Daily Archives: September 2, 2013

Foreign policy is often difficult, as the crisis in Syria all too regularly shows. But the Obama administration has made a difficult situation much worse by articulating a series of objectives (“Bashar al-Assad must go”; “Chemical weapons use crosses a red line”) and policies (“we will arm the opposition”) and then failing to follow them through. Requiring authority from Congress at the eleventh hour introduced further undesirable uncertainty. Improvisation and policy making on the fly can be disastrous.

Adding to the difficulty is the reality that US interests are greater than Washington’s influence; the options that exist are few and in every case come with drawbacks. Nevertheless, the US does have real interests, some intrinsic to the situation and some of its own making. What is more, not acting is as much of a policy choice with consequences no less significant. Which is to say declaring Syria to be “too hard” and throwing up one’s hands in exasperation is not a strategy. Similarly unhelpful at this point are claims that if only the world had acted earlier there would be better choices now; that may be the case, but it is irrelevant. Continue reading »

Saturday’s election bears close watching because Australia’s importance and stature has risen in Asia and the world in the past two decades. It has proved to be one of the most effective countries in terms of balancing its strong political and security ties with the US with its robust commercial and economic interactions with China.

The election has been hard-fought – the bitterness between the two parties is evident – but the US will do well with either party in power. Still, a closer look at the respective leaders is in order. Continue reading »