Saturday 06 Jun 2020 | 16:50 | SYDNEY
What's happening on


Singapore’s existential serve on the TPP

Let’s set aside the car-crash TV distraction of Trumpmageddon for the moment (though ‘Trumpnado’ might better reflect the production standards) and briefly consider something more serious: life, death and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).  If you want to get a sense of how the fate

Quick Comment: Andrew Scobell

In this Quick Comment, the Lowy Institute's International Security Program Director Euan Graham talks to RAND Corporation's Andrew Scobell on how China perceives US strategy and decision-making, China's past experience with alliances (and the relative absence of contemporary Chinese allies), and

Along the Karakoram Highway: A photo essay (part 1)

The storied Karakoram Highway (KKH), a modern incarnation of the ancient silk road, is the primary ground transport link between China and Pakistan, and the highest paved road in the world. The existing Highway, completed in 1978, is undergoing a major reconstruction. Along with other transport and

Time to double down on economic engagement

The Lowy Institute analysis 'Making the Most of the G20', which argues the G20 should be at the centre of Australia's approach to economic engagement, explores many of the themes that will be aired in this debate. Australia's enviable economic performance over the last quarter-century has given us

End of the line for Rudd's UN bid

Prime Minister Turnbull's refusal to nominate Kevin Rudd for UN secretary-general (SG) last week, claiming Rudd wasn’t ‘well suited,’ almost certainly ends his chance at running for the UN’s top spot. It was an unexpected twist for UN watchers, including myself, who have

Myanmar's Ma Ba Tha fades with barely a whimper

All it took was Yangon Chief Minister Phyo Min Thein saying 'We don’t need Ma Ba Tha' at a meeting in Singapore, and three weeks later 'the face of Buddhist terror' appeared meek and terrified itself. Ma Ba Tha, the abbreviation of what in English is the Patriotic Association of Myanmar, is

Laos: Struggling to get out of China's shadow

Laos probably hoped for more from last week's ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting. US Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Lao Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith (Photo: US Dept of State) In the lead up to the event held in the Laos capital of Vientiane, many wondered if the South China Sea

How well did the IMF handle the 2010 Greek crisis?

'IMF admits disastrous love affair with the euro led to immolation of Greece'. So runs a press headline about the IMF Independent Evaluation Office (IEO)'s new report on the 2010 Greek crisis. It was already widely accepted that the IMF's handling of the crisis was badly flawed, so the IEO's

Life after THAAD: Shifting relations on the Korean Peninsula

By Nicholas Welsh, an intern in the Lowy Institute's International Security Program. In the face of rising regional tensions in the South China Sea, North Korea last month launched three ballistic missiles as part of a mock nuclear strike against US ports and airstrips embedded in South Korea. In a

Weekend catch-up: Putin, Penny, Peter and more

By John Gooding, Digital Editor at the Lowy Institute and Associate Editor at The Interpreter. As cracking yarns go, Russia allegedly hacking the Democratic National Committee's emails and giving them to WikiLeaks for distribution, all purportedly in the name of undermining Hillary Clinton and

The G20 is a policy no-brainer for Australia

The G20 is a policy no-brainer for Australia, and we should be actively engaged in the forum.  This is one of the basic conclusions that my colleague Hannah Wurf and I outline in our Lowy Institute analysis, Making the most of the G20, released today.  The position may surprise those

Same horse, different jihadi: JAN rebrands

Any marketer will tell you that when you think you've got a good product but it's not selling, then it's time to change the marketing. With that in mind, we should lend little weight to yesterday's announcement by the leader of Jabhat al-Nusra (JAN), Muhammad al-Jawlani, that his jihadi group has

Geoeconomics and geopolitics: India's tightrope

Two recent events have brought into sharp focus a growing divide between India's geoeconomic and geopolitical strategies: India's failed bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in June – essentially scuttled by China – and the Modi Government's desire for closer defence

Quick comment: Sir Lawrence Freedman

In this Quick Comment, historian Sir Lawrence Freedman, Emeritus Professor of War Studies at King's College London, considers the Permanent Court of Arbitration finding on the South China Sea from China’s point of view. Freedman also compares and contrasts today’s sense of all-consuming

Cambodia's colours nailed firmly to China's mast

Cambodia is once again at the heart of ASEAN problems in relation to the disputes associated with the South China Sea. Reports that it has not been possible for the ASEAN ministers meeting in Vientiane to find an agreed form of words about the issue should surely be no surprise, however regrettable

Trump, Putin and information warfare

The recent DNC hack, which led to the leaking of emails purporting to show favouritism towards Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders, is another example of the arms race moving into cyberspace. It has also sparked a frenzied hunt for the perpetrator, with Russia the most logical candidate. Undermining

Daesh’s first big stand in Kabul

The release of the United Nations’ mid-year report on civilians casualties (CIVCAS) in Afghanistan came two days after ‘the deadliest single incident recorded by the UN in Afghanistan since 2001’. Eighty civilians were killed and as many as 290 injured in a suicide attack on peaceful

A five-point human rights agenda for DFAT

Last week, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that Julie Bishop will remain as Australia’s foreign minister and that Frances Adamson, an experienced diplomat, will start a five-year stint as the secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). Boeng kak community

G20 Chengdu meeting: Falling from the 70th floor?

Another G20 meeting has come and gone. At the conclusion of their two-day gathering in Chengdu, finance ministers and central bank governors sent a signal that they remain firmly focused on monitoring emerging economic events. Once again, though, the G20 can be accused of kicking the can down the

Movie trailer: A Tale of Love and Darkness

First-time director Natalie Portman also stars in this adaptation of Israeli novelist Amos Oz's memoir. According to IMDB, the film is 'A story about the childhood of Oz in Jerusalem and his youth in the Kibbutz during the British Mandate and the first days of the state of Israel. The plot describes

What we know about Penny Wong and foreign policy

Over the weekend Bill Shorten, leader of the opposition, announced a fairly major reshuffle of the Labor shadow ministry. Tanya Plibersek has left foreign affairs for the domestic battleground that is education; Senator Penny Wong (formerly of the trade and investment shadow ministry) will take her

Globalisation and income distribution

Many political pundits see widening income disparities as the key factor in the Brexit vote and associate these with a single cause — globalisation. There is no doubting that income distribution within individual countries has become more unequal in recent decades, but is globalisation the

It's not looking good for the TPP in US Congress

Are the Blue Dog Democrats to blame for US inaction on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement? Well, at least partially.  With the World Trade Organization stalling, regional agreements like the TPP are the next best option for making international trade easier and cheaper. And with

Three reasons why Malaysia's Najib isn't going anywhere

Money stolen from the troubled Malaysian state fund 1MDB was laundered in jaw-dropping ways: multi-million dollar real estate in Manhattan, Beverly Hills and London; art worth US$130 million; and funding for Hollywood movie The Wolf of Wall Street, among others.  The US Department of Justice (

Black Swan 2020: China's NEO that goes geo

As an analyst of regional security, I spend much time absorbed with the usual suspects; nuclear proliferation, arms modernisation, territorial tensions, plus a panoply of non-state challenges from terrorism, cyber and other domains. While the divisions between state and non-state security concerns

No confidence vote: Showdown in PNG politics

In less than 24 hours, Papua New Guineans will know the fate of  Prime Minister Peter O’Neill when the national parliament sits for a vote of no-confidence. There are three possible scenarios: O'Neill may survive the vote; he may opt to relinquish the nation’s highest office to a

Amid a chaotic 2016, time for the G20 to stand and deliver

'May you live in interesting times' is a modern western saying that is often wrongly described as an ancient Chinese curse. But you get the feeling that those working on the Chinese G20 Presidency would be justified in feeling burdened with the curse of an interesting 2016. G20 finance ministers

Our media degrades the currency of fear

It has been written before, quite correctly, that a key strategy in dealing with the terrorist threat is national resilience. And one part of developing such resilience is language. The wrong choice of words can unnecessarily inflame or sensationalise a situation. Conversely, rational and

Santoso dead: Now for the next chapter

One of the biggest manhunts in post-Suharto Indonesia has found its target, and Santoso, Indonesia's most wanted terrorist, is dead. He was found and shot on 18 July by the elite army unit Kostrad; not by the police who had been searching for him for the last five years. His death has implications

The PCA ruling, Australia and Timor-Leste

The Hague tribunal decision last week in the South China Sea case will have far reaching implications, finding that any ‘historic rights’ China claimed within the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of other states were extinguished by UNCLOS itself, and China's subsequent ratification of the treaty

Lebanon's fragile stability

Incredible though it may seem, after the events in Turkey this weekend Lebanon is looking like one of the most stable states in the Middle East, despite not having a president or a fully-functioning government   I arrived in Lebanon in early June this year and was immediately struck by the

Media access to Nauru is Australia's concern

Last week David Aedang, Nauru’s newly re-elected government, released a statement taking aim at Australian and New Zealand media outlets for their allegedly unethical and biased coverage, specifically naming four of them: ‘It’s time for the Australian and New Zealand media to show more

More heat than light in Australian FONOPs debate

Australia’s febrile domestic politics produced another petty point-scoring moment after the shadow defence minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, sought political mileage from last Tuesday’s historic South China Sea arbitration.  Senator Conroy criticised the government for not sanctioning

Video: Islam, Islamism and secularism

An excellent quick video published by The Atlantic and narrated by Shadi Hamid, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution on the historical and contemporary role of Islam in Middle Eastern politics: (h/t @BrendanTN_

Nice provokes resignation rather than outrage

This year's French National Day celebrations were held under 'haute surveillance'. And yet an Islamist mass murderer succeeded with another atrocity. Why, and what now? Some answers might be valid not only for France. To be sure, the terrorist act in Nice on the evening of the 'Quatorze Juillet'