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Burma and R2P

Former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans, currently head of the International Crisis Group, has written an interesting op-ed about Burma and the 'Reponsibility to Protect' (R2P), a humanitarian intervention doctrine he helped create. I'm inclined to think there is a case

Past errors can't be rubbed out

In an article in the Australian Financial Review, Lowy Institute Visiting Fellow Stephen Grenville argues that too many proposals to deal with the sub-prime liquidity crisis are based on improving the wrong kind of liquidity. Australian Financial Review, 12 May 2008, p. 23

The not-so-global conservative movement

David Brooks has a column in The New York Times entitled ‘The Conservative Revival’, which argues that American conservatives (who are on their way down) should learn from British conservatives (who are on their way up). It seems to me that Brooks is a little free and easy with his assessment

Serbia: Moving forward slowly

Last year I was following the war crimes trials at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY)* in The Hague. So when I visited a friend in Belgrade I was surprised to see the face of one of the Tribunal's most well-known accused, Vojislav Seselj, splashed over every

Reader Riposte: Fiji and the e-rebellion

Tui writes in with this comment on our Fiji debate: One inadvertent result of the Bainimarama coup which will be its undoing, is the creation of various blog sites set up by professional Fijians like Soli Vakasama, which in Fijian means ‘let’s discuss’ and at the moment currently

More on the emerging global order

The debate over America's decline and the emerging global order continues on the blogosphere (my previous post here), with the most interesting new contribution coming from Jim Manzi at The American Scene. He argues that what observers like Fareed Zakaria think is new about the global order

Political couture

My reaction to the Putin-Medvedev photo Michael blogs about was quite different. Medvedev's short overcoat was certainly a pretty daring choice in the constrained world of political couture, but I thought rather handsome. And it may have been intended as a message to the world that Medvedev

Reader riposte: The all-purpose camel

Peter from Illinois writes about my camel export post: Egad, sir. An undervalued resource, useable for meat and dairy, wool and fertilizer. Properly bred in Australia they might be domesticated for plowing. Gourmet restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne might feature them as a change of

Political chic

A few years ago, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice caused the world’s diplomats to choke on their Ferrero Rochers when she appeared at Wiesbaden Army Airfield in Germany dressed in a long black military-style coat and black leather boots. Now another world figure, this time new to the

Managing the rise of the rest

Last week I linked to Steve Clemons' Washington Note, where a debate was starting on the proposition that the US is in relative decline in global affairs, thanks to the rise of India and China. As Clemons said, the debate about American decline does seem to be high on the list of priorities

The Fiji debate continues

Guest blogger: Sanjay Ramesh, who teaches at the University of Technology, Sydney, is Senior Political Editor at the Sydney Fiji Times and Adjunct Fellow at the University of Fiji. Jon Fraenkel raises some important issues about Fiji. Most important, perhaps, is his message that there could

Tuesday linkage

Two blog posts about China's middle class: the first notes the proliferation of luxury brand outlets to 'second tier' Chinese cities, while the second warns that you shouldn't read too much into luxury goods sales. I've just discovered Jotman.com, which looks to be one of

Russia: The more things change...

So Vladimir Putin plans to reintroduce the display of heavy weapons into Russia's traditional Victory Day parade. But perhaps to an even greater extent than in the old Soviet days, these parades, designed to show off military might, actually disguise the weaknesses of Russia's armed

Two links about global change

CIA Director Michael Hayden recently gave a powerhouse speech about global trends, in which he says that one of the surest paths to an intelligence breakdown is a failure of imagination. It is indeed common for political experts of all kinds to assume that the future will look more or less like the

Friday funny: Brains all over your nice Ivy League suit

In honour of this rather fascinating essay on The Godfather as a metaphor for American foreign policy, I present The Godfather in Five Seconds. Enjoy your weekend. BTW, if you're wondering about my choice of title, it's explained here. BTW 2: Judah Grunstein at

After the age of Friedman

One of the many consequences of the US sub-prime crisis and the associated collateral damage is likely to be a re-evaluation of the role of monetary policy – something I touched on last year.  James Galbraith takes a longer view in this speech on the ‘collapse of monetarism and the

Winners and losers from free trade in agriculture

Sam’s recent post drew attention to the important linkages between trade policy, agriculture and food security. Certainly, high food prices have propelled the issue of agricultural trade liberalisation back into the headlines, with many developing countries now forced to slash import barriers in

Accused war criminal in charge of humanitarian affairs

The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) had this reminder that just over a year ago, the Court issued arrest warrants against two Sudanese: the former Minister of State for the Interior and a Janjaweed leader. They were charged with 51 counts of alleged crimes against humanity and

Fresh Fiji elections or militarist fatalism?

Guest blogger: Jon Fraenkel, Research Fellow in the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program at the ANU, responds to Satish Chand and Sanjay Ramesh on our Fiji debate. The chorus of criticism against speedy elections as a way out of the impasse generated by Fiji’s

Tuesday linkage

Steve Clemons invites discussion on the next fault line in the American foreign policy debate: boosters versus declinists. Time magazine's China blog has analysis of Beijing's announcement that it will talk to the Dalai Lama. 'The DVD that will save America' is a year-old

Easing the economy-class squeeze

If the new staggered economy-class airline seat pictured below does everything this write-up claims — provide more leg room and personal space while allowing the airline to squeeze in more passengers — then the design firm can write its own cheque. It's interesting to note that a big

Reader riposte: Fiji headed for more violence

Sanjay Ramesh, political editor of the Sydney Fiji Times, responds to Satish Chand's contribution to our Fiji debate: Satish is right on the mark when he states that holding elections in March 2009 may not resolve Fiji’s deep-seated political problems and will not end the cycle

Lowy Institute now on Fora TV

Speeches and presentations made at the Lowy Institute — including our regular and very popular Wendesday Lowy Lunches — are now available for viewing at Fora TV. Michael Fullilove's reflections on the US political scene are here, and Dr Jeffrey Eisenach's presentation on the future of

More on military intervention

Judah Grunstein at World Politics Review has responded to my post of yesterday. I suspect we're actually in furious agreement here, in that we both feel there has been too much emphasis on military solutions to political problems. My point was just that this emphasis is not surprising and may

Meat from the lab

As Stephen Grenville pointed out on Monday, one of the reasons for the current global food shortage is growing prosperity. As people get richer they tend to eat more meat, and it takes eight kilograms of grain (or is that seven, or maybe 16?) to produce a kilo of beef. Whatever the exact figure,

Does military intervention work?

World Politics Review’s Judah Grunstein makes an argument I’ve been toying with on this blog, about the excessive militarization of national security policy. But the case for reducing the profile of the military in foreign policy is perhaps a bit tougher than Grunstein allows. His argument

Tuesday linkage

More trouble ahead: The Dalai Lama has been named an honourary citizen of Paris, and will be in France during the Olympics. There are already signs of Chinese popular resentment against the French. Mind you, there is some respite for China: the Olympic torch has arrived in Pyongyang. Pro-Tibet

Reader riposte: The problem of long-term food demand

Rawdon Dalrymple writes: Stephen Grenville deals with present problems over the very sharp rise in food prices. But is this the first episode in a long-term and perhaps worsening  problem? As Peter McCawley points out, the present situation is partly due to the lack of investment in

Reader riposte: Global food markets

Peter McCawley writes:  Steve Grenville rightly argues that sharp rises in global food prices, now hitting the poor in developing countries, are an urgent global policy issue. It's worth noting that the immediate problem – like so many other important problems (the global

Friday linkage: Asian edition

Japanese PM Fukuda announces he will cut short his upcoming overseas trip, leaving Russia on his itinerary but cancelling Germany, Britain and France. I await a confected political controversy, with the opposition demanding Fukuda visit Berlin, London and Paris immediately, if not sooner. Bad

The tallest building in the world

Here's what the Burj Dubai looked like on 1 March. It's currently 629m high, and although the exact final height of the building is being kept under wraps, you can see from the graphic at the bottom right of this site that it will probably rise another 25 per cent or so.

Lord Resistance Army: Still resisting

Some disappointing news from Uganda. Nine senior members of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) were murdered, apparently at the behest of its crazy leader, Joseph Kony, with signs the group's peace negotiators lack direct communications with their leader, and that factions are emerging

Europe goes cold on China

A new poll on European attitudes towards the US for the Financial Times makes good reading in Washington (and Tehran), and worrying reading in Beijing. When people in France, the UK, Italy, Spain and Germany were asked which country was the greatest threat to global stability, China topped the

So many books, so little time

FT columnist Gideon Rachman has a post on his blog today lamenting how little time he has to read the new books arriving on his desk. I'm currently reading John Gray's Black mass: Apocalyptic religion and the death of utopia,which was passed to me by the good people at the Sydney Writers&#

Poll: Free market under pressure

Some signs of weakening support for the free market, which could feed into protectionist sentiment, in this poll from GlobeScan. Majorities in most of the 18 countries surveyed still agreed with the statement 'the free enterprise system and free market economy is the best system on which

Fiji: Buying itself out of democracy?

The un-elected government in Fiji appears to be up to no good...again. According to this article, Fijian police arrested 17 people outside the Chinese Embassy for holding a peaceful vigil against the recent crackdown in Tibet. The Fijian Government, led by Commodore Bainimarama, has taken a

BHP-Rio: What might China do?

It is surprising how little serious discussion there has been on the political economy of the proposed BHP take-over of Rio. The commercial negotiations wind their tortuous way forward, and the purchase of Rio shares by Chinalco is seen as a response by China Inc to the threat of an iron ore near-

Monday linkage

Niall Ferguson's review of a book I am very much looking forward to reading: Philip Bobbitt's Terror and Consent. My enthusiasm has dimmed just a little on reading the review, which suggests what I would regard as a misplaced emphasis on WMD terrorism. A West Wing writer imagines the

Friday funny: Gareth Evans

Gareth Evans' puppy joke is diplomatic legend. In 1992, the then-Australian Foreign Minister, when told during a visit to Hong Kong that Governor Chris Patten's family dog had gone missing, responded that it might have found it's way to Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping's dinner table.

New friends for the Pacific Islands

Australia has become used to competition for influence in the Pacific Islands region. New Zealand, France, Japan, the US, the EU, China and Taiwan all have diplomatic, economic or aid interests in the region. The newest recruit – Turkey – is demonstrating its interest by hosting a three-day

A glimpse of our technological future

I had no idea robotics were so advanced until I saw this video. The way Big dog — a robotic 'pack mule' being developed by a private company in cooperation with the Pentagon — recovers after being kicked is truly astonishing. But the video also suggests that, before such technology

The challenges for Fiji in 2008

Guest blogger: Sanjay Ramesh, who teaches at the University of Technology, Sydney, is Senior Political Editor at the Sydney Fiji Times and Adjunct Fellow at the University of Fiji. The Pacific Islands Forum Ministers meeting in Auckland on 26 March 2008 has unequivocally called on Fiji

Tuesday linkage

A reader sent us an update on Michael Fullilove's post of yesterday on American numberplates: in 2001, President Bush ordered the 'Taxation without representation' plates to be removed from presidential limousines. Time.com releases its 25 blogs of the year. Fun, if a bit US-

Friday funny: McCain

Late Show host David Letterman has been using his opening monologue to make John McCain 'old man' jokes for weeks now. This week, McCain got his own back. Enjoy your weekend

Can Milton Friedman build a 737?

China has announced a new company that will build passenger jets to rival Boeing and Airbus. The Aviation Week article makes clear that there is a lot of government cash behind this new initiative, just as was the case with Airbus when it was launched in 1970 to compete with Boeing. Free market

Friday linkage

Careful what you wish for: Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon has shown some enthusiasm for the F-22 as the RAAF's new fighter. But a recent US study says F-22 maintenance hours are more than double what the manufacturer promised. Yesterday, Thomas Christensen, Deputy Assistant Secretary of

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