Is the global shortage of Covid-19 vaccines due to artificial scarcity?

The World Health Organisation has today called for urgent action to ramp up the supply of Covid-19 vaccines, echoing the growing concern of many commentators observing the divergence between what developed countries are doing, and what we know must be done, to avoid prolonging the pandemic and increasing the cost to the global economy. In the article below, in the context of Italy’s decision this week to refuse an export licence for vaccines destined for

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Biden’s top foreign policy challenge: avoiding a cold war with China

The Biden administration faces a host of difficult problems, but in foreign policy its thorniest will be its relations with the People’s Republic of China. How the new administration handles issues of trade, security, and human rights will either allow both countries to hammer out a working relationship or pull the U.S. into an expensive — and unwinnable — cold war. But there are a number of moves both countries could make to avoid this.

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What explains COVID’s east-west divide? (John Feffer)

COVID-19 has drawn a clear line between Asia and the rest of the world. What’s particularly striking about this latest divergence is the lack of significance in types of governance. The countries that have been successful in Asia have very different forms of government, as well as different histories, religious backgrounds, and relationships with the countries of the West. How can this be explained?

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Document Daze: Understanding Trump’s “Indo-Pacific Strategic Framework” (James Curran)

In the dying days of the most chaotically dysfunctional presidency in living memory, outgoing officials in Washington declassified the Trump administration’s Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific. At issue is not only the contents of this document, but the manner and timing of its release and further, what its reception in Australia says about Australia’s relationship with the United States, and whether it shapes expectations for the new Biden presidency.

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A China strategy to reunite America’s allies (Chatham House)

China already has significant geopolitical and economic clout in Asia and beyond – especially through the Belt and Road Initiative, its massive investment program in global infrastructure, and commercial development. Economic decoupling is not in the offing; China is far too integrated into the global economy. So is there a “China strategy” that would reunite the US and its democratic partners?

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US-led global arms sales grew 8.5% in 2019, Australia top host of foreign arms companies (SIPRI)

New data from SIPRI’s Arms Industry Database shows that arms sales by the world’s 25 largest arms companies totalled US$361 billion in 2019, an 8.5 per cent increase over 2018. The top five arms companies were all based in the United States: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and General Dynamics. Outside of North America and Western Europe, the largest number of foreign arms company entities are hosted by Australia (38).

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Radical pragmatism: policymaking after COVID (Gertz + Kharas)

Contemplating a world after COVID, some are calling for a reset of existing models of policymaking. In this essay the authors outline shortcomings in existing neoliberal economic models, and argue that the radical pragmatism of effective crisis response—a willingness to try whatever works, guided by an experimental mindset and commitment to empiricism and measuring results —represents a policymaking model that can and should be applied more widely, not only in times of crisis.

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Sustaining an undersea advantage: Hudson Institute anti-submarine warfare report

The spotlight is back on Australia’s future submarine program, SEA1000. The Hudson Institute report Sustaining the Undersea Advantage: Disrupting Anti-Submarine Warfare Using Autonomous Systems is an excellent introduction to the history of anti-submarine warfare, and to some recent transformational developments in its conduct. It will help readers understand the long history of undersea warfare and how past experience has made older concepts hard to shift.

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