Saturday 25 Sep 2021 | 04:34 | SYDNEY

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A dismal, myopic campaign ends

So Barack Obama has become only the second Democratic President since Franklin Delano Roosevelt to win re-election, although there is little of the same sense of history, excitement or possibility that marked his victory four years ago. The 'Yes, we can' candidate seen in 2008 ended up fighting

US election day linkage

We're all being pummeled by media coverage of the US election just now, so let me offer some links to places you might not have thought to look: Stephen Walt lays out America's foreign policy agenda for the next four years, whoever wins. Which candidate will be better for the US economy? I

Asian Century: A European reaction

 Dr Daniel Woker is the former Swiss Ambassador to Australia, Singapore and Kuwait and now a Senior Lecturer at the University of St Gallen.  Those of us in Europe who follow Australian policy know perfectly well that (a) the Asia Pacific is the strategic story of our time and that (b)

G20 finance meeting: Mexican stand-off

The G20 finance ministers' and central bank governors' meeting in Mexico last weekend provides some uncomfortable messages for Australia as hosts of the 2014 G20 meetings in Brisbane: unless it provides a forum for top-level policy makers to confront the vexed issues of current international

Gillard media lament

As you digest the avalanche of media coverage of the US presidential election over coming days, keep in mind that there's another leadership transition beginning in Beijing on Thursday. These were Prime Minister Gillard's words last week at the Asian Century White Paper launch: Think about

Reader riposte: The Republicans in 2016

Tim McMinn responds to Nick Bryant's column on the US presidential election: I’m not sure that Chris Christie has damaged his chances for a future tilt at the Presidency with his comments in praise of Obama – he may instead be laying smart groundwork for a 2016 campaign. The relative

Best political ads of the US campaign

My thanks to Fergus for sending me these links to the Brookings Institution's top 5 Obama commercials and top 5 Romney ads. Brookings foolishly left this one off the Obama list (h/t Browser

Romney has no margin for error

Where candidates choose to spend their final days is always a tell-tale indicator of the state of a presidential race. Barack Obama is concentrating on Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa, adding an extra coating of asbestos to his 'Midwest Firewall'. For all the Republican claims about that firewall '

Friday funny: Australia in Asia

Just to add a light touch of historical context to this week of intensive Asian Century White Paper coverage (more to come next week), here are some 80s era Australian TV advertisements depicting Asia. Amusing and instructive: See this blog for some background about the compilation below

White Paper launch linkage

Last Sunday's launch of the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper was (we think) the biggest event the Lowy Institute has hosted in its almost ten-year history. 31 Bligh St was positively bursting at the seams as we hosted the Prime Minister, her senior cabinet ministers (Wayne Swan, Bob

All the way with the USA in the Asian Century?

Dr Peter Dean is a Fellow at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, in the College of Asia and the Pacific at the ANU. One of the first pieces of commentary after Prime Minister Julia Gillard launched the Asian Century White Paper at the Lowy Institute on Sunday was an interview by ABC News 24

Wednesday linkage: Sandy, China nukes, G20, People Daily and more

Climate change has been absent in the US presidential campaign. Will superstorm Sandy change that? Britain's Institute of Arts and Ideas has video of a recent debate on 'the rise of the east', featuring an eminent cast.  Epic own-goal: China's People's Daily tries to do a hatchet job on the NY

The Australian mindset in Asia

Dr John Blaxland is a Senior Fellow at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, ANU. The recently released Australia in the Asian Century White Paper is excellent, as far as it goes. But one missing component is a discussion about the Australian mindset. After all, the very premise of the

Ediplomacy: The revolution continues

Fergus Hanson is a non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institution. As with many new things, a lot of foreign ministries were initially skeptical of ediplomacy. What did 140 character messages and social media have to do with serious diplomacy? There have now been more than enough social media

Monday linkage: China military, lying pollies, Asian century and more

Critics such as Greg Sheridan and Alan Kohler have been scathing about the Asian Century White Paper. Responses from Lowy Institute analysts available here. The Pentagon's annual report on China's military. Why do politicians lie to us? Because we don't want them to tell us the truth. China's

Interview: Gillard on the White Paper

Prime Minister Gillard talked with Lowy Institute Executive Director Michael Fullilove yesterday after the launch of the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper

PM Australia in the Asian Century White Paper launch: First impressions

The PM has finished her speech and press conference at the Lowy Institute. You can read the Paper itself here and here are the Prime Minister's remarks. My initial thoughts on the speech and the White Paper are below, with the obvious caveat that I often change my mind after a few days reflection

Friday funny: Campaign humour

Cute little online gag here from the Democrats (thanks Stephanie). Both presidential candidates recently attended the Al Smith Dinner in New York, and as is the tradition, gave lighthearted speeches. I gotta give the comedy points to Romney. If you're used to thinking of him as stiff and awkward

Interpreter at Asian Century WP launch

This coming Sunday afternoon at 1pm, Prime Minister Julia Gillard will be at the Lowy Institute to launch the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper. As I often do on such occasions, I'll post early impressions just after the speech, so please drop by the site for that and for a video interview

Interview: UNFCC Christiana Figueres

On Wednesday the Lowy Institute held a sold-out event with Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN's Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC). Figueres, who happened to be at the Lowy Institute on international UN Day, gave a colourful and informative overview of the status of

Thursday linkage: China, game theory, drones, Bretton Woods and more

Isidor's Fugue: a photo-heavy blog on daily life in China. (H/t Fallows.) Foreign Policy lists the world geography mistakes of the presidential candidates. (Thanks Rodger.) From 2006, a RAND Corp war game which looked at the economic consequences of a nuclear terrorist attack. (H/t Small

Movie trailer: Zero Dark Thirty

The first of half of this trailer is maddeningly obscure. If you didn't already know this was a movie about the bin Laden raid, you'd be wondering what was going on. It makes the film look a little pretentious, until you get some sense of the narrative in the second half. The director is Kathryn

Malala and Pakistan missing middle

'Can Malala Bring Peace to Pakistan and Afghanistan?' asked The New Yorker earlier this month in a blog post by Ahmed Rashid, the Pakistani journalist whose words are followed more closely than any other commentator in the region. Ahmed described the strength of public revulsion at the Pakistani

Climate change linkage: UN, Maldives, Australia and finance

Christiana Figueres, Executive Director of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will be at the Lowy Institute tomorrow to talk about her expectations for the Doha climate conference next month. The former President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed (pictured), is a great

Will wiping the debt slate clean for Greece save the euro?

Financial markets are beginning to feel a little more relaxed about the future of the euro, but there is a critical missing element in the current policy discussion. With attention focused on Spain's larger-scale problems, it would be easy to forget that Greece is still on an unsustainable path,

Christiana Figueres: climate change, Kyoto and Qatar

Christiana Figueres, the Executive Director of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, will be at the Lowy Institute on Wednesday to talk about the Qatar climate conference and the looming Kyoto Protocol deadline.  The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was formed

Monday linkage: PNG New Voices, drones, UN, Mormons, China

Theo Chapman is the Lowy Institute's assistant online editor. The Lowy Institute's New Voices conference in PNG is generating a flurry of comments on Twitter. Check out #PNGNewVoices for a taste of what's happening in Port Moresby today. Here's a fascinating graphic about the growing

Remembering the India-China border war

Nitin Gokhale is Security and Strategic Affairs Editor with India's leading broadcaster NDTV. On Saturday, India observed the 50th anniversary of its comprehensive military defeat in the brief border war with China in the winter of 1962. It is important to look back at the events leading to

Reader Riposte: Are the Nordics losing their grip?

Paul Cotton writes: It hasn't been mentioned amid all the euphoria over Australia's success in the Security Council vote, but things seem to have the habit of coming around again. New Zealand tried for the Council in the late '80s and was beaten by Malta. Shame all round. Then in 1992 New

One last spin on the presidential campaign bus with James Fallows

Ahead of the final presidential debate today, it's worth revisiting the humorous and insightful comments made by James Fallows when he visited us at the Lowy Institute in September. James, who is national correspondent for The Atlantic and a former presidential speechwriter, spoke to blog

Friday funny: Move over Nobel

Theo Chapman is assistant online editor at the Lowy Institute. The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Europe was a hard event to spoof but there have been one or two amusing efforts. But for a far less controversial view of human achievements there are the Ig Nobel prizes, described in this

Wednesday linkage: presidents, subs, Philippines, Huawei, nukes

An infographic from degreejungle.com neatly compares the cost of educating the contenders in the US presidential contest Australia is better off buying US submarines rather than developing our own, according to provocative Kokoda Foundation chair and defence analyst Ross Babbage. (Thanks Danielle

Glenstrata: The birth of a monster?

Dr Daniel Woker is the former Swiss Ambassador to Australia, Singapore and Kuwait and now a Senior Lecturer at the University of St Gallen.  The planned fusion of the mining company Xstrata and the commodity trading company Glencore will create a very large organisation that could influence

Slower growth in China belies a new world of productivity opportunities

There is more gloom about world economic growth, both short- and longer term. The IMF forecast for this year and next has just been revised down yet again and there is a clear downside even to this glum outlook. Looking further ahead, veteran economist Robert Gordon explores the idea that the

Three cheers for Europe: Hurray, urrà, hurra!

Tim Dunne is Professor of International Relations in the Asia Pacific Centre for R2P, University of Queensland. The Guardian opened its weekend editorial on the merits of the news from Oslo that Europe had won the Nobel Peace Prize, with the line that 'satire was abolished the day that Henry

Monday linkage: maths, China, free speech, Burma, security app

A word of caution to economists from John Aziz: 'Over-reliance upon or excessive faith in mathematical models can lead to bad forecasting and bad policy decisions.' (Thanks to Samantha for this one.) From Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of the the Lee Kuan Yew School of Government in Singapore and noted

On the road in Pakistan (3): Pace of change

Alicia Mollaun, a PhD candidate at the Crawford School at ANU, is based in Islamabad. In this three-part series she writes about a journey to a remote corner of Pakistan. Part 1. Part 2. Beautifully decorated trucks, or 'jingle trucks' as many like to call them, are everywhere in Pakistan. The

Reader Riposte: Researchers need support

Rowena Ball writes: I agree wholeheartedly with Andrew Holmes that Australia's international scientific engagement must be strengthened. But there is a lack of support, at home and abroad, for those Australian researchers who already make the considerable efforts to develop and strengthen

Defence in crisis

Before he took the stand to speak at the Lowy Institute in August, Stephen Smith had already achieved a considerable feat in Australian defence policy. He had united Defence's 'tribes'. The Army, Navy, Air-Force and civilians, hitherto in near-permanent disagreement, had finally found common cause,

What ails Europe?

Dr Daniel Woker is the former Swiss Ambassador to Australia, Singapore and Kuwait and now a Senior Lecturer at the University of St Gallen.  Among the many presumptive villains in the present Euro crisis blame game, four culprits stand out: The Germans, The Southern Europeans, The Anglo-Saxons

The Audacity of Reasonableness

Yesterday, I launched my new research paper, The Audacity of Reasonableness: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, US Foreign Policy and Australia. I should thank the Republican candidate Mitt Romney for choosing to give a major foreign policy address on the same day as the launch.  In my analysis, I argue

Australian moments: The challenges of diplomatic architecture

In the design of modern-day diplomatic missions, form does not so much follow function as security. Aesthetics are secondary to protection. Embassies need sometimes to double as bunkers. Recent bloody reminders of that came in the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi and the protests that targeted

One 'G' to rule the world?

The G20 Leaders' meeting started out in 2008 with some tangible successes, but the general consensus is that it has now lost its momentum. Can it be reinvigorated before Australia hosts the 2014 meeting in Brisbane? In 2008 there was a very real concern that the global financial crisis would

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