US Secretary of State Blinken tells NATO it’s not an ‘us-or-them’ choice with China

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken addressed NATO members in Brussels on Wednesday 24 March 2021 calling on them to work with the US to counter China. However in a shift of tone from that of recent weeks, he also said that the US “won’t force allies into an ‘us-or-them’ choice with China,” and acknowledged that the US knows “that our allies have complex relationships with China that won’t always align perfectly”.

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Why is ‘values’ the new buzzword in Australian foreign policy? (Benjamin Reilly)

In international affairs, words are bullets, according to an old diplomatic saying. If so, Australia in recent years has begun firing new ammunition. ‘Values’, a word seldom used in the past, has now assumed a central place in our foreign policy rhetoric. Speeches, press conferences and policy statements vibrate with the V-word. If values are now the coin of our foreign policy realm, we will have to start walking the talk.

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Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne

Australia’s foreign policy: Resurgent realism or the survival of multilateralism?

Conceptual confusion in thinking about foreign policy is evident as the post World War II era’s structured international arrangements of durable institutions and agreed norms – designed to facilitate peaceful dispute resolution and cooperation on security, economic and social matters between nations – is challenged by the United States and others.

The indeterminacy over whether a gradual transition from the rules-based order to a degree of anarchy is taking place is generating a certain dissonance in the speechmaking of leading Australian political figures.

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Securitisation – turning problems into threats (Allan Behm)

One of the more disturbing tendencies of modern governments is ‘securitisation’ – transforming policy problems into threats, thereby elevating them into the national security domain. In many western democracies security is accorded pre-eminent status among the various domains of public policy, creating the preconditions for securitisation to elevate the levels of state intervention in a way that displays, emphasises and enhances the power of the state and its control over its citizens.

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Sovereignty and self-determination: The wider implications of Israel and the West Bank

Australia’s Prime Minister recently said that Australia always respects the sovereignty of other nations, and simply expects the same in return. But cases like Kosovo, Crimea, Jammu-Kashmir and Hong Kong illustrate the tension between sovereignty and self-determination – and the significance of precedent-setting. Recognising Israel’s sovereignty over the West Bank requires careful, nuanced consideration. What position will Australia take?

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Australia’s strategic quandary: political leadership and the abandonment of strategy

Australia’s strategic quandary emerges from its status as an ally to a great power. If it abrogates its responsibility to set national policy aims by joining in a coalition in which one great power antagonist determines the goals of the war it cannot claim to have a strategy. It cannot claim to be linking Australia’s national priorities to the military actions. Its fate would be in the hands of its great power ally.

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NATO, the Middle East and the policy vacuum

Statements from NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg and President Trump reveal a divergence in the strategic interests of the Europeans and the US. If real alliances only work when there’s a clear alignment of strategic objectives, Stoltenberg’s comments are telling. Australia’s foreign and strategic policy needs to reflect a more sophisticated appreciation of the geopolitical shifts taking place.

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