Geostrategic shifts in a time of contagion

The COVID-19 crisis will affect the global geostrategic situation in a number of ways. Economic conditions within nation states and across the globalised world will have shifted; governments will be juggling austerity policies, tax increases and welfare demands. Liberal and democratic values, and confidence in political leadership, are likely to have suffered. And internationally, the future geostrategic situation could turn on whether China or the US bounces back best from the current predicament.

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Martin Gak: Economy v. human life is not a moral dilemma

A moral dilemma is a situation in which a person is faced with two mutually exclusive choices and urgent reasons to choose each of them. Choosing between saving human lives and saving business ventures poses no such moral dilemma; lives and money cannot be equated. And yet this kind of zero-sum thinking has never been an impediment to individuals focused on political or financial aspirations no matter the human cost.

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George Monbiot: Our politics isn’t designed to protect the public from COVID-19

Writing in The Guardian, George Monbiot sees some common threads in the approaches to COVID-19 of the UK, US and Australian governments. The worst possible people are in charge at the worst possible time. In the UK, the US and Australia, the politics of the governing parties have been built on the dismissal and denial of risk. Just as these politics have delayed the necessary responses to climate breakdown, ecological collapse, air and water pollution,

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Herd immunity or herd culling? Shades of Bentham, Spencer and Galton stalk government COVID-19 responses

Seeping faintly through the pronouncements and policies of some government responses to the coronavirus pandemic are the vapours of older belief systems; a whiff of utilitarianism, the scent of social Darwinism, and the fetid reek of eugenics. Examination of the UK government’s ‘herd immunity’ pandemic response suggests that it is not too farfetched to connect contemporary politics with these ostensibly outdated ideas.

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US Presidential Election 2020: who would Kim Jong-un vote for?

The nuclear threat to North Asia, and possibly the US homeland, will remain one of the most intractable problems for the US president.

It is highly unlikely that in a second term Trump would step back from his maximum pressure sanctions strategy, and there is little evidence that this approach is anything other than counterproductive.

There are some indications that a Democrat victory in the presidential election could lead to a change in direction for US policy, which might offer greater opportunities for a pragmatic diplomatic solution.

For North Asian security, the best hope for a partial denuclearisation and a lessening of the security threat probably lies in Trump’s defeat.

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What do the Chinese think of the United States-Australian alliance?

In recent articles, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s Peter Jennings has lauded the Australian government’s decision to refurbish and expand the Royal Australian Air Force Base Tindal as ‘a giant strategic step forward’ – a project that ‘will deliver a firmer deterrent posture and a closer alliance with the US’. Does China really view Australia’s defence alliance with the United States ‘with a mix of envy and puzzlement’, as he suggests?

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The Trumping of international law and democratic institutions

Past US presidents used the potency of the American liberal democratic ideal to rally like-minded nations and to rein in and chasten the world’s miscreants. The liberty and justice rhetoric appealed to and generated hope among peoples suffering under autocracy and oppression. The ideal inspired, and could be leveraged for influence. But under President Trump, the important institutions of constitutional democracy and international law have suffered serious damage, and the long-term prospects for peace and stability have been undercut as a result.

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Is the United States of America a normal country?

Remarks at the Munich Security Conference by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper are full of unconscious irony.

If ‘the United States’ was substituted for every reference to ‘China’ in each address not much of their coherence would be lost. Can the two premier US leaders of foreign and strategic policy genuinely be so naïve about the current impact of America’s policies on the world order, multilateralism, alliances, and international security?

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Traps, Trump and Thucydides: challenging Allison’s concept of a ‘Thucydides’ Trap’

Harvard academic Graham Allison finds in Thucydides’ ‘The History of the Peloponnesian War’, some near universal law of international relations where war between established and rising great powers is close to inevitable – the ‘Thucydides’ Trap’. But are there different lessons to be drawn from analysis of the Peloponnesian War?

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Trump Netanyahu Meeting

Few outside the US approve of Trump’s major foreign policies, but Israelis are an exception

New analysis suggests that evaluations of US President Donald Trump’s signature foreign policies are generally negative around the world – except in Israel, the only surveyed country where a majority of people (55%) express net approval of Trump’s policies, and where the level of net approvers is 18 percentage points higher than it is in the US, the second-most-approving country.

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US National Security and Ukraine: What’s the connection?

Witnesses appearing before the US House of Representatives’ impeachment hearings have connected Russian aggression in Ukraine with US national security. But just how is Ukraine important to the national security of the United States? It may be prudent to have clarity around national interests and to avoid shorthand terms that tend to discourage analysis and articulation of those interests, such as ‘national security’.

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Geopolitics and the re-election of Donald Trump

The biggest question in geopolitics is: will President Trump be re-elected? More than any previous presidential election, the 2020 election could presage a very dangerous era in world politics, making the presidential election the most important geopolitical event this year. However, the American presidential election will be determined by domestic issues that swirl around a collection of policy issues as well as identity and values.

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