By John Gooding, Digital Editor at the Lowy Institute and Associate Editor at The Interpreter.
Earlier this week The Australian reported that it had seen detailed specifications for the Scorpene-class submarine made by DCNS, which is also contracted to make twelve submarines of a separate design for Australia. Shashank Joshi wrote on the regional impact:
If The Australian’s investigative reporter is correct in asserting the raw data passed from French shipbuilder DCNS to companies in Southeast Asia and Australia, there can be little doubt that it is, or will soon be, in the hands of Chinese intelligence and, soon thereafter, Pakistan. Vice-Admiral A.K. Singh, a retired Indian submariner who served as head of the Eastern Naval Command, told The Wire that, in his view, 'this has saved the Chinese and Pakistanis 20-30 years of espionage'.
The Scorpene-class INS Kalvari being launched in Mumbai in 2015. Photo: Indian Navy
The Olympics wrapped up this week with Shinzo Abe in a Mario costume. Though often hyped for political effect, there was a noticeable disconnect between the Olympic success and the domestic politics of both the US and the UK, argued Nick Bryant:
Britain voted to leave the European Union partly because of fears about immigration. Yet its hero of the Rio games, as in London four years earlier, was Mo Farrah, a Somali-born athlete who has emerged over the past four years as the face of British multiculturalism…
Across the Atlantic, Donald Trump, in promising to make America great again, has repeatedly said that the US doesn’t win anymore. Yet Team USA dominated on the track, in the pool and at the gym. It came away with its biggest medal trawl since 1984, when its tally was artificially inflated by the Eastern bloc boycott.
Richard Lennane wrote a scathing critique of Australia’s attempts to derail a UN meeting in Geneva last Friday:
Australian diplomats called a vote they knew they would lose, split their already modest support base in half, and enraged more than 100 other countries that had been ready to agree to a painstakingly negotiated compromise. For its trouble, Australia gained precisely nothing, and seriously damaged its credibility and influence. If it sounds like a diplomatic train wreck, it was.
Last weekend saw the departure of campaign chairman Paul Manafort from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. James Bowen:
As things stand, there is still plenty of wild conjecture on the nature of Trump’s end game and how it relates to his increasingly chaotic campaigning. After all, Manafort’s resignation – which we can safely assume was a wholly forced departure – was also attributed by many to Trump’s desire to more fully embrace his stream-of-consciousness electioneering style.
Would the election of Hillary Election represent US foreign policy ‘returning to normal’? Don’t be so sure, wrote Hugh White:
Clinton is after all a professional politician through and through. There is no evidence that she has ever allowed foreign-policy convictions to override political calculations, and no reason to think this will change now.
That means we should expect Clinton to shape her foreign policy to neutralise the threat to her nomination in 2020 from the left of her party. So forget Hillary the hawk. To consolidate her Democrat base, she will be even more cautious abroad than Barack Obama has been.
A new RAND Corporation report into how a hypothetical US-China war might play out was an admirable effort to analyse a scenario often considered taboo, but the study has some flawed assumptions, wrote Crispin Rovere:
The authors note that Chinese policymakers are one of their intended audiences. This aims to ensure that miscalculation owing to overconfidence in China’s military capacity is avoided. Unfortunately, in attempting to enhance the deterrent effect of America’s Pacific forces, RAND makes a number of assertions that paint an overly rosy picture for the US.
Adding yet another layer of complexity to the security situation in the South China Sea is the prospect of floating nuclear power plants. John Lee:
China’s first floating nuclear power plant is expected to be operational by 2019, and will likely be deployed to the South China Sea to support China’s outposts and oil drilling operations. CNOOC, the state enterprise which owns the mobile oilrig that deployed to disputed waters with Vietnam two years ago, has signed a contract for one such platform; another 20 are reportedly in the works.
Susanne Schmeidl wrote on Afghanistan's slow decline:
Finding refuge in the country's urban centres is no longer the best survival strategy given the various insurgent elements (Taliban, splinter groups and Daesh) have proven their ability to infiltrate the heart of Kabul and other cities. The band-aid approach of international military forces seems to no longer be working and the peace process is on a road to nowhere. Those fleeing violence have few places to go.
Next month G20 leaders will meet in Hangzhou. Fergus Hanson wrote on why the G20 should consider encouraging global norms for online conduct:
The internet is now so central to the world economy (McKinsey estimates it contributed US$2.8 trillion to world GDP in 2014) we forget how weak the norms are governing behaviour online. In several areas these behaviours threaten to degrade and limit the internet’s future contribution to global growth…
The G20 now has the opportunity to build on some of the progress made in 2015 and expand its engagement into new areas. In the most recent G20 Monitor, I propose three issues it could usefully grapple with.
Hugh Jorgensen outlined how G20 leaders should go about adding migration to the agenda for next month’s leaders’ summit:
I have co-authored a piece in the latest G20 Monitor that lays out some more specific options available to G20 leaders on migration issues at the upcoming leaders Summit in Hangzhou. In general, the piece argues that the G20’s engagement with migration matters should be discrete but clear, that the G20 Hangzhou Summit should seek to give the maximum possible momentum-boost to the UN Summit on Refugees and Migrants taking place in New York on 19 September, and that the G20 should consider how it can best support the outcomes of the UN Summit at the G20 Hamburg Summit in 2017.
And David Gruen and Sam Bide argued for a stronger stance from the G20 on global trade:
There are signs around the globe of rising protectionist sentiments. Partly, this reflects the perception that the gains from trade have not been broadly distributed, particularly in some advanced economies. China has elevated trade as a key issue for leaders to discuss at Hangzhou. G20 Trade Ministers have also called for improved communication of the benefits of trade and are seeking analytical support from relevant international organisations. A key part of this is improving the evidence for how trade lifts GDP, and also how key groups, industries and regions are impacted.
Earlier this month Indian PM Narendra Modi extended his greetings to the people of Balochistan, outraging Pakistan’s leaders. David Brewster examined the geopolitical implications of the move:
Narendra Modi laid down the gauntlet to Pakistan, sending a clear indication that India may be prepared to destabilise Pakistan’s fractious Balochistan province in response to perceived threats. While this represents a very significant change in India’s public posture towards Pakistan, it is important to understand the message was also directed at China.
Finally, Emma Connors chronicled the political legacy of Roger Ailes:
In recent years the 76-year-old Ailes was usually discussed in the context of Fox News, the television empire he founded and where he was largely given carte blanche by Rupert Murdoch because Fox made money hand over fist. That autonomy ended last month, when suddenly Ailes had to go.