Blog highlights, week four

Like everyone else, I don’t know how long isolation is going to last, so I can only hope it will end before we run out of blog highlights. But we’re still OK for now. Here’s another curated selection, covering a range of times, places and topics.

Is Obama a realist? (January 2013). A new defence secretary in the United States is an occasion for a fresh look at the old debate between realists and idealists over American foreign policy.

Another weighty discrimination issue (April 2013). A Samoan airline decides to charge its passengers by weight. Is this discrimination, or a move to end discrimination?

How not to write about local government (May 2013). Another perennial issue, with an example of how journalists forego the hard work of learning about policy and just write about the political “horse race”. Worse, they frequently get the details of that wrong.

Fundamentalism on trial in Bangladesh (July 2013). A controversial verdict from Bangladesh’s war crimes tribunal leads to violent protests. The background is a complex mixture of war, religion and politics.

Britain, freedom and the EU (December 2013). In another Brexit prequel, David Cameron’s Britain is getting cold feet about free movement of people. Is it really the EU bureaucrats who are anti-freedom?

Does Putin know what he’s doing? (May 2014). Vladimir Putin moves on Ukraine. None of his possible goals look like being easy to achieve, which is probably why he hasn’t clearly settled on any one of them.

Two Cold Warriors leave the scene (March 2015). Gone in the same week, Malcolm Fraser and Lee Kuan Yew. Compare and contrast.

Republicans searching for a Clinton (October 2015). Another update on the last American presidential race, where Republicans are trying to work out how far they’re prepared to go in the direction of electability.

Queensland government disgraces itself (April 2016). One that we were reminded of recently: Queensland’s Labor government turns the clock back to compulsory preferential voting in the pursuit of short-term electoral advantage.

What does Israel want? (January 2017). The season of peace and goodwill produces little of either in the Middle East. But as a negotiated peace between Israelis and Palestinians looks ever more remote, no-one seems willing to spell out the alternatives.

Who’s afraid of Alfred Deakin? (August 2017). Judith Brett argues that Malcolm Turnbull should have learned some lessons from Alfred Deakin, but perhaps the problem is that his opponents had already been learning them.

Be careful what you wish for on free speech (June 2018). People often have the idea that restrictions on free speech will work in the interests of minorities and the oppressed. It usually doesn’t work out that way.

Worrying about the far left – a three part series (October 2018). Should we be as concerned about the far left as we are about the far right? If we assume that political extremes are equally dangerous in principle, are there still good practical reasons to worry about one more than the other? And can liberals, social democrats and Marxists ever manage to work together?

On changing a constitution (August 2019). Australia’s constitution is difficult to amend, and that’s not a bad thing. But resistance to change is far from uniform.

Europe not getting any bigger, for now (November 2019). European leaders, and Emmanuel Macron in particular, drop the ball when it comes to EU expansion.

 

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