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Thursday 24 Aug 2017 | 18:55 | SYDNEY
Thursday 24 Aug 2017 | 18:55 | SYDNEY

Weekend catch-up: G20 Studies Centre, Shimon Peres, presidential debate and more

COMMENTS

1 October 2016 08:00

By John Gooding, Digital Editor at the Lowy Institute and Associate Editor at The Interpreter.

After four years, this week the G20 Studies Centre drew to a close. Tristram Sainsbury, Project Director in the G20 Studies Centre, reflected on his two years in the program:

The G20 Studies Centre was established in 2012 with the support of the Australian government and with a mandate to help strengthen the G20 through independent analysis, fresh ideas and constructive, pragmatic recommendations. We coordinated the Think20 process in 2014, bringing ideas from around the world to feed in directly to the 2014 Australia G20 Presidency. We have had an excellent vantage point in Sydney in monitoring the forum’s progress as Russia, Australia, Turkey and China have each stepped up and taken the hosting reins.

Michael Fullilove also paid tribute to the Centre’s work:

The output of the Centre has been prodigious. Its experts have been quoted in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, The Economist, Bloomberg, Reuters, BBC as well as in all the major Australian outlets. Experts from the Centre have published hundreds of Interpreter posts, dozens of op-eds, two dozen G20 Monitors, eight Analysis papers and a book.

Shimon Peres, Israeli statesman and someone 'abundantly rich in contradictions', died this week in Tel Aviv. Haaretz's Chemi Shalev:

I was never blind to Peres’ shortcomings, though I can’t say he appreciated it when I occasionally pointed them out. He was brilliant but sometimes obtuse, curious but always self-centered, broad-minded but sometimes petty, generous but sometimes vindictive and mean. He was no Nietzschean superman by any measure but whenever I was with him there was never a doubt in my mind that I was in the company of greatness.

US presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump squared off this week in New York for first of three scheduled debates. Trump may come to rue his rudeness, wrote Sam Roggeveen:

If in fact this debate really is being decided on visuals and the 'human moments' rather than policy substance, then on the first 30 minutes in particular, Clinton wins. Trump was incredibly rude; constantly interrupting, talking over his opponent, and pointing at her aggressively.

In this debate the biggest loser was the electorate, argued Crispin Rovere:

Much of the debate was about litigating personal issues — financial statements, emails, past positions — with not enough spent on real challenges facing Americans. For the average voter, there wasn't the substance on either side to inspire support or motivate turnout. Every time there is an increase in cynicism enhancing the general disgust towards politics, the candidate with the stronger base of enthusiasm wins, and that's Trump.

For some Americans, the likelihood of a do-over in 2020 is the only good news, wrote Normal Bell:

Whoever wins likely will face a divided congress that will make bridging the national rift impossible in four short years. Trump is 70 years old; Clinton is 68. As they trade jabs about releasing health records, neither has the air of someone who will have sufficient grounding to seek a second term. For some Americans, the good news is we may get a do-over in 2020. It’s been that kind of a political season.

How does one map the aid programs of a country as lacking in transparency as China? Danielle Cave

Mapping China’s opaque aid program in the Pacific Islands was more complicated and time-consuming than I had anticipated. I made peace with this fact when I found myself building a makeshift 270-degree visual cocoon out of every electronic device in my apartment so that I could cross-check the various colour-drenched excel spreadsheets feeding into the Lowy Institute’s updated Chinese aid in the Pacific map.

This week Wyatt Roy (former Liberal frontbencher and the youngest person ever elected to Australian parliament) went on a trip to Iraq and found himself caught up in clashes between ISIS and Kurdish Pershmerga. Rodger Shanahan:

The former Member for Longman's surprise visit to Iraq is drawing plenty of criticism. The ALP's Penny Wong was perhaps the most savage, advising him that Iraq was not a 'place for people to act out their boyhood fantasies', while the foreign minister was also willing to criticise her former colleague in only slightly more diplomatic language, labeling his actions 'irresponsible'.

So should we accept that, now that Wyatt Roy is a private citizen released from the strictures of office, he should be allowed to do what he wishes?

Rachael Buckland and Jiyoung Song analysed what Malaysia has to gain from migration reform:

With documented immigrants raising employment and wages of Malaysians, and by connection increasing public revenue, there is a clear incentive for the government to develop a registration scheme.

Whatever happened to the Paris climate agreement? Mark Lawson on the difficulties of ratification:

Hammering out an international agreement on limiting carbon emissions is hard enough, as anyone who has attended the succession of conferences on such a treaty since the Copenhagen meeting in 2009 can testify. But … the conference itself is only the start of the political saga for these treaties.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Justin Brown exhorted Australia’s commitment to multilateral trading systems:

The multilateral trading system has served Australia and our region exceptionally well, and it has delivered a program of trade liberalisation and reform over the years that has been important in underwriting global growth.

But there is no doubt it is now facing multiple strains. The regrettable failure of the Doha Round underscores the need for a change in the way the system is functioning. That failure is a symptom of a bigger issue: the weakening of multilateral processes and institutions.

India’s restraint following the terrorist attack in Kashmir earlier this month is an example the country’s limited options on Pakistan, wrote Shashank Joshi:

Addressing state sponsorship of terrorism is a fiendishly difficult problem, as Israel has found with respect to Iran, and only coercion and diplomacy in parallel are likely to work over the longer term.

Finally, the Interpreter launched a feature this week that allows readers to explore nine years of our articles on Australia-China relations. Sam Roggeveen:

Since The Interpreter began in 2007, China's rise has been the single most prominent theme on this site. And within that larger story, The Interpreter has also charted the debate about how Australia should conduct its relations with China. We are proud to have encouraged a diverse debate among some of our most eminent and prominent scholars, policy-makers and commentators, helping to make The Interpreter an integral part of Australia's foreign policy conversation.

You can browse the collection here.

Photo: Getty Images/Lintao Zhang

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