Friday 20 Sep 2019 | 15:29 | SYDNEY
What's happening on

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.

India is no ally of the US

In the continuing debate between Hugh White and Shaskank Joshi regarding US-India strategic cooperation, I would associate myself closely with the views of White and what he sees as the eventual limits of the relationship. But I would take it one step further. In the long-term, an anti-US

Would India go to war with China to help America?

In his latest contribution to our debate, Shashank Joshi raised some excellent points against my sceptical view of the emerging India-US strategic partnership. But I'm still unpersuaded. To explain why, it helps to step back and clarify the question we are debating here. It is not whether

Tough road for Asia's women activists

On 3 March, Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said, 'We must use the celebration of International Women's Day to highlight the plight of women still fighting for freedom and equality, for when that is achieved it will be for the betterment of us all.'  That fight is ongoing in the Asia-

Indonesians against the death penalty

As we learned from a recent Lowy Institute poll, 62% of Australians oppose the use of the death penalty in the case of Bali Nine members Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran in Indonesia. But what do Indonesians think about the case? While I have yet to find a similar survey of Indonesian public

Negative interest rates: We are flying blind

We live in strange economic times. Depositors in Denmark are paying interest to their banks and borrowers are being paid when they take out a loan. The basic principles of finance have been turned on their head. One commentator has noted that 'something economists thought was impossible is

Ukraine: IMF sent in where others fear to tread

This week the IMF Executive Board will consider a proposal to provide Ukraine with a US$17.5 billion Extended Fund Facility. The IMF Managing Director explains that this program 'can succeed'. But it has to be said that the chances are low, given current geopolitical circumstances and Kiev's recent

Applying the right lessons to Iraq

The Australian Government's announcement that 300 additional troops will be sent to Iraq to help train the Iraqi Army has brought forth the usual public commentators, myself included. My view is that all those who see ISIS as evil should be prepared to commit military and other resources to oppose

India's budget: Will subsidies fall as predicted?

The new Indian Government brought down its first full-year budget last weekend. It has been keenly anticipated. Business Standard claimed: 'The market is expecting the Union Budget to be path-breaking, similar to the one in 1991, which led to the liberalisation of the Indian economy.'  As it

Khmer Rouge Tribunal: Two more charged, but not indicted

Contrary to media reports of two more 'indictments' of former Khmer Rouge figures by the Cambodian-UN Khmer Rouge Tribunal, what has actually happened is that Meas Muth (the former Khmer Rouge navy commander) and Im Chaem (a former regional detention centre director) have been charged in absentia

The destructive power of nuclear weapons

My generation doesn't think much about nuclear weapons, disarmament and the consequences of nuclear-weapons use. Some certainly do, but generally, the cause of nuclear disarmament is being carried on by an older generation.  I think that's a problem. Nuclear weapons seems like an old issue, from

Bibi goes to Washington

For most of my professional life I have been addicted to Middle Eastern politics. In recent years, however, I have started to kick the habit, so I had not planned to get up at 3am Sydney time to watch Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu deliver his much anticipated and controversial address

Who or what is a 'leading military planner'?

During my Army career I was a military planner. I worked on lots of plans. Most were never executed, but others were. Some were standing plans that were annually revised, while others were worked up at the behest of someone higher up the operational chain. I got to know the ADF planning process

ISIS is the least of Afghanistan's problems

The growing geographic spread of ISIS has lately been part of the news chatter in tabloids and respected papers alike. We know ISIS has tried to spread its propaganda to Pakistan and Afghanistan since late 2014 and proclaimed its leadership of that region in early January, with members of the

The 'beggar-thy-neighbour' currency wars

Leon Berkelmans is in good company in defending the policy actions which have come to be described as 'currency wars'.  Ben Bernanke gave the same defence of the US Fed's actions while he was Chairman: while low interest rates and 'quantitative easing' (QE) may give the domestic economy an extra

Jokowi makes a political spectacle of executions

It's hard to believe that just four months after President Jokowi swept to power on a wave of disillusionment with Indonesia's politics, his predecessor Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is now openly displaying schadenfreude.  President Jokowi's disastrous handling of the appointment of a new police

A currency war would be no bad thing

The European Central Bank has finally begun to engage in quantitative easing. The euro depreciated on the news, which is good for the Europeans but bad for the rest of the world, right? It's another currency war – a zero sum game leading to, at best, nothing but debased currencies . At least that'

How Greece and Europe can both win

The press is making much of the academic qualifications of Greece's new finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis. His specialisation is economic game theory, which in this case might be described as 'the art of bargaining'. Good bargaining skills are, indeed, important. But there are also some basic

Obama's India visit reveals weakness of US position in Asia

Shashank Joshi makes a good case for the importance of Obama's visit to India last month, and against my view that there is much less to the US-India alignment than meets the eye. My argument is that their underlying strategic objectives remain too different for real strategic alignment. Shashank

Timor-Leste: New prime minister, new approach

It has finally happened. After months of 'will he, won't he' melodrama, Xanana Gusmão, Timor-Leste's resistance leader and long-serving prime minister, has stepped down. His successor, Dr Rui Maria de Araújo, will be sworn in as prime minister in a ceremony in Dili later today. The new PM will

Should the West arm Ukraine?

Should the West arm Ukraine against Russian-backed rebels? That's a question guaranteed to generate earnest debate among armchair foreign policy pundits. But it also found its way into the just-concluded 51st Munich Security Conference. Chancellor Angela Merkel, Munich Security Conference, 8

How much is too much? The debt mystery

The 2008 financial crisis left no doubt that ill-considered debt can cause major damage not just to an individual country, but to the global economy. You might think that by now, six years later, balance sheet repair would have taken debt below pre-crisis levels. However, debt burdens are

A looming succession crisis in Oman and Saudi Arabia

When King Salman bin Abdulaziz succeeded King Abdullah last month, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia edged one step closer towards a succession crisis. US Secretary of State John Kerry with Omanu Sultan Qaboos bin Said, May 2013. (Flickr/US State Dept.) There remain two more sons in the house of

Australia is not meeting its IEA oil reserve targets

The plunge in the global oil price is a hot topic. Between June 2014 and January 2015, the price of crude has dropped by 57%. Most of the attention has been on the boon for consumers, with a litre of petrol in some parts of Australia now counted in cents, not dollars. But while Australia is

Memo to IMF reformers: Don't let Congress get you down

By Lowy Institute Non-Resident Fellow Mike Callaghan and G20 Research Fellow Tristram Sainsbury When it comes to IMF quota reform, the words of Yogi Berra come to mind: 'It's like deja vu all over again'.  IMF First Deputy Managing Director David Lipton and Managing Director Christine Lagarde,

India nuclear deal needs serious parliamentary scrutiny

The Australian parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) will soon review the proposed treaty between Australia and India on Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy, signed by Prime Ministers Abbott and Modi in New Delhi on 5 September 2014. A 1984 cartoon on Australia's

Is globalisation slowing?

In the decades leading up to the 2008 financial crisis, international trade typically grew much faster than GDP. This reflected increasing global economic integration: tariff barriers were coming down, trade groups (eg. the eurozone, NAFTA, ASEAN) facilitated trade through regulatory simplification

The French Intifada

Nicole George's perceptive pointer to 'La Haine' on The Interpreter as a way into the fraught world of the contemporary France's banlieues is a reminder of the fact that a sizeable section of French society is alienated from the social mainstream by a combustible mix of religion, ethnic origin and

China's investment rebalance

I am embarrassed to say that I made a mistake in the analysis below (I should have realised the results were too clear to be true!). In fact, the relative price of investment goods follows the pattern in the graph below. This mistake was discovered by Guonan Ma and staff at the RBA, who tried to

Police massacre threatens Philippines peace deal

The best chance for peace in Muslim Mindanao in the Philippines has just noticeably faded. The deadly clash in the early morning of Sunday 25 January between the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police and the local command of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the

The IMF's pessimism is misplaced

When the IMF produced its last World Economic Outlook in October, one of the risks it forecast was a possible oil price increase. A US$25 per barrel increase, the IMF said, would take at least 0.5% off global economic growth. Now, even with the change in oil price twice as large and in the opposite

How Chinese media covered Obama's State of the Union

In his State of the Union address on Wednesday, President Obama mentioned China a total of three times. One was to praise China's commitment to cut carbon emissions. The second was to encourage American manufacturing executives to bring back jobs from China. The third was a call-to-arms to

Is China slowing down? Not much

The Wall Street Journal: China's economic growth slowed to 7.4% in 2014, downshifting to a level not seen in a quarter century and firmly marking the end of a high-growth heyday that buoyed global demand for everything from iron ore to designer handbags. The slipping momentum in China, which

Australia and UN peacekeeping: Time for a reset

The UN is the go-to organisation for virtually every forgotten international crisis. While the West has struggled on in Afghanistan and Iraq, the UN and its peacekeeping missions have been deployed to just about everywhere else: Congo, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Darfur, Mali, Liberia

Freedom of the press in Fiji under pressure

Fiji held its highly anticipated election in September 2014, but does that make it a democracy? There's much more to a functioning democratic system than people putting a mark on a piece of paper and dropping it in a box. Even the international election observers didn't go so far as to say the

No, the IMF did not cause the Ebola crisis

Headlines blaming the IMF for the Ebola crisis are something you may expect in the tabloid press. However, a robust debate on the role of the IMF in the spread of Ebola was started by an article in The Lancet, a leading health journal. Four British professors claimed that the fiscal austerity

Cambodia's controversial dam seems set to go ahead

What is happening with Cambodia's Lower Se San 2 dam? Elliot Brennan's citation of a Bangkok Post report of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's speech at the opening of the Stung Russey Chrum Krom hydroelectric dam in Koh Kong province in Tuesday's Southeast Asia links is interesting for a number

Pages