Making sense of a changing world order. Hosted by Kelsey Munro and powered by the Lowy Institute.
Exporting Digital Authoritarianism, with Alina Polyakova
Episode 16 - Digital authoritarianism is the use of digital technology by authoritarian regimes to monitor, manipulate and control both domestic and foreign populations. China and Russia are at the forefront, representing two distinct but related models. There are many dimensions to it, from the recent revelations China is developing facial recognition technology to sort people by ethnicity, to Russia’s attempts to create a sovereign Russian internet.
Digital authoritarianism is reshaping the power balance between democracies and illiberal states. What can democracies do to level the playing field, without sacrificing core democratic values?
My guest on this episode of Rules Based Audio, Dr Alina Polyakova, is the founding director of the Project on Global Democracy and Emerging Technology at the Brookings Institution. And she is the co-author of a recent paper, ‘Exporting Digital Authoritarianism’, published by Brookings.
She argues that the west must start conceiving of the democratic digital domain as an asset in this contest, one that must be be protected and defended – but also one that’s more resilient than we think.
Rules Based Audio is a half-hour, fortnightly podcast covering stories from the cracks and faultlines in the global order, hosted by Kelsey Munro and powered by the Lowy Institute. This is our last episode for 2019 and my last episode as host. Rules Based Audio will be back in 2020. Thanks for listening!
Renting influence: China in the Pacific, with Jonathan Pryke and Dan McGarry
Episode 15 of Rules Based Audio takes a look at China's interests, influence and intentions in the Pacific.
Reports of a planned Chinese naval base in Vanuatu in 2018 helped focus policy makers’ attention on China’s strategic intentions and economic influence in the island nations of the south Pacific. But in many ways, the debate in Australia and the US lagged far behind the reality on the ground. These days the Chinese presence – from state owned enterprises, infrastructure projects, commercial ventures and a significant new wave of immigration – is, according to the director of the Lowy Institute’s Pacific Islands program Jonathan Pryke, everywhere in these tiny island nations. Jono talks us through the many dimensions of China in the Pacific.
But first, a case study: Vanuatu is reaping over $100 million a year from the sale of passports, mostly to Chinese nationals; while there has been a big step up in Chinese loans and direct investment. But when earlier this year, Vanuatu-based journalist Dan McGarry reported on the secret dawn arrest of six Chinese nationals – by local police in the presence of Chinese security officials – who were then deported without charge to China, he apparently crossed a line for the island nation’s government. Mr McGarry has been refused re-entry to Vanuatu. I spoke to Mr McGarry about the ways the authoritarian giant’s influence is playing out in the tiny democratic nation of 280,000.
Jonathan Pryke is the director of the Lowy Institute’s Pacific Islands program and Mr McGarry is the media director of the Vanuatu Daily Post.
Rules Based Audio is a half-hour, fortnightly podcast covering stories from the cracks and faultlines in the global order, hosted by Kelsey Munro and powered by the Lowy Institute.
Globalisation's Next Wave: The Jobs Apocalypse
The mass commercialisation of artificial intelligence, machine learning technologies and automation, combined with outsourcing to lower income countries is about to cause massive upheavals and hundreds of millions of job losses in developed economies, according to my guest this episode of Rules Based Audio, economist and globalisation expert Professor Richard Baldwin.
He warns that the next phase of globalisation is different, because of the speed and scale of the likely changes, and the expected impact on the middle classes in rich countries. Professionals who thought their jobs were safe are now directly in the firing line. There’s likely to be earth-shaking political consequences.
It sounds pretty grim for the developed economies, but Professor Baldwin says he’s an optimist about where this will get us to in the future – if we can survive the socio-political earthquakes in the meanwhile.
Richard Baldwin is a professor of international economics at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva; and the author of several books on globalisation, trade and European integration. In this episode of Rules Based Audio, we discuss his latest book, 'The Globotics Upheaval: Globalization, Robotics and the Future of Work'.
October in Syria: The US withdrawal and the death of al-Baghdadi, with Rodger Shanahan
Dr Rodger Shanahan unpacks the implications of the US withdrawal from Syria and the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in October 2019 in Syria. Are the two events linked?
US President Trump’s decision to withdraw US forces from northeast Syria, abandoning the Kurds who fought with the US against Islamic State, allowed Turkey to invade and gave what Dr Shanahan says was “a gift” to Moscow and Damascus. He also discusses what the death of al-Baghdadi means for the future of the Islamic State terrorist group and other militant Islamist groups in the region; and whether the timing and proximity of the two events might be more more than coincidence.
Dr Rodger Shanahan is a Research Fellow at the Lowy Institute specialising in Middle East security and terrorism studies. A former army officer, he had extensive service within the Parachute Battalion Group (PBG) and has had operational service with the UN in South Lebanon and Syria, with the PBG in East Timor, in Beirut during the 2006 war, and in Afghanistan. He was the former director of the Army's Land Warfare Studies Centre, and has also been posted to the Australian Embassies in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi. Dr Shanahan has a PhD in Arab and Islamic Studies from the University of Sydney.
Agent of Instability: Trump’s America, with Ambassador Nicholas Burns
Episode 12: Former US Ambassador to NATO Nicholas Burns talks about the instability of US foreign policy under Trump and how to recover from it, the significance of US alliances in great power competition with China, and also why he rejects former US Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ pointed criticism of Senator Joe Biden’s foreign policy record.
Ambassador Burns is the 2019 Rothschild Distinguished International Fellow at the Lowy Institute. He is one of the US’s most eminent former diplomats, having served under Republican and Democrat administrations in a 27 year career in the foreign service. He was US Ambassador to NATO and later Under Secretary for Political Affairs, the State Department’s third-ranking official. He is now a Professor of Diplomatic Practice and International Relations at Harvard University; and has more recently joined Senator Joe Biden’s campaign as foreign affairs advisor.
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