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Analysis and Comment (61)

With coups in Thailand and troubles elsewhere, Australia exists in a fragile regional environment where it is expected to play a leading role in peacemaking. EPA/Narong Sangnak

Peacemaking should be at the core of Australian foreign policy

Australia’s neighbourhood is currently a hotbed of fragility and conflict, with tensions in the South China Sea, a military coup in Thailand and civil rights abuses against Rohingya in Myanmar. But to…
The Chinese TV market is hard to crack. Shutterstock

Looking behind the screens of the ABC’s China deal

ABC International has reasons to be proud of its recent “landmark” deal to provide ABC content in China. The deal, which will see the establishment of an online portal, also seems to make it harder for…
Modern diplomacy requires a more delicate touch. Haydn West/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Parlez-vous diplomacy? English won’t serve the UK abroad

A report from the British Academy has warned that a lack of foreign language skills could undermine the UK’s future security and capacity for global influence. The report warns of an apathy towards language…
Tony Abbott needs to learn a thing or two about Indonesian culture if he’s to have a successful working relationship with his Indonesian counterpart. EPA/Made Nagi

Saving face: lessons for Abbott on working with Indonesia

There’s a widespread perception in Australia that Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s reaction to Australia’s phone tapping is all about playing domestic politics in Yudhoyono’s home country…
Who holds the upper hand in the Australia-Indonesia relationship? The power may be shifting Indonesia’s way if recent events are anything to go by. EPA/Romeo Gacao

Stretching the friendship: Australia, Indonesia and the ‘good friend’ narrative

How far can friendships stretch? Two months ago, the rhetoric of the Indonesian and Australian governments was centred on the countries being good friends. Until last week, from the Indonesian perspective…
Tony Abbott’s interview with the Washington Post has revived Abbott’s problem of loose lips - but this time, it’s on the international stage. AAP/Matthew Newton

Abbott’s belligerence: putting in the boot or kicking himself?

The words won’t rank with the oratorical flourishes of great leaders but I can’t remember Churchill or Roosevelt describing anybody as “wacko”. When prime minister Tony Abbott uttered this word in an interview…
What manner of repercussions could Australia anticipate from any British withdrawal from the European Union? EPA/Andy Rain

What a UK referendum on the EU would mean for Australia

British divisions over Europe have something of a “groundhog day” feel to them, even if the current Conservative rift seems like a particularly damaging instance. The stakes are high: the United Kingdom’s…
Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian delegation applaud after the vote on a resolution to upgrade Palestine’s status in the UN. EPA/Andrew Gombert

The art of the possible: recognising Palestinian statehood

The road of history is a pot-holed one. But that doesn’t mean, despite the crashes and stutters, that we don’t eventually get past them. The UN vote over upgrading the Palestinians to non-member observer…
New president Xi Jinping (centre) flanked by He Guoqiang (left) and Jia Qinglin (right) at the closing ceremony of the 18th Communist Party Congress in Beijing. AAP/How Hwee Young

The more things change: Xi Jinping’s rise won’t alter much for Australia and the region

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…
Australia isn’t viewed well in India, and it will take more than cricket to fix the relationship. AAP/David Hunt

Culture shock: mending Australia’s fractured relationship with India

On my last visit to India in April this year, I found the nation in the grip of Indian Premier League (IPL) fever, or so the umpteen news channels had me believe. With Katy Perry in a kitsch Indian costume…
Julia Gillard and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak at last week’s nuclear summit in Seoul. AAP/EPA

Julia Gillard is getting it wrong on Asia

Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s recent performance in South Korea highlights once again the dangers of not taking Asia seriously. At a speech at a university, Gillard apparently stuck directly to script…
Diplomacy, rather than the use of force, has been a key plank of Brazil’s foreign policy. Embaixada dos EUA - Brasil

On the issue of force, Brazil’s stance is non-negotiable

The five major emerging economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) – will meet at a summit today to discuss the possibility of a new development bank and trade agreements between…
The aftermath of a bombing in Tehran that killed a nuclear scientist. EPA/STR

Are we stumbling towards war with Iran?

Relations between Iran and the United States and its ally Israel have descended into the worst crisis in years. Concern is growing that the situation could quickly degenerate into conflict. The origins…
Aung San Suu Kyi and US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton at Suu Kyi’s home in 2011. AAP/Ngein Chan Vaing

Aung San Suu Kyi’s election bid is the litmus test for reform in Burma

In a landmark development, Aung San Suu Kyi recently confirmed she would run in by-elections to be held in Burma on April 1, 2012. Until now, Suu Kyi has not been allowed to stand for election. When the…
A photograph dated 11 October 2010 depicting Kim Jong-il (right) and his putative heir Kim Jung-Un (left). AAP/YNA

The regional impact of Kim Jong-il’s death

Kim Jong-il, the mercurial “Dear Leader” of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), died of heart failure on 17 December 2011, at the age of 69. One could be excused for not believing in the…
Despite President Barack Obama’s charms, Australia must focus on China. AAP Image/ Scott Barbour

The US or China? Australia can’t afford to make mistakes

Australia’s recent fleeting love affair with President Barack Obama notwithstanding, Australia’s future lies with China and the North, not the Pacific and the East. This is not simply a matter of economics…
Iranian protestors storm the UK embassy in Tehran this week. AAP/Taberkenareh

The long history of Iranian distrust of the West

Iran’s relations with the West have been difficult for years. The growing international condemnation of Iran for its less-than-transparent nuclear program, based on a report by the International Atomic…
2500 US Marines will be deployed near Darwin in coming years, but we could also see an expanded American military presence elsewhere in northern Australia. AAP/Malone

History repeating: Australian military power in the Cocos Islands

Negotiations are underway that could see some the US military’s most advanced drone aircraft based on the Australian Indian Ocean territory of the Cocos Islands. Combined with discussions around having…
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…
Growing a moustache isn’t simply about the style. It could help you win friends and influence people abroad. AFP/Wildbird

Going beyond Movember: Facial hair and foreign affairs

You may notice more than a few of your friends and colleagues are a little more hirsute than normal this month. The annual charity event Movember encourages men to grow moustaches to raise money and awareness…
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…
Gaddafi’s death raises moral questions about whether he should have been put on trial or not. EPA/Rehan Khan

Should Colonel Gaddafi have been allowed to live?

Muammar Gaddafi met his end after being cornered in a Sirte drainage pipe, having fled from a NATO air-strike on his convoy. Questions about exactly how he died - whether caught in crossfire or summarily…
Australia would do better to shed light on Indian affairs. Media coverage of the country is dominated by corruption scandals, terrorism or cultural festivals like Diwali. EPA/Sanjeev Gupta

Connection with India vital to Australia’s future

CHOGM As Julia Gillard chairs the Commonwealth Heads of Government in Perth, she would do well to pay special attention to her Indian colleague at the table, Vice-President Hamid Ansari. Brian Stoddart…
Julia Gillard spoke to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa about allegations of human rights abuses at a pre-CHOGM summit. AAP Image/Reuters/Daniel Munoz

CHOGM: Do we need a Commonwealth Human Rights Commissioner?

CHOGM As the meeting between Commonwealth Heads of Government kicks off in Perth, a row is brewing over the idea for a new Commissioner on democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Holly Cullen from…
People in Libya are desperate for change and the new government will have to manage expectations carefully. AFP/Abdullah Doma

The challenges for Libya now Gaddafi is gone

The relegation of Moammar Gaddafi to the meat-locker of history is a significant exorcism of Libya’s past. Whether it would have been better for him to face trial is a moot point. It’s doubtful that too…
Australia’s Ambassador to Indonesia, Greg Moriarty, has been working to secure the release of the 14 year old, amid huge media interest. AFP/Sonny Tumbelaka

Bali teenager used as political pawn in domestic politics

The arrest of a 14 year old Australian boy accused of possessing marijuana in Bali has provoked a media storm. The Australian Ambassador to Indonesia says the case is his “top priority”, and even the Prime…
The Australian government decides what help it will provide to travellers caught in civil unrest, like these foreign tourists in Thailand. EPA/Rungroj Yongrit

What will your country do for you? Aussies in trouble overseas

The passport all Australians carry overseas is not just an entry or exit permit in and out of countries. It represents our nationality and our rights when abroad, as well as the rights and duties the government…
A Palestinian girl in Gaza atop a destroyed house on the day President Abbas formally requested UN recognition of Palestine. AAP

UN recognition: Palestine, Israel and the path forward

President Mahmoud Abbas has formally submitted Palestine’s application for full member status of the United Nations. The United States has already promised to veto the application at the Security Council…
United Airlines flight 175 is crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Centre on September 11 2001. AAP

9/11: Fostering connections after the horror

The terrorist attacks on the United States on 11 September 2001 catapulted the world into another stage of history: the struggle between communism and capitalism, and references to the “end of history…
The father of Nael Abu Hlayel, who blew himself up in Israel in 2002, holds up pictures of his son. AAP

9/11: Why suicide bombers blow themselves up

Ten years ago, nineteen young Muslims commandeered passenger jets and killed themselves, taking with them 2973 people to the inferno of fire. Since the 9/11 attacks, suicide bombings have become a staple…
US sailors load cluster bombs onto an aircraft before an attack on targets in Afghanistan. AAP

Australia’s cluster bomb conundrum

Cluster bombs are currently the subject of considerable humanitarian concern internationally because of their indiscriminate effect. Every year, thousands of civilians, many of them children, are killed…
The Cronulla riots saw ugly attacks on people of “Middle Eastern appearance”. AAP

9/11 anniversary: reflections on the ripple-down effect

It’s about that moment; if you’re old enough it’s the indelible memory of JFK being shot. As a teenager I was listening to the car radio when I heard. For Gen X it’s 9/11, the midnight phonecalls, the…
We all think we know what a child soldier looks like, but we’d be wrong. AFP/Georges Gobet

How child soldiers are recruited from refugee camps

The commander of United Nations peacekeeping forces in Rwanda during the terrible conflict in the early 1990s has put forward legislation in Canada to help former child soldiers seek refuge there. During…
A rebel fighter mans a makeshift checkpoint in Tripoli. AAP

Libya: a win for NATO

Despite confusion in recent hours about exactly who the Libyan rebels have captured, it is clear that the Gaddafi regime has been severely weakened by the weekend advance into central Tripoli. This advance…
The capture of Colonel Gadaffi’s son was celebrated by crowds in Benghazi. EPA/STR

The next big challenge for Libya

The effort to overthrow Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi appears to be reaching its climax with key elements of his military forces surrendering to the rebels and senior members of his regime* in rebel hands. While…
Jubiliant Libyans celebrate the arrival of rebel forces in central Tripoli. AAP

Libya: the death throes of the Gaddafi regime

The situation in Libya remains fluid but with armed rebel fighters now in Green Square in central Tripoli, it appears the regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi is in its final hours. Two of the dictator’s…
Syrian troops withdraw from the city of Hama where they were quelling pro-democracy protests. AFP/STR

Solving the crisis in Syria. Where will the unrest end?

The United States has stepped up sanctions against Syria, targeting President Bashar al-Assad’s financial resources. Syria claims to have withdrawn its troops from the city of Hama, which has played a…
Palestinian medics attend to an elderly woman in the shadow of the Israeli wall. AAP

Explainer: The upcoming UN Palestinian sovereignty vote

The United Nations is set to vote on recognising Palestine as an independent state next month. What the chances of the Palestinian initiative succeeding? What implications would recognition of Palestinian…
Pacific nations participated enthusiastically in the Shanghai Expo last year. Flickr/thoth188

China’s power in the Pacific

China’s relations with its Pacific neighbours are nothing if not complex. Its trade in the region quadrupled between 1999 and 2006. And if it delivers all of the promised resources, it will become second…
Anti-US feelings run high after drone attacks in north-western Pakistan EPA.

US aid cuts won’t hit Pakistan where it hurts

Washington’s decision last week to suspend $800 million in military aid to Pakistan should not have come as a surprise to anyone who has been following recent developments in the US-Pakistan relationship…
The protest which started here in the Puerta del Sol in Madrid in mid-May has now swept throughout Spain. AAP/Pedro Armestre

How Spanish outrage could transform Europe

On 15 May 2011, one week before Spanish regional and municipal elections, young people gathered on Madrid’s Puerta del Sol square to start a protest known as 15-M movement. It has since acquired a universal…
Israelis have a right to live in peace. But Israel has no ‘right to exist.’ AAP/Gali Tibbon

Israel has no ‘right to exist'—and neither does any other state

Since the 1970s, Israel’s leaders have insisted that their Palestinian interlocutors acknowledge Israel’s “right to exist” as a pre-condition for negotiations on a settlement of the conflict. Amongst other…
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…
Ambassador Geoff Raby and Kevin Rudd need to build a resilient relationship with China. AAP/Dan Peled

Has Kevin Rudd failed us on China?

“To speak Chinese is not to know China,” our man in Beijing announced this week. “Many examples can be found of people who speak Mandarin to a high level but who do not understand how China works. They…

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