Published daily by the Lowy Institute

Rory Medcalf

Rory Medcalf is a Nonresident Fellow at the Lowy Institute.

Professor Medcalf is Head of the National Security College at the Australian National University. His professional background spans diplomacy, journalism, think tanks and intelligence analysis. He was Director of the Lowy Institute’s International Security Program from 2007 to 2015. He has worked as a senior strategic analyst with the Office of National Assessments, Canberra's peak intelligence analysis agency. His experience as an Australian diplomat included a posting to New Delhi, a secondment to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, truce monitoring after the civil conflict in Bougainville and policy development on Asian security institutions. He has contributed to three landmark reports on nuclear arms control and disarmament including the Canberra Commission and the Tokyo Forum. His earlier work in journalism was commended in Australia’s leading media awards, the Walkleys. He has been active in developing Australia's relations with India, including as founding convener and co-chair of the Australia-India Roundtable, the leading informal policy dialogue between the two countries.

In 2014 the Australian Government appointed him to an expert panel providing independent advice on the 2015 Defence White Paper. His current research areas include Australia's strategic and defence challenges, the further development of his work on an Indo-Pacific concept of the Asian strategic environment, and prospects for maritime and nuclear stability in Indo-Pacific Asia, on which he is leading two major projects funded by the MacArthur Foundation. Professor Medcalf is a member of the editorial board of the Australian Journal of International Affairs, a member of the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Nuclear Security, and a nonresident fellow with the Brookings Institution and the Seapower Centre of the Royal Australian Navy.




Articles by Rory Medcalf (51)

  • Not a day to change Australia forever

    I have spent most of today at a loss for words about the hostage situation, described as 'consistent with a terrorist attack', taking place just a few blocks from my Sydney office. Sometimes the smaller the amount of instant and semi-informed coverage an incident generates, the better.
  • Xi Jinping's speech: More diplomacy, less raw power

    Media coverage will probably be quick to recognise that Xi Jinping's latest speech on Chinese foreign policy is a big deal. But the headline writers are missing the story if they focus on his pledge to uphold China's claims in maritime disputes. As someone who has done more than his share of professional worrying about the strategic implications of China's rise, I've surprised myself by reading this speech quite differently.
  • Obama on Asia: Holding the Brisbane line

    America's commitment to security, dignity and prosperity in Asia, facing up to global challenges, and some strong words on climate change – President Obama's just-concluded speech in Brisbane was a hybrid package. I imagine other contributors will add context to his applause-evoking remarks on setting targets to reduce climate change, and they may well be perceived as a fairly blunt intervention into Australian politics.
  • Jokowi's maritime inaugural address

    The inauguration speech of Indonesia's 7th President, Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo, was powerful despite its brevity, or perhaps because of it. It contained a striking blend of personal humility, national pride and an ethos of unremitting work.
  • After 28 years, an Indian PM will visit Australia

    The news that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the Australian Parliament next month is a welcome sign of how far relations between Australia and India have advanced. As the Australia-India Roundtable concluded earlier this year, and as Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott recently declared, ties between these two democracies have reached a new maturity.
  • Australia-US-China military exercise challenges assumptions

    Australian, US and Chinese troops at the opening ceremony of EX Kowari, Darwin. (Photo: Defence.) Right now a good news story in Australia's strategic relations is unfolding in the country's vast Northern Territory. Australian, American and – most significantly – Chinese soldiers are training together, with indigenous Australians showing them a thing or two about survival.
  • The public has a role to play in the next Defence White Paper

    Australia's national interests are enmeshed with international order, and daily we see grim reminders that armed force still matters in the contemporary world. Australian forces are reportedly close to going into combat against violent extremists in the Middle East. War has returned to Europe and a dreadful act, the downing of MH17,  has taken Australian lives.
  • Sea-based nuclear weapons in Asia: Stabiliser or menace?

    On this day in 1945, the first nuclear weapon was used in conflict, with devastating consequences for the people of Hiroshima. In Asia today, nuclear weapons remain part of the strategic reality, for better or worse. But calculations about nuclear armaments in the region may be changing, notably with the introduction of Chinese and Indian submarine-launched nuclear weapons.