INTERNATIONAL


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Scotland's brave quest for self-determination

31 Comments
15 September 2014 | Duncan MacLaren

Child with Scotland face-paintPrime Minister Tony Abbott’s remarks on the Scottish independence debate were front page news in Great Britain. If Mr Abbott had actually visited Scotland rather than follow the advice of the British PM, he would have seen that the whole debate had centred on the kind of society we wanted – one where social justice is paramount, our National Health Service is not privatised and rights are built into a written constitution.


Sovereign aspirations and political power games

2 Comments
14 September 2014 | Justin Glyn

Scotland referendumThe problem of who qualifies as a 'people' and what the content of the right is becomes particularly acute when the right to self-determination bumps up against that bedrock of international law, national sovereignty. In some cases, the problem goes away by agreement. The sad truth is that each side adopts the rhetoric that suits it and the result depends on the balance of political powers which each can muster. 


Abbott's foreign policy flops

11 Comments
11 September 2014 | Tony Kevin

Aus PM with Sec John KerrySince Richard Casey was External Affairs Minister in the 1950s, the three pillars of Australian foreign policy have been: a genuine reaching out to our Asian neighbours, adherence to UN-based multilateral values and institutions, and a firm but self-respecting defence partnership with the United States. All those pillars look pretty shaken now.


Telling good Kurds from bad

4 Comments
04 September 2014 | Binoy Kampmark

Women soldiers at Kurdistan borderA debate about arming, and reinforcing the Kurds, is not an open and shut case. European powers and the United States draw the false distinction that there are good Islamic militants and bad ones, with the bad ones supposedly against the Western military program. The game of backing and supporting misunderstood – and dangerous – groups persists.


Thanks for nothing, Adam and Eve

13 Comments
03 September 2014 | Andrew Hamilton

Detail from Born Bad book coverJames Boyce claims that contemporary attitudes to politics, human origins, economics and human psychology can be understood only if we recognise the hidden presuppositions imported from the theology of original sin. Theories on human nature such as those proposed by Adam Smith, Sigmund Freud, Richard Dawkins and the US Founding Fathers, tried to emancipate people from religious ideas, but often unwittingly enshrined them.


How to measure HIV stigma

6 Comments
01 September 2014 | Daniel Reeders

Measuring tapeGlobal targets can be used to benchmark countries – but measuring a reduction in stigma is harder than it sounds. As one of my colleagues asked, 'what's the international standard unit for one stigma?'


New Indonesian president offers hope for West Papua

4 Comments
31 August 2014 | Pat Walsh

West Papua independence flagSince its foundation as a modern state in the 1940s, Indonesia has been plagued by a series of conflicts that have threatened the dream of a united republic, inflicted grievous human rights violations and poisoned perceptions of the place, not least in Australia. Only West Papua, perhaps the most complex and intractable of them all, remains. 


Imelda Marcos and the seduction of time

7 Comments
28 August 2014 | Fatima Measham

Imelda Marcos illustrationAs the world marks the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance on August 30, new generations of Filipinos find it hard to grasp what it meant to express dissent when Ferdinand Marcos was president. Some assert that, compared to the current standard of governance and politics, life must have been better under Marcos. Such perceptions are validated when trusted institutions invite Imelda Marcos as guest of honour.


Sowing dragon's teeth in Iraq

19 Comments
27 August 2014 | Andrew Hamilton

Silhouette of soldiers The vagueness of what is envisaged in the call for military action against the Islamic State makes it difficult to establish whether the harm caused would be proportionate to the good achieved.The record is not good suggesting strongly that Western military intervention will make things worse.


An elusive peace in Ukraine

6 Comments
25 August 2014 | Tony Kevin

Team Australia parody graphicMy optimism in previous essays on Ukraine continues to be undermined by the remarkable capacity of all players in this tragic drama – the government in Kiev, the rebels in East Ukraine, and their respective backers in NATO and Moscow – to dig in stubbornly and refuse to compromise goals in this now very nasty civil war.


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