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Australia. Sharpening deterrence (The Interpreter)

Ben Scott

“If you want peace, prepare for war.” The idea that states can avoid war by strengthening their military is attractively simple, and the advice, attributed to Roman author Vegetius, has proved enduringly popular. In modern strategic lingo, it’s embodied in the buzz word “deterrence”.

Sharpening deterrence (lowyinstitute.org)

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Can the US and China cooperate on climate? (The Interpreter)

HENRY STOREY

Outlining the Biden administration’s approach to China, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in March that the United States would be “competitive when it should be, collaborative when it can be, and adversarial when it must be”. Climate change looked like an obvious vector for bilateral collaboration. In mid-April, “climate tsar” John Kerry became the first senior Biden administration official to visit China, releasing a joint statement on climate change with his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua.

Can the US and China cooperate on climate? | The Interpreter (lowyinstitute.org)

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North Korea calling (The Interpreter)

KHANG VU

Despite protests from North Korea, this week the United States and South Korea kicked off their annual joint military exercise. Korea watchers are worried that the decision to carry on with the drill spells trouble for the inter-Korean détente, which was only revived in July with the reestablishment of the communication lines. North Korea signalled its discontent by not answering calls from the South via the hotlines for more than a week, and threatened to make the United States and the South pay for their provocations.

North Korea calling | The Interpreter (lowyinstitute.org)

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Decoding intelligence on Afghanistan (The Interpreter)

BEN SCOTT

Did the US intelligence community fail by not accurately predicting the speed and scale of the Taliban’s victory? A familiar blame game is now underway in Washington with administration officials and intelligence sources each backgrounding the media with their respective sides of the story. An official inquiry, such as that conducted after 9/11 terrorist attacks, would be a better way to answer the question ­about what was or should have been foretold – as well as much larger questions about US failure in Afghanistan.

Decoding intelligence on Afghanistan | The Interpreter (lowyinstitute.org)

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China’s new silos: Nuclear arms control more urgent than ever (The Interpreter)

GARETH EVANS

Over the last few weeks, evidence has emerged that China may be expanding its arsenal of nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) on a much larger scale than previously believed. Commercial satellite imagery analysed in June and July showed two huge missile silo fields, each capable of housing up to 120 ICBMs, under construction in the deep interior, in Gansu and Eastern Xinjiang Provinces. And the Pentagon this month reportedly discovered a third field of similar size under construction in Inner Mongolia.

China’s new silos: Nuclear arms control more urgent than ever | The Interpreter (lowyinstitute.org)

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Japan – The double challenge for Suga (The Interpreter)

PURNENDRA JAIN,  TAKESHI KOBAYASHI

The flame has just been extinguished for the Tokyo Olympics, a postponed games held under trying circumstances. Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and his team managed the task well given the pandemic odds stacked against them. Suga now faces two additional high hurdles. First, his caretaker term of one year as President of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) comes to an end in September and he must win a leadership contest to continue as prime minister. Second, Japan must hold a general election at the latest by November because the four-year term of the lower house of Japan’s parliament ends in October. And the LDP leader must be seen capable of delivering a good electoral outcome. On both counts Suga could stumble.

The double challenge for Suga | The Interpreter (lowyinstitute.org)

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Afghanistan – What to do after the Taliban take-over (The Interpreter)

SUSANNE SCHMEIDL

I am not an emotionally detached observer of Afghanistan. The country was once my second home, and I still have friends and colleagues there. Frankly, I am gutted – it is hard to erase the kind of images that emerged from Kabul airport on Monday. Nor should we, this is what desperation looks like. I also don’t want to feed into some of the alarmist language that has proliferated in recent days, which is unhelpful for Afghans stuck inside their country. The role of outsiders should be to reassure and find ways to support, especially in times when many Afghans rightfully feel a sense of despair and anger at being deserted by international and national elites alike. But in this moment we are left with questions.

What to do after the Taliban take-over | The Interpreter (lowyinstitute.org)

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Australia – Australia should scale up its vaccine diplomacy (The Interpreter)

PHILIPPA NICOLE BARR

In the 1950s, an unlikely friendship grew between US medical researcher Albert Sabin and Soviet microbiologist and virologist Mikhail Chumakov. Their mutual trust and esteem resulted in a US developed vaccine against crippling polio being tested on millions of people in the Soviet Union. Notwithstanding the suspicions of the Cold War, the successful project was considered an early case of vaccine diplomacy and scientific collaboration, a first step in the eradication of the disease from all but two countries in the world.

Australia should scale up its vaccine diplomacy | The Interpreter (lowyinstitute.org)

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UK/Indo Pacific – UK’s Indo-Pacific tilt – not just for the good times (The Interpreter)

BEN BLAND

The United Kingdom’s proposed “tilt” to the Indo-Pacific was met with plenty of scepticism, including from this author, when it was unveiled in March as part of a broader Integrated Review of defence and foreign policy. Politicians and foreign policy analysts tend to obsess about nomenclature. But catchy buzzwords can obscure as much as they elucidate. My first principle of analysis is to ignore the rhetoric and look at the reality.

UK’s Indo-Pacific tilt – not just for the good times (lowyinstitute.org)

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