Sunday 29 May 2022 | 12:27 | SYDNEY


Yes, there is a US consensus on China

Sam is right to see some tension between the different ways that influential Americans like Nicholas Burns and Mike Green describe their county\'s strategic objectives in Asia. But for what it\'s worth, I think Nic and Mike really do see America\'s purpose in Asia the same way. Both of them,

Iran getting it right, says IMF

As a no-more-than occasional observer of Iranian politics, this news in the latest issue of The Economist came as a bit of a shock. The IMF, it seems, is deeply impressed with Iran\'s recent round of economic reforms: The reason for the praise is Iran’s exemplary

Indonesia confronts the death penalty

Ari Sharp is an Australian freelance writer based in Jakarta. He tweets @arisharp. On 18 June, Indonesian maid Ruyati binti Sapubi was executed by beheading in Saudi Arabia after she was convicted of murdering her employer who, according to Ruyati, had kept her in the country against her will. The

Hizbullah hits some speed bumps

Hizbullah in many ways represents the ultimate challenge for Western intelligence agencies — a high payoff target with information of direct security interest to Washington and some of its closest allies, and the opportunity to shine a light on the links between the organisation and its

Closing the language divide in Timor-Leste

Gordon Peake worked in Timor-Leste from 2007-11. He is Visiting Fellow at the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program, Australian National University. I can still remember my first teenage disco and how, well, just plain awkward I felt. I wanted to interact with these mysterious

Indonesian democracy: The myth of '98

The idea that Indonesia might be a model for Egypt\'s emerging democracy has been discussed before on The Interpreter. This post by Giora Eliraz brings the story up to date, but it is seriously misleading in the impression it gives of the history of democracy in Indonesia. Let me not get

Friday funny: Propaganda

It\'s not hard to make fun of North Korea, but this 2001 insurance commercial does it particularly well. Enjoy your weekend. (H/t China Defence Blog

If Nicholas Burns is right...

...then hold on for a bumpy ride, Australia. The US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney has now made available audio and video of its recent 9/11 Summit, which took place a couple of weeks ago. In the context of our ongoing discussion about Australia\'s approach to China, it\'s worth

Did the US just bomb Somalia?

Reports have emerged this morning of an air strike in al-Shebab-controlled southern Somalia. Witnesses report that aircraft and explosions were heard around the town of Kismayo. An al-Shebab official has speculated that the aircraft were from the US. The US has form when it

Asia is free-riding on Washington

Outgoing US Defense Secretary Bob Gates is a man with nothing to lose. In Brussels last week, he used one of the final acts of his farewell tour to publicly lash Washington\'s European allies for refusing to accept a greater share of the burden on behalf of the trans-Atlantic alliance. While

5-minute Lowy lunch: Dupont on China

Yesterday, Lowy Institute Senior Fellow Alan Dupont launched his Policy Brief, Living With the Dragon: Why Australia needs a China Strategy, with an address to Wednesday Lunch club members. You can listen to Alan\'s speech and the Q&A here, and below, a short interview covering

Washington, Riyadh and the Arab Spring

For a country that believes in its own exceptionalism and its ability to export individualism and liberty, supporting popular revolts against autocratic rulers provides some distinct foreign policy challenges for the US. The growing assertiveness of Saudi Arabia is perhaps at the top of

The debate over China strategy

The battle for Australia\'s future China policy has been rejoined today, with Lowy Institute Senior Fellow Alan Dupont launching his Policy Brief, Living With the Dragon: Why Australia needs a China Strategy. The Interpreter has debated this issue exhaustively over the last 12

The strange case of Shafiea Ullah

I was a little confused by the news that a combined Coalition and Afghan National Army Special Forces raid had located and killed ANA deserter Shafiea Ullah, who killed Australian soldier Lance Corporal Andrew Jones almost three weeks ago. The murder of LCPL Jones was a tragic and despicable

My Fiji paper: A response to critics

My Policy Brief on Australian policy towards Fiji has inspired a maelstrom of misinformation. This may have come about in part because some individuals chose not to read the paper, but heard that I was critical of Australian policy for having failed to influence a return to democracy in Fiji and

Khmer Rouge tribunal problems, again

Only dedicated followers of events associated with the Khmer Rouge Tribunal (officially the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, ECCC) will have kept track of the maneuverings of the past six months in relation to the possibility of bringing additional defendants before the

Crisis and confidence: major powers and maritime security in Indo-Pacific Asia

Maritime tensions have remained high on the Asian security agenda after the 2011 East Asia Summit and ASEAN Regional Forum. Crisis and Confidence: major powers and maritime security in Indo-Pacific Asia, warns of the risks of war in the South China Sea and other regional waters. It examines the

Libya small arms: A fuller picture

Stephanie Koorey is an Adjunct Research Associate at Monash University. Nic Jenzen-Jones\' response to my article adds a number of useful pieces to the Libyan small arms puzzle. He is quite correct that my piece is a first blush of trying to find out where the rebel arms are coming

Reader riposte: Burma and Libya

Neil from Burma Perspective responds to Andrew Selth\'s latest: Like many Burma activists, I am often mystified by the US treatment of Burma as compared to other countries. I also agree that the Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has played a significant role in the way Burma is both perceived and treated by

From the opposition benches

In the last term, the Coalition opposition largely ignored foreign policy, indeed Tony Abbott even argued it \'was so lame\' to get other countries involved in problems like people smuggling. This term however, they\'ve done something very unusual — conduct foreign policy from the

Asia puts chair in upright position

The world economic centre of gravity is moving from the Atlantic to the Pacific, it is said. Boeing agrees: Boeing has increased its 20-year demand projection for commercial aircraft, identifying a $4 trillion market requiring 33,500 new aircraft deliveries between 2011 and 2030... ...Of

Burma and Libya: The politics of inconsistency

Andrew Selth is a Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute and author of Burma and Nuclear Proliferation: Policies and Perceptions. Lord Palmerston said nearly 200 years ago that countries have no eternal allies or perpetual enemies, only eternal and perpetual interests. Whether or not this

Reader riposte: Libyan rebel weapons

Nic Jenzen-Jones is a freelance consultant within the private security and defence industries and coeditor of Security Scholar: Stephanie Koorey\'s piece on Libyan weapon supplies falls short of investigating properly the origin of many of the small arms seen in Libyan rebels\'

Interpreting the Thailand elections

Thailand\'s election is due on the 3 July. Some suggested reading: Both the Bangkok Post and the Nation offer very good coverage. In relation to the latter, articles by Kavi Chongkittavorn are always worth reading. Kavi is one of the Nation\'s senior editors and columnists and not afraid to

Libya homegrown weapons

Stephanie Koorey\'s post on Libya\'s rebel armoury was a small example of a \'conceptual scoop\': the analysis of information in plain sight to draw out previously un-noticed or unimagined conclusions. Nice one, Stephanie. As for Libya\'s rebels, they don\'t only get their weapons from the

The Fiji dilemma (part 4)

Here are the previous columns in this Fiji series. The bluster coming from the Bainimarama regime is the sign of a deeply-worried and fraying New Order — Jenny Hayward-Jones can take comfort and kudos that she is hitting the mark when Fiji both condemns and cites her. The

Fiddling the figures: China corporate culture

Catherine Chan is an environmental lawyer and journalist in Beijing. Despite the litany of Ponzi schemes and scandals involving America\'s big banks, China still can still teach the global superpower a thing or two about how to pull a scam. Chinese companies listed on the

ASEAN: Triumph and challenge

2010 was a very good year for the concept of ASEAN centrality, and 2011 promises to be so as well. The ADMM-8 (ASEAN Defence Ministers plus those of the US, PRC, ROK, Japan, Russia, India, Australia and New Zealand) met for the first time under ASEAN auspices last year, and the US and Russia

Fiji and the art of misinformation

The Fiji Government issued a statement last week which implied that my criticism of Australian policy on Fiji was a vindication of the Fiji Government's status.  It would be generous to say that perhaps the Fiji Government had not read my Policy Brief (Policy overboard: Australia's

The Fiji dilemma (part 3)

Australia\'s tough-love approach to Fiji\'s military regime may not have achieved much. But that is no excuse for adopting a free-love policy. Whatever Australia does to engage Fiji\'s military Supremo must be guided by the reality of the regime that Frank Bainimarama is running. The true

Pacific island nations making new friends

Nic Maclellan works as a journalist and researcher in the Pacific islands. In \'Vanuatu\'s strange bedfellow\', Rodger Shanahan raises concern about possible moves by Vanuatu to recognise as states two breakaway regions of Georgia, a step already taken by Nauru in 2009. These diplomatic

The Fiji dilemma (part 2)

As it was for Suharto in Indonesia, the business and patronage dimension is vital for the longevity of Bainimarama\'s New Order. The military officers who are the foundation of the Order must be rewarded, just as those officers who resist must be squashed.  On the reward side, the

High-speed rail: China white elephant?

James Fallows sums up the hysteria about China\'s rise in this mock quote: \"I just rode the bullet train to Tianjin, and holy shit, we\'re doomed!\" China\'s high-speed rail network symbolises some of what is changing in China: it is world-class technology being rolled out at break-neck speed

Through Chinese eyes: Gui Yongtao (part 2)

An interview with Gui Yongtao, Associate Professor at Peking University\'s School of International Studies, by Peter Martin and David Cohen. Peter and David are conducting a series of interviews with Chinese thinkers, using questions submitted by Interpreter readers. Part 1 is here. Amy King at

Animal trade: Australia should muck in

Sam\'s post on animal exports yesterday echoed the sentiments of many Australians by arguing \'Surely something needs to be done in light of this new information\'. It does, but how we do it is important. The \'pure\' option is to ban the live animal trade. Unfortunately, 

Timor-Leste declares open season on the UN

Dr Gordon Peake worked on police reform in Timor-Leste from 2008 to 2011. He is now at the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program, ANU. These are his private views. It is open season on the United Nations Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT). In the last few weeks, the Prime

The Fiji dilemma (part 1)

Fiji\'s Supremo has to worry about his health and the continuing support of the military he commands. Not much else threatens Frank Bainimarama\'s hold on power. Bainimarama\'s one clear achievement over the last decade has been to place the military at the centre of Fiji\'s society, administration

Australia, Indonesia and the cows

Peter McCawley is a Visiting Fellow at the Indonesia Project, ANU, and former Dean of the Asia Development Bank Institute, Tokyo. He is doing consulting work in Indonesia. Seen from Jakarta, the row in Australia over meat exports to Indonesia is yet another reminder of just how

Afghanistan is not worth their sacrifice

My colleague Rodger Shanahan has suggested that my policy prescriptions for Afghanistan were made emotionally, and were inattentive to what really mattered to the formation of national policy — the motivations of soldiers. He is mistaken. For what it\'s worth, I\'ve recommended

Through Chinese Eyes: Gui Yongtao Part 1

Interview with Gui Yongtao, Associate Professor at Peking University\'s School of International Studies on China-Japan relations by Peter Martin and David Cohen. They are conducting a series of interviews with reader submitted questions on behalf of The Interpreter with Chinese academics

South Korea misjudges its northern neighbour

Matt Cottee is a PhD student at King\'s College London and Visiting Fellow at the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies. In 2009, President Obama suggested that the greatest threat to humanity was the risk of nuclear terrorism. In a post-9/11 landscape, suggestions of terrorists

Win or lose, their sacrifice is not for nought

Crispin Rovere is a PhD candidate at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, ANU. It would be no indictment of Raoul Heinrichs to be emotional at the sight of yet another two diggers killed in Afghanistan. The consensus is building, both in the US and Australia, on both left and right, that