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Wednesday linkage

The US and North Korea are holding bilateral talks in Beijing next week. Kuwait\'s recent parliamentary elections have exposed some deep societal fault-lines. Further to yesterday\'s link on Russian commercial interests in Syria, Ben Coleridge says there\'s also a religious angle 

Stephen Smith Super Hornet itch

Here\'s what Defence Minister Smith said in parliament yesterday, in response to a question noting that the US has announced a slow-down in production of the Joint Strike Fighter: Since July last year I have been saying the absolutely essential decision for this year is a judgment about

White House 2012: Three more lessons

Lessons one and two were posted earlier today. 3. Foreign policy is still a disqualifier Back in 1992, George HW Bush joked that Bill Clinton had learnt about foreign policy at the International House of Pancakes. The same accusation could have been leveled against Herman Cain, who

Tuesday linkage

Pivoting: the Pentagon wants better access to the Philippines. A useful primer on China\'s next leader, Xi Jinping. Why do meetings take so long? Because we\'re all so busy signaling that we never get any work done. A thorough update on China\'s submarine modernisation plans.

White House 2012: Some early lessons

One wonders what Hunter S Thompson, the gonzo journalist who thought the best way to confront the American campaign trail was with the help of powerful hallucinogenic narcotics, would have made of the fight for the GOP nomination. From the emergence of a front-running pizza magnate to the

Monday linkage

An excellent summary of the recently released report from the UN\'s High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability. My colleague Michael Fullilove used his Twitter feed to heartily recommend this new Obama profile by James Fallows. In the 60 years since the concept was invented

Why I chose a gun

This TED talk is compelling purely because of its content, but there\'s also something to the style of presentation that makes it peculiarly watchable, yet I can\'t put my finger on it. The typical TED uniform is a business shirt and chinos, so is it the attire? It can\'t be the accent, because

Friday funny: Social media explained

Danielle Cave, who blogged today about the political power of social media in the Pacific, brought this image to my attention. Thanks Danielle.  Have a good weekend

Power: The dangers of misperception

Rob Ayson\'s characteristically wise and subtle post makes the very important point that what matters about power is not what you\'ve got, but what you choose to do with it; human choices like that are subjective things, and hence hard to plot on graphs, let alone predict.  As Rob 

Movie trailer: Seeking a friend...

I\'ve had some nice feedback on my Leonard Cohen post from yesterday so I\'m tempting fate by philosophising again, but I\'d say the jokes at the end of this trailer involving the cop who won\'t let a speeding infringement slide despite the fact that the world is about to end speaks to how

Friday linkage

If you\'re feeling even slightly optimistic about Greece and Italy, don\'t read this. Huh: there are plans for a \'Korea suburb\' in Hobart. Nice shots of the Royal Navy shadowing a Russian aircraft carrier through the English Channel. The Russian fleet was returning from a port visit

R2P and Syria: Avoiding collateral damage

Tim Dunne is Director of Research Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect at the University of Queensland. We are in danger of drawing the wrong conclusions from the humanitarian disaster unfolding in Syria. There already seems to be a consensus in the global media that the lack

The liberalism of imperfection

There's an offbeat little essay of appreciation for the lyrics of Leonard Cohen on Slate today by classical musician Jan Swafford. As a confirmed Cohen admirer, I can't resist adding a few thoughts about his politics. First, I think it's wrong to describe Cohen's music in terms of 'hope

Inviting you to be part of our survey

Tomorrow when you find your way to The Interpreter, you will see a pop-up window (below) asking you to participate in a reader survey. We want to get a better idea of what you like about the blog and what you would like to see improved. We also want to get a better impression of who our readers are

Can America count on its Asian allies?

Malcolm Cook responds to my argument that US-China strategic competition is weighted China\'s way with two counter-examples. First, doesn\'t the US have a big advantage in its network of allies in Asia? And second, doesn\'t China now have global interests just as America does, so

Asia emerging donors transform aid

Asian countries have been providing foreign aid, in various forms, for decades. However, over the past few years these newer (or \'non-traditional\' or \'emerging\') donors have begun to have a noticeable impact on the global development picture.  Graph compares annual aid budgets of OECD

Thursday linkage

McKinsey makes twelve predictions about China in 2012 (no.3: \'Real estate will stagnate.\') Mosh pit diplomacy: a savage, unsparing review of Parag Khanna\'s latest book. (Thanks Michael.) Professor Roger Pielke Jr was at the Lowy Institute on Wednesday talking about the intersection

Asia 'water tower', controlled by China

At a time when there is much debate about the respective roles and strengths of China and the US in Asia, a new book discussing China\'s control over Asia\'s freshwater resources refocuses attention on the quip attributed to Mark Twain that \'Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting over

My books of 2011

Ed. note: this is Michael\'s belated but welcome addition to a series we ran in December. My consumption of other people\'s books in the past year has been slowed somewhat by the fact that I\'m writing one of my own. Like Michael Wesley, I enjoyed Hellhound on his Trail,

Wednesday linkage

Dead-cat bounce? The global manufacturing picture. Maybe the surprising but welcome apology from the Global Times to my colleague Rory Medcalf is part of a larger story at that paper and in the Chinese media. The Economist on Syria: \'The complete isolation of Russia and China in the

To see power, look for actions and symbols

Robert Ayson is Director of Centre for Strategic Studies at Victoria University, Wellington.  The recent Interpreter debate over the relative power of China and the US is important in its ambition but questionable in some of its method. The problem is the assumption that we

Will Timor-Leste avoid the resource curse?

Gordon Peake is a Visiting Fellow at the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program, Australian National University. He is in Timor-Leste doing research for a book. As I described in my earlier post, Dili is a gold-rush town, and the Timorese Government is spending big with even bigger

Tuesday linkage

The Global Mail is a new Sydney-based media outlet with some serious funding and heavyweight journos on board. It launched yesterday. Is there a persuasive argument for government support of manufacturing? A few days late, but here\'s John Howard\'s review of The Iron Lady. (H/t Troppo.) I

Monday linkage

It\'s getting colder in Moscow, yet the anti-Putin protests are growing larger. FT diplomatic editor Gideon Rachman is there.  Coal is in slow but inexorable decline as an energy source for the US. The US invasion of Iraq partly \'de-modernised\' the country, particularly the higher

Intelligence review not a pinch on Flood

Yesterday\'s Graeme Dobell post on the Intelligence Review is here. The Cornall-Black Independent Review of the Australian Intelligence Community falls short when put beside its predecessor, the 2004 Inquiry into Australian Intelligence Agencies by Philip Flood. On the simplest

Friday linkage

At time of writing, The Interpreter had entered Technorati\'s top 50 world politics blogs for the first time. Last March we entered the top 100. What\'s wrong with India\'s think-tank scene? China\'s largest freshwater lake is now...well, you\'ll see. The excellent international relations

Defining decline

Michael Beckley is an International Security Program Research Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School\'s Belfer Center. Is the US in relative economic decline to China? In a recent article in International Security, I say \'no\'. In a post on this blog, Mark Thirlwell says \'yes\'. 

What foreign aid is really for

UK Conservative Party MP David Davis may have committed what is known as a \'Kinsley gaffe\': ...a Kinsley gaffe...is an occurrence of someone telling the truth by accident. Typically, it refers to a politician inadvertently saying something publicly that they privately believe is true, but

Thursday linkage

John Mueller: \'...it seems to me that the United States lives in an environment that is substantially free from threats that require a great deal of military preparedness.\' Population and urbanisation trends in Asia. From 1865, a poignant and powerful letter written by a freed slave to

Wednesday linkage

The visible and subtle signs of Kim Jong Un\'s legitimisation as North Korean leader. The Royal Navy warns Argentina against \'foolish nonsense\'. Is Germany a model for renewable energy policy, or just a muddle? What I learned teaching international relations in Asia: part one; part two

Two NY Times book reviews compared

Two pieces I spotted in the NY Times reveal the heights and depths to which the under-appreciated craft of book reviewing can be subject. It shocks me slightly to report that the Times\' lead critic, the celebrated Michiko Kakutani, has offered up this dull, timid review of Zbigniew

White House 2012: Declinism redux

The veteran American broadcaster Andy Rooney had a neat rebuttal for those who suggested that his homeland was in decline. \'It\'s just amazing how long this country has been going to hell,\' he would remind them, \'without ever having got there.\' A permanent fixture of the CBS show Sixty Minutes

Should generals ever resign in protest?

Major Gen (Retd) Jim Molan is author of Running the War in Iraq. Over the Christmas break I read the recently published \'Manstein: Hitler\'s Greatest General\' by the erudite Major General R.A.M.S. \'Mungo\' Melvin. What appealed to me was the account of Manstein\'s conflict with Hitler.

Lowy among world top think tanks

The 2012 Global Go-To Think Tanks Rankings were released last week, ranking the Lowy Institute again in the top 30 Global think tanks outside the US and fifth in Asia – its highest-ever ranking. The only survey of its kind, the University of Pennsylvania\'s rankings take on the

The 2011 Madeleine Award winner

Some years it\'s hard to build much tension in the Oscars and thus it is with our third annual Madeleine Award for the use of symbol, stunt, prop, gesture or jest in international affairs. As with the Oscars (over to you Meryl), one Madeleine-worthy performance demands to win the prize. The

Tuesday linkage

Last week Mark Thirlwell asked if anyone has created benchmarks for what Australian trade with other countries ought to look like. Here\'s a Treasury paper that makes an attempt (in an aggregate sense, I\'m told, rather than country by country), and here\'s a University of Southern

Online editor applications close 1 Feb

A quick reminder that COB tomorrow is the last day we will be accepting applications for the position of part-time assistant online editor at the Lowy Institute. You can read the job description and get all the application details by clicking here. For those who have already applied, if

Burma reforms: Foreigners can't take much credit

Andrew Selth is a Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute. After the Bay of Pigs fiasco in 1961, JFK ruefully observed that success has many fathers but failure is an orphan. Albeit from the opposite perspective, this old saw can be applied to Burma today. For, despite 20 years of

McKinsey spots grim resources trend

As a follow-up to my earlier post on the limits to growth, it\'s worth noting this report released late last year by the McKinsey Global Institute. The report is an extended discussion on some of implications of the first of the two points on which I ended my post – that after a

Monday linkage

Time and distance are trade barriers: \'We estimate that each day in transit is equivalent to an ad-valorem tariff of 0.6 to 2.3 percent\'. (H/t Free Exchange.) How America\'s clean energy technology boom went bust. \'To arrive in Phnom Penh today is to encounter a city teeming with energy

Growth forecasts: Out of puff

Both the World Bank and IMF have recently announced new forecast for world growth this year and next, trimming more than half a per cent off their forecasts made six months earlier. Seen in historical terms, the central forecast doesn\'t look too gloomy: the IMF estimates that growth

Movie trailer: Iron Sky

I won\'t bother with a synopsis, since the teaser trailer below tells you pretty much everything you need to know about the premise of this film, which is premiering in Berlin (!) next month. Looks like a real romp. There\'s a longer, newer, trailer here which contains strong language

Reader riposte: Limits to Growth reconsidered

Alex Burns writes: Mark Thirlwell makes some important points about The Club of Rome\'s Limits to Growth report (or LtG; 1972) but the debate is more complex. LtG and its creators, including Jay Forrester, and Donella and Dennis Meadows, focused on the controversial World3 simulation.

Friday linkage

We\'ll have more on PNG soon, but meantime, keep an eye on ABC journalist Liam Fox\'s Twitter feed. One sign you\'ve made it as a world power: The Economist devotes a permanent weekly section to you. (Thanks Graeme.) The Asia Foundation\'s Steven Rood is going to be blogging regularly on The

We're taking a short break

 Tomorrow is Australia Day, a national holiday; normal blogging will resume on Friday.  Photo by Flickr user gordonflood.com

Wednesday linkage

The official communique from this year\'s Australia UK Ministerial (AUKMIN) talks. Disgust is an important but under-appreciated human trait, and can be exploited to improve development outcomes. Behavioural traits also affect the way we use public transport. Thailand is backing a

Online editor position still open

Just a quick note to anyone who missed this job notice the first time around: you have until 1 February to submit applications for the position of part-time assistant online editor at the Lowy Institute (pictured). If you\'ve submitted an application already, you should have

Assessing Burma reform program

Andrew Selth is a Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute. Burma\'s hybrid civilian-military government is not yet one year old but already it has been the subject of countless blogs, op-eds and academic articles. These works have covered the full spectrum of political opinion, from

Are we testing the limits to growth?

I ended my earlier post by pointing out that economists typically think about resource scarcity differently than those who take a more pessimistic view, such the authors of The Limits to Growth and New Scientist magazine, which recently gave Limits a 40th anniversary

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