Tuesday 15 Jun 2021 | 08:08 | SYDNEY
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Sam Roggeveen's picture
People | experts Sam Roggeveen
Director, International Security Program
Lowy Institute
Sam Roggeveen's picture
Areas of ExpertiseChina’s military forces, US defence and foreign policy, Australian foreign and defence policy, drones and other military technology, blogs and online media.

Has the media oversold the Paris climate deal?

Economist Tyler Cowen thinks the Paris agreement is getting too much attention, given the relatively more important news that China's emissions may have peaked: How much news has this received, relative to the Paris meetings? Less than a hundredth, I suspect. Typical readers and viewers are far

How to improve political forecasting

It seems extraordinary now, but the idea of using randomised control trials to test whether new medical treatments actually work didn't take hold until the early 20th century, and only became widespread after World War II. Until then, medical treatments were largely applied based on the idea that

Thoughts on Obama's White House terrorism address

Back in June, when the Abbott Government was stoking fears that ISIS was 'coming for every person and every government with a simple message: submit or die', I wrote an op-ed for the Herald Sun arguing that, by playing to our deepest anxieties, the government was actually making it harder to defeat

How Turnbull can beat the Right on terrorism

A fascinating column from Paul Kelly over the weekend, which describes how former PM Tony Abbott sees his future role: The Paris attacks have seen two competing Australian voices in response — Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott. The crisis has revealed Abbott’s long-run strategy — positioning

The end of Abenomics? Think again

With Japan falling back into technical recession, the temptation to question Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's economic reform agenda is strong. But here are three counter-intuitive takes on the latest news (with thanks to Malcolm Cook for the links). First, Matthew Yglesias in Vox: The Japanese economy

C919: China launches giant metaphor

China's major aircraft manufacturer COMAC pulled out all the stops yesterday for a ceremony to launch its first ever large jetliner, the C919. When it completes testing and enters service (COMAC says that will be in three years, but these things never run smoothly, especially if you've never done

Video: Tyler Cowen on the rise and fall of China's economy

China released new GDP figures this week to widespread scepticism. Stephen Grenville's next column will look at the issue of China's GDP, but meanwhile, here's a nicely produced video from economist Tyler Cowen, who we know from the Marginal Revolution blog and his occasional NY Times columns. It's

Movie trailer: Tehran Taxi

When you are used to viewing Iran through the lens of nuclear programs, religious extremism, and sponsorship of terrorist groups, even a two-minute movie trailer can help recalibrate your sense the place. Five years after seeing, the Tehran-based drama A Separation, that film still lingers with me,

The complete 2015 Boyer Lectures by Michael Fullilove

Today the ABC broadcast the last of the four-part Boyer Lecture series by Lowy Institute Executive Director Michael Fullilove on A Larger Australia. The Boyers are the flagship public lecture series of the ABC, our national broadcaster and one of Australia's most important national institutions.

Documentary trailer: Hard to Believe

This is a new documentary about the Chinese organ trade and the use of prisoners as a source for organs. The subject was tackled at some length by The Weekly Standard in 2011. [vimeo:140147163] Hard to Believe is being screened for an invited audience at the NSW parliament on 28 October. The

Stephen Colbert on China pandering

More China brilliance from Stephen Colbert: Hey, it's just my opinion, but Colbert is a flat-out comedy genius. The new show is already excellent (here's a highlight), though surprisingly cerebral and political, given that he's on a big network in a key time-slot. If The Late Show with Stephen

The Interpreter is taking a short break

Today is a public holiday in Australia, so please check back in with us tomorrow as regular service resumes on The Interpreter. Meantime, here's last week's best Interpreter reading in the Weekend Catch-up. Among other things, we covered Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to the US. Here's another

Cars, technology and the modern economy

Yesterday electric car company Tesla launched the first-ever fully electric SUV, the Model X. Despite the fact that the company is not profitable, there is tremendous buzz around Tesla and its potential to transform the auto industry with electric cars that have both the battery power to take us as

Documentary trailer: Hong Kong Trilogy

Over the weekend Fairfax published a short piece about a new documentary on Hong Kong's Umbrella Movement, the 79-day sit-in protesting changes to Hong Kong's electoral system which were seen to cement Communist Party control over the city. Strangely, they didn't post a trailer along with the

Highlights from Xi Jinping's speech in Seattle

Chinese President Xi Jinping began his US visit with a policy speech in Seattle, Washington today. There's a poor quality video above (the speech starts 20:28 minutes in) and a transcript here. A few highlights from me, which are weighted towards the first half of the speech, in which Xi addresses

Malcolm Turnbull and the limits of optimism

Here's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on the Sunrise program on Monday: PRIME MINISTER: Well this is the most exciting time to be an Australian and there is no more exciting place in the world than Australia. DAVID KOCH: Why? PRIME MINISTER: Because we are sitting here in Asia. We are a

Movie trailer: The Big Short

A stellar cast behind this drama about US subprime mortgages and the roots of the 2008 financial crisis. The film is based on a non-fiction book by Michael Lewis (Vanity Fair has an extract): The trailer is intriguing because it's unclear which direction the film will go in with regard to the

Quick comment: Peter Varghese on Australia in the world

Yesterday the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Peter Varghese, gave a true big-picture address to the Lowy Institute on Australia's place in a changing global and regional order. To get a sense of Peter's themes, check out his op-ed in yesterday's Australian. The full

Every nuclear detonation ever

A strangely beautiful piece of data visualisation from a Canadian 'electronic music and visual trio' called Orbital Mechanics. The red dots denote atmospheric detonations, yellow is for underground and blue is for underwater: [vimeo:135580602] I note in the comments for this video that readers are

Is the fossil-fuel industry really in trouble?

Herewith a few more data points on the global energy picture. I post about this topic semi-regularly, and loyal readers might have noted that I swerve wildly from pessimism (we're going to need huge amounts of fossil fuels for a long time) to optimism (the green energy revolution is just around the

Coal isn't good for humanity, but cheap energy is

Prime Minister Abbott can expect to be pilloried by the usual suspects for his comments that the recent court ruling against the  massive Adani coal mine in central Queensland is 'tragic for the wider world'. But take a look at the video accompanying the SMH story on this issue, and you will see

Coal isn't good for humanity, but cheap energy is

Prime Minister Abbott can expect to be pilloried by the usual suspects for his comments that the recent court ruling against the  massive Adani coal mine in central Queensland is 'tragic for the wider world'. But take a look at the video accompanying the SMH story on this issue, and you will see

Obama's climate announcement: Selected opinion

Andrew Revkin, who writes the New York Times' Dot Earth blog: This is an important step on two fronts — sustaining domestic momentum away from coal in electricity generation and providing a fresh signal to other countries that the United States is committed to cutting its carbon footprint. Brad

Technology and its discontents

This trailer for a new documentary about Steve Jobs  (there's also a biopic in the works starring Michael Fassbender) reminds me that I have been meaning for some time to tell you about a thoughtful essay I read recently called Web Design: The First 100 Years. Over the last few years a backlash

Movie trailer: The Experimenter

Why do people commit cruelties on their fellow human beings? Because they're politely told to: For another recent movie trailer in the same genre, see The Stanford Prison Experiment. NB: I posted this in haste and didn't make it clear why the themes of this movie are of interest here on The

Obama's big month was years in the making

A couple of things jump out at me from President Obama's latest (and last) interview with The Daily Show's Jon Stewart. The first is that in interview settings, Obama is not the most compelling advocate for his own policies and record. He's just too incorrigibly wonkish to connect with a broad

Is the ALP going cold on Japan?

The ALP is holding its National Conference in Melbourne next week, and in May it released a draft National Platform, which will be debated at the Conference. Media coverage thus far has hinted at the topics most likely to cause friction among party factions and with the Government: emissions trading

Our precious German euros

Evidently the mood in Germany has turned against the Merkel Government's handling of the Greek crisis. This video has gone viral in Germany this week. It's a comedy sketch in which two performers playing rich, entitled Germans speak to each other only in quotes from German newspapers and speeches by

Jaws, ISIS and the fear of an awful death

[vimeo:122302722] This morning, via The Browser, I found a classic 1967 essay by Peter Benchley for the magazine Holiday about shark attacks. Benchley's editor encouraged him to turn his article into a novel, and the result was the bestseller Jaws, which of course was adapted to film by Steven

Two moments from the Sydney Institute

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull addressed the Sydney Institute on terrorism last night. Judge for yourself the difference in tone and argument with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop's speech at the Sydney Institute in late April. First Turnbull: Just as it is important not to underestimate, or

Quick comment: Leon Berkelmans on the Greek crisis

You're probably reading a lot of headlines today about Greece now being officially in arrears with the IMF. But as Lowy Institute economist Leon Berkelmans explains in this podcast, that's not the most important thing that happened in the Greek crisis over the last few days. Listen also for Leon's

Documentary trailer: Best of Enemies

Oh, sign me up for this one: Here's the synopsis, from the official website: Best of Enemies is a behind-the-scenes account of the explosive 1968 televised debates between liberal Gore Vidal and conservative William F. Buckley Jr., and their rancorous disagreements about politics, God and sex