Thursday 22 Feb 2018 | 04:23 | SYDNEY
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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.

China and the military balance

The International Institute for Strategic Studies has launched the 2018 edition of The Military Balance, which tracks the development of military forces around the world. It contains a striking stat about China’s naval development: OK, this is an isolated factoid, but it illustrates a

Indian Ocean base race: India responds

It seems that we are in the middle of a base race across the Indian Ocean. The latest move, reported on Tuesday, involves an agreement to give India access to naval facilities in Oman, close to the Strait of Hormuz. This may be the first step towards a greater Indian naval presence in the

Base race in the Horn of Africa

A race is underway between Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Turkey to build naval and military bases right across the Horn of Africa. This threatens to change the naval balance in the north-west Indian Ocean. But it may also presage the beginnings of a new strategic order

Defence export strategy revives old ethical dilemmas

Contra Tim Costello, it is not unethical to sell arms to foreign countries. Indeed, if a state is threatened by aggression, it might be unethical not to help it acquire the means to defend itself. But of course it can be wrong to sell weapons if we think there's a good chance they will be used

China’s new network of Indian Ocean bases

According to recent reports, China may be about to construct a naval and air base near Gwadar, in west Pakistan. This would be China’s second base in the Indian Ocean and indicates that it may be moving fast to establish a network of military bases across the region. China’s first

Asia’s escalating missile race

If the Cold War was one long arms race, the modern era could be accurately described as an arms jog. Countries are defined less by how many nuclear warheads they have, and more by what they can do with them. This is particularly the case in Australia’s immediate region, where a

Why Australia should consider sharing nuclear weapons

The future looks ominous. There are grim warnings that Australia's strategic situation has worsened dramatically, with major power conflict increasingly likely. Some commentators fret over US withdrawal from the region, which would leave us disturbingly exposed. Others worry that the US is now too

The UN nuclear ban treaty is historic on five counts

Nuclear weapons are the ultimate weapons of war and therefore the ultimate weapons to prevent and avoid war. This two-axis struggle is captured in competing treaties for setting global nuclear norms and policy directions. This also reflects the mantra of realism - amended to include the importance

Congress considers the Iran nuclear deal

The US Congress could scuttle the nuclear deal with Iran this week. But it's unlikely to do so. Donald Trump has railed against the deal since his campaign. In a speech on 13 October, Trump said 'the Iran Deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever

Does the nuclear weapon ban treaty warrant the Nobel Prize?

This year’s Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) for: Its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of

How America can build a durable military balance in Asia

During his tour of East Asia last month, US President Donald Trump visited five countries, but Americans could be forgiven for thinking that he only went to China, given the US media's coverage of the trip. Whereas journalists dissected Trump’s every move during his visit with Chinese President Xi

The limits of ‘global Britain’

This is an edited extract of a speech delivered to open the Australia-UK Asia Dialogue, co-hosted by the Lowy Institute and Ditchley Foundation, and supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Whether or not Brexit was a wise move for the

Advancing the Quad through diversification

This article is part of a series for the Australia-UK Asia Dialogue, co-hosted by the Lowy Institute and Ditchley Foundation, and supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The 'Australia-India-Japan-United States consultations on the Indo-

Australia-UK cooperation on the rules-based order

This article is part of a series for the Australia-UK Asia Dialogue, co-hosted by the Lowy Institute and Ditchley Foundation, and supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. There should be plenty of scope for cooperation between Australia and

Quad redux: A new agenda for Asia's maritime democracies

With President Donald Trump part-way into his protracted tour of Asia, much of the focus has been on the North Korea threat, his personal relations with Prime Minister Abe of Japan and President Moon of South Korea, and his interaction with President Xi Jinping, China’s political strongman who

A reborn quadrilateral to deter China

Recent news that Australia’s Foreign Minister has indicated interest in taking part in a resurrected US-Australia-Japan-India quadrilateral dialogue on the sidelines of the upcoming ASEAN Summit is to be welcomed. It is an indication how much the strategic situation in the Asia Pacific has shifted

Why South Korea and Japan should not go nuclear

By David Vallance, an intern in the Lowy Institute's International Security Program, and Euan Graham, Director of the International Security Program. The road to nuclear Armageddon is not straight. The North Korea crisis has led commentators to reassess the conventional wisdom that, when it

India needs a more robust naval presence in Asia

At a biannual naval commanders’ conference in New Delhi last week, the Indian Navy’s top leadership cleared a new maritime deployment plan. In a bid to counter emerging challenges in the Indian Ocean littorals - in particular, the growing presence of Chinese warships and submarines in India’s

North Korea: How to start a nuclear war without even trying

If effective strategy requires realistic aims, then America is in trouble. US officials have shown themselves to be pathologically overconfident in their ability to achieve political outcomes with military signals, and the outcome they’re trying to achieve is utterly unrealistic.   Imagine

Time to fast-forward the Future Submarine

Australia’s future submarine program has attracted fewer headlines since the Government decided on the French Shortfin Barracuda design last year. But it was heavily criticised in a recent Insight Economics report, and on the receiving end of some speculative depth charges in a strange, testy

Marawi battle has implications for Australians

Recent terrorism-related developments in the Philippines could lead to an increased security threat to Australians in parts of Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia and Malaysia. Earlier this year, ISIS had portrayed the Philippines as something of a success story to distract from its reverses

Australia’s navy needs to mind the missile gap

David Axe’s recent War is Boring article on China’s new Type 055-class cruiser focused on its bristling load of vertical-launch missile cells. The Type-055 carries 112 cells (not 122, as Axe states), which almost matches the US Navy’s Ticonderoga-class cruisers and exceeds the 96 launchers on

The limits of India-Japan defence cooperation

The visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to India this September was much talked about in the context of the evolving Asian balance of power. Big ticket ventures including the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Railway were the highlight of the summit. But the larger issue of defence cooperation,

Britain’s defence planners face hard questions

In the last few days, the British press and social media have been rife with reports that the Royal Marines are to be reduced by 1000 from their present establishment of 6500. In addition, the amphibious fleet may be similarly reduced with the decommissioning of the landing platform dock (LPD) that

A regional focus on cyber security

The digital revolution is fundamentally a story of prosperity, of growth through disruptive business models, the opening of new markets, and of sustainable and inclusive development enabled by digital technologies. But these benefits are not guaranteed. We must work collectively – domestically,

Ballistic missile defence: New options for Australia

Kim Jong-un has set North Korea on the path to establishing a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile capability. We don’t know how much further the international community will push, and how the North Koreans will respond. But Kim Jong-un’s actions remind us that state-on-state

War reporting 101: Check your sources

Earlier this year I wrote about the willingness of the news media to highlight claims of civilian casualties caused by coalition forces operating in Iraq and Syria, but their apparent unwillingness to critically examine their sources or to follow up when their claims have been denied, dismissed or

Commercial drones: Privatising air power

In irregular wars, the state has traditionally had a monopoly on the use of air power. This has now been overturned. With the rise of small, low-cost, commercial-off-the-shelf drones, armed non-state actors are now also able to employ air power. Today, the leading armed non-state group

Leave the Iran nuclear deal alone

In 2015, now-President Donald Trump said of the Iran nuclear agreement (otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA]) that 'Never ever, ever in my life have I seen any transaction so incompetently negotiated as our deal with Iran. And I mean never.’ Of course, Trump has

Don’t discount the chances of a new Korean war

Robert Kelly all but discounts the possibility of conflict on the Korean Peninsula. While this is plainly wrong, he is right on other points, namely the emotional differences between South Korea and America in how they react to the North Korean threat.   The American press does inflate

North Korea: Trump’s terrible binary choice

It is critical that we understand what North Korea’s test of a thermonuclear device means. North Korea claims that the weapon is miniaturised to fit onto a Hwasong­–14 intercontinental ballistic missile. We must assume this claim is true. North Korea’s advances have exceeded every expectation

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

Why do US warships keep having accidents?

James Goldrick has identified possible systemic problems in the US Navy that help explain recent accidents involving US warships. These problems may not be unique to the US Seventh Fleet and there has to be sympathy for Vice Admiral Aucoin, the Commander of the Seventh Fleet, who was made the

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