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The FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missile is the sort of ‘lethal defensive weapon’ the US may consider supplying to Ukraine. Wikimedia Commons/US Army

Purely ‘defensive weapons’? There’s no such thing for Ukraine or anywhere else

Barack Obama is considering supplying "lethal defensive weapons" to Ukraine. But how meaningful is that description? There are simply "weapons", all of which can be used for defence or for aggression.
Speaking softly… Mike Segar/Reuters

Obama sounds a quiet revolution in foreign policy

President Obama’s publication of his 2015 National Security Strategy on February 6th is the kind of event that generates great heat and discussion among a relatively small group of policymakers, pundits…
North Korea is in a human rights spat with the US. EPA

Human rights are nice, but they shouldn’t be enshrined in law

North Korea is outraged over an upcoming conference in Washington DC about its human rights abuses, to which it has not been invited. Pyongyang strongly denies that it has been alienating the human rights…
Presidents Obama and Castro instigated rumors of a thaw when they shook hands for the first time at the memorial for Nelson Mandela in December last year. Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

History lessons from China for future relations with Cuba

This past December, Presidents Barack Obama and Raoúl Castro ended over fifty years of economic and political isolation between the US and Cuba with their shock announcement that they intend to re-establish…
‘Yemen is safe’ – for how long? Wadia Mohammed/EPA

Does Obama face the prospect of boots on the ground in Yemen?

Events in Yemen are moving fast: the US-backed president, Abd Rabbuh Manṣūr Hadi, has been deposed by Shia rebels, after a “slow coup” that saw the Iran-backed Houthi militia take effective control of…
Not as important as the invisible primary…. DonkeyHotey

The invisible primary - number one

What’s the best predictor of which candidate will win the presidential nomination. The winner of the Iowa caucus? The winner of the New Hampshire primary? Actually neither is as good a predictor as the…
With the US economy back on its feet, US President Barack Obama has returned to his earlier reformist stance. Davis Turner/EPA/AAP

Obama’s ‘middle-class economics’ reminiscent of Rudd and Keating

Barack Obama’s State of the Union address last week was important for both policy and political reasons. In it, Obama argued for a more egalitarian “middle-class economics”. In the process, he prepared…
We’re making progress. POOL New/ Reuters

Most Americans want diplomatic engagement with Iran

In his State of the Union address, the President’s core message was that the US has emerged strong from the twin crises caused by the 2001 terrorist attacks and the 2008 global recession. And the challenge…
One more SOTU to go Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

The State of the Union 2015 – theater, traditions, politics

Editor’s note: “The state of the union is good,” and the attitude of President Barack Obama in his annual speech to Congress was upbeat. Good economic news and no more election campaigns were the backdrop…
Here’s what’s on the agenda. POOL New/ Reuters

The State of the Union 2015 – a closer look at the president’s ‘ambitious agenda’

Editor’s note: “The state of the union is good,” and the attitude of President Barack Obama in his annual speech to Congress was upbeat. Good economic news and no more election campaigns were the backdrop…
Barack Obama outlined a vision of post-recession liberalism that was at once hopeful and limited in his State of the Union address. EPA/Astrid Riecken

With a liberal State of the Union agenda, Obama revives theme of hope

On Tuesday night (US time), President Barack Obama gave his second-last State of the Union address – and the last one that has the potential to shape his legacy. Next year the country will be caught up…
Barack Obama is now entering the period when the notion of his legacy as US president becomes increasingly pertinent. EPA/Mandel Ngan

Obama defies lame duck fears with State of the Union address

President Barack Obama has pointed to an improving economy and the need for a taxation system that shares the benefits in an agenda-setting State of the Union challenge to the Republican congressional…
EPA/Michael Reynolds

Soaking the rich

There’s nothing like a little juxtaposition to put things in context. On the same day Oxfam warned that 1% of the world’s population would soon control 50% of its wealth, US President Barack Obama came…
Did the Saudis and the Americans do a deal over oil in 2008-09? solkanar

Oil crash: is this the end of a long period of inflated prices?

What on earth is going on in the oil market? Does the recent 60% collapse in oil prices in six months really reflect shifts in underlying supply and demand for crude oil? I’m afraid not, as I have been…
But can the promise be delivered? President Obama at Pellissippi State College in Knoxville, TN Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Free access to community college benefits students but not the nation

Last week, President Barack Obama announced a proposal to guarantee that students could attend a community college for free for their first two years. The announcement was one in a series of previews of…
Nabila Rehman, 9, shows her drawing of a drone attack on her Pakistani village that killed her grandmother. Jason Reed/Reuters

Drone strikes: are they Obama’s enhanced interrogation techniques?

On November 24, two weeks before the Senate Intelligence Committee released its “torture report,” Reprieve, a UK-based human rights NGO, published the results of its latest investigation into President…
The author with his brother and father on the way to Florida

The last exiles

“Normalization” – that’s been the word of the week among Cubans and Cuba watchers. Set aside for the moment whether it’s really possible for a dictatorship and a democracy to have normal relations, since…

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