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America and China: Imagining the worst

Book Review: Elliot Ackerman and James Stavridis, 2034: A Novel of the Next World War (Penguin 2021) The book begins with a clash in the South China Sea – an imagined conflict, this being a work of fiction, but the authors explain having felt compelled to write because, in the tradition of

Covid recovery, in Australia and the world

In much of the world, Covid-19 infections continue apace, but the global economy is rapidly recovering from last year’s slump. World trade volumes and industrial production were both higher in January than they have ever been, according to data collected by the Netherlands central bank. Releasing

Legalising same-sex marriage in Japan

Last month, a Japanese district court for the first time ruled that not allowing same-sex couples to marry is unconstitutional. The verdict by the Sapporo District Court was a result of simultaneous lawsuits against the nation demanding marriage equality as well as compensation for psychological

Ordinary Nazis

Book review: Robert Gellately, Hitler’s True Believers: How Ordinary People Became Nazis (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2020) In the end, it was all about The Idea. Thus, the historian Robert Gellately explains why so many Germans passionately attached themselves to National Socialism. In

Washington risks an unsustainable climate policy

A couple of months after the inauguration of the new Biden administration, the 18 March Alaska summit provided the first big test of US-China relations. While most of the talks between senior officials were in private, tense exchanges during opening remarks suggest bilateral ties won’t fast

The greening of Bill Gates

Book review: Bill Gates How to Avoid a Climate Disaster (Penguin 2021) One of the more significant aspects of Bill Gates’ How to Avoid a Climate Disaster is the simple fact that he wrote it. After all, amid all of the significant work done by the Gates Foundation, it is hard not to

The Mozambique Channel is the next security hotspot

The waters off Mozambique are becoming a major new security hotspot in the Indian Ocean. An Islamist insurrection in northern Mozambique that the government seems powerless to suppress has also increasingly led to disruption in the Mozambique Channel, a key global shipping route. The Quad countries

The Belt and Road, and the pandemic detour

Book review: Daniel Drache, A.T. Kingsmith and Duan Qi, One Road, Many Dreams: China’s Bold Plan to Remake the Global Economy (London, Bloomsbury, 2019). The economic fallout of the pandemic has been global, but not equal. If the often-necessary lockdowns have uniformly resulted in economic

Food security and Covid-19: Recognising women’s leadership

“Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life” – this recognition was a central focus of the 1996 World Food Summit. Today, Covid-

Her brilliant career

Book review: Sue Boyd, Not Always Diplomatic: An Australian Woman’s Journey Through International Affairs (University of Western Australia Press, 2020) I first met Sue Boyd in Hanoi, where she was Australia’s Ambassador to Vietnam. She was an intriguing figure, combining a razor-sharp

Being Chinese in Australia: Public Opinion in Chinese Communities

Amid debates on foreign interference, Australia-China relations and the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lowy Institute’s Multiculturalism, Identity and Influence Project conducted a nationally representative poll of Chinese-Australians in November 2020 to better understand their outlook on life in

Australia’s place in a decarbonising world economy

A welcome change is underway in the international effort to combat dangerous global warming. It will have big implications for the Australian economy. The United States, European Union and China – the world’s three biggest emitters – are now all targeting net zero emissions by mid-century (

Chagos: A boundary dispute tips over a sovereignty ruling

The decision last month of a Special Chamber of the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea on a maritime boundary dispute between Mauritius and the Maldives reflects two dimensions to the engagement by international courts in resolving disputes among Indian Ocean states. First, it represents

Book review: The Ministry for the Future

Book review: Kim Stanley Robinson, The Ministry for the Future (Hachette, 2020) The Ministry for the Future is a novel set in the near future which describes the disastrous consequences of a warming planet and the steps humanity takes to mitigate them. It is ultimately an optimistic story about

Climate change, a constant battle

2020 had a whole lot up its sleeve. When the year started, there was one big, burning issue in Australia: the bushfires ripping through swaths of countryside, torching towns and choking cities with smoke. Alex Oliver, Lowy’s Director of Research, had a close encounter during what was supposed to

Favourites of 2020: Women make excellent spies

An end-of-year series as the Lowy Institute staff and Interpreter contributors offer their favourite books, articles, films or TV programs this year. Look back on more recommendations and reflections. Okay, so 2020 wasn’t exactly a favourite year. I did learn how to bake a nice sourdough during

Favourites of 2020: Love on the Spectrum

An end-of-year series as the Lowy Institute staff and Interpreter contributors offer their favourite books, articles, films or TV programs this year. Look back on the series and watch for more recommendations and reflections in the days ahead. Love on the Spectrum is a documentary series

Favourites of 2020: Evil Geniuses

An end-of-year series as the Lowy Institute staff and Interpreter contributors offer their favourite books, articles, films or TV programs this year. Look back on the series and watch for more recommendations and reflections in the days ahead. Long before a certain New York real estate developer

Favourites of 2020: The moral ambiguity of spying

An end-of-year series as the Lowy Institute staff and Interpreter contributors offer their favourite books, articles, films or TV programs this year. Look back on the series and watch for more recommendations and reflections in the days ahead. Like the best spy novels, Lauren Wilkinson’s

Favourites of 2020: Homeland Elegies

An end-of-year series as the Lowy Institute staff and Interpreter contributors offer their favourite books, articles, films or TV programs this year. Look back on the series and watch for more recommendations and reflections in the days ahead. The world has observed the United States under the

The wrong side won: Remembering John le Carré

The verdict of John le Carré (real name David Cornwall) on the outcome of the Cold War was: “The right side lost, but the wrong side won”. This ambiguous conclusion is attributed to le Carré’s favourite character, George Smiley, in his novel The Secret Pilgrim, but it is an unmistakable

Favourites of 2020: Capturing a precarious moment

An end-of-year series as the Lowy Institute staff and Interpreter contributors offer their favourite books, articles, films or TV programs this year. Look back on the series and watch for more recommendations and reflections in the days ahead. A few years ago on a flight from New Delhi to Rome, I

Favourites of 2020: A lockdown loaf

An end-of-year series as the Lowy Institute staff and Interpreter contributors offer their favourite books, articles, films or TV programs this year. Look back on the series and watch for more recommendations and reflections in the days ahead. A year like no other. From global pandemics to climate

Where America finds itself

“Neither the sun nor death can be looked at steadily,” said the 17th-century French aphorist François de La Rochefoucauld. He might have added, had it existed at the time, the United States of America. No country, with the possible exception of China, has played as large a role as a symbol

Favourites of 2020: Minister of Finance Incorporated

An end-of-year series as the Lowy Institute staff and Interpreter contributors offer their favourite books, articles, films or TV programs this year. Watch for more recommendations and reflections in the days ahead. There are few occasions in life when my “2020 books read” spreadsheet

Favourites of 2020: The politics of Tiger King

An end-of-year series as the Lowy Institute staff and Interpreter contributors offer their favourite books, articles, films or TV programs this year. Watch for more recommendations and reflections in the days ahead. It seems like an eternity ago now, but it was only eight months ago that Tiger

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