Trump, Brexit, the rise (and fall?) of post-truth politics and their influence on the New Zealand election

University of Otago Politics Professor Robert Patman, August 27, 2017.

Brexit and Trump’s election as US president shared globalisation as a springboard of discontent – but, says Prof Patman, globalisation is not something that can be “undone”. Nor would a small country like NZ want it – or the liberal world order on which it is based – to be. We rely on rules supported by international organisations – as shown by our seven out of seven score against trading partners in cases taken to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The Brexit vote was “statistically, almost a draw,” yet it has propelled the UK along a path that will put 44% of its exports and almost 3 million jobs at risk, as the EU divorce moves the UK from a market of 520 million to just 63 million. UK politicians were deluded in their belief that companies wouldn’t move their head offices to Europe from London – Lloyds of London has already moved to Dublin, American companies have had exit plans in hand since Brexit discussions began.

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Japan’s Foreign Policy Options in the Trump Era – and Ramifications for NZ?

Professor Toshihiro Nakayama, August 14, 2017.

American president Donald Trump is the “most talked about American ever,” bigger than Elvis, Michael Jackson or even Gen MacArthur, who occupied Japan.

And despite discomfort about him, Japan is still “one of the most pro-American countries in the world,” Prof Nakayama said. “There is the sense that Japan and America are on the same plane … so we have to root for the person who is steering it.”

Japan’s underlying unease about the future of what had, under Obama, been a positive relationship with America is because Japan’s reliance on and power relationship with the US is unsymmetrical. Japan doesn’t have the hard power to shape the international environment, so wants it to be predictable. This predictability relies heavily on US support for international norms, structures and order. The Japan- US alliance was based on shared values, upholding this international order and thus regional stability.

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Something in the Water – Why Should I Care?

University of Otago Winter Symposium, August 8, 2017

Four fabulous panellists spoke to the subject then answered a myriad of varied questions from the 130-strong audience. This review briefly summarises freshwater scientist Marc Schallenberg’s presentation – apologies we couldn’t fit reviews of all four presentations.

In environmental management, the problem of “shifting baselines” is a concept used to explain how precious environments have been allowed to degrade.

The question is, how can we recognise, monitor and respond to these shifting baselines – which over time, lead to incremental, creeping degradation that is unnoticed until our lakes’ natural resilience becomes exhausted – to stop our lakes breaching their environmental tipping point?

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What’s Going on and What’s Next in the Middle East?

Prof Bill Harris, University of Otago Politics Department, July 18, 2017

Despite a “massively unbalanced” PR spend by the ‘evet’ (yes) camp of Pres Erdogan, and a last-minute Electoral Commission decision to count unsealed (and therefore legally invalid) votes that predominantly were probably in the yes camp, Turkey’s president extended his powers in the recent “hyper presidency” referendum by a vote of just 51%.

Prof Harris, recently returned from observing the referendum, said Erdogan claimed his divided country needed a strong man to rule it. But Erdogan was himself in part responsible for inflaming the main rifts (opposition parties, Kurds, religious camps) that are causing the apparent divides.

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