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AFA Monthly is a free email published each month by Australian Foreign Affairs.
Written and curated by editor Grant Wyeth, it features news and insights on crucial world events and their effect on Australia, in a style that’s clear, succinct and free of jargon.
It also offers a round-up of the month's key articles by leading foreign policy thinkers from Australia and around the world.
Read previous editions
6 March 2019
Trade deal hype
Almost nine years ago, then prime minister Julia Gillard visited Jakarta and announced that talks had started on a free trade deal that would transform ties with Indonesia. On Monday, the agreement was signed. Scott Morrison did not attend the ceremony in Jakarta, perhaps wary of reminding Indonesians of his proposal last year to move the Australian …
27 February 2019
The Hanoi summit
Today in Hanoi, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un will start their second summit on North Korea’s nuclear program. This follows last year’s meeting in Singapore, which was described by Trump as a war-averting triumph but was actually an embarrassing failure: Trump granted Kim international legitimacy and, going off-script, suspended US military exercises …
20 February 2019
Hackers target Australia
Several years ago, an American security firm allegedly accessed the computers used by China’s military hacking unit, which operates out of a nondescript twelve-storey building near one of Shanghai’s main airports. This enabled American intelligence to piece together a day in the life of a People’s Liberation Army hacker. According to The …
13 February 2019
Why foreign aid?
Earlier this week, a grazier affected by the recent floods in Queensland pleaded for support, asserting that the government should assist Australians rather than spend money on foreign aid. This is a familiar refrain, and it was soon echoed in national headlines. But it perpetuates a series of common misperceptions about aid: that it is wasteful, …
6 February 2019
Lessons from Afghanistan
Australia’s longest war is coming to an end.
For eighteen years, Australian troops have operated in Afghanistan in a deployment that has been backed and extended by six prime ministers. Tens of thousands of people have died, including forty-one Australian soldiers. Now, the United States and the Taliban are negotiating a peace deal that …
30 January 2019
The Indo-Pacific pivot
Political divisions in Washington have left the nation paralysed, yet the warring parties have found a subject upon which they can agree: China.
Last month, Republicans and Democrats in Congress backed a law that committed the US to expanding its military and diplomatic activities in the Indo-Pacific region. Donald Trump signed the bill – …
23 January 2019
Morrison’s Pacific scorecard
Scott Morrison’s three-day visit to Vanuatu and Fiji marked – surprisingly – the first time in history that an Australian prime minister has made a bilateral visit to either of these maritime neighbours.
Traditionally, Australia has been more focused on cultivating relations with powers that are greater than it, and has often neglected, …
19 December 2018
Caught in US–China crossfire
Nine days ago, former diplomat Michael Kovrig was picked up by authorities in Beijing and taken to prison, where he has been held without being formally charged or allowed access to lawyers. His crime is his nationality: he is from Canada, a country whose ties to China typically look much like Australia’s. Kovrig’s imprisonment is almost certainly …
12 December 2018
The Brexit limbo
Last week, a friend in London sent me a photo of her costume for her office Christmas party. She wore a blue beret with yellow stars pinned on it, and a placard saying: “All I want for Christmas is EU.” Unfortunately, my friend – like the rest of the British population – will not see her wishes fulfilled this festive season. Britain is paralysed …
5 December 2018
Rising seas diplomacy
Off the northern tip of the Pacific nation of Tuvalu, an anti-aircraft gun emplacement juts above the surf. Built by American troops during World War II to fight the Japanese, the concrete installation was originally on land but is now offshore, a tiny island created by the rising seas and changing shorelines. Today, as new regional rivalries disrupt …
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