Asian
For the past two years, the highlight of the annual IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore was the keynote speech by the sadly departed former US defence secretary Jim Mattis. This year the task of speaking on behalf of America to the leading forum of Asian defence
Donald Trump’s tariff threat against Mexico may end up signaling a lot more than just the President’s latest twitter-launched policy tirade. By eroding any of Trump’s remaining trade negotiating credibility, it points to much darker times ahead for the global economy.
In two dramatic policy announcements this month, the Trump administration effectively barred US companies and government agencies from buying telecommunications equipment or services from – or selling any components to –Chinese technology champion, Huawei. President Donald Trump signed a broadly
Leaders of the Republic of Palau, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) are well used to seeing each other. They share a neighbourhood in the North Pacific and meet annually at the Micronesian Presidents’ Summit to discuss strategies on key issues
It is said that no one can fully understand China. Lately, that oft-repeated axiom has seen a new iteration: no one can fully understand the affection and admiration that so many Chinese people seem to feel for US president Donald J. Trump.
This mystery has long been a source of bewilderment for