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90 minutes | 4 days ago
Key players in the Biden administration
President-elect Biden has made clear that his administration will be different than any before. He has also pledged his team will reflect the diversity of America and he is seeking known collaborators, rather than "a team of rivals" that President Obama famously referenced with his first Cabinet. Yet President-Elect Biden was elected by an exceedingly divided and polarised country and he will need to reconcile a number of factions, even within his own party. Will Biden’s Cabinet reflect his campaign promises? What does the proposed Biden Cabinet mean for Australia and its national priorities? What is the best approach for Australia to engage with new leadership in Washington? To discuss these issues, USSC hosted a webinar event featuring USSC experts Dr Gorana Grgic, Dr Jennifer Hunt, Professor Simon Jackman and Bruce Wolpe.
57 minutes | a month ago
Vaccines, democracy and truth: Disinformation and digital disruption after the 2020 election
The United States is in the grips of a singular moment in history. An emboldened community of conspiracy theorists is spreading rampant disinformation about the presidential election and the efficacy and intention of COVID-19 vaccines. Record numbers of Americans are testing positive for the virus and President Trump, who downplayed its threat, is taking credit for the arrival of vaccines while disputing President-elect Biden’s win. The spread of online conspiracy theories has already had tangible impacts. After vicious anti-5G conspiracy theories, the rollout of 5G towers in the United Kingdom was interrupted by dozens of fire bombings and attacks. How can the United States and Australia traverse this clash of online disinformation and conspiracy theories with the real-world rollout of a vaccine program and a presidential transition? How has this landscape enabled hostile actors to influence US politics, and what are the implications for Australia and the world? The United States Studies Centre hosted a discussion on these issues and more with the award-winning investigative journalist for NBC News Brandy Zadrozny and USSC Non-resident Fellow and Lecturer at the National Security College at ANU, Dr Jennifer Hunt in conversation with USSC Research Associate Elliott Brennan.
63 minutes | 2 months ago
Election Watch: US Politics Web Series — December edition
The Perth USAsia Centre and United States Studies Centre host a monthly web series in which our CEOs review the latest in US politics with a focus on the US elections and US-Indo-Pacific relations. USSC CEO Simon Jackman and Perth USAC CEO Gordon Flake shared their insights on the top stories in US politics from an Australian perspective.
61 minutes | 2 months ago
Thanksgiving with Ambassadors Culvahouse and Sinodinos
In a year when so much has changed, it is important to step back and search for silver linings. This is the spirit of the American Thanksgiving tradition, and it is with this noble practice in mind that the United States Studies Centre would like to invite you to a gathering of friends for a Thanksgiving webinar featuring US Ambassador to Australia Arthur B. Culvahouse Jr. and Australian Ambassador to the United States Arthur Sinodinos in conversation with USSC CEO Professor Simon Jackman. What aspects of the US-Australia relationship can we appreciate more as a result of the trials of 2020? How have the dynamics changed? What should we focus on as we head into 2021?
59 minutes | 2 months ago
US-China relations under a Biden administration
It has become conventional wisdom in Washington that despite entrenched political polarisation, a tougher stance on China is bipartisan. But with only two months until the Biden administration begins, will this be proven correct? How will the Biden administration's approach to China and the Indo-Pacific be different from the Trump administration's? What issues with China will the Biden administration prioritise? To discuss these issues, the USSC hosted a webinar event with Axios China Reporter, Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian in conversation with USSC Senior Non-Resident Fellow and former Senior Advisor to the Australian Foreign Minister, Dr John Lee. Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian covers Beijing's influence and intentions and writes the weekly Axios China newsletter. Based in Washington, DC, she was also the lead writer of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists report known as the "China Cables", which detailed classified Chinese government documents revealing the inner workings of China’s detention camps in Xinjiang. Bethany was previously a national security reporter for The Daily Beast and an editor and reporter for Foreign Policy magazine. She was an Arthur F. Burns Fellow in Berlin and was previously a Jefferson Fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. She previously spent four years in China. Allen-Ebrahimian holds an MA in East Asian studies from Yale University, as well as a graduate certificate from the Johns Hopkins-Nanjing University Center for Chinese and American Studies. Dr John Lee is an Adjunct Professor and Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the United States Studies Centre. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington DC. From 2016-2018, he was senior adviser to the Australian Foreign Minister, the lead ministerial adviser for the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper, and her principal adviser on Indo-Pacific strategic affairs in the lead-up to the reinstitution of the Quad in 2017.
59 minutes | 2 months ago
China’s Belt and Road Initiative: A US-Australian assessment
To carry out China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China promises to spend more than US$1 trillion on new ports, railways, fibre-optic cables, power plants, and other connections across more than one hundred and thirty countries. The United States has cautioned that the BRI, President Xi Jinping’s flagship foreign-policy effort, amounts to “debt trap diplomacy”, “white elephants”, and an unprecedented expansion of Chinese military power. Yet some have said the United States and allies have failed to provide a sufficient “alternative” to BRI. How should the United States and allies like Australia respond? The conventional wisdom is that a more skeptical view of China is bipartisan in the United States but would a Biden administration’s response to BRI be substantively different from the Trump administration’s? USSC hosted a discussion of the United States, Australia and China’s Belt and Road Initiative with Jonathan E. Hillman, author of the recently published The Emperor’s New Road: China and the Project of the Century (Yale University Press, 2020), in a conversation with the Australian Financial Review’s Lisa Murray. Jonathan E. Hillman is a senior fellow with the CSIS Economics Program and director of the Reconnecting Asia Project, one of the most extensive open-source databases tracking China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Hillman has testified before Congress, briefed government officials and Fortune 500 executives, and written on economics, national security, and foreign policy issues for the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and other outlets. Prior to joining CSIS, Hillman served as a policy adviser at the Office of the US Trade Representative, where he contributed to the 2015 US National Security Strategy and the President’s Trade Agenda and directed the research and writing process for essays, speeches, and other materials explaining US trade and investment policy. He has also worked as a researcher at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, the Council on Foreign Relations, and in Kyrgyzstan as a Fulbright scholar. Lisa Murray is the editor of the Perspective and Review sections for the Australian Financial Review. She was previously based in Shanghai for six years as the AFR’s China correspondent writing about trade, politics and the economy.
62 minutes | 3 months ago
US Politics Web Series with special guests Jeff Bleich and Chelsey Martin
he Perth USAsia Centre and United States Studies Centre host a monthly web series in which our CEOs review the latest in US politics with a focus on the US election and US-Indo-Pacific relations. This month's distinguished guests Jeff Bleich, former US Ambassador to Australia and Chelsey Martin, former Australian Consul-General in Los Angeles discussed the US election results with USSC CEO Simon Jackman and Perth USAC CEO Gordon Flake.
63 minutes | 3 months ago
Red Book/Blue Book: An Australian guide to the next US administration
Every US general election carries implications for Australia. But as they say: this time, it’s different. To most casual observers, the trajectories of the United States under a second Trump administration or a Biden administration seem quite different, as do the implications for Australia. But what is really at stake for Australia? What policy arenas — or elements of politics, the economy, or culture and society of the United States — are likely to be impacted by either election outcome? Among these points of change or continuity, which are of relevance to Australians and Australia’s national interests? How might Australia best respond? To discuss these issues, the USSC hosted a webinar event to launch the United States Studies Centre’s seminal report for the 2020 presidential election: Red Book/Blue Book: An Australian guide to the next US administration. This event featured Centre experts Ashley Townshend, Director of Foreign Policy and Defence; Dr Stephen Kirchner, Director of Trade and Investment; Dr Charles Edel, Senior Fellow; and Dr Gorana Grgic, Lecturer in US Politics and Foreign Policy in a conversation with CEO Professor Simon Jackman.
59 minutes | 3 months ago
Media and the 2020 election
No US president has been more media focused than President Trump. And likewise, no US president has consistently dominated global news cycles like President Trump. While most Australians watch the US presidential election from afar, intrepid Aussie journalists have spent the year in the epicentre of American political drama: Washington. How does the 2020 election compare to others? How do the candidates campaign and how do you cover them during a pandemic? What aspects of campaign journalism have changed forever? To discuss these issues, the USSC hosted a webinar event with three Australian correspondents in Washington: Cameron Stewart of The Australian, Jacob Greber of The Australian Financial Review, and Matthew Knott of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in a conversation with former ABC Washington Bureau Chief, Zoe Daniel. Cameron Stewart is an Associate Editor and Washington Correspondent for The Australian. This is his eighth US presidential election since he started with the paper and he is working in Washington DC during this pandemic. His investigative reporting covers foreign affairs, defence and national security and he also writes features for the Weekend Australian Magazine and is a regular contributor for Sky News. Jacob Greber is The Australian Financial Review's United States correspondent, based in the paper's Washington bureau, where he's been since mid-2018. He was previously the AFR's economics correspondent in Canberra (2012-2018) and has worked as a journalist for more than 24 years in Australia, Europe and the US, including stints at Bloomberg News and News Ltd. Matthew Knott is North America correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. He moved to the US in 2017 to study political journalism at Columbia University in New York. He has travelled to 19 states across America, including recent trips to the battleground states. He has also covered the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement. The former federal political reporter was previously based in Parliament House, Canberra. While there he won the Wallace Brown Award for best young reporter in the press gallery. Zoe Daniel was the ABC’s US bureau chief in Washington from December 2015 until December 2019. She was the ABC's South East Asia correspondent from 2009 - 2013 and Africa correspondent from 2005 until 2007. Zoe co-hosted the international news program The World on News 24 and Australia Plus. Zoe is the author of Storyteller, which provides a personal insight into her life as a foreign correspondent, as well as juggling a family.
59 minutes | 3 months ago
President Trump's former Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney in conversation with Joe Hockey
With the US election less than three weeks away, a lot of commentaries are focused on the “horse race”: who is ahead, who is behind? But regardless of the outcome in November, will Americans unite behind the next administration? What will be the policy priorities of either a Biden administration or a Trump administration’s second term? Will there be room for foreign policy and an Indo-Pacific strategy as America grapples with the health and economic costs of the COVID-19 pandemic? Australia has managed its US relationship exceedingly well under President Trump but what risks and opportunities lie ahead for Australia and its national interests under either election outcome? The United States Studies Centre hosted a conversation between President Trump's former Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former Australian Ambassador to the United States The Hon Joe Hockey.
63 minutes | 3 months ago
The 2020 US election: What is at stake for Australia?
With just weeks until the US 2020 presidential election, we examine what is at stake for Australia in either election outcome. Australia's national interests will be impacted very differently under a second Trump term than a Biden administration. What points of continuity and change are we likely to see under either scenario? Aside from the foreign policy implications of the US election results, how else does US politics and policy impact Australian politics, society and culture? Why are so many non-Americans — Australians prominent among them — so enthralled with US politics in general, but this election in particular? To discuss these issues, the USSC hosted a webinar event featuring Foreign Editor at The Australian, Greg Sheridan, United States Studies Centre (USSC) CEO Professor Simon Jackman in conversation with former ABC Washington Bureau Chief Zoe Daniel.
57 minutes | 3 months ago
The future of US defence strategy in the Indo-Pacific: A conversation with Michèle Flournoy
America’s strategic position in the Indo-Pacific is under unprecedented strain. Facing an increasingly strong and assertive China and the erosion of its own military-technological edge, the United States can no longer be sure of its ability to maintain deterrence and unilaterally uphold a regional balance of power. Whoever wins the US presidential election will have to address this reality in the context of growing geopolitical and economic disruption wrought by COVID-19. This will require hard choices about the overall size and structure of the US military, its global operations and force posture, the nature of its engagement with allies and partners, and the way it should counter Chinese grey zone coercion and strengthen deterrence. How might a Biden administration address these challenges? Where will US defence priorities and trade-offs evolve? And what could this mean for the US-Australia alliance and America’s other allies and partners in the region? The USSC hosted a webinar featuring Michèle Flournoy, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of WestExec Advisors, former Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), and former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (February 2009 to February 2012) in the Obama Administration, who shared her views on these important issues. The webinar was moderated by Ashley Townshend, Director of Foreign Policy and Defence at the United States Studies Centre. Michèle Flournoy is Co-Founder and Managing Partner of WestExec Advisors, and former Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), where she currently serves on the board. Michèle served as the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy from February 2009 to February 2012. She was the principal advisor to the Secretary of Defense in the formulation of national security and defence policy, oversight of military plans and operations, and in National Security Council deliberations. She led the development of the Department of Defense’s 2012 Strategic Guidance and represented the Department in dozens of foreign engagements, in the media and before Congress. Prior to confirmation, Michèle co-led President Obama’s transition team at the Defense Department.
60 minutes | 3 months ago
Kamala Harris v Mike Pence: Vice-Presidential debate debrief
The 2020 campaign continues to break norms and defy expectations. With the bickering and banter from the first debate still resounding, how will Vice President Pence and Senator Harris handle their encounter? Will policy and ideology feature more prominently in the Vice-Presidential debate? Will this presumably less personal, more substantive debate yield insights about the likely policy priorities of either a second Trump administration or a Biden administration? And if so, what are the implications for Australia? To discuss these issues, USSC hosted a webinar event with USSC Lecturer in US Politics and Foreign Policy Gorana Grgic, Non-Resident Fellow Jennifer Hunt, and Non-Resident Fellow Kim Hoggard in conversation with Associate Professor in American Politics Brendon O’Connor.
61 minutes | 4 months ago
Managing US-China nuclear risks: A guide for Australia
The US-China nuclear relationship is growing increasingly complex. In recent years, Beijing has continued to modernise and diversify its nuclear arsenal and Washington has made changes to its nuclear policy that could reinforce these trends. While there is still the relatively low risk of the use of nuclear weapons during a conflict between the two, that risk is rising as political tensions increase. Australia’s interests would be best served by an allied military strategy for balancing China that emphasises conventional capabilities, rather than relying on US nuclear weapons to deter the unlikely prospect of a first-use nuclear attack by China. To discuss these issues, the USSC hosted an event to launch Managing US-China nuclear risks: A guide for Australia, featuring its author, Fiona Cunningham, United States Studies Centre Non-Resident Fellow and Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University; Euan Graham, Shangri-La Dialogue Senior Fellow for Asia-Pacific Security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, David Santoro, Vice President and Director for Nuclear Policy Programs at Pacific Forum and Brendan Thomas-Noone, Research Fellow in the Foreign Policy and Defence Program at United States Studies Centre.
62 minutes | 4 months ago
Election Watch: US Politics Web Series with former Republican Senator Jeff Flake and US foreign policy expert Gorana Grgic
The Perth USAsia Centre and United States Studies Centre host a monthly web series in which our CEOs review the latest in US politics with a focus on the upcoming US election and US-Indo-Pacific relations. This month's guests were Jeff Flake, a Republican who represented Arizona in the US Senate from 2013 to 2019, and Dr Gorana Grgic, Lecturer in US Politics and Foreign Policy at the United States Studies Centre. Flake and Grgic joined USSC CEO Simon Jackman and Perth USAC CEO Gordon Flake for their insights on the top stories in US politics.
64 minutes | 4 months ago
Empowering American allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific
The Indo-Pacific has rapidly emerged as the world’s most strategically consequential region in the Asian century. But the regional order is straining under China’s assertive use of coercive statecraft and doubts about the United States’ capacity and willingness to uphold a favourable balance of power. These dynamics are deeply troubling for Australia’s strategic outlook and for the security and prosperity of US allies and partners across the region. A stable and rules-based regional order is, however, still achievable. As Abraham Denmark argues in his new book U.S. Strategy in the Asian Century: Empowering Allies and Partners, America’s Indo-Pacific alliances and partnerships can – if properly harnessed and supported – enable Washington to underwrite long-term stability in the region and successfully navigate the challenges of intensifying strategic competition. To discuss these issues, the USSC hosted the Australian launch of U.S. Strategy in the Asian Century featuring its author Abraham Denmark, Director of the Asia Program and Senior Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia; Ambassador Jane Hardy, Australian Consul-General in Honolulu; and Ashley Townshend, Director of Foreign Policy and Defence at the United States Studies Centre. Abraham M. Denmark is Director of the Asia Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and a Senior Fellow at the Center’s Kissinger Institute on China and the United States. He is also an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Denmark previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia, and has held positions at the national Bureau of Asian Research, the Center for a New American Security, in the US Intelligence community. Ambassador Jane M. Hardy is the Consul-General of the Australian Consulate-General Honolulu, having previously served as the Assistant Secretary, Arms control and Counter-Proliferation Branch in the International Security Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Canberra. Prior to this role, Ambassador Hardy served as Australia's Ambassador to Spain, Andorra and Equatorial Guinea.
62 minutes | 4 months ago
Election Watch: A conversation with election analyst Charlie Cook
Charlie Cook is one of the most authoritative analysts of US elections - an exceptionally trusted and respected voice on the American electorate for nearly four decades. Charlie discussed his overview of the race for the White House and where it stands today - trends, key states and voter demographics, and strengths and weaknesses of President Trump and Vice President Biden - and also the state of play for the Senate and overall House races. What is the state of the race to the White House? Who is winning the battle for Congress? What can Australia expect to see on 3 November? To discuss these issues, USSC hosted a webinar event featuring Editor and Publisher of The Cook Political Report, Charlie Cook in conversation with United States Studies Centre (USSC) Non-Resident Senior Fellow Bruce Wolpe and USSC CEO Professor Simon Jackman.
59 minutes | 4 months ago
Law, the courts and free and fair elections in the United States: what to expect in 2020
Ensuring that elections are free and fair is far from a settled matter in the United States, with courts frequently asked to settle disputes about virtually every element of election administration. In 2020, President Trump and his supporters contend that vote by mail is rife with fraud (in an election cycle where COVID will help drive demand for mail balloting to record levels) and that an election loss would constitute evidence of a rigged election. The vacancy following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg further heightens the tension around the role of the court in the election. Trump’s opponents are casting the election and access to the polls as a struggle for voting rights and democracy itself. Interest groups allied with both sides of politics are launching or preparing for post-election litigation in multiple jurisdictions. What issues are being litigated, by whom, and where? How are these legal challenges being funded? What constitutional and legal arguments are being deployed? What likely role for the US Supreme Court, and what might be the likely outcome? And for the eventual winner, will their victory and governing authority be accepted as legitimate by the American people and the world? To discuss these issues, USSC hosted a webinar event featuring Ruth Greenwood, Co-Director of the Voting Rights and Redistricting Program at the Campaign Legal Center in conversation with United States Studies Centre CEO Professor Simon Jackman.
62 minutes | 4 months ago
When America stopped being great: a conversation with author Nick Bryant
BBC New York Correspondent Nick Bryant has studied US elections for decades and saw the election of President Trump in 2016 as inevitable, rather than a fluke. Growing executive overreach, shifting economic and cultural power, and ubiquitous distrust of media and government paved the way for a disruptor with promises of “greatness.” As a Brit in the United States, his observations translate the American experience through a lens Australian’s can understand. Who are the power-brokers and pawns in the 2020 election? Will Americans double down or divert away from MAGA? Is the history of President Trump’s rise also a history of America’s fall? To discuss these issues, the USSC hosted a webinar event featuring Nick Bryant, author of When America Stopped Being Great: A history of the present, in conversation with United States Studies Centre CEO Professor Simon Jackman.
59 minutes | 5 months ago
Why is a border wall not a campaign issue in 2020?
In 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump made immigration a key campaign platform, warning of Mexican “rapists” and criminals coming to the United States. He pledged that a wall on the US-Mexico border would be erected and Mexico would pay for it. Four years later, the US and Mexican presidents have publicly praised each other while a naturalisation ceremony of immigrants to the United States was featured at the Republican National Convention. What has changed in US-Mexico relations? What has the populist left-wing president of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, done that differs from his more conventional predecessor? Would Mexico support expanding elements of the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement to already existing trade agreements with nations like Australia? In this event, New York Times foreign correspondent Mexico Natalie Kitroeff spoke about these issues with Dr Gorana Grgic, a jointly appointed Lecturer at the Department of Government and International Relations and the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney.
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