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Analysis and Comment (54)

There are high hopes that the new head of the Fed, Janet Yellen, will change the culture at the central bank and the lenders it regulates. IMF/Flickr via CC BY-NC-ND

Banking tail often wags the Fed’s regulatory dog

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has her work cut out for her if she hopes to change the culture at the world’s most important central bank. Media reports abound with evidence that the financial industry…
Australia’s reputation for strict farming standards helped its beef industry weather the BSE crisis. Malcolm Paterson/CSIRO/Wikimedia Commons

Australia shouldn’t sacrifice food safety standards for free trade

Ten years on from the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement, Australia is entering another round of negotiations towards the new and controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership. In this Free Trade Scorecard series…
A green trade deal would encourage the development of renewable energy in big carbon emitters such as China. Kaj17/Flickr

Trans-Pacific Partnership threatens a green trade deal

Ten years on from the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement, Australia is entering another round of negotiations towards the new and controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership. In this Free Trade Scorecard series…
Australia’s approach to trade policy is more thoughtful and calculating than it is given credit for by sections of the media, academia and the public who object to current negotiations. AAP/Newzulu/Jeff Tan

Staying engaged on every front: Australia’s trade policy strategy

Ten years on from the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement, Australia is entering another round of negotiations towards the new and controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership. This is the first article in the…
An Australian Super Hornet refuels from a KC30 tanker while flying over Iraq. @VCDF_Australia/Twitter

Why Western boots should stay out of Iraq and Syria

There are two reasons why we should ignore the growing calls in the United States, Canada and Australia for Western “boots on ground” – meaning ground troops – to fight and destroy the Islamic State (IS…
US president Barack Obama addresses the 2014 UN Climate Summit. EPA/JUSTIN LANE

A view from the 2014 UN Climate Summit in New York

The 2014 UN Climate Summit has wrapped up in New York. What has progressed and what big challenges remain in the run up to and beyond the Paris negotiations in December 2015? Secretary General of the UN…
Australia’s health system is good, but it’s not perfect. Dan Peled/AAP

What can we learn from other countries’ health systems?

Health systems in all wealthier countries face similar problems, but their solutions are widely different. That should mean we can learn from other countries. To explore these differences, this week The…
Stacking the odds? Rebecca Siegel

Here be dragons? China’s economic data may not be all bad

The world’s second-largest economy has become the second-most watched and yet investors, politicians and economists are never quite clear what it is they’re looking at. China’s premier, Li Keqiang, is…
Back to school for Obama and his education secretary Arne Duncan Charles Dharapak/AP/Press Association Images

Obama’s approach to education in the 2014 State of the Union

In 2008, I was full of hope that Barack Obama would change the American approach to education. I volunteered for his campaign’s educational policy committee and was selected as an Obama delegate for the…
All smiles in Geneva: but there are some unhappy people in the Middle East. Carolyn Kaster/AP/Press Association Images

Iran’s nuclear weapons deal will rebalance the Middle East

Signed by the P5 + Germany and mediated by the EU’s foreign policy chief, Baroness Catherine Ashton, the deal achieved with Iran on the latter’s nuclear programme has important implications for regional…
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…
The majority of people accept climate science; why not our leaders? Glenys Jones

Broad consensus on climate change across American states

A recent US “survey of surveys” by Stanford University Professor Jon Krosnick has analysed public opinion on climate change in 46 of USA’s 50 states. Krosnick found to his surprise that, regardless of…
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…
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…
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…
Hard to get rid of: the US still hasn’t destroyed its chemical weapons stockplie. US government

Explainer: how will Syria’s chemical weapons be destroyed?

Bashar Assad’s decision to sign up Syria to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) last week committed his country to verifiably give up the possession of chemical weapons and their production capabilities…
No matter who wins the federal election on Saturday, they will need to look beyond just the challenges at home in their term in office. AAP/Auspic

Election 2013 Essays: Australia and the world

Election 2013 Essays: As the federal election campaign draws to a close, The Conversation asked eminent thinkers to reflect on the state of the nation and the challenges Australia - and whichever party…
It doesn’t matter who won the Commons vote: these are the losers. Freedom House via Creative Commons

It’s the Syrian people that matter, not British politics

As a policy analyst, I am naturally interested in the dynamics of domestic politics, the role of specific actors, institutions and communities. So I understand why so much talk in Britain yesterday and…
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…
If China has already peaked, what will be the economic and political consequences of its decline? EPA/Diego Azubel

What if China stops rising? The consequences of China’s decline

The economic rise of China has produced a general feeling that the United States' best days are behind them. Some experts argue the US is now facing “its fifth wave of Declinism”. Noting that many Chinese…
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…
The debate around the Keystone XL pipeline represents concern over the environmental effects of non-conventional fossil fuels. Flickr/shannonpatrick

US non-conventional fossil fuel: environmental risks

In the US, extraction of non-conventional fossil fuels is booming. Investment in extra-heavy and heavy oils, oil shales and sands, tight oil and gas, shale gas and coal seam gas is taking off as companies…
The US remains the most militarily powerful nation on Earth - but will budget cuts bring it back to the fold? EPA/Zurab Kurtsikidze

Budget cuts: will American military power suffer?

The maelstrom surrounding budget cuts that has engulfed the United States over the last twelve months seems no nearer to reaching a satisfactory conclusion. The U.S. Congressional House and Senate currently…
Mourners accompany the remains of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez through the streets of Caracas. EPA/David Fernandez

In death, Chavez is more alive than ever in Latin America

The recent death of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez from cancer comes as no great surprise. The former military leader had rarely been seen in the public eye since December last year when he travelled…
The treatment of Quvenzhané Wallis at this year’s Oscars highlights prejudices that still exist in Hollywood. Michael Nelson/EPA

Quvenzhané Wallis, race and misogyny at the Oscars

Young actress Quvenzhané Wallis was one of many women subjected to derogatory misogynist “jokes” during this year’s Academy Awards ceremony. Those directed at her were particularly vicious. When the satirical…
The IEA has made a sketchy prediction that the United States is to be the world’s biggest oil producer within five years. Zoe52/Flickr

Oil, oil everywhere: but still no such thing as US energy independence

The United States will overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s leading oil producer by about 2017 and will become a net oil exporter by 2030, the International Energy Agency (IEA) recently predicted. According…
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…
A group of Iranian pilgrims captured by the Free Syria Army who claim are Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Al Arabiya

Iran – Syrian ally to the bitter end

This week the Islamic Republic of Iran made a blunt statement, reiterating its position in relation to the on-going conflict in Syria. According to Saeed Jalili, a senior advisor to the Iranian Supreme…
President Nixon’s meeting with China’s Communist Party Leader Mao Tse Tung in 1972 began closer ties between the two countries. Wikimedia/Office of Presidential Libraries

Stabilising the Middle East: lessons from the US rapprochement with China

Now, as at the time of the Vietnam war, the global primacy of the United States is increasingly being questioned. Among the reasons are its role in the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), the continued and…
Western Governments will be recklessly ignoring their human rights obligations if they continue to support Shell in its US supreme court case. EPA/George Esiri

Oil for lives? When governments help bad corporations

We all know corporations do bad things. Big corporates have been publicly named and shamed for their participation in causing harm to people and the planet, and they are not always held to account. As…
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…
Senator for South Australia Cory Bernardi has attracted controversy with some of his right wing views. www.corybernardi.com

In Conversation: Senator Cory Bernardi

Welcome to our In Conversation between Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi and Dr Timothy Lynch, lecturer in American politics at Melbourne University. Since being appointed to the Senate in 2006, the Senator…
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…
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…
Mourners at the New York 9/11 memorial on tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks. AAP

9/11: The value of memory

This past weekend, whole sections of the United States community felt something like a duty or desire to attend sites linked with the events of 11 September 2001. The public memory ceremonies at these…
Mourners will gather on the site of the Twin Towers to remember 9/11 victims today. AFP/Alex Fuchs

Remembering 9/11

Ten years ago today, on September 11th 2001, al-Qaida terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington. Passengers on a fourth jet overpowered hijackers, bringing…
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…
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…
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…

Research Briefs (5)

US welfare inconsistent

US welfare rates are inconsistent, according to a report by economics professor Robert A. Moffitt. The report showed a decline…