Saturday 22 Sep 2018 | 11:18 | SYDNEY
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Australia in the World

Resisting China’s magic weapon

In the classic Cold War-era film Invasion of the Body Snatchers, aliens quietly invade earth by replicating the bodies of each human being they encounter. The resulting 'pod people' take on the physical characteristics, memories, and personalities of the humans they replace. In its day, the film was

Alfred Deakin and the roots of Australian foreign policy

Judith Brett has just published a new biography of Alfred Deakin, 'The Enigmatic Mr Deakin'. The fault line in Australia’s relations with Great Britain did not fracture until World War II when John Curtin confronted Churchill over the diversion of the 7th Division of the Australian Imperial

Using economic diplomacy to reduce financial risks in Asia

If Australia’s economic future lies in Asia, then managing the risk of financial crises in the region should be a top concern. Especially as any crisis could also have significant geopolitical consequences. In an analysis for the Lowy Institute, Barry Sterland looks at what Australia can do

Staying competitive in a global economy

This is the second in a three-part series on the future of world trade from a global (part 1), Asia Pacific (part 2) and Australian (part 3) perspective. The toughest message free marketeers have to get across is that encouraging others to open markets is not as important ensuring our economy is

A test for Australia in Marawi

The continuing conflict in the southern Philippines has engaged Australia's regional counter-terrorism interests like never before. Few predicted that the siege of Marawi, now entering its fourth month, would be so intractable or so effectively galvanise existing terrorist and insurgency groups.

Canberra conversations, with Frances Adamson

This is Episode Two of Canberra Conversations, an occasional podcast series on The Interpreter where I talk with some of the big names from the foreign policy and national security worlds in Australia's capital. In Episode One, I spoke with Mike Pezzullo, Secretary of the Department of Immigration

Digital diplomacy’s downsides

It was only a few years ago that e-diplomacy was being heralded as an unalloyed force for good. This 21st Century form of statecraft would bring transparency and openness to the closeted world of international affairs. Governments that colonised the internet would come to enjoy a strategic edge,

The future for US Marines in Darwin

This article is the second in a two-part series. Part one focused on the Exercise Crocodile Strike. Part two reflects on the future of the Marine rotational force. The Top End’s monsoonal weather pattern is the major reason why US Marine Rotational Force-Darwin (MRF-D) is currently limited to

Observing Crocodile Strike

This article is the first in a two-part series on Exercise Crocodile Strike. Last week I was given privileged access by Australia’s Department of Defence to join a small group of regional military observers (from Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Japan) on Exercise Crocodile Strike, a joint drill

Islamic State is changing the face of terrorism

If thwarted terrorist plots are anything to go by, then Australia surely does live up to its reputation as the lucky country. In the past month there were two narrowly missed major attacks that were part of the same conspiracy against Australian aviation. The latest plot was the thirteenth

Should war require parliamentary approval?

In light of US President Donald Trump's erratic attempts to intimidate North Korea, several prominent voices have argued that Australia's parliament should be granted control over any decision to go to war. I think that would be a mistake, though not for the reason you might think. Former

Paranoia on Aotearoa

Almost 20 years ago to the day, then-Foreign Minister Alexander Downer addressed the University of Auckland on Australia-New Zealand relations: First and foremost, the Australia-New Zealand relationship is a partnership of equals. We do not offer each other unsolicited or patronising advice on how

Australia and Korea’s wars: A debate worth revisiting

Tensions have temporarily abated on the Korean Peninsula, following the latest blustery exchanges between Washington and Pyongyang. In typically mercurial fashion, after threatening 'fire and fury', President Donald Trump has now praised Kim Jong-un’s 'decision' not to launch missiles at Guam as '

Death of a Lebanese terrorist

They say that the wheels of justice turn slowly, but they do turn. And if the reports of the death of the terrorist Khalid Sharrouf are confirmed, then it meant that he died as a Lebanese, rather than Australian citizen (he was stripped of his Australian citizenship early this year). This doesn’t

Australia and Korea’s wars

In light of recent discussion about Australia's responsibilities under the Korean Armistice Agreement, we are republishing this post that first appeared on 29 November, 2010. In 1985, I published a paper entitled 'Australia and the Republic of Korea: Still Allies or Just Good Friends'. I had not

Rhetorical arthritis won’t sell an Australian republic

By putting the creation of an Australian republic back onto the political agenda, Labor leader Bill Shorten has once more brought to the fore the connection between the nation’s constitutional status, its identity, and its place in the world. But perhaps the most surprising aspect of Shorten’s

Marriage equality fiasco damages Brand Australia

Often it is the glaring contradictions of Australian life that catch the international eye. The successfully multi-cultural country with one of the most punitive approaches to asylum seekers of any western country. The sun-dried continent where climate change scepticism remains a mainstream

Australia and ASEAN: The next 50 years

Australia's future, and our future prosperity, are inevitably in Asia.   Julia Gillard pointed to this in 2012 when she launched the ‘Australia in the Asian Century’ White Paper, saying 'whatever else this century brings, it will bring Asia's return to global leadership, Asia’s rise.

The Trump/Turnbull transcript: The PM’s parting gift

So mesmerised have Australian commentators become with the Trump/Turnbull telephone conversation from late January that the leaking last week of the verbatim transcript was always going to breathe new life into the episode. Some journalists even appear to be the modern day equivalent of the Roman

NBN dysfunction threatens our international reputation

I met with a senior member of the foreign diplomatic corps in Canberra earlier this week for a wide-ranging discussion about the challenges for modern diplomacy and the way in which advanced economies such as Australia are going about addressing them. The old chestnut – the drive for innovation

Australia, US and NZ military co-operation augurs well

Last month a combined force from five allied nations, including a fleet of 33 warships and submarines, over 200 aircraft and more than 33,000 military personnel, defeated an ‘enemy force’ in 20 locations across northern Australia. The enemy, of course, was an imaginary one and the battle was a

Is the relationship between growth and inflation shifting?

With all of the focus on interest rates, sometimes fundamental assumptions underpinning monetary policy are overlooked in the commentary. At times like this, when there are tentative but unmistakeable signs of possible change in those fundamentals, it’s worth stepping back to look at the big

Climate change will place new pressures on LHD vessels

Greg Colton’s article on Talisman Sabre 2017 highlights Australia’s new amphibious assault capacity through the Landing Helicopter Class (LHD) ships HMAS Adelaide and HMAS Canberra. Colton states that 'for the first time in three decades, Australia now has the military capability to back up its

Chinese spy ships: The devil in the detail

Recent posts in The Interpreter (by Iain Henry, Euan Graham and James Goldrick) have commented on the presence of a Chinese intelligence-gathering ship off the Queensland Coast during Exercise Talisman Sabre. All these posts are broadly correct – the incident suggested Chinese hypocrisy with its

Boris Johnson: Three cheers for the Anglosphere

Boris Johnson clearly has a soft spot for Australia. No white bread politician, his whole manner is a breath of fresh air. Not only was he smart enough to renounce his dual citizenship, he has turned dishevelment into an art form. He was at it again last night, delivering the 2017 Lowy Lecture

What NAFTA renegotiation means for Australia

It was always part of the Trump agenda to do something about the North American Free Trade Agreement (‘one of the worst deals ever’) covering the US, Canada and Mexico: the outcome is renegotiation rather than the threatened termination. The Office of the United State Trade Representative has

Talisman Sabre 17: The realisation of defence strategy

It was an Australian Defence Force (ADF) public relation officer’s dream. ABC news footage, delivered directly into the living rooms of Australian families, showed Australian troops and Australian armoured vehicles streaming across the beach and onwards into the hinterland of Queensland.

National security changes – Australian style

Last week brought what are likely to be two seismic changes to Australia’s security and intelligence community. While the Independent Intelligence Review has been broadly welcomed, reaction to the establishment of a super ministry has been much more mixed even, it seems, within Cabinet.

Empathising with China

The recent presence of a PLA-N auxiliary general intelligence vessel off Queensland has generated some interesting discussions. Euan Graham and James Goldrick are right that the incident undercuts Beijing’s own objections about US close-in surveillance of mainland China. There is no small amount

From ONA to ONI: Getting closer to the original plan

The new report on the current state and working of the Australian Intelligence Community (AIC) was prepared by two very knowledgeable, able and experienced people in Michael L’Estrange and Stephen Merchant, after wide consultation. So it must be very satisfying for those currently working in the

The Australian Intelligence tradition

Most of the early commentary on Malcolm Turnbull’s changes to Australia’s security and intelligence arrangements focused on his decision to bring together the principal domestic security agencies – ASIO, the AFP, the Australian Border Force, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and

A Home Affairs Ministry: Details to follow

While responses to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s announcement on 18 July about the creation in 2018 of a Home Affairs Ministry ranged widely, the fact is that the decision has been made. But the announcement was short on detail and unclear in some areas, and the challenge now is to understand

Our parliamentarians should be Australian-only

The resignation of Greens senators Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters this week has highlighted the role of Section 44 of the Constitution, which precludes dual citizens from running for parliament. Of course, one feels sorry for the senators in question – Waters left Canada before she was one year

Politics and policy meet in new Home Affairs Department

After almost two decades of consideration during which the case for it has always failed to convince government ministers, the Australian Government has decided to go ahead with the creation of a new 'super department' to oversee Australia’s domestic security and intelligence system. The

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