Sunday 17 Oct 2021 | 14:36 | SYDNEY
What's happening on


Indonesia wants gunships for WHAT?

This news comes as a bit of a surprise: Indonesia's Defence Ministry has concluded a deal with the US for the purchase of eight AH-64 Apache helicopter gunships. The Australian Government will probably look kindly on this*. For one thing, as the ABC points out, it suggests US-Indonesia military

Chemical weapons use in Syria: Who, what, why?

Rod Barton was a senior UN weapons inspector in Iraq. He is the author of The Weapons Detective: The Inside Story of Australia's Top Weapons Inspector. It is difficult from media reporting to sort fact from fiction about allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria. The chaos of war and the desire

US reveals new Darwin Marines move

Cameron Stewart writes in The Australian today about the announcement by the US Chief of Naval Operations (from his Navigation Plan 2014-2018) that he aims to 'provide amphibious lift for US marines operating out of Australia by establishing a fifth amphibious readiness group in the Pacific by

Syria: Chemical weapons and Obama's 'red line'

Following claims of an Assad regime chemical weapons attack in Syria, calls are intensifying (particularly in France) for something to be done in response. Certainly US social media is intimating that moves are afoot to take some form of limited military action. There is of course the small

Solomons' gun amnesty: A stunning achievement

Nick Warner, now the Director-General of ASIS, was the first Special Coordinator of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (2003-2004). This post is drawn from a speech he made in Honiara on 25 July for the 10th anniversary of RAMSI. Nick Warner (right) briefs media in Honiara in

Movie trailer: The Wind Rises

The Wind Rises has been a box office sensation in Japan, and this new trailer with English subtitles has just appeared. The politics of this movie are fascinating. The Wind Rises is, in the words of the Wall Street Journal, 'a fictional take on the life of Jiro Horikoshi, the man who designed

Should the US cut military aid to Egypt?

Bob Bowker is a former Australian ambassador to Jordan and Egypt. He is now an Adjunct Professor at the ANU Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies. In the aftermath of the bloodbath of 14 August, the question of whether US military assistance (around US$1.3 billion per annum) should continue to be

Nagl: Drones precluded US invasion of Pakistan

Douglas Fry is a Fairfax Media writer. 'Were it not for drones, the United States would probably have had to have invade Pakistan.' So declared Dr John Nagl at a public lecture hosted by the ANU Strategic and Defence Studies Centre in Canberra on Tuesday, 13 August. It's a bold – and alarming

Views across the Pacific: Xi Jinping

Two weeks ago we shared with you the first video from the Lowy Institute—Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Views Across the Pacific video partnership. The series features real-time conversations between fellows from both organisations on topical foreign policy issues,

Egypt links

For the latest, just follow the #Egypt hashtag on Twitter. 'Reconciliation now seems hopeless; Egypt is shattered'. The US is complicit, says Ali Gharib, so it's time to cut Egypt loose. Marc Lynch agrees. Tarek Radwan: 'Unfortunately, too many parties in the standoff had too much to gain in

Afghanistan and Iraq, both failures

Former US Army colonel and now visiting fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations Gian Gentile tells it like it is in the LA Times: Many years ago the British historian and strategist B.H. Liddell Hart pointed out that the object of war should be to produce a "better state of peace." If

Pacific leadership: PNG gets its chance

Competing claims for leadership of the Pacific Islands region are reinforcing doubts about the efficacy of regional architecture in the lead-up to the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders' summit in Majuro in the Marshall Islands in the first week of September. The Fiji Government hosted the Pacific

Flat-tops everywhere

A quick update on the regional boom in 'flat-tops'; that is true aircraft carriers for fast-jet operations and also amphibious ships with large flight decks designed to carry helicopters and maybe drones and jump jets. There's been something of a boom in this type of vessel in the region, though I

The Pacific in the foreign policy debate

It was great to see Australia's relations with Pacific Islands feature in last night's foreign policy debate and particularly pleasing to see this issue raised outside of the inevitable focus on the PNG asylum seeker deal. Overall, I thought Ms Bishop demonstrated greater commitment to enhancing

Movie trailer: The Attack

The Attack is a Lebanese (and French, Qatari and Belgian) production about an Israeli surgeon of Palestinian descent who discovers that his wife was a suicide bomber. Powerful stuff: The film recently premiered in Jerusalem but apparently there is little interest from Arab-world distributors

Cambodia: A humbled Hun Sen?

Much of the external commentary on the Cambodian election results has had a distinct character of schadenfreude, with the Economist's take a typical example. I have no doubt that Hun Sen and his Cambodian People's Party colleagues were surprised by the results, as I readily admit I was. I

Singapore, you're creeping us out

Actually, that headline's a little unfair. It's Mentos that's responsible for this weird four-minute ad to mark Singapore's National Day (9 August). Last year Mentos produced a racy (by Singapore standards) ad encouraging couples to procreate on National Day. Evidently it worked so well that this

Iran: Rouhani needs willing foreign partners

Dina Esfandiary is an Iran specialist and a Research Associate in the Non-proliferation and Disarmament programme at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, was sworn in last Sunday. To slogans of 'Ahmadi Bye-Bye', President Ahmadinejad stepped down

African Islamic world in turmoil

Dr Daniel Woker is the former Swiss Ambassador to Australia and now a Senior Lecturer at the University of St Gallen. It took the presidential elections of 28 July in Mali (now entering a run-off phase) to bring the western frontier of the Islamic world to the attention of the world's media

Is there any point to an embassy?

Over the weekend the US closed many of its embassies in the Middle East and North Africa as a result of what was described as a serious al Qaeda threat. Given the number of times US embassies have come under attack in the last decade or so, and certainly in the post-Benghazi era, it would seem hard

The EU's dysfunctional asylum system

Benedict Coleridge recently worked as a policy researcher for Jesuit Refugee Service Europe. He will soon begin graduate study at the University of Oxford. I recently returned from Brussels, where I researched and wrote a report on the Balkans as a transit route for forced migrants attempting to

Indonesia relations: Three lessons from Timor

Iain Henry is a Fulbright Scholar and PhD Candidate at ANU's Strategic and Defence Studies Centre. He tweets at @IainDHenry. Recent events have thrust the Australia-Indonesia relationship back into the spotlight. Managing this relationship will be one of the next Government's highest

Views across the Pacific: North Korea

The Lowy Institute and leading US think tank the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) present a new video discussion series called 'Views Across the Pacific'. These real-time conversations will feature Fellows from both organisations discussing topical foreign policy issues,

Middle East: Indyk back on board

Marty Harris is an Assistant Digital Editor at the Lowy Institute. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Middle East and Central Asian Studies from ANU. Secretary of State Kerry today formally appointed Ambassador Martin Indyk as US Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations. Ambassador Indyk

Asylum seekers: The cost to Defence

There must be days when the Chief of the Defence Force and Secretary of Defence pine for the creation of an Australian Coast Guard, just so they can prise the Australian Defence Force away from the toxic debate on Australia's asylum seeker policy. Labor's PNG solution will rely on the ADF to

Youth vote emerges in Cambodia

Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party remains firmly in power following Sunday's elections, but with a substantially reduced majority. With an officially announced 68 seats won to the opposition's 55, the Government has a comfortable working majority. Nevertheless, the contrast with the previous

Emerging economies: Why so gloomy?

Ever since the 2008 financial crisis left many advanced economies in disarray, global growth has been sustained only through the continued spectacular performance of the emerging countries, especially China. But a wave of gloom has now spread concerning their prospects and the knock-on

China's worrying blue-water ambitions

[youtube:HUPVW2ep4oc#] Compared with the Rudd Government's 2009 Defence White Paper, which was criticised for what many viewed as its alarmist treatment of China's rise, the most recent White Paper, released in April this year, has become known for its considerably more relaxed take on the issue.

Risk and reward with Burma's security sector

Andrew Selth is a Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute. Part 1 of this post here. The initiatives for closer ties between the West and Burma's police and armed forces summarised in the previous post have aroused the ire of the activist community, which has been quick to remind everyone

Indonesia's development formula II

Part 1 of this post here. The debate Joe Studwell has advanced in How Asia Works (see Sam Roggeveen's three-part interview here) is, in fact, not that novel. Studwell is not alone in advocating industrial policy: Justin Lin, former World Bank chief economist, makes the same argument in his

West reaches out to Burma's security sector

Andrew Selth is a Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute. One of the most striking aspects of Burma's re-emergence as an international actor has been the readiness of Western democracies to renew or strengthen ties with the country's armed forces and police. Before the advent of President

Who says China lacks innovation?

OK, so China has yet to produce a Steve Jobs, but if there's hope for China moving up the manufacturing value chain, it might lie in its Pizza Hut outlets. My colleague Dirk alerts me to the Chinese phenomenon of strategically loading the bowl to make the fullest possible use of Pizza Hut's

A more expensive Chinese lunch for Australia?

Last week, the IMF made its contribution to the ongoing debate over Chinese economic performance. The growth forecasts included in the Fund's latest Article IV Staff Report on China – which see growth this year at around 7.75% and at 7.7% in 2014 – are right up at the optimistic end of current

Indonesia's development formula

I share Sam Roggeveen's enthusiasm for the iconoclastic approach of Joe Studwell's How Asia Works (his previous book on Asian Godfathers was a great read too). I also share Studwell's scepticism about the 'magic of the market', his views on the IMF, and his admiration for the achievements of the

PNG reacts strongly to asylum seeker deal

Martyn Namorong is a multi-award winning writer, blogger and television presenter. His initial reaction to the PNG-Australia asylum seeker agreement appeared on The Interpreter yesterday. From online postings to offline activism, a new generation of protest-hardened Papua New Guineans is making

Asylum deal a nightmare for PNG and Australia

Deni ToKunai is a political commentator who writes PNG's leading political blog, The Garamut. In the public commotion and media frenzy of Kevin Rudd's announcement that a new arrangement will see Australian asylum seekers resettled in PNG, one key point has gone largely unnoticed: it was his

The Anglosphere: A view from Europe

Dr Daniel Woker is the former Swiss Ambassador to Australia and now a Senior Lecturer at the University of St Gallen. I was amused and intrigued by the recent ruminations on Tony Abbott's stated views on what the 'Anglosphere' means (apparently something anti-Asian, in Hugh White's interpretation

Japan's turn to nationalism? Not quite

Rikki Kersten is a Professor of Modern Japanese Political History at the ANU. Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party may have scored a thumping win in Japan's half-upper house election on Sunday, but this will not translate into carte blanche for Abe's agenda. Pundits have been quick to assume