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Analysis and Comment (57)

Who’s viewing your metadata? Who’s viewing your metadata? Adam Fagen

Data surveillance is necessary, but we must have transparency

The latest intelligence documents published by The Guardian tell us that the US National Security Agency (NSA) is harvesting up to 200 million text messages a day under the DISHFIRE programme, and that…
The Indonesian president, and his government, have experienced a serious loss of face at a time when they least wanted it. The Indonesian president, and his government, have experienced a serious loss of face at a time when they least wanted it. EPA/Abror Rizki

Diplomatic crisis: can the PM mend our relationship with Indonesia?

When The Guardian Australia and the ABC broke the news that Australian intelligence agencies had been monitoring the phones of Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his wife and leading Cabinet…
Will the US attack Syria in the face growing international condemnation and opposition? Will the US attack Syria in the face growing international condemnation and opposition? EPA/Jim Lo Scalzo

Malcolm Fraser: Syria attack ‘illegal’

Former Australian prime minister Malcolm Fraser has attacked American plans to launch attacks on the Assad regime in Syria, describing them as illegal and reminiscent of the disastrous invasion of Iraq…
The grim cost of conflict. The grim cost of conflict. Freedom House via Creative Commons

Syria casts its shadow as G8 leaders gather

President Obama’s confirmation that the United States would begin arming Syrian rebels has prompted an urgent debate about both the legality and the effectiveness of the decision. The announcement, ahead…
A US flag lies in the wreckage of the Benghazi consulate, stormed on September 11 2012 in an attack that saw the US ambassador and three others killed. A US flag lies in the wreckage of the Benghazi consulate, stormed on September 11 2012 in an attack that saw the US ambassador and three others killed. EPA/Stringer

Back to the future: Benghazi, Republicans and the urge to impeach

Are US Republicans set to attempt to impeach another Democratic president? Utah representative Jason Chaffetz suggested US president Barack Obama could face impeachment over his administration’s response…
Obama has unveilled two key trade treaties designed to reaffirm America’s place as the world’s leading nation - but many aspects of the treaties run counter to its social development stances. Obama has unveilled two key trade treaties designed to reaffirm America’s place as the world’s leading nation - but many aspects of the treaties run counter to its social development stances.

The two treaties: Obama, trade, and the State of the Union

US President Barack Obama’s State of the Union plan to boost American exports and grow American jobs centres around two key regional trade agreements: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans-Atlantic…
By opting for restraint in his state of the union speech, Obama presented his ideas not as bold initiatives to revive the liberal tradition, but as pragmatic proposals with widespread bipartisan support. By opting for restraint in his state of the union speech, Obama presented his ideas not as bold initiatives to revive the liberal tradition, but as pragmatic proposals with widespread bipartisan support. EPA

Obama extends a light hand of liberalism to Americans

Barack Obama opened his fourth state of the union address to Congress with words from another Democratic president, John Kennedy: “The Constitution makes us not rivals for power but partners for progress…
President Obama has skilfully identified immigration as an issue that Republicans will struggle with. President Obama has skilfully identified immigration as an issue that Republicans will struggle with. Shutterstock

Obama tightens the immigration knot on Republicans

For an American president, the first inaugural address sets the stage for the four years to follow. The second inaugural address, on the other hand, focuses on a much longer legacy. Barack Obama’s speech…
Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” set in the context of slavery, depicts stark racial stereotypes. Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” set in the context of slavery, depicts stark racial stereotypes. AAP/ Facundo Arrizabalaga

How Quentin Tarantino unchained Django (and historical facts)

This year, America will celebrate the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, a presidential decree that effectively abolished slavery in all states in rebellion during the Civil…
President Obama delivered an ambitious inaugural address, but will struggle to get many of his progressive measures through a hostile Congress. President Obama delivered an ambitious inaugural address, but will struggle to get many of his progressive measures through a hostile Congress. EPA/Chip Somodevilla

Obama defends progressive vision in inauguration address

US President Barack Obama’s first inaugural address was largely forgettable. Recognising the large divide between the soaring optimism of his campaign rhetoric and the realities of an economy in the midst…
An American protesting the easy availability of military style weapons in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre. An American protesting the easy availability of military style weapons in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre. EPA/Michael Reynolds

Faking waves: how the NRA and pro-gun Americans abuse Australian crime stats

The Sandy Hook massacre and President Obama’s response to it has refocused attention on impact of regulation on American gun crime. Crime statistics before and after the implementation of gun laws provide…
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden at a press conference announcing major new gun control reforms. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden at a press conference announcing major new gun control reforms. EPA/Jim Lo Scalzo

Many massacres later, Obama gets serious on gun law reform

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The Founding Fathers of the American Constitution might…
President Barack Obama officially nominates Chuck Hagel as Secretary for Defence. President Barack Obama officially nominates Chuck Hagel as Secretary for Defence. EPA/Jim Lo Scalzo

Obama’s new national security team goes to war

Battle is being joined in Washington, where President Barack Obama, has nominated a former Republican senator, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, to be the next Secretary of Defense. He has also nominated John Brennan…
Barack Obama is the first sitting US president to visit Myanmar. Barack Obama is the first sitting US president to visit Myanmar. EPA/Lyn Bo Bo

Obama in Southeast Asia: the pivot continues

Barack Obama is visiting Myanmar on 19 November – the first sitting US President ever to do so. How will this historic visit shape US-Myanmar relations? And how is China likely to react? Obama is meeting…
President Obama’s superior organisation outweighed the money stacked against him. President Obama’s superior organisation outweighed the money stacked against him. EPA/Michael Reynolds

SuperPACs and bags of cash fail to halt Obama’s ground game

The fear of Big Money swamping the 2012 federal election cycle in the United States was borne out in sheer dollars, with $US6billion in spending, including $2.7 billion on the presidential race alone…
Former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was reduced to issuing IOUs to pay the state’s bills. Former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was reduced to issuing IOUs to pay the state’s bills.

California’s hard lesson Australia could heed: sometimes you gotta increase taxes

Long after President Obama’s re-election was secure, another election day result came in, one that may be of comparable significance in the long run. By a 54-46 margin, Californian voters approved Proposition…
President Barack Obama hugs Sandra Fluke, who was vilified by the right for her views on contraception. President Barack Obama hugs Sandra Fluke, who was vilified by the right for her views on contraception. EPA/Rick Giase

It’s the women wot won it: Democrat victory was no Fluke

A president’s first act in office carries considerable symbolic weight. After President Obama was sworn in in 2009, the first piece of legislation he signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Act, allowing women…
As New York City firefighters look over two houses struck by trees in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, both Republicans and Democrats worry about the impact on voter turnout. As New York City firefighters look over two houses struck by trees in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, both Republicans and Democrats worry about the impact on voter turnout. EPA/Justin Lane

Why Sandy could be the ‘October Surprise’ of the 2012 presidential election

On November 4, 1979 when Jimmy Carter’s presidency depended on gaining the freedom of the US hostages held by Iranian student militants, he was unable to achieve this goal even when it looked like the…
Barack Obama and Mitt Romney share the goal of US “energy independence”. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney share the goal of US “energy independence”. Neil Kremer/Flickr

US elections and environment: The dubious goal of US ‘energy independence’

Energy policy featured only briefly in the first debate between President Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney. As became evident in the second debate, Romney’s case for restoring strong economic growth…
Republicans have dragged the US energy policy debate, on issues like foreign oil independence, far to the right. Republicans have dragged the US energy policy debate, on issues like foreign oil independence, far to the right. micheleoneill/Flickr

US elections and environment: the politics and the policy fundamentals

That Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is locked into such an unalloyed pro-oil stance is not so surprising, given the alignment of the core Republican states with oil producers' interests. However…
Barack Obama, pictured with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has been accused of throwing Israel “under the bus”. Barack Obama, pictured with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has been accused of throwing Israel “under the bus”. EPA/Aaron Showalter

Why Obama and Romney are both supporting a particular Israel

At the same dinner party that Mitt Romney infamously told his $50,000-a-plate supporters that 47% of the American public are slackers, he also delved into foreign policy. Romney told his audience that…
President Obama gave a much improved performance in the second of three presidential debates. President Obama gave a much improved performance in the second of three presidential debates. EPA/Win McNamee

US presidential debate: Obama gets his game on

The president probably wished he could have taken the shot again after his listless debate performance two weeks ago. There are no do-overs in politics. But then, in the second debate in New York, he just…
The challenger and defender: the first US presidential debate has changed the game for Romney and Obama. The challenger and defender: the first US presidential debate has changed the game for Romney and Obama. AAP

Race to the White House: Dennis Altman, Nick Bisley

Welcome to part five of our Race to the White House podcast series. Each week we’ll be talking to Australia’s top US experts on the ins and outs of the 2012 US presidential campaign. This week, Romney…
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had the edge over President Barack Obama in Wednesday night’s presidential debate. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had the edge over President Barack Obama in Wednesday night’s presidential debate. EPA/Shawn Thew

Round 1 to the Republican: Romney comes out swinging

Verdicts on the first presidential debate of 2012 overwhelmingly favour Governor Mitt Romney. Romney articulated his message with a sense of clarity about the political ideas and principles he represents…
What can Mitt Romney learn from previous candidates that trailed but won? What can Mitt Romney learn from previous candidates that trailed but won? EPA/Michael Reynolds

What can Romney learn from past comebacks?

With Mitt Romney entering October as the decided underdog it seems fitting to revisit some past presidential election comebacks. And while these cases are entertaining in and of themselves, they also offer…
Mitt Romney, flanked by Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul during a Republican candidates' debate last year, needs a strong performance in this month’s debates against Barack Obama to save his campaign. Mitt Romney, flanked by Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul during a Republican candidates' debate last year, needs a strong performance in this month’s debates against Barack Obama to save his campaign. EPA/CJ Gunther

Presidential debates loom as Romney’s last best hope

The US presidential election is almost over before the best part – the presidential debates. With Barack Obama looking almost unbeatable at the beginning of October, Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s…
Former governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson is running for president as the Libertarian Party’s nominee, but are third parties relevant in US politics? Former governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson is running for president as the Libertarian Party’s nominee, but are third parties relevant in US politics? Flickr/Gage Skidmore

Why disappointment and dissent can’t break the two party system

On Election Day in 2012 many Americans will vote against a candidate they hate, not in favour of a candidate they like. This is often the case. During the 2004 contest between George W. Bush and John Kerry…
President Obama’s charm offensive in the Middle East has been overtaken by the Arab Spring and growing instability in the region. President Obama’s charm offensive in the Middle East has been overtaken by the Arab Spring and growing instability in the region. EPA/Khaled El Fiqi

Obama and Romney face off over Middle East policy

When Barack Obama and Mitt Romney commenced their presidential campaigns, Middle East policy was not a top issue. But the Middle East has a propensity to thrust itself on US politics. True to form, the…
It’s time to look closer at the value behind the work ethic. It’s time to look closer at the value behind the work ethic. Julian Smith / AAP

Hard yakka: what’s the work ethic really worth?

Accepting the Democratic nomination earlier this month, President Barack Obama said he was inspired by the spirit of “the auto worker who won the lottery after his plant almost closed, but kept coming…
Obama met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in November 2009 in what was seen as a further sign of a strong emerging relationship between the two countries. Obama met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in November 2009 in what was seen as a further sign of a strong emerging relationship between the two countries. EPA/Shawn Thew

India, the ‘New Asia’ and the American presidential elections

Any American presidential election reverberates around global policy corners but, for India, the 2012 contest carries unusual significance. With its economy slowing, national government under severe pressure…
Without serious, structural fiscal reforms — which require bipartisanship and compromise — the US economy could go into free fall. Without serious, structural fiscal reforms — which require bipartisanship and compromise — the US economy could go into free fall. Bungee jump image from www.shutterstock.com

Is the US set to jump off a fiscal cliff?

As we check our political calendars, many look to November 6 as the crucial date that will determine the future direction for US politics and the nation’s ailing economy. But in policy terms, it is January…
Can Mitt Romney form a bond with the American people? Can Mitt Romney form a bond with the American people? Erik S Lesser

The Romney calculation: better to be disappointed than damned

After the success of the Democratic National Convention, with its barnstorming speeches from former President Bill Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama, Mitt Romney’s performance at his convention can…
Barack Obama had a good convention, but it won’t win him the election. Barack Obama had a good convention, but it won’t win him the election. EPA/Shawn Thew

Will the Democratic convention bring Obama a poll bounce?

The Democratic National Convention went about as well as the party could hope. The question is, in this partisan political climate, will it be enough to move the polls? The common narrative throughout…
Barack Obama is regarded as one of the greatest political orators of the modern era. Barack Obama is regarded as one of the greatest political orators of the modern era. EPA

American election rhetoric: great 2008 speeches cast long 2012 shadows

With the Democratic National Convention taking place this week in Charlotte, North Carolina, and noted orator Barack Obama set to speak on Friday (Australian time), The Conversation looks at the art of…
Mitt Romney and wife Ann greet the Republican convention. Mitt Romney and wife Ann greet the Republican convention. EPA

Mitt Romney, the next President of the United States? Maybe

Today in Florida, Mitt Romney formally accepted the Republican nomination for President of the United States. In and of itself, this changes nothing. Since May we have known that Romney had the nomination…
President Obama’s intervention into the “legitimate rape” controversy may spell danger for the Republicans. President Obama’s intervention into the “legitimate rape” controversy may spell danger for the Republicans. EPA/Jim Lo Scalzo

Akin, Obama and how the ‘legitimate rape’ disaster could cost Romney the election

It’s not often a little-known candidate for the U.S. Senate changes the dynamics of a presidential race. But in an interview released on Sunday morning, Missouri Representative Todd Akin did just that…
Julian Assange addresses the media from the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Julian Assange addresses the media from the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London. EPA/Facundo Arrizabalaga

Strange bedfellows: Julian Assange and Ecuador

Julian Assange’s appearance on the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London to hold forth on his current situation, and President Obama, added a bizarre new chapter to the long-running Wikileaks saga…
Sheriff John Edwards addresses the Sikh community in Oak Creek in the wake of the shooting. Sheriff John Edwards addresses the Sikh community in Oak Creek in the wake of the shooting. AAP/Kamil Krzaczynski

Guns, Sikhs and Obama’s political inertia on domestic terror

Immediately after the Oak Creek massacre, many suspected the killings were a continuation of the post-9/11 wave of attacks on Sikhs who were mistaken for Muslims because of their turbans and beards. The…
President Obama outlines his tax policy at the White House on Monday. President Obama outlines his tax policy at the White House on Monday. EPA

It’s not the economy, stupid: Obama pivots to tax in attempt to wedge Romney

On Monday afternoon, President Obama delivered what sounded like a speech on tax policy. In reality, though, the speech dispensed more politics than policy - politics carefully crafted to secure Obama…
Libyan civilians in the wake of a NATO airstrike last year. Will the Libya operation be NATO’s swansong? Libyan civilians in the wake of a NATO airstrike last year. Will the Libya operation be NATO’s swansong? EPA/Mohamed Messara

After Chicago: what next for NATO?

Last year – for the first time in modern history – Asia outspent Europe on their militaries. The true significance of this milestone lies in how easily the Asian countries were able to achieve it. There…
President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet at the White House in early March, 2012. President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet at the White House in early March, 2012. EPA/Martin H Simon

On Iran, Obama shows he loves Israel a little too much

A key facet of America’s extended, depressing election campaigns is that every serious presidential candidate has to prove their fanatical, unswerving devotion to the Israeli government. As part of this…
Does the US suffer from its desire to go it alone in space? Does the US suffer from its desire to go it alone in space? NASA

NASA, we have a problem: why America is lost in space

In its newly released budget request to Congress, the Obama Administration is seeking to reduce NASA’s funding by US$59m to US$17.7 billion – a reduction of just 0.03%, not that you would know that from…
Americans may be a little confused about Australia, but they sure do like us. AAP/Greg Wood. Americans may be a little confused about Australia, but they sure do like us. AAP/Greg Wood.

Australia, we don’t know you, but we love you, say our American friends

Americans may not think about Australia much, but when they do, they try not to let facts get in the way. But why should we be surprised by that? With great passion comes great ignorance. And Americans…
A warm welcome for the President from Julia Gillard and the Governor General, but Australia should take care not to give too much away to the Americans. AAP/Stuart McEvoy. A warm welcome for the President from Julia Gillard and the Governor General, but Australia should take care not to give too much away to the Americans. AAP/Stuart McEvoy.

Special relationship? Why Gillard needs to talk tough with Obama about US military base

It’s third time lucky for President Obama. He’s cancelled his trip to Australia twice before, but now he has finally made it to Canberra. Julia Gillard has struck up a friendship with the US President…
Julia Gillard has enjoyed mixing with Barack Obama on the foreign policy stage. Julia Gillard has enjoyed mixing with Barack Obama on the foreign policy stage. AAP/AusPic Howard Moffat

Should the Prime Minister and foreign policy mix?

When President Obama begins his long-awaited visit to Australia today, he’ll have a keen tour guide in Julia Gillard. They’ve developed an apparently firm friendship in recent months. But should the Prime…
President Obama and French leader Nicolas Sarkozy were caught speaking of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in unflattering terms at the G20 summit. President Obama and French leader Nicolas Sarkozy were caught speaking of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in unflattering terms at the G20 summit. AAP/Stefan Rousseau

Careless whisper: what Obama and Sarkozy’s slip means for Israel

The recent Cannes G20 meeting was ostensibly about saving Europe from falling into economic oblivion. But a frank exchange between US President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, caught…
President Obama has proposed $US1.5 trillion worth of tax increases for the rich. President Obama has proposed $US1.5 trillion worth of tax increases for the rich. AAP

Evoking Keynes and Truman, Obama’s plan is good policy and smart politics

Sometimes good policy and good politics are the same thing. By tying together lessons learned from economist John Maynard Keynes and former president Harry Truman, Barack Obama is taking steps that may…
Change will again come to the White House. And it will come courtesy of another Texan. Change will again come to the White House. And it will come courtesy of another Texan. EPA/Alex Jones/pool

The next president of the United States will be Rick Perry

We now know the name of the next president of the United States: Rick Perry. The range of poor choices facing Republicans – from the bland Mitt Romney to the polarising Michele Bachman – has been transformed…
Has his compromise with Republicans over the debt ceiling ended Obama’s electoral hopes? Has his compromise with Republicans over the debt ceiling ended Obama’s electoral hopes? AAP

Is Obama doomed? The debt crisis and 2012

Despite the apparent disgust of many Americans and the contempt held by many outside observers, US politics is supposed to look this way – at least sometimes. The widely diagnosed dysfunction of the recent…
Will some US troops remain in Afghanistan to guarantee security or will they all be withdrawn? Will some US troops remain in Afghanistan to guarantee security or will they all be withdrawn? AAP

The Afghanistan Drawdown: the South Korea or Vietnam model?

On Wednesday, absent the flight suit, President Obama gave his own version of George W. Bush’s “mission accomplished” speech. His temporary escalation of 33,000 troops in Afghanistan had worked. A third…
President Obama is spending his post-bin Laden political capital in the Middle East. President Obama is spending his post-bin Laden political capital in the Middle East. AAP

Obama, Israel and the Middle East dilemma

President Barack Obama has made a number of speeches focusing on events in the Middle East in recent weeks. Obama used a landmark speech regarding the uprisings in the Arab world to call on Israel to change…
Obama has outlined American foreign policy in the Middle East. Obama has outlined American foreign policy in the Middle East. AAP

The Obama doctrine

President Barack Obama’s speech on the Middle East and North Africa yesterday is being considered a landmark event in US foreign policy. Made in the wake of the so-called Arab spring and the killing of…
The American government tends not to assassinate enemies. The American government tends not to assassinate enemies. AAP

Killing Osama: the exception that proves the rule

The western liberal’s capacity for self-flagellation is seemingly endless. There is no enemy that the liberal west did not create. There is no inhumanity that the west did not begin. There is no crime…
Targeted killing is assassination by another name. Targeted killing is assassination by another name. AAP

Why assassination seems to be the hardest word

Osama bin Laden is dead - assassinated a fortnight ago by bullets sprayed from the guns of special armed forces of the United States. During the wild celebrations that followed, the word “assassination…
President Obama may be forced by the courts to release images of bin Laden’s assasination. President Obama may be forced by the courts to release images of bin Laden’s assasination. AAP

Former US Justice official: we may see the bin Laden pictures after all

The author of this article, Daniel Metcalfe, is a former director of the US Department of Justice Office of Information and Privacy. He advised the US Government on the Abu Ghraib pictures. President Obama…
Obama’s on his own when it comes to the environment. Obama’s on his own when it comes to the environment. AAP

A Grand, Old Priority: how Obama’s climate change agenda was scuppered

As the US was brought to the brink of a government shutdown this weekend, one of the sticking points was Republican insistence that President Obama curtail the activities of the Environmental Protection…