Wednesday saw the release of the UK's Foreign Affairs Select Committee report into the Libyan intervention in 2011. The damning report noted that 'through his decision making in the National Security Council, former Prime Minister David Cameron was ultimately responsible for the failure to develop a coherent Libya strategy'. Casper Wuite wrote on how this focus on the Libyan intervention may transfer to the US presidential campaign:
In the coming days the debate will likely shift across the Atlantic, where Donald Trump may seize upon the report in attempt to undermine Hillary Clinton's foreign policy credentials. While Trump will do so purely for electoral reasons, such an exercise could well serve a larger purpose. It would flesh out the thinking of Hillary Clinton at the time of the intervention, something she has not discussed in detail yet.
It was a big news week for Clinton. Will her pneumonia diagnosis be another 'popcorn moment', or will it have a lasting effect on the numbers? Emma Connors:
While Clinton attempts to recuperate at home, the rest of the country (and plenty of us outside of the US as well) will be discussing her health, and what the diagnosis means for the presidential election, now less than two months away. Here are four possible outcomes...
And personal emails from Colin Powell, former US secretary of state, were leaked, showing that the Clinton camp had tried persuading him to take the hit for Clinton's personal email server. Emma Connors once more:
It's unfortunate (but probably not coincidental) these emails came in a week in which the delay in passing on a doctor's diagnosis once again undermined Clinton's reputation as a trustworthy individual. Now we know her people had no qualms in suggesting Powell did other than what he did in order to make her look less bad. That may not be out-and-out lying but 100% gospel truth it ain't.
This week China and Russia began eight days of naval exercises in the South China Sea. The exercises seem somewhat counterproductive for Russia, argued Euan Graham:
Whatever Moscow's diplomatic aims are for this week's South China Sea exercise with China, the reality is the drill will do more to reveal contradictions in Russia's regional approach, potentially damaging an important partnership with Vietnam, as well as exposing over-reach for Russia's limited power-projection capabilities.
Last weekend six opponents of Fiji's ruling party (headed by Frank Bainimarama) were arrested in what Jenny Hayward-Jones argued was a worrying indicator for democratic restoration in Fiji:
Australia and New Zealand will be loathe to go back down the path of complete estrangement from Fiji, but they will need to be ever more nimble in their approach to Suva if the Fijian Government continues to undermine its own democracy.
A ceasefire in Syria came into effect on Monday; it's a tenuous arrangement at best, argued Rodger Shanahan:
Ronald Reagan famously said of a nuclear agreement with the then Soviet Union that it was based on an attitude of 'trust, but verify'. Perhaps slightly contradictory but very realpolitik nonetheless. Thirty years later, Secretary of State John Kerry's admission that the latest Syrian cessation of hostilities agreement is 'not built on trust' tells you perhaps all you need to know about its likelihood of long-term success.
The establishment of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) missile interceptor system marks the end of any Seoul-Beijing honeymoon, wrote John Lee:
Sharp diplomatic exchanges and heated editorials have been followed by China's snubbing of the annual Seoul Defence Dialogue, and a spat over PLA bombers entering airspace overlapped by the two countries' air defence identification zones. At the G20 last Monday, Xi told Park in person that 'mishandling the [THAAD] issue is not conducive to strategic stability in the region'.
Shashank Joshi outlined the conundrums faced by Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in picking the next chief of army:
Some people collect stamps, others play golf; Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif picks army chiefs. It's a perilous hobby. If things go smoothly, in November Sharif will be required to pick the country's top general for the sixth time in his career, which has involved previous stints as premier in 1990-93 and 1990-97. Needless to say, things have not always gone smoothly.
Myanmar's 'State Counsellor' Aung San Suu Kyi visited the US this week; removing US sanctions wholesale may not be the aim of the previously house arrest-bound activist, wrote Hervé Lemahieu:
Behind the scenes, Suu Kyi may still be advocating for making the removal of the last vestiges of the US sanctions regime conditional on the military's willingness to reform the 2008 constitution, which gives the army control of several key ministries and one quarter of the seats in parliament. Her qualification of lifting measures that 'hurt us economically' leaves scope for retaining elements of US legislation targeted at the military, on the grounds they have a minimal effect on the general economy.
For a public service seemingly in analytical decline (as described by former secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Varghese), writing Australia's Foreign Affairs White Paper will present a major test, argued Geoff Kitney:
It has been a matter of growing concern that there has been a long and steady decline in the importance to which successive governments have given to public service policy advice on these issues. As a consequence, there has been a steady loss from public service ranks of the best and brightest minds.
'Policy thinking', as Varghese describes it, has shifted away from public servants to political offices. The power of the office of the Prime Minister relative to the power of the independent advisers in the bureaucracy has increased dramatically since John Howard's prime ministership.
Will Angela Merkel's time as chancellor come to an end at next year's elections? Marcus Colla analysed the rumblings in Germany's domestic political scene:
The contrast Merkel is now setting out to her own party, to the other mainstream parties and to voters more broadly is an elegantly simple one: either you are with her and the course she has set, or you are against her. Faced with such a stark polarity, the opposition parties (whether social democratic, conservative, green or even socialist) will struggle to occupy independent political terrains. Broadly speaking, they will have no choice but to side with Merkel and against the populists.
When combating the fear generated by terrorism, it's tempting to put terrorism casualties in the context of other causes of death. But this can be counterproductive, wrote Andrew Zammit:
The argument does little to achieve a more restrained government response to terrorism, not least because it can inadvertently come across as callous (particularly when it uses supposedly comical examples like falling furniture). People respond to terrorist attacks as human beings, not as calculating machines that assess risk dispassionately; political leaders must take that into account.
And finally, Stephen Greville asked why Australia should bother with a UK-specific free trade agreement:
What positive benefits could Britain offer? Certainly not to accept agricultural exports from Australia: half a century in the Common Agriculture Policy has fostered a hugely-protected domestic agriculture, which can't be dismantled any time soon.
What about immigration for all of those Australians who still see London as the embodiment of 'going overseas'? In the unlikely event that Britain restricts this path, it would be in Australia's interests that our best emigrants looked more boldly to other regions where their subsequent experience would later be more useful to them and Australia – especially in the dynamic economies of Asia.
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