Thursday 21 Oct 2021 | 03:51 | SYDNEY
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America’s doughnut shaped Indo-Pacific strategy

With the exception of India, the common thread linking the United States’ Indo-Pacific and broader China strategy so far has been the rallying of long-standing US allies. Early summits with President Moon Jae-in and former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga are starting to bear results. South

AUKUS: Why Beijing didn’t go ballistic

China was expected to be furious about the recently signed AUKUS security pact. After all, it is generally believed that the deal to provide Australia with technology to build nuclear submarines and the associated cooperation with the United States and United Kingdom amounts to a significant

Biden has patience for the age

In the 2021 Lowy Institute Poll nearly seven out of 10 Australians expressed confidence in US President Joe Biden to do the right thing in world affairs. But this poll was taken in mid-March when the Biden administration was new. Biden likely benefited from his close relationship with a popular

AUKUS: What happens if the Republicans play the Trump card?

Upon the recent announcement of the new AUKUS defence pact between Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the arrangement as a “forever partnership”, one based on “the oldest of friendships, the strongest of values and the

In defence of AUKUS

When Barack Obama announced the rebalance to Asia in 2011, he also revealed the rotational deployment of US Marines to Darwin. In the intervening decade, however, additional changes to US regional posture have been few and far between. As a result, leading US defence expert Michèle Flournoy has

North Korea’s calculated restraint

September is an important month for South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in to make a last ditch attempt to revive relations with a recalcitrant North Korea before the presidential election next March. To such an end, his administration has sought to use major inter-Korean anniversaries this month,

Iran’s energy diplomacy

Much is made of Iran’s use of proxy or allied groups to exert “hard power” influence throughout the Middle East where Tehran believes its interests are under threat (Lebanon), or sees an opportunity to exert greater influence (Syria, Iraq), or to act as a spoiler (Yemen). But far less is made

The right climate for Indonesia-United States cooperation

Indonesia is feeling a little ignored. The recent visit by US Vice President Kamal Harris to Vietnam and Singapore led to speculation that Indonesia was not a priority for the Biden administration. “Snubbed again, Joe?” read one local headline. A few weeks beforehand, US Defence Secretary Lloyd

ANZUS and Trumpism

Donald Trump himself may have disappeared from our TV screens and smartphones, but Trumpism is alive and well. US President Joe Biden is doing all the right things to fracture the Trump coalition and pave the way for responsible Republican leaders to repudiate Trumpism. Since winning the election,

9/11: A President reacts on a day of fear and anger

Twenty years on, there are many different ways to remember 9/11. Many rightly focus on the families of the victims, as Jennifer Senior does in her remarkable article in The Atlantic describing the way grief echoed through the lives of a single family. The Lowy Institute has released a new

Alliance management – a history in pictures

Call it a measure of remarkable diplomatic consistency. Every year since 2013, at least one of two familiar faces has represented Australia at the regular “2+2” ministerial dialogue with the United States, more commonly known as AUSMIN. Either Julie Bishop or Marise Payne has been in the room

Will ANZUS make it to 80?

The ANZUS Treaty turns 70 today, having been signed on 1 September 1951. When political leaders mark the anniversary, it’s safe to predict they will pronounce the US-Australia alliance (let’s leave the NZ part of the acronym out of it for now) to be stronger than ever. They have a point.

Debating the alliance

Book review: Emma Shortis, Our Exceptional Friend: Australia’s Fatal Alliance with the United States (Hardie Grant, 2021) Depending on your perspective, Australia’s China debate might be relatively sophisticated, or resemble shell-churned ground in a war zone. Either way, it’s noisy and

Afghanistan holds lessons for American power in Asia

Has America’s ignominious withdrawal from Afghanistan damaged its credibility? The scenes of chaos and panic at Kabul International Airport have certainly reinforced the sense that the United States had lost control of the situation in Afghanistan. The events of the 10 days since the Taliban

Duterte’s back-down on US forces in Philippines

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has finally put an end to uncertainty regarding the fate of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States. This 1999 agreement provides the rules, guidelines and legal status of US soldiers during military exercises in the

Why politics and pandemics don’t mix

Book review: Michael Lewis The Premonition: A Pandemic Story (W. W. Norton & Company, 2021) Way back in October 2019, before most anyone had heard of Covid-19, a group of experts from the Nuclear Threat Initiative, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and The Economist Intelligence

Can the US and China cooperate on climate?

Outlining the Biden administration’s approach to China, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in March that the United States would be “competitive when it should be, collaborative when it can be, and adversarial when it must be”. Climate change looked like an obvious vector for bilateral

North Korea calling

Despite protests from North Korea, this week the United States and South Korea kicked off their annual joint military exercise. Korea watchers are worried that the decision to carry on with the drill spells trouble for the inter-Korean détente, which was only revived in July with the

Decoding intelligence on Afghanistan

Did the US intelligence community fail by not accurately predicting the speed and scale of the Taliban’s victory? A familiar blame game is now underway in Washington with administration officials and intelligence sources each backgrounding the media with their respective sides of the story. An

Afghanistan: the right time to leave

Joe Biden is right to get the United States out of Afghanistan. Even as Kabul has been taken over by the Taliban, the case remains strong that after 20 years, the United States has fought its war in the country. It is sometimes easy to forget that the president is also commander-in-chief of the US

India-US ties: Work in progress

Diplomatese papered over the political turbulence in India during US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s two-day official visit to the country on 27 and 28 July. Narendra Modi’s government has been stigmatised not only by the Indian public and the opposition parties for its excesses against

Far more world leaders visit China than America

In April, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga became the first foreign leader to meet US President Joe Biden at the White House. Suga’s trip marked the return of leader-level travel to Washington after the Covid-19 pandemic. Suga told reporters that his team was so excited to meet their

US-China rivalries: What matters for ASEAN

An interesting discussion about how Australia should respond to US President Joe Biden’s call for closer alignment and cooperation among democratic states has featured in a recent series of articles on The Interpreter. Between them, Susannah Patton and Ashley Townshend,  Michael Green, Ben

Ukraine: Balancing China and the rest

Ukraine is attempting to improve its relations with China after the nation’s authorities, allegedly pressured by the United States, decided to halt the takeover of a local aircraft engine manufacturer by a Chinese company. Ukraine is typically seen as country inside a Western sphere of

Staying ahead in global tech leadership

On the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party, President Xi Jinping reiterated the longstanding Chinese goal of strengthening science and technology to help achieve national rejuvenation. China’s advances in areas such as 5G, artificial intelligence, and facial recognition have already

Australia right to back Biden on democracy

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s recent speech, “A world order that favours freedom”, has some foreign policy commentators worried that Australia is signing up to more misguided US democracy evangelism. Australian suspicion of American liberal internationalism has a long history. And it’s

Donald Rumsfeld: Defiance defined by Iraq

The countless observations about the quips of Donald Rumsfeld, who has died aged 88, should not obscure his central role in the catastrophe of the 2003 Iraq invasion. “Known unknowns” became the most famous, even serving as the title for an Errol Morris documentary. But Rumsfeld’s

North Korea: The long-awaited fallout of summit diplomacy

North Korea’s Kim Jong-un delivered an important speech last week during a meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea – the first substantive response from Pyongyang on the prospects for United States-North Korea relations since the Biden administration completed its North Korea policy

Believing Biden

At the conclusion of US President Joe Biden’s one-week visit across the continent and to the United Kingdom, Europeans appear to believe in the need to push back against the authoritarian China of Xi Jinping – a faith evident despite their mutual economic interests with Beijing along with a fear

Maladies, remedies and optimising security

Last week, Peter Dutton gave his first speech as Minister for Defence. In his remarks and follow up Q&A, Dutton touched on the increasing risk of war “especially through miscalculation or misunderstanding”, the challenge of China, and the relationship with the United States as being “

An alliance of democracies is essential

Susannah Patton and Ashley Townshend argued in The Interpreter last week that the Morrison government should steer the Biden administration away from a coalition of world democracies since that would narrow Australian and American influence in the Indo-Pacific. An inflexible insistence that

China overtakes America in presidential diplomacy

Joe Biden is about to fly to the United Kingdom on his first foreign visit as US President. Biden will attend the G7 summit in Cornwall from 11–13 June, head to Belgium for summits with NATO and the European Union on 14–15 June, then meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Switzerland the

Biden’s agenda is anything but “normal”

When former US president Donald Trump headed south on Air Force One four months ago some members of the Washington press corps acknowledged that while a new administration was desperately needed to manage the public health crisis, they were going to miss the rush that was the Trump years. Trump’s

Moon’s last, best chance after Biden summit

US President Joe Biden and South Korean President Moon Jae-in held their first in-person summit in Washington last month, signing a lengthy joint statement that underscored the linchpin alliance forged in the battlefields of the Korean War and a shared vision governed by democratic norms, human

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