Thursday 01 Oct 2020 | 05:26 | SYDNEY
What's happening on
  • 30 Sep 2020 14:00

    The unfinished Chinese civil war

    Many frame China’s options against Taiwan as peace or invasion. This is a dangerous oversimplification.

  • 30 Sep 2020 06:00

    Duterte’s vaccine promise is a political placebo

    The Philippine president has pinned hopes on a miracle solution to the Covid crisis while gutting effective responses.

  • 29 Sep 2020 10:00

    Evaluating aid in the Pacific

    A common rating system could make aid evaluation less opaque. Better yet, it could deliver more bang for precious bucks.

United Kingdom

Islamic State’s new battleground – the courts

In the aftermath of Islamic State’s defeat, it was anticipated that fighters and other members of the group would appeal to the very court system of a liberal democracy whose laws they rejected and whose way of ordering society they sought to supplant when they joined the terrorist group. And in

Five Eyes: Blurring the lines between intelligence and policy

The public aura around the decades-old “Five Eyes” intelligence sharing partnership between Australia, the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand has expanded rapidly since the name was first publicly acknowledged. In 2014, an Australian prime minister publicly referred to the “Five Eyes” for the

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

Australia-UK trade agreement: Good, boring policy

Australia and the UK kicked off free trade agreement negotiations on 17 June to speeches and video presentations so triumphant as to border on self-parody. Yet for all the pageantry and scorn, a trade deal between Australia and the UK is fundamentally a commonsense policy that warrants neither

Muddled messages as Britain seeks to stay alert

After the seven weeks of lockdown, which had managed to suppress the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the British people on the evening of Sunday 10 May to explain the next steps. Restrictions were to be eased, but moves would be tentative and contingent, checking

Scotland: False note to cry freedom​​​​​​​

The Scottish National Party (SNP) was founded in 1934, and for most of the 20th century was a gathering of eccentrics, writers and Anglophobes (characteristics often combined in one member). Yet now, nearly a century on, it has a majority in the Scottish parliament and formed the government since

Brexit and the Pacific: Sink or swim?

After 47 years of a chaotic marriage, and more than three years of debates and negotiations that have cost two prime ministers, the United Kingdom has finally separated from the European Union. The current conversations on the global consequences of this rupture have largely ignored the Pacific,

Favourites of 2019: Babylon Berlin

As 2019 winds up, Lowy Institute staff and Interpreter contributors offer their favourite books, articles, films, or TV programs this year. There are perks to being unfashionably behind the cultural curve. By letting new shows, books and tech percolate in the court of public opinion for a few

Diego Garcia: Unnerving neighbours and raising ghosts

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued a non-binding decision in February 2019 supporting Mauritius’s claim to the UK-administered Chagos Archipelago, which includes Diego Garcia. Subsequently the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) passed a resolution in May 2019 endorsing the ICJ

Brexit: “Do or die”

Over the past few weeks, breathless British journalists have published verbatim the private words and long missives of a person known as “No. 10 Source”, who on close inspection is almost certainly Dominic Cummings, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Chief of Staff. Cummings attracted public

Diplomatic immunity: Time to change the rules

The current diplomatic spat between the United Kingdom and the United States, following a fatal road accident involving the wife of a US “diplomat”, draws attention, yet again, to diplomatic immunity and its potential abuse. The facts, as reported by the UK media and based on witness accounts

Brexit: Deal or no deal

On 31 October, the UK is once again due to leave the European Union. This is the third such deadline this year. It is possible that there will be a fourth, should the European Council be asked yet again to extend the UK’s membership to provide time for it to leave in an orderly rather than

Houses divided

Many of The Interpreter’s readers are experts on the theory and conduct of international relations. So, quite reasonably, they look at armed conflict through the lens of inter-state relations, where one state resorts to the use (or the threat of use) of armed force to prevail over another. For

Tanker-for-tanker

The most perplexing question following Iran’s capture of the MV Stena Impero on Friday is why the British were unable to foresee this action as a natural response to Britain’s earlier seizure of the Iranian-flagged tanker Grace 1 in Gibraltar and make appropriate preparations. The Grace 1 was

Superpower scrutiny at Shangri-La

For the past two years, the highlight of the annual IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore was the keynote speech by the sadly departed former US defence secretary Jim Mattis. This year the task of speaking on behalf of America to the leading forum of Asian defence

The last straw for Theresa May

After Margaret Thatcher, John Major, and David Cameron, Theresa May is the latest Conservative Prime Minister to have been undermined by her inability to manage the divisions within her party over Europe. May tried to achieve something that was always going to be difficult, respecting the outcome

Huawei reaches into Britain

Whatever the true situation behind the sacking of Gavin Williamson as British defence secretary over claims (which he strenuously denies) that he leaked information to the Daily Telegraph from a meeting of the National Security Committee on Chinese telecom company Huawei, one thing is crystal clear

The greatest British political crisis of modern times

Brexit appears to be approaching a bewildering denouement. Prime Minister Theresa May has reached a dead end with a negotiated deal that met the criteria for leaving the European Union and would have done so in an orderly fashion but satisfied very few. Hard-line Leavers considered it so much

Brexit: Britain’s Commonwealth pivot is nothing new

In the midst of Britain’s painful extraction from the European Union, a saga which deepened this week with a second parliamentary defeat for Theresa May’s Brexit deal, key figures on the Conservative right harbour a quiet hope that the Commonwealth will come to the rescue. Notwithstanding the

Fisheries and Brexit – a slippery affair

Despite accounting for a mere 0.12% the UK’s overall economic output, fisheries is one of the most contentious issues in the Brexit jumble. Highly politicised, negotiations on the future fisheries regime could tarnish the overall outcome of British departure from the EU. Issues of British

Learning from Brexit in Donald Trump’s America

For those of us with an internationalist viewpoint, watching the Brexit process unfold in the context of the Trump Presidency has left us demoralised and despondent. In both cases, we see the rise of populism and demagoguery in great liberal democracies. We see chaos, a self-inflicted wound. And we

Film Review: Brexit – the Uncivil War

A workable divorce deal hasn’t even been inked, yet already one of the most seismic episodes in British political history has been scripted, dramatised, and broadcast to an audience languishing in the deadlock of its aftermath. Brexit: The Uncivil War centres upon the successful Vote Leave

Brexit: British people vote with their feet

With Prime Minister Teresa May’s Brexit withdrawal deal rejected this week by the House of Commons, the future of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union remains as uncertain as ever. Possible scenarios include a further vote on the deal, an exit with no deal agreed, an extension of

Brexit barneys and three big questions

As the tick-tock of the Brexit clock moves toward a deadline of 29 March, the ramifications are fast unfolding. The UK parliament has now comprehensively rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposed deal for British withdrawal from the European Union. There is a demand to see Plan B within days

Aid mergers: no unscrambling the egg

Britain’s former foreign secretary Boris Johnson has called for the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) to be rolled into the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). This would be a monumental mistake for a country looking for relevance in a post-Brexit world. Over the past two

Brexit deal debate reveals dark side to EU diplomacy

The saving grace of a nasty divorce is durable insight into the true values of the parties involved. And so, with Brexit. The Withdrawal Agreement – which has triggered rancorous opposition in parliament and a political crisis in the UK – lays bare the diplomatic cards. Whatever its eventual

Brexit: the Northern Ireland conundrum

Seamus Heaney, the late Irish poet and playwright, once (half-) joked that “anyone born and bred in Northern Ireland can’t be too optimistic”. Optimism in Northern Ireland is certainly in short supply. British Prime Minister Theresa May has presented a draft agreement with the European

Indo-Pacific: are the British coming back?

The British Royal Navy looks set to make a significant reappearance in the Indo-Pacific after the long distraction of conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Australian decision to buy nine BAE Systems Type 26 ASW frigates is the latest in a flurry of indications suggesting the UK has an increased

Boris Johnson exits. Pass the salt.

So it’s farewell Bonza Boris, for the moment at least. Boris Johnson, now former British foreign secretary, travelled to Sydney in July last year to deliver the Lowy Lecture, when he gently poked fun at himself and his youthful exploration of Australia, as well as the two countries

Novichok poisoning and the test for Britain

When England struck their winning penalty against Colombia at the end of a tense night of football on Tuesday, old assumptions crumbled. Had the team exorcised its fear of shoot-outs? Could they reach the final? And would the British Government really maintain its official boycott of Russia’s