Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 20:19 | SYDNEY


Doco trailer: Surviving Progress

The trailer for this Martin Scorsese-produced documentary (based on Ronald Wright\'s book, A Short History of Progress) puts me in mind of Roger Pielke\'s iron law of climate policy: When policies on emissions reductions collide with policies focused on economic growth, economic growth will

Thursday linkage

Great piece about South Korea, a status quo power which gets more fired up over territorial disputes with China and Japan than over reunification, which is an \'unnerving abstraction\'. Charmingly told tale of a Pentagon practical joke. Spain is about to cut its budget by what amounts to 5.

Commie spies and the World Bank

With Jim Yong Kim (pictured, to President Obama\'s right) now formally appointed as President of the World Bank, it might be worth relaying a footnote on the history of this position. It does seem curious that the US should have pre-emptive rights over the World Bank presidency, leaving

Reader riposte: Aid does improve economic growth

UNICEF Australia Director of Communications and Advocacy Tim O\'Connor replies to Hugh White: Two more points of contention, Hugh. You assert \'...poverty is eliminated by economic growth, and aid does little or nothing to support that. Nor can it do much to change the distribution of wealth in

Wednesday linkage

Our thanks to ISN (the Zurich-based International Relations and Security Network) for alerting their blog readers to work on The Interpreter. High-ranking Chinese political adviser Jia Qinglin has published an op-ed in the NZ press about the bilateral relationship and Chinese

Tuesday linkage

Planning around natural disasters, not for them: \'Sometimes, building a transportation infrastructure to connect job centres to safe locations is a more efficient way to reduce risks than building dikes.\' Feeble, flouted and ignored: Walter Russell Mead on the UN today. Why YouTube is an

Defence: A return to the 'core force'

Alan Wrigley is a former Deputy Secretary of the Defence Department (1982-85). When I began work in Defence\'s newly established Force Development and Analysis division in mid-1975, the finishing touches were being added to the latest classified document intended to set out a basis for Australia\'s

Monday linkage

50 amazing facts about the US economy. (H/t 3QD.) WikiLeaks reveals that China is trying to reduce its dependence on Middle Eastern oil. (Thanks Gareth.) A small portion of a Sarkozy-Obama video conference has been filmed by French TV. You might be surprised at how banal such exchanges

Reader riposte: More on the new bipolarity

Peter Layton writes: The Venus and Mars distinction between the Atlantic and Asia that Hugh White and Michael Wesley discuss is an appealing simplification but perhaps a step too far. It tends to fall on the \'What is Asia?\' question. The Austrian statesman Metternich in 1820 answered

Friday thinky: How to buy a car

Game theory is a staple of political studies, but finally someone is using it for a practical purpose! This is noted political scientist Bruce Bueno de Mesquita on how to buy a car: Enjoy your weekend. (H/t Best of YouTube

Not two poles but two systems

I think Michael Wesley is on to something. Since the Wall came down twenty years ago, most of us have believed that the world had become more integrated than ever before, As the Cold War divide dissolved, the world would increasingly function as a single system in which divisions –

Our aid pledge: The climate dimension

Nic Maclellan is a journalist and researcher in the Pacific Islands and author of the Lowy Institute Policy Brief Turning the Tide: Improving access to climate finance in the Pacific Islands. In the debate over whether Australia will reach the development assistance target of 0.5% of gross national

Thursday linkage

Why you won\'t find references to tomatoes on Chinese social media today (hint: it\'s to do with Bo Xilai). Here\'s a round-up of the Chinese media\'s reaction to the Bo Xilai scandal. Photos and video of India\'s newest capital ship, the nuclear-powered attack submarine INS

Easter break

The Interpreter is putting its feet up over Easter; we\'ll be back with normal blogging next Wednesday. Enjoy the break and see you then. Photo by Flickr user Reinis Traidas

Reader riposte: N industry has big role

Henry Sokolski, Executive Director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, has responded to my post calling for governments to cooperate more with industry to manage nuclear risks: All of this is a bit hortatory and quite vague. Do you have any clear cut examples where

A new bipolarity, or just different cultures?

Volker Perthes heads the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) in Berlin. Michael Wesley comes with a thought-provoking idea: bipolarity is back, but it is not between old or new major powers or alliances, but rather between two communities of states – the

A strategic perspective on submarines

Richard Brabin-Smith is a Visiting Fellow at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre of the Australian National University. He was formerly Deputy Secretary of Defence and Chief Defence Scientist. I was puzzled by Stephen Grenville\'s reference in his post of 26 March to an article

Reader riposte: How about non-polarity?

Greg Lawson responds to Michael Wesley: Great idea regarding bipolarity, but looking at it from a larger standpoint than individual nations. You are right that Asian conceptions of Westphalian norms are far more rigid than \'Western\' ideas.  The whole \'Right to Protect\' is very

One bipolarity deserves another

Michael Wesley has invited comment on his thesis that the world may be entering a new bipolar age (part 1, part 2, part 3), and I suspect many of the replies will focus on the geographic boundary that Michael has drawn between Asia and what he calls the Atlantic community (Europe, Africa and

Tuesday linkage

Satellite images show North Korea is getting ready for its missile (sorry, satellite launcher) test. A zero email policy? Well, we can dream. (Thanks Fergus.) An appreciation of Hedley Bull, a \'founding father of the theory of modern arms control.\' SMH China correspondent John Garnaut on

Back to bipolarity (part 3)

In part 1 of this series, Michael describes one side of the new bipolar divide, the \'Atlantic community\', which includes the Americas, Europe and Africa. Part 2 describes the other side of the divide, Asia. The new bipolarity is very different from that of the Cold War. This divide is

Back to bipolarity? (part 2)

In part 1 of this series, Michael describes one side of the new bipolar divide, the \'Atlantic community\', which includes the Americas, Europe and Africa. On the other side of the new bipolar divide is Asia, a collection of countries driven by a set of preoccupations completely different

The world economy, Murphy law and Finagle corollary

Over the second half of 2011, the world economy seemed to be sliding inexorably towards another major financial crisis. In the event, actions by an aggressive European Central Bank managed to halt the slide to Eurogeddon. But a fragile world economy remains dangerously vulnerable to adverse shocks

World Bank game of thrones

The selection of Robert Zoellick\'s successor as President of the World Bank is turning out to be more interesting than expected. Rather than putting forward a high-profile candidate (like Hillary Clinton or Larry Summers), US President Barack Obama has nominated Jim Yong Kim, Dean of Dartmouth

Back to bipolarity? (Part 1)

Back in February, Sam drew attention to University of Colorado Professor Roger Pielke\'s observation that blogging is a great way of critiquing, extending and refining new ideas: (Blogging) is a remarkably powerful tool for refining ideas, for collecting intelligence, for making contacts. I

Friday funny: Every UN speech ever

The Interpreter is making an early start to the weekend, but we\'ll be back on Monday with lots more, including the second week of our \'Australia in the Asian Century\' series. Until then, enjoy some nostalgia from the 1980s Melbourne-based comedy outfit, the D-Generation

Burma by-elections: Free and fair or April fools?

Alexandra Meagher is a London-based lawyer who has been working as a volunteer with the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL). The announcement by Burma\'s military-backed Government last week that it will allow international observers to monitor the April 1 by-elections has been lauded

Reader riposte: More on the Oz blogosphere

Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz, a Policy Analyst and Social Media Coordinator for the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, writes: I have been following the debate on The Interpreter regarding the lack of an Australian blogosphere and I do tend to agree that this is lacking &mdash

Wednesday linkage

Would a shift to democracy stem the tide of emigration among China\'s rich? A sign of closer relations: the Deputy Speaker of Japan\'s parliament meets with the President of Taiwan. (Thanks Malcolm.) Economic principles illustrated by minimalist posters. (H/t Blattman.) How does a Western

Nuclear security: Partner with industry

North Korea made good use of the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul to illustrate the limits of global summitry to deal with real-life nuclear dangers.  The announcement of intent to launch a satellite into space in mid-April aboard a long-range rocket, widely believed to be a cover for


Secretary Clinton\'s Senior Adviser for Innovation, Alec Ross, was kind enough to launch my latest ediplomacy paper today, appropriately enough via Twitter. While social media is certainly an aspect of ediplomacy, what I hope this report will highlight is that it is much, much more. In

Lowy Institute round-up

In case you missed it, last week the Lowy Institute released its second Indonesia Poll. The results showed that Indonesians had markedly warmed towards Australians, moving from a lukewarm 51° recorded in the Institute’s 2006 Indonesia Poll to a warm 62°. The poll was immediately

Monday linkage

According to SIPRI, the world\'s second-largest arms importer is Australia. A Kennedy for Pakistan? The NYRB on Imran Khan. In his latest piece, Stephen Grenville says \'Sensibly, we no longer try to produce even a light plane...\'. Not quite true, a reader points out. North Korea as 

Reader riposte: Australia blogosphere

Blogger Jim Belshaw responds to Sam Roggeveen\'s post, \'Is there an Australian blogosphere?\': I think it is true to say that the Australian blogosphere is fragmented. It\'s also true to say that Australian bloggers don\'t cross-link as much as they might or indeed should. But it\'s not

Is there an Australian blogosphere?

\'Europeans can\'t blog\', reads the headline from a newly created blog by the Brussel-based think tank Bruegel. One phrase in particular stuck out at me from this lament about the poor state of European blogging: \'Europe has bloggers, but no blogosphere\'. It seems to me this might be true

Friday linkage

There are hints of political intrigue in Beijing after the Bo Xilai sacking; even coup rumours (more here). China\'s lawyers will now have to swear allegiance to the Communist Party. (Thanks Malcolm.) Former US Defense Secretary Robert Gates says a US attack on Iran would be a

Floating in a most peculiar way

Perhaps it is testing the reader\'s patience to feature two aviation-related videos in one day, but it\'s hard to resist this gorgeous HD footage compiled from cameras attached to the rockets that boost the Space Shuttle into orbit. If you\'re pressed for time, just go to 2:30 for a shot of the

Thursday linkage

Private spaceflight firm SpaceX will soon deliver cargo to the ISS, then astronauts, and has its sights set on Mars, for US$500,000 return.  Cricket is emerging as Afghanistan\'s number 1 sport. \'...having good ideas is an alarmingly small component of being a good speaker.\' (H/t Browser

Wednesday linkage

For those who followed our Future of Secrecy thread, the presentation given by Nicholas Gruen to our forum in Canberra is online at the bottom of this post. India the next superpower? Probably not, says a new LSE study. A European think tank called Bruegel launches a blog, observing: \'It is

Do politicians' speeches matter?

David Frum, once a speechwriter for George W Bush, doesn\'t think so: You know who was a really lousy presidential communicator? Dwight Eisenhower. You know who else? Calvin Coolidge. Both were overwhelmingly re-elected. Benjamin Disraeli said that a parliamentary majority was better than the

Tuesday linkage

The Asian Development Bank Institute says the service sector is the future for ASEAN, China and India, but McKinsey\'s says India needs to look to manufacturing. Financial bubbles and the herding instinct. A one-man show purporting to tell real stories about conditions

Thursday linkage

Canada and the UAE practice dog-sled diplomacy. Surely a candidate for Graeme Dobell\'s Madeleine Award. (Thanks Stephanie.) Speaking of Canada, recent government statements about the Joint Strike Fighter remind one of the football club president who professes \'full confidence\' in the

Commie flying saucers

Back in January I introduced you to a trailer for Iron Sky, a slightly campy new German sci-fi movie which imagines that, at the end of World War II, the Nazis escaped to the dark side of the moon and built a military space fleet which is about to be launched at earth. One of the most

God and 'telos' on the US campaign trail

Benedict Coleridge is a Lowy Institute intern and regular contributor to Eureka Street. Religion permeates the 2012 Republican presidential primary in some fairly non-traditional ways. First, there\'s Mitt Romney\'s Mormonism. This time around, when his chances of securing the nomination are

Wednesday linkage

David Cameron is heading to Washington, and Gideon Rachman says he probably wants a second Obama term. The evidence that China is moving to a more consumption-based economic model is weak. What happens to NATO after Afghanistan? Will it turn east, go global, or just fade away? China\'s social