International Studies

It is a great pity that Efraim Karsh could not have read Raimond Gaita’s new collection of essays before completing his own. The essays might have prompted him to reflect that the Israeli–Palestinian conflict is not nearly as straightforward as he would have us believe.

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Not for forty years have Australians had real arguments with their governments about international relations. Many marched in 2003 against the Iraq invasion, but were ignored. Now, if the national obesity rate is any guide, Australians spend more time eating, partying and sleeping than having the earnest pre-breakfast discussions about foreign relations that Fukuzawa recommended.

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In 1991, French sociologist Jean Baudrillard provocatively claimed that ‘the Gulf War did not take place’. His argument was not a denial of the violence, suffering, and death experienced by civilians but rather that those very realities were absent in the mediatised consumption of the conflict. Dominant discourses reproduce the key events of the age, and the distant spectator can hardly escape the saturation of simulated symbols they entail. In Baudrillard’s words, ‘the warriors bury themselves in the desert leaving only hostages to occupy the stage, including all of us as information hostages on the world media stage’.

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Australians, Chris Bowen lamented recently, pay lip service to Asia. While millions of us visit every year, it is too easy to skim across the region’s surface. Few Australians speak Asian languages; most know little about our colossal neighbour Indonesia, let alone other ASEAN countries. Making matters worse, there ...

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Finian Cullity reviews 'Restless Continent' by Michael Wesley

Finian Cullity
Friday, 18 December 2015

Australia does not have a great tradition of writers producing books on international affairs for a general audience. Along with others like Hugh White, Michael Wesley – a former head of the Lowy Institute now based at the Australian National University – is helping to correct this.

His previous work,

Daniel Juckes reviews 'City of Exiles' by Stuart Braun

Daniel Juckes
Friday, 30 October 2015

Berlin is built on sand, says Stuart Braun in City of Exiles; it is 'never far away from darkness'. It is a city of tolerance, which exerts a psychic pull for anarchists, artists, and those who become Wahlberliners: 'the people who choose to live in Berlin.'

City of Exiles' own sandy foundations make it difficult to find anything s ...

Nick Hordern reviews 'Frontline Ukraine' by Richard Sakwa

Nicholas Hordern
Wednesday, 28 October 2015

It is all Vladimir Putin's fault. Two years after the crisis in Ukraine erupted, the prevailing view in Europe, the United States, and Australia remains that responsibility for the conflict there – including the shooting down of flight MH17 – lies with Russia's president. This, the argument goes, is all part of Putin's plan to restore Russia's dominance of its r ...

April 2015 was the centenary of Gallipoli, an event deeply set in Australian history, but it was also the centenary of the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Armenians at the hands of the then Ottoman Empire. Yet the latter event is mired in controversy, and closure has not yet occurred. It was the first genocide of the twentieth century, but not the last.

The unusual case of David Hicks is one of the most spectacular and politically supercharged miscarriages of justice in Australian history. Like the infamous Boer War case of Breaker Morant, Hicks was politically scapegoated and grossly denied a fair trial. Unlike Morant – a war criminal who murdered prisoners of war – even Hicks’s accuser, the United States, n ...

Stephen Atkinson: Indonesia and asylum seekers

Stephen Atkinson
Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Do the ends always justify the means? And if the boats really have stopped coming, should we see the death of Reza Berati and the suffering of thousands as the collateral damage of a successful policy?

Paul Toohey’s panoramic sweep of this human, ethical, and political terrain begins with a visit to Cisarua, a small resort town in the mountains south of Ja ...

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