“If you want peace, prepare for war.” The idea that states can avoid war by strengthening their military is attractively simple, and the advice, attributed to Roman author Vegetius, has proved enduringly popular. In modern strategic lingo, it’s embodied in the buzz word “deterrence”.
In this feature, we identify ten recurring propositions about the rules-based order and show it's evolution through national debate and government policy. Explore how the rules-based order has developed over time and in meaning with experts offering inside commentary along the way
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
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.
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
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
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced major changes to the Australian Intelligence Community on 18 July. In the cauldron that typifies politics in Canberra, it was inevitable these changes would be interpreted by political commentators through the lens of political power plays within the
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.
ASIO, ASIS and the AFP are all expected to receive substantial funding boosts in the federal budget to be handed down tonight.
The additional funding for intelligence agencies - some of which will reportedly come from the foreign aid budget - is apparently intended to facilitate 'frontline'
The intelligence business is rarely off the Australian front pages for long. Recent mooted reforms have added to long-running controversies over surveillance activities and leaks. And in a few months we can expect the release of a new Independent Intelligence Review.
Last week came the surprisingly low-key (and flag-free) announcement from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of a review into the agencies that comprise the Australian Intelligence Community (AIC). Freed from the burden of inquiries into intelligence agencies that seek to ascribe fault, this review
Whether Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull intended it or not, his new Defence White Paper has been widely interpreted as sending a clear message that Australia is willing to join our allies in using armed force if necessary to defend the 'rules based global order' from China's
Hugh White's piece in The Age today makes many good points about the limitations of the latest Defence White Paper on strategic outlook and policy. As White says:
The more likely outcomes are escalating US-China strategic confrontation and growing risk of war between them, or gradual US withdrawal
Another day sees yet another announcement of a major cyber breach at a government agency, this time unfortunately on Australian soil at the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM).
While specific information about the attack has not been revealed, it bears all the hallmarks of Chinese cyber methods and harks
Last Thursday, The Australian newspaper ran an editorial, 'Strengthening links with China'. This followed its front-page coverage of the visit to Canberra by China's Chief of General Staff Fang Fenghui, for annual talks with Chief of Defence Force Mark Binskin and Department of Defence Secretary
As the world slowly absorbs the full implications of the terrorist attacks in Paris, thoughts inevitably turn to whether events will be repeated elsewhere.
That ISIS or ISIS-affiliated groups and networks would seek to emulate the impact of the Paris attacks is almost certain. If an opportunity
Several posts on The Interpreter have argued recently that Australia should join the US in conducting freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) in the South China Sea. This is not a good idea for several reasons, not least of all is how our involvement would be perceived in the region.
The discussion of the pros and cons of warship building in Australia has, with some honourable exceptions, left a lot to be desired. Stephen Grenville's Interpreter post 'Opportunity Cost in Australia's Future Submarine Decision' exemplifies some of the most significant deficiencies.
Fergus Hanson is author of Internet Wars: The Struggle for Power in the 21st Century. This post is part of a series that will also examine citizen activism and control of economic chokepoints.
It was only mid-2009 when the US Secretary of Defense ordered the establishment of a dedicated Cyber
I'm only too ready to leave it up to strategic experts such as Rear Admiral Peter Briggs to sort out how many submarines we need. I'll stick to the economics. We shouldn't let the number be determined by a perceived need to provide work-continuity for ASC in South Australia. And we should
The pace of decision-making on Australian submarines is quickening, with the core of the current debate driven exclusively by South Australian politics. But the insistent voices of regional and industry lobbyist need to be balanced by reminders of the price the rest of Australia will pay for make-
Thanks to advances in digital technologies, open-source intelligence (OSINT) is playing an increasingly important role in the mix of intelligence collected by state and non-state actors. Now and then The Interpreter will publish OSINT links instead of the weekly Digital Asia links to capture the
Parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) presented its report on the Australia India nuclear cooperation Agreement on 8 September after ten of months deliberation. JSCOT's advice must be 'taken into account' though not necessarily acted upon.
The Kudankulam nuclear power plant in
The Government's announcement yesterday that it would conduct air strikes inside Syria is notable more for what it didn't say than what it did. It was long on rhetoric, but short on detail, and lacked any semblance of strategic vision or acknowledgment of the potential impact on the situation inside
Very few people would have been surprised at the Australian Government's announcement that the RAAF will extend its operations to ISIS targets in Syria. The announcement was made in conjunction with the decision to permanently resettle 12,000 refugees most in need out of camps in Turkey, Jordan and
Back in April, Fergus Hanson highlighted the glaring need for a global response to ISIS in the cyber domain, and welcomed the announcement of an $18 million initiative to counter extremist propaganda online from the Australian Government.
Last month Defence Minister Kevin Andrews announced the
For many people around the world, ISIS represents a new terrorist phenomenon. The truth is, however, that militant groups like ISIS are not new, and nor are their bloody tactics in the Middle East. What ISIS is doing today is no different from what the Taliban did in the late 1980s and 1990s in
Delivering the 2015 Lowy Lecture in Sydney yesterday, General David Petraeus outlined a thought-provoking grand strategy for 'Greater Asia'.
Geographically, Petraeus defines Greater Asia along a maritime axis from the Mediterranean to the Sea of Japan, but also overland 'from Western Russia to
In recent days both Bob Carr and Gareth Evans have publicly argued that Australia has a 'moral obligation' to bomb Syria. Of the two, Evans' position is clearly the more thought through, pointing to ample 'grey areas' in the legal justification, and providing sober reflections about the efficacy of
The Syrian Arab Armed Forces (SAAF) are fighting ISIS in eastern Syria. Australia is planning to bomb ISIS targets in eastern Syria. But Australia will not be involved in the broader conflict in Syria involving the Assad regime.
If this doesn't appear to make sense to you it's because the concept
The Syrian conflict, now in its fourth, unrelenting year, is an unmitigated disaster. By any measure – strategic, humanitarian, political, social or environmental – the conflict has ravaged the Middle East.
The humanitarian toll is overwhelming. Over a quarter of a million are dead and half of
Long resisted by the US for its impracticality and because it was considered too big a concession to Turkish interests, the concept of a 'no-fly zone' in northern Syria now appears to have morphed into a so-called 'safe zone'. The plan, as far as it appears to have been enunciated, involves US and
Monday's suicide bombing in the Turkish town of Sucuc on the Syrian border, blamed on militants from ISIS, marks a significant deterioration in Turkey's national security.
While not the first attack blamed on Islamist militants inside Turkey's borders, it was the deadliest in two years, killing at
Exercise Talisman Sabre is winding down, bringing to an end two weeks of high tempo US-Australia war games around the continent.
Held on alternate years, Talisman Sabre is the most important bilateral set-piece exercise between the ADF and US forces. Beyond its training value, the exercise serves
It's now three weeks since the Abbott Government introduced a bill into parliament that would see dual-national terrorists forfeit their Australian citizenship.
But is popularity (as evidenced by public support for extending these powers to sole nationals) the rationale behind the pursuit of
Fear of ISIS, faltering economies and resentment over rising immigration from war-torn Iraq and Syria has resulted in a surge in right-wing populism in Europe and the UK.
Here in the UK, following the departure of three sisters with their nine children to join ISIS, and the emergence of the first
The US-Japan Defence Cooperation Guidelines are best thought of as an occasional re-branding exercise for the US-Japan alliance in response to changing strategic conditions. Following a review, a revised version of the Guidelines was announced on 27 April.
The 1960 Treaty of Mutual Cooperation
When you look at the global response to the threat of ISIS, a glaring gap is the cyber domain.
The internet has been critical to the terrorist group's success. It allows it to communicate unfiltered to the rest of the world, for onward mass dissemination by the media. It helps the group radicalise
Over the past month, The Interpreter has hosted a debate on Australian defence strategy initiated by Alan Dupont's Lowy analysis paper, Full-Spectrum Defence.
The discussion so far has only glanced tangentially off the most brutal of the realities affecting defence strategy: the perpetually
The first thing to say about Alan Dupont's recent paper is that he is absolutely correct about the dire condition of Australian strategic policy.
As he suggests, we lack a coherent answer to the most basic question of all: 'What do we want our armed forces to be able to do?' Until that question
This week’s Quick Comment podcast is with the new head of ANU’s National Security College and Lowy Institute Nonresident Fellow, Professor Rory Medcalf, who last night delivered a speech in which he argued that Australia needs to rethink how it approaches and considers national security and