Sunday 12 Jul 2020 | 16:20 | SYDNEY
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The Americas

Keeping the Kremlin in the Kelvinator

One effect of Australia’s more assertive posture on the People’s Republic of China has been to try to split off Beijing’s current and potential partners. This thinking was apparently behind Liberal MP Dave Sharma’s recent suggestion that Australia should back Russia’s participation in the

Canada won’t fall for China’s hostage diplomacy

It has been more than a year and a half since the Chinese government arbitrarily apprehended two Canadian citizens, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. Their arrests have been widely interpreted as retaliation for Canada detaining Meng Wanzhou, a Huawei executive and the daughter of the company’s

After ASEAN summit, little change on the South China Sea

On 26 June, the leaders of the ten-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) held their 36th annual summit by video conference, after the in-person summit scheduled for April was postponed because of Covid-19. The pandemic was the main topic of discussions.  Also high on the

Vale Owen Harries 1930–2020

On behalf of my Chairman Sir Frank Lowy as well as the Board and staff of the Lowy Institute, I would like to express my sadness at the news that our friend, colleague and mentor Owen Harries passed away yesterday. When Owen joined the Lowy Institute as a Nonresident Fellow shortly after its

Finding compromise in the Chagos Islands saga

The Chagos Archipelago of 54 islands, formerly administered as a dependency of the British Colony of Mauritius, was excised from Mauritius by the UK in 1965, three years before independence. It was renamed the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), and its inhabitants (about 1500 people) were

Can inter-Korean peace be salvaged from the latest wreckage?

North Korea’s demolition of the inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong last week is a huge setback to Pyongyang’s relations with Seoul. Unfortunately the situation can get even worse. One day after the building was brought crashing down – a dramatic reminder to the rest of the world about

Woe Canada, a second consecutive UN rebuff

Last week, the United Nations elected five countries to the Security Council for two years from 1 January 2021: India from the Asia group, elected by an impressive 184 votes of 193 cast; Mexico from Latin America and the Caribbean; Kenya from Africa; and Ireland and Norway from the West Europe and

Canberra vs Beijing: A reply to Alan Dupont

Australia’s national debate about China has been dramatically transformed over the last few years. China’s rise is arguably the most important thing to happen to Australia’s place in the world since federation, so the fact that we are debating its implications so openly and

The geopolitical consequences of a pandemic

The global system is in a state of flux. China’s renewed territorial assertions and growing military power continue to pose challenges to regional peace and stability. US-Russia relations have plummeted into a downward spiral. We have passed through a crisis on the Korean Peninsula that has had a

NATO: Rebranding exercise or new product launch?

It is hardly surprising that many foreign policy developments that would normally feature in the news have lately been demoted well below the headlines, as domestic turmoil in the United States has dominated conversations across the country and the globe. Under more ordinary circumstances, two

The case for Australian strategic ambiguity

It is June 2021. An American destroyer sailing near a reef held by Beijing in the South China Sea has had a collision with a Chinese frigate that was attempting to drive it off. Both vessels have suffered multiple fatalities and, damaged, are at anchor near the reef. While who was at fault is

The gravity of China’s space base in Argentina

For most people, the first things that likely come to mind when imagining Patagonia in South America are mountains, glaciers, lakes and fjords. But there is also a lesser-known tourist destination: the visitors centre of a Chinese-owned space station in remote north-west Patagonia, Argentina. In

In the US, a week of protests and a tidal wave of history

In reaction to the death of a black man in police custody in Minneapolis – its brutality captured on video – mass demonstrations arose across 140 American cities and around the world this week. The protests have been, and continue to be, dominated by people peacefully holding signs that read

US: Powerful unions protect police – from reform

The death of George Floyd during an arrest by a Minneapolis police officer has set off a wave of protests across all 50 states of America. Even during an ongoing pandemic, the protests have been extensive and sustained. But these protests are not unique. Unfortunately, neither is George Floyd’s

Who really killed the Quad 1.0?

The tale has become accepted diplomatic folklore. In the telling, it was Australia, back in 2008 in the early days of the Rudd government, that decided to scuttle the then-nascent Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, the four-way talks also involving Japan, the United States and India. To compound

A G7+?

“Flattery with a catch” is the best way to describe Donald Trump’s call to include Australia in an expanded Group of 7 meeting, or G7. No doubt Canberra would love a seat at the top table. But the US President has also proposed bringing Russia back into the fold ­– which will be

Playing Monopoly in space

For the first time since 2011, US astronauts have been launched aboard a US spacecraft from US soil. The flight of a SpaceX capsule to the International Space Station with two NASA crewmembers has broken a long drought for crewed spaceflight. It also reduces America’s dependence on Russian Soyuz

The Trump card in the Sino-Indian rivalry?

As worrying details about the month-long India-China border dispute continue to pour in, Donald Trump, in his signature style, has muddied waters in two significant ways. First, on Wednesday morning, he tweeted: “We have informed both India and China that the United States is ready, willing and

Mauritius, Diego Garcia and the small matter of nukes

Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia is a key part of the US global military network. The dispute over sovereignty of Diego Garcia is heating up, with the UK coming under increasing pressure to cede it to Mauritius. Mauritius has indicated that if it regained control over Diego Garcia, it would allow

The battle for a Covid vaccine risks losing the “war”

Leaders of nations around the globe have resorted to the language of warfare to characterise their fight against Covid-19. From US President Donald Trump, who declared himself a “war president”, to China’s Xi Jinping committing to a “people’s war”, to Britain’s Prime Minister Boris

Diego Garcia: An American perspective

Diego Garcia is the United States’ major geostrategic and logistics support base in the Indian Ocean. Sovereignty over the island is increasingly being challenged by Mauritius, but it seems unlikely that Washington would be interested in a deal that would facilitate its transfer. The base has

America’s rudderless Covid response

Projecting optimism about US recovery from the coronavirus pandemic requires one to take the long view. America’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, relative to the rest of the world, has been abysmal. The US has more than 30% of all cases, despite being home to only 5% of the world’s

For Australia, a testing friendship

It’s got nothing to do with Covid-19, but a fascinating short passage in Malcolm Turnbull’s new memoir is illustrative of the challenges Scott Morrison faces in dealing with US President Donald Trump, and how much Australia can rely on the US as it squares off in an increasingly sharp rhetorical

Weight on the scales

A few months back – only in January, yet seemingly a very different time ­– Mike Mazarr and I offered some initial reflections on America’s and China’s contrasting “theories of influence”. The article prompted a series of contributions, including an initial rejoinder from Sam Roggeveen

With US Afghan exit, Russia eyes Central Asian security

Three months have passed since the United States and the Taliban signed an “Agreement for bringing peace to Afghanistan”. For the Americans, it aims to put an end to the US military intervention in Afghanistan, which has lasted more than 18 years. The provisions of the agreement stipulate a

Beyond Covid, might China overreach?

A major disruption and the emergence of a global threat in the shape of a pandemic may have been expected to foster closer global cooperation. While this may momentarily be true, as countries cooperate to strengthen their healthcare infrastructure and in seeking effective cures and vaccines, there

Discontinued: America’s Continuous Bomber Presence

Since 2004, the US Air Force has rotated heavy bombers through the Western Pacific island of Guam. But no more. The Continuous Bomber Presence (CBP), which started in President George W. Bush’s first term and continued through President Barack Obama’s two terms, has now been abruptly terminated

Who would Beijing prefer wins in November?

The 2020 US presidential election may well go down in history as the “China election”. Indeed, if the past month has been any indication, the narratives around this race for the White House will heavily feature how each candidate plans to manage the rapidly deteriorating relationship between the

Information warfare in the theatre of Covid-19

Chaos is a ladder, said Littlefinger in Game of Thrones. Crisis is an opportunity, Sun Tzu didn’t say in The Art of War. Either way, in the United States, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and “infodemic”, political chaos is a clear and present danger, and an opportunity, in the covert and

Is this the Kindleberger moment?

In 1973 Charles Kindleberger wrote his now acclaimed book on the Great Depression. He argued that it was “great” because the global economic system had lost its hegemon – in less exotic terms, its system manager. In the interwar period, the UK was the system manager, but given the grievous

The vanishing hegemon

Has the corona crisis already changed the world? Many people certainly seem to think so. From doomsday prognoses of a collapse into a bio-authoritarian dystopia to cheerful visions of a rejuvenated benevolent state, commentators the world over have already identified 2020 as the date on which a new

In the US, a campaign with no trail

In the midst of a public health pandemic, the 2020 presidential election has receded into the background of American political life. Candidates have been forced off the campaign trail. There are no rallies for the press to cover and fundraising efforts are stalled. Most states with near-term

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