Feeling particularly reflective as the US electoral process inches toward a conclusion, Allan and Darren chat about what they see as the short- and long-term challenges facing Australian foreign policy. In the short term, the bilateral relationship with China looms largest. Allan makes that case that the Prime Minister (or Foreign Minister) should make a speech clearly outlining Australia’s position, while Darren wonders whether the PM has already said what he wants to say. And what specific diplomatic moves available to the government? Darren offers some thoughts on whether the ongoing trade disruptions are simply coercion, or whether other geoeconomic or industry policy motives may be a factor. The two also debate the distinction between “the Chinese government” and “the CCP”, and compare it to distinguishing the Trump administration from the United States as a whole.

The other major short-term issue discussed is cooperation with Australia’s regional partners, Southeast Asia in particular. The signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) may offer an opportunity for Australia to develop deeper ties, though Darren raises whether shared security interests are a necessary condition for really substantive cooperation. He also speculates on whether Australia’s experience with economic coercion and protecting against foreign interference could be a useful source of advice, while Allan counters that Asian nations have been grappling with these questions for decades, even centuries! Allan also previews PM Morrison’s trip to Japan this week.

Looking to the longer term, Allan and Darren describe a range of possible futures, the kinds of investment strategies Australia could pursue now to prepare for future challenges, and potential risks to a long-term strategy.

We thank AIIA intern Mitchell McIntosh for his help with research and audio editing and Rory Stenning for composing our theme music.

Relevant Links

PM Lee Hsien Loong gave the keynote address at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-La Dialogue Opening Dinner on 31 May 2019 at the Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore: https://www.pmo.gov.sg/Newsroom/PM-Lee-Hsien-Loong-at-the-IISS-Shangri-La-Dialogue-2019

Lee Hsien Loong, “The Endangered Asian Century: America, China, and the Perils of Confrontation”, Foreign Affairs, July/August 2020: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/asia/2020-06-04/lee-hsien-loong-endangered-asian-century

Stephen Dziedzic, “Scott Morrison unveils Government plans to reassert Australia's influence in South-East Asia”, ABC News, 14 November 2020: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-11-14/australia-canberra-new-aid-south-east-asia-scott-morrison/12883088

Joe Biden, “Why American must lead again: Rescuing U.S. Foreign Policy After Trump”, Foreign Affairs, March/April 2020: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2020-01-23/why-america-must-lead-again

Government of Victoria, “Victorian Pledge For Institute Of Infectious Disease”, 13 November 2020: https://www.premier.vic.gov.au/victorian-pledge-institute-infectious-disease

Tim Alberta, “Elissa Slotkin Braces for a Democratic Civil War”, 13 November 2020: https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/11/13/elissa-slotkin-braces-for-a-democratic-civil-war-436301

David French, Divided we fall: America’s secession threat and how to restore our nation”, Pan Macmillan Australia: https://www.panmacmillan.com.au/9781250201973/ 

Ezra Klein podcast interview with Evan Osnos, “Joe Biden, explained”, 7 November 2020: https://www.vox.com/ezra-klein-show-podcast/2020/11/7/21554198/joe-biden-evan-osnos-president-2020-election-white-house-donald-trump

Little Red Podcast, “Xi Dada and Daddy: Power, the Party and the President”, 2 November 2020: https://omny.fm/shows/the-little-red-podcast/xi-dada-and-daddy-power-the-party-and-the-presiden?in_playlist=the-little-red-podcast!podcast

“P.E. with Joe”, Monday 23 March 2020: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rz0go1pTda8

Recorded on Thursday 5th November in the afternoon (Canberra time), as Joe Biden appeared on track for victory in the 2020 US presidential election but had not yet crossed the 270 electoral college vote threshold, Allan and Darren offer their immediate reactions, emotionally and analytically. 

We thank AIIA intern Mitchell McIntosh for his help with research and audio editing and Rory Stenning for composing our theme music.

Relevant links

Sam Harris, Making Sense Podcast, Episode 224, "The key to Trump's appeal", 2 November 2020: https://samharris.org/podcasts/224-key-trumps-appeal/ 

Daniel Drezner, "Donald Trump and the haunting of political science", Washington Post, 3 November 2020: https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/11/03/donald-trump-haunting-political-science/ 

This week’s episode begins with a focus on recent events in Australia’s defence policy space, which both Allan and Darren see as trending towards the formation of a balancing coalition in the region. Australia will join the US, Japan and India in next month’s Malabar exercises, which was announced while Defence Minister Linda Reynolds was in Tokyo to meet with her counterpart. Meanwhile, Australia will no longer send a naval ship to the Middle East – signalling the conclusion of a decades-long focus on that region.

The conversation then turns to a controversial hearing in the Senate, during which Senator Eric Abetz asked three witnesses, all Australians of Chinese heritage, to denounce the Chinese Communist Party unconditionally. Both Allan and Darren explain why they were deeply troubled by this line of questioning, and Darren describes his recent co-authored piece that argues Abetz’s actions actually harmed Australia’s national security. The episode also raises interesting and thorny questions regarding whether and how every Australian should intervene in public debates.

Finally, given that Ministerial visits, like those to Japan recently made by the Foreign and Defence Ministers, currently come at the cost of 14-days quarantine upon returning home, what does this say about the future of diplomacy?

We thank AIIA intern Mitchell McIntosh for his help with research and audio editing and Rory Stenning for composing our theme music.

Relevant Links

Senator Linda Reynolds and Senator Marise Payne, “Australia to participate in Exercise Malabar 2020”, Media Release: 19 October 2020: https://www.minister.defence.gov.au/minister/lreynolds/media-releases/australia-participate-exercise-malabar-2020

“2020 Japan-Australia Defense Ministers Kishi/Reynolds Joint Statement on Advancing Defence Cooperation”, 19 October 2020: https://www.minister.defence.gov.au/minister/lreynolds/statements/2020-japan-australia-defense-ministers-kishireynolds-joint-statement

Senator Linda Reynolds, “Changes to the ADF's naval presence in the Middle East”, Media Release, 23 October 2020: https://www.minister.defence.gov.au/minister/lreynolds/media-releases/changes-adfs-naval-presence-middle-east

Stephen Dziedzic and Andrew Greene, “Australia no longer sending Navy to the Middle East, shifts focus to Asia-Pacific, China”, ABC News, 23 October 2020: https://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2020-10-23/australia-will-stop-sending-navy-to-middle-east-to-shift-focus/12808118

Osmond Chiu, “I was born in Australia. Why do I need to renounce the Chinese Communist Party?”, Sydney Morning Herald, 14 October 2020: https://www.smh.com.au/national/i-was-born-in-australia-why-do-i-need-to-renounce-the-chinese-communist-party-20201014-p5655j.html

Yun Jiang, “Senator Abetz’s loyalty test”, Inside Story, 20 October 2020: https://insidestory.org.au/senator-abetzs-loyalty-test/

Natasha Kassam and Darren Lim, “Loyalty tests make Australia weaker, not stronger” Lowy Interpreter, 21 October 2020: https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/loyalty-tests-make-australia-weaker-not-stronger

Australian Institute of International Affairs, “The World in 2021: Allan Gyngell and Dennis Richardson in Conversation”, 22 October 2020: https://www.internationalaffairs.org.au/australian-outlook/?filter[]=video (forthcoming)

Graeme Dobell, “What’s worth 14 days’ quarantine for Australia’s foreign minister?” The Strategist, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, 19 October 2020: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/whats-worth-14-days-quarantine-for-australias-foreign-minister/

Australian Institute of International Affairs, contact details: https://www.internationalaffairs.org.au/contact-us/

Anne Applebaum, Twilight of Democracy: The Failure of Politics and the Parting of Friends (Goodreads page): https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55772332-twilight-of-democracy

Francis Fukuyama, “Liberalism and its discontents: The challenges from the left and the right”, American Purpose, 5 October 2020: https://www.americanpurpose.com/articles/liberalism-and-its-discontent/

David Brooks, “America is having a moral convulsion”, The Atlantic, 5 October 2020: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/10/collapsing-levels-trust-are-devastating-america/616581/

Thrilled that the podcast is about to cross the 100,000 lifetime download threshold (thank you all!), Allan and Darren try something new this week – answering mailbag questions. Is the US a ‘failed state’, and would ‘strategic autonomy’ be realistic for Australia? Will the title of Allan’s book on Australian foreign policy, “Fear of abandonment”, be appropriate for the next 70 years of Australian foreign policy? Are there any lessons for Australia and the Indo-Pacific from the recent ‘Abraham Accords’ between Israel and the UAE/Bahrain? Is the Quad viable as an ‘Arc of Democracy’, and are there any major takeaways from the ministerial in Tokyo this past week?

Allan and Darren have their strongest disagreement in assigning a grade to the Australian government’s China policy since 2017, and have an interesting discussion about what control any government can have over public discourse. Next, what will the DFAT of 2050 look like? And finishing with some ‘meta’ questions – is the podcast a useful vehicle to help discipline their thoughts, and has each changed the other’s mind?

We thank AIIA intern Mitchell McIntosh for his help with research and audio editing and XC Chong for research support. Thanks as always to Rory Stenning for composing our theme music.

Relevant Links

Hugh White, How to defend Australia (2019): https://www.blackincbooks.com.au/books/how-defend-australia

Allan Gyngell, Fear of abandonment: Australia in the world since 1942 (2017): https://www.blackincbooks.com.au/books/fear-abandonment

Allan Renouf, The frightened country (1979): https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/LIB16176

Brendan Taylor, “Realist optimist: Coral Bell’s contribution to Australian foreign and defence policy (2014): http://press-files.anu.edu.au/downloads/press/p303831/pdf/9.-Realist-Optimist-Coral-Bell%E2%80%99s-Contribution-to-Australian-Foreign-and-Defence-Policy.pdf

Marise Payne, “Australia-India-Japan-United States Quad Foreign Ministers' Meeting”, Media Release, 6 October 2020: https://www.foreignminister.gov.au/minister/marise-payne/media-release/australia-india-japan-united-states-quad-foreign-ministers-meeting

Scott Morrison, “Where we live”, Speech at Asialink, 27 June 2019: https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/budget-of-skewed-priorities

Alex Oliver, “A budget of skewed priorities”, Lowy Interpreter, 7 October 2020: https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/budget-of-skewed-priorities

Allan Gyngell and Michael Wesley, Making Australian Foreign policy (2012): https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139168632

John Lewis Gaddis, George F. Kennan: An American Life (2011), Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11910982-george-f-kennan

Christopher Hill, The changing politics of foreign policy (2003), Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/414234.The_Changing_Politics_of_Foreign_Policy

Evan Osnos, Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China (2014), Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18490568-age-of-ambition

Richard McGregor, The Party: The secret world of China’s communist rulers (2010), Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7822182-the-party

Allan and Darren return once again to the Australia-China relationship to begin today’s episode. The particular topic is foreign interference, in the wake of accusations by the Chinese government that PRC journalists working in Australia had their homes raided by law enforcement in June. Darren characterises this as an instance where a domestic policy action—here a foreign interference investigation—has obvious foreign policy implications, and asks Allan whether in these types of cases the Australian government would brief foreign counterparts, and whether domestic law enforcement agencies might involve DFAT in their decision-making. A recent column by Paul Kelly of The Australian newspaper that is critical of the government’s policy towards China is brought into the conversation. Darren wonders whether it is impossible to have a coherent foreign policy approach towards China when domestic policy actions will inevitably affect the bilateral relationship. For Allan this is a relatively normal situation that all governments have to manage.

For the second half of the episode, the conversation begins on the topic of trilateral gatherings, in light of a recent meeting between Australia, India and France, and the possibility of a trilateral with India and Indonesia in the near future. What is the logic of having three countries meet, and what outcomes might follow? Darren asks Allan for his “theory” of trilateralism, and while Allan is reluctant, Darren is happy with his answer! Next, the two discuss the elevation of Suga Yoshihide to Prime Minister of Japan, and how he may contrast with his predecessor despite intending to continue with Abe Shinzo’s policies. And finally, Allan discusses why the protests against the monarchy and military in Thailand are important, despite minimal attention here in Australia.

We thank AIIA intern Mitchell McIntosh for his help with research and audio editing and XC Chong for research support. Thanks as always to Rory Stenning for composing our theme music.

Relevant Links

Stephen Dziedzic and Sean Rubinsztein-Dunlop, “China slams Australian Government for 'blatant irrational behaviour' over foreign interference investigation”, ABC News, 9 September: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-10/chinese-government-slams-australia-blatant-irrational-over-raids/12647738

Paul Kelly, “Our China relationship needs help before it’s too late”, The Australian, 16 September 2020: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/commentary/our-china-relationship-needs-help-before-its-too-late/news-story/0c37e5bb3480b0d48f55fc935491103b

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, “First Australia-India-France Trilateral Dialogue”, Media Release, 9 September 2020: https://www.dfat.gov.au/news/media-release/first-australia-india-france-trilateral-dialogue

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, “Third India-Australia-Indonesia Trilateral Senior Officials’ Dialogue”, Media Release, 18 December 2019: https://www.dfat.gov.au/news/media/Pages/third-india-australia-indonesia-trilateral-senior-officials-dialogue

Patpicha Tanakasempipat and Matthew Tostevin, “Thai protesters challenge monarchy as huge protests escalate”, Sydney Morning Herald, September 2020: https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/thai-protesters-challenge-monarchy-as-huge-protests-escalate-20200920-p55xg9.html

PM Scott Morrison interviewed by David Spears on Insiders, 20 September 2020: https://www.abc.net.au/insiders/prime-minister-scott-morrison/12682638

Martin Gurri, The Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Authority (Goodreads page): https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/22451908-the-revolt-of-the-public-and-the-crisis-of-authority

Joseph Nye, Do Morals Matter? Presidents and Foreign Policy from FDR to Trump, Oxford University Press: https://www.belfercenter.org/publication/do-morals-matter-presidents-and-foreign-policy-fdr-trump

The Social Dilemma (Netflix): https://www.netflix.com/ie/title/81254224

Ezra Klein, “How technology is designed to bring out the worst in us”, Interview with Tristan Harris, 19 February 2018: https://www.vox.com/technology/2018/2/19/17020310/tristan-harris-facebook-twitter-humane-tech-time

Ezra Klein, “You will love this conversation with Jaron Lanier, but I can’t describe it”, Interview with Jaron Lanier, 16 January 2018: https://www.vox.com/2018/1/16/16897738/jaron-lanier-interview

Recording early afternoon on Wednesday 7 September, Allan and Darren begin by grappling with the previous day’s news of the arrival back in Australia of the last two China correspondents from Australian media outlets: the ABC’s Bill Birtles and the AFR’s Mike Smith. Darren tries to piece together his own theory of what happened, and Allan offers some insight on the mechanics behind DFAT’s role in cases like these, both in warning Australians of risks, and then the decision to shelter them, in this case while negotiating their safe departure from China. Note that the conversation occurred before more details emerged of allegations by PRC state media of “raids” on PRC journalists in Australia by national security agencies, and news of the cancellation of visas for two Chinese scholars.

The discussion turns next to the speech delivered by the Deputy Head of Mission at the Chinese embassy, Wang Xining, at the National Press Club in late August. Allan explains the types of constraints on all diplomats in giving a speech like this, and both he and Darren agree that the prepared text did seem to lean more towards conciliatory than provocative. In the context of a very low month in the bilateral relationship, which also included new investigations into Australian wine exports, the detention of another Australian citizen, CGTN anchor Cheng Lei, and Australia's blocking of an acquisition by a PRC company of a Japanese-owned milk processing company on national interest grounds, they wonder whether the speech will have any lasting impact. In light of some recent analysis Darren asks, is Australia only recently “standing up” to China, or has Australia’s approach been consistent, as claimed by PM Morrison?

Allan and Darren both weigh on the Foreign Affairs Bill announced by the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister recently, which if it becomes law is expected to enable Canberra to cancel the Belt and Road Initiative MOU signed by the State of Victoria. As a historian of Australian foreign policy, Allan cannot recall a single issue where state actions have been a real problem for Australian foreign policy, and he observes that the “national interest” test could be wielded in very different ways by different governments into the future.

Finally, the two discuss the legacy of retiring Japanese Prime Minster Abe Shinzo, and Allan offers his view on the merits of former PM Tony Abbott taking a position advising the UK government on trade policy.

We thank AIIA intern Mitchell McIntosh for his help with research and audio editing and XC Chong for research support. Thanks as always to Rory Stenning for composing our theme music.

Relevant Links

Matthew Doran and Stephen Dziedzic, “Australian correspondents Bill Birtles and Mike Smith pulled out of China after five-day diplomatic standoff over national security case”, ABC News, 8 September 2020: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-08/bill-birtles-mike-smith-evacuated-china-safety-concerns/12638786  

“Political retaliation: China correspondent Bill Birtles on being forced home under threats from Beijing”, ABC PM (Radio), 8 September 2020: https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/pm/china-correspondent-bill-birtles-on-being-forced-home/12642502

Jade Macmillan, “Cheng Lei, Australian anchor detained in Beijing, accused of 'endangering China's national security'”, ABC News, 8 September 2020: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-08/australian-anchor-cheng-lei-china-endanger-national-security/12642596  

Global Times, “Australian agents raid Chinese journalists' residences, seize computers 'in violation of legitimate rights': source”, 8 September 2020: https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1200286.shtml  

Wang Xining, “China and Australia: Where to from here?”, Address at the National Press Club, 26 August 2020: http://au.china-embassy.org/eng/gdtp_16/t1809360.htm

Phillip Coorey, “Morrison sticks to new China doctrine”, Australian Financial Review, 31 August 2020: https://www.afr.com/politics/federal/morrison-sticks-to-new-china-doctrine-20200827-p55pqa

Kirsy Needham, “Special Report: Australia faces down China in high-stakes strategy”, Reuters, 4 September 2020: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-australia-china-relations-special-rep/special-report-australia-faces-down-china-in-high-stakes-strategy-idUSKBN25V1GM

Elena Collinson and James Laurenceson, “Australia-China Monthly Wrap-Up: August 2020”, Australia-China Relations Institute (ACRI), 3 September 2020: https://www.australiachinarelations.org/content/australia-china-monthly-wrap-august-2020

Fergus Ryan, Audrey Fritz and Daria Impiombato, “TikTok and WeChat: Curating and controlling global information flows”, ASPI Policy Brief 37/2020, 8 September 2020: https://www.aspi.org.au/report/tiktok-wechat

PM Scott Morrison and FM Marise Payne, Press Conference, Australian Parliament House, 27 August 2020: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/press-conference-australian-parliament-house-act-27aug20

Melissa Conley-Tyler, “Morrison’s foreign relations bill should not pass parliament. Here’s why”, The Conversation (AU), 7 September 2020: https://theconversation.com/morrisons-foreign-relations-bill-should-not-pass-parliament-heres-why-145615

Leader, “Abe Shinzo’s legacy is more impressive than his muted exit suggests”, The Economist, 3 September 2020: https://www.economist.com/leaders/2020/09/03/abe-shinzos-legacy-is-more-impressive-than-his-muted-exit-suggests

Kevin Rawlinson and Heather Stewart, “No 10 urged to revoke trade role for 'misogynist' Tony Abbott”, The Guardian, 3 September 2020: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/sep/03/government-pressured-to-backtrack-on-trade-role-for-tony-abbott

“Adam Tooze on the geopolitics of the pandemic”, Sinica Podcast, 6 August 2020: https://supchina.com/podcast/adam-tooze-on-the-geopolitics-of-the-pandemic/

“Adam Tooze on our financial past and future”, Conversations with Tyler podcast, 6 May 2020: https://medium.com/conversations-with-tyler/adam-tooze-tyler-cowen-covid-19-economics-46a9b28a2f59

“Nuzzel” app: https://developers.nuzzel.com/

In part two of Richard Maude’s return to the podcast, the conversation begins with China. Was Richard “surprised” by Beijing’s promulgation of the Hong Kong National Security Law? Should the Australian government be updating its priors regarding the level of risk China is willing to take, and would such an updating have any policy consequences? What then about Taiwan? A serious Taiwan contingency would not be a surprise—does it pose the greatest challenge for the new strategic objectives outlined by Prime Minister Morrison in his speech launching Australia’s 2020 Defence Strategic Update? And on the topic of technological decoupling, Darren tries to separate the technical dimensions of the policy challenge from the politics. To what extent are Western concerns simply a matter of a lack of trust, given the tight relationship between Chinese companies and the state? Can anything be done to alleviate these concerns, or is the larger structural force of major power rivalry depriving individual governments of any agency to arrest this trend?

The structural forces potentially driving the decoupling phenomenon link up with the next major theme—the future of international cooperation. The term “Five Eyes” has been appearing in the media a lot lately in multiple different contexts—what should we make of this trend? Does the future of international cooperation lie through the filter of trusted security partnerships, and isn’t that a problem for truly global problems like climate change?

Finally, the conversation concludes with a focus on Australian foreign policy. How well suited are the traditional instruments of Australia’s power and influence to the present moment? Does our path forward involve simply being the best version of ourselves, or is genuinely creative thinking needed to reform Australian diplomacy? And would there be merit in having a foreign affairs version of the recent Defence Strategic Update?

As always, we invite our listeners to email us at this address: australia.world.pod@gmail.com We welcome feedback, requests and suggestions. You can also contact Darren on twitter @limdarrenj

We thank AIIA intern Mitchell McIntosh for research and audio editing, XC Chong for research support and Rory Stenning for composing our theme music.

Relevant links

Richard Maude’s biography via the Asia Society Policy Institute: https://asiasociety.org/policy-institute/richard-maude

Scott Morrison, “Address: Launch of the 2020 Defence Strategic Update”, 1 July 2020: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/address-launch-2020-defence-strategic-update

Little Red Podcast, “Trump’s F*** China moment: An attitude, not a strategy”, 1 August 2020: https://omny.fm/shows/the-little-red-podcast/trumps-f-china-moment-an-attitude-not-a-strategy

Sinica podcast, “Adam Tooze on the geopolitics of the pandemic”, 6 August 2020: https://supchina.com/podcast/adam-tooze-on-the-geopolitics-of-the-pandemic/

Marise Payne, “Australia and the world in the time of COVID-19”, Speech at the National Security College, ANU, 16 June: https://www.foreignminister.gov.au/minister/marise-payne/speech/australia-and-world-time-covid-19

This week Allan and Darren welcome back Richard Maude to the podcast, who returns after his first appearance back in February in Episode 41. Until shortly before that first recording, Richard was Deputy Secretary, Indo-Pacific Group, in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Prior to that, he headed the task force responsible for drafting the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper. From 2013-2016, Richard was Director-General of the Office of National Assessments, and before that he was senior adviser on foreign policy and national security to Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Richard is now at the Asia Society Policy Institute as the inaugural Executive Director, Policy, and Senior Fellow.

Before welcoming Richard however, Darren’s big “secret” is revealed, which is that since late 2018 he has been living in Beirut, accompanying his wife Rebekah Grindlay, who is Australia’s Ambassador to Lebanon, and their children. On Tuesday 4th August, Beirut experienced one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in human history, which utterly devastated the city’s port and downtown area. Darren was at home with his family at the time, and tells the story of what happened next, including the extensive damage to the embassy and injuries to Aussie diplomats. It’s a small insight into what a DFAT crisis response looks like in the immediate aftermath of a terrible tragedy.

Richard is then welcomed, and what follows is a fascinating deep dive into some of the biggest questions of international affairs today, and what they mean for Australian foreign policy. The conversation was too long to fit into a single episode and so, in this first part, the focus is exclusively on the United States, which as the Australian government says in the recent Defence Strategic Update, remains vital for the security of our region. But can Washington continue to play the role Australia hopes, and needs, it to play? Darren asks both Richard and Allan to highlight what evidence from the Trump presidency, and the country’s COVID-19 response, helps shed light on this broader question. Is America experiencing political decay? Are the strengths that enabled it to win the Cold War now hindrances in competition with China? What does the US need to do well to continue to play a significant role in the region, and what can Australia do to help? Can Canberra perhaps mitigate some of Washington’s weaknesses?

Stay tuned for part 2, where the conversation turns to China, new models of international cooperation, and the future of Australian foreign policy.

As always, we invite our listeners to email us at this address: australia.world.pod@gmail.com We welcome feedback, requests and suggestions. You can also contact Darren on twitter @limdarrenj

We thank AIIA intern Mitchell McIntosh for research and audio editing and Rory Stenning for composing our theme music.

Relevant links

Richard Maude’s biography via the Asia Society Policy Institute: https://asiasociety.org/policy-institute/richard-maude

Australian Government, “2020 Defence Strategic Update and 2020 Force Structure Plan”, Department of Defence: https://www.defence.gov.au/strategicupdate-2020/

Ross Douthat, “The revolt of the republican strategists”, New York Times, 11 August 2020: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/11/opinion/trump-republicans-lincoln-project.html

On this week’s episode, the deteriorating relationship between Washington and Beijing takes centre stage, including the consulate closures in Houston and Chengdu. What’s going on, and why now? How much is this all about American electoral politics, and does that even matter? Perhaps most important, how much of the trajectory of the relationship is the result of the Trump administration specifically—and could be changed if Joe Biden wins in November—and how much is structural and will persist no matter who prevails in the presidential election?

Australia’s Foreign and Defence Ministers made the big decision to travel in person to Washington DC for the annual AUSMIN consultations. But before they arrived, Australia publicly clarified its position on the South China Sea, broadly rejecting the sweeping nature of China’s maritime claims. Was the timing significant, and should we see this action more through the lens of US-China rivalry, or the positions of the other claimant states? Turning to AUSMIN, how consequential was the decision of the ministers to travel, and what messages did it send? Notwithstanding the symbolism of being there in person, the Australian side sought to establish its independence, and Allan and Darren offer their overall assessments of the meeting.

Finally, the two discuss the Defence Strategic Update, juxtaposing it with a recently announced staffing reduction at DFAT.

We thank AIIA intern Mitchell McIntosh for his help with research and audio editing and XC Chong for research support. Thanks as always to Rory Stenning for composing our theme music.

Relevant Links

Edward Wong and Steven Lee Myers, “Officials push US-China Relations toward point of no return” New York times, 25 July 2020: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/25/world/asia/us-china-trump-xi.html

Sui-Lee Wee and Paul Mozur, “China Uses DNA to Map Faces, With Help From the West”, New York Times, 3 December 2019: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/03/business/china-dna-uighurs-xinjiang.html

The Ezra Klein Show, “Your questions, answered”, June 2020: https://player.fm/series/the-ezra-klein-show/your-questions-answered

Rebecca Strating, “Australia lays down the law in the South China Sea dispute”, Lowy Interpreter, 25 July 2020: https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/australia-lays-down-law-south-china-sea-dispute

Joint Statement Australia-U.S. Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) 2020: https://www.dfat.gov.au/geo/united-states-of-america/ausmin/joint-statement-ausmin-2020

Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN), Transcript, 29 July 2020: https://www.foreignminister.gov.au/minister/marise-payne/transcript/australia-united-states-ministerial-consultations-ausmin

Stephen Dziedzic, “Foreign Minister makes clear Australia will not be boxed in when it comes to China or the US”, ABC News, 29 July 2020: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-29/ausmin-australia-united-states-china-relationship-diplomacy/12502222

Japan-Australia Leaders VTC Meeting, Media Release, 9 July 2020: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/japan-australia-leaders-vtc-meeting

Rory Medcalf, “Shinzo Abe has made Japan a leader again”, Australian Financial Review, 10 July 2020: https://www.afr.com/policy/foreign-affairs/shinzo-abe-has-made-japan-a-leader-again-20200710-p55av8

2020 Defence Strategic Update and Force Structure Plan: https://www.defence.gov.au/strategicupdate-2020/

Scott Morrison, “Address: Launch of the 2020 Defence Strategic Update”, 1 July 2020: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/address-launch-2020-defence-strategic-update

Sam Roggeveen, “Regional security depends on making order from chaos” Lowy Interpreter, 18 July 2020: https://www.lowyinstitute.org/publications/regional-security-depends-making-order-chaos

Dave Sharma, “A diplomatic step-up to match our military step-up”, Lowy Interpreter, 13 July 2020: https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/diplomatic-step-match-our-military-step

Jonathan Pryke, “DFAT cuts show our foreign policy’s khaki tinge”, Lowy Interpreter, 20 July 2020: https://www.lowyinstitute.org/publications/dfat-cuts-show-our-foreign-policy-khaki-tinge

Zack Cooper and Charles Edel, “Australia is having a strategic revolution, and it’s all about China”, Foreign Policy, 22 July 2020: https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/07/22/australia-military-strategy-regional-policy-china/

Allan Gyngell and Isabella Keith, “New feature: The week in Australian foreign policy”, Australian Outlook, 3 July 2020: http://www.internationalaffairs.org.au/australianoutlook/new-feature-current-events-in-australian-foreign-policy/

Sam Sodomsky, “The National’s Aaron Dessner Talks Taylor Swift’s New Album folklore”, Pitchfork, 24 July 2020: https://pitchfork.com/news/the-nationals-aaron-dessner-talks-taylor-swifts-new-album-folklore/

Allan and Darren welcome Stephen Dziedzic to the podcast, who covers foreign affairs in the Asia Pacific region for Australia’s national broadcaster, the ABC, based at Parliament House in Canberra. Stephen has spent more than a decade at the ABC, including five years covering federal politics. He also spent two years working for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade at the Australian High Commission in New Delhi.

The way the media covers international affairs and Australian foreign policy has come up several times on the podcast before, and at times Allan and Darren have both expressed their frustration at some of the reporting! Stephen is asked, if not to defend, at least to explain how the media operates in reporting on Australia in the world in the year 2020, and the rationale behind the coverage.

After Stephen provides an overview of his career to date and interest in international affairs, Allan begins by asking how the media landscape has changed since the publication of Allan’s book in 2007 (co-authored with Michael Wesley), Making Australian Foreign Policy. To what extent do the traditional media outlets still act as gatekeepers? The conversation moves to some of the ins and outs of covering foreign policy in Canberra, such as government “drops” of major speeches, and dealing with embassies. Allan asks Stephen for his impression of whether DFAT does a good job of selling itself, in light of a recent critique by Dave Sharma MP.

Darren looks to zoom out, asking Stephen about the broader media landscape. How much room is there for foreign policy content and what does it mean for a story to be newsworthy? What about variation in coverage—how different is the ABC to the major broadsheets, and what about the tabloids? After his recent brush with tabloid fame, Allan puts to Stephen the critique that editors act like TV “showrunners”, working to ensure that whatever twists the plot takes, it remains faithful to a predetermined overall narrative. Is that critique unfair? Stephen’s thoughtful response covers a lot of ground, including many of the tricky ethical issues involved and the civic responsibilities of journalists. Following on, Darren is particularly interested in the decision to grant anonymity to government leaks.

Allan muses about how difficult it is to get ministers to focus on issues of long-term importance, and the immediacy of media coverage creates similar challenges. How can a journalist turn something s/he knows to be important into news, and does social media help or hurt with that?

In the final part of the conversation, Darren pivots to domestic politics, and asks specifically about the “Wolverines” group of MPs who take a hard line on China policy. Is there a political logic to their grouping? Allan asks if generational differences may play a role in explaining divides on China policy. The interview concludes on the distinction between “public interest” and “national interest” in an era of growing geopolitical rivalry.

As always, we invite our listeners to email us at this address: australia.world.pod@gmail.com We welcome feedback, requests and suggestions. You can also contact Darren on twitter @limdarrenj

We thank AIIA intern Mitchell McIntosh for his help with research and audio editing and Rory Stenning for composing our theme music.

Relevant links

Stephen Dziedzic’s ABC page: https://www.abc.net.au/news/stephen-dziedzic/166934?nw=0

Dave Sharma, “A diplomatic step-up to match our military step up”, Lowy Interpreter, 13 July 2020: https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/diplomatic-step-match-our-military-step

Michael Koziol, “'Seriously damaging': ASIO says advice on border security was misrepresented”, Sydney Morning Herald, 18 February 2019: https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/seriously-damaging-asio-says-advice-on-border-security-was-misrepresented-20190218-p50ykq.html

Load more

Play this podcast on Podbean App