Some Further Thoughts on the Skripal Affair

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28 March 2018

“Let the jury consider the verdict” the King said. “No, No” said the Queen: “sentence first, verdict afterwards”. “Stuff and nonsense” said Alice.

The furore surrounding the alleged nerve gas poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia shows no signs of abating. It continuously puts one in mind of the quote from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland at the head of this article.

For those of us with fond of memories of some of the traditional virtues of common-law justice, such as the presumption of innocence, the onus of proof upon the accuser, a verdict based upon evidence beyond reasonable doubt, and a prohibition on prejudicial pre-trial comment, it all seems like a very distant past. Continue reading

Does Australia Believe in International Law: The Case of Syria

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20 March 2018

One of the most common phrases heard from senior Australian government officials including the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister is Australia’s belief in what it is pleased to call the “rules based international order.” This phrase is usually used in the context of implied or explicit criticism of another nation with whom Australia is in disagreement. For example, Australia is very prone to criticizing Russia’s “annexation” of Crimea, or China’s assertion of its claimed rights in the South China Sea. Continue reading

The Strange Case of the Alleged Russian Spy

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9 March 2018

 The suspected nerve agent attack upon a Russian former intelligence officer, Sergei Skripal, which also affected his daughter in the English city of Salisbury last Sunday has given rise to much speculation, too much hysteria, and too little analysis or insight. It has provided ammunition for the rabidly Russophobic

Western media to make thinly veiled accusations that it was another example of Russia in general and Putin in particular disposing of a supposed enemy of Russia. Continue reading

Australia’s Dilemma: The Quad or its National Interest

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13 March 2018          

In 2005 Japan raised the possibility of a separate grouping of four nations, Australia, India, Japan and the United States, as a potential counterweight to the growing power of China. It was an ill-considered notion then, and nothing has happened since then to make it a better idea. If anything, it is a worse idea now that was 12 years ago. Continue reading

Russian Leader’s Speech A Geopolitical Game Changer

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5 March 2018

On 1 March 2018 President Vladimir Putin dressed a joint sitting of the Russian Parliament in what amounted to a State of the Union address. The speech by Putin was typically calm and comprehensive. In the speech he’s announced a wide range of social and economic measures. These included proposals to tackle poverty, labour reforms, demographic issues, infrastructure development, upgrading transport links as part of the hugely important belt and road initiative being propelled by China, development of state of the art of scientific centres, and improving health care to all citizens and particularly those in rural areas. Continue reading

Assange Hung Out to Dry Yet Again

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25 February 2018

On 13 February 2018 a British Judge ruled against an application by lawyers acting for Julian Assange that the arrest warrant that was extant for his failure to turn up to the court should be quashed. The decision, and some additional facts that have been revealed due to the diligence of an Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi, (1) dispels any lingering doubts that the Assange case is a political one, aimed at incarcerating a man whose organisation, Wikileaks, has proved a persistent embarrassment to the British and American establishments. Continue reading