Wednesday 25 Nov 2020 | 21:48 | SYDNEY
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United States

A Biden presidency and the US–South Korea alliance

US presidential candidate Joe Biden, leading in most polls more than two months before the November election, is cautiously expected to win office. On foreign policy, his plan has been characterised as a “restoration project” to rebuild America’s international standing, with the help of allies

A diplomatic breakdown over “snapback” tests the UN

After the United States experienced a rebuff at the United Nations last week – with almost the entire membership of the Security Council rejecting its attempt to re-impose UN sanctions on Iran – US officials warned that the dispute could lead to a major crisis in the Council, damaging the

America’s very unusual conventions

As with so many events in America this year, public expectations around the 2020 political conventions were muted. And yet, both parties approached their conventions with outsize ambition.  Last week’s all-virtual Democratic convention was generally well received. The event showcased a

Hidden seams in the UAE-Israel deal

The main questions about the normalisation agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates announced a week ago are why did it happen and what will it change? It’s pretty clear what US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu get out of the deal – both leaders

The Democrat and the world’s biggest democracy

Given the high degree of political participation by the South Asian diaspora in the US that I’ve written about before, it seemed an inevitability that a person with some degree of Indian ethnicity or culture would make it onto a presidential ticket. The question was never if, but who. Would it be

Kamala Harris: Where does Australia feature in her worldview?

Kamala Harris’ anointment last week as Joe Biden’s US presidential election running mate was in some ways groundbreaking – she is the first Black woman and the first Asian-American woman on a major party ticket – but in most ways she is a conventional choice. Harris is a moderate Democrat

The essence of timing in politics

The 13 August announcement of a United Arab Emirates–Israel deal to normalise relations was a significant event. But at the same time, it overshadowed a number of other interesting Middle Eastern political and security-related manoeuvres occurring elsewhere. The agreement itself was an

Diego Garcia: The US has a clear choice

Mauritius is the legitimate sovereign over the Chagos Archipelago, including the island of Diego Garcia, which hosts an important US military base in the Indo-Pacific region. The government of Mauritius has publicly announced its willingness to enter into an agreement that would preserve the base,

Contemplating Kamala Harris

Was Kamala Harris the right choice for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden? Is she a policy radical or a centrist? What are her foreign policy views, and will they be influential in a Biden administration, or will the president set his own agenda? These and other questions are

In US election, no surprise, no mystery

It’s August and most Americans are hot and sticky and impatient with the ongoing failure to manage the coronavirus pandemic. Despite 160,000 Covid-19 deaths and one out of every five American workers claiming unemployment insurance, the US Congress remains deadlocked over a fifth pandemic relief

The most important American election ever?

When Donald Trump and Joe Biden compete for the American presidency in November, it may prove to be the most consequential election the world has ever seen. Yes – that is a bit hyperbolic, but let’s consider what’s at stake. First, it’s not entirely certain that Trump will lose, despite

Cyber sovereignty cuts both ways

The White House's approach to managing the potential security threats posed by TikTok, WeChat and other Chinese-owned apps is hardly a model of procedural justice. Without a clear legal or regulatory framework, the Trump Administration has issued executive orders banning transactions with the

It’s always about the oil in the Middle East

Despite US President Donald Trump’s claim that the United States no longer needed Middle East oil following the attacks on the Abqaiq production facilities in Saudi Arabia in September last year, the fact is oil from the region does remain important to the US, not only for its own use, but also as

Book review: Superpower showdown

Book Review: Bob Davis and Lingling Wei, Superpower Showdown: How the Battle Between Trump and Xi Threatens a New Cold War (HarperCollins, 2020). Global relations are undergoing a dramatic shift. China is increasingly assertive internationally and repressive domestically. Examples of its brashness

US–South Korea: Working group blues

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in’s appointment of new national security advisers has attracted attention, given their pro-détente stance in spite of North Korea’s latest provocations. The incoming team has rolled out an ambitious agenda to break the stalemate between the North and South

American carnage, take two

With fewer than 100 days until the next election, US President Donald Trump has made it clear that he’s done with the coronavirus. Last week, he shifted his talking points to align with the advice of public health experts, but he gave no indication that he actually planned to focus on improving

On China, the US speaks loudly but carries no stick

In recent weeks, the Trump administration has busily tried to smooth out what has been a fairly ragged Asia policy. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s speech at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library last week was the culmination of a number of set-piece acts intended to emphasise a yet

UN report on US killing of Iranian commander misses the mark

In the early hours of 3 January 2020, missiles fired from US drones killed ten people near Baghdad airport. Drone strikes by the US are almost commonplace these days, but what made this particular strike noteworthy was its target: General Qasem Soleimani, commander of Iran's Quds Force, a unit of

Five Eyes: Blurring the lines between intelligence and policy

The public aura around the decades-old “Five Eyes” intelligence sharing partnership between Australia, the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand has expanded rapidly since the name was first publicly acknowledged. In 2014, an Australian prime minister publicly referred to the “Five Eyes” for the

Turkey: Not a team player

Turkey is increasingly becoming the piece of the NATO puzzle that just won’t fit. President Recep Erdoğan’s particular brand of Turkish nationalist populism has earned him criticism from most NATO members at one time or another. Turkey’s plans for European Union membership seem increasingly

Interesting times for TikTok

From Delhi to Washington to Canberra, the future of the digital economy may be heavily influenced by how one question is answered: What to do about TikTok? The popular short-video platform owned by Beijing-based parent company ByteDance has been at the centre of a storm of controversy. Concern

Writing off Trump

A weekend Fox News interview with US President Donald Trump has won plenty of attention – mostly, it seems fair to assume, from people who don’t spend a lot of time watching Fox News. Which apparently now includes Trump himself. “I’m not a big fan of Fox, I’ll be honest with you. They

The kind of test the world doesn’t need

In May, the Washington Post reported discussions within the Trump administration about the possibility of conducting the first US nuclear detonation test since 1992, ostensibly as a countermeasure to the nuclear programs of China and Russia. Last month, officials said no tests were planned, but, in

America’s summertime blues

Most Americans approached this year’s Independence Day holiday with a sense that things had gone terribly wrong. There was sadness and anxiety over the uptick in coronavirus infections in the south and west, along with the deepening economic recession, and ongoing protests against police violence

Putting study abroad on ice carries a diplomatic cost

With global travel slashed to a bare minimum early in the Covid-19 pandemic, study abroad programs were among the first Australian organisations outside hospitality and retail to feel the economic impact of the crisis. With looming uncertainty and often no choice but to study online, most Australian

Keeping the Kremlin in the Kelvinator

One effect of Australia’s more assertive posture on the People’s Republic of China has been to try to split off Beijing’s current and potential partners. This thinking was apparently behind Liberal MP Dave Sharma’s recent suggestion that Australia should back Russia’s participation in the

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