Friday 18 Oct 2019 | 02:06 | 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.

Russia's MH17 response: How to mismanage a crisis

For Western audiences, Moscow's initial prickly attitude to the downing of MH17 can be read as an example of how not to manage a crisis. Even with the weak hand he inherited, President Vladimir Putin has been consistently strong when on the foreign policy offensive, devising creative ways to advance

Israel's Gaza ground operation: How does this end?

This morning I recorded this conversation with Lowy Institute Middle East expert Anthony Bubalo about the escalation of Israel's military operations against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. As the NY Times reports, after ten days of air operations against Hamas, Israel has overnight launched a ground

China's determination to be a great power

John Garnaut, writing for Fairfax yesterday, says I'm wrong to argue that Prime Minister Abbott and Foreign Minister Bishop do not understand the nature of China's challenge to the Asian regional order. He says Bishop's remarks, in the fine interview John did with her last week*, show that she

Alliances in Asia: South Korea unlikely to be lost

'Washington, you're on your own' is the gist of a recent piece by Stephen Walt, who assesses that Europe would have no dog in an Asian fight and will therefore distance itself from the American's long list of troubles involving China. This was underscored by Angela Merkel's recent visit to China,

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

Malcolm Fraser talks 'Dangerous Allies'

Earlier this week the Lowy Institute hosted former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser to discuss his new book Dangerous Allies. Below is the full video of the event. Yesterday evening Mr Fraser tweeted the video, adding that he was 'debating the established political class!', which brought

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

Middle powers in Asia: The limits of realism

In the world of international relations theory, the realist paradigm reigns supreme. In large part, this is because it has core features that exert strong appeal beyond the academy: explanatory parsimony and the use of historical analogy. Realists place great emphasis on Europe's experience of

India's nuclear doctrine: The fog lifts

Lieutenant-General BS Nagal was an important man in India's nuclear weapons program. From 2008 to 2010 he served as India's Strategic Forces Commander, an office established just over a decade ago to lead the process of managing and using nuclear weapons. After his retirement from the military,

Japanese collective self-defence: Abe's changes won't help

Clearly Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has deep personal and political motives for wanting to change Japan's strategic posture, 'escape from the postwar regime' and make Japan a normal country. But he has only been able to push this week's changes through because many Japanese who reject Abe's

US drone policy: Little prospect of rethink

A new report on the consequences of America's increasing use of drones as a counter-terrorism tool caused quite a stir in US national security circles last week, largely because it was written by a task force made up of many individuals who formerly reported to the Obama Administration. Most

America can, and should, sit out the Iraq fight

Peter Jennings says 'pretending that America can sit out (the Iraq) fight is just not realistic'. That's exactly what many pundits were saying a year ago about air strikes against Syria. But to his everlasting credit, President Obama reconsidered, and where are we now? Syria remains a tragedy that

Bishop invokes World War I

As Julian Snelder wrote yesterday, World War I analogies are all the rage among Asian security scholars this year (we posted a two-part examination of the similarities and differences by Robert Kelly in March). Now Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has joined the fray, with what Fairfax's

China and the World War I analogy: How does this end?

Painting depicting the signing of the armistice in 1918. (Wikipedia.) One hundred years ago last weekend, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire was assassinated in Sarajevo, triggering World War I. The origins of the Great War have, for good reason, been intensely scrutinized. They are a

America can't sit out the Iraq fight

Sam Roggeveen asks: 'What is controversial about a US president saying that there are a whole bunch of conflicts the US will not get involved in?' True, superpowers don't clean windows. But controversy, in my view, is unavoidable when a president narrows US interests to the point that a wholesale

The limits of American power

ASPI's Peter Jennings yesterday drew parallels between President Obama's recent West Point speech and a 1950 speech by then US Secretary of State Dean Acheson which set geographic boundaries to US interests in Asia. South Korea was placed outside those boundaries, and the speech is widely thought to

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

Snowden: Assorted notes and links

A few items that have crossed my desk today: The Canberra Times reports today on the massive increase in the number of Australian bureaucrats with security clearances, including plumbers working for the Industry Department and field workers for the Plague Locust Commission. It's all because so

Does inequality make a country less secure?

In the first post in this series I explored several implications of rising inequality with respect to military capacity and international security. In this post, I will explore the relationship between inequality and internal stability. The association between economic disparities and social

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

Documentary trailer: The Kill Team

This looks gripping. Amazing trailer: Here's the synopsis from the official website: THE KILL TEAM goes behind closed doors to tell the riveting story of Specialist Adam Winfield, a 21-year-old infantryman in Afghanistan who attempted with the help of his father to alert the military to heinous

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

Mapping the world's EEZs

What does a political map of the world look like if you include those sometimes contentious 200nm Exclusive Economic Zones? Here's a handy tool from Open Democracy, who stress 'this map is not to be taken as the endorsement of one claim over another.' Below, I have pasted a detail incorporating the

Would Americans give their lives for Asia? No

Picture it: it's 1 March 2015. Tokyo and Beijing are headed towards what was once the unthinkable. Over the last several months China has instituted daily non-naval maritime patrols around the hotly disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. Beijing is even sending fully-fledged naval assets within the

What Shinzo Abe actually said in Singapore

The Chinese rhetorical fireworks over Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's speech to the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore last weekend have been so widely reported that we are at risk of losing a sense of what Mr Abe actually said. As Interpreter readers will recall, the speech was denounced by

Are resource constraints driving China's Asia policy?

By Geoff Miller, Australian Ambassador to Japan (1986-89) and Director-General of the Office of National Assessments (1989-95). Recent reports from the Shangri-La Dialogue defence meeting in Singapore have put even more focus on the South China Sea and China's decision to put its new large

The diplomacy of hard and soft power at Shangri-La

The Shangri-La Dialogue styles itself as the premier forum for defence diplomacy in Asia. Given the scale of the event, the number of countries represented and the media coverage, the description is probably warranted. Defence diplomacy is a curious beast. Institutions and individuals whose

Scene set for torrid Shangri La Dialogue

Tonight Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers the keynote address to the annual Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore. It's ostensibly a think-tank conference organised by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, but is also something of an unofficial summit gathering for the region's

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