Sections

Services

Information

US United States

Barack Obama

Analysis and Comment (175)

If Democrats win governorships in battleground states, their fortunes in the House of Representatives will improve considerably – in the long term. EPA/Michael Reynolds

Why the US midterms matter – and why Democrats see a silver lining

If the polls are correct, the headlines on November 5 following the US midterm elections will proclaim that Democrats have suffered a major defeat. The Democrats will likely lose the Senate. President…
US President Barack Obama announces the start of a campaign of allied airstrikes against Islamic State forces in Syria. EPA/Win McNamee

Air power won’t finish off Islamic State, so what comes next?

Having secured some sort of tacit agreement with Damascus, the coalition bombing campaign inside Syria proper has begun in earnest. The US, France and an ambiguous array of allies is unleashing the bleeding…
Prime Minister Tony Abbott, with Air Chief Marshal Mark Binski, announces Australia will send 600 military personnel to the Middle East. AAP

Q&A: How Australia has moved faster to fight Islamic State

How much has Australia committed to fighting Islamic State? Australia has pledged 600 military personnel and up to eight Super Hornets, which is expected to cost up to $500 million per year. There has…
Barack Obama’s speech to announce a strategy to destroy Islamic State had a familiar ring to it because it followed the script of the past half-century. EPA/Saul Loeb/pool

My fellow Americans: the familiar sound of American belligerence

A few years back, an honours student in linguistics at Macquarie University did a small study of American presidential oratory. The student chose four speeches, in which four different American presidents…
US President Barack Obama outlines his new four-point strategy to defeat Islamic State in a televised address from the White House. EPA/SAUL LOEB / POOL

Obama’s new strategy still misses Islamic State’s weakest link

US President Barack Obama has announced a more aggressive strategy against Islamic State, including air strikes against its fighters “wherever they are”, even inside Syria – which he had previously ruled…
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and US Secretary of State John Kerry after the annual Australia-US security talks in Sydney last month. AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

Ghosts of 2003: US, Australia and allies face tough choices in Iraq

Australia has announced that it will take its place among the US-led coalition of states in military operations against Islamic State in Iraq. Responding to a request from the US President, Australia has…
Barack Obama is reluctant to jump in with both feet with a major military intervention in Iraq and Syria. EPA/Valda Kalnina

Why ‘fools rush in’ is Obama’s watchword in Iraq and Syria

US president Barack Obama has yet to work out exactly what America’s strategy is in confronting Islamic State (IS), and has been foolish enough to say so in public. Cue the foreseeable torrent of point-scoring…
In telegraphing toughness on foreign policy issues, Hillary Clinton hopes to send the message that the US will act like a great power when she’s president. EPA/Michael Reynolds

Clinton fires first shot in battle to show she’ll be different as president

Few people expected the opening shots of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign to be fired across the bow of the Obama administration. Yet in a recent interview, the former secretary of state took aim…
Excessive use of force? EPA/David Carson

Michael Brown, Ferguson and the nature of unrest

The death of Michael Brown is heartbreaking, and Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family and his community at this very difficult time … I know the events of the past few days have prompted…
Political crisis in Iraq: “Al-Maliki is our choice” insist supporters of the ousted PM. EPA/Ali Abbas

Iraq needs a new, more inclusive leader to fight the Islamic State

One of the defining moments in the growth of the Islamic State (IS) was when its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, announced in a mosque in Mosul at the end of June that an Islamic Caliphate was being established…
Five-year-old Dahlia Zabrano-Tercero at a July vigil for young Central American migrants in California. David Maung/EPA

Life for child migrants is even harder beyond the US border

Between 2003 and 2011, 8,000 to 40,000 unaccompanied migrant children from Central America were stopped every year on the southern border of the US. When this number boomed to more than 57,000 during the…
Iraq is rapidly spiralling into a humanitarian catastrophe, with the persecuted Yazidi religious minority facing genocide. EPA/Mohammed Jalil

Iraq’s Yazidis are on the brink of genocide – who will save them?

US president Barack Obama has confirmed that the US military made targeted airstrikes and carried out a humanitarian operation in Iraq, marking the deepest US engagement in the country since US troops…
America has never apologised for its own passenger plane shooting incident. EPA

History shows US response to MH17 will be all talk, no action

President Barack Obama has declared the apparent shooting down of a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane over Ukraine is a “terrible tragedy” and warned that “the world is watching”. He has offered full assistance…
US president Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Medicare Bill into law in 1965, one of a suite of policies aimed at ending poverty in America. LBJ Library

How crusade to end ‘age of entitlement’ replaced ‘war on poverty’

2014 marks the 50th anniversary of president Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty” in the United States. Whatever people might think of Johnson’s actions in southeast Asia, it’s worth pausing to remember his…
The Abbott government is at risk of sullying its international reputation if it fails to acknowledge the seriousness of climate change as a global issue. AAP/Yuli Seperi

Missteps on climate change could cost Australian diplomacy dearly

Tony Abbott will arrive in the US this week for his first face-to-face meeting with US president Barack Obama in Washington since becoming prime minister. It comes at an important time: Australia is to…
Protect and defend: President Obama takes the pledge at West Point’s graduation ceremony. EPA/Peter Foley

From D-Day to today: US foreign policy is at a turning point

As President Obama looks across the beaches of Normandy for the ceremony commemorating the D-Day landings, he could be forgiven for feeling ambivalent. Certainly, these are sites of great tragedy and a…
Drone strikes may be slowing in Pakistan, but the damage has already been done. EPA/Nadeem Khawer

New data shows drones killed hundreds of Pakistani civilians

The US’s program of drone strikes in Pakistan has, according to recent reports, slowed down considerably. But while this will encourage various observers, and while the Obama administration earned some…
Who will deliver justice to the civilian victims of the Syrian conflict if not a properly constituted international court? EPA

US shift on ICC and Syria gives hope but sceptics right to be wary

The Obama administration has decided to back a push to have the International Criminal Court (ICC) open a formal, United Nations-sanctioned investigation into potential Syrian war crimes, according to…
The array of handmade signs at the Sydney rally reveals the disparate nature of March in March participants' concerns. AAP/NEWZULU/Peter Boyle

March in March: the old ways of doing politics are under challenge

Political participation in Australia will soon be about hope – and the transformation of citizenship engagement in this country. Here is why. Traditionally, Australian political participation was centred…
Empty-headed? Not even close. Gage Skidmore

Michele Bachmann defies her caricature at the Oxford Union

On March 14, in an address to the Oxford Union supposedly about “innovation”, Republican Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann talked about her 2012 presidential run, and went so far as to hint she might consider…
The US is desperate to revitalise its Asia-Pacific hegemony, trying to weave together a web of military and political alliances and relationships. EPA/Jeon Heon-Kyun

Asia-Pacific focus will revitalise US hegemony, but at what price?

When introducing the Pentagon’s US$496 billion budget last week – $31 billion below what President Barack Obama requested – US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said: We are repositioning to focus on the strategic…
The Obama administration’s revised drone warfare policy is currently being put to the legal and ethical test. World Can't Wait

Killing Americans abroad: has Obama’s policy really changed?

When is a government entitled to kill its own citizens? That’s the question at the centre of recent revelations that the Obama administration might conduct a strike against an American suspected of plotting…
Simply standing in front of a class and telling children how we are used to doing things ‘just won’t work’, according to leading American education expert Linda Darling-Hammond. AAP/Dan Peled

In Conversation: Maxine McKew and Linda Darling-Hammond

Watch the video of Maxine McKew interviewing Stanford professor Linda Darling-Hammond below. Australian schoolkids are scoring higher than their US counterparts in maths, science and literacy, but a visiting…
US president Barack Obama used his State of the Union address to motivate his party’s base, but will it work ahead of the mid-terms in November? EPA/Larry Downing

State of the Union: it’s what you didn’t hear that really matters

Barack Obama may have delivered the annual State of the Union speech before Congress, but his real audience was the Democratic base that his administration needs to mobilise before this November’s midterm…
Obama promises to address inequality through his executive powers if the US Congress won’t. EPA/Larry Downing

Obama’s year of action on inequality couldn’t come soon enough

US President Barack Obama is preparing to move on inequality after several long years of frustrated reform, if we are to believe his State of the Union address. This year, according to Obama, is a “year…
Has US president Barack Obama seized on the right issue at the right time by targeting income inequality in his State of the Union address? EPA/Larry Downing

State of the Union: Obama’s timely answer to Americans

Just over half a century ago, after his presidency began with the Bay of Pigs fiasco in Cuba, John F. Kennedy sought out advice from his recently defeated rival, Richard Nixon. The two men had a special…
US president Barack Obama is set to address Congress to map out his agenda for the year. What’s he likely to say? EPA/Pete Marovich

State of the Union: can Obama emerge from the shadow of 2013?

On Tuesday evening (Washington time), US president Barack Obama will deliver his sixth State of the Union address. It comes at an important moment in his presidency. He has little to show for the first…
‘Corporations are people’ – and so, apparently, is Mitt Romney. Gage Skidmore

With Mitt, Netflix shows human side of a hamstrung candidate

Mitt, a newly released documentary about former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, provides an up-close look at the exhausting presidential election process in the U.S. This is no House of Cards when…
Whatever Barack Obama says, the fact is the US president reined in spying powers in response to public knowledge gained from leaks about NSA activities. EPA/Shawn Thew

Obama’s concession on spying makes implicit case for leaks

All eyes were on US president Barack Obama when he announced his plan to reform the National Security Agency (NSA) and its ability to collect phone metadata. Three main changes will be pursued: the government…
‘We will never see the likes of Nelson Mandela again.’ AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Mandela: in South Africa, death and politics are bedfellows

South Africa – and the world – has said its formal goodbye to Nelson Mandela. It was a celebration of a life gloriously lived, an event that united us as a global family. Earlier this year, I reflected…
Flying high: John Kerry and Baroness Ashton after signing the deal. Carolyn Kaster/AP/Press Association Images

Obama must face down hawks and Israel over Iran deal

The nuclear deal reached between the United States and Iran represents both a breakthrough and a risk for Barack Obama. A breakthrough because it stalls Iran’s progress towards nuclear weapons capability…
Should Tony Abbott follow Barack Obama’s example and apologise personally to Indonesia leaders over the spying scandal, as Obama did to Angela Merkel? EPA/Andrew Harrer

Spying scandal: Obama, Abbott and why sorry is the hardest word to say

The contrast between Australian prime minister Tony Abbott’s self-defeating response to spying allegations with Indonesia and US president Barack Obama’s reaction to smooth its similar row with Germany…
A year after Hurricane Sandy, President Obama has taken serious steps toward climate adaptation. Australia is also subject to extreme weather, but we’re underprepared. Charlie Walker

Obama prepares US for climate change impacts – what is Australia waiting for?

The political controversy which erupted recently about the influence of climate change on the NSW bushfires was a distraction. First, the Climate Council has confirmed climate change is influencing the…
Welcoming the world for centuries (and causing trouble for almost as long). aherrero

American dream retains appeal despite tarnished reputation

The reputation of the American political system both at home and abroad has taken a battering of late. A recent poll showed the overall approval rating for Congress at just 11%, falling from what were…
NSA director Keith Alexander has been forced to defend his agency’s operations after a series of revelations, exposing mass data gathering and surveillance programs on US citizens and world leaders. EPA/Shawn Thew

Political wheel may be turning on the NSA’s surveillance programs

It is now clear that the US government’s National Security Agency (NSA) has undertaken an unprecedented surveillance program. NSA’s aim is to monitor all communications of every American, and this is no…
Waning influence: is the US on the decline as a world power? Pete Souza, The White House

Obama’s soft power a hard sell after NSA revelations

For presidents, like sports team managers, the tough weeks tend to outnumber the jubilant. But even by the standards of an unforgiving job, Barack Obama could be forgiven for feeling unusually buffeted…
‘Why don’t you borrow my cell, Angela, it’s secure…’ Cyrus Farivar

Merkelphone scandal shocks Europe but spies are unmoved

Revelations about the extent of the American National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) global communications surveillance have raised considerable media and political attention. The fact that the NSA not only…
Did US president Barack Obama and his Democratic Party emerge as victors from the now-concluded government shutdown and debt ceiling crisis? EPA/Martin H. Simon

Where to from here? The post-shutdown state of US politics

The confrontation - and the ultimate resolution - over the debt ceiling and the government shutdown has, to date, been the defining moment of US president Barack Obama’s second term. It offers an important…
What negotiating tactics did Republican Speaker John Boehner employ in trying to outflank the Democrats in the standoff over the US government shutdown and debt ceiling? EPA/Michael Reynolds

Coming out on top: negotiation theory and the US government shutdown

The end of the two week-long US government shutdown appears imminent, and a temporary lift to the American debt ceiling is in place. But what do we know about the various theories of negotiation that underpinned…
Phone a friend: Barack Obama talking with Hassan Rouhani recently. White House

Trust crucial in high-stakes nuclear talks with Iran

Talks begin in Geneva on Tuesday to discuss with Iran the thorny issue of its nuclear program, an area that has previously proved to be a stumbling block in normalising relations between the Islamic Republic…
While the US government remains shut down, the long game for Republicans like Speaker John Boehner remains the debt ceiling crisis. EPA/Jim Lo Scalzo

Raise the roof: the politics of the US debt ceiling crisis

The US government shutdown is in its second week, but attention in the country has shifted elsewhere: to the looming debt ceiling crisis. On October 17, the US runs out of money to pay its bills. Both…
US president Barack Obama has been quick to blame the Republican Party for the state of government shutdown. EPA/Jim Lo Scalzo

US government shutdown: worse may yet be to come

At midnight, the United States government was shut down after Congress could not agree to a deal on changes to president Barack Obama’s signature health-care legislation, Obamacare. Around 800,000 non-essential…
Yolo. EPA/Michael Reynolds

Boehner risks his reputation in Obamacare shutdown

Republican Speaker John Boehner faced a choice between two unappetising gambles on Monday night. One option was to cut a deal with Democrats to continue federal government spending at present levels, and…
Is Iran’s new president Hassan Rouhani proposing a new way forward in thawing the relations between his country and the United States? EPA/Brendan McDermid

Iran-US relations: is this Rouhani’s ‘grand bargain’?

As the presidents of Iran and the United States converged on the United Nations headquarters in New York this week, optimism seemed to be in the air. Washington and Tehran have eyed each other icily ever…
A little less conversation, a little more action please. Stefan Rousseau/PA

UN General Assembly another venue for Obama’s inaction

And so the annual autumn ritual of American masochism begins again in New York. Like inviting your least likeable in-laws to detail your worst features to your nearest and dearest after an agreeable Christmas…
Dilma day. redebrasilatual

Multipolar moment brings chance of golden age for UN

The annual opening of the United Nations General Assembly always draws distinguished speakers, but their speeches rarely have much international impact. General Assembly speeches are heavy on rhetoric…
US president Barack Obama has been criticised recently for not taking a hardline enough approach on military action in Syria. EPA/Michael Reynolds

In praise of prevarication: Barack Obama’s Syria strategy

Being the most powerful man in the world isn’t what it used to be. US president Barack Obama is currently being ridiculed for his apparent inability to decide how to handle the conflict in Syria. American…
US president Barack Obama addressed a doubting nation and Congress last night. EPA/Michael Reynolds

Obama’s Syria strategy: the war he doesn’t want

On Tuesday night Washington time, US president Barack Obama made a public plea to Congress to authorise a military action in Syria that he probably doesn’t want. The tell-tale sign Obama doesn’t actually…
A US inquiry is questioning Lynn Tilton and her firm Patriarch Partners over its relationship with an ex-Army official, Norbert E Vergez. Wikimedia Commons

Private equity’s very public connections

US reports have recently circulated of a government probe into the hiring of former Colonel Norbert Vergez by the private equity firm Patriarch Partners, headed by billionaire “turnaround queen” and would-be…
Kevin Rudd follows a long line of male politicians exercising as part of their pitch to voters. What does this tell us about masculinity, the media and politics? AAP/Lyndon Mechielsen

We can work it out: television and the pumped-up politics of the election

Nothing summarised a bad week - indeed, a bad election campaign - for prime minister Kevin Rudd better than Tuesday’s Brisbane workout. A camera-friendly “power walk” was interrupted by insults from larrikin…
Hail to the chief: Obama is a tonic for the troops. Wikimedia Commons

Barack Obama’s constitutional contortions over Syria

Tensions in the Middle East rose considerably this morning when Russian radar detected the launch of two rockets in the eastern Mediterranean, triggering alerts across the region. After initially claiming…
Allegations of chemical weapon use by the Assad regime is leading to calls for Western intervention. EPA/STR

Obama’s credibility on the line as US weighs up a Syria response

Those who thought US president Barack Obama was chastened by his failure to subdue the Taliban in Afghanistan and his decision to “lead from behind” in Libya expected the White House to be less overtly…
The Obamas have adopted a second dog, Sunny, to go with Bo. What do the pets presidents have say about them? The White House

Politics on four legs: presidents and their pets

A dog saved Richard Nixon’s political career. In September 1952, Republican presidential nominee Dwight Eisenhower was furious with Nixon, his running mate in the coming presidential election. Nixon, who…
Tony Abbott may have subconsciously revived the gender debate in Australian politics when he asked if Kevin Rudd ever ‘shuts up’ in last night’s debate. AAP/Alan Porritt

Don’t these guys ever shut up? How Tony Abbott reignited the gender debate without realising it

Opposition leader Tony Abbott seems to have done the job. Some judges reckon the Oxford boxing blue endured nothing worse than a split decision points loss. Others credit him with delivering a “knockout…
Frosty: Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin at the G8 summit this year. Wikimedia Commons

Now is not the time to play at Cold War politics with Putin

Barack Obama has so far held firm against a growing chorus demanding that the US should boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi after Russia’s introduction of discriminatory laws banning gay “propaganda…
Barack Obama’s comments that murdered teen Trayvon Martin ‘could have been me’ continue a long trend of Obama using ‘intimate politics’. EPA/Shawn Thew

Obama, Cameron and Trayvon Martin: ‘Boyz n the Hood’?

Barack Obama’s “Trayvon Martin could have been me” speech has been heralded as a political landmark. American commentators have lauded its seamless fusion of different voices: “a president, an African-American…
All heat and light: we need action on climate not rhetoric and finger-pointing. Owen Humphreys/PA

China can teach the West about tackling climate change

China has become a popular target of environmental ire, drawing criticism for its soaring carbon emissions and perceived intransigence during climate negotiations. Nonetheless, an easy target isn’t always…
The acquittal of George Zimmerman, accused of the murder of black teenager Trayvon Martin, suggests there still exists deep-seated racial injustices in the US. EPA/Joe Burbank

The accumulated injustices of the Trayvon Martin case

The criminal justice system has always been at the sharp end of race relations in the United States. Not only have African Americans been treated more harshly than whites as suspects and offenders, they…
Let them come to Berlin: the crowds from 2009 stayed away in 2013. Wikimedia Commons

Communication failure: ‘Brand Obama’ tired and tarnished

An illustrious predecessor of Barack Obama once wrote: “I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” But Thomas Jefferson didn’t have to live with today’s 24-hour…
Yes, it’s getting hotter. Now President Obama is taking action. EPA/Dennis Brack

Obama’s climate change plan: Congress not required

President Obama’s speech at Georgetown University yesterday marks the most significant development in US climate change action so far. The “President’s Climate Action Plan”, a 21-page document, sets out…
There is hope that Xi Jinping could help usher in a new era of cyber-collaboration. PA

Cyber-security a key issue for US-China presidential summit

US President Barack Obama hopes to lay the foundations for a long-term relationship when he meets Xi Jinping, China’s new president, for a two-day summit in Southern California on Friday. Obama has a difficult…
Non-governmental organisations have joined forces to stop the increasing use of drones in warfare - do governments need to develop guidelines for their use? EPA/Jim Lo Scalzo

The debate over military technology: in defence of drones

The increasing use of drones, especially by the United States against the Taliban in Pakistan, has prompted wide anti-drone activism. Human Rights Watch has called for a “pre-emptive and comprehensive…
Inmates at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Does the prison do the US more harm than good? EPA/Scott Applewhite

Can Obama finally shut the door on the Guantanamo embarrassment?

US president Barack Obama has renewed his promise to close the controversial US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. The prison camp is currently the scene of a hunger strike by numerous inmates, some…
Partisan gridlock in US politics has led to the recent failure of Barack Obama’s gun reform agenda, which did not get through Congress last week despite public support. EPA/Spencer Platt

Dysfunction by design: why American politics is in gridlock

For all its international power, the United States government seems increasingly powerless to make laws for the benefit of its own people. The recent failure to implement popular gun control measures in…
Barack Obama’s recent budget pursues the goals of full employment and fiscal balance, objectives that were heavily emphasised under Bill Clinton’s leadership. AAP

Party like it’s 1999: Obama’s budget borrows from Clinton’s playbook

Is it 2013 or 1999? Barack Obama’s evolution into a more successful Bill Clinton may be complete with the issuance of his recent budget. On the one hand, Obama’s budget cuts entitlement spending by adopting…
Despite all the talk of a new liberal America in the wake of Obama’s re-election, the economic debate has from both sides is staunchly conservative. AAP

US budget debate signals the death of optimistic liberalism

The Republican and Democratic budgets released last week share little common ground. But both illustrate the same point: for all the talk of a new liberal America in the wake of Barack Obama’s re-election…
Despite regulatory uncertainty, business in the US and Australia is responding to climate change. Flickr/KateAusburn

Global business responses to climate change: Where to now?

Despite the widespread scientific consensus regarding anthropogenic climate change, ideological rhetoric dominates the global political discourse. This is preventing the development of clear policy frameworks…
David Cameron’s 2006 campaign to “vote blue, go green” was discarded under a double dip recession - but could he now pick up on Obama’s State of the Union lead?

Will the UK pick up on Obama’s lead in climate policy?

In Wednesday’s state of the union address, US President Barack Obama threw down the gauntlet to Congress on climate change action - and in the process, cemented the re-prioritisation of the issue which…
Even if Congress is opposed, President Obama has made it clear he means to act on climate change. EPA/JIM LO SCALZO

State of the Union: climate change action is a domestic concern

In his Inauguration address on 21 January, Obama placed tackling climate change high on the agenda for his second term. His definitive statement that “we will respond to the threat of climate change” signalled…
Obama outlined an ambitious economic agenda to foster growth and rebuild America’s middle class. AAP

State of the Union: Obama lays out his economic agenda

President Obama left little doubt during his State of the Union address as to what his top priority will be in the years ahead. “A growing economy that creates good, middle-class jobs”, the President declared…
While Obama may have given little up-front attention to climate change, he’s assembled a top-notch team behind the scenes. EPA/Mark Wilson

Inauguration speech a real source of climate change hope

President Obama’s inauguration speech this week presented a source of real hope for all those concerned about global climate change. With eight sentences, he devoted more of his address to this “wicked…
Obama wove the story of gay rights into the language of America’s founding fathers during his inauguration speech. EPA/Shawn Thew

Obama inauguration speech: a historic moment for gay and lesbian equality

Much has been made of the fact President Obama became the first president to mention the word gay in an inaugural address. But the significance lies not in what he said but how he said it. In declaring…
President Obama pardons a turkey named Liberty in 2001 in a traditional presidential ceremony held every year. EPA/Michael Reynolds

Talking turkey: President Obama and his paltry pardons

The Myanmar government hailed Barack Obama’s recent trip to Burma, the first US president to visit the former military regime, by pardoning 56 prisoners. On his return to the US, President Obama will pardon…
The American people have spoken in favour of climate change by re-electing Barack Obama to a second presidential term. Flickr/350.org

Obama’s second term challenges must include tackling climate change

In his acceptance speech of November 6, Barack Obama at long last reaffirmed the need to address global warming. But unfortunately he also reaffirmed the spurious goal of US oil independence, which can…
US President Barack Obama meets with his soon to be Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping earlier this year. EPA/Martin H. Simon

Heeding the echoes of history as global leadership shifts

CHINA IN TRANSITION: As China goes through its secretive but widely anticipated leadership transition, the rest of the world is watching. This week, The Conversation takes an in depth look at the National…
Iranian students demonstrate in Tehran to mark the 33rd anniversary of US Embassy takeover. EPA/Abedin Taherkenareh

Obama’s legacy could lie in the Middle East, but will he go for it?

The re-election of Barack Obama to a second term will have significant ramifications for an America struggling with economic and social difficulties. But will it have the same impact on residents of the…
Now that Barack Obama has been re-elected for a second term, what are the implications for Australia? EPA/Shawn Thew

Australia and Obama’s return

All the world has a stake America’s presidential election. Barack Obama has seen off a surprisingly strong showing from Republican candidate Mitt Romney and now has four final years in the executive office…
President Barack Obama, pictured here with Chinese President Hu Jintao, will continue to ‘pivot’ to Asia. EPA/Alex Wong

Foreign affairs: what can we expect from Obama’s second term?

Sitting in New York, in the aftermath of an American election dominated by a domestic agenda, it is easy to lose sight of both the pressing external problems that the US continues to face, and the impact…
President Obama cut through the campaign spin in delivering his acceptance speech in Chicago: EPA/Tannen Maury

‘That’s what politics can be’ – US winners and losers speak

One of the standout characteristics of the 2012 campaign was the candidates’ conspiracy of tedium. Barack Obama’s research had shown him that voters are deeply suspicious of his rhetorical brilliance (even…
Newly re-elected President Barack Obama reaped the benefits of a broad demographic appeal, and an increasingly irrelevant opposition. EPA/Shawn Thew

Obama forges winning coalition as GOP faces electoral irrelevance

After an expensive, unenlightening, and interminable campaign, Barack Obama overcame a weak economy, high unemployment, and a lacklustre performance in his first debate with Mitt Romney, and was re-elected…
Mitt Romney had everything in his favour heading into the election, but still managed to lose. EPA/Matt Campbell

The revenge of the 47%

This was Mitt Romney’s last best chance to be president of the United States of America. Romney had a relatively easy primary contest. All the other Republican candidates shot themselves in the foot by…
The next four years in office for Barack Obama (and VP Joe Biden) will define his presidency and historical standing. EPA/Shawn Thew

Forward for four more years: how Obama won his second term

Barack Obama’s re-election won’t generate the same exuberance as 2008. The lofty rhetoric of “Hope” and “Change” has been replaced by the much more sombre message of “Forward”. And while four years ago…
America has spoken: Barack Obama has won a second term as president. EPA/Steve Pope

Obama wins on the economy and the auto bailout

Barack Obama has won a second term as President of the United States. For months we were told this would be a close election. The received wisdom was a spluttering economy would play badly for the incumbent…
Face off: finally Americans will go to the polls to decide between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney for president. EPA/Jim Lo Scalzo

The ‘empty chair’ election: those who turn up will decide

While haranguing an empty chair at the Republican National Convention, Clint Eastwood stumbled upon the central metaphor of the 2012 election. The election has been, on the whole, about people who were…
Slogans such as “Real Change On Day One” have featured heavily during Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. EPA/Shawn Thew

Mitt Romney’s ill-fated last stand

In these last days of the United States presidential election, the images from the campaign trail document the confusion of the Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan campaign. The unclear Republican message is no match…
Streets are covered by debris caused by Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey. How will it affect the presidential race? EPA/Michael Reynolds

Race to the White House: Tim Lynch, Nick Bisley

Welcome to part nine 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, we ask…
Volunteers work the phones to “get out the vote” for the Romney/Ryan campaign in Virginia. EPA/Shawn Thew

How ‘getting out the vote’ might decide the US election

Hurricane Sandy will leave more than physical destruction in its wake. Arriving just days before the US presidential election, the storm could have a political fallout as well. Sandy has affected the key…
Mitt Romney outside 10 Downing Street during his gaffe-plagued trip to Europe earlier this year. EPA/Neil Munns

A Romney presidency: the implications for Europe

There is less than a week to go in the US presidential race, and the candidates are coming agonisingly close in various battleground states. Imagining Mitt Romney in the White House might turn a few Democrat…
Hopes and anxieties: the US' approach to China’s economy is often tempered by its foreign policy outlook. AAP

The US must walk the tightrope of ambiguity on China policy

When I taught foreign policy in the United States, my students would often answer one question incorrectly, albeit in a way that speaks to a larger truth about US foreign policy. In lecturing on President…
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…
Mitt Romney campaigns in the crucial swing state of Ohio, one of a number of states which will decide the presidency. EPA/Shawn Thew

A guide to the must-win states for Obama and Romney

With eight days until the US presidential election, Mitt Romney seems to have a very slight edge in the national polls. However, every respectable poll aggregator, along with all the betting and futures…
“I Voted”: but in many American states, the winner-takes-all Electoral College system renders some votes wasted. EPA/Erik S. Lesser

Electoral College system gears up again amidst rumblings of reform

Every four years, bemused Australians endeavour to come to terms with the Electoral College voting system for the President of the United States. While Americans vote directly for most political officeholders…
President Barack Obama would be well advised to catch some sleep on the plane during his whirlwind tour. EPA/Michael Reyonds

Obama’s all-nighter: fast, furious and foolish

Politicians of all persuasions often claim they need little sleep to lead their nations. Thatcher, Hawke, Abbott, Rudd, Berlusconi and Clinton are all examples of this “on the job 24 hours per day” club…
President Barack Obama casts his vote in Chicago. EPA/Brian Cassella

Race to the White House: Joe Siracusa, David Malet

Welcome to part eight 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. And as election day…
President Obama’s sporting prowess has helped his popularity among the wider American electorate. EPA/Kevin Dietsch

Presidential politics: the true US national pastime

For many Americans, it seems, politics is the ultimate sport, the true national pastime. Like athletes, political candidates are written about and widely seen as heated rivals – for popularity, power…
Barack Obama and Mitt Romney finally discussed the war in Afghanistan during the third debate on US foreign affairs. EPA/Michael Reynolds

The third debate and the nagging Afghan-Pakistan question

For a war that has gone on for more than a decade, cost the American taxpayer some US$500 billion, claimed the lives of more than two thousand GIs and inflicted many more thousands of wounded, the conflict…
Mitt Romney and Barack Obama face off in the third and final debate on foreign policy. EPA/Jim Lo Scalzo

Round three to Obama – now it’s a race to November 6

In the heavyweight clash of the presidential candidates, round three went to President Barack Obama on points – not by knockout. This means the incumbent won two out of the three match-ups. Interestingly…
Hands up who wants to go to a private school? Barack Obama visits an elementary school in Silver Springs, Maryland. EPA/Chip Somodevilla

US elections: do school vouchers work?

Most Americans agree that public education in their country is broken. The infrastructure of thousands of schools is decaying, scores on standardised tests are stagnant, and roughly 1.2 million students…
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…
Republican candidate Mitt Romney has promised a tougher stance on China, but his policy responses have left a lot to be desired. EPA/Bryan Bedder

Mitt Romney’s China policy could be yet another flip-flop

With less than a month to go in the presidential campaign, the next two debates provide President Barack Obama with a chance to be more assertive against Republican candidate Mitt Romney following his…
President Obama is mobbed like a rockstar wherever he goes, but how well do his public statements connect with the electorate? EPA/Michael Nelson

The art of the campaign gaffe: what we learn when candidates stuff up

Speaking to a room full of wealthy donors at a private fundraising event in May, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said 47% of American voters believed they were “victims” and “entitled” to…
Can Paul Ryan match Mitt Romney’s achievement and score a win in the debate against his Democratic opponent? EPA/Shawn Thew

US vice presidential debate: Ryan and Biden square off

A vice president is usually brought in to complement the president’s vision and policies. However, this year, it was the Republican presidential candidates who had to tailor their own platforms to the…
The administration of Barack Obama - seated here with South African President Jacob Zuma - has been criticised for not focusing more foreign policy attention on Africa. EPA/Olivier Douliery

Africa and the US presidential campaign

This year’s US presidential election has been notable for the lack of focus on foreign policy issues by either candidate. Certainly Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate, has attempted to gain traction…
Will Mitt Romney’s performance in the first debate boost his previously flagging campagin? EPA/Rick Wilking

Romney’s return: can one debate change the campaign?

Mitt Romney’s victory in the first presidential debate has given his campaign a much-needed lift with four weeks remaining until the election. But can the strength of Romney’s debate performance really…
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan campaigning in the battleground state of Ohio last month, one of the states the Republicans need to fall their way in November. EPA/Shawn Thew

US elections: battleground states

It is about five weeks before the election and, overall, President Obama seems to hold a small but steady margin over Mitt Romney. However, predictions regarding the popular vote are not as important as…
Misinformation spreads rapidly and sticks tenaciously. Moon_son/Flickr

Where does misinformation come from, and what does it do?

Obama is a Muslim, vaccinations cause autism, asylum seekers are breaking the law, GM foods cause cancer. These are all pieces of unsubstantiated misinformation that are commonly encountered on TV, talk-back…
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…
Do lawn signs like these have any effect on prospective voters? Flickr/Animantis

My yard, my candidate: the social psychology of lawn signs

As the November elections draw nearer, front yards across America are sprouting campaigns signs broadcasting their chosen political candidates. These lawn signs have been a traditional part of politics…
It’s been a tough week for Mitt Romney. Can he turn it around? EPA/Brian Blanco

Race to the White House: Tim Verhoeven, Joe Siracusa

Welcome to part three of our Race to the White House pod cast 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, Tim Verhoeven…
Mitt Romney’s 47% comments portray a man out of touch with most American lives. EPA/CJ Gunter

Mitt’s 47% gaffe: the Romney shambles rolls on

At a certain point, Mitt Romney will have to pony up for the monocle and top hat if he wants to heighten his similarities to Rich Uncle Moneybags. Rhetorically, he’s topped out. Romney filled his gaffe…
Burdened by expectation: Barack Obama prepares to leave the White House aboard Marine One last weekend. EPA/Michael Reynolds

Obama or Romney? The choice of the 1%

On November 6, US voters will make a choice between two very different candidates with very different visions, policies and approaches. Well, that is the official version, at least. The reality is rather…
Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s speech to his party’s convention last month attracted heavy scrutiny from political ‘fact-checkers’. EPA/Justin Lane

The lost cause of American political fact-checkers

Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts. – Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Political fact checkers seem to perform a vital public service for American democracy. Websites such as FactCheck.org…
Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton arrive at a press conference for the death of the US Ambassador to Libya. AAP/Michael Reynolds

Race to the White House: Dennis Altman, David Malet

Welcome to part two 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, Dennis Altman…
With the rise of “SuperPACs”, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has a fundraising advantage over President Barack Obama. EPA/CJ Gunther

Explainer: what is a Super PAC?

David Weisbrot of the University of Sydney explains where the money comes from with the rise of Super PACs in the US presidential elections, in collaboration with SBS Online.
Barack Obama is running for his second and final term as US President - but what do Australian experts make of his presidency so far and the election to come? EPA/Jason Reed

US presidential elections: the view from Australia

Ahead of the US presidential election in November, five prominent Australian thinkers give us their view on what they would like to come out of the contest. Joshua Gans, Professor of Strategic Management…
US President Barack Obama with Prime Minister Julia Gillard on his first trip to Australia in November last year. AAP/Alan Porritt

Explainer: foreign relations and the US elections

Brendan O'Connor from the University of Sydney discusses the foreign policy implications for Australia, Iran and China ahead of the US presidential elections, produced in collaboration with SBS Online…
Locked out: many Americans may find it harder to cast their vote in the upcoming presidential elections in November. EPA/Jay Laprete

The right to vote the right way – how voter ID laws hurt the poor

With Mitt Romney getting only a small bounce from the Republican National Convention, the polls are currently showing a virtual dead heat between Romney and President Barack Obama just eight weeks from…
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 needs to impress undecided and unlikely voters at this week’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. EPA/Tannen Maury

In Charlotte, preaching to the choir may be wise for Obama

“You know there is something wrong with the kind of job he has done as president when the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him.” It was the best line of Romney’s convention speech and highlights…
President Obama addresses the American Latino Heritage Forum in Washington last year. EPA/Olivier Douliery

Explainer: the Latino vote in the US

In the first of The Conversation’s video explainer series - produced in collaboration with SBS Online - Dr David Smith from the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney discusses the importance…
Who will occupy the White House next? Our experts give their insight. Matt Wade Photography

Race to the White House: Tim Lynch, Nick Sharman

Welcome to the first of our weekly podcasts dissecting US politics in the run-up to the presidential election. Each week we’ll be talking to Australia’s top US experts on the ins and outs of the Romney…
Coronations or conventions? Barack Obama and Joe Biden salute the masses at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado. EPA/Matthew Cavanaugh

As the American party conventions begin, don’t write off their relevance

Delegates and media are gathering this week in Tampa, Florida, for the Republican National Convention. With the threat of Hurricane Isaac forcing a one-day delay to the start of the convention, political…
Comments from male politicians such as George Galloway have revealed cultural assumptions about rape that originate from some powerful myths about this sex crime.

Why ‘legitimate’ rape and other myths are alive and dangerous

When US Republican Todd Akin declared earlier this week that it is impossible or “really rare” for a woman to become pregnant as a result of a “legitimate rape” because “the female body has ways to try…
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…
An article in the New Statesman reports that Taliban have signalled their willingness to negotiate an end to the conflict in Afghanistan.

Is Afghanistan the unwinnable war? The Taliban seems to think so

The current situation in Afghanistan is a dramatic example of the old adage that all foreign policy is merely an extension of domestic politics. Last week, the British weekly, New Statesman, reported an…
The US is growing in popularity down under … have we all got Obamamania? AAP/Scott Barbour

Has Australia fallen for Obama’s soft power?

When Barack Obama was under fire for his foreign policy inexperience in 2007, he told the New York Times that his unique biography could be a vital instrument in a new American foreign policy. “If you…
Romney’s faith leaves him open to political attacks. EPA/Kamil Krzsczynski

Will Obama use Romney’s mormonism against him?

Five months before the American presidential election, one thing is clear: Obama wants this to be a referendum on venture capitalism. Last week the Obama camp sharpened its attack on the business record…
Barack Obama has sent a message to same-sex attracted people everywhere: “I’m in your corner”. ABC News

Barack speaks out on gay marriage … Julia, are you listening?

This morning my phone woke me earlier than usual with a text from one of my sons, who regularly taps into American politics in the middle of the night. “Obama has come out for gay marriage – how about…
President Obama addresses of the White House Forum on Women and the Economy on April 6 this year. EPA/Pete Marovich

Obama the only winner of the Republican ‘war on women’

When former Senator Rick Santorum dropped out of the Republican nomination contest earlier this week, the race for the presidency took a sharp turn toward the general election. For presumptive nominee…
Republicans today went to the polls on Super Tuesday, but no clear candidate for the presidential nomination emerged. EPA/Ryan Stone

Super Tuesday: what we learned about the Republican presidential race

Voting in the Super Tuesday Republican primaries has ended in every participating state except Alaska. The results have been shared: front runners Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have all…
Rick Perry failed to distinguish himself among an uninspiring field of contenders. EPA/Jim Lo Scalzo

Oops … I was wrong: why Perry fell and Gingrich is rising

I stated on The Conversation last August that Rick Perry would become the next President of the United States in 2013. Instead, the Texas governor dropped out of the race last week, unable to establish…
A proposed EU oil embargo may push Iranian President Mahmoud Amadinejad closer to China and Venezuela. AAP

An EU oil embargo is unlikely to curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions

Last week the European Union indicated that it is likely to enact an oil embargo on Iran. The move is aimed at damaging Iran’s crucial oil export business enough so the country’s regime curtails its nuclear…
Suspect Bradley Manning is accused of “aiding the enemy” and faces court martial by a US military court. EPA/BradleyManning.org/

Defending Private Manning: Wikileaks suspect has his day in court

The controversy over Wikileaks will today, at least temporarily, shift its focus from the website’s founder Julian Assange to suspected informant Private First Class Bradley Manning. Today Manning will…
Strategic friendships: will Australia’s decision to sign up to Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement impact on our relationship with China? AAP

A ‘zhengyou’ to China? Signing with Obama on trade puts this friendship to the test

The task of simultaneously negotiating our traditional security and cultural ties with the US, and our burgeoning economic relationship with China, can justifiably be described as the “great foreign policy…
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. 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. 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…
Barack Obama’s handling of the economy will be closely scrutinised in the US presidential election campaign next year. AFP/Mandel Ngan

It’s the economy, stupid: The US Presidential elections in 2012

President Barack Obama’s handling of the US economy has come under close scrutiny following the publication of Confidence Men by Ron Suskind - which charts his struggle to contain the Wall Street crash…
President Barack Obama: will his resolve stand as the debt clock ticks down?

Does Obama have the courage to stand his ground?

As the political stand-off around the US debt crisis looks set to continue into the weekend, US President Barack Obama is being tested whether he has the courage to stand his ground. Last week the President…
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. 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…
President Obama announces the death of Osama bin Laden. AAP

Bin Laden’s death no guarantee of Obama second term

History will record that Osama bin Laden was killed by American forces during Barack Obama’s presidency only days after he was forced to release his birth certificate to prove his eligibility in office…
President Obama announcing bin Laden’s death earlier today.

Expert view: bin Laden’s death a boon for Obama

Osama bin Laden, the leader of global militant network al-Qaeda, has been killed in Pakistan by a small team of U.S. operatives, U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday. Experts comment on the significance…

Columnists (2)

Research Briefs (1)