Tuesday 15 Jun 2021 | 08:12 | 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.

TV trailer: Madam Secretary

I don't understand why they gave away the ending in this trailer (presumably just of the first episode), but still, this shows some promise: The series will air in the US beginning 21 September

Abbott's first year: What the pundits get wrong

So, the first-year assessments are in, and it seems the Abbott Government has done well on foreign policy. Mark Kenny says Abbott has established 'a solid profile as a man of purpose' on the world stage. Michelle Grattan says Abbott 'has shown an unexpected sureness on the international stage'.

Why are Russians dying?

UPDATE: Thanks to Cecilia in the comments thread for pointing to this debunking of the Gessen piece, which argues that there has been 'a substantial and long-term improvement in the health of (Russia's) population' in the last fifteen years. Did you know 'Male life expectancy at age fifteen in

Australia and the fight against ISIS

Terrific op-ed by my colleague James Brown in today's Guardian, which calls out the Government and Opposition for their inflated, even comic book, rhetoric on ISIS (Tony Abbott's outrage-thesaurus is on display in this video).  'The pressing question now', writes James, 'is what Australia should do

Opposing war does not make you left-wing

Great piece from Fairfax's US correspondent Nick O'Malley today on those in Washington who are resisting the rush to war in Iraq and Syria, most notably prominent foreign policy realist Stephen Walt, who argues that a large scale US intervention against Islamic State (IS) 'could make the broader

Trailer: Rosewater

Rosewater is the story of Iranian-born journalist Maziar Bahari, who was arrested and tortured in Tehran on claims of espionage during the 2009 presidential election campaign. A piece of subtext: one of the things Bahari's interrogator used against him during his 118 days of detention was the fact

The Lebanon-isation of the Middle East

The opening of this essay, about the arbitrariness of the Middle East's national boundaries drawn up nearly a century ago under the Sykes-Picot Agreement, will be familiar to most. But then George Friedman takes things in an interesting direction: The map may show a nation, but (Lebanon) is really

Obama 'doesn't have a strategy yet' for ISIS. Do we?

President Obama is already being pilloried for his statement, made in a press conference earlier today, that 'we don't have a strategy yet' for combating ISIS. No strategy? This for a terrorist group that his own Defense Secretary described as 'an imminent threat to every interest we have...Oh,

Indonesia-Australia Code of Conduct is excellent news

It has an odd name and a confounding operative clause, but the 'Australia-Indonesia Joint Understanding on a Code of Conduct' signed today in Bali by Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and her Indonesian counterpart Marty Natalegawa is good news. What's with the name? According to the

The environment and the news cycle

I loved this bit from US environmental activist Bill McKibben, who is guest blogging on Andrew Sullivan's site: Every day there’s something more immediately important happening in the world: ISIS is seizing an airbase this morning, and California is recovering from an earthquake, and Michael

China's 'unsafe' aerial intercept: What does this mean?

Last Friday we learned that a Chinese fighter pilot had earlier in the week engaged in some Top Gun-style antics with a US surveillance aircraft (see photo): An armed Chinese fighter jet aggressively confronted a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon surveillance aircraft earlier this week over international

INS Arihant revealed

As we begin the second round of our debate on sea-based nuclear weapons in the Indo-Pacific, here is the first clear image of the INS Arihant, India's first indigenous nuclear-powered submarine, to be armed with either a dozen 750km-range nuclear tipped ballistic missiles or four larger missiles

What Julie Bishop told China about Clive Palmer

Here's Business Spectator's Fergus Ryan on Clive Palmer's Monday evening TV outburst about China: It was only after Julie Bishop apologised to the Chinese embassy that the Chinese government put out a statement saying Palmer’s attack was “full of ignorance and prejudice”, absurd and

A corrective to that robotics video

Earlier this week I posted a rather terrifying video about the implications of robotics for the global economy and employment. Thanks to Stephen Grenville for pointing me to this critique of the video. The piece has a couple of key arguments, the first refuting the notion that human workers will

Humans need not apply: An economic horror movie

Holy crap, this video is terrifying. From the narration: We have been through economic revolutions before, but the robot revolution is different. Horses aren't unemployed now because they got lazy as a species; they're unemployable. There's little work a horse can do that do that pays for its

AUSMIN 2014: What are we getting ourselves into?

Here's The Australian's Greg Sheridan on this week's AUSMIN talks: ...the two governments committed to establish a working group on integrating their efforts on ballistic missile defence...In time, the US ideal is to be able to track and follow any hostile missile with seamless allied co-operation

Does Abbott have a military-first instinct?

There's a pretty extraordinary revelation buried in today's Paul Kelly column in The Australian regarding Prime Minister Tony Abbott's response to the MH17 downing: In the early days of the crisis several weeks ago Abbott wanted to put 1000 Australian troops onto the crash site in conjunction with

Movie trailer: Camp X-Ray

Synopsis: A young woman joins the military to be part of something bigger than herself and her small town roots. But she ends up as a new guard at Guantanamo Bay instead, where her mission is far from black and white. Surrounded by hostile jihadists and aggressive squadmates, she strikes up an

Documentary trailer: The Green Prince

This one comes out in selected Australian cinemas next week, and could hardly be more timely. Synopsis: In the style of a tense psychological thriller, this extraordinary documentary recounts the true story of the son of a Hamas leader who emerged as one of Israel’s prized informants, and the

Iraq: Obama reluctantly opts for force

So, President Obama has announced that the US is delivering air-dropped humanitarian aid to refugees in northern Iraq, and that he has authorised air strikes to prevent a genocide. As a rule, I tend to side with 'defensive realists' such as Stephen Walt on these issues. As Walt argued yesterday:

Why is Russia amassing troops on the Ukrainian border?

Just four days after MH17 was brought down over the Ukraine, Russia scholar Matthew Sussex wrote  a scathing assessment of Moscow's early reaction to the incident for The Interpreter. But he closed his piece by arguing that it could have been much worse:  ...Putin could have expressed horror at

The best world War I movies (part 4)

 I thought we had exhausted this topic but the suggestions keep on coming. Here are part 1, part 2 and part 3, and below are three more films. Up to now I have avoided googling 'best World War I movies' and similar phrases, because I assumed there would be lists out there but I didn't want to spoil

The best World War I movies (part 3)

 Well, this has been quite an education for someone who has seen precisely one world War I movie, and a bad remake at that. Below, the third bumper compilation of memorable World War I movies, as selected by you via Twitter, Disqus and email. Part 1 here and part 2 here: [fold

A note to Email Digest subscribers

There's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip. And so it is for IT upgrades, when despite things working fine in testing, they don't work so well in practice. On Tuesday I mentioned that Interpreter Email Digest subscribers were getting a new service with an upgraded format, but unfortunately we

Obama talks to The Economist

Some interesting quotes from a wide-ranging interview. On Asia: Part of what Asia was able to do was not simply open up markets to the West for cheaper goods, it was also able to foster homegrown businesses in Asia with regional markets that gave an opportunity for businesses to get better, to

The best World War I movies (part 2)

Plenty more ideas have come through since I called for your nominations yesterday. Here's the first batch, below is part 2, with part 3 still to come. Thanks to all those who have tweeted, disqused and emailed, and keep them coming: [fold

The best World War I movies

Below are clips from movies suggested by you in response to my request earlier today for your favourite World War I movies. It's notable that there has not been a huge variety in your responses, and in fact famed director Peter Jackson has said 'It's interesting how few films there have been about

Film trailer: Testament of Youth

I guess it can't be a coincidence that this trailer is released right on the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, although the release date for the film is not yet clear. This trailer raises a broader question in my mind: what are the great films about World War I? I was raised on epic

New format for The Interpreter's email digest

About 3000 Interpreter readers receive either a daily or weekly email from us with links to our latest posts. Until yesterday we used Feedblitz for this service, but from today we are doing it ourselves via the Lowy Institute's recently revamped database. The only difference subscribers will notice

Just how expensive is renewable energy?

I raised this topic recently when The Economist pointed to a new Brookings study which argued that the cost of renewables had been severely underestimated. There was some pushback in the comments thread, and now I see that Green Tech Media, an American green energy industry website, has also

From the comments thread: Green energy

Two reader comments I'd like to flag in response to my piece highlighting new research by the Brookings Institution's Charles Frank, written up in The Economist, which suggests renewable energy is still way too expensive to take over from coal, oil and gas. Here's OfKember: The basic inadequacy of

Why does no one care about nuclear weapons?

Terrific segment here from British comic John Oliver's new HBO show Last Week Tonight on the terrifying but seldom discussed risk of nuclear weapons mishaps. There's some NSFW language: At around the 13.45 mark, Oliver turns to the issue of public engagement in debates around nuclear weapons. As

Green power still too expensive

This piece from The Economist would have been useful context for the green-energy puff piece broadcast on the ABC's flagship current affairs show Four Corners on 7 July. The Economist has highlighted new research from the Brookings Institution which looks at the full cost of generating various

Weekend catch-up: The MH17 tragedy

Bringing together the best Interpreter articles you were too busy to read this week.   The senseless shooting down of flight MH17 continues to dominate the news, and both Michael Fullillove and myself have written columns on the implications for Australia. Here on The Interpreter, our contributors

Climate action: Public opinion is not the problem

A newly released IPSOS Global Trends Survey  shows, according to a Guardian columnist, that Anglophone countries are particularly inclined towards climate denialism: When you click on the interactive version on the IPSOS website, you see that the bottom red line (for the US) shows 32% disagreeing

Interview: James Fallows on MH17

Last night I Skyped with Atlantic national correspondent James Fallows to talk about the MH17 tragedy. James is perfectly qualified, because he is firstly a pilot and aviation enthusiast (here's his NY Times op-ed on why this tragedy was not Malaysia Airlines' fault), and he is an exceptionally