Wednesday 19 Jun 2019 | 10:44 | SYDNEY
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West Asia

Reader riposte: The forgotten white paper

The Defence White Paper is due to be released within the hour. Luke Maynard, a graduate of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, writes: Hugh White was right – this white paper probably should have been shelved. Today's release of Defence White Paper 2013 will enter a hostile political

Chinese aid to Africa: A detective story

Philippa Brant is a Lowy Institute Research Associate. Earlier this week a massive database of Chinese development finance activities in Africa (warning: big PDF) was launched by AidData and the Center for Global Development. This endeavour involved a team of researchers and has

Reader riposte: America and the Syrian conflict

Ghassan Salem writes: I've read and found very interesting Rodger Shanahan's comments in response to Anthony Bubalo's post about Obama's position regarding Syria's situation and mainly its use of chemical weapons, and the US response to that, or should I say the lack of. Allow me two remarks on

Syria and the Obama Doctrine

My colleague Anthony Bubalo has taken President Obama to task for failing to put his political-diplomatic shoulder to the wheel in seeking a resolution to the Syria crisis. It is fair criticism. There is an overwhelming focus in the Middle East on the need for some type of US-led military

Israel: New electoral law is a hope for peace

Jack Georgieff is the 2013 Thawley Research Scholar in International Security at the Lowy Institute and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington DC. This week Chuck Hagel called on the new Israeli Government. Only a few weeks before, John Kerry was pushing Arab-Israeli peace

Qatar: The mouse that thinks it's a lion

Five years ago I wrote a post outlining how Qatar was using its wealth to act as a regional mediator, raising its profile and as a consequence ruffling the feathers of some of its neighbours. During my current trip to the region, a recurring theme has been the widespread view that Qatar is no

Lebanon: Unmistakable signs of decline

Vanessa Newby is a PhD candidate at Griffith University. Photo by the author. A television show called al-Azaim ('The President') is causing great excitement in Lebanon. The concept is simple: members of the public from all walks of life put themselves forward as candidates running for the

Indians trust their media: Why?

Understandably, media coverage of the Lowy Institute-Australia India Institute Poll of Indian public opinion has focused on newsy topics such as uranium sales and violence against students. But one so-far overlooked aspect of the poll jumped out at me. Indians have high levels of trust in their

Poll: What Indians think of Australia

A poll released today by the Lowy Institute and the Australia India Institute reveals some surprising findings on Indian public opinion towards Australia. For example, despite bad press over the security of Indian students in 2009-10, Indians hold relatively warm feelings towards Australia,

How popular is Bashar Assad?

This is, on the face of it, a silly question. Popular wisdom, fueled by an aggressive media campaign by Gulf-owned media outlets, journalist embeds with rebel forces and opposition social media outlets have dominated the discourse on Syria.  Regime paranoia and intransigence has limited any

Reader ripostes: Howard, Ware and Iraq

Below, Mona Scheuermann responds to Michael Ware. But first, Ashley Murtha: Some important qualifications should be made regarding Sam Roggeveen's mention of Canada as a country that opposed the Iraq War, ostensibly referenced as it is a middle-power that enjoys close relations with the US and

John Howard's straight talk on Iraq

Michael Green served on the US National Security Council staff from 2001-2005 and is now Senior Vice President for Asia at CSIS and a non-resident fellow at the Lowy Institute. Kudos to former Prime Minister John Howard for giving a straight assessment of the Iraq War on the 10th anniversary of

Impressions of Howard's Iraq speech

The text of John Howard's Iraq ten-year retrospective, delivered to a packed Lowy Institute audience this evening, is on our website. My first impressions are below. I hope others will provide a more sympathetic reading, because despite Howard's assured delivery and measured arguments, I found

More on the avoidable Iraq insurgency

Michael Ware was a war correspondent for TIME Magazine and CNN. He spent six years in Iraq. fantasy – (noun) the faculty or activity of imagining things, esp things that are impossible or improbable.  A few of Kipling's words keep peeling like church bells in my head as I finally sit and

Syria's war: Extremist proving ground

The consequences of the Syrian civil war are going to be felt for years to come, even outside the immediate region. The longer the Syrian civil war has continued, the less appealing the armed opposition has become. A large part of the problem has been that, despite claims of a unified military

Reader riposte: The real Iraq question

US Army Major Matthew Cavanaugh writes: I think Rodger Shanahan is taking The Interpreter's distinguished readers on a bit of a wild-goose chase with the Iraq War violence figures. They're important, but frankly there will never be a solid set of numbers on which we can objectively agree are

The Iraq insurgency: A response to Michael Ware

Derek Woolner is a Visiting Fellow at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre ANU. Fascinating as Michael Ware's post is, it remains a fantasy. Its narrow focus on the Sunni insurgency ignores what the other 80% of Iraq's population was doing. These Shias and Kurds were just as militant and

Reader ripostes: Zombie institutions and Iraq

Below, Iraq commentary from Alison Broinowski and Richard Broinowski. But first, Tony Grey responds to Malcolm Cook's post on Zombie-like international institutions: According to Greg Sheridan the Commonwealth is a zombie-like international institution that has no future — but is it? Since

What I said, and did not say, about Iraq violence

Major Gen (Retd) Jim Molan is author of Running the War in Iraq. Rodger Shanahan says he was left scratching his head over my pronouncements about the Iraq war. He should not have been, because in each case he vehemently attacks something I did not say. Rodger says I should have quoted figures

Why the Iraq war was right

Alexander Downer served as Australian foreign minister from 1996 to 2007. When we judge historical events, we tend to do so out of context. Yet to understand decisions and to judge them, you have to understand the context. Soon after I became foreign minister, the Secretary General of the UN

We went to Iraq for ANZUS

The views expressed here are the author's own and do not reflect those of the Department of Defence or the Australian Government. The 10th anniversary of the US-led war with Iraq has occasioned an outpouring of commentary, both here and in the US. I was not a witness to the Iraq War; I did not

Reader riposte: Iraq casualties reconsidered

US Army Major Matthew Cavanaugh is a course director and instructor at the US Military Academy at West Point: Just thought I would attempt a small contribution to your ongoing debate on the Iraq War. I served there twice (03-04 and 05-06) and consider it an important subject, although I had to

What if the Iraq war never happened?

Michael Ware was a war correspondent for TIME Magazine and CNN. He spent six years in Iraq. Not the invasion, that's something else. That was three weeks of aggressive warfare executed, by and large, with stunning effect, scattering a half-million-man army in its wake. The tenth anniversary

Iraq: The real intelligence failure...

...was not the failure to uncover certain facts, but a failure to consider alternative hypotheses. Here's Bush Administration National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley (my emphasis): I speak from my particular vantage point of the White House, and I recognize that everything I say can be

The Iraq Syndrome

One of the oddest parties I have ever attended was held at 'Ground Zero', the courtyard in the heart of the Pentagon so named because it was a key target for the Soviet nuclear arsenal in the event that the Cold War suddenly turned hot. The military top brass, serenaded that afternoon by a country

Saddam a tyrant, but war was wrong

Tom Switzer is a Research Associate at the United States Studies Centre, University of Sydney, and editor of Spectator Australia. One can greatly admire Major General Molan, as I do, and still profoundly disagree with his views about the Iraq war and its aftermath. Australian forces played an

Reader riposte: 60 Minutes in Baghdad

Andrew Farran writes: The anecdotal observations by Major Gen (Retd) Jim Molan in his piece 60 Minutes goes to Baghdad cannot sugarcoat what by any reckoning was a disastrous, hugely costly and illegal war. Agreed that those who survived the war are better off than those who did not. Agreed

Reader ripostes: Iraq, 10 years on

Two reader responses to Sam Roggeveen's call for retrospectives on the Iraq war. Below, Daniel Woker. But first, Kien Choong: From memory, I was somewhat sympathetic to the war effort. I recall thinking there were two criteria: was there a moral case? And was there a pragmatic case? I thought

Iraq War: It's been almost 10 years

Blogger and columnist Andrew Sullivan is marking the upcoming tenth anniversary of the Iraq War by reproducing some of his stridently pro-war blog posts of the time. Those of you who follow Sullivan's site will know that he has changed his mind completely about Iraq since those days, and he has

Why Israel's new coalition won't forge peace

Jack Georgieff is the 2013 Thawley Research Scholar in International Security at the Lowy Institute and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington DC. Binyamin Netanyahu signed up Tzipi Livni, chair of the small Hatnuah Party, as chief negotiator with the Palestinians on 19

Trailer: The Reluctant Fundamentalist

The performances and visuals look promising, but my, don't they lay on the political symbolism with a trowel. The quote near the end ('Yes, I'm a Pakistani, yes I'm a Muslim, but that's not all I am') is particularly unsubtle (and does any real human being actually say 'You're gonna get us both

Fragile gains: Women in Afghanistan

Last night I was fortunate enough to join an Amnesty International panel discussing the future of women's rights in Afghanistan. Amnesty had brought prominent Afghan activist (and Lowy Institute contributor) Wazhma Frogh to Australia to discuss her concerns about what the transition of foreign

Iran: Suspicious minds

One thing every thinking person should have learnt from the Iraq intelligence debacle was to treat claims of state support for external armed groups with caution (see Wikipedia for a run-down of debunked allegations that Saddam's regime supported al Qaeda). Some simple questions about the sourcing

The Syrian deadlock (part 2)

Part 1 of this series, which focuses on the political aspect of the conflict, is here. Part 2 looks at the military dimension. Civil wars are never clean wars (if there is such a thing), and the Syria conflict has proven no exception. It is reminiscent in some ways of the Lebanese civil war in

More photos from Lahore

Yesterday we posted some beautiful images and trenchant commentary from our regular Pakistan-based contributor, Alicia Mollaun, which I encourage you to check out if you haven't already. We'll have another dispatch from Alicia soon from the Pakistan-India border, but above and below are a

Lahore: The heart of Pakistan

Alicia Mollaun, a PhD candidate at the Crawford School at ANU, is based in Islamabad. All photos were taken by Alicia.  Badshahi Mosque. Lahore is a stunning old city and is widely considered to be the cultural capital of Pakistan. It has gone through many transformations and since its

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