Thursday 24 Oct 2019 | 09:36 | SYDNEY
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Europe

Diplomatic immunity: Time to change the rules

The current diplomatic spat between the United Kingdom and the United States, following a fatal road accident involving the wife of a US “diplomat”, draws attention, yet again, to diplomatic immunity and its potential abuse. The facts, as reported by the UK media and based on witness accounts

Jacques Chirac and the Pacific

Former President Jacques Chirac, a giant of French politics and the man who said “non” to George W Bush and the war in Iraq in 2003, died yesterday at age 86. The news brought a shower of tributes from around the world. In France, a national day of mourning in honour of the former head of

Brexit: Deal or no deal

On 31 October, the UK is once again due to leave the European Union. This is the third such deadline this year. It is possible that there will be a fourth, should the European Council be asked yet again to extend the UK’s membership to provide time for it to leave in an orderly rather than

Macron tries to put the spark back into the G7

Never one to shy from lofty goals, French President Emmanuel Macron used the G7 summit in the French seaside town of Biarritz to make tenuous first steps in rejuvenating the West as the world’s most powerful political alliance. The summit ended yesterday amid improbable displays of goodwill and

Houses divided

Many of The Interpreter’s readers are experts on the theory and conduct of international relations. So, quite reasonably, they look at armed conflict through the lens of inter-state relations, where one state resorts to the use (or the threat of use) of armed force to prevail over another. For

The limits to French grandeur in the Indo-Pacific

For the first time since the Geneva Agreements of 1954, France has turned its eyes towards what is now termed the Indo-Pacific. The renewal of Paris’s interest in the region not only reflects a desire to tap on the wealth of rising Asia, but also Emmanuel Macron’s desire to restore France’s

Tanker-for-tanker

The most perplexing question following Iran’s capture of the MV Stena Impero on Friday is why the British were unable to foresee this action as a natural response to Britain’s earlier seizure of the Iranian-flagged tanker Grace 1 in Gibraltar and make appropriate preparations. The Grace 1 was

The burden of friendship: Germany, Trump and NATO

“Burden sharing” has long been a totemic term in discussions about NATO. Behind the happy paeans to shared values and mutual security interests uttered publicly by national leaders has always stood the hard reality of American power and Europe’s complete dependency upon it. Yet under the

Superpower scrutiny at Shangri-La

For the past two years, the highlight of the annual IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore was the keynote speech by the sadly departed former US defence secretary Jim Mattis. This year the task of speaking on behalf of America to the leading forum of Asian defence

Europe and the Anglosphere drifting apart

Beyond the somewhat confusing continental results of this month’s elections to the European Parliament, a longstanding trend becomes clearer. Britain is trying to go alone on its nationalist and conservative way, mirroring the US and Australia. At least on the Monday morning after the

The last straw for Theresa May

After Margaret Thatcher, John Major, and David Cameron, Theresa May is the latest Conservative Prime Minister to have been undermined by her inability to manage the divisions within her party over Europe. May tried to achieve something that was always going to be difficult, respecting the outcome

The Sino-Russian relationship is being misunderstood

Too often, the past is mistaken as a guide for the future, rather than as lesson from which to avoid making the same mistakes. Take the relationship between China and Russia as an example. Too often judgements about the decisions of Russian and Chinese politicians are clouded by stereotypes of the

Huawei reaches into Britain

Whatever the true situation behind the sacking of Gavin Williamson as British defence secretary over claims (which he strenuously denies) that he leaked information to the Daily Telegraph from a meeting of the National Security Committee on Chinese telecom company Huawei, one thing is crystal clear

Visa tussles: here come the Irish again

The Irish campaign to gain access to the E-3 visa in the United States has roared back to life.  Currently, Australia is the only country with access to the 10,500 E-3 visa slots. Yet Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, who led a delegation of US legislators on a visit to

Notre Dame: the day after the big fire

More than a church went up in flames in the Parisian fire this past Monday night, which destroyed much of the interior of the cathedral Notre Dame, though left the stone façade seemingly intact. Author Ken Follett called the medieval cathedrals in Europe “the pillars of the Earth”. Notre Dame

The souring mood towards Beijing from Berlin

Until recently, Germany was one of the few major Western countries that China had consistently amicable relations with in an increasingly hostile international environment for Beijing’s export-oriented industries and foreign investments. Germany, China’s fourth-largest trade partner, did not

Do you care about Slovakia? You should

Over the weekend, Slovakia held its presidential elections. Slovakian politics is not often on our radar but the decisive victory of Zuzana Caputova is notable because it seems to buck the tide of right-wing populism, conservative nationalism, and Euroscepticism washing over much of the European

The greatest British political crisis of modern times

Brexit appears to be approaching a bewildering denouement. Prime Minister Theresa May has reached a dead end with a negotiated deal that met the criteria for leaving the European Union and would have done so in an orderly fashion but satisfied very few. Hard-line Leavers considered it so much

Ignoring international law in the Blue Pacific

Both the Australian Labor Party and Coalition have expressed support for France to remain as a Pacific power, seeing the French Republic as a stable, democratic, Western ally at a time of growing Chinese influence in the Pacific Islands. Australia’s neighbours are well aware that Australian

Brexit: Britain’s Commonwealth pivot is nothing new

In the midst of Britain’s painful extraction from the European Union, a saga which deepened this week with a second parliamentary defeat for Theresa May’s Brexit deal, key figures on the Conservative right harbour a quiet hope that the Commonwealth will come to the rescue. Notwithstanding the

Fisheries and Brexit – a slippery affair

Despite accounting for a mere 0.12% the UK’s overall economic output, fisheries is one of the most contentious issues in the Brexit jumble. Highly politicised, negotiations on the future fisheries regime could tarnish the overall outcome of British departure from the EU. Issues of British

The global significance of an electoral showdown in Europe

The upcoming fight for seats in the European Parliament will show whether authoritarian National-Populists, globally on the upswing, can extend their reign to the heart of the European Union. The 700-plus members of the European Parliament are elected in each of the 28-member countries of the

Learning from Brexit in Donald Trump’s America

For those of us with an internationalist viewpoint, watching the Brexit process unfold in the context of the Trump Presidency has left us demoralised and despondent. In both cases, we see the rise of populism and demagoguery in great liberal democracies. We see chaos, a self-inflicted wound. And we

Breaking Russia’s space stranglehold

The test launch of a SpaceX astronaut capsule to the International Space Station (without astronauts aboard) is cause for celebration. It marks the debut of the first crew-carrying orbital spacecraft from America since the development of the Space Shuttle decades ago. But it also signifies the

Trouble in Munich: the transatlantic breakup

Since 1963, the Munich Security Conference has been a fixture on the international scene. During the Cold War it was an important forum for debate on the West’s policy towards the Soviet Union. It was often described as a “transatlantic family meeting.” Last weekend I attended the 2019

Film review: They Shall Not Grow Old

Jackson achieves magnificently his professed goal of making a film about the human experience of the war. The commemorations marking the centenary of the First World War were so regular that by 2018 a degree of commemoration fatigue seemed to have set in. Was there anything more than could be said

Russian arms flood Southeast Asia

Russia’s “hard” power is generally well-understood. President Vladimir Putin has ensured this is the case, particularly through his proclivity to showcase Russian strength in Ukraine and Syria. And who could forget Russia’s arsenal of nuclear weapons? Not Donald Trump: just last weekend,

Film Review: Brexit – the Uncivil War

A workable divorce deal hasn’t even been inked, yet already one of the most seismic episodes in British political history has been scripted, dramatised, and broadcast to an audience languishing in the deadlock of its aftermath. Brexit: The Uncivil War centres upon the successful Vote Leave

Brexit: British people vote with their feet

With Prime Minister Teresa May’s Brexit withdrawal deal rejected this week by the House of Commons, the future of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union remains as uncertain as ever. Possible scenarios include a further vote on the deal, an exit with no deal agreed, an extension of

Brexit barneys and three big questions

As the tick-tock of the Brexit clock moves toward a deadline of 29 March, the ramifications are fast unfolding. The UK parliament has now comprehensively rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposed deal for British withdrawal from the European Union. There is a demand to see Plan B within days

Aid mergers: no unscrambling the egg

Britain’s former foreign secretary Boris Johnson has called for the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) to be rolled into the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). This would be a monumental mistake for a country looking for relevance in a post-Brexit world. Over the past two

Russian gas will not stop China’s air pollution

As Beijing clamps down on air pollution, it is seeking to replace coal power plants with cleaner natural gas, especially for heating during winter. Consequently, China has intensified relations with Russia, one of the world’s leading gas exporters, to expand energy ties. But although upping gas

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