Friday. 17/9/2021

The Monocle Minute

Image: Shutterstock

Opinion / Aarti Betigeri

Under currents

Like a well-disguised submersible, the news that Australia will get nuclear-powered submarines came out of the blue. Just five years ago, we signed an agreement with the French to provide us with diesel-powered submarines but it has since become clear that the technology wouldn’t be adequate to meet security challenges – plus the order wouldn’t have been completed for two decades. And so, at the same time the French contract was cancelled, a new security partnership between Australia, the US and UK was announced, called (rather uncatchily) Aukus.

All of this is pretty big news – even if you’re not someone who spends a lot of time diving into headlines about submarines. The full details have yet to be announced but it’s clear that this is really about sending a strong message to China. Tensions between Australia and China have increased over the past few years and, with this trilateral deal, Australia wants to prove to Beijing that it has big and powerful allies on which it can rely.

But it may catch Australia offside with some of its other friends: New Zealand and many Pacific countries are avowedly anti-nuclear and Wellington has already said that it won’t allow the subs in its waters. Australia is also a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the terms of which mean that we can expect International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to soon be on our doorstep wanting access. Meanwhile, China has put out a statement saying that the purchase is irresponsible. So the big questions now are: might this security pact inch Australia closer to a cold war-style stand-off with China? And will this escalation really make Australia safer in the long run?

Aarti Betigeri is Monocle’s Canberra correspondent. For more on this story, listen to ‘The Briefing’ on Monocle 24.

Image: Getty Images

Health / India

Hot shot

Just six months ago, India was devastatingly unprepared for the dangerous Delta variant. Caught off guard, it had a dearth of vaccinations while infection rates shot up. People fought over hospital beds, oxygen tanks and black-market medicine that might or might not have done them any good. Now? India has inoculated the highest number of people with a first dose of the coronavirus vaccine in the world. In all, a staggering 760 million jabs have been administered, nearly all of which were produced in India, to boot. So far only 14 per cent of India’s mammoth population have received two doses but the country’s ability to be galvanised into action, penetrating deep into rural areas, even has the WHO impressed. “While it took 85 days to administer the first 100 million doses, India reached 750 million doses from 650 million in just 13 days,” said the WHO’s Southeast Asia regional director Poonam Khetrapal Singh recently. An impressive and welcome turnaround, indeed.

Image: Alexandre Tabaste

Hospitality / France

House style

Every brand wants to promote a lifestyle these days and none, arguably, has been as successful as fashion firm LVMH, which includes labels from Bulgari to Louis Vuitton in its portfolio. So it should come as no surprise that it has branched out into the world of hospitality, opening a string of luxury hotels under the Cheval Blanc moniker in destinations as diverse as the Maldives and Courchevel, as well as Belmond and Bulgari hotels.

Cheval Collection has now headed to the home of fashion itself, opening a 72-room palace within the art deco La Samaritaine building (pictured) in Paris earlier this week. Speaking to Les Echos, Cheval Blanc CEO Olivier Lefebvre said that the French capital is key, since Parisians “bring the local atmosphere that our clients are looking for”. The hotel, in the long-term at least, is aimed primarily at international visitors, mainly from the US. That might explain where Cheval Blanc has decided to head next: Los Angeles is projected to open in 2025.

Click here for Monocle’s first look at the department store.

Image: Alamy

Politics / South Korea

People power

A regional politician who once said he aspired to be a “successful Bernie Sanders” is the frontrunner to replace Moon Jae-in in South Korea’s presidential elections, which are set for next March. Lee Jae-myung (pictured) is currently governor of Gyeonggi, the country’s most populous province, and over the weekend he secured 51 per cent of the vote in the latest round of primary elections for the ruling Democratic Party of Korea – more than 20 percentage points ahead of his closest challenger. Recent national polls also have the governor comfortably beating Yoon Seok-youl, the frontrunner for the rival People Power Party. The outspoken Lee caused a stir in July when he referred to the US as a historically “occupying force” in South Korea. The 56-year-old former human rights lawyer is running on a populist economic platform, promising a universal basic income, new public housing and an expanded welfare state funded by taxes on carbon and land. Should he prevail, we can expect the traditionally conservative policies of incumbent Moon to be quickly eclipsed.

Design / Denmark

Three’s company

Copenhagen’s 3 Days of Design kicked off yesterday, with exhibitions and events held across various design venues and showrooms in the capital. With Danish products continuing to grow in popularity overseas, the event is the ideal forum for their manufacturers to meet buyers and the international press on home soil. One of the best spectacles comes from design firm Vipp, which produces everything from high-end kitchens to sleek bins, with the US its biggest market. The brand repurposed an old pencil factory in the city (pictured), turning it into a handsome venue for drinking and dining incorporating the brand’s furniture. With buyers, architects and journalists flocking here en masse after successful design weeks in Milan and Paris, we’re hopeful that the popularity of the 2021 event might prompt organisers to be a touch more ambitious with their remit next year: “5 Days of Design” has a nice ring to it.

Image: Shutterstock

M24 / The Foreign Desk

Did we win the war on terrorism?

As the US commemorates the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the Taliban are back in power in Afghanistan. How has the threat of terrorism changed in the two decades since the beginning of the war on terror? Andrew Mueller speaks to Nathan Sales, David Kilcullen and Farah Pandith.

Monocle Films / Italy

The Monocle Book of Italy

Allow us to introduce you to The Monocle Book of Italy. Our latest title celebrates the much-loved Mediterranean nation through fantastic photography, witty illustrations and plenty of insightful writing. Join us for a colourful tour. Order your copy at the Monocle Shop.

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