Biden embraces science and facts, but falls short on climate action

President Biden’s recognition of climate change, and determination to shift science to the centre of climate policy is important, and welcome. But a program that “achieves a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and puts the US on an irreversible path to a net-zero economy by 2050” will not be enough. Adaptation to a 3.0°C temperature rise this century must now be a focus for governments.

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Taiwan: a ‘wicked’ strategic problem for Australia

For Australia, the question of Taiwan remains a ‘wicked’ strategic problem. The Taiwanese have over time established strong claims for their autonomy. The US has a huge investment in Taiwan’s security, while not denying it is part of China. And defence of Taiwan could see the island devastated, the ANZUS alliance become irrelevant, and Australia’s security lost. Why would Australia go to war over Taiwan?

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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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Early public release of US’s Indo-Pacific ‘Strategic Framework’

On 12 January 2021, the outgoing Trump administration released a declassified document titled em>United States Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific. The document was declassified some thirty years ahead of schedule to enable its early public release. This unusual step by an outgoing US administration has seen the emergence of a range of views on the merits of the document, and the intention behind its early release.

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The curious case of the ‘United States Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific’

On 12 January 2021, the then US National Security Advisor, Robert O’Brien, released a declassified document titled the United States Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific. The document was declassified for release on 5 January 2021, thirty years before this was due, in the last days of the outgoing Trump Administration. What should an Australian analyst make of this document?

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An American theocracy: the advance of Christian nationalism

Ironically, Christian nationalist opposition to religious liberty has plagued American democracy since before the Revolution, and a strong authoritarian strain still runs through American religious thinking. The Trump Administration provided disturbing evidence of how Christian nationalists have penetrated key political institutions, with eclipse of constitutional liberal democracy by a competing virtual theocracy as their aim.

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Is Trump’s 1776 Commission Report an extremist manifesto?

Trump’s 1776 Commission Report, released on 18 January 2021, puts forward ideas that are designed to give shape and logic to the notions of extremists. It is a dangerous document that provides the façade of a coherent political philosophy to hide, and to disguise, the rising illiberalism in America. The final conclusion is chilling, comparing the contemporary situation in America with previous crises that were resolved by violence and insurrection.

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What should Australia want from a Biden National Security Strategy?

If President Biden produces a National Security Strategy in 2021, Australia should hope for a major shift away from that of President Trump. But not an uncritical return to the 2015 version of President Obama. If stability and a workable international system are the outcomes the Biden Administration seeks, then three deeply interwoven issues need to be given serious attention: leadership, democracy, and sovereignty.

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US-Japan alliance: experts point to America’s strategic reliance on Japan in Asia

Richard Armitage and Joseph Nye, long time pillars of the Washington national security policy elite, are the lead authors of a new report from CSIS on the US-Japan alliance, with a suggested “new agenda for the challenges and opportunities on the horizon”. It is deeply refreshing to see them acknowledge, albeit somewhat wistfully, that there is no going back to US hegemony. To exercise influence the US will have to partner with other states.

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The US-Japan alliance in 2020: an equal alliance with a global agenda (Armitage-Nye)

Richard Armitage and Joseph Nye have led a team to produce a new “bipartisan Armitage-Nye” report on the state of the US-Japan alliance, seen as critical to addressing both regional and global challenges. On the question of China and US strategy in Asia, the report is both entirely predictable and refreshingly surprising.

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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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The metrics of strategic competition with China don’t add up

The recent Belfer Center report by RAAF Group Captain Jason Begley, Winning Strategic Competition in the Indo-Pacific, offers important insights into the strategic thinking of the Australian military. The author’s analysis of the strategic competition with China in which the US and Australia have engaged far surpasses the level of the policy arguments offered in the Australian government’s 2020 Defence Strategic Update.

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Mike Pompeo urges working together to address Turkey, Donald Trump considers a strike on Iran

In Paris on Monday,16 November 2020, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the US administration and Europe need to work jointly on addressing recent “aggressive” actions led by Turkey – before continuing his 7-country tour, landing in Istanbul on Monday night. In Washington, a US official confirmed that last week US President Trump considered a strike on Iran’s main nuclear facility.

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