Saturday 19 Oct 2019 | 10:15 | 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.

Regional tensions on display at Fifth Xiangshan Forum

Last week's Fifth Xiangshan Forum in Beijing demonstrated just how difficult it will be to resolve disputes in the South China Sea as long as key parties believe history must arbitrate the veracity of claims to sovereignty over contested islands. Scholars, officials and military officers from all

Why economics doesn't explain China's FTA decision

Malcolm Cook and I have been debating why China has been willing to bless Tony Abbott with an FTA when Mr Abbott has so strongly opposed Beijing's political and strategic interests and aspirations in Asia. Why has President Xi met Mr Abbott's stick with such a juicy carrot, especially when

ISIS beheadings are a grotesque media strategy

ISIS is a transitory organisation whose aspiration to lead an Islamic reconquista is doomed to fail. It will eventually be degraded and splinter, some of its members joining the myriad other groups within the jihadist milieu while others fight over what is left of ISIS. One thing of enduring

Obama on Asia: Holding the Brisbane line

America's commitment to security, dignity and prosperity in Asia, facing up to global challenges, and some strong words on climate change – President Obama's just-concluded speech in Brisbane was a hybrid package. I imagine other contributors will add context to his applause-evoking remarks on

Russia is back in the Pacific

The Russian Navy is getting closer to Australia than we're used to, and beyond the bluster of 'shirtfronting' we don't seem to have a coherent policy response to a more active Russia in our 'near abroad'. Russian Navy officers and the Slava-class cruiser Varyag. As my colleague James Brown wrote

Defence challenges 2035: Securing Australia's lifelines

By Rory Medcalf, Director of the Lowy Institute's International Security Program and James Brown, Military Fellow Debates on Australia's defence policy have long oscillated between two schools: one focused on the physical defence of Australia's territory and its immediate maritime approaches, the

Putin flexes muscle ahead of G20

What to do if you are the leader of a former superpower about to travel to a small-ish country whose leader has promised to shirtfront you? The answer seems to be to flex a little muscle. Russian leader Vladimir Putin is in Beijing today for the APEC meeting ahead of this week's G20 Summit in

US and allies outgunned in South China Sea

Three books published this year contemplate Asia's most vexing problem. Taken together, they provide a thorough understanding of the contest in the South China Sea. Still, they leave the reader with one large puzzle. Asia's Cauldron recounts, in Robert Kaplan's readable travelogue style, the

China's overseas basing strategy

'Will China's growing global economic interests lead it to expand its overseas military presence and capabilities?' This is a question that has been asked by policymakers, academics and strategists since China's economic growth became dependent on its ability to access energy through maritime sea

The global proliferation of Chinese drones

In November of every other year, aviation experts descend on the Chinese city of Zhuhai for a rare look at the future of China's air power. Over the last ten years, the International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition has charted the progress of China's drone fleet from concept art to functioning

What's so strategic about Kobane?

If you relied only on the media, you could be forgiven for thinking that the focus of the fight against ISIS has been on the Syrian city of Kobane. This is thanks to the easy access for international media to the Turkish side of the border near Kobane and the resulting images, as well as the work

Political stability first, strategic stability second

The central purpose of deploying strategic nuclear weapons on SSBNs, rather than on other less expensive and technologically demanding platforms, is to assure the survival of these weapons in order for them to conduct a second strike. The rationale is that assured retaliation will dissuade a

Modi in the US: A truly strategic partnership?

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's much anticipated and greatly feted visit to Washington has divided opinion. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, New York, 26 September 2014 (Flickr/Narendra Modi) The writer C. Raja Mohan concluded in the Indian Express that Modi and Obama had 'restored

Australian Army Reserve: Time for an overhaul?

In these times of budget austerity, imagine if someone came up with a proposal that could potentially save the Defence budget tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars from its bottom line without impacting on overall capability. Indeed, a plan that could actually enhance performance while

Chinese submarine's Sri Lanka visit prompts rescue questions

Chinese submarine support ship in Colombo Port, Sri Lanka. (PLA photo.) The visit of the Chinese Type 039 'Song' class submarine to Colombo, Sri Lanka, earlier this month passed with little notice, but it's the first time one of the People's Liberation Army-Navy's (PLA-N) diesel-powered submarines

Terrorism at home: The law cannot save us

I picked up my tickets for tomorrow's AFL Grand Final the other day. My team, the Sydney Swans, is playing and I should be excited to be going. Instead, I have been infected by the unease gripping Melbourne. I ask myself, am I taking a risk by attending the game?  We are told by our political

The long war in Iraq: A quarter-century and counting

By Professor Tim Dunne and Dr Emily Tannock, both at the School of Political Science and International Studies, University of Queensland Those selling the war against ISIS are likely to point out what is new about the present crisis. First and foremost, they will say, the character of the enemy

Is China a realist power?

Eurasia's arc of instability is ablaze. Robert Kagan rails against America's impotence. A cartoon depicts Uncle Sam as a hapless fireman, impotent in eastern Europe and the Middle East; others see America itself as the arsonist. Henry Kissinger launches yet another book warning of chaos amid

Xi Jinping in India: Economic focus suits both sides

Prepare yourself for a glut of feeble anthropomorphic metaphors (elephants, pandas, tigers, and dragons are all anticipated) and bloviating communiqués: India-China diplomacy is underway. President Xi Jinping today begins the first Chinese visit to India since the election of Prime Minister

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

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