Wednesday 22 May 2019 | 20:50 | SYDNEY
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The Americas

Trump's travel ban likely to go to US Supreme Court

It is often said that a week is a long time in politics, but in the United States the weekend saw the political and legal landscape change almost by the hour. On Friday evening District Judge James Robart granted a temporary restraining order with nationwide effect suspending the travel ban

Mattis visit unlikely to calm Trump-rattled allies

This is a weird time for US allies in Asia. This week’s visit by the new American Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, to northeast Asia should be a routine alliance maintenance trip. A new presidency brings new people and new ideas. Officials need to make the rounds and get up to speed. But under

The Trump call forces Australia to confront a big question

Let’s consider a few alternative theories to explain President Trump’s behaviour in his phone call with Prime Minister Turnbull, revealed by the Washington Post yesterday, starting with what is probably the most conventional explanation. He’s erratic and guided by emotion rather than reason

Australian immigration in the Trump era

Earlier this week Malcolm Turnbull said it wasn’t his job as Prime Minister of Australia 'to run a commentary on the domestic policies of other countries' after President Trump signed an executive order banning travellers from seven majority Muslim countries. There are many reasons to question

The three factors that will drive US policy in Asia

In the 10 days since his inauguration President Trump has sought to convey the appearance of a strong and energetic leader committed to delivering exactly what he promised. Executive orders have come thick and fast covering most of the major election issues including immigration bans, building the

Trump’s trade protectionism

President Trump is off to a flying start on his promised trade protectionism, with executive orders on withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and renegotiation of NAFTA, together with his threatened import duty on any US company off-shoring domestic jobs and his promise to make Mexico pay for

The End of History, a generation on

This year it is 25 years since Francis Fukuyama published The End of History and the Last Man – the span of a generation, as traditionally reckoned. The book, like the 1989 essay from which it grew, is more complex and sophisticated than the first phrase of the title suggests. Much of it is

From Obama optimism to Trumpian gloom

When the heavens opened up and it started to rain just as President Donald J. Trump began his inaugural address, it was hard not to see it as an omen. Barack Obama, a relentless optimist and dedicated globalist is gone, replaced by a neophyte populist politician whose promise to 'make America

Obama’s legacy: Still a work in progress?

Barack Obama leaves office in the somewhat paradoxical position of enjoying unusually high approval ratings for a departing president, while also fearing the wholesale destruction of his legacy. Many of Obama’s most strident opponents have claimed that the election of Donald Trump was

Trump's confused mercantilism

Among the foreign policy issues raised by the imminent Trump White House, one that has received a fair amount of commentary is the President-elect's mercantilist leanings; that is, a pragmatic approach that views the world through the prism of financial return on US investment of various

Trump and the intelligence community

Not for the first time in US history, Russia hysteria has hijacked the political discourse. Rhetoric abounds that Russia 'hacked' the US election; the actual charge is that the Russian government covertly accessed the email account of senior Clinton aide John Podesta and later supplied his

Obama's legacy: The world is more dangerous for Australia

President Obama’s personal attributes, shown to great effect in his farewell speech in Chicago, may not be enough to carry his reputation through the consequences of his Administration. For Australia, Obama’s presidency has resulted in challenges to the world order not seen for decades. There

South China Sea: Tillerson throws a rhetorical bomb

US Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson has made some potentially explosive remarks about the South China Sea at his Congressional confirmation hearing: In comments expected to enrage Beijing, Rex Tillerson told his confirmation hearing before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee that

Meet Rex Tillerson: Trump's pick for Secretary of State

Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State designate, was not so much a dark horse as a late finisher for the most prestigious job in Washington apart from the presidency itself. President-elect Donald Trump seems to have had lingering reservations about other contenders including early frontrunners,

The merits of generals in government

As I facetiously said on a number of occasions during my recent abortive run for the Senate, you cannot have too many generals in parliament. Looking at developments in the US presidential transition, there will be a fair few retired generals supporting President-elect Trump. These include the

James Mattis: Mad Dog, warrior monk and defence sec nominee

When Donald Trump at the weekend revealed the identity of his nominee for defence secretary he referred to him by his soubriquet: Mad Dog. He also likened retired Marine General James Mattis to Trump’s own military hero, General George Patton whose World War II exploits as an aggressive armoured

Is there a global wave of populism?

I was really pleased to see this new essay in The Monthy by Andrew Charlton and Lachlan Harris, because it draws further attention to the decline in public support for our two major parties, a phenomenon which is gradually reshaping Australian politics (Peter Hartcher focused on it earlier this week

The election is over, time to move on

For many outside of the US, the country that is arguably the proudest of its democracy has a very odd way of electing its president. We can understand, just, why the founding fathers' obsession with the rights of individual states led to the Electoral College. Of course it seems strange that

Trump: Not the ideal poster-boy for European populists

Sometimes luck can be so timed as to give an impression of genius. So it seemed with Angela Merkel’s announcement last week that she would stand as the German Christian Democrat Chancellor candidate for a fourth time in 2017.  The announcement itself was no surprise: Merkel’s apparent

Trump's voters will be disappointed by his economics

With all the campaign blather, posturing and hyperbole, we don’t know much about the specifics of President-elect Trump’s economic policy. One thing is clear: it is not possible to satisfy the inchoate economic expectations of those who elected him. Let’s focus on a couple of economic issues

Trump: An unimaginable president

Even with the precedent of Brexit (similar in terms of the political forces involved and the level of shock the result produced), it is forgivable that most analysts of US politics failed to see a Donald Trump presidency as the most likely result on 8 November. Absent the ability to personally

Trump’s foreign policy: America First, not America Only

My last piece responded to Kaplan and Walt to explain why Trump is a Nixon-Kissinger realist. This post, part one of two-part series, explores what Trump will seek to achieve in foreign policy more broadly. Part two will focus on how this relates to matters of importance to Australia: trade, China,

Don't give up on the US in Asia just yet

Contrary to Hugh White’s argument that we’re better off appeasing China than risk going to war with Donald Trump, we are likely to see a recalibrated version of US offshore balancing in Asia under Trump that will impose added burdens on allies, but will not mean either the careless provocation

The death of the median voter

Conventional political science wisdom since the 1950s has seen elections in America, and in other well-established democracies, as driven by the struggle for support of the 'median voter'. Well-oiled political party machines, arrayed not too far from the midpoint along a left-right spectrum, are

The real Trump-Putin connection

Among the first (and originally few) world leaders to congratulate Donald Trump on winning the White House was Russian President Vladimir Putin. But was Putin also the first to call it? After months of speculation about Russian meddling, nobody is now saying that Putin 'threw' the election

Weekend catch-up: President-elect Donald Trump

By John Gooding, Digital Editor at the Lowy Institute and Associate Editor at The Interpreter. This week saw Donald Trump clinch the US presidency by flipping Florida and several Great Lakes states. Given his erratic personality, the long-term consequences of Trump’s victory are very much

Trump and the Iran nuclear deal

The election of Donald Trump raises many uncertainties about the future direction of US foreign policy, including nuclear weapons and nuclear non-proliferation. A major aspect of this is the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), concluded between

Australia must prepare for an Asia without America

Our first thoughts should be for Americans, and the damage that has been done to their institutions, their society and their national self-respect. But there is nothing to say about this American tragedy that has not been said far better by Americans themselves. So let’s leave it at that. Our

Why Trump won

This is the first of a series of posts on the 2016 election outcome. This post explains why Trump won and provides some reflections on my own journey. The next piece will be prospective on Trump’s foreign policy generally and then one directed towards the Australian government specifically. Over

What Donald Trump means for India

Like all American envoys, the US Ambassador to India Rich Verma has had a difficult job in the past forty-eight hours, as New Delhi gets to grips with the election of Donald Trump. US-India ties, he argued, transcended the ‘friendship of the American President and the Indian Prime Minister’,

Election night with the Republicans in Ohio

Spirits are high at the Cuyahoga County Republican watch party in Cleveland City. The House of Representatives is set to remain in control of the GOP and Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman has seen off a challenge from former Democratic governor Ted Strickland, meaning the Democratic party is going

There's more at stake than the White House

The presidency is just the beginning; making sure no authority is foisted upon the people is the American way, which means said people face a very long list of choices at the polling booth. County Boards of Elections exercise considerable ingenuity in the design of multi-page ballots that

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