The Interpreter covered a lot this week — Brexit, India's space program, the 'Google' tax, international policing — but Saleem Javed's article on corruption in Afghanistan stood out for me. It is worth going back to the original article and to watch the video of the fairly remarkable scene between President Ashraf Ghani's security detail and some protestors at RUSI in London. Javed quotes some of the protesters below:
'You are a liar. You lied to people of Afghanistan. And now you lie to the world.' Shouted Ahad Bahaduri from the audience while Ghani was speaking about his achievements. 'Listen to him but don't trust him' Bahaduri continued as he was forcefully removed from the event. 'One of Ghani's guards followed me outside to actually beat me but he was intercepted by a British security personnel in plain dress. The Afghan guard threatened me to death (in Dari). I am worried about my relatives back in Afghanistan now,' Ahad told me when interviewed by phone.
Susanne Schmeidl also wrote on Afghanistan, but on the American drone strike that killed the leader of the Taliban, Mullah Akhtar Mansur:
If we have learned anything from Afghanistan's long history of war, nothing is ever so easy defeating an entire movement by killing a single leader. The battlefield has simply been too fluid for too long, and many of the groups have fought more or less independently for some time. Unless some of the underlying problems of poor governance, poverty, land ownership and poor economic prospects are addressed in Afghanistan, insurgency will continue to fester in Afghanistan.
An incredibly popular post this week was written by Greg Lopez on Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak's growing hold on political power in the country:
On the institutional front, two of the four members of the high powered investigation team into the 1MDB are no longer there. Najib sacked the Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail while the Bank Negara (Central Bank) governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz retired. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Commissioner Abu Kassim Mohammed, appointed by the prime minister has not said much. The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Khalid Abu Bakar is the only top ranking civil servant from that high powered investigation still in favour with Najib.
Peter Cai was in Taiwan from the inauguration of President Tsai and wrote on her plans to make the country economically diverse:
On the innovation front, Taiwan has been and still is an innovative economy with a large and vibrant small and medium enterprise sector. During my trip to attend President Tsai's inauguration ceremony, I also went to see two such firms: Singtex, a fabric firm that makes cloth from used coffee beans and recycled plastic bottles, and Gogoro, an electric scooter company that makes stylish and environmentally friendly scooters.
The first entry in a five-part series, Jiyoung Song starts by laying out the anthropological basis of migration:
Not everyone has the means to leave their homes, especially when there is no guarantee of success or even survival in a new place. The majority choose to stay. But, for many brave and adventurous people, migration has long been used as a means to survive or thrive. Since the movement of homo erectus out of Africa 1.75 million years ago, humans have been migrating to new locations due to climate change or food shortages. Migration is one of the most common evolutionary behaviours in the natural world.
David Wells on the security and counter-terrorism implications of Brexit:
Brexit would not deal the UK’s counter-terrorism relationships with the EU a fatal blow. But it would disrupt them at a time where Europe’s counter-terrorism agencies are under strain, and limit the UK’s ability to shape a Europe-wide counter-terrorism strategy in the years ahead. It is hard to see how Brexit would reduce the terrorist threat to the UK.
Derry Hogue also wrote on the growing debate about Brexit across Europe and in the UK itself:
In response, the Leave campaign is revving up its anti–immigration arguments as well as threats of worse crime, jobs lost and an increased terrorism threat. The other side is also upping the ante.
Britain Prime Minister David Cameron, foremost advocate for the Remain campaign, might not have the flair of Johnson, However there was a nod to the BoJo style when Cameron said Russian President Vladimir Putin and ISIS would welcome the UK leaving the EU.
What exactly do we mean when we say 'boots on the ground'? Rodger Shanahan thinks it's misunderstood:
The term 'boots on the ground' means many things to many people, including news media. The military (and most politicians) would consider the term to mean combat manoeuvre forces, implying one is decisively committed to the fight. The presence of advisers and enabling (or supporting) forces falls short of that measure, even though there are military personnel physically present in operational areas. The media struggle to understand the difference.
Darshana Baruah on India's maritime policy in the Indo-Pacific:
India is going to do what it thinks is necessary and that includes engaging and collaborating with regional navies and building a network of friends and partners. What India does not consider necessary is meeting another state’s expectations of what constitutes regional responsibility.
There may be limits on how Australia cooperates on international policing matters and our values advocacy, wrote John Hardy:
Although it is important to advocate Australia’s morals and values in the international community, seeking to making partnership with other nations contingent on those nations adhering to our value systems in their legal jurisdictions is problematic. We may agree in Australia that the specific case of the death penalty warrants special treatment in this regard, but an opposite example, where a partner country refused to honour its partnership agreements with us unless we applied their values in Australian legal cases might be instructive.
Also, Cameron Sumpter with a good piece about potentially using former members of ISIS to break the group's narrative:
Despite the severe moral code that ostensibly guides ISIS, psychotropic drugs are allegedly available in the caliphate. One Syrian defector who admitted to feeling scared on the battlefield said he was given a pill which made him feel 'indestructible and unbeatable', but then couldn't sleep for the following four days. 'Many of the ISIS members use this drug', he said. A Lebanese manufacturer of Captagon (an illegal amphetamine-based drug popular in the Middle East) told reporters last year that 'Everything daesh does is because of this pill'.
Mike Callaghan wrote on the 'Google Tax' in Australia:
Will Australia’s Google Tax be effective? Shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh has called it a joke, claiming that ‘putting aside their enforcement measures, the Coalition’s multilateral tax measures are budgeted to raise just $200 million…this falls well short of Labor’s multinational tax package’. However, as Ross Gittins points out, the aim is not to raise tax at the DPT rate of 40% but encourage multinationals to pay tax at the standard 30% rate in the first place – the DPT will only catch the ‘slow learners’.
The US pursuit of ballistic missile defence, even in the face of Russia's concerns throughout the 2000s, has warped the debate, says Glenn Diesen:
The gradual expansion of missile defence capabilities is not a possible unintended development, but rather a planned approach of continuously upgrading the system as new technology and funding becomes available. The former US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld, explained in 2003: 'We have instead decided to develop and put in place a rudimentary system by 2004 . . . and then build on that foundation with increasingly effective capabilities as the technologies mature.'
Emma Connors with her weekly wrap-up of the US election, this time on the GOP uniting behind Donald Trump:
In the beginning, there were 17 candidates vying for the Republican nomination. As the field thinned, speculation grew that a successful run by Donald Trump would rip the GOP asunder. And now? Republicans are falling into line behind Trump, memorably described by conservative columnist Hugh Hewitt as 'the unlikeliest, most unconventional nominee of a major party in modern times'.
An excellent, short and informative piece from Morris Jones on the space race (sorta) in Asia:
India seems to have been panicked by the tremendous strides achieved by the Chinese program. One reaction was a crash program to send a robot orbiter to Mars before China could achieve the same goal. The other has been the start of a human spaceflight program.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user DFID.