Thursday 07 Oct 2021 | 20:16 | SYDNEY


Goodbye to 2012

With our fifth year of blogging under the belt, it's time for The Interpreter to close up shop and wish you all the very best for Christmas and the new year. Normal blogging resumes on 7 January. But I can't let this occasion pass without noting the enormous contribution Graeme Dobell has made

Friday linkage: Mayan apocalypse, Defence White Paper, Russia and more

A major scoop for The Australian, getting its hands on a draft of next year's Defence White Paper. The US-Japan alliance continues to strengthen, with the Pentagon announcing a deployment of stealth fighters to Japan. (Thanks Malcolm.) Maritime Security: A Practical Guide. (Thanks Chris.) The

Farewell to the Canberra Column

After five years and 300,000 words, this is my final Canberra Column. Is that a mountain of punditry or just a maze? A quick wade through the wordage leaves little doubt about the recurrent theme that runs through the five years: this was the era of Kevinism. As Prime Minister, The Kevin was his

Lowy Institute books of the year IV

Part 1 of this series by Lowy Institute research staff here; part 2 here; part 3 here. Insurgent Intellectual, edited by Brendan Taylor, Nicholas Farrelly and Sheryn Lee. Selected by Robert O'Neill, former Lowy Institute Board Director. Professor Des Ball has well and truly earned his place

Monetary policy: Where to now?

Central banks around the world had a couple of halcyon decades leading up to the global financial crisis, when growth was good and inflation was low. Since 2008 they have taken a lot of criticism. The Bank of England (BoE) illustrates the fall from grace. So great are the Bank's perceived failings

Tuesday linkage: China in NZ, missile defence, gun laws, DPRK and more

Wow: more members of China's Communist Party central committee visited New Zealand in the past decade than almost any other country. (Thanks Danielle.) Just how well did Israel's Iron Dome rocket defence system perform in the most recent Gaza conflict? Indonesia will redenominate the Rupiah in

Documentary trailer: Chasing Ice

Chasing Ice is a film about photographer James Balog, the man behind the Extreme Ice Survey, which uses time-lapse photography to track the retreat of Arctic glaciers. The documentary includes footage of the largest glacier 'calving' (breaking or cracking) ever captured on film. Chasing Ice

The coolest video you will see today

Cool space station, charming host. Just over 15 minutes in, Sunita Williams of NASA even fulfills every school-age space nerd's fantasy of flying like Superman. The day after this was recorded (18 November), Williams and two other International Space Station crew members landed back on earth at

Monday linkage: Japan election, gun control, Mayan apocalypse and more

Even before the polls closed in Japan, China's state-run media was airing its dissatisfaction. Will the LDP's sweeping victory mean a swing to the right for Japan's foreign and security policies? Don't believe the hype. If the Mayan apocalypse happens, US decision-makers will be safe on their '

Russia makes a promising G20 start

Mike Callaghan is Director of the Lowy Institute's G20 Studies Centre. Russia has wasted no time in launching into G2O meetings after it assumed the chair on 1 December. And it has made a good start, indicating an intent to streamline meetings, focus on outcomes, develop linkages across topics, and

Challenges facing the G20 in 2013

The first issue of the Lowy Institute G20 Monitor, which will regularly report on G20 developments and analyse issues, has been released. The first issue of the Monitor, which is produced by the G20 Studies Centre, canvases the challenges facing the G20 in 2013

Lowy Institute books of the year III

Part 1 of this series by Lowy Institute research staff here; part 2 here. Cold Light by Frank Moorhouse. Selected by Alex Oliver, Research Fellow. Cold Light is the third in Frank Moorhouse's trilogy on the life and times of Edith Campbell Berry, erstwhile diplomat, who started her career as an

Bahrain and the 'Australian pledge'

Australia (and in particular Labor icon Herbert Vere Evatt) was instrumental in drafting key elements of the source documents for the UN, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. So it would be interesting to know what Doc Evatt would make of contemporary Australian attitudes to human

Thursday linkage: Social media, car webcams, solar power, Santa and more

A Pew survey tracks the unstoppable global rise of social media. Why does so many Russians put webcams on their dashboards? The explanation is revealing about life in modern Russia. A promising new TV political drama from Denmark. 'If solar is really the Next Big Thing and the renewable energy

Google annual end-of-year video

OK, this is really just an ad for Google, but feel your cynicism ebb away over the course of two-and-a-bit minutes of inspiring visuals and a soaring sountrack, bookended by Felix Baumgartner's astonishing leap from near-space. (And note the brief shot of PM Gillard, confirming her 2012 internet

The quiet moon

Morris Jones is an Australian space analyst. Tomorrow, 14 December, marks another bittersweet anniversary in the history of exploration. It was on that day in 1972 that Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt lifted off from the surface of the moon. Since then, no other humans

'Alternative worlds': A less rosy Asia

The international hand-wringing over North Korea's rocket test is obscuring a bigger story this week about the long-term future of Asia and the world. I'm referring to the dramatic conclusions of a major new US intelligence study which warns of unprecedented levels of uncertainty and complexity

North and South in space

Morris Jones is an Australian space analyst. While the political fallout from this morning's North Korean satellite launch develops, one matter has been resolved: North Korea has now beaten South Korea in a little-known and very localised regional space race. South Korea has been trying to

'Global Keynesianism': A solution for the world monetary policy bind

The major advanced economies have had very accommodative monetary policies since the 2008 global financial crisis. These 'flat to the floor' expansionary settings are likely to remain in place for some years to come, and there are positive and negative implications not only for their domestic

Gillard UN loss: Bruise or body blow?

In light of Michael Danby MP's intervention in the debate over last month's UN vote on the status of Palestine, it's worth taking another look at Graeme Dobell's excellent column from last Thursday, When a Foreign Minister Rolls the PM. An extract: do we rate Bob Carr's rout of

Reader riposte: Corruption in China

James Shelton, a former intelligence analyst and economic adviser, writes in response to an item in yesterday's Linkage: The assertion that corruption in China is 'pretty normal for a country at its stage of development, and likely to decline as China grows' is a charitable statement indeed. The

Movie trailers: End of the world x 3

Hollywood's recent obsession with the apocalypse continues. Above and below, three new trailers about how the world copes with a global catastrophe (World War Z), or what it's like afterward (Oblivion, After Earth). Disasters and the post-apocalypse are Hollywood staples (Planet of the Apes [

Debt and disorder

Greece is not the only economy suffering from the absence of an effective international framework for dealing with sovereign debt problems. Over the past few months, the financial press has been tracking Argentina's travails as Buenos Aires struggles to deal with the legacy of its own December

Lowy Institute books of the year II

Part 1 of this series by Lowy Institute research staff here. Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World by Ian Bremmer. Selected by Visiting Fellow Stephen Grenville. The G20 is on our minds at the Lowy Institute, but Ian Bremmer's Every Nation for Itself  argues that

Our foreign aid always interest-based

Judging from the tone of the current Interpreter debate on aid and development, it seems that the notion of a country's aid program doing double duty by meeting both humanitarian and national interest goals is an impossibility for some.  Hugh White wants clarity about what Australia's

Pacific: Digital latecomers blooming

The Pacific Islands region is a latecomer to telecommunications regulation and reform. But cheap mobile phones have flooded the region over the last 5 to 10 years, coinciding with the rise of social media. Now Pacific Islanders have the means to access political debate in ways they had never been

Managing environmental migration

Dr Khalid Koser is Head of the New Issues in Security Program at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, and a non-resident Fellow at the Lowy Institute. Bloggers, government officials, academics, and radio interviewers have kindly (and in one or two cases, not so kindly) responded to my paper

Monday linkage: Predictions, male workers, Singapore, China and more

'Political analysts think they know a lot more about the future than they actually do'. An interview with Philip Tetlock about expert political judgment. (H/t 3QD.) Canada has reversed its commitment to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Will this affect other buyers, such as Australia? Why is US

Reader riposte: More on Middle East nukes

Crispin Rovere, a PhD candidate at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University, writes: This is a great topic of considerable complexity and I thank Sam Roggeveen for inviting debate. I am happy to take up this challenge. Although Sam's scenarios 2 and 3 both come

Moscow and beyond: Making a mark on the G20

Mike Callaghan is Director of the Lowy Institute's G20 Studies Centre. On 1 December 2012 Australia joined the leadership team of the G 20, the 'troika' of past (Mexico), present (Russia) and future (Australia) G20 chairs. As Michael Gaskin has rightly pointed out, it is the start of a period

Friday funny: Party etiquette

As the party season approaches, it's worth reminding ourselves of the proper comportment. This is a pretty old gag and you can see the punchline arrive a mile off, but it's all in the delivery

Lowy Institute books of the year

Today and next week we offer Lowy research staff selections for the book of the year. Why Nations Fail, by Daron Acemoglu & James A Robinson. Selected by Mark Thirlwell, Director, International Economy Program. It's far from an original choice, but this year I enjoyed Acemoglu and Robinson's

Defence personnel cuts: Will history repeat?

Derek Woolner is a Visiting Fellow at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, ANU. He was Director of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Group in the Commonwealth Parliament's research service till 2002. In an earlier post, I outlined how the economic turbulence of the 1970s, '80s and '90s

Reader riposte: Middle East nuclear disarmament

Dr Tzvi Fleischer, Editor of the Australia/Israel Review, writes: In his post making the case for 'complete nuclear disarmament in the Middle East' and arguing that such a deal would be in Israel's interests, Sam Roggeveen asked readers to 'focus' on his 'logic and tell me where I'm wrong.' Here's

As Asia booms, what of Australia aid?

There's a little sentence in the Asian Century White Paper that could have a big impact on Australia's aid program. It reads: By 2025, four of the 10 largest economies in the world will be in the region – China (first), India (third), Japan (fourth) and Indonesia (tenth). We hear a lot

Reader riposte: Stephen Walt replies

Professor Stephen Walt, whose blog post prompted Sam Roggeveen's thoughts on regional nuclear disarmament in the Middle East, sends this reply to Sam's post: It's a very smart argument, and one for which I have some sympathy. But I can't imagine Israel agreeing to give up the ultimate

Capital controls are the new black

Back in 2009, I wondered whether Brazil's adoption of capital controls was a portent of a shift in international attitudes towards regulating capital movements. Later posts by Stephen Grenville tracked the way in which the IMF was changing its own views. That rethink has continued; the latest

Wednesday linkage: Secrecy, Doha, Homeland, TPP, migration and more

The Guardian's environment blog is carrying regular updates from the Doha climate conference. Anyone want to suggest some good Doha reading? The internet was meant to make governments more responsive to citizens, but a statistical study in seven countries shows parties and candidates aren't

Greece, the IMF and the politics of prevarication

Financial markets heaved a sigh of relief last week when agreement was reached on the next stage of the Greek bail-out. But the key problem remains: Greece has an unsustainable debt burden. This problem has been kicked down the road yet again. The Greek rescue started badly. Even in May 2010,

Papua New Guinea makes its own way on ICT

Stephanie Lusby is a PhD Candidate at ANU. Her research focuses on how public health messages are translated and applied by men in Papua New Guinea. The two papers released recently by Danielle Cave and Sarah Logan are part of a growing body of work on information and communications technology

Tuesday linkage: Manila, climate change, Japan infrastructure and more

China surpasses the US as the top trading partner for other countries (124 vs 76). Almost all the top 50 fastest growing cities are in Asia. Where do you suppose the fastest shrinking cities are found? Manila is booming, and you can learn a lot about what that means for its residents by looking

World economy: Permanently sluggish?

Back in the heady days before the GFC, we got used to a world economy marked by strong annual growth rates plus a rising trend rate of growth. A key driver of both developments was the growing share in world output of faster-growing emerging markets. Between 2003 and 2007, for example, world real

North Korean rocket: Don't panic Down Under

Morris Jones is an Australian space analyst. The announcement of an impending North Korean satellite launch attempt will provoke a media blitz throughout December. While much of the discussion will be on subjective issues, we should hope that one clear point is not misrepresented: this launch

Another blogging lesson

I know there are readers waiting for me to publish the speech I gave in Canberra last month on '10 lessons from 5 years of political blogging'. The speech was partly ex tempore, so I'm still refining the final text. But having published two lessons already, here's another extract, prompted by the