Friday 03 Jul 2020 | 07:44 | SYDNEY
What's happening on

Defence & Security

The strategic order and the nature of conflict are changing. Security competition between nations and military strategy are growing in complexity even as new transnational challenges deepen. The Lowy Institute’s experts in security and defence look at changing strategic relations, security architecture, nuclear strategy, military capabilities and defence and intelligence policy.

Defence Strategic Update 2020: A first assessment

The Defence Strategic Update 2020 launched yesterday in Canberra is a notably candid assessment of the strategic challenges Australia faces and the measures with which the government plans to meet them. It explicitly declares “Australia’s ability – and willingness – to project military power

After ASEAN summit, little change on the South China Sea

On 26 June, the leaders of the ten-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) held their 36th annual summit by video conference, after the in-person summit scheduled for April was postponed because of Covid-19. The pandemic was the main topic of discussions.  Also high on the

Lessons from the India-China border clashes

The India-China border clash on the night of 15 June, the worst in over half a century, is nothing less than a chapter break in the relationship between the two countries. A dynamic that was, at the best of times, fraught with mutual suspicion is now on the cusp of becoming downright adversarial.

Diego Garcia: India’s conundrum

The tug-of-war between the United Kingdom and Mauritius over Chagos archipelago – and the US military base on Diego Garcia – is hotting up. In 2019, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution which endorsed a non binding decision from the International Court of Justice that

Arms control or out of control?

One of the most disturbing developments in international politics lately has gone mostly unnoticed by most commentators. Some will be aware that President Donald Trump has withdrawn – or plans to withdraw – the United States from specific arms control treaties. But what is troubling is that

NATO: Rebranding exercise or new product launch?

It is hardly surprising that many foreign policy developments that would normally feature in the news have lately been demoted well below the headlines, as domestic turmoil in the United States has dominated conversations across the country and the globe. Under more ordinary circumstances, two

The case for Australian strategic ambiguity

It is June 2021. An American destroyer sailing near a reef held by Beijing in the South China Sea has had a collision with a Chinese frigate that was attempting to drive it off. Both vessels have suffered multiple fatalities and, damaged, are at anchor near the reef. While who was at fault is

Mauritius, Diego Garcia and the small matter of nukes

Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia is a key part of the US global military network. The dispute over sovereignty of Diego Garcia is heating up, with the UK coming under increasing pressure to cede it to Mauritius. Mauritius has indicated that if it regained control over Diego Garcia, it would allow

We’re all losers in the space arms race

Politics does make for unlikely bedfellows. Last month, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that it had signed a joint declaration with the Republic of Burundi, whereby both agreed not to be the “first” to place weapons in space. Two weeks later Russia conducted an anti-satellite missile test

Diego Garcia: An American perspective

Diego Garcia is the United States’ major geostrategic and logistics support base in the Indian Ocean. Sovereignty over the island is increasingly being challenged by Mauritius, but it seems unlikely that Washington would be interested in a deal that would facilitate its transfer. The base has

What’s missing from the Strategic Update

Foreign Editor for The Australian, Greg Sheridan, got his hands on a copy of the yet-to-be-released Defence Strategic Update, and he wrote about it over the weekend.  The Strategic Update is yet to pass through cabinet, but if Sheridan’s account is accurate and the recommendations are

Weight on the scales

A few months back – only in January, yet seemingly a very different time ­– Mike Mazarr and I offered some initial reflections on America’s and China’s contrasting “theories of influence”. The article prompted a series of contributions, including an initial rejoinder from Sam Roggeveen

With US Afghan exit, Russia eyes Central Asian security

Three months have passed since the United States and the Taliban signed an “Agreement for bringing peace to Afghanistan”. For the Americans, it aims to put an end to the US military intervention in Afghanistan, which has lasted more than 18 years. The provisions of the agreement stipulate a

Discontinued: America’s Continuous Bomber Presence

Since 2004, the US Air Force has rotated heavy bombers through the Western Pacific island of Guam. But no more. The Continuous Bomber Presence (CBP), which started in President George W. Bush’s first term and continued through President Barack Obama’s two terms, has now been abruptly terminated

Beyond the buzz: A primer on swarms

In the world of emerging technologies, few concepts evoke excitement like swarms. The power of the swarm is in its natural formation – from bees, to schooling fish and flocking birds – the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Swarms can achieve far more complex tasks than single entities

Islands of ire: The South Korea–Japan dispute

In early 2020, Japan reopened its National Museum of Territory and Sovereignty. Displays at the museum in Tokyo assert that islands disputed by Japan, South Korea and North Korea are Japanese territory and refer to these islands as Takeshima. South Korea’s government, which also claims sovereignty

ISIS looks to prosper in a world distracted by the virus

The coronavirus pandemic has hit the heart of Europe. The severity of the virus has forced policymakers to shift their priorities almost exclusively to the home front. As a result, international security concerns, particularly the fight against the remnants of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, which had until

If this is war, that Zoom call is part of the battle

In recent weeks, several world leaders, including US President Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, have invoked combat-related terms to summarise efforts to contain and contest the novel coronavirus and its effects. As each day we track the progress of casualties, emergency

Safety of life at sea: Covid‑19 and naval operations

The potential impact of Covid-19 on naval operations has been highlighted by reports that over half of the 2,000-plus sailors aboard the French carrier Charles de Gaulle have tested positive for COVID-19. The ship left a NATO exercise ten days early and returned to port in Toulon to allow

Counterterrorism: A woman’s game

It’s often said you can’t be what you can’t see. Whether or not that’s true (hello … what about the pioneers in their field?), shining a light on the role of women in male-dominated professions has become mainstay of International Women’s Day. National security, counterterrorism, and the

Typology of Terror Interactive

This project documents the characteristics of Australians’ contribution to global jihad in the Islamic State era. The dataset represents the largest open-source examination of Australian terrorist offenders to date. It collates data on Australian citizens and residents charged with terrorism

Power and legitimacy go hand in hand

I was delighted to read Sam Roggeveen’s thoughtful reply to The Interpreter article by Ali Wyne and myself about the relative qualities of US and Chinese power. Roggeveen makes good points; I agree, for example, that US military power has been critical to the post-war order. But I remain convinced

Being one of the boys in the military

The ruling this week by the Indian Supreme Court that allowed women to command troops in India’s armed forces comes as the latest in a series of gender reforms in democratic militaries. Despite the protestations of the Indian government that troops were not ready to follow female commanders, that

Pushing the Philippines‑US alliance over the cliff

The termination of the 1998 Philippines-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) initiated by the Duterte administration will mark a historic disruption of American power projection in the Asia-Pacific, and deal a serious blow to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea–based maritime order

US-China competition in Asia: Who risks wins

If Australians could rely on the US to remain the uncontested most powerful state in our region, and the preferred security partner for our neighbours, we would be mad not to want a future like that. Maintenance of the post-Second World War American-led order in Asia has required major sacrifices

India: Navigating the straits of capability

Early in the new year, India’s defence industry witnessed a rare moment of glory when the domestically developed light combat aircraft made its first-ever landing on the navy’s aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya. It was a major achievement for the Indian navy – a force that has spearheaded

The impact of accuracy

Of all the unfortunate events of last week’s hostilities between Tehran and Washington, the most tragic was undoubtedly Iran’s use of a surface-to-air missile to shoot down an airliner, killing 176 people. But this accident was not the most strategically significant development of those days

Australia’s new strategic geography

Australia’s strategic geography is not what it used to be. Technology has made the “sea-air gap”, an artefact treasured since the 1980s by a generation of Australian strategic planners, obsolete. Three developments compromise the idea that geography offers Australia defensive depth and

Afghan peace is elusive but not impossible

The need for a negotiated withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan has increased in urgency after the Washington Post this week published an explosive article outlining the “Afghanistan Papers”, which documents that the US government long has concluded its efforts in Afghanistan were futile and

Pages