Bringing together the best longer Interpreter articles you were too busy to read this week.
First, some of our election-related coverage. On Monday Shadow Foreign Minister Julie Bishop stepped up to argue why the Coalition deserves the vote of foreign policy wonks:
Australia's standing in the world is at its highest when our influence in our region is at its strongest. While our standard of living relies on the capacity of our producers and manufacturers to export our goods and services across the globe, we need to capture the opportunities presented by the growing economies in our region.
A key pillar will be a renewed focus on finalising Australia's current free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations and building a network of bilateral and regional FTAs to broaden and diversify our trade relationships.
We've asked Minister Carr's office to submit an article making Labor's case. Also published this week was the first of our election profiles. Andrew Pickford gave us a two-part biography of Shadow Minister Bishop — part one looked at Bishop's background, while part two examined her Western Australian perspective on world affairs. This from part two:
Bishop as foreign minister is unlikely to pursue radical shifts in policy. And she's unlikely to be as passionate and interested in the portfolio as, say, Gareth Evans. Instead, expect to see an administrator with greater appreciation of commercial nuances (especially with respect to China), alongside a keen understanding of US linkages and an ability to help deepen the relationship. Those expecting 'China Choice' flashpoints will be disappointed.
We also had Raoul Heinrichs profiling the foreign policy of the WikiLeaks Party, finding it unexpectedly benign:
A quick review of its policy platform and the public statements of its lead candidates...reveal[s] a certain level of coherence and, surprisingly, a worldview only lightly infused with the philosophy and conspiratorial mindset we associate with WikiLeaks. Indeed, the most striking thing about the Party's outlook on foreign policy is its overriding sense of moderation. There is throughout a conspicuous absence of radicalism and utopian ideology.
Sam Roggeveen on Tony Abbott, the US alliance, and conservatism:
What concerns me is that the US alliance has become an ideology in Australian politics.
It has ceased to be just a practical arrangement for the mutual benefit of two sovereign states, or a signal of the close cultural and historical ties between Australia and the US. It has become an idée fixe, with neither side of politics capable of articulating a vision for Australian foreign policy that does not presume an ever-closer relationship. In Australia, the alliance seems to have become divorced from circumstance and history. But in that guise, it becomes an article of faith, impossible to reform and impervious to the tide of history. It is more likely to crack than bend.
Robert Ayson examined the election from the other side of the ditch:
...New Zealand is looking for a boringly steady economic and security partner after the 7 September election. In what it seeks from Canberra, Wellington is like the cabinet minister who does not want any surprises. One should never forget that consistency has a great deal to commend it, including in Australia's Bledisloe Cup performances since 2002.
Finally on the election, Fairfax's Douglas Fry examines the bellwether electorate with links to Australia's defence establishment, Eden-Monaro:
Eden-Monaro's effective capital is Queanbeyan, nestled into the eastern armpit of the ACT. The city's proximity to key Canberra defence establishments – Russell Offices, Headquarters Joint Operations Command (pictured), HMAS Harman – has led many cross-border commuters to seek out Queanbeyan's vastly more affordable accommodation, or settle in its dedicated Defence Housing.
There was of course other stuff going on in the world. Nick Warner reflected on his time as Special Coordinator of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI). This follows a contemplative piece on RAMSI by Lowy's own Jenny Hayward-Jones a couple of weeks ago. Warner writes:
The success of RAMSI in its first year of operation lay as much in the willingness of Solomon Islanders to seize the opportunity our mission presented as it did on the region's commitment to doing the right thing. As RAMSI moves into its latest and perhaps final phase, Solomon Islanders have an increasing responsibility to shape the future of their nation.
Indonesian writer Solahudin contributed with some insightful analysis on trends in targeting by jihadist terrorist groups in Indonesia. The English version of Slahudin's The Roots of Terrorism in Indonesia (translated by the Lowy Institute's Dave McRae) has just been published by UNSW Press:
In the eyes of Indonesian terrorists, it appears that targeting the 'far enemy', such as America and its allies such as Australia, is increasingly unpopular. The far enemy is now seldom targeted for attacks. Conversely, the popularity of the 'near enemy', particularly the Indonesian police, as a target for attacks has skyrocketed. In the past three years, the majority of terror attacks in Indonesia have targeted the police.
Let's not forget the Middle East. ANU's Bob Bowker looks at the possibility of the US cutting military aid to Egypt:
...if the US reaction to excessive use of violence against civilian demonstrators in Egypt is limited to rhetoric, the message to other Arab governments will be clear: the response from the Western world can be managed. Demonstrators in Bahrain, Yemen, the eastern region of Saudi Arabia and elsewhere may be subjected to repression by such means as their governments may deem necessary.
And lastly, Stephen Grenville played down hopes of a European recovery:
The quandary is this: even if budget deficits are ground down to achieve surpluses (still a huge and unfinished task), the debt ratio will come down so slowly that sustainable debt levels are a generation away. In the meantime, unemployed youths never gain work experience, skills atrophy and the best of the next generation move overseas. Investors look at the budget reforms — more tax, less assistance for industry — and shift both their capital and their entrepreneurship elsewhere.
Photo by Flickr user jessicalrone.