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Weekend catch-up: International Women's Day, antibiotics, China in Europe, Canada's Syrian refugees, Vanuatu's airport and more

Weekend catch-up: International Women's Day, antibiotics, China in Europe, Canada's Syrian refugees, Vanuatu's airport and more
Published 12 Mar 2016   Follow @BrendanTN_

On Tuesday, the world marked International Women's Day. On The Interpreter we are always on the look-out for more women contributors, so please pitch us something if you are a woman with expertise in an international topic. Two academics from the US, Emily Beaulieu and Kathleen Searles, have created this great resource — #WomenAlsoKnowStuff — which collates female scholars that study a variety of areas in the social sciences. They also wrote a piece for The Interpreter this week:

Still, we know that gender bias persists even when we account for objective metrics associated with research productivity.  Waiting for women to gradually accrue more status and influence in the profession is not sufficient and a more disruptive approach may be warranted.  Our goal — the success of which we plan to evaluate systematically — is for #WomenAlsoKnowStuff to amplify the voices of women in political science, all over the world.

We also had two great pieces wrapping up our 2016 Defence White Paper coverage, the first is from Natalie Sambhi on the Indonesian angle:

Civil–military relations in Indonesia is an area in need of further study and while the military is ostensibly out of politics, let's get real and acknowledge that it still wields influence in Indonesian politics and business today. Indonesia's Chief of Defence force has basically authored the book 'The Art of (Proxy) War'. The man is (not unjustifiably, looking at Indonesia's history with foreign interference) fixated with this concept, most recently signing agreements with national media outlets to fight against creeping proxyism in the country's TV and newspapers. Of course, shifts towards a more unstable strategic environment, in which our interests converge,  could override domestic factors. Nevertheless, until such a time, it's worth considering the prevailing attitudes towards Western militaries in Indonesia among some defence players and how they might shape things to come. 

Denise Fisher wrote on what she says is the strategic importance of France to Australia's future national security outlook:

Although France retains modest military resources in the South Pacific (around 2500 personnel, two surveillance frigates, three patrol boats, four surveillance, four tactical transport aircraft, and six helicopters), it has the capacity to draw speedily on other military assets from metropolitan France. While the nature of its future status in New Caledonia is currently under discussion, France retains military assets in French Polynesia which s the headquarters of its Pacific Ocean fleet.

There is an emerging global crisis in antibiotics immunity and Zoe Hawkins covered it: [fold]

In 2013, more than 29 million antibiotic prescriptions were written in Australia, for a population of only 23 million. In fact, Australia's overuse of antibiotics is 'one of the highest in the developed world'. These medications are also used in agriculture around the world to control animal health and fatten up livestock. Shockingly, 70% of all antibiotics used in the US are given to animals. This has exacerbated the issue, allowing drug-resistant bacteria to flourish in animal populations that are then passed onto humans via the dinner table.

Nadia Brown on the growing importance of the African American women's vote in US elections:

African American women have had a long history of political activism in the United States. Before women’s suffrage, the 15th amendment, and even as bondswomen they admonished racism, sexism and classism as tenets of America’s founding ideals. So it not surprising black women today  carry on the legacy of those such as  Maria Stewart, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Anna Julia Cooper, Sadie T. M. Alexander and countless others who  fought for full incorporation into the American polity.  These women had progressive politics that confronted the status quo and questioned their status as third class citizens.

China is expanding its economic cooperation with Europe, says Nadege Rolland:

Gaining diplomatic influence from economic exchange is certainly not an easy task. But China is planting seeds for gaining influence and access in Europe, and along the entire Eurasian continent, that can be cultivated and used to achieve its own strategic ends. Whether or not they succeed, these efforts will have significant implications for Europe and for the Western liberal order of which it is a part.

Catriona Croft-Cusworth, with her regular coverage of Indonesia, talked about the governor of Jakarta running as an independent:

A more remarkable change in politics in Jakarta this week came from the governor's announcement that he intends to run as an independent candidate in next year's election. A grassroots group known as Teman Ahok, or 'Friends of Ahok', has spent months collecting as many as 770,000 pledges of support from Jakarta citizens for incumbent governor Ahok to join the gubernatorial race without party endorsement. But in recent weeks, Ahok has toyed with the idea of joining Jokowi's party, the PDI-P, disappointing his supporters. His decision on Monday to stick by his friends has been very well received.

Robert Vineberg covered Canada's successful completion of its Syrian refugee program: 

The revised Liberal plan involved sending large processing teams to refugee camps in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. The Canadian Armed Forces would establish the processing centres and provide Medical Corps staff to conduct physical examinations of the refugees. Immigration officers, agents from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and officers from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police worked hand in hand in the camps to process the refugees. They were referred to Canada by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on the basis of vulnerability. Therefore, single mothers with children and families received priority. In all, over 600 military and public service personnel were deployed to the Middle East to carry out the operation and they were supported by thousands more in Canada.

Jim Chalmers MP on the G20:

Shanghai’s formal agreement went scarcely beyond a vague recommitment to target growth, a glaring illustration of this problem. The most glowing praise of the event went to the pledge by the Chinese hosts to communicate their currency strategies more clearly in the future – hardly the kind of coordinated decision-making the forum was designed for.

No wonder then that critics of the G20 are growing in number and volume. Ed Balls is among them, describing the event as a 'damp squib' and drawing parallels between the complacency of the forum today and the dithering that characterised the first few years of the Great Depression.

Jonathan Pryke and Matthew Dornan looked at the dire situation around Vanuatu's primary airport:

Some in Vanuatu claim that the condition of the runway is an excuse made by the airlines to cancel their services. According to this argument, the decision was actually made on commercial grounds, with the routes no longer profitable given the decline in arrivals post-Pam. An independent assessment of the airstrip clearing it for commercial use provides some backing to this claim, but it also calls for urgent repairs in the next 12 months. Whatever the case, it is clear that the airport was in need of urgent attention; attention that the Vanuatu government failed to provide.

James Brown wrote on the leaks this week to The Australian concerning polling done by the US State Department on the Port of Darwin:

It is clear that for some time US officials have been frustrated by the lack of public discussion on force posture and US-China issues being led by their Australian counterparts. They want Australian leaders to talk more about the complexities of managing China’s rise and they are right: the case for and cadence of force posture developments in Northern Australia should not have to be articulated by visiting US generals and admirals. This happened again yesterday, with a discussion on the rotation of B1 bombers prompted by the terse comments of visiting US Pacific Air Force Commander General Lori Robinson. You'll remember that's the suggestion that was vociferously denied by former Prime Minister Abbott and the US Embassy Canberra in May last year, after a US defence official 'misspoke' in routine congressional hearings.

Sam Roggeveen,writing  from Japan, reported on his initial thoughts concerning the Japanese bid for Australia's future submarine:

I would not say that the Japanese are exactly confident of winning this contract against the German and French bids (certainly I've heard nothing like the tone of this recent Japan Times headline), but I do get the impression that the bid means a great deal to the Japanese side, and that the implications for Australia of not choosing the Japanese design are far from trivial.

Is the Brexit question due to the UK's 'think small' mentality? Derry Hogue:

A Brexit impact would be greatest, he says,  in the UK where amongst other things, regulations would diverge from the EU over time, affecting trade and making the UK less attractive to invest in. The rest of the EU would lose an influential, large, and liberalising member state. Differing EU regulations would make it harder for it to serve European markets particularly for retail banking, euro trading and for supply chains involving UK firms. The UK would be free to make its own trade deals but it would have less leverage without the EU. The EU however, might be able to take tougher stands on trade deals without the UK.

And Arka Biswas on India's export control politics:

What is clear is that India has learnt an important lesson. Its pursuit of membership in these bodies has so far, and rightly, been based on its high standards of export control practices, its unwavering commitment to the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and its strong prospects as a supplier of sensitive items controlled by these bodies. If, however, unrelated bilateral disputes can stall India’s entry into the one of these bodies, then perhaps New Delhi needs to consider how it can work other bilateral relationships to clear its path to integration with the global non-proliferation and export control architecture. 

Finally, Sean Dorney wrapped up the debate on his Lowy Paper with some amusing anecdotes:

The general ignorance about PNG in Australia is depressing. I’ve had a lot of comments on Facebook about The Embarrassed Colonialist and one in particular had me shaking my head. This person said he had been to Indonesia and spoken to Papuans who had no complaints about Australian colonialism!

I suppose I should forgive this chap for confusing the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua with the southern half of Papua New Guinea because he probably went through his entire schooling in Australia never learning a thing about our colonial-master history.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user IAEA Imagebank.

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