The strategic aspect of human rights in a multipolar world: a tool of hegemony

The UDHR is being challenged by the rise of competing understandings of human rights, and very different interpretations of the relationship between the state and the governed. The US response has been an attempt to redefine ‘unalienable rights’ in a dangerous formulation that is aimed at restating the primacy of the US world view, and adding to the US’s reasons to confront, and perhaps fight, China and Russia.

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Divided we stand: Democrats and Republicans diverge on US foreign policy (Chicago Council)

Based on the results of its 2020 Survey of American Public Opinion and US Foreign Policy, this Report from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs provides insight into the potential differences in US foreign policy settings depending on the outcome of the presidential election. The Report finds that there are profound differences between Democrats and Republicans on which foreign policy issues matter most today. And that they are even more sharply divided on how the United States should deal with these issues and engage the rest of the world.

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Point of no return: the 2020 election and the crisis of American foreign policy (Thomas Wright)

A victory for the incumbent will represent crossing a “tipping point”, beyond which “alliances may come to an end, the global economy could close, and democracy could go into rapid retreat”, Thomas Wright writes in a comprehensive analysis of the likely future foreign policy direction under either a Joe Biden or Donald Trump presidency. This is an important and informative analysis by a well-credentialled and intelligent observer of the contending camps struggling over foreign policy in the US.

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The US role in the world: a new normal

President Trump has pursued a different vision of the US’s role in the world – one which has had an undeniable impact on relations with allies and competitors alike, and has reshaped perceptions of the US as a global actor. A robust debate over its future global role has ensued. US allies like Australia should be paying close attention, because whether or not Trump wins re-election, the US will not be able to resume some quasi-mythical past role, and the world will need to adjust to a new normal.

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Global order in the shadow of coronavirus: China, Russia and the West (Lowy)

The coronavirus pandemic has thrown a harsh spotlight on the state of global governance. Faced with the greatest emergency since the Second World War, nations have regressed into narrow self-interest. The concept of a rules-based international order has been stripped of meaning, while liberalism faces its greatest crisis in decades. In this Lowy Institute publication, the French Institute for International Relations (IFRI)’s Bobo Lo argues that it’s time to rethink global governance and its priorities.

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The Trump Administration’s China policy experiment (Brookings)

The Trump administration’s China policies are explored clearly and succinctly in this working paper by the Brookings Institution’s Ryan Hass. While Hass describes the approach to China over the past four years as a Trump Administration (failed) experiment, he leaves no doubt that the nature and trajectory of US-China relations has now been reset, irrespective of who is the next president.

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By 2030, US could be unable to shape when and why wars occur: RAND Corporation

Discussion around defence policy and spending tends to focus on the quantum, efficiency, and economic impacts and not on the implied end use: war. The Future of Warfare in 2030 looks at what war might mean in the near to medium term for the United States. Defence policy is put clearly in the context of war, and the issues surrounding conflict are explored. The study provides valuable inputs into US allies’ considerations of the consequences of following America into major power conflicts.

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The end of hegemony confounds the realists: the US must come to terms with its loss

Elbridge Colby and Robert D. Kaplan’s recent article in Foreign Affairs is an important addition to the framing of the contest between China and the United States. They point to the very real risks of seeing the relationship as an ideological struggle. But their analysis leaves key questions unanswered, and ultimately misses the need for the United States to accommodate a China that will be its equal militarily and economically.

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1776 Commission versus 1619 Project: will Trump’s rejection of history divide America?

The ‘1776 Commission’ is the denouement of all the bizarre notions that have populated Trump’s seemingly random and disjointed dialogue throughout the four years of his presidency. His speech announcing it was a not very well-disguised panegyric for an agenda that isn’t just a denial of history, but could see America remain deeply and passionately divided well beyond Trump’s presidency.

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An alliance of democracies: with the US or for the US? (Sven Biscop)

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called for an “a new grouping of like-minded nations, a new alliance of democracies”. By bringing together its European and Asian allies under American leadership, the US hopes to bring them into line with its own China strategy. But an “alliance of democracies” would not really be an alliance with the US – it would be an alliance for the US, to further the American interest, to which the interests of its allies would inevitably end up being subordinated.

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Demystifying Australia’s South China Sea stance (Sam Bateman)

Despite Australia and the United States having no direct interest in continental shelf claims in the South China Sea, both have recently joined the debate. Both appear to have sought maximum publicity for their submissions – which have been reported as providing the basis for confronting and false media headlines, such as ‘Australia says China’s claims to disputed islands are ‘invalid’ and are not consistent with UN convention on law of the sea’. In fact there is nothing new in the Australian or US statements despite suggestions that they reflect new aggressive stances against China, and it is not clear why Australia and the United States made statements at this particular point in time other than to add another dimension to the intensifying rivalry with China.

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The weaponisation of the US financial system (Jacque Delors Centre)

Author: Edward Knudsen | Jacque Delors Centre | 4 June 2020 In order to fulfil its ambition to become a credible geopolitical player and to defend its interests and values abroad, it is critical for the EU to be able to withstand extraterritorial sanctions Edward Knudsen argues that European economic autonomy depends on displacing the US from the central role in international finance and recommends a strategy for strengthening the euro as an international currency.

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Predation and predators in the post-alliance era (INSS)

Institute for National Security Studies (University of Tel Aviv) | Policy Analysis | Volume 23 | No. 1 | January 2020 | Author: François Heisbourg In historical terms, it is the seventy-year era of alliances that is the exception. This point is well made every time NATO prides itself on being without precedent: yes indeed, but that is not reassuring. The norm is what prevailed in previous centuries or millennia. In this interesting article Heisbourg frames his speculation about

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Race is not real: It’s time to stop acting as though it is

For something that doesn’t exist, race exerts a pernicious and persistent influence on society. Placing people into a racial category, based on observable external features, and then attributing to it holistic ‘cultures’ that determine behaviours or moral character, is not supported by evidence.

But even those who are prepared to go to the barricades to oppose racism perpetuate the notion that race is real. This makes the management of entrenched racism inordinately difficult – but belief in race can be undermined – this is what needs to happen.

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The Australia-India Strategic Partnership: ‘Shared values’ mask the real strategic purpose

The much-used phrase ‘shared values’ is regularly used as the basis for international relationships and alliances. It can be used to selectively point to values found in political, social or economic ideologies, or in religious or ethical systems – and to divert attention away from substantive issues or conjure up imaginary communities of interest. In the context of the Australia-India Strategic Partnership, does the use of the phrase mask the real strategic purpose of the agreement?

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