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The International Security Program

The International Security Program looks at strategic dynamics and security risks globally, with an emphasis on Australia's region of Indo-Pacific Asia. Its research spans strategic competition and the risks of conflict in Asia, security implications of the rise of China and India, maritime security, nuclear arms control, Australian defence policy and the changing character of conflict. The Program draws on a network of experts in Australia, Asia and globally, and is supported by diverse funding sources including grants from the MacArthur Foundation and the Nuclear Threat Initiative. It convenes international policy dialogues such as the 2017 Australia-ROK Emerging Leaders International Security Forum and has a record of producing leading-edge, influential reports.

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Latest Publications

Korean Peninsula: Holding firm

As  Rory Medcalf suggested in his contribution, the reactions of countries threatened by North Korea's latest nuclear-tipped bombast are playing out better than in previous episodes. This may be one of the reasons the twenty-something leader of North Korea is so quickly ratcheting up his threats

Korean War II? Maybe, but not likely

Are we headed for a new Korean War? Not just skirmishes, sabre-rattling or a torpedo in the night, but a full-blown armed conflict on the Korean Peninsula? You would be forgiven for thinking so if you've followed the drumbeat of headlines since the 13 February nuclear test or even last December

DPRK 'almost ready' to deploy ICBM?

Yesterday on Radio National, Foreign Minister Bob Carr said the following about North Korea: In terms of military intelligence, it appears the country is almost ready to deploy an intercontinental ballistic missile with a capacity of reaching the United States. I contacted Jeffrey Lewis,

North Korea's permanent war footing

When your country is always on a war footing, how do you know you are on the brink of war? When your political leadership and government propaganda constantly remind that your enemies are plotting against you, how do you know that times are more tense than normal? It's a question I asked often

Did Australia withdraw from SEATO?

Marty Harris is the Lowy Institute's Assistant Digital Editor. In response to Malcolm Cook's post on Zombie-like international institutions, we received the following comment on Twitter: Initial research suggests that @l_a_n_o_x is correct. At the time of the 1972 federal election, Labor

The Iraq insurgency: A response to Michael Ware

Derek Woolner is a Visiting Fellow at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre ANU. Fascinating as Michael Ware's post is, it remains a fantasy. Its narrow focus on the Sunni insurgency ignores what the other 80% of Iraq's population was doing. These Shias and Kurds were just as militant and

Reader ripostes: Zombie institutions and Iraq

Below, Iraq commentary from Alison Broinowski and Richard Broinowski. But first, Tony Grey responds to Malcolm Cook's post on Zombie-like international institutions: According to Greg Sheridan the Commonwealth is a zombie-like international institution that has no future — but is it? Since

What I said, and did not say, about Iraq violence

Major Gen (Retd) Jim Molan is author of Running the War in Iraq. Rodger Shanahan says he was left scratching his head over my pronouncements about the Iraq war. He should not have been, because in each case he vehemently attacks something I did not say. Rodger says I should have quoted figures

We went to Iraq for ANZUS

The views expressed here are the author's own and do not reflect those of the Department of Defence or the Australian Government. The 10th anniversary of the US-led war with Iraq has occasioned an outpouring of commentary, both here and in the US. I was not a witness to the Iraq War; I did not

Reader riposte: Iraq casualties reconsidered

US Army Major Matthew Cavanaugh is a course director and instructor at the US Military Academy at West Point: Just thought I would attempt a small contribution to your ongoing debate on the Iraq War. I served there twice (03-04 and 05-06) and consider it an important subject, although I had to

What if the Iraq war never happened?

Michael Ware was a war correspondent for TIME Magazine and CNN. He spent six years in Iraq. Not the invasion, that's something else. That was three weeks of aggressive warfare executed, by and large, with stunning effect, scattering a half-million-man army in its wake. The tenth anniversary

The decline of consent in international law

Marie-Eve Loiselle is a member of the Security Council Analysis Network, a research group focused on the work of the UN Security Council during the period of Australia's membership 2013–2014. International scrutiny of the North Korean and Iranian nuclear programs always has a strong legal

Saddam a tyrant, but war was wrong

Tom Switzer is a Research Associate at the United States Studies Centre, University of Sydney, and editor of Spectator Australia. One can greatly admire Major General Molan, as I do, and still profoundly disagree with his views about the Iraq war and its aftermath. Australian forces played an

Reader riposte: 60 Minutes in Baghdad

Andrew Farran writes: The anecdotal observations by Major Gen (Retd) Jim Molan in his piece 60 Minutes goes to Baghdad cannot sugarcoat what by any reckoning was a disastrous, hugely costly and illegal war. Agreed that those who survived the war are better off than those who did not. Agreed

Reader ripostes: Iraq, 10 years on

Two reader responses to Sam Roggeveen's call for retrospectives on the Iraq war. Below, Daniel Woker. But first, Kien Choong: From memory, I was somewhat sympathetic to the war effort. I recall thinking there were two criteria: was there a moral case? And was there a pragmatic case? I thought

In defence of the UK Justice and Security Bill

Paul Madden is the British High Commissioner to Australia. Cynthia Banham's Interpreter article yesterday about the UK's Justice and Security Bill was rather one-sided. It's not an easy policy area. Any liberal democracy wants to uphold justice and the rule of law, but also safeguard our most

Joe Lieberman at the Lowy Institute

The Lowy Institute was honoured to host former US Senator and vice-presidential nominee Joseph Lieberman during his visit to Australia.  Following a boardroom lunch with political, business and media leaders, Senator Lieberman caught up with Michael Fullilove for a fascinating discussion on

Counter-terrorism: After the 9/11 decade

Cynthia Banham is a former diplomatic correspondent for Fairfax and a PhD candidate at the Regulatory Institutions Network, ANU. The Open Society Foundation's recent report detailing the scale of the Bush Administration's extraordinary rendition program and the extent of cooperation by 54 allies

Cyber espionage: China at the forefront

James Lewis is Director of the Technology and Public Policy Program at CSIS, Washington, DC. This is the fourth of a five-part series on Asia in the age of cyber threats. Part 1; part 2; part 3. China may be the leading practitioner (although by no means the only one) of economic espionage in

The man who saved the world

Last week, former Soviet air defence commander Stanislav Petrov was awarded the Dresden Prize for preventing a nuclear war. Back in 1983, he determined that warnings of an incoming US nuclear missile strike were a false alarm as a result of a 'rare alignment of sunlight on high-altitude clouds

Fragile gains: Women in Afghanistan

Last night I was fortunate enough to join an Amnesty International panel discussing the future of women's rights in Afghanistan. Amnesty had brought prominent Afghan activist (and Lowy Institute contributor) Wazhma Frogh to Australia to discuss her concerns about what the transition of foreign

JSF: Four Corners suffers turbulence

Like Sam, I had high expectations for the Four Corners report on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and was a little disappointed. To butcher Mark Twain, Four Corners may not repeat itself but it does rhyme. Last night's story on the JSF was eerily similar to this story from back in 2007, also by

Reader riposte: More on Zero Dark Thirty

Gregory MacCallion, a PhD Candidate in the Department of International Relations, Australian National University, has thoughts on Zero Dark Thirty (WARNING: spoilers follow, below the fold): This is just a quick thought on yesterday's Zero Dark Thirty comment. It might get some discussion

Cyber: Unclear and present danger

James Lewis is Director of the Technology and Public Policy Program at CSIS, Washington, DC. This is the first of a five-part series on the world of cyber. The focus is Asia and particularly the role of China. There is widespread concern about strategic competition in cyberspace, including cyber

Four Corners on the Joint Strike Fighter

  I don't envy any TV reporter or producer the task of encapsulating the mammoth Joint Strike Fighter project into less than one hour of television. It's an impossible task, and Andrew Fowler's retelling of the saga on Australia's premier current affairs TV program Four Corners last night was

Reader riposte: Zero Dark Thirty

Trish writes: You recently asked if anyone had a riposte for the Rolling Stone blog rave against ZDT. It was interesting but totally unsurprising that none of your regular expert contributors took up your invitation — but I certainly sympathise with such reticence. However, here is

PNG plans military build-up, but why?

Donald Gumbis is a Lecturer in political science at the University of Goroka and an intern at the Lowy Institute. Papua New Guinea's Defence Minister Dr Fabian Pok has announced that PNG plans to build up its military capacity from around 2000 personnel to 10,000. While it is hardly unusual

North Korea's third N test: What does it mean?

John Carlson is a Visiting Fellow at the Lowy Institute and the former Director-General of the Australian Safeguards and Non-proliferation Office. From seismic analysis, it appears North Korea's latest nuclear test had a yield of 6 to 7 kilotons (thousand tons of TNT). This is larger than the

AQ: Obama almost declares victory

Some strikingly optimistic language about al Qaeda in Obama's State of the Union speech, which he just delivered: ...we can say with confidence that America will complete its mission in Afghanistan, and achieve our objective of defeating the core of al Qaeda.... Today, the organization that

Documentary trailer: Stolen Seas

From the official website: The filmmakers have spent the past three years traveling to some of the world's most violent locales in order to make this documentary on Somali piracy, Stolen Seas. Utilizing exclusive interviews and unparalleled access to real pirates, hostages, hostages' relatives,

China-DPRK: Different this time?

The regime in Pyongyang has tested a third nuclear device and the depressing diplomatic ritual has begun again. The liturgy is familiar: the threat, the ineffective warnings, the big event, the brief uncertainty about what happened, the regime's confirmatory boast, the international outrage, the

'Mutual denial' may not change very much

Stephan Fruehling is a Senior Lecturer in the Strategic and Defence Studies Program, ANU. Sam Roggeveen's post on whether 'mutual denial' can work raises an important point about the future strategic relationship between the US and its allies, and China. 'Mutual denial' is useful as a slogan to

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