Australia and Digicel: Hands-off no more? (Sharar Hameiri, The Interpreter)

The Australian government’s decision to finance Telstra’s takeover of the Pacific’s biggest telecommunications provider, Digicel, via a $1.33 billion loan from Export Finance Australia, is the clearest indication yet that competing with China is changing government-firm relations in Australia in profound and potentially lasting ways.

Australia has long been one of the world’s staunchest exponents of the doctrine of “free market” liberalism, manifesting in governmental support for trade liberalisation and market competition. Whereas other countries have paid lip-service to these ideas but continued to support national firms at home and abroad in various tacit ways, the Australian government has generally let Australian firms operate internationally with very little government guidance and support.

Australia and Digicel: Hands-off no more? | The Interpreter (

Non Alignment Movement

There is life in the Non- Alignment Movement yet (Nina Markovic Khaze, The Interpreter)

Local observers of international affairs may have missed the Non-Aligned Movement’s 60th anniversary commemorative summit earlier this month. A Cold War relic, NAM, as it is typically known, held a two-day special meeting in Belgrade, Serbia. The guest list boasted Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, along with delegations from more than 100 countries and several regional institutions.

There is life in the Non-Alignment Movement yet | The Interpreter (

AUKUS Europe

“Strategic autonomy” is more dangerous for Europe than AUKUS (Benjamin Tallis, The Interpreter)

An article this week in The Interpreter argued that, in the wake of AUKUS, Europeans should embrace the decline of NATO, “break free” of reliance on the US and, instead, seek their own “strategic autonomy”. While Emilian Kavalski and Nicholas Smith’s piece is unusually frank about the consequences of pursuing such autonomy, the path they advocate is not only unlikely to be taken but is also distinctly undesirable.

“Strategic autonomy” is more dangerous for Europe than AUKUS | The Interpreter (

ASEAN Myanmar

ASEAN muddles through on Myanmar (Ben Bland, The Interpreter)

Diplomacy is messy. Officials, politicians and (dare I say) think-tank analysts relish the highfalutin talk of rules, treaties, norms, values and principles. But, more often than not, it all comes down to realpolitik and the art of possible.

A case in point is the unprecedented decision by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to uninvite Min Aung Hlaing, the general who leads Myanmar’s junta, from its upcoming annual summits.

ASEAN muddles through on Myanmar | The Interpreter (

Australia China

China’s economic sanctions made Australia more confident (Ye Xue, The Interpreter)

China has singled out several Australian industries with economic sanctions since May last year, imposing hefty tariffs on Australian barley and wine exports, while throwing up barriers to other products including timber, lobster and coal. Beijing’s action has largely been seen as a response to Canberra’s calls for an independent investigation into the origins of Covid-19.

People worry Australia is likely to keep suffering under repeated rounds of Chinese economic coercion unless a way is found to reset relations with what has been Australia’s largest export partner.

China’s economic sanctions made Australia more confident | The Interpreter (

Indo Pacific USA

America’s doughnut shaped Indo-Pacific strategy (Henry Storey, The Interpreter)

With the exception of India, the common thread linking the United States’ Indo-Pacific and broader China strategy so far has been the rallying of long-standing US allies.

Early summits with President Moon Jae-in and former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga are starting to bear results. South Korea is slowly starting to step up its regional engagement. Japan is getting increasingly serious about defending Taiwan.

America’s doughnut shaped Indo-Pacific strategy (

Foreign Fighters ISIS

Foreign fighters: The question of justice (Rodger Shanahan, The Interpreter)

The legal fallout from Islamic State’s short but bloody existence is both complex and enduring. For those Westerners who travelled to Syria and Iraq to join the jihadist project, which ended with the fall of Baghouz in southeastern Syria in March 2019, justice has taken different forms. Many were killed by Syrian or Iraqi government forces, in air strikes carried out by their own country or that of an ally, or by armed groups supported by the West. Those men and women that survived the five years of conflict have been variously detained, tried in foreign jurisdictions, had their citizenship stripped and been left to languish in identity limbo, or been deported and tried at home.

Foreign fighters: The question of justice | The Interpreter (

Global Cooperation Pandemic

Covid and the failure of global cooperation (Stephen Greenville, The Interpreter)

Book Review: Adam Tooze Shutdown: How Covid Shook the World’s Economy (Allen Lane, 2021)

Adam Tooze’s account of the 2008 financial crisis – Crashed – demonstrated his ability to combine a rigorous account of history with sharp-edged economics and a compelling storyline. He brings the same narrative skills to bear on the Covid crisis in his latest offering, Shutdown.

Tooze’s key message is that Covid was a textbook opportunity to demonstrate effective global cooperation. Despite the stunning achievement of rapid vaccine invention and production, the challenge – vaccinating the world population – is proving difficult, failing to achieve the immense benefits that universal collaboration could bring.

Covid and the failure of global cooperation | The Interpreter (


Would a war over Taiwan be legal? (Ben Saul, The Interpreter)

Australia’s former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has called for “solidarity” with Taiwan in the face of China’s “intimidatory sorties” testing its air defences. As the war drum incessantly beats, would a war against China to defend Taiwan be legal? For all the abstract talk about a rules-based international order, there has been little discussion about what international law actually says.

Would a war over Taiwan be legal? | The Interpreter (

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