The announcement that the P5+1 had reached an understanding with Iran over the future of its nuclear program has already garnered significant criticism. While a final agreement has yet to be reached, posturing for the next three months of negotiations has also begun. Anthony Bubalo gave us his take on the deal:
Judged solely on its merits, the deal places significant obstacles in the path of any Iranian effort to build a nuclear weapon, but leaves much of Iran's nuclear infrastructure in place. In doing so it places an substantial burden on whatever mechanisms are put in place to both ensure that Iran does not cheat and to ensure it is punished if it does cheat...
...What the parameters are least clear on is what would happen if Iran cheated. President Obama has promised a snap-back of sanctions. In theory, military action remains on the table. But unless any cheating is really egregious it will be hard to get international consensus on what to do about it, particularly since, once sanctions are lifted, commercial and other national imperatives will come into play.
The Interpreter also hosted a mini-debate on the G20 Centre's new G20 Monitor. Leon Berkelmans thinks the G20 should not be focusing on inclusive growth:
There is little in this popular and influential framework to suggest that international pressure will have a significant effect on domestic institutions. The odd special case may exist where international pressure has led to better outcomes – South Africa springs to mind – but this line of academic enquiry emphasises the primacy of domestic interests. The international community, and fora like the G20, are just not a powerful constituency in driving domestic reform. The G20 has a hard enough time winning over national assemblies on topics that are its bread and butter; just consider the difficulties IMF reform faces in the US Congress.
Tristram Sainsbury responded by making the case for the G20's structural reform efforts:
So the growth plan unveiled by G20 leaders in Brisbane was exceptional in establishing substantial reform goals in a non-crisis setting. It shifted focus toward structural reforms that raise the collective productive potential of G20 economies, and represents a significant accomplishment in collective macroeconomic policy thinking.
The real measure of success for the Brisbane G20 plan is not in the headline growth figure, but in the 1000–plus structural policies that countries have pledged, which are a large step up from similar G20 exercises. The IMF andOECDsay these commitments are of high quality; they are clear and they are concrete.
Maya Wang from Human Rights Watch wrote on potential reforms to China's foreign NGO laws:
Although the draft law has not yet been made public, a copy reviewed by Human Rights Watch suggests it will significantly tighten the Government's control over civil society if adopted as currently written. As Beijing becomes increasingly paranoid, claiming that civil society has helped topple governments in 'color revolutions' around the world, it has opted for a management model that maximises state control.
The draft is consistent with a larger effort to curb civil society and crack down on already restricted civil liberties and their defenders since President Xi Jinping came to power.
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter spoke on the rebalance and the TPP this week in rather strong terms, said Sam Roggeveen:
Note the terms on which TPP is pitched here: the agreement levels the playing field not because it requires all countries to agree on the highest standards, but because it requires foreign countries to abide by US standards. It's not an argument likely to sway opinion in the region. Nor is the explicit link Carter makes between the TPP and America's military capability, courtesy of the reference to aircraft carriers and alliances, likely to go down well. In fact, it's a sound-bite tailor made for those Beijing sceptics who see the TPP as a device which deliberately excludes them, and which functions as the economic component of a US-led China containment strategy.
Stephen Grenville also wrote on the TPP and intellectual property rights:
If the TPP goes ahead as scheduled, Ian Harper's recommendation will be overtaken by events, at least as far as the TPP goes. Would we pull back from signing if the intellectual property arrangements heavily favour intellectual property-owning countries such as the US? Not likely.
If the TPP goes ahead, we'll have to sign up or be left on the outer. It's not as if we can opt to stay in the old pre-TPP world. Our global environment will have changed and we'll have to go with the flow.
In the latest in a series of posts between Alan Dupont and Hugh White, Alan argued that the ADF needs to be tailored along 'flexible' lines:
I understand that in the real world, the ADF may sometimes be used 'for a purpose for which one would not buy it.' However, a versatile, flexible, purpose-built force will always be better than one designed for only one or two contingencies, especially when the design considerations are exceedingly narrow and determined by fiat, rather than arrived at through a transparent, strategic risk-assessment process.
With the 70th anniversary of the 'Pacific War' coming up, Robert E Kelly wrote on what Asia's leaders should be saying at the commemorations:
The term 'Pacific War' puts the regional focus where it belongs – on Japan.
It was a modernised Japan which permanently broke the long-standing Sino-Confucian order of the region (a momentous rupture that needs more research). It was Japan that dragged, often quite violently and unwillingly, much of the region into economic modernisation. It was Japan that first absorbed and then spread Western ideologies like sovereignty, nationalism, fascism, genetic racism and capitalism (although 'corporatism' is perhaps more accurate) around the region. And it was the defeat of this long-term imperial project that opened the door for Marxism in the region, compelling the US to stay and fight wars in Korea and Vietnam mostly to protect Japan against forces the empire itself had sought to counter. A rather strange twist of history, that...
And Bruno Mascitelli on Austrade:
Merging Austrade into Foreign Affairs, while appearing to be more efficient, runs the risk of reverting back to old habits of leaving the trade work purely at the policy level — Australian trade representation abroad has been through this scenario and we learned from our mistakes. The actual task of helping Australian companies in foreign markets (especially smaller exporters) requires genuine assistance and in-market support.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user U.S. Department of State.