Monday 09 Dec 2019 | 20:52 | SYDNEY
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Australian Perspective

Shifting power balances are creating uncertainty about the existing regional order and Australia’s place in it. As one of the most globalised countries on the planet, Australia is highly dependent on an effective and active international policy. It is a Western nation surrounded by populous and booming economies in Asia and the Pacific, but has enormously important bonds with nations like the USA and the UK from which it is geographically isolated. The Lowy Institute interprets Australia’s place in the global and regional order, examining the complex ways in which Australia engages with its neighbours, partners and the evolving international system. The work of the Lowy Institute traverses Australia’s foreign policy, defence, intelligence and security, its diplomacy and overseas network, the ANZUS alliance, Australia’s trade, overseas development assistance, and its relationships in Asia and the Pacific.

The other humanitarian crisis

The ramping up of the international effort against ISIS has consumed much of the world media's attention in the last few weeks. However, there is another international crisis unfolding that has killed on a comparable scale, and which threatens to claim many more lives.  The Ebola epidemic

New Caledonia: Australia's benevolent disregard

Imagine that the most senior leader of one of Australia's neighbours resigns suddenly during a visit by a minister. And that this follows an election where the winners cannot agree on allocating a key economic portfolio, a street protest where two policemen are shot and a boozy lunch where a senior

Australia's Iraq deployment: Pragmatism over principle

The Prime Minister's unsurprising announcement of an Australian military commitment to the US-led anti-Islamic State (IS) coalition answered a few questions and raised others. I think the justification for military intervention in Iraq is relatively straightforward, but the environment within which

Is Abbott spreading Australia too thin?

Two months ago, as Prime Minister Abbott's globalist reflexes were becoming increasingly apparent, I offered a perspective from Washington that the US should welcome a more prominent role for Australia on the world stage. I argued that America's steadfast ally had unique normative, diplomatic and

Fiji's election: More to do to restore democracy

After eight years of Voreqe Bainimarama's military rule in Fiji, there is much excitement about the prospects for Fiji's return to democracy with elections next week. Seven parties and one independent candidate will contest 50 parliamentary seats. 591,095 Fijians have registered to vote; 120,000

Fiji's election: Fair and free?

On 17 September, Fiji goes to the polls for the first time in eight years. This is a notable step forward given that, when I spoke to people in Suva a year ago, they were still phrasing things in terms of 'IF the election happens'. With the first pre-polling stations having opened a few days ago,

Quick Comment: PM Abbott's visit to India

This week the Lowy Institute's International Security Program Director Rory Medcalf and Research Associate Danielle Rajendram discuss Prime Minister Tony Abbott's visit to India. The visit marked an acceleration of the Australia-India relationship, with a deal for Australia to sell India uranium

Abbott's first year: Nowhere to be seen in the Pacific

People who laud Tony Abbott's surefooted foreign policy never mention his role in the Pacific islands. It's hardly surprising. Following the precedent set by John Howard, the Prime Minister has not shown much interest in Australia's closest neighbours. Abbott couldn't even spare a day to attend

Abbott's first year: What the pundits get wrong

So, the first-year assessments are in, and it seems the Abbott Government has done well on foreign policy. Mark Kenny says Abbott has established 'a solid profile as a man of purpose' on the world stage. Michelle Grattan says Abbott 'has shown an unexpected sureness on the international stage'.

Five fallacies in Australian thinking on Iraq

An RAAF C-130H Hercules deploys aid to civilians in northern Iraq. (Image courtesy of the Department of Defence.) There's a lot to be concerned about in the way Australia is approaching the decision to intervene militarily in the civil war engulfing northern Iraq and Syria. There has been scant

Obama 'doesn't have a strategy yet' for ISIS. Do we?

President Obama is already being pilloried for his statement, made in a press conference earlier today, that 'we don't have a strategy yet' for combating ISIS. No strategy? This for a terrorist group that his own Defense Secretary described as 'an imminent threat to every interest we have...Oh,

Australians back tougher anti-terror laws

The early numbers are in on the Government's proposed toughening of Australia's anti-terror laws and they make for interesting reading. According to Newspoll, 77% of respondents were in favour of the new law that would require individuals who travel to pre-designated conflict zones to prove they had

How Fiji outsmarted Australia

Last Friday Fijian Interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama began his first visit to Australia since taking power in 2006. In response to the 2006 coup, Canberra had imposed travel bans for all members of the Fijian government. These were abandoned earlier this year by the Abbott Government.

What Julie Bishop told China about Clive Palmer

Here's Business Spectator's Fergus Ryan on Clive Palmer's Monday evening TV outburst about China: It was only after Julie Bishop apologised to the Chinese embassy that the Chinese government put out a statement saying Palmer’s attack was “full of ignorance and prejudice”, absurd and

Australian jihadists: Is revoking citizenship the answer?

One of the policy solutions being considered by the Australian Government to deal with the expected problem of returning Australian jihadists is to preclude their return to Australia, or expel them, by revoking their Australian citizenship. A recently released report from the Independent

AUSMIN 2014: What are we getting ourselves into?

Here's The Australian's Greg Sheridan on this week's AUSMIN talks: ...the two governments committed to establish a working group on integrating their efforts on ballistic missile defence...In time, the US ideal is to be able to track and follow any hostile missile with seamless allied co-

Fighting Islamist terrorism: Communities the key

There is an obvious connection between what is happening in Iraq at the moment and the Abbott Government's announcement last week of new measures to fight terrorism at home. A significant number of young Australian nationals have traveled to fight in conflicts in Syria and Iraq. Some are fighting

At AUSMIN 2014, let's talk about naval force posture

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel arrives in Sydney, 11 August 2014. (Department of Defence.) US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel touched down in Sydney today for the annual AUSMIN meetings between Australian and US foreign policy and defence leaders, which start tomorrow. There will be no

Credit rating agencies must do better

Standard and Poors' credit ratings. (Wikipedia.) Foreign investors learn about the Australian economy from a variety of sources, but the credit rating agencies (CRAs) have a special place, as many investment managers are committed to following the rating agencies' assessments. As well, the CRA

Inside a consular crisis

There will be many people in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) right now who are not getting enough sleep. The conflict in the Middle East involving Israel and Hamas, the war in Syria with its added dimension of foreign (including Australian) fighters, elections in Indonesia and the

Radio Australia cuts hurt the Pacific and Australia

Pacific Island leaders will meet at the annual Pacific Islands Forum meeting next week in Palau. Prime Minister Abbott has cancelled his travel plans in order to focus on the response to the MH17 disaster and is sending Deputy Prime Minister Truss in his stead. Pacific leaders will be disappointed

MH17 crash site: A police-led approach is the right solution

Last night Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that Australia has prepositioned 50 Australian Federal Police officers, presumably from the International Deployment Group, in London. The Foreign Minister is on her way to Kiev to personally negotiate access to the crash site for the AFP and Australia

Australia's new activism: The view from Washington

When US officials talk about the US-Australia alliance, they almost always highlight, as President Obama did in his November 2011 speech in Canberra, that Australians have fought alongside Americans 'in every single major conflict of the past hundred years.' This is a fact to be celebrated, but

Syria, MH17 and the art of the possible at the UN

Australian diplomacy at the UN has kicked up a gear over the last two weeks. On 14 July the Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 2165, drafted by Australia, Jordan and Luxembourg, setting up a new mechanism to facilitate humanitarian aid deliveries to Syria. And yesterday it approved

MH17: The Australians get their resolution

The UN Security Council observes a minute's silence for the MH17 victims. (UN photo.) The clocks at the UN were approaching midnight on Sunday night when the Security Council concluded an emergency session on the Gaza conflict, and then immediately reconvened for consultations on an Australian

Does Abbott understand the China challenge?

Sam Roggeveen says that Mr Abe's visit last week, and Julie Bishop's interview with John Garnaut, show that the Abbott Government now accepts there is a serious strategic competition underway in Asia as China challenges US primacy. If so, I think this would be an important shift. The simplest

Australian economic reform: The next generation

Growth in HALE index, Intangible GDP, net national income and GDP, 2005-2014. John Edwards' Beyond the Boom tilts effectively against Australia's congenital Hanrahanism. It points out the extent to which we managed to finance the wild ride of the boom (the massive surge in mining investment, from 2

Abe's Canberra speech: Dispelling doubts

Prime Minister Abe's carefully crafted speech to the Australian parliament gave credence to Prime Minister Abbott's much tut-tutted claim that Japan is Australia's best friend in Asia. The historic speech also clearly helped dispel one doubt about Prime Minister Abe: that he was unwilling to

Australians shifting on climate change

A month ago my colleague John Connor wrote an op-ed for the Sydney Morning Herald welcoming the fact that for the first time in years, climate change was a major story coming out of the Lowy Institute's poll of public attitudes to international affairs. Expectation for leadership on the issue was up

Can women lead? Australians think so

Comments by Hillary Clinton and Julia Gillard this week have invigorated the debate on women and leadership. Clinton's recently released book Hard Choices made news in Australia for the condemnation of the 'outrageous sexism' experienced by Gillard. In response, the former Australian prime

Australia's economy: Luck will favour the prepared

Unemployment remains fearfully high in much of Europe, growth in the US is tepid and China may be on the verge of an unprecedented slowdown. In the midst of all this unpleasantness, Australians look around their bountiful land and ask, Can our luck last? In Beyond the Boom, John Edwards, says it

The myths of the mining boom

In widely reported censures by business leaders and economists, in warnings by politicians, public servants and journalists, we often encounter grim themes about the Australian economy. The mining boom accounted for Australia's apparent economic success in recent times, they say. But Australians

Home-grown jihadists: An innovative solution

Over the past three years, large numbers of Australians have chosen to leave the freedom, opportunity and safety of our community to enter the abyss of sectarian war and violence in Syria, northern Lebanon, and most recently, Iraq. The numbers are frightening. Over 200 Australians are estimated to

Why the US (and Australia) should not go back to Iraq

Anthony Bubalo's Why the US (and Australia) Should Go Back to Iraq deserves your attention. In the most direct sense, it is a call for renewed diplomatic and political engagement in Iraq. But in arguing that the Middle East continues to demand American (and Australian) attention, it also questions

Australia in Asia: Who is our best friend?

When Australians were asked to nominate 'Australia's best friend in Asia' in the 2014 Lowy Institute Poll, 31% placed China and 28% placed Japan in a statistical dead heat, far ahead of Singapore, Indonesia, India and South Korea. The response 'don't know' made sense to 11% of those asked.

Why the US (and Australia) should go back to Iraq

ISIS's dramatic seizure of Mosul last week has caused much geo-strategic hyperventilation. Commentators are variously predicting the collapse of Iraq and eulogising (once again) Middle Eastern borders as defined by Sykes and Picot. The prospect of the US – and perhaps allies such as Australia

Australia-US defence deal: What it means

This morning Prime Minister Tony Abbott and US President Barack Obama announced the conclusion of a series of agreements between the US and Australia. Chief among these is the US–Australia Force Posture Agreement. It details arrangements for the enhanced military cooperation measures first

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