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  • Author: Anthony Bubalo
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: The examples of Egypt and Saudi Arabia show the risks in betting on the stability of autocratic regimes in the region. Despite the Arab uprisings of the last decade, most countries in the Middle East remain in the grip of autocrats, with a widespread view that this is the 'default setting' for the region. However, an examination of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, where authoritarianism has been revived, reveals both regimes are struggling for popular legitimacy. Increasingly reliant on repression, these regimes risk provoking civil unrest, and external powers should reconsider their assumption that autocracy guarantees stability in the Middle East.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, Authoritarianism, Political stability, Legitimacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Egypt
  • Author: Roland Rajah
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Indonesia has much economic potential but the trade-off between growth and stability continues to bind its growth ambitions. Indonesian economic policy continues to prioritise stability over growth but the adequacy of economic growth has become the bigger issue. President Joko Widodo’s commendable pro-growth efforts have so far only stabilised Indonesia’s trajectory rather than boost it. Doing better will require reforms to be calibrated to make the trade-off between growth and stability less binding while enhancing productivity.
  • Topic: Government, International Trade and Finance, Economy, Economic growth
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Natasha Kassam, Richard McGregor
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: China has lost the battle for public opinion in Taiwan. Saturday’s elections are likely to reflect strong anti-Beijing sentiment China is already looking past the elections to weaken the island’s democracy through overt and covert means Whatever the result, Beijing will increase pressure on Taipei to open talks on unification
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Elections, Democracy
  • Political Geography: China, Taiwan, Asia, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A survey of how regional media outlets discussed the congressional impeachment process and its potential ramifications on the 2020 presidential election. Across the Middle East, the story of President Trump’s impeachment and subsequent acquittal received secondtier coverage compared to regional or local issues. Many Arabic-language websites and newspapers translated and republished Western articles as opposed to creating their own content on the issue, such as Al Jazeera publishing a translated version of a Guardian editorial. Moreover, the bulk of the articles just explained the facts or process of impeachment rather than expounding on its significance. Some celebrated the idea that there is a mechanism for peaceful removal of a leader. Most commented on the unlikelihood of Trump’s removal and how America is facing unprecedented polarization. Those articles that did offer their own editorial content were split on whether impeachment will help or hurt Trump’s election campaign. Publications in the Gulf states tended to portray impeachment as an act of “political vengeance” by Democrats against Trump, “who won despite their opposition” (Sky News Arabia). Most Gulf papers posited that Trump will ultimately benefit in the 2020 election “after proving his innocence before the Senate” (Al Seyassah). Yet Qatari coverage deviated from the general Gulf trend. For example, one Al Jazeera article asserted that the impeachment case against Trump “is simple, and established not only by officials speaking under oath, but by his own words and actions.” Egyptian newspapers were more split on how impeachment will affect the election. Anti-American outlets in Syria suggested it will hurt him, with Al Baath noting “all data indicate that Trump’s hope for a return to the White House have faded.” Lebanese publications tended to take a more neutral view. The Hezbollah-controlled newspaper Al Akhbar wrote that the prospect of impeachment weakening Trump’s electoral campaign “is similar to that of his potential main rival,” arguing that Joe Biden was also tainted by the process. Most Iranian media tended to copy Western sources, but two themes prevailed among outlets offering original content: portrayal of impeachment as a scandal that has tainted Trump’s presidential legacy, or neutral analysis of how impeachment may or may not harm his reelection chances. A few analytical pieces suggested that he might be able to transform the scandal into an asset for his campaign, since it may “lead to more popularity among the middle class.” While most Iranian articles leaned against Trump, few appeared to praise Democrats. Turkish articles generally depicted impeachment as a “gift” to Trump’s campaign. SETA, a think tank that supports President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, claimed that what “hasn’t killed Trump will make him stronger.” Sabah News, another pro-Erdogan source, wrote that impeachment will “unite Republican senators and members of the House of Representatives around him.”
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Media, News Analysis, Domestic politics, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Arab Countries, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Max Paul Friedman
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for Latin American and Iberian Studies at Columbia University
  • Abstract: Columbia University ILAS panel on Democratic presidential candidates and Latin America. Among leading Democratic candidates some basics are widely shared. They agree that military force should be a last resort and that long-term occupations are damaging. They promise to reinvest in diplomacy and rehabilitate the US image abroad, as well as trying to achieve US policy goals, by rebuilding alliances and recommitting to multilateralism on climate change, on nuclear arms control. They want to use foreign aid and international institutions to improve human security, address the root causes of migration, and seek diplomatic solutions to conflicts. There is a rough division between the mainstream, Obama-style approach represented by Joe Biden and the mayor from South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttegieg, who both believe that US alliances and international institutions are force multipliers for the United States. Together, the so-called moderate candidates have about 40% of the Democratic voter support in surveys. The progressive wing is represented by Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who want to reduce US military activity abroad and also reform the global economic order in order to reduce inequality, conflict, and environmental damage. Together, Sanders and Warren have about 40% of the Democratic vote as well.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Elections, Democracy
  • Political Geography: South America, Latin America, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Simon Adams
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: This year the world will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the adoption of the Charter of the United Nations. But celebrations recognizing this historical landmark will occur at a time when the entire post-1945 structure of human rights, humanitarianism and multilateral diplomacy are under threat. Not since the UN was first formed have so many people been displaced by persecution, conflict and war. Not since the peak of the Cold War has the UN Security Council appeared so bitterly divided and incapable of decisive action. And as a new decade begins, there are renewed threats to international peace and security, and fresh assaults on human dignity.
  • Topic: Genocide, Human Rights, Social Movement, Refugees, Syrian War, Responsibility to Protect (R2P), UN Security Council
  • Political Geography: China, Yemen, United Nations, Syria, Chile, Myanmar, Global Focus, Xinjiang
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: A letter to the UN Human Rights Council from a number of NGOs (African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS); AfricanDefenders (Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network); Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS); Center for Reproductive Rights; Central African Network of Human Rights Defenders (REDHAC) CIVICUS; Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) – South Sudan; Crown The Woman – South Sudan; DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project); Dominicans for Justice and Peace; Geneva for Human Rights / Genève pour les Droits de l’Homme; Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (GCR2P); Human Rights Watch; International Commission of Jurists; FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights); International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR); International Service for Human Rights; Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada; Legal Action Worldwide (LAW); National Alliance for Women Lawyers – South Sudan; Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SAHRDN); South Sudan Human Rights Defenders Network (SSHRDN); World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)).
  • Topic: Civil Society, Human Rights, United Nations, NGOs
  • Political Geography: Africa, United Nations, South Sudan
  • Author: Benjamin Augé
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: Until recently, Saudi Arabia was the country out of the Gulf countries that had the greatest number of diplomatic missions in Africa. Although it is now outstripped by Qatar, which has been striving since the beginning of the Emirati-Saudi embargo that started in June 2017 to open a large number of diplomatic posts in Africa. The Saudi diplomatic network was formerly established in predominantly Muslim states (in the Maghreb, West Africa and in the Horn of Africa) and in South Africa. The kingdom can mainly rely on experienced diplomats, who have maintained a presence in Africa since the 1970s, boosted after the 1979 Iranian Islamic Revolution and the desire to prevent a spread of Shiism on the continent. Nowadays, Saudi Arabia is also clearly involved in Africa as elsewhere, to counter the influence of its Qatari neighbor.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Islam, Soft Power, Trade Policy
  • Political Geography: Africa, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Gulf Nations
  • Author: David Bateman
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: In his treatise on southern politics, V.O. Key Jr. wrote that “in state politics the Democratic party is no party at all but a multiplicity of factions struggling for office. In national politics, on the contrary, the party is the Solid South; it is, or at least has been, the instrument for the conduct of the ‘foreign relations’ of the South with the rest of the nation” (Southern Politics in State and Nation [New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1949], 315). In an early (and laudatory) review of that book, Richard Hofstadter suggested that Key missed an opportunity to fully consider whether the South had affected national politics in more ways than through the reliable delivery of Democrats to Washington, but he noted that this might require another book (p. 7). David Bateman, Ira Katznelson, and John S. Lapinski have written that book. Southern Nation examines how the South influenced public policy, Congress, and the development of the American state from the close of Reconstruction to the beginning of the New Deal. The authors focus on the region’s role in national politics at a critical juncture when industrialization and a rapidly changing economy required new policy solutions. They show that the white South used this opportunity to rebuild its place in the federal government, secure home rule, and shape the national agenda
  • Topic: Post Colonialism, Race, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: George Hawley
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: Survey data consistently show that large swaths of the American electorate favor restrictionist immigration policies. Politicians at the state and national levels regularly campaign on promises to crack down on undocumented immigration and discuss immigrants as a source of crime and a drain on resources. They are often rewarded at the ballot box for doing so. Yet these facts coexist with another trend: relatively few municipal governments pursue restrictionist policies at the local level. In fact, even in places where the GOP dominates, policies that accommodate immigrants are more common than policies designed to drive them away.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Clarisa Pérez-Armendáriz
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: How do international migrants affect their origin countries’ politics? Drawing on evidence from the cases of Colombia, Ecuador, and Mexico, Migrants and Political Change in Latin America argues that migrants gain new attitudes and economic resources as a result of experiences in their receiving countries that they then transmit to their origin countries through economic and social remittances and through return migration. Jiménez claims that by transmitting resources and ideas through these three channels, migrants create changes in the politics of their origin countries that they never intended or envisioned. These effects are mediated by local conditions in origin countries such as levels of education and wealth. Moreover, the social networks in which both types of remittances and return migrants are embedded augment their political effects.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: David L. Wiltse
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: In the study of candidate emergence, the cost term in the utility calculus has been of central concern. In this book, Mary Jo McGowan Shepherd makes a valuable contribution to the study of candidate emergence and campaign finance by considering how legal complexity increases the cost term in the emergence calculus. Grounded in complexity theory, she employs complexity measures of entire sections of state campaign finance laws to test whether candidates are deterred from running for office by the costs incurred in learning and complying with campaign finance law.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Kristen Coopie
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: In this book, former CNN analyst and current George Mason University professor Bill Schneider offers his take on the causes and implications of the growing partisan divide in the United States. Conflict exists between the “New America,” a product of the 1960s that “celebrates diversity in age, race, sexual orientation, and lifestyles” (p. 11), and the “Old America,” consisting of the “mostly white, mostly male, mostly older, mostly conservative, and mostly religious, and mostly nonurban,” (p. 2) which longs for the days when “the country was whiter, men were in charge, government was smaller, and religion was more influential” (p. 117). This rift is reflected in the parties and politics of the nation (it is easy to see how the “New America” is representative of the Democratic coalition and the “Old America” of the Republican Party), ultimately leading to the populist backlash that elected Donald Trump in 2016
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Kenneth Wink
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: FOR DECADES NOW, political scientists, journalists, campaign managers, and pundits have sought to predict the outcomes of elections well in advance of the day the votes are cast. As the ultimate office in the U.S. political system, the presidency has been the focus of much of this activity. Since the late twentieth century, a number of prognosticators in the discipline of political science have used forecasting models to predict presidential elections. These models have become visible in pre‐ and post‐ election coverage, and a sort of competition has emerged to produce the most accurate model whose variables offer the greatest amount of forecasting lead time before the election. Once considered “recreational political science,” forecasting presidential elections has become a cottage industry. Furthermore, the attention paid to the accuracy of these models has led to better explanations of election outcomes and allowed interested persons to see patterns in elections that are stable from year to year and to identify outlier elections and the factors that led to unique election outcomes.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Kay Lehman Schlozman, Henry E Brady
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: Who participates in American democracy? In particular, is it those with high levels of resources who most often vote, protest, contact elected officials, and discuss politics with friends? How unequal is political participation? Political scientists Kay Lehman Schlozman, Henry E. Brady, and Sidney Verba have contributed important answers to these questions over the past few decades. In their first book, Voice and Equality (1995) these scholars traced associations between resource possession and political participation, finding extensive evidence of inequalities in political voice. In their second book, The Unheavenly Chorus (2012), the authors reiterated and updated the analyses of the first. The authors also extended Voice and Equality in a number of ways, primarily by examining organizational-level as well as individual-level participatory inequalities, and by assessing the likely efficacy of various reform strategies.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: F Inglehart
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: Consolidating more than four decades of research, Ronald F. Inglehart elaborates on the enlightenment story that reliance on science and technology enables nations to meet the material needs of their populations. To that story he adds that populations, finding their security needs being met, are increasingly abandoning materialist values for post-material values. The meaning of life satisfaction is changing.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Victor Asal
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: Over the last 20 years, research in the area of terrorism studies has expanded enormously in many directions, including studies focusing on terrorist events as well as on individual behavior and the behavior and characteristics of organizations. One of the topics that has been of great interest to researchers of terrorist organizations is the nature, impact, and cause of terrorist organizational alliances. From Marc Sageman’s groundbreaking book Understanding Terror Networks and a growing body of articles and books, researchers are trying to understand the impact of such connections on terrorist organizations. There is still a lot of research, though, that needs to be done in this area. For example, Sageman’s book focuses more on internal connections and especially on jihadist organizations. Much of the other literature focuses on organizations allying in the same milieu.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Arjan H. Schakel
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: The statement that geography matters for politics probably will not be contested by many political scientists. Therefore, it is quite surprising that few studies have systematically explored how the territorial distribution of preferences affects political processes and policy outcomes. This book by Scott Morgenstern is an important landmark study that puts geography high on the research agenda of comparative political science. Three features make this book worthwhile reading for scholars working on the nationalization of elections and parties.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Kelly Dittmar
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: In this book Jeffrey Lazarus and Amy Steigerwalt leverage an impressive data collection to make the case that women legislators are more active and more responsive to their constituents than men. Moreover, they offer a theoretical argument to explain why women appear to work harder to meet constituent needs and demands, suggesting that women legislators’ perceptions of their electoral vulnerability—even as incumbents—motivate them to focus their legislative efforts on proving to their constituents that they are worthy of re-election.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Matt Grossmann
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: Everyday claims that the United States is descending into a culture war of two polarized and irreconcilable parties deserve more scrutiny. Morris P. Fiorina has been at the forefront of assessing and pushing back against this view, especially the blame placed on the American public. Unstable Majorities goes beyond this important myth busting to offer an explanation for contemporary paralysis: many Americans have sorted into two minority parties with distinct issue positions, but both sides have empowered their officials to overreach in office, losing the support of independents in subsequent elections and thus having to share and alternate power.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Teodore Stan
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Carnegie Council
  • Abstract: As the North Atlantic Alliance (NATO) foreign ministers gather this week in Washington to mark the 70th anniversary of the most successful military alliance in history, trouble is brewing over Brexit and the rise of populism in the western front and the challenges brought by autocratic leaders on its eastern front. Democratic backsliding, particularly in Turkey, Poland, and Hungary, has painted a bleak picture for the shared values-centered rationale of the alliance. Not unlike its troubled neighbors, Romania also presents its own frailty with regards to the challenged independence of its justice system and its defanged prosecution of high-level corruption.
  • Topic: International Organization, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Romania
  • Author: Michael B Greenwald
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Many view the Belt and Road Initiative as the most geoeconomically significant infrastructure project since the Marshall Plan. Promising alternative trade routes, abundant capital flows, and advanced infrastructure to the developing world, the program has scaled significantly since its inception in 2013.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Michael B Greenwald
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Saudi Vision 2030 — Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s bid to diversify his nation’s oil-dependent economy — is one of the most consequential development plans in modern history. So it was no surprise to see MbS, as he is known, grinning with Chinese leaders during his Asian investment trip last month. As Chinese officials raved about the “enormous potential” of the Saudi economy, Saudi officials praised the compatibility of Chinese and Saudi cultures, and MbS even defended China’s maltreatment of Muslim Uighurs
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Michael B Greenwald
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: We can envision the advent of a new economic revolution forming in the Shia crescent as a new, cohesive political force in the Middle East between Sunni Gulf Arabs and Israel by deepening rapprochement to counter Iran’s expansion. Alongside years of discreet contact and informal diplomatic backchannels between Gulf Countries and Israel, the future portends closer economic links between these power blocs. With the combination of Israeli technology and Gulf capital, there is no shortage of synergies eager to be developed, as Gulf States explore new visionary economic reforms looking beyond a dependence on oil revenues.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Israel
  • Author: Philippe Le Corre
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Kazakhstan is one of China’s direct neighbours, and a prominent one by size and border. As the Chinese proverb states, “a close neighbour is more valuable than a distant relative”,[1] hence the importance of Sino-Kazakh ties, especially at a time when Beijing tries to promote its “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) across Eurasia. The country has a 1782.75 km-long border with China, and shares much history and people with the former Middle Kingdom. Although data is sparse, it is known that many Uyghurs –the main tribe of Xinjiang, China’s troubled autonomous region – live in Kazakhstan. There are also ethnic Kazakhs living on the Chinese side, in Xinjiang (many of them facing great political difficulties, if not persecutions).
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Djavad Salehi-Isfahani
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The Islamic Republic of Iran marks its 40th anniversary this week. But, with the country beset by a severe economic crisis, the question on everyone’s lips –within Iran and the diaspora alike – seems to be whether the Islamic Revolution has actually improved Iranians’ lives.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Iran
  • Author: Martin S. Feldstein
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Earlier this month, the Federal Reserve’s policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee voted unanimously to increase the short-term interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point, taking it from 2.25% to 2.5%. This was the fourth increase in 12 months, a sequence that had been projected a year ago, and the FOMC members also indicated that there would be two more quarter-point increases in 2019. The announcement soon met with widespread disapproval.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Financial Markets
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: David Orsmond
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: China’s economic growth has fallen to its slowest rate since 1990, and this deceleration looks set to continue unless China implements the kinds of deep reforms behind the successful economic transitions of Japan and Korea. China’s economic growth has fallen to its slowest rate since 1990, and this deceleration looks set to continue. Key factors include weakening demographics, inefficient investment, maturing export markets and declining productivity growth rather than the current trade dispute with the United States. To reverse that trend, China will need a wide-ranging policy approach that mimics the policies implemented by Japan and Korea at a similar economic stage. While there are considerable political and economic obstacles to such reforms, if it manages to continue its rapid catch-up to advanced economy incomes the potential returns for both China and the world are significant.
  • Topic: Reform, Economy, Economic growth, Trade Wars, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Australia, United States of America
  • Author: Elina Noor
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Malaysia’s foreign and security policy faces myriad challenges, but not much is likely to change under Mahathir Mohamad’s ‘New Malaysia’ framework. The return of Mahathir Mohamad to the prime ministership of the country he had previously led for 22 years has raised questions about the direction Malaysia’s foreign and security policy might take. While there may be some course-corrections in foreign and security policy under Mahathir’s Pakatan Harapan government, it will not stray far from the approach of previous administrations. Continuities will include its non-aligned status, its pragmatic dealings with both the United States and China, its focus on ASEAN centrality and Malaysia’s economic development through trade. Malaysia will revisit its earlier “Look East” policy; it has plans to upgrade its defence capabilities in the South China Sea; and it will take a more consultative approach to foreign policy-making.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Government, Politics, Economic Development
  • Political Geography: Malaysia, Asia
  • Author: Roland Rajah, Alexandre Dayant, Jonathan Pryke
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: China has not been engaged in debt trap diplomacy — at least not yet. China has not been the primary driver behind rising debt risks in the Pacific, although a continuation of business as usual would risk future debt problems in several countries. There is scope for a new Australian infrastructure financing facility to provide loans to the Pacific without causing debt problems, particularly as it has adopted key sustainable lending rules. Pacific nations have an opportunity to obtain more favourable financing from official development partners but care must be taken to avoid overly geopolitical aid.
  • Topic: Debt, Development, Infrastructure, Geopolitics, Soft Power, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
  • Political Geography: China, Australia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Ben Bohane
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: As Bougainville prepares for a referendum on independence, Australia must navigate a policy response that acknowledges the history of conflict and colonialism there, Bougainville nationalism, PNG sensitivities, the principles of the guiding Bougainville Peace Agreement and new geostrategic realities to help forge a lasting solution. Bougainville is largely ‘referendum ready’ and its people are expected to vote overwhelmingly for independence in the November referendum. While Bougainville has abundant natural resources and a skilled older generation, as an independent nation it would face many challenges including fiscal self-reliance, consensus on mining issues, unity and political integrity. Australia has a significant stake in the outcome and should step up its engagement to remain a trusted peace and security broker in Melanesia. It should not oppose Bougainville’s independence if that is the result under the referendum and peace process, and should take a leading role in ensuring a peaceful resolution between the parties.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Colonialism, Conflict, Independence, Referendum
  • Political Geography: Australia, Papua New Guinea, Bougainville, Melanesia
  • Author: Bobo Lo
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: The rise of Asia is the central challenge of Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy, calling into question long-standing assumptions about Russia’s place in the world. Moscow is now more committed to engagement with the Asia-Pacific than it has ever been. This reflects belated recognition of the region’s critical importance in global affairs. Russia’s ambition to become a major player in the Asia-Pacific faces considerable hurdles. Overcoming them will depend on larger changes in its foreign policy mindset — an uncertain prospect at best.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Economy, Vladimir Putin
  • Political Geography: Russia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Lydia Khalil
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Women will be important to the resurgence and transformation of the Islamic State from governance project to global terrorist insurgency. Islamic State has expanded both the potential and the scope of the roles and functions women can play, providing additional avenues for their participation in jihad in both kinetic and non-kinetic roles. The cohort of former caliphate members of mostly women and children now held in camps pose a key challenge for counterterrorism efforts around the world. Assumptions about women and violence can obstruct an accurate assessment of the threat female IS supporters pose and an accurate understanding of their agency.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Violent Extremism, Counter-terrorism, Women, Radicalization, Islamic State, Jihad
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Australia, Syria
  • Author: Denise Fisher
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: As 30 years of peace agreements come to an end, stability in New Caledonia is now at risk. New Caledonia faces an uncertain future as it prepares for its last local elections under the Noumea Accord, and as it enters a four-year process ending 30 years of peace agreements. The continued stark ethnic divide over independence revealed in the November 2018 referendum, the first of potentially three such votes, revives old tensions and complicates essential discussions about future governance, which will have consequences for France, Melanesian neighbours and the wider region. While strategically Australia benefits from continued French regional engagement, its support should not be at any cost.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Elections, Political stability, Referendum
  • Political Geography: Australia, Asia-Pacific, New Caledonia, Melanesia
  • Author: Denise Fisher
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: As 30 years of peace agreements come to an end, stability in New Caledonia is now at risk. New Caledonia faces an uncertain future as it prepares for its last local elections under the Noumea Accord, and as it enters a four-year process ending 30 years of peace agreements. The continued stark ethnic divide over independence revealed in the November 2018 referendum, the first of potentially three such votes, revives old tensions and complicates essential discussions about future governance, which will have consequences for France, Melanesian neighbours and the wider region. While strategically Australia benefits from continued French regional engagement, its support should not be at any cost.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Elections, Political stability, Referendum
  • Political Geography: Australia, Asia-Pacific, New Caledonia, Melanesia
  • Author: Ben Bland
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: he pressures on Indonesian democracy are not likely to abate under a second-term Jokowi or a Prabowo presidency. Incumbent President Joko Widodo is the front-runner to defeat long-time rival Prabowo Subianto in Indonesia’s fourth direct presidential election on 17 April. Constrained by compromises and knocked off balance by the rise of identity politics, if Jokowi wins a second (and final) term, he is unlikely to make significant progress on much-needed economic, legal, and political reforms. Despite these concerns, there is hope for the future with a new generation of politicians from outside the elite now seeking to follow Jokowi’s path to national office. Indonesia’s future will depend on how far they use their electoral mandates to shake up a defective system.
  • Topic: Politics, Reform, Elections, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Australia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: James Chin
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: In the aftermath of Malaysia’s momentous regime change, the new government faces a number of challenges to implementing wholesale political reform. Malaysia’s new government will need to deal with several key issues in the next 12 months to establish itself as a ‘change and reform’ administration, namely the Malay/Bumiputra Agenda, the 1963 Malaysia Agreement (MA63), political Islam, and a clear timetable for transition of power. Each of these issues is crucial to Malaysia’s political stability in the near term and to laying the foundation for long-term institutional reforms. If these reforms are not handled properly, the new Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) administration under Mahathir may be a one-term government and the country could easily revert to the old regime.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Regime Change, Reform, Political stability
  • Political Geography: Malaysia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Stephen Grenville
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Recognition of the need for greater government intervention in the economy is increasingly shaping the US political debate, with this shift paralleled among prominent economists. The surprising success of Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign has emboldened Democratic presidential hopefuls to advocate bold platforms involving larger government. Coincidentally, some prominent economists are advocating greater government expenditure to address ‘secular stagnation’. This is unlikely to result in a radical shift away from the post-Reagan small-government policies, but the centre of gravity has shifted towards recognising a role for more government intervention.
  • Topic: Economics, Politics, Elections, Fiscal Policy
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: John Edwards
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: The outlines of a trade deal between the United States and China are there. But without a return to the negotiating table, the dispute could rapidly escalate, magnifying the damage to world growth. With the Osaka G20 meeting looming, Chinese analysts and policymakers visited in Beijing are pessimistic about the prospects for a trade deal with the United States. If they are right, global financial markets are in for a much wilder shock than anything yet seen in this quarrel. Yet much of a deal has already been agreed, while the consequences of not reaching a deal have become increasingly dire.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Trade and Finance, Trade Wars, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Roland Rajah
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: East Asia is no longer reliant on US or Western markets to fuel its growth, giving it more room to manage amid global trade tensions. Heightened global trade tensions and the US desire to ‘decouple’ from the Chinese economy for national security reasons pose significant risks to East Asia’s export-driven growth model. However, the latest data suggests East Asia is no longer so dependent on exporting to the West, with China in particular eclipsing the United States as the leading source of ‘final demand’ for the rest of the region’s exports. This gives East Asia much greater room to manoeuvre, as regional integration is now a more viable platform for growth while US decoupling efforts will likely struggle to find traction in the region.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Global Markets, Exports
  • Political Geography: China, East Asia, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Mira Oklobdzija
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: Self-restraint is one of the most important litmus tests for distinguishing between humans and other social animals. Major human leaders, both past and present, often fall short in this regard. Instead, particularly as they mobilize their countries for war, these leaders compete for the distinction of being the alpha male.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Gender Based Violence
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Emanuel Pastreich
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: Now that the movement to address climate change at the systemic and cultural level has gained unprecedented momentum, it is critical for us to establish a viable alternative economy that committed citizens around the world can join. The basic unit of that economy should be fossil-fuel-free (FFF) communities. In these FFF (fossil-fuel-free) communities, to be built from the ground up, nothing eaten or consumed, no form of transformation or communication employed, and no aspect of housing, furniture or utensils will contain fossil fuels (including plastics or fertilizers). Nor will any of these items be produced, transported, or manufactured using fossil fuels.
  • Topic: Climate Change, International Affairs, Social Movement
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Andrew J. Bacevich
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: Let us stipulate at the outset that President Trump is a vulgar and dishonest fraud without a principled bone in his body. Yet history is nothing if not a tale overflowing with irony. Despite his massive shortcomings, President Trump appears intent on recalibrating America’s role in the world. Initiating a long-overdue process of aligning U.S. policy with actually existing global conditions just may prove to be his providentially anointed function.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Global Focus
  • Author: Allegra Harpootlian
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: America’s drone wars have gotten deadlier under Trump, but the Trump-first news cycle makes highlighting the human cost extremely difficult.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Harry Blain
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: Lower courts are slowly but steadily eroding the legal basis for some of the most reactionary war on terror policies.
  • Topic: International Law, International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jen Moore
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: In countries like Peru, extractive industries contract police to suppress Indigenous protesters and detain international observers — including me
  • Topic: Political Economy, International Affairs, Domestic politics
  • Political Geography: Peru
  • Author: John Feffer
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: The far right is on a roll. Just a few years ago, liberals and conservatives would have considered its recent political victories a nightmare scenario. Right-wing extremists have won elections in the United States, Brazil, Hungary, India, and Poland. They pushed through the Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom. In the most recent European Parliament elections, far-right parties captured the most votes in France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Hungary.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Hannah Gurman
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: This moment should spark a conversation about the place of national security whistleblowing in a democratic society.
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs, Intellectual Property/Copyright, Political Activism, Democracy
  • Political Geography: America, Global Focus
  • Author: Olivia Alperstein
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: A new study shows just how bad a nuclear war could get. We need a plan to eliminate this risk permanently
  • Topic: Climate Change, International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Khury Petersen-Smith
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: It is sickening that the U.S. would deliver the Kurds to Turkish violence, but that doesn’t mean we should embrace the U.S. presence in Syria.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus