What makes a country the best? Is it leadership? Military might? Economic strength? A rich and deep vein of culture and history? Freedom, a stable government and transparency when it comes to business and the political process? In a word, yes. All of the above contribute to how people perceive what makes one country better than another – and ultimately which one ranks as the best overall.

July 12, 2015

Through the lens of American influence and power, Bridget Kendall and guests explore how power is being adapted and deployed by countries and organisations around the World. 

The executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran in the early hours of Wednesday morning present several tricky challenges for relations between Australia and Indonesia. The Australian government immediately announced it would recall its ambassador, Paul Grigson, and suspend ministerial visits. In a rare show of solidarity, the Labor Party and the Greens fully supported this. It is unclear at this stage if other actions might be taken.

The failure of the U.S. campaign to dissuade allies from joining China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank was greeted in some quarters as a sign of American decline. But this episode was not a crisis of American power, which remains unequaled. And while the threat that the bank poses to that power and to the international order it undergirds has been much touted, it is in fact overstated. In fact, the main portent of the episode is not Beijing’s overturning of the international economic order or the arrival of China as a U.S.

Is Israel a superpower? The question comes up and meets a number of answers and reactions. Some would answer that it is a miniature superpower, while others feel Israel is treated like a vassal state of the US.

As the Cold War took global grip, the United States purposefully pushed Britain aside. The U.S. took over its military bases, its spheres of influence, and its markets. Conscious of its decline, London clung, slightly pathetically, to what it termed its "special relationship" with Washington. 

Deal or no deal in the Iranian nuclear talks, Tehran is already behaving like it's made a killing. Sure, U.S. and international sanctions inflicted staggering damage on Iran's economy, convincing the longtime American foe to join talks aimed at limiting its nuclear program.

Digital diplomacy is therefore part of the state’s attempt to remain relevant and to assert power in the digital space. And while the goals of any one initiative might be lauded (as this one can), we need to view and ultimately assess it as only one component of a wider suite of digital foreign policy actions. Taken as a whole, digital foreign policy is fraught with challenges and hypocrisies.