Monday 19 Feb 2018 | 17:25 | SYDNEY
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The Americas

Vietnamisation in space: America withdraws from ISS

Private enterprise is taking great strides in space. Recently, entrepreneur Elon Musk launched his own Tesla car into Martian orbit with the world’s most powerful rocket, his own Falcon Heavy. Other entrepreneurs are also making progress with rockets and spacecraft. Against this backdrop, the US

China and the military balance

The International Institute for Strategic Studies has launched the 2018 edition of The Military Balance, which tracks the development of military forces around the world. It contains a striking stat about China’s naval development: OK, this is an isolated factoid, but it illustrates a

The Monroe Doctrine revival

No other great powers will be allowed in Latin America, and liberal democracy is the only political system allowed in the region (or, in practice, no socialist or Marxist rule will be tolerated in the region). These are the two tenets of the Monroe Doctrine established by the US in 1823, a

Assessing global threats

The US has delivered its annual Worldwide Threat Assessment, a useful document in that it provides a measure of transparency for judgements by the US intelligence community, yet which often tastes of cardboard – a bland, tick-the-box exercise that offers little genuine insight. Of course, the

The tide is turning against US financial regulation

For most of the decade since the global financial crisis, financial regulation has been strengthened. Now the tide is turning in America. Reform has come up against the combined forces of Wall Street lobbying and Donald Trump’s deregulation agenda. It is beyond dispute that the financial crisis

America’s two doctrines

“The United States now has two competing national security doctrines – Trump’s and that of his national security team.” That’s Tom Wright from the Brookings Institution (and a Lowy Institute Nonresident Fellow), writing in The Atlantic. He makes a compelling point. While new policy

Indonesia–US relations: sweating the small stuff

The US and Indonesia have declared an overarching “strategic partnership” to meet broader challenges, from regional architecture building to global governance. At least, this was the case under the Barack Obama (2008–16) and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (2004–14) presidencies. But under

Asia’s escalating missile race

If the Cold War was one long arms race, the modern era could be accurately described as an arms jog. Countries are defined less by how many nuclear warheads they have, and more by what they can do with them. This is particularly the case in Australia’s immediate region, where a

Joining the dots to Vancouver

Represented by Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Frances Adamson, Australia was one of 20 countries that participated in a conference last week on coordinating international approaches to North Korea. Co-hosted by Canada and the US, and held in Vancouver, the conference had

What a US–China trade war would look like

Sometime soon, US President Donald Trump will announce his plan to respond to what the administration calls China’s “economic aggression”. When he does, it is not only China that needs to be prepared to respond. Together accounting for well over a third of global output, the collateral damage

Why Hillary Clinton still haunts Donald Trump

Despite White House adviser Kellyanne Conway’s fearlessly fictitious claim that nobody in the Trump administration is still talking about Hillary Clinton, President Donald Trump himself has tweeted about his former campaign rival no fewer than 75 times since being inaugurated. There is no

Washington's weak hand to play in Syria

With the change of administration in Washington came new clarity about US policy on Syria. The admirable, short-term aim was to defeat ISIS. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the organisation that would produce this outcome on the ground, was founded in late 2015 (the '

Pakistan: A reluctant ally

In one of his first tweets of the year, US President Donald Trump launched a tirade against Pakistan. ‘The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years’, Trump fumed, ‘and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit’. Washington

A turning point in US economic relations with China

The US appears to have reached a turning point in its economic relationship with China. During the 2016 presidential campaign, candidate Donald Trump accused Chinese policy makers of perpetrating the ‘greatest theft in the history of the world’ and blamed their foolish and incompetent American

Best of The Interpreter 2017: Donald Trump

The world was still reeling in January from Donald Trump’s inauguration speech. Barbara Slavin: As Americans ponder the future with fear, it is hard to reassure friends around the world that as Barack Obama told his farewell news conference, 'Everything is going to be okay'. Then, for

Clear messages required in Twitter-age of diplomacy

Robert Ayson is quite right to pick me up on the distinction between pre-emptive and preventative military strikes. My post on Australia’s policy towards a US attack on North Korea argued Australia should make clear that it would not support a pre-emptive US strike at the North’s nuclear and

What should Australia rule out on North Korea?

In place of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's ambiguous commitment to support US military action against North Korea, Hugh White wants a clear statement ruling out Australia's participation in a 'pre-emptive' attack. But in turn there are two points of ambiguity in White's argument that may get in

Congress considers the Iran nuclear deal

The US Congress could scuttle the nuclear deal with Iran this week. But it's unlikely to do so. Donald Trump has railed against the deal since his campaign. In a speech on 13 October, Trump said 'the Iran Deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever

How America can build a durable military balance in Asia

During his tour of East Asia last month, US President Donald Trump visited five countries, but Americans could be forgiven for thinking that he only went to China, given the US media's coverage of the trip. Whereas journalists dissected Trump’s every move during his visit with Chinese President Xi

Trump and the Russian ‘Wilderness of Mirrors’

Truth and Russian affairs do not sit comfortably together. Churchill observed in 1939 that Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, and we find ourselves today struggling with this intrigue amid persistent claims about Donald Trump and links to Russia. This struggle also speaks to

Advancing the Quad through diversification

This article is part of a series for the Australia-UK Asia Dialogue, co-hosted by the Lowy Institute and Ditchley Foundation, and supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The 'Australia-India-Japan-United States consultations on the Indo-

Trump's coming hard line on China

US President Donald Trump’s first visit to Beijing was an exhibition of mutual flattery. China rolled out the red carpet for what it termed a 'state visit plus', replete with unprecedented pomp and circumstance for an American leader.  Trump returned the favour with incessant fawning over

Trump in China: Game, set, and possibly match to Beijing

The bullish US President has finally visited China. No doubt, as he watched the city swish past in his motorcade, he must have looked appreciatively at the Beijing skyline and imagined how good a Trump tower would look in among all the other splendid modern skyscrapers being thrown up there. But for

A reborn quadrilateral to deter China

Recent news that Australia’s Foreign Minister has indicated interest in taking part in a resurrected US-Australia-Japan-India quadrilateral dialogue on the sidelines of the upcoming ASEAN Summit is to be welcomed. It is an indication how much the strategic situation in the Asia Pacific has shifted

Asia trip reveals the Trump dichotomy

Speaking in Tokyo on Monday night, President Donald Trump was serious and gracious. 'Japan is a very special place. The Japanese people are thriving, your cities are vibrant, and you've built one of the world’s most powerful economies.' Then he looked up from his prepared remarks, and with an

Trump’s Asia trip kicks off with Abe meeting

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe managed a canny mixture of deference and guile when he rushed to New York last November with a gold-embossed golf club to be the first foreign leader to meet the newly-elected Donald Trump. The question now is whether Trump can return the favour as he

Donald Trump’s message for Asia

What will Donald Trump's message to Asia be when he travels from Hawaii to Japan, Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines from 3 to 14 November? It is safe to say that even his closest advisors don't know the answer to that question, which has host governments from Tokyo to Manila a bit anxious

War on the Korean Peninsula: Targeting a better peace

The rhetoric emanating from Washington and Pyongyang may soon reach the point at which a peaceful resolution is no longer be possible. A year ago the chance of war on the Korean Peninsula would have been considered remote. Now, the call for a US pre-emptive strike is gaining support while North

Tillerson doubles down on US-India partnership

Yesterday US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivered his most substantial remarks on India to date, ahead of his first official trip to South Asia. While Tillerson’s influence in the Trump Administration is in considerable doubt, his speech pointed to yet more convergence between Washington and

On a Trumpian track for the next Middle East war

In some respects, US President Donald Trump and the Iranian theocratic regime deserve each other. Neither respect international agreements, except when it suits their purposes. Trump's badmouthing of the Iranian nuclear agreement is of one with his behaviour over the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the

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