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The Americas

A required update for the EU-US Trade and Tech Council

The second EU-US Trade and Technology Council meeting took place in Paris at the weekend. An outcome of the EU-US Summit in June 2021, the TTC was established to strengthen and coordinate transatlantic cooperation and develop values-based approaches to global trade, economic and technology issues

AUKUS: More than meets the eye

The clear intention of AUKUS is to tip the military balance in the Indo-Pacific in favour of the United States. The various initiatives in the pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States are headlined by cooperation to develop a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines for Australia

Scoring Biden’s ASEAN summit

US President Joe Biden hosted ASEAN leaders in Washington last week for a special summit to commemorate 45 years of US-ASEAN ties. Such a meeting was long in the making, having been mooted under the Trump administration but deferred due to the Covid pandemic, and then delayed in 2022 due to

Saudi Arabia and China: a blossoming friendship

As the relationship between longtime allies Saudi Arabia and the United States becomes increasingly strained, China could cultivate a stronger bond with the Middle Eastern kingdom. In a recent phone call between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (colloquially known as MBS) and China’s

Iran applies its own maximum pressure in nuclear talks

Negotiations in Vienna to revive the Iran nuclear deal have dragged on through nearly a dozen rounds for more than a year now. The Biden administration’s hopes for a quick restoration of the 2015 agreement, unilaterally abandoned by Donald Trump, have been hampered from the outset. By simply

AUKUS can be a good platform for cooperation with India

Someone famous once reputedly quipped “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” So there is a certain echo to the AUKUS arrangement, which brings together Australia, United Kingdom and United States to share vital defence technologies in an effort to stabilise the Indo Pacific

Zelensky’s direct plea to America

Is it possible for the United States to be both righteous defender of Ukraine’s right to self-determination and prudent decisionmaker? The combination of an experienced president and a well-informed US Congress bode well for ongoing crisis management. But judging likely outcomes requires a

Waiting for North Korea to escalate

After North Korea conducted a spate of missile tests in January, it was argued that the country had ended its self-imposed 2018 moratorium on testing intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) and possibly also nuclear weapons. Even the UN Secretary-General claimed that a test on 30 January had

The Gulf’s diversification dilemma

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had posed difficult questions for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and exposed the costs of pursuing a more diversified series of diplomatic, economic and military relationships. The two Gulf states are in effect experiencing the “diversification dilemma

Does the Quad Plus add up?

According to its members, the Quad – a group comprising the United States, Japan, India and Australia – seeks to present an inclusive vision for the Indo-Pacific region, and its members seek to work with a range of countries. Despite this rhetoric, the group hasn’t established any clear

Common enemies and instinctive friends

The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend. Likewise, there may not be an instinctive alignment of my two adversaries. Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s reference to “arc of autocracy” and the “instinctive” alignment between Russia and China in the address at the Lowy Institute was

Ukraine: The United States re-establishes its credentials

The Biden administration played a critical role in assembling the European and global coalition to punish Russia’s unprovoked invasion of neighbouring Ukraine, and in so doing displayed American diplomatic power at its best: leading without dominating.   The White House overcame well-

What if Trump wins again?

Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has seen a return to the political alignments of the 20th century, with the United States as the leader of a grouping of democracies against a Russian dictatorship uneasily partnered with China. But Donald Trump has offered a radically different response,

The election for the future of the internet

In September this year, UN member states will cast their votes for the next secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). While elections for bureaucratic positions in obscure, technical UN bodies normally pass unnoticed, the ITU has emerged as the major battleground in

Damage limitation and US nuclear strategy

Almost four years ago, I argued in The Interpreter that Vladimir Putin’s decision to pursue a range of weapons specifically designed to defeat America’s Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) system was irrational behaviour, being an expensive solution to a problem which did not exist. In particular

Okinawa’s vocal anti-US military base movement

In early January this year, US military bases in Okinawa, Japan, were again the subject of criticism after the Omicron variant of Covid-19 was detected among US base personnel and subsequently spread to locals. Hostility towards the presence of the bases has existed since the 1950s and the anti-base

Kick-starting America’s Pacific diplomacy

Antony Blinken’s visit to Fiji on Saturday will be the first by a US Secretary of State to the island nation in 37 years. The timing of this trip is not the most convenient for the region. While Blinken has invited leaders of neighbouring Pacific states to Fiji to participate in his visit, it is

Delivering promises will show steel in Quad

The German naval chief, Vice Admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach, lost his job during a visit to Delhi last month. During an interaction where he went woefully off-script, he urged the West to offer “respect” to Russian President Vladimir Putin and keep the focus trained on China, a “not so nice

Defining Biden

US President Joe Biden’s regrettable and somewhat rambling comments on the tense situation in Ukraine during a 19 January press conference understandably drew the attention of America’s allies and foreign policy analysts. But for those of us with the patience to listen to two hours of “pure,

An AUKUS surprise – Best of The Interpreter 2021

The buzz about an impending big announcement started the night before. But when the leaders from Australia, the United Kingdom and United States stood in a virtual press conference on 16 September to reveal Australia would eventually acquire nuclear-powered submarines, Sam Roggeveen’s first

Myths that stir trouble in the South China Sea

US officials regularly present China as an aggressive and expansionist military power while Chinese state sources criticise the United States in similar terms. The verbal sparring has only increased concern about the prospect of a future war between China and the United States, with Australia as a

India remains divided about AUKUS

The jury in New Delhi is still out on AUKUS, the new trilateral security agreement between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. Three months after its announcement, the issue continues to split India’s security experts, with little consensus over whether it benefits New Delhi or is

European security: Putin ups the ante with NATO

Not content with sabre-rattling amid a menacing large troop build-up around Ukraine’s borders, Russia last week issued sweeping demands for legally binding new security guarantees from the United States and NATO.  If implemented, these would constitute a significant revision of post-Cold

Crisis stability as a priority in US-China relations

Prospects for US-China arms control run hot and cold. China continues to vociferously oppose the recent Australia-UK-US agreement to cooperate on Australia’s acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines. And over the past six months there have been three significant revelations by open-source

Why isn’t Australia putting diplomacy first?

Reading the coverage following the AUKUS nuclear submarine annoucement might have given the impression that diplomacy is not an Anglo-Saxon pastime. But, in fact, both the United States and United Kingdom have an explicit “diplomacy first” agenda. It is Australia that is out of step. What is

Twenty years of BRICS

It is 20 years since Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O’Neill invented the BRIC economic grouping – Brazil, Russia, India and China – with South Africa added later to make up the BRICS. He celebrated this anniversary with a self-congratulatory article in the Financial Times, expressing his

Economic diplomacy: Free trade vs economic resilience

Santa clauses The value of global goods trade during the biggest pandemic in a century last year dropped about a third less than it did during the biggest financial crisis in a generation in 2008. But internet searches about “economic resilience” are running more than twice as high these days

Honouring the dead on the path to Korean peace

Almost 70 years on, the Korean war is still not formally over. The United States and South Korea are in the final stages of drafting an end-of-war declaration text. Since his address at the United Nations General Assembly in September, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in has made the declaration

Is Australia relevant?

Last week, Singapore’s Education Minister Chan Chun Sing addressed the Fullerton lecture series on US-China relations and his own country’s foreign policy. Chan, a leading member of the so-called “4G” or fourth-generation of Singaporean politicians, echoed some familiar refrains about the

Australia and the American far-right conspiracy

It would be reasonable for Australians to feel some annoyance at being, once again, on the receiving end of an odd mixture of criticism and sympathy from America’s far-right personalities. In recent months the conspiracists have been theorising that America’s tough and free Anglosphere buddy

Arms control is not just about arms

Relations between Russian and the United States have been rocky since the 2014 Crimean crisis. Washington imposed various sanctions on the Kremlin in the aftermath of the annexation, accusing it of violating Ukrainian sovereignty. US charges of Russian interferences in the 2016 and 2020 elections

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