Thursday 30 Jun 2022 | 12:07 | 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.

Putin’s choice

Whatever steps Vladimir Putin takes over coming days will be deeply consequential for the security of both Russia and Europe. What does Putin want? Firstly, he wants to bring Ukraine back within Russia’s orbit. This is partly for emotional reasons of national identity and imperial nostalgia:

Indonesia makes a big defence statement

The fuss made over Friday’s Quad meeting in Melbourne is quite out of proportion to the group’s significance. Australians shouldn’t take any comfort from rhetoric about democratic solidarity and common values. The bonds holding together the quadrilateral relationship between the United States

The curious case of Blenheim Reef

A remote sandbank in the middle of the Indian Ocean, known as Blenheim Reef, is hitting the international news. The Mauritian government has sponsored an expedition to the reef to embarrass Britain in their long-running dispute over ownership of the Chagos Archipelago – which is home to the US

Delivering promises will show steel in Quad

The German naval chief, Vice Admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach, lost his job during a visit to Delhi last month. During an interaction where he went woefully off-script, he urged the West to offer “respect” to Russian President Vladimir Putin and keep the focus trained on China, a “not so nice

Getting ready for Trump as President 47

Paul Kelly’s recently published book, Morrison’s Mission: How a Beginner Reshaped Australian Foreign Policy, provides the most detailed account yet of the formation of the country’s foreign policy since Scott Morrison became prime minister in 2018 and is full of useful insights. The Forever

AUKMIN shows the UK is a world away from Australia

Last week’s AUKMIN consultations between Australia and the United Kingdom, the first since 2018, suggested both sides were injecting new energy into this relationship. As Australia increasingly “mainstreams” European partnerships within its Indo-Pacific focused foreign policy, it’s worth

Australia–Japan defence cooperation in the grey zone

Over the last several years, the relationship with China has become increasingly awkward for both Australia and Japan. Other nations have also been similarly afflicted and sometimes more so. The expression “grey zone” is now used as a generic label for China’s new form of prickly interstate

Japan and Australia ties blossom

Japan and Australia this month formally signed a “landmark” Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA), establishing a defence cooperation framework that will allow the stationing of troops in each other’s countries along with the staging of joint training exercises and disaster support. The long-

Indian Ocean step-up

Like Australia in the Pacific, India has been pursuing its own Indian Ocean island step-up, largely driven by concerns about China’s growing influence in the region. This has included increased bilateral aid, investment, and security assistance to the island states. India is also trying to develop

Taliban takeover – Best of The Interpreter 2021

US forces and their allies debated the same question with varying intensity for 20 years after the 9/11 attacks. Afghanistan: To leave or not to leave? Syed Fazl-e-Haider: The Taliban has already warned the US-led forces against extending their presence and demanded they stick to the Doha

An AUKUS surprise – Best of The Interpreter 2021

The buzz about an impending big announcement started the night before. But when the leaders from Australia, the United Kingdom and United States stood in a virtual press conference on 16 September to reveal Australia would eventually acquire nuclear-powered submarines, Sam Roggeveen’s first

Myths that stir trouble in the South China Sea

US officials regularly present China as an aggressive and expansionist military power while Chinese state sources criticise the United States in similar terms. The verbal sparring has only increased concern about the prospect of a future war between China and the United States, with Australia as a

India remains divided about AUKUS

The jury in New Delhi is still out on AUKUS, the new trilateral security agreement between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. Three months after its announcement, the issue continues to split India’s security experts, with little consensus over whether it benefits New Delhi or is

European security: Putin ups the ante with NATO

Not content with sabre-rattling amid a menacing large troop build-up around Ukraine’s borders, Russia last week issued sweeping demands for legally binding new security guarantees from the United States and NATO.  If implemented, these would constitute a significant revision of post-Cold

Crisis stability as a priority in US-China relations

Prospects for US-China arms control run hot and cold. China continues to vociferously oppose the recent Australia-UK-US agreement to cooperate on Australia’s acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines. And over the past six months there have been three significant revelations by open-source

Why isn’t Australia putting diplomacy first?

Reading the coverage following the AUKUS nuclear submarine annoucement might have given the impression that diplomacy is not an Anglo-Saxon pastime. But, in fact, both the United States and United Kingdom have an explicit “diplomacy first” agenda. It is Australia that is out of step. What is

Changing my mind about AUKUS

I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that AUKUS – the tripartite defence technology agreement which promises to deliver at least eight nuclear-powered submarines to the Royal Australian Navy – was one of the best-kept secrets in Australian political history. In the days and weeks after the 16

Taming the “grey zone”

Unease about so-called “grey zone” tactics is increasingly in vogue. From a position of relative obscurity, the term has surged onto the official agenda. There was no mention of “grey zone” in Australia’s 2016 Defence White Paper, but it appears 11 times in the 2020 Defence Strategic

Honouring the dead on the path to Korean peace

Almost 70 years on, the Korean war is still not formally over. The United States and South Korea are in the final stages of drafting an end-of-war declaration text. Since his address at the United Nations General Assembly in September, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in has made the declaration

The Doha accord and Taliban legitimacy

Under the 2020 Doha Agreement, the US withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan was conditional on Taliban security assurances that Afghan territory would not be used as a launch pad by al-Qaeda or Islamic State for attacks against the United States. Similar accords seeking security promises from

Maldives: India first or India out?

Recent protests in Maldives against India’s influence in the country calling for “Indian military out” has led the Maldives government to respond by reiterating its “India First” policy. This has highlighted the difficulties that both countries face in building a stable strategic

The Indo-Pacific Operating System: How can America shore up the regional order?

Five essays from experts from, or based in, Southeast Asia provide a sense of the region’s complexity and the nuance with which any effort to shore up – or rebuild – regional order must grapple

It’s time to talk about existential risk

Italian-American physicist Enrico Fermi was having lunch with his colleagues in 1950 when he asked a now famous question: where is everybody? He was referring to the apparent contradiction that, despite the mathematical probability that humans should have seen evidence of intelligent extra-

Arms control is not just about arms

Relations between Russian and the United States have been rocky since the 2014 Crimean crisis. Washington imposed various sanctions on the Kremlin in the aftermath of the annexation, accusing it of violating Ukrainian sovereignty. US charges of Russian interferences in the 2016 and 2020 elections

Foreign fighters: The question of justice

The legal fallout from Islamic State’s short but bloody existence is both complex and enduring. For those Westerners who travelled to Syria and Iraq to join the jihadist project, which ended with the fall of Baghouz in southeastern Syria in March 2019, justice has taken different forms. Many were

Would a war over Taiwan be legal?

Australia’s former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has called for “solidarity” with Taiwan in the face of China’s “intimidatory sorties” testing its air defences. As the war drum incessantly beats, would a war against China to defend Taiwan be legal? For all the abstract talk about a rules-

AUKUS: Why Beijing didn’t go ballistic

China was expected to be furious about the recently signed AUKUS security pact. After all, it is generally believed that the deal to provide Australia with technology to build nuclear submarines and the associated cooperation with the United States and United Kingdom amounts to a significant

Subs: Australia’s reputation overboard

The prevailing view in Australia of the momentous submarines imbroglio seems to have become that the $90-billion mega deal with the French – friend, ally and partner in the Indo-Pacific – was scrapped for a combination of contractual, operational and geopolitical reasons. Australia, so this

Chinese warplanes overhead Taiwan (or maybe not)

China’s PLA Air Force’s (PLAAF) latest flights into the Taiwanese Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) have gained people’s attention. The arcane ADIZ term denotes a block of airspace established over, and usually somewhat beyond, a nation’s territory in which any unknown approaching

In defence of AUKUS

When Barack Obama announced the rebalance to Asia in 2011, he also revealed the rotational deployment of US Marines to Darwin. In the intervening decade, however, additional changes to US regional posture have been few and far between. As a result, leading US defence expert Michèle Flournoy has

An arms control stocktake

Nuclear politics and nuclear policy shifts get plenty of coverage – atomic-powered submarines for Australia, China’s missile silo fields, North Korea’s enrichment activities in Yongbon, Iran’s compliance with international monitoring, as well as weapons modernisation all receive considerable

SSN vs SSK

Are nuclear-powered submarines better – more cost-effective – for Australia’s operational needs than conventionally-powered ones? This is one of the many questions that deserve a bit more attention than they have received since Scott Morrison’s AUKUS coup. Let’s agree that the French

AUKUS and the nuclear non-proliferation regime

Whether Australia leases, buys or builds nuclear-fuelled submarines, it will be the first non-nuclear state to do so. The recent announcement of AUKUS – the Trilateral Agreement between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States – to procure this technology brings into focus the

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