AFA Weekly logo

With Jonathan Pearlman

Sign up to AFA Weekly

Read previous editions

10 April 2019

India’s jumbo elections

Voting starts tomorrow in India, the world’s largest democracy. It is a hefty process that involves 900 million voters, eleven million electoral officials and 800,000 polling stations. Voting will occur on seven nominated days over the next six weeks, with the results due on 23 May.

Indian elections are an incredible feat. They reflect a …

Read more




3 April 2019

The budget’s pitiful response

Tucked away inside last night’s budget papers was a surprisingly candid – and slightly alarming – note that revealed the extent of the government’s concerns about Australia’s global outlook. The note appeared on page thirteen of the budget statement for the foreign affairs and trade portfolio. It began by stating that the 2017 Foreign Policy …

Read more




27 March 2019

Is China cutting Australia out?

Earlier this year, customs officers at five harbours in northern China suddenly blocked the passage of Australian coal. Yet they waved through shipments from other countries such as Russia and Indonesia. The block later spread to other Chinese ports, apparently to allow Chinese officials to conduct “radioactivity tests”. Australian coal typically …

Read more




20 March 2019

Australia’s muffled voice

Since the devastating attack in Christchurch, there has been much discussion about the spread of xenophobic and anti-Muslim views in Australian media and politics. But this concern should also apply to the nation’s foreign affairs, where successive Australian leaders have put a distorted sense of diplomacy and realpolitik above principles and integrity.

In …

Read more




13 March 2019

Australia’s ISIS expats

In Syria, the last holdout of Islamic State is finally being overrun. The so-called caliphate, once the size of Britain, attracted supporters from around the world, including from Australia, but has now been reduced to a small enclave on the Iraqi border. Those remaining – including some of the movement’s most vehement adherents – are surrendering, …

Read more




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 …

Read more




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 …

Read more




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 …

Read more




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, …

Read more




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 …

Read more