Bringing together the best longer Interpreter articles you were too busy to read this week.
Easily our most popular piece of the week (thanks to tweets from journalists Annabel Crabb and Sandra Sully) was this one from Jenny Hayward Jones, on the milestone of Australia getting its first female foreign minister, and what it means for Australia's Pacific diplomacy:
Bishop is not a token woman in the woefully women-deprived federal cabinet. She has earned her position as the nation’s top diplomat and deserves recognition for this achievement.
Bishop worked hard as shadow minister to get across her brief. I give her particular credit because she has taken a deep interest in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands, traveled to the region many times and has said the relationship with PNG should be one of Australia's highest foreign policy priorities. However, the prime minister’s decision that Bishop will be the sole woman in his cabinet creates some immediate difficulties for Bishop in prosecuting Australian policy in the Pacific Islands region.
Also attracting attention was Alex Oliver's comparison of Australia's female political participation with the rest of the world:
Looking across the globe, though, Australia ranks quite poorly, coming in at equal 45th with Canada out of 142 nations in the Inter-parliamentary Union’s database on women in parliaments. Rwanda tops the list with 56% women in parliament, having recently overtaken Sweden with 45%. The IPU data shows that, where quotas are implemented by parties or parliaments to enforce female representation, the number of elected women almost doubles. So while quotas are a divisive issue, it might be on the agenda in Australia following the reaction to Mr Abbott’s controversial ministry decisions.
Annmaree O'Keeffe said Australia's aid program needed a plan when it was growing, and needs one now that it is shrinking. Annmaree also disapproved of the merger between AusAID and the Department of Foreign Affairs:
Having AusAID just a little distanced from the daily pressures confronting the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade meant that the aid program has not been constantly distracted in its long term development endeavours (which is what development is: long, slow and hard) to deal with diplomatic brush fires and initiatives.
Now, if AusAID takes up residency again within the confines of Foreign Affairs, the temptation to use AusAID as a diplomatic ATM will be greater than ever.
On Syria, I argued that Russia was getting too little credit for its role in the chemical weapons agreement, and Rodger Shanahan said the Syrian opposition was the main loser from the deal:
In the rather bizarre geopolitical theatre that is Syria, we now have the Syrian regime, which allegedly used CW, appearing to be on the diplomatic front foot while the opposition, against which the CW was used, is getting bad PR.
Former head of Army intelligence Gary Hogan laid out a four-point plan for the success of Operation Sovereign Borders:
The central challenge for the OSB headquarters will be that of coordination and orchestration – for a variety of reasons, that element has been underdone until now. The decision to wrap a formal operational construct and command authority around this most vexing challenge for the new government is just the first step, but a critically important one.
More of this week's long-form reading from The Interpreter:
- Stephen Grenville on how emerging economies can cope with volatile currency flows.
- Denis Fitzgerald reported from New York that Syria diplomacy is moving to the UN Security Council, where Australia is centre-stage.
- The Delhi rape trial is over, but the struggle for India's women continues, wrote Danielle Rajendram.
- Melissa Conley-Tyler looked at the complexities buried beneath the phrase 'national interest'.
- Jack Georgieff defended 'Indo-Pacific' as a definition for Australia's region of strategic interest.
- Alex Oliver looked at rumours that the Department of Foreign Affairs is about to be split up.
- Daniela Strube wrote a handy primer on Sunday's German election contest between a political chicken and a political Rambo.
- New Zealander Robert Ayson is seeing early parallels between the Abbott Government's foreign policy and that of the Key Government in Wellington.
Photo by Flickr user ercwttmn.