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Australian Perspective

Shifting power balances are creating uncertainty about the existing regional order and Australia’s place in it. As one of the most globalised countries on the planet, Australia is highly dependent on an effective and active international policy. It is a Western nation surrounded by populous and booming economies in Asia and the Pacific, but has enormously important bonds with nations like the USA and the UK from which it is geographically isolated. The Lowy Institute interprets Australia’s place in the global and regional order, examining the complex ways in which Australia engages with its neighbours, partners and the evolving international system. The work of the Lowy Institute traverses Australia’s foreign policy, defence, intelligence and security, its diplomacy and overseas network, the ANZUS alliance, Australia’s trade, overseas development assistance, and its relationships in Asia and the Pacific.

To effectively counter ISIS online, we need a narrative

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

Reflections on the 2015 Lowy Lecture: Greater Asia

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

The Syrian conflict is a civil war, and R2P won't help

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

Papua New Guinea: Keep calm and muddle through?

By Jenny Hayward-Jones, Director of the Lowy Institute's Melanesia Program, and Jonathan Pryke, Research Fellow. Papua New Guinea has been in the international spotlight a lot in the last month and it has been almost all bad news. Revelations of a record budget deficit, the emerging worrying impact

Greste, the West and 'the republic of darkness'

Over the weekend an Egypt court found Al-Jazeera journalists Peter Greste, Mohammed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed guilty on charges of operating in Egypt without a press licence and of ‘spreading false news’. Greste and Fahmy were given sentences of three years in prison; Mohamed was given three years

Will the RAAF be assisting the Syrian Army?

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

Economic crisis in China? We're not there yet

I started my job at the Federal Reserve three weeks before Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy. I wish I had kept a diary of my initial months at the Fed, so I could recall clearly what we thought was happening each day. I do remember there was a discrete point where suddenly everything felt like

Address by Peter Varghese AO - An Australian world view: A practitioner's perspective

On 20 August 2015, the Lowy Institute hosted an address from Peter Varghese AO, Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Mr Varghese presented his perspective on key themes in Australia’s Foreign Policy

Iran nuclear deal opens door for Syria diplomacy

The US and Russia are reportedly promoting a concert-of-powers approach to new negotiations over Syria. Although any movement toward a political solution will be limited by the unwillingness of ISIS and other Islamists to engage in such a process, recent intelligence contact between the Syrians and

Indonesia: We don't have to be condemned to crisis

Ken Ward is to be congratulated for a straight forward and sober analysis of the Australia-Indonesia relationship. In his own matter of fact style, Ken takes us through a complex relationship and provides unique understanding and insight. His core point is that the Australia-Indonesia

Indonesia: Too many 'unforced errors'

Maybe it's just the title – Condemned to Crisis? – that gives Ken Ward's book such a downbeat despairing tone, as if the accident of geography has locked us in an unhappy marriage with Indonesia and there is not much we can do about it. Of course we should be realistic: we won't ever have the

Australia's PNG solution: The seeds of sectarianism?

As part of the 'Sectarianism and Religiously Motivated Violence' Masters course run by the Lowy Institute's Rodger Shanahan at ANU's National Security College, students are asked to write an article on contemporary sectarian conflict. This piece by William Stoltz was judged the best of those

Talisman Sabre 2015: Bigger and more amphibious

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

Syria: World dithers as new refugee crisis looms

It remains too early to predict the collapse of the Assad regime, or the way in which it might end, although the possibility of 'catastrophic success' on the part of the jihadist opposition is weighing on minds in Washington.  What is clear, however, are grounds for serious concern about the

Iran nuclear deal: Surrendering to grim reality

The conclusion of the Iran nuclear deal – or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, to give it its formal title – has already guaranteed us one thing: mutually assured hyperbole. Barrages of outrage were being fired even before the deal was signed. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Is China ready for global leadership?

Is China ready for a larger global role and should the outside world, in particular a regional partner like Australia, embrace this possibility? Evidently not, judging by remarks made by the Secretary of the Prime Minister's Department, Michael Thawley. 'China wasn't ready to take on the

Is Egypt falling into an Islamist insurrection?

Islamist insurrection has returned to Egypt. There has been a significant growth in the sophistication of the targeting, conduct and lethality of terrorist acts, a crisis of political legitimacy for the Egyptian Government, and the virtual abandonment of any separation of executive and judicial

Beijing should hasten slowly on AIIB

The establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) reached another milestone on Monday when 50 of the 57 founding members signed the AIIB's Articles of Agreement. Seven countries are still sorting out domestic requirements before signing. China's Finance Minister Jiwei Lou and

China makes its formal climate-change pledge

China's long-anticipated formal pledge to international climate change negotiations, it's 'intended nationally determined contribution' or INDC, has arrived. China's target is a 60% to 65% reduction in the emissions-intensity of the economy by 2030 pegged at 2005 levels, with carbon dioxide

IMF belatedly rethinks austerity

When we get enough perspective to write a balanced history of the 2008 global financial crisis and the subsequent feeble recovery, fiscal policy mistakes will surely feature largely in the narrative. In the form of a new IMF paper, we are beginning to see that history taking shape, and with it a

Attribution is key to broader ISIS strategy

The suicide bombing of a Shia mosque in Kuwait, shooting of Western tourists in Tunisia, and a beheading and attempt to blow up a chemical factory in France. Three continents, three different attack methodologies and three different targets, but ultimately the same result. The death of innocent

Papua's education malaise

This is part 3 of former Fairfax Media Indonesia correspondent Michael Bachelard's series on Papua. Here is the introduction, part 1 and part 2.  One sunny November school day at a school in Tagime, hundreds of primary and secondary students are outside having a whale of a time. They're playing

This week in Jakarta: The politics of Ramadan

Indonesia is the country with the greatest number of Muslims in the world, but it is not an Islamic state. Nor is it strictly secular – the first principle of the state ideology is the belief in God. Defining the boundaries between religion and politics has been a constant theme throughout the

For Australians, is PNG a partner or an obligation?

Papua New Guinea will commemorate 40 years of independence from Australia this year. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is using the anniversary to promote the changing nature of Australia's relationship with PNG. In a speech earlier this week she said:   There are challenges and

How government is failing the people of Papua

This is part 2 of former Fairfax Media Indonesia correspondent Michael Bachelard's series on Papua. The introduction to the series is here, and here' part 1. Gaad Piranid Tabuni grew up in a village in the Papuan highlands of Indonesia too remote for any government – colonial Dutch or

With the missionaries of Papua

This is part 1 of former Fairfax Media Indonesia correspondent Michael Bachelard's series on Papua. Here is the introduction to the series is here.  On a chilly Sunday evening in Wamena, the highlands capital of Indonesian Papua, a small group of white Christian missionaries worship together in an

Lowy poll shows that values matter in foreign policy

The 2015 Lowy Institute Poll reveals a great deal about Australian attitudes towards China, both in terms of our bilateral relationship, but also how China fits into our broader sense of economic and political security alongside other actors such as the US. It would appear that values and ideals

The road to Paris: Ten days and counting

The latest round of negotiations for the UN's Framework Convention on Climate Change closed in Bonn last Friday with mixed results. With ten formal negotiating days left until crucial climate negotiations resume in Paris later this year, the clock is ticking. Bonn Climate Change Conference, 1 June

Indonesia under SBY: Stability, stagnation, or both?

'What's in a name?' Shakespeare's Juliet asks. Quite a lot, as things turned out for her. And so it is for the just-published proceedings of the ANU Indonesian Update, titled The Yudhoyono Presidency: Indonesia's Decade of Stability and Stagnation. A 'mini' version of the Update was held at the

Still debating inequality, 40 years on

Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-first Century put inequality centre-stage in the economic debate. But the topic has been around for a long while. Brookings has recently republished Arthur Okun's 40 year-old Equality and Efficiency: The Big Trade-off, The launch was an opportunity to bring

Australia-PNG diplomatic spat needs swift resolution

Papua New Guinea has reacted to Australia's recent decision to establish a diplomatic post in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville by banning Australian travel to the province. This spat is proving to be an irritant not only for the friendly relationship between Canberra and Port Moresby, but also

Assad's regime is brittle, and it may fall fast

It is not yet possible to say whether, when and how the Syrian regime may fall. But recent military setbacks, and an objective analysis of the challenges the regime faces in the longer term, strongly suggest that its future is increasingly precarious. The momentum of the military conflict has

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