Friday 20 Sep 2019 | 18:01 | SYDNEY
What's happening on

United States

The future for US Marines in Darwin

This article is the second in a two-part series. Part one focused on the Exercise Crocodile Strike. Part two reflects on the future of the Marine rotational force. The Top End’s monsoonal weather pattern is the major reason why US Marine Rotational Force-Darwin (MRF-D) is currently limited to

How Trump’s new approach to Pakistan might pan out

Perhaps the most notable part of President Trump's new Afghanistan 'strategy' is its treatment of Pakistan, with Trump saying out loud what was once largely debated and threatened in private: The next pillar of our new strategy is to change the approach and how to deal with Pakistan. We can no

What the US would need to deter China

I am reassured to see from Ely Ratner's most recent post in our exchange on US-China relations and the South China Sea how much he and I agree about, because I have such a high regard for his ideas on these important questions, and for his lucid and gracious way of presenting them. In fact, we

Australia and Korea’s wars: A debate worth revisiting

Tensions have temporarily abated on the Korean Peninsula, following the latest blustery exchanges between Washington and Pyongyang. In typically mercurial fashion, after threatening 'fire and fury', President Donald Trump has now praised Kim Jong-un’s 'decision' not to launch missiles at Guam as '

US-Russia relations: No light at the end of the tunnel

Each month – each week – brings new and alarming developments in US-Russian relations. No one seriously expects any improvement in the near future. The only question is: how much worse can things get? During the initial period of the Trump presidency, the fear was that Trump would make some

Making sense of the known unknowns in the South China Sea

I'd like to thank Hugh White for his continued thoughtfulness and collegiality in our ongoing exchange on the South China Sea. I thought it might be interesting to pivot from debating strategic dynamics in the region to a dialogue about what our divergent assessments mean for the making of US policy

Chinese spy ships: The devil in the detail

Recent posts in The Interpreter (by Iain Henry, Euan Graham and James Goldrick) have commented on the presence of a Chinese intelligence-gathering ship off the Queensland Coast during Exercise Talisman Sabre. All these posts are broadly correct – the incident suggested Chinese hypocrisy with its

For sale, cheap: Armed drones

Once the domain of only a handful of states, weaponised drones are now part of the military arsenal of no less than a dozen countries. That number is set to expand after China announced it would begin to sell and export its most powerful drone, the CH-5 Rainbow, that's modelled on the US MQ 9 Reaper

Empathising with China

The recent presence of a PLA-N auxiliary general intelligence vessel off Queensland has generated some interesting discussions. Euan Graham and James Goldrick are right that the incident undercuts Beijing’s own objections about US close-in surveillance of mainland China. There is no small amount

North Korea: Jake Sullivan on America's policy dilemma

As world leaders gather in Hamburg for the G20 Summit, North Korea will be high on the agenda following Pyongyang’s successful launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Tuesday. On Wednesday, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told a UN Security Council meeting the US was

Modi-Trump meeting: Signs of continued convergence

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s inaugural visit to the Trump White House this week was fraught with uncertainty, with recent irritations in the relationship (visas and climate change), a softening in US policy on China, and tension between Trump’s transactional instincts and the longer-term

Back in focus: The United Nations Command in South Korea

Following his recent speech at the Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis was asked a question about North Korea. This excerpt from his answer should be of interest to Australians, among others: We obviously work very, very closely with the United Nations Command.

The liberal order is not America’s to break

As the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet Union imploded, many attributed the change entirely to American power. The hubristic ‘unipolar moment’ claim was not only wrong as history, it proved disastrous as policy guidance, ultimately running aground in the sands of Iraq. Today, that same

When will Australia acknowledge a changed America?

Since the election of Donald Trump, a great deal of faith  – naturally enough – has been put in the very occurrence of encounters that Australian ministers and prime ministers have had with their American counterparts. Whether it be introductory calls that both Ministers Bishop and Payne

AUSMIN: For the US, a refreshingly ‘normal’ meeting

The Australia-US Ministerial Consultation (AUSMIN) on Monday was noteworthy for how normal it was. The meeting stood in stark contrast to the recent NATO Summit, where President Trump managed to raise more questions about the American commitment to the trans-Atlantic alliance than he answered. In

Nuclear ban treaty progresses, despite US-led objections

On 27 March, as more than 130 nations began work on a historic treaty to outlaw nuclear weapons, roughly a dozen diplomats protested outside the grand UN General Assembly hall, where the negotiations were taking place. Led by the Trump administration’s UN envoy, Nikki Haley, the demonstrators

China v US: Who needs allies?

People often argue that America’s alliances in Asia are a decisive advantage in its contest with China for regional strategic primacy. China’s only ally, they say, is North Korea, while America has an entire alliance system encompassing many key regional states, as well as a wider circle of

Why Trump’s Middle East trip matters to Australia

There are two reasons why US President Donald Trump’s visit to the Middle East matters to Australia. First, the President’s visit to Saudi Arabia, where he also held a summit with Arab leaders, and Israel are a signal of where the administration’s foreign policy priority lies, and this does

Battening down for an environmental war

The oft-repeated promise by Donald Trump when he was on the campaign trail last year to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency is now described as an 'aspirational goal' as the newly-installed Trump administration takes the measure of widespread opposition.   As previous Republican

The End of History, a generation on

This year it is 25 years since Francis Fukuyama published The End of History and the Last Man – the span of a generation, as traditionally reckoned. The book, like the 1989 essay from which it grew, is more complex and sophisticated than the first phrase of the title suggests. Much of it is

Obama’s legacy: Still a work in progress?

Barack Obama leaves office in the somewhat paradoxical position of enjoying unusually high approval ratings for a departing president, while also fearing the wholesale destruction of his legacy. Many of Obama’s most strident opponents have claimed that the election of Donald Trump was

Trump's confused mercantilism

Among the foreign policy issues raised by the imminent Trump White House, one that has received a fair amount of commentary is the President-elect's mercantilist leanings; that is, a pragmatic approach that views the world through the prism of financial return on US investment of various

Obama's legacy: The world is more dangerous for Australia

President Obama’s personal attributes, shown to great effect in his farewell speech in Chicago, may not be enough to carry his reputation through the consequences of his Administration. For Australia, Obama’s presidency has resulted in challenges to the world order not seen for decades. There

Trump’s foreign policy: America First, not America Only

My last piece responded to Kaplan and Walt to explain why Trump is a Nixon-Kissinger realist. This post, part one of two-part series, explores what Trump will seek to achieve in foreign policy more broadly. Part two will focus on how this relates to matters of importance to Australia: trade, China,

Trump and the Iran nuclear deal

The election of Donald Trump raises many uncertainties about the future direction of US foreign policy, including nuclear weapons and nuclear non-proliferation. A major aspect of this is the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), concluded between

Trump looks the part in final days of campaign

The really scary thing about the Donald Trump rally in Cabarrus County in North Carolina last Thursday afternoon is that he looked almost presidential. With election day looming, gone was the bombastic Trump from the primaries, the lecturing Trump from the Republican National Conference, and the

Don't count on the Russians backing down this time

Happily, Russia and the US seem to have pulled back from some of the bitterness, outrage and disappointment that set the tone between them 10 days ago.  But the stakes in Syria remain incredibly high. There's a real danger that both sides, which had appeared to be on the verge of

US Navy carries out third FONOP in South China Sea

The US Navy has carried out another freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea. According to defence sources, it was conducted, on the morning of 10 May, by the USS William P. Lawrence, a guided missile destroyer within 12 nautical miles of Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands

Pages