Tuesday 21 May 2019 | 09:40 | SYDNEY
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A bad dry season on the Mekong

With the end of the dry season in the Lower Mekong Basin (LMB) — a period roughly running from November to May — the magnitude of the problems affecting the Mekong River is starkly apparent. With estimates that the river has been at its lowest level in the last 100 years — a circumstance

The 2016 Lowy Institute Poll interactive

Today the Lowy Institute launched the 12th annual Lowy Institute Poll, which asks Australians how the feel about issues concerning the world and Australia's place in it. As always, there are many interesting findings; for analysis of this year's results, see Alex Oliver's post from this morning.  

The migration security nexus in Asia and Australia (part 3)

There is a perpetual wave of migration underway in Asia, much of it through unauthorised channels and often with grave results for both migrants and the broader society of host countries. Human security issues, which relate to people rather than artificial borders created by nation states, merit

Syria: A mutiny at Foggy Bottom?

The controversy surrounding the the release of a draft cable critical of US government policy written by 51 State Department employees has garnered headlines, not so much for the fact that people within the bureaucracy are critical of the President's Syria strategy (given the complexity of the

Chaos in Kunming

Meetings of ASEAN ministers are normally fairly soporific affairs. The organisation's consensus way of making decisions and a strong desire to avoid the diverging interests of its members embarrassing one another or worse creates a dull agenda. When those meetings are with external interlocutors,

More reflections on terrorism and the value of life

Responding to my reflections on the Orlando terrorist attack, Sam Roggeveen asks a powerful question: does society value human life more now than in previous times? In support of the affirmative, Roggeveen points to the enormous material and well-being advances of humankind over recent decades.

The US and India: Aligned but not allied

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US last week imparted new energy into the Indo-US relationship with consolidation of relations in areas such as nuclear, defence, clean energy and counter terrorism. However, with no great breakthroughs announced, much was also left unsaid. 

Orlando: Radicalisation is not a linear pathway

Considerable time and attention will be devoted over the coming weeks and months to understanding whether more should have been done to prevent Sunday’s attack on an Orlando LGBT nightclub. And in particular, why an individual previously investigated by the FBI for his links to violent extremism

Who has the best national anthem? (Part 2)

Last Friday Sam Roggeveen called on Interpreter readers to nominate their pick for the best national anthem. This is the first response. Judging national anthems without context is akin to asking whether the madeleines baked by Proust's Aunt Leonie were the best sponge-cakes ever. It's not just

Terrorism and the value of life

Anne-Marie Balbi says of the Orlando shootings that 'So intense and regular is media coverage of such incidents that the impact is being muted. The terrorists are failing in their goal of instilling fear because to feel fear we need to be human and each mass shooting diminishes our humanity.' But

The EU's flawed approach to Mediterranean migrant flows

Last weekend, the Italian coast guard rescued 1348 refugees at sea in one day between Sicily and Libya. This rescue comes after more than 700 people drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Libya to Italy in one week in May, the highest weekly death toll since April 2015. While refugee

Orlando and the ISIS model of terrorism

After the worst mass shooting in modern US history, theories and accusations abound. This was a hate crime against the LGBT community, not a terrorist incident; the perpetrator was religious/not religious; he was mentally ill/not mentally ill; may or may not have pledged allegiance to ISIS prior to

A long weekend for The Interpreter

  Along with the most of Australia, The Interpreter is taking Monday off (note to international readers: it's slightly embarrassing to say why Monday is a holiday; I mean even the Brits don't take a day off for the Queen's birthday). You will see some new stuff on the site on Monday but normal

Who has the best national anthem?

This morning I stumbled on an economics blog which claimed bluntly, and without much argument, that the Soviet national anthem was the best ever: I'm not saying this claim is wrong (the version in The Hunt for Red October is pretty stirring too, though the accents sound dodgy), it just needs some

NZ Defence White Paper: A maritime focus with a difference

Anyone contemplating the Turnbull Government's ship-building plans could be forgiven for thinking that an ambitious maritime strategy was the central feature of Australia's recent Defence White Paper. But to justify twelve post-Collins Class submarines, the future frigates, several offshore patrol

Chinese innovation: More than a fast follower? (Part 2)

Part one of this two-part series surveyed several metrics for assessing China’s capacity to innovate at the level of developed countries. Today’s post looks at China's progress in translating this potential into tangible outputs, and the possible global implications over the next few decades.

Book review: War by Other Means

What do Moldovan wine, Norwegian salmon, Philippine bananas and Dysprosium have in common? They are all instruments of political suasion exerted upon trading partners by China and Russia, weapons in an international War by Other Means. That is the title of a new book which urges the US to up its

Trump and Curiel: This time it really is different

Earlier this month, Donald Trump claimed that the judge presiding over a civil lawsuit involving Trump University, Gonzalo Curiel, would be biased because he ‘is Mexican’ and because Trump is ‘building a wall with Mexico’. Whether or not this meets the technical definition of racism, it’s

Chinese innovation: More than a fast follower? (Part 1)

The first part of this two-part series examines China's sustained prioritisation of innovation,  a relatively new factor in the global knowledge economy that for the last half century has been dominated by the Western countries and Japan, and to a smaller extent in recent years by South Korea and

Unpacking Rudd's strategy in the race for UN chief

Argentina's Susana Malcorra and Slovakia's Miroslav Lajcák, newcomers to the race for UN secretary-general (SG), are in New York this week for their 'informal dialogues' with the UN General Assembly. Other SG candidates — António Guterres, Vuk Jeremi?, and Igor Lukši? — were in London last

Carter stakes out high ground at the Shangri-La Duel-ogue

The challenge for US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter at the 15th Shangri-la Dialogue (SLD) this year was to deliver an address sufficiently convincing on US security commitment to the region that it would reassure Washington's allies and partners, without appearing unduly to raise the temperature of

Time for Team Washington to change the script

Recently two high-level dialogues involving China were held and at both, China and its interlocutors largely talked past each other, achieving very little genuine communication or progress. The continued determination of both Beijing and Team Washington (for want of a better collective description

Old Burma hands write on the 'odd man out in Asia'

The recent release of former ambassador Trevor Wilson’s book, Eyewitness to Early Reform in Myanmar, prompts a brief look at other diplomatic memoirs by Australians and, in particular, those written by officers posted to Australia’s embassy in Rangoon (now Yangon) since it opened in 1956.

The migration-security nexus in Asia and Australia (part 2)

Australia has always relied on migrants to help fuel the nation's growth.  Currently, only a small proportion of permanent migrants are accepted on purely humanitarian grounds. Much of the heated discussion around this humanitarian migrant stream is focused on border security issues but, as I

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