Tag Archives: kevin rudd

Book review: “The Avoidable War” by Kevin Rudd

As the title of the book suggests, the author believes meeting jaw to jaw would be far better than catastrophic conflict and war between the US and China.  He also lays out in painstaking detail no less than 10 different scenarios, as a “cautionary guide” to policy makers navigating the dangerous waters in the decade ahead.

Would America have their Waterloo moment with China taking over Taiwan militarily or will it relive a new Korean stalemate with protracted military conflict and large- scale casualties on both sides?  Of course, ideally China and the US could also find themselves within a new world order without the need for military confrontation (Xi’s Optimal Plan).

At an interview last month following the launch of the book in Washington, Rudd said that writing the book was like giving birth to an elephant.  Indeed, the book is no light reading from a heavy weight Sinologist, former PM of Australia and current President and CEO of the Asia Society think tank.  Yet I raced through the chapters without too much effort, finding the tone and style flowing and engaging. Rudd also managed to dissect complex issues into bite sized chapters, shedding light on China’s concentric circles of concern and influence.

The kernel that lies within the first concentric circle is of course the Chinese Communist Party and the politics of staying in power.  Rightly or wrongly, Xi and the leadership believe that China needs strong central leadership lest it dissolves into bickering camps or breaks up like the Soviet Union had in 1991. With Xi Jinping thought now embedded in the Chinese Constitution and the removal of 2 fixed terms of the Presidency, the next 20th Party Congress in the second half of 2022 is likely to deliver the result he wants.

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Daily View 2×2: 1 November 2009

It’s Sunday. It’s 7am. And we’ve got the definitive musical proof that Australian Premier Kevin Rudd is not US President Barack Obama. But first, the news.

2 Big Stories

Government to set up bank chains
Done well, this could be rather good news. A bit more competition in the banking sector could improve service, reduce costs and – by undermining some of the basis for massive bank profits – indirectly help deal with massive bonus payments:

Three new High Street banking chains are to be created by the government by 2015 as part of a major overhaul.

They will be set up by breaking up Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds and Northern Rock, the banks it partially or wholly controls after bail-outs…

The aim of the new banks is to increase competition and recoup taxpayers’ cash.

The government, which holds a 70% stake in RBS and a 43% stake in Lloyds after last October’s bailouts, hopes to announce the sell-off plans on Tuesday.

The new banks will be standard retail banks concentrating on deposits and mortgages.

They will be sold to new entrants to the banking market and not to existing financial institutions. (BBC)

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How to defeat a long-serving government: lessons from Australia

Cross-posted from The Wardman Wire:

Politics doesn’t just happen in the US

Australian politics should be a fertile learning ground for those interested in British politics. Whilst it does not have the West Wing glamorous scale of US politics, it shares the US advantage of a common language – which makes access to political information much easier than for other countries. Moreover, unlike the USA, it has the mundane – but vital – importance of having a political system that in core elements is the same as Britain (two houses of Parliament, leader of the largest party in the lower house gets to be Prime Minister, no elected person more senior than the Prime Minister).

Both Australia and the US have had a long period of right-wing political dominance (Liberals and Republicans respectively), during which time the right seemed to have largely shifted the terms of political debate, come to dominate the vocabulary of issues and seen off an opposition that was often split between those who urged moderation and the centre ground as the sensible response to defeat and those who saw that very moderation as timidity and the cause of repeated defeat.

In both cases, the right finally lost – John McCain in 2008, Australian PM John Howard in 2007. But whilst lessons from the previous Democrat defeats and then Obama’s victory in 2008 have been commonly discussed in the UK, Australian politics does not get much of a look-in, although former Labour Cabinet Minister Alan Milburn was a key advisor during the 2007 Australian election. What are we missing by failing to look more often to Australia?

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