Sunday 07 Mar 2021 | 23:31 | SYDNEY
What's happening on
  • 5 Mar 2021 11:00

    Her brilliant career

    An entertaining and informative memoir about a woman’s career through a deeply patriarchal profession in diplomacy.

  • 5 Mar 2021 06:00

    Vaccine hesitancy and the risks in rural Papua New Guinea

    Another vaccine drive could cause resentment among those who feel they don’t need it because “they are not sick”.

  • 4 Mar 2021 14:00

    An endless game of whack-a-mole?

    The efficacy of proscribing extreme-right groups is debated. How to keep ahead of their evolution is also challenging.


China and the Arctic: What's the fuss?

For a few hours this evening Australian time, media outlets from around the world will zoom in on Kiruna, Sweden's northernmost city of 18,000 inhabitants and host to the Arctic Council ministerial meeting. The foreign ministers of the eight Arctic Council member states – Canada, Denmark, Finland

Mekong and Salween dams in the news

Remarkably little international attention has been given to the beginning of work on the Lower Se San 2 dam in Cambodia, a major hydroelectric dam on one of the Mekong's main tributaries which plays a key part in the annual breeding cycle of the river's fish, which are a major contributor to the

Consular Conundrum: The Swiss solution

Dr Daniel Woker is the former Swiss Ambassador to Australia and now a Senior Lecturer at the University of St Gallen. Gar Pardy, formerly with the Canadian MFA, has just added Canadian solutions to the exchange of best national practices on the growing consular affairs problem. The Lowy

10 tips for writing op-eds

The Lowy Institute has launched its first-ever undergraduate op-ed competition (the deadline is 24 May, so plenty of time to enter; you could win a $500 Westfield voucher), so I thought this would be a good time to reflect on what I think makes a good opinion piece, having written several

The deadly politics of fuel subsidies

When G20 leaders met in Pittsburgh in 2009, they committed to 'rationalize and phase out over the medium term inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption'. Subsequent meetings have repeated this commitment. It's a big issue. One estimate puts the worldwide subsidies at 2

Space Oddity onboard the ISS

This could have been corny, but it's actually pretty sublime. I recommend giving it the full-screen treatment: Commander Chris Hadfield is due to return to earth today onboard the Soyuz capsule. (Thanks Hugh

Is the G7 back?

Mike Callaghan is Director of the Lowy Institute's G20 Studies Centre. Finance Ministers from G7 countries (US, UK, Germany, Japan, Italy, France and Germany) met in London on 10-11 May 2013. This was described as a rarity, because in recent years G7 ministers have usually met on the sidelines of a

Reader riposte: The Asian Century in one map

Michael responds to an item in Wednesday's links: I looked at, and liked, the visual representation of the Asian Century, but then thought a bit more, and asked myself two questions: For how long could we have drawn the circle that way? (I imagine the bulk of the world's population has

Say goodbye to your afternoon

Via Kottke, a totally addictive game that makes ingenious use of Google Street View to test your world geography knowledge. Geoguessr places you at a random Google Street View location and asks you to take your best guess of where you are by placing a pin on a world map. After five turns, you'

Modernising the world of consular affairs

Gar Pardy was the Director General of the Consular Affairs Bureau in the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs for more than a decade until he retired in 2003. The Lowy Institute's Alex Oliver is one of only two or three researchers and commentators in the world of foreign policy who broadens

More on art and politics

A footnote to the recent exchange between Rodger Shanahan and myself on whether politicians could do their job better if they made art. Take it away, Hollywood director Steven Soderbergh (who made Contagion, above), speaking at the San Francisco International Film Festival last Saturday:

A new WTO boss: Brazil 1-0 Mexico

So Brazil has triumphed over Mexico in the contest to provide the next Director-General of the WTO. Roberto Azevedo (pictured) beat Herminio Blanco to take over from Pascal Lamy, who will step down on 31 August after serving two terms as DG. Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff declared that

Aung San Suu Kyi: A pilgrim's progress

Andrew Selth, a Research Fellow? at the Griffith Asia Institute, will appear on a panel at the Lowy Institute tomorrow on Burma's transition. To attend, find details here. There was a time when to criticise Aung San Suu Kyi was to court a firestorm of angry responses from her worldwide legion of

Is there a middle-income trap?

With Europe stagnating, America in a limp recovery and Japan still mired in its lost decades, world growth has been sustained over the past two years by the performance of the emerging countries, which accounted for half of world growth. This has occurred despite confident predictions that these

Defence White Paper: Critics' choice

The Lowy Institute's Rory Medcalf and James Brown are fashioning themselves into the David & Margaret of strategic analysis (for American readers, they're Australia's version of Siskel & Ebert). Here Rory and James review the movie that was the 2013 Defence White Paper

Reader riposte: The politician at play

Steve Weintz comments on our thread about political leaders as recreational painters: The psychological underpinnings of those who attain the 'commanding heights' are always of great interest, and play in all its forms provides a special window into the mind. An anecdote: Churchill also

Martin Indyk on the Obama pivot

Here's an interview my colleague Anthony Bubalo did with Martin Indyk yesterday following his excellent speech at the Lowy Institute. Indyk was twice US Ambassador to Israel during the Clinton Administration and is now Vice-President at America's most prestigious think tank, the Brookings

The politician as painter

Sam Roggeveen's post raises an interesting question as to whether George W Bush would have been more inquisitive (and hence made better decisions) if he had taken up painting before his presidency. The argument being that the painter's need to determine perspective is a good grounding for

More on George W Bush, artist

My piece got a Twitter reaction from Nasya Bahfen, a Senior Lecturer in Journalism at UNSW: Thanks Nasya; extra points for the '90s movie reference. But how about some other artistic depictions of the Bush Administration? Thomas Cole's landscape series, The Course of Empire, perhaps? Or one

Reader riposte: Grace, humility on The Interpreter

Ian Wing writes: I think Rodger Shanahan made a valid point about the DVA website's choice of words about ANZAC. DVA got it wrong, albeit on a relatively minor issue of historical accuracy that neglected the fact that British, French and Indian troops outnumbered our own. Nonetheless, the

A perspective on Bush the artist

Apparently some of George W Bush's critics are bothered by the fact that he's quite a competent painter and in particular that he has a skill for perspective, because it implies that he's capable of seeing things from a different point of view. But art critic Morgan Meis (h/t Browser) takes

Can a new DG save the WTO?

And then there were two. The process of selecting a new Director-General for the WTO is heading to a conclusion, with the third and final round of consultations with members scheduled to start today. After the previous two rounds, the original nine-person shortlist has been whittled down to just

Syria and the chemical weapons norm

There's no easier way to demonstrate the appalling standard of online political debate than to cite comment threads: abusive, intolerant, disrespectful, rude, inflammatory etc. That's true, but it's not the whole truth. I give occasional seminars here at the Lowy Institute for groups of public

What can the world learn from Abenomics?

Mike Callaghan is Director of the Lowy Institute's G20 Studies Centre. As the debate over 'growth versus fiscal austerity' continues, with the latest battleground set to be the IMF's forthcoming annual review of the UK economy, attention continues to focus on what is happening in Japan. Simon

No, Europe's ETS definitely doesn't work

Roger Pielke Jr is a Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado. Here's his initial post on this topic. After the European parliament voted down a proposal to prop up its flagship emissions trading scheme (ETS), most observers finally admitted what has been obvious for a

So, Europe's ETS works after all?

Last Monday's Interpreter piece from Environmental Studies Professor Roger Pielke Jr was one of a number of commentaries in the international media arguing that Europe's emissions trading scheme (ETS) had essentially failed as a mechanism for reducing carbon emissions. Now I see that there's

Fiscal policy: A rock and a hard place

With Spanish unemployment topping 27%, it's hard to argue that the recovery is on track. It's not just Spain: the IMF estimates, in its latest World Economic Outlook, that euro-area GDP declined nearly 1% during 2012 and this loss will not be recovered this year. The Fund forecasts growth of

Documentary trailer: Manhunt

Thanks to Markus for alerting me to this trailer for an upcoming HBO documentary about the capture of Osama bin Laden, and the audio of this Council on Foreign Relations panel discussion hosted by Fareed Zakaria and featuring Peter Bergen, who wrote Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden

Boston response shows America on the mend

Erin Hurley has nearly ten years of experience working in US politics in New York and Washington DC, and served as a legislative affairs officer within the US Department of Defense. In a post on the Boston bombings in Foreign Policy, Stephen Walt expressed strong disappointment in 'our collective

India-Australia: Not all about cricket

On 17 April the Lowy Institute and the Australia India Institute launched a groundbreaking poll looking at Indian perceptions of Australia (the link includes the poll in full and a short video interview with report author, Rory Medcalf), gaining insight into what Indians really think of our

Problems in China's submarine program?

Rear Admiral (ret'd) James Goldrick AO, CSC is a Nonresident Fellow at the Lowy Institute. Submarine development and construction is a notoriously opaque subject, hard enough to analyse in open societies and even more difficult in a secretive environment such as that of China's military.

The Twitterisation of economic debate

Mike Callaghan is Director of the Lowy Institute's G20 Studies Centre. The controversy over mistakes in a research paper by Harvard Professors Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff is a sad indictment on the state of the public debate on economic policy. Reinhart & Rogoff's work was never

Why economists' errors matter

Economics blogs are all atwitter with discussion of Reinhart and Rogoff's (R&R) Excel error: it turns out that a 90% debt-to-GDP ratio is not a critical threshold for dramatically slower growth after all. All this excitement may be a storm in a teacup but there are wider lessons which go

Boston and the changing nature of terrorism

Sam Roggeveen has suggested that, in its response to the Boston Marathon bombing, America 'got it right'. Likewise, Sam linked to a piece by Thomas Friedman on the 'right' response to terrorism.  I agree with Sam that President Obama's response was tone-perfect: strong, measured, resolute. 

What the G20 finance ministers did not say

Mike Callaghan is Director of the Lowy Institute's G20 Studies Centre.  What was not included in the communiqué was the most interesting thing coming from the meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors in Washington, DC on 18-19 April. Some of the omissions were positive,