Saturday 28 May 2022 | 17:59 | SYDNEY
What's happening on


Trailer: Captain Phillips

Captain Phillips tells the story of the Maersk Alabama hijacking in 2009, which was eventually brought to end by US Navy SEALs in what was interpreted as an early foreign policy victory for the new Obama Administration. The Wikipedia page on the hijacking tells a pretty hair-raising story, and

Free and fair? Pakistan's election woes

Alicia Mollaun is a PhD Candidate at the Crawford School at ANU. She has lived in Islamabad since 2010. Photo is by the author. Back in Australia, our election day concerns usually revolve around timing our vote so that we can get a parking space at the local school, avoiding how-to-vote

In conversation: Burma's transition

Yesterday the Lowy Institute was privileged to host two of Australia's most prominent Burma watchers, Dr Andrew Selth of the Griffith Asia Institute and Dr Sean Turnell from Macquarie University, for a discussion on Burma's recent rapid transformation. Interpreter readers will be  familiar

Gillard must stand up for PNG's women

Julia Gillard's first visit to Papua New Guinea as prime minister, starting tomorrow, is loaded with symbolism. Following on from the April visit of Australia's first female Governor-General, the Prime Minister can demonstrate to Papua New Guineans that women can effectively and confidently

Malaysian election: PM Najib Razak on thin ice

Associate Professor Lily Zubaidah Rahim, from the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney, is an affiliate of the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre. Malaysia's thirteenth election, held last Sunday, was fiercely contested and controversial. The 80% voter

Documentary trailer: The Defector

The full title for this film is The Defector: Escape from North Korea, and it follows the life of a people smuggler who helps North Koreans escape via the Chinese border. But since North Korean refugees are not recognised by China, these escapees then face the challenge of getting to a third

After the MDGs: What's next for Asia?

Later this month, a high level panel convened by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will deliver its recommendations on what should come after the 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It's no ordinary panel. Co-chaired by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Defence White Paper pulls its punches on China

Andrew O'Neil is Professor in the School of Government and International Relations at Griffith University. The most striking feature of the 2013 Defence White Paper is the growing gap between Australia's strategic policy aspirations and the crunch in defence spending. Nowhere is this more evident

Bending to China's wishes: Tibet and Glencore

Dr Daniel Woker is the former Swiss Ambassador to Australia and now a Senior Lecturer at the University of St Gallen. Due to China's size and importance, relations with Beijing are of a particular nature. Rather than a genuine give and take, it's often a case of 'you take and I give'. Countries

Syria: Claims, damned claims and reality

I wrote previously about the philosophical reluctance of President Obama to use US power unless key US interests were at stake. Martin Indyk's excellent talk at the Lowy Institute last Thursday gave us more insight into the way Obama views the Middle East in general, and Syria in particular. It

Indyk, Fullilove, Obama and Corleone

'80 percent of life is showing up', said Woody Allen. But did he have any advice about leaving? As my post from last Thursday made clear, I was more than pleased I showed up to Martin Indyk's speech on the Middle East and the Obama pivot, the full video for which is now available above and on

White Paper: Defence gets serious

There's lots to like in the 2013 Defence White Paper. And there's lots of detail missing too. Let's examine the White Paper on its own terms. The first thing this White Paper needed to do was to resolve the defence funding dilemma caused, so the Government suggested, by the lingering and

Reader riposte: The forgotten white paper

The Defence White Paper is due to be released within the hour. Luke Maynard, a graduate of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, writes: Hugh White was right – this white paper probably should have been shelved. Today's release of Defence White Paper 2013 will enter a hostile political

Chinese aid to Africa: A detective story

Philippa Brant is a Lowy Institute Research Associate. Earlier this week a massive database of Chinese development finance activities in Africa (warning: big PDF) was launched by AidData and the Center for Global Development. This endeavour involved a team of researchers and has

Australia's water wisdom in the Asian century

Michael Harris is Chief Economist for the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Science (ABARES). The Asian Century White Paper outlines a vision of Australia's present and future where all aspects of Australian life and policy are enmeshed with Asia, so that even the most

Reader riposte: America and the Syrian conflict

Ghassan Salem writes: I've read and found very interesting Rodger Shanahan's comments in response to Anthony Bubalo's post about Obama's position regarding Syria's situation and mainly its use of chemical weapons, and the US response to that, or should I say the lack of. Allow me two remarks on

Syria and the Obama Doctrine

My colleague Anthony Bubalo has taken President Obama to task for failing to put his political-diplomatic shoulder to the wheel in seeking a resolution to the Syria crisis. It is fair criticism. There is an overwhelming focus in the Middle East on the need for some type of US-led military

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