Tuesday 22 Sep 2020 | 04:33 | SYDNEY
What's happening on
  • 21 Sep 2020 14:00

    Ginsburg’s pendulum

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg had a deep faith in America’s capacity for self-correction. Her absence puts it to the test.

  • 21 Sep 2020 06:00

    China’s gambit in Tajikistan: Partner or overlord?

    Development funding, security presence and historical claims on territory raise questions about China’s objectives.

  • 20 Sep 2020 17:30

    America’s breaking point?

    The fear is that Trump appoints a judge to decide his electoral fate and then call on the military to enforce it.

Europe

Trump’s gambit in the Balkans

Twenty-five years after brokering the Dayton Peace Accords, which effectively ended the Bosnian conflict, Europe’s bloodiest war since the Second World War, Washington is once again acting as a de facto security guarantor in the Western Balkans. This comes despite more than seven years of (ongoing

Protests and power struggles in Russia’s Far East

Rallies in Russia’s Far Eastern city of Khabarovsk have been overshadowed by the protests in Belarus, as well as the alleged poisoning of opposition figure Alexei Navalny. Although anti-Kremlin protesters in the city of 600,000 still hold weekly demonstrations, demanding Russian authorities return

Islamic State’s new battleground – the courts

In the aftermath of Islamic State’s defeat, it was anticipated that fighters and other members of the group would appeal to the very court system of a liberal democracy whose laws they rejected and whose way of ordering society they sought to supplant when they joined the terrorist group. And in

Pandemic democracy

How will Covid-19 affect electoral democracy in Australia and around the world? The pandemic has starkly revealed two fundamental aspects of successful democracy: the extent of a given society’s trust between its citizens and their government, and the capacity of those same governments to

How Russia benefited from Belarus’s turmoil

Mass protests and nationwide strikes in Belarus did not result in the overthrow of President Alexander Lukashenko, but they have pushed the Eastern European country deeper into Russia’s geopolitical orbit. Moscow and Minsk have reportedly agreed on resuming Russia’s energy supplies to Belarus,

A diplomatic breakdown over “snapback” tests the UN

After the United States experienced a rebuff at the United Nations last week – with almost the entire membership of the Security Council rejecting its attempt to re-impose UN sanctions on Iran – US officials warned that the dispute could lead to a major crisis in the Council, damaging the

Why Navalny matters

European leaders and institutions reacted promptly to the shocking plight of the Russian pro-democracy campaigner Aleksei Navalny, as he lay in a coma in an Omsk hospital and local officials tried to obstruct his evacuation to Germany. The same could not be said of Vladimir Putin. During the two

Europe, united in recovery – for now

It took four days and a “historical” summit for the heads of states and governments of Europe to finally agree on the recovery plan that should help the European Union face the devastating consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. Celebrated by a recovery in local stocks, the agreement last week

Five Eyes: Blurring the lines between intelligence and policy

The public aura around the decades-old “Five Eyes” intelligence sharing partnership between Australia, the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand has expanded rapidly since the name was first publicly acknowledged. In 2014, an Australian prime minister publicly referred to the “Five Eyes” for the

Turkey: Not a team player

Turkey is increasingly becoming the piece of the NATO puzzle that just won’t fit. President Recep Erdoğan’s particular brand of Turkish nationalist populism has earned him criticism from most NATO members at one time or another. Turkey’s plans for European Union membership seem increasingly

Is Huawei in the UK a canary in the coalmine?

It is not a coincidence that Britain’s turnaround on using Huawei for its 5G infrastructure happened at the height of the pandemic. Covid-19 brutally brought back the realisation that international value chains are only as strong as their weakest link. This new awareness made plain that

The obstacles to Syrian aid

On Saturday last week, following weeks of lobbying by humanitarian agencies and difficult diplomatic negotiations, the UN Security Council renewed its authorisation for the UN and its partners to provide humanitarian assistance in north-western Syria from across the Turkish border. The final

Australia’s Russia problem (and how to solve it)

The 2020 Defence Strategic Update goes some way to preparing Australia to compete in a new multipolar, Indo-Pacific–anchored strategic environment. But a notable absence from the document is Russia. This matters. Australians too often speak of Moscow’s irrelevance and weakness since the end of

Keeping the Kremlin in the Kelvinator

One effect of Australia’s more assertive posture on the People’s Republic of China has been to try to split off Beijing’s current and potential partners. This thinking was apparently behind Liberal MP Dave Sharma’s recent suggestion that Australia should back Russia’s participation in the

Book review: The making of Putin’s Russia

Book Review: Catherine Belton, Putin’s People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and Then Took on the West (HarperCollins, 2020) Last week, the Russian people voted to approve a constitutional amendment that resets the count on presidential term limits. President Vladimir Putin served his first

Finding compromise in the Chagos Islands saga

The Chagos Archipelago of 54 islands, formerly administered as a dependency of the British Colony of Mauritius, was excised from Mauritius by the UK in 1965, three years before independence. It was renamed the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), and its inhabitants (about 1500 people) were

Australia-UK trade agreement: Good, boring policy

Australia and the UK kicked off free trade agreement negotiations on 17 June to speeches and video presentations so triumphant as to border on self-parody. Yet for all the pageantry and scorn, a trade deal between Australia and the UK is fundamentally a commonsense policy that warrants neither

NATO: Rebranding exercise or new product launch?

It is hardly surprising that many foreign policy developments that would normally feature in the news have lately been demoted well below the headlines, as domestic turmoil in the United States has dominated conversations across the country and the globe. Under more ordinary circumstances, two

Covid-19 exposes the need for a European constitution

As Europe begins to emerge from the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, another crisis seems to be looming. The German Constitutional Court last week threatened to block the Bundesbank from taking part in the EU stimulus program to save the Euro, in a challenge to European unity. The reaction

Muddled messages as Britain seeks to stay alert

After the seven weeks of lockdown, which had managed to suppress the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the British people on the evening of Sunday 10 May to explain the next steps. Restrictions were to be eased, but moves would be tentative and contingent, checking

With US Afghan exit, Russia eyes Central Asian security

Three months have passed since the United States and the Taliban signed an “Agreement for bringing peace to Afghanistan”. For the Americans, it aims to put an end to the US military intervention in Afghanistan, which has lasted more than 18 years. The provisions of the agreement stipulate a

ISIS looks to prosper in a world distracted by the virus

The coronavirus pandemic has hit the heart of Europe. The severity of the virus has forced policymakers to shift their priorities almost exclusively to the home front. As a result, international security concerns, particularly the fight against the remnants of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, which had until

Scotland: False note to cry freedom​​​​​​​

The Scottish National Party (SNP) was founded in 1934, and for most of the 20th century was a gathering of eccentrics, writers and Anglophobes (characteristics often combined in one member). Yet now, nearly a century on, it has a majority in the Scottish parliament and formed the government since

A Thuringian eruption in Germany

Few know it, but Erfurt is one of Germany’s most beautiful cities. Packed with meandering narrow streets lined by half-timbered houses and overlooked by a soaring gothic cathedral, the Thuringian capital is a visual pearl tucked away in the country’s geographic core. But if Erfurt is a

Europe under threat

The novel coronavirus Covid-19 dominates not only the media headlines in Europe but the everyday life of just about anybody. In the federalist European Union, it is still up to the individual states, often also their parts – Bundesländer, Départements, Provincie, or whatever they are called –

Brexit and the Pacific: Sink or swim?

After 47 years of a chaotic marriage, and more than three years of debates and negotiations that have cost two prime ministers, the United Kingdom has finally separated from the European Union. The current conversations on the global consequences of this rupture have largely ignored the Pacific,

Russia makes its presence known in Iran crisis

Recent revelations make it clear that Iran’s willingness to confront the US following the strike that killed Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad was not driven just by a mix of domestic considerations and a compelling desire to retaliate. Iran’s bluntly open challenge to the US may have been

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