Australian Outlook

In this section

Episode 90: Lessons From 2021; Expectations and Hopes for 2022

17 Jan 2022
By Allan Gyngell AO FAIIA and Dr Darren Lim
President Joe Biden walks through the White House Cross Hall with, from left, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, India Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Friday, September 24, 2021, to attend the Quad Leaders' Summit. Source: Official White House Photo/Erin Scott:

Also discussed in this episode of Australia in the World: the impact of COVID-19 on the major trends in international affairs, and how the change in US administration affected foreign policy rhetoric from the Morrison government.

For their first episode in 2022, Allan and Darren look back over the past 12 months, starting with the international landscape and then focusing on Australia. First up, what big lesson did 2021 teach them? Interestingly, both focus on the United States in their answers–but how much is domestic dysfunction in the US actually affecting Biden’s foreign policy? Second, did the world’s experience with COVID-19 over the past year affect any of the major trends in international affairs? While at the end of 2020 there seemed to be a clear dividing line between ‘competent’ and ‘incompetent’ government responses, that distinction appears far less clear a year later. Third, what other notable trends emerged or crystallised across the year? For Allan, signs of a reversal of the long period called “the great convergence” are quite concerning, while for Darren the big picture structural trends are mostly unchanged.

The same questions are asked about Australia. Allan (cheekily?) describes 2021 as Australia’s response to a ‘fear of abandonment’, while Darren is interested in how the change in US administration affected foreign policy rhetoric from the Morrison government. Looking forward to 2022, both Allan and Darren offer both expectations and hopes for the coming year, internationally and for Australia. Both expect that 2022 will be a calmer and more stable year–how quickly might they be proven wrong?

On that cheerful note, a happy new year to all!

Relevant links

COVID-19: Make it the Last Pandemic by The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness & Response, May 2021:

Anne Applebaum, “The kleptocrats next door”, The Atlantic, 8 December 2021:

Colin Kahl and Thomas Wright, Aftershocks: Pandemic Politics and the End of the Old International Order (St Martin’s Press, 2021):

Anthea Roberts and Nicolas Lamp, Six Faces of Globalization: Who Wins, Who Loses, and Why It Matters (Harvard University Press, 2021):