Wednesday 16 Oct 2019 | 08:36 | SYDNEY
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Defence & Security

The strategic order and the nature of conflict are changing. Security competition between nations and military strategy are growing in complexity even as new transnational challenges deepen. The Lowy Institute’s experts in security and defence look at changing strategic relations, security architecture, nuclear strategy, military capabilities and defence and intelligence policy.

The Wiranto attack and the ISIS impact

The stabbing attack last Thursday by an ISIS supporter on Wiranto, Indonesia’s top security minister, was a shock for several reasons. Attacks on senior officials in Indonesia are very rare, though terrorist attacks on police are common. Protection proved to be disturbingly lax – the stabber got

The women of ISIS and the fog of law

The difficulties of establishing a coherent policy towards women and children detained as members of the Islamic State or their dependents presents a longstanding challenge. One key question from an Australian point of view is whether all the women involved were still Australian citizens. News

Book review: Common enemies

Book review: Common enemies: crime, policy and politics in Australia–Indonesia relations, by Michael McKenzie (Oxford University Press, 2018) Next month marks the 17th anniversary of the Bali Bombing, which on 12 October 2002 claimed the lives of 202 people and injured 209 others. The attack

The sharp sword: China and the drone threat to Australia

In Saudi Arabia, a combined drone and cruise missile attack conducted by still-unknown forces (either Iran, Iraqi proxy groups, Yemeni militia forces, or a combination of all three) caused significant damage to the Kingdom’s most important oil facility. Defence writer Tyler Rogoway is alarmed

INTERFET and the defence of Australia

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the International Force East Timor (INTERFET), a multinational mission led by Australia to stabilise the country in 1999. As a former Army officer posted to Timor-Leste after INTERFET, I’m proud to be back in Dili today to represent the

Afghanistan – what’s next?

Ten days ago, US President Donald Trump called off negotiations with the Taliban about withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan, widely expected to be followed by intra-Afghanistan peace talks, which Norway hoped to host and President Ashraf Ghani had begun to prepare for by selecting a negotiation

Pressure upon pressure builds around Kashmir

The political talk in South Asia at this moment is reminiscent of the 1990s. The Taliban are returning to Afghanistan and conflict is escalating between India and Pakistan in a seething Kashmir region. There is even debate on the potential use of nuclear weapons amid India-Pakistan crises ­–

Secrets and laws

Since the Australian Federal Police raids on the offices of the ABC and the home of News Corporation journalist Annika Smethurst, there has been an understandable debate on the tensions between national security and press freedom. This has extended to questions around whistle-blowing and

Suspicion creeps into the Five Eyes

The world’s oldest intelligence partnership turned 73 this year. Traditionally, trust amongst spies is a rare commodity, but the UKUSA Agreement of 1946 (commonly known as the “Five Eyes”) has more than stood the test of time. Forged under the pressure of the Second World War, the Five Eyes

Gender-based violence and the Arms Trade Treaty

This week, the 104 states parties to the Arms Trade Treaty are meeting in Geneva to discuss the world’s only international agreement on the sale or transfer of conventional weapons. This covers everything from small arms and light weapons to battle tanks, attack helicopters and warships,

Australia in the Gulf: Will we make a difference?

Australia’s commitment to the US-led coalition to provide maritime security for the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf will be one maritime surveillance aircraft, to start operations later this year, and one frigate from early 2020. Military personnel will also help staff a coalition

The reluctant coalition

The Australian government’s announcement today that it will contribute assets to a maritime coalition force in the Persian Gulf comes as no surprise, given the very public way the US request was delivered in Sydney at the recent AUSMIN meeting. Washington doesn’t make those type of requests

It’s time for a “Quad” of coast guards

The so-called Quad group of Indo-Pacific maritime democracies – Australia, India, Japan, and the United States – is a valuable grouping, although it is still underutilised in many ways. One of the most effective ways that these countries could work together to enhance maritime security in the

US foreign policy: restraint without retrenchment

US foreign policy since the end of the Cold War has come under growing criticism for its expansive, even aggressive, character. Despite its name, “liberal hegemony” often seems illiberal, belligerent, even militaristic. The US has used force regularly over the last 30 years, often with dubious

The curious case of Hamza bin Laden’s death

This week at least two US officials have anonymously confirmed to US news outlets that Hamza bin Laden, the son of former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, was killed in a targeted operation. It is clear that counterterrorism and intelligence officials from around the world have been tracking him for

Gender: workforce transformation in Defence

The comprehensive analysis in the Lowy Institute report, Foreign Territory: Women in International Relations reinforces the already compelling case for why gender diversity matters, and from a Department of Defence perspective, as one of the main areas of the bureaucracy examined in the report, the

China’s head-spinning defence white paper

Readers of the white paper China’s National Defence in the New Era can be forgiven for their headaches as they move from one conflicting statement to another in Beijing’s latest effort to help “the international community better understand China’s national defence”. This best of times/

The changing face of violent extremism

The Easter bombings in Sri Lanka killed 258 people, including two Australians among 46 foreign nationals, and injured 500 more. Its perpetrators according to Sri Lankan State Defence Minister Ruwan Wijewardene were “well-educated and come from the middle or upper-middle class”, and were “

‪ISIS: women’s work?

Should domestic labour be valued the same as work outside the home? What is the contribution of a stay at home wife and mother? How can we evaluate emotional labour when it often goes unseen? No, these are not topic questions during a “Lean In” circle. These are questions that many courts are

The burden of friendship: Germany, Trump and NATO

“Burden sharing” has long been a totemic term in discussions about NATO. Behind the happy paeans to shared values and mutual security interests uttered publicly by national leaders has always stood the hard reality of American power and Europe’s complete dependency upon it. Yet under the

Book review: Hugh White’s How to Defend Australia

Book Review: How to Defend Australia, by Hugh White (La Trobe University Press, 2019) Defence commentator Hugh White never shouts from the rooftops, and his new book How to Defend Australia is written in the same measured tone that has long driven his more strident critics crazy. Yet if White

National security: Australians and their elites

It may be distasteful to some, but there is no escaping the need for political elites. The trick, particularly in a democracy, is for those elites to carry a sense of legitimacy. Australians are disconnected from politics, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they differ from politicians in their

The limits of unilateral action against Iran

As Washington is finding, maximum pressure campaigns have their own limitations, even with the most coherent and experienced foreign policy teams. But with ​the Commander-in-Chief sending mixed messages (overnight Donald Trump described the alleged Iranian attacks on oil tankers in the

Maybe Australia should donate a warship to Sri Lanka

The Royal Australian Navy is about to take two highly capable guided missile frigates out of service. But they are not just surplus equipment, but they are important strategic assets that Australia can use for continuing strategic benefits. We should think seriously about giving them to our

A sea ride with Australia’s Indo-Pacific Endeavour

When the Australian Defence Force first dispatched its flotilla known as the “Indo-Pacific Endeavour”, the then Defence minister Christopher Pyne touted the regional drills as Australia’s “premier international engagement activity” designed to “enhance partnerships”. But what lies

Superpower scrutiny at Shangri-La

For the past two years, the highlight of the annual IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore was the keynote speech by the sadly departed former US defence secretary Jim Mattis. This year the task of speaking on behalf of America to the leading forum of Asian defence

The relativity of the death penalty

Opposition to the death penalty has a long and quite public history in Australia. Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan of the so-called “Bali Nine” drug smugglers received support from artists, singers, actors, media personalities and sports stars, while a crowd of about a thousand people

The clock is ticking on tensions with Iran

Washington’s attempts to isolate Iran economically and politically rely largely on whether it can get Tehran to opt out of the 2015 nuclear deal. As long as the Trump administration is the only signatory to withdraw from what is known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),

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