Friday 22 Oct 2021 | 11:27 | SYDNEY
What's happening on


Thinking and rethinking China's rise

In the interests of keeping alive the near constant discussion on this site about the significance of China's rise, three disparate but related sources worth flagging: If you want an easy way to keep up with the very latest writing about China, bookmark Sinocism (or subscribe to the newsletter

Israel: New electoral law is a hope for peace

Jack Georgieff is the 2013 Thawley Research Scholar in International Security at the Lowy Institute and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington DC. This week Chuck Hagel called on the new Israeli Government. Only a few weeks before, John Kerry was pushing Arab-Israeli peace

PNG in the international spotlight

Donald Gumbis is a Lecturer in political science at the University of Goroka and a Lowy Institute intern. Papua New Guinea has found its way onto the international travel itineraries of a number of leaders and ministers over the last few weeks. Thailand's Prime Minister, British Foreign Office

Beijing in the age of film

A fascinating short documentary below about a Frenchman living in Beijing who has made it his mission to save discarded film negatives portraying everyday life in China in the period when film photography was commonplace, starting around 1985 until digital photography took over in 2005. As noted

PNG Pacific leadership: Is Fiji the start?

Donald Gumbis is a Lecturer in Political Science at the University of Goroka and a Lowy Institute intern. Prime Minister Peter O'Neill (pictured) is acutely aware of the need to improve PNG's international reputation. Part of his plan to do this is to step up PNG's activities as a regional

The Rhodes Scholarships of China?

Professor Don Markwell is Executive Director of the Menzies Research Centre and was formerly Warden of Rhodes House, Oxford, responsible for running the Rhodes Scholarships around the world. A flurry of well-orchestrated publicity yesterday heralded the exciting announcement in Beijing that

Qatar: The mouse that thinks it's a lion

Five years ago I wrote a post outlining how Qatar was using its wealth to act as a regional mediator, raising its profile and as a consequence ruffling the feathers of some of its neighbours. During my current trip to the region, a recurring theme has been the widespread view that Qatar is no

Reader riposte: China's naval strategy

Pete Speer writes: Sam Roggeveen's article shows a limited understanding both of submarine warfare and the strategic implications of a multi-platform sea control mission in what the PRC believes to be its inland sea. What it has done and will continue to do is ostensibly divide its forces,

Lebanon: Unmistakable signs of decline

Vanessa Newby is a PhD candidate at Griffith University. Photo by the author. A television show called al-Azaim ('The President') is causing great excitement in Lebanon. The concept is simple: members of the public from all walks of life put themselves forward as candidates running for the

Indians trust their media: Why?

Understandably, media coverage of the Lowy Institute-Australia India Institute Poll of Indian public opinion has focused on newsy topics such as uranium sales and violence against students. But one so-far overlooked aspect of the poll jumped out at me. Indians have high levels of trust in their

Poll: What Indians think of Australia

A poll released today by the Lowy Institute and the Australia India Institute reveals some surprising findings on Indian public opinion towards Australia. For example, despite bad press over the security of Indian students in 2009-10, Indians hold relatively warm feelings towards Australia,

Reader riposte: Race in the Malaysian election

Chris Williams writes: Liam Hanlon's article usefully highlights Malaysia's fiscal risks in the runup to its election. A common oversight, however, is to mention UMNO and BN almost in the same breath when referring to the affirmative action/racial preference of the main contending parties. As

How popular is Bashar Assad?

This is, on the face of it, a silly question. Popular wisdom, fueled by an aggressive media campaign by Gulf-owned media outlets, journalist embeds with rebel forces and opposition social media outlets have dominated the discourse on Syria.  Regime paranoia and intransigence has limited any

Friday funny: Medical porpoises

I've noted before in this space my admiration for Shaun Micallef, so when he got his own Colbert-like vehicle on the ABC last year, I was excited. Series 1 of Mad As Hell turned out to be bit of a disappointment, but series 2 is so far strong. Here's Micallef's take on the Korea crisis. Look out

DPRK: Getting closer all the time...

Earlier this week Jeffrey Choi wrote on this blog that: North Korea's missile and nuclear technologies appear more advanced and sophisticated than previously thought and it is more common now to acknowledge North Korea as the world's ninth nuclear power. It seems Jeffery might be on to

How will China treat Iceland's gay first couple?

Joel Wing-Lun is a Research Associate in the Lowy Institute's East Asia Program. As I noted on this blog last month, China's first lady Peng Liyuan caused an online sensation when, breaking with her invisible predecessors, she accompanied President Xi Jinping on official visits to Russia and

Reader ripostes: Howard, Ware and Iraq

Below, Mona Scheuermann responds to Michael Ware. But first, Ashley Murtha: Some important qualifications should be made regarding Sam Roggeveen's mention of Canada as a country that opposed the Iraq War, ostensibly referenced as it is a middle-power that enjoys close relations with the US and

A shift in China's North Korea policy?

Jeffrey Choi is a PhD candidate at the School of Politics and International Relations at ANU and an Endeavour Award Scholar. He previously served as an officer in the South Korean Navy. North Korea's successful long-range rocket launch last December and its subsequent third nuclear test in

John Howard's straight talk on Iraq

Michael Green served on the US National Security Council staff from 2001-2005 and is now Senior Vice President for Asia at CSIS and a non-resident fellow at the Lowy Institute. Kudos to former Prime Minister John Howard for giving a straight assessment of the Iraq War on the 10th anniversary of

Impressions of Howard's Iraq speech

The text of John Howard's Iraq ten-year retrospective, delivered to a packed Lowy Institute audience this evening, is on our website. My first impressions are below. I hope others will provide a more sympathetic reading, because despite Howard's assured delivery and measured arguments, I found

More on the avoidable Iraq insurgency

Michael Ware was a war correspondent for TIME Magazine and CNN. He spent six years in Iraq. fantasy – (noun) the faculty or activity of imagining things, esp things that are impossible or improbable.  A few of Kipling's words keep peeling like church bells in my head as I finally sit and

Further DPRK tests a show of weakness

If North Korea soon tests another missile or even, as some reports suggest, a fourth nuclear device, it will be a sign of regime weakness and clumsiness, not strength and cunning. Pyongyang may be able to stage the ultimate festivals of synchronised human movement, but under Kim Jong-un it is losing

DPRK: How effective are US missile defences?

Dr Stephan Fruehling is a Senior Lecturer in the Strategic and Defence Studies Program, ANU. Once again, North Korea's missile program has led the US to make major investments into its missile defence capabilities: a Theatre High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD; pictured) battery will be deployed

Syria's war: Extremist proving ground

The consequences of the Syrian civil war are going to be felt for years to come, even outside the immediate region. The longer the Syrian civil war has continued, the less appealing the armed opposition has become. A large part of the problem has been that, despite claims of a unified military

Reader ripostes: What's wrong with New Zealand?

Below, a response from Duncan Graham to Stephen Grenville's column of last Wednesday. But first, Dr Rick Boven writes: The big issue is that NZ's principal 'exports', agriculture and tourism, have comparative but not competitive advantage. Reform is necessary if you have a regulatory deficit but

DPRK: China pressure is the key

Responding to Sam Roggeveen's post and the question he poses to me: I think the best way to increase the costs to North Korea of its present course of action (and not only over the last weeks but years) is for affected parties to put pressure on the PRC for its support of North Korea through

Korea: The perverse logic of crisis

Malcolm Cook is quite right to say that Pyongyang's belligerence should not be rewarded with calls for compromise, and he's also right that shows of solidarity among South Korea and its allies are materially and symbolically useful. But should the allies try to 'increase the cost' to Pyongyang of

Reader riposte: The real Iraq question

US Army Major Matthew Cavanaugh writes: I think Rodger Shanahan is taking The Interpreter's distinguished readers on a bit of a wild-goose chase with the Iraq War violence figures. They're important, but frankly there will never be a solid set of numbers on which we can objectively agree are

Korean Peninsula: Holding firm

As  Rory Medcalf suggested in his contribution, the reactions of countries threatened by North Korea's latest nuclear-tipped bombast are playing out better than in previous episodes. This may be one of the reasons the twenty-something leader of North Korea is so quickly ratcheting up his threats

Korean War II? Maybe, but not likely

Are we headed for a new Korean War? Not just skirmishes, sabre-rattling or a torpedo in the night, but a full-blown armed conflict on the Korean Peninsula? You would be forgiven for thinking so if you've followed the drumbeat of headlines since the 13 February nuclear test or even last December

DPRK 'almost ready' to deploy ICBM?

Yesterday on Radio National, Foreign Minister Bob Carr said the following about North Korea: In terms of military intelligence, it appears the country is almost ready to deploy an intercontinental ballistic missile with a capacity of reaching the United States. I contacted Jeffrey Lewis,

North Korea's permanent war footing

When your country is always on a war footing, how do you know you are on the brink of war? When your political leadership and government propaganda constantly remind that your enemies are plotting against you, how do you know that times are more tense than normal? It's a question I asked often

The Iraq insurgency: A response to Michael Ware

Derek Woolner is a Visiting Fellow at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre ANU. Fascinating as Michael Ware's post is, it remains a fantasy. Its narrow focus on the Sunni insurgency ignores what the other 80% of Iraq's population was doing. These Shias and Kurds were just as militant and

Reader ripostes: Zombie institutions and Iraq

Below, Iraq commentary from Alison Broinowski and Richard Broinowski. But first, Tony Grey responds to Malcolm Cook's post on Zombie-like international institutions: According to Greg Sheridan the Commonwealth is a zombie-like international institution that has no future — but is it? Since

Burma's Muslims: A primer

Andrew Selth is a Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute. Given the spate of articles in the news media which connect the anti-Muslim riots in Burma last week with the sectarian violence in Rakhine (Arakan) State last year, it may be helpful to sketch out the multi-faceted nature of Burma'

What I said, and did not say, about Iraq violence

Major Gen (Retd) Jim Molan is author of Running the War in Iraq. Rodger Shanahan says he was left scratching his head over my pronouncements about the Iraq war. He should not have been, because in each case he vehemently attacks something I did not say. Rodger says I should have quoted figures

Why the Iraq war was right

Alexander Downer served as Australian foreign minister from 1996 to 2007. When we judge historical events, we tend to do so out of context. Yet to understand decisions and to judge them, you have to understand the context. Soon after I became foreign minister, the Secretary General of the UN

We went to Iraq for ANZUS

The views expressed here are the author's own and do not reflect those of the Department of Defence or the Australian Government. The 10th anniversary of the US-led war with Iraq has occasioned an outpouring of commentary, both here and in the US. I was not a witness to the Iraq War; I did not

Reader riposte: Iraq casualties reconsidered

US Army Major Matthew Cavanaugh is a course director and instructor at the US Military Academy at West Point: Just thought I would attempt a small contribution to your ongoing debate on the Iraq War. I served there twice (03-04 and 05-06) and consider it an important subject, although I had to

What if the Iraq war never happened?

Michael Ware was a war correspondent for TIME Magazine and CNN. He spent six years in Iraq. Not the invasion, that's something else. That was three weeks of aggressive warfare executed, by and large, with stunning effect, scattering a half-million-man army in its wake. The tenth anniversary