Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 20:47 | SYDNEY
People | experts Rory Medcalf
Nonresident Fellow
Lowy Institute
Areas of ExpertiseAsia-Pacific/Indo-Pacific strategic order; India and the Indian Ocean; maritime security; nuclear arms control

'Alternative worlds': A less rosy Asia

The international hand-wringing over North Korea's rocket test is obscuring a bigger story this week about the long-term future of Asia and the world. I'm referring to the dramatic conclusions of a major new US intelligence study which warns of unprecedented levels of uncertainty and complexity

The 2012 Australia-India Roundtable: Co-Chairs' Statement

The 2012 Australia-India Roundtable met in New Delhi on 4-5 December. Its co-chairs have released a statement setting out an ambitious agenda to consolidate relations between the two democracies. The Lowy Institute was a partner in this major dialogue.

Pivoting the map: Australia Indo-Pacific system

On 21 November  2012, Rory Medcalf gave a major public lecture to launch the new Centre of Gravity Series, the flagship policy papers of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre of the Australian National University, Canberra. In recent years, the Asia-Pacific definition of Australia’s

The Indo-Pacific strikes back

It may not have got everything right, but one virtue of the Australian Government's new white paper on Australia in the Asian Century is its authors' open-mindedness about the way the Asian region is defined. Specifically, the paper gave some credit to the emerging idea of an Indo-Pacific vision

India and China: competitive coexistence in the Asian Century

In this book chapter, the Lowy Institute’s Rory Medcalf and Ashley Townshend examine the factors that are likely to influence the strategic dynamic of the China-India bilateral relationship in the Asian Century. Although engagement through trade, defence dialogue and high-level visits has

Australia place in the Asian century

In this extended article for The Diplomat, the Lowy Institute’s Rory Medcalf examines the aspirations and the omissions of the Australia’s Government’s October 2012 Asian Century white paper. He argues that the paper presents too benign and linear a view of the Asian strategic

Recognising the Asian Century at last

In a piece for ON LINE Opinion, Rory Medcalf, Program Director International Security, writes that Australia will harm its credibility in Asia if it allows the ambitious new Asian Century White Paper to be a substitute for policy action

Bold on vision, short on funding

In an opinion piece in The Australian, Rory Medcalf, Program Director International Security, writes that, for all its wise ideas, detailed data and positive intent, the Australian government's Asia White Paper has obvious weaknesses

A great week for Australia diplomacy

It has been an excellent week for Australian diplomacy. Prime Minister Julia Gillard established a strong new beginning for Australia's sometimes-troubled ties with a rising India. And the crowning moment was of course the country's victory in its bid for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations

The Australia India story continues

Rory Medcalf, Program Director International Security, has published an opinion piece in the Urdu-language newspaper The Daily Milpa, New Delhi, on the significance of the visit to India by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard

The era of the Indo-Pacific

In an opinion piece in The Indian Express, Rory Medcalf, convenor of the Australia-India Roundtable and Program Director International Security, writes that the Indian and Australian prime ministers can take satisfaction from the reinvention of the bilateral relationship

A new maturity in Australia-India ties

In an opinion piece in The Australian, Rory Medcalf, Program Director International Security and Convenor of the Australia-India Roundtable, writes that Prime Minister Julia Gillard's visit to India heralds a fresh level of trust

The passing of giants 2: Brajesh Mishra

There is one other great whose death this week is a loss to security policy worldwide. Brajesh Mishra was, among other things, India's first national security adviser, and a wise and important figure in the evolution of Indian strategic policy in the past few decades. From a few encounters with

The passing of giants 1: Coral Bell

In international policy this has truly been a week for the passing of giants. With colleagues, I am saddened at the loss of Coral Bell, and would second Minh Bui Jones’ exquisite observations about all that set her apart from so many other strategic analysts in Australia and elsewhere. One of

In defence of strategic uncertainty

If there\'s one feature that defines Australia\'s strategic environment out to 2035, it is complex uncertainty. Not the supposedly inexorable rise of China, not the decline of America, not globalisation, not climate change or weapons of mass destruction or terrorism, but uncertainty. The first

Indo-Pacific: What in a name?

It was refreshing to hear Australia\'s Defence Minister Stephen Smith declare plainly that this country\'s region is the Indo-Pacific when he spoke at the Lowy Institute last week. This is not just some faddish, interchangeable alternative to those long used and abused expressions \'Asia\' or

Giant tweets

In his latest column in the American Review, the Lowy Institute's Rory Medcalf examines the different character and impacts of social media in China and India, and asks: can the microblog change the megastates? The column can be read here

Defence and security linkage

Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith spoke yesterday at the Lowy Institute. While he may have left a lot unsaid about how Canberra can reconcile defence budget cuts with unchanged core strategic assessments and capability needs, at least he recognised the Indo-Pacific nature of Australia\'s

Why a U.S.-China 'Grand Bargain' in Asia would fail

In this review of Hugh White's book The China choice, published in The Diplomat, the Lowy Institute's Rory Medcalf focuses on the great difficulties facing a U.S.-China grand bargain and an Asian 'concert of powers'. He argues that it is right to warn of the risks of U.S.-China

Lieven: New insights into Taliban

Yesterday the noted expert on Afghanistan and Pakistan, Anatol Lieven, spoke at the Lowy Institute. In this interview, he shared with me some extraordinary insights into some of the streams of Taliban thinking about the prospects for peace in Afghanistan, including surprising speculations on whether

Power play risks dissent over accord

Rory Medcalf, Program Director International Security, writes in an opinion piece in The Australian that arguments that Washington should cede a sphere of influence to Beijing are too neat

Cat among the carrier pigeons

Australia\'s Fairfax newspapers have set the cat among the carrier pigeons, with these dramatic reports about supposed \'plans\' and \'recommendations\' for a US nuclear aircraft carrier base in Western Australia. What the news stories neglect to mention is that the relevant American

Calling our young strategic minds

Applications are now open for the 2011-12 Michael and Deborah Thawley Scholarship in international security at the Lowy Institute. The closing date is 10 August. The Scholarship as an exceptional opportunity for any emerging Australian strategic thinker – such as a junior official or

Recommendations to boost security in the South China Sea

In this speech, delivered at the 2012 South China Sea conference at CSIS in Washington DC, the Lowy Institute’s Rory Medcalf offers some realistic recommendations on boosting security in the contested South China Sea, including through establishing a regional information centre to report maritime

Tony Abbott China speech

Here\'s a transcript of the speech, and below is a short video we recorded yesterday with my first impressions: [vimeo:46277450

First ASIS speech may not be the last

There has been so much media coverage of the speech the Lowy Institute hosted last week by Australia\'s so-called top spy, it would be an intelligence failure of the highest order if you had somehow missed the story. In any case, the full recording of the speech by Nick Warner, Director-General of

Hope aground in South China Sea

Talks on an ASEAN-China code of conduct in the South China Sea were not the only thing to run aground in that contested body of water last week. Yesterday the Chinese navy rescued one of its frigates, which had been embarrassingly stranded on Half Moon Shoal, in waters claimed by the

Crisis and Confidence, one year on

Whatever sweet nothings cloy the public communiqués at the end of this week\'s ASEAN security meetings in Phnom Penh, the real diplomatic records will devote plenty of space to intrigue and tension over the South China Sea. The ten ASEAN states have failed to agree on the contents of a

Chance to calm South China Sea

In an opinion piece in The Australian, Rory Medcalf, Program Director International Security, writes that there is little hope that the ASEAN Forum will resolve differences over the South China Sea

Introducing our new defence feature

Tough defence decisions lie ahead for the Australian Government, which has committed to producing a new Defence White Paper in 2013. In the interests of an open and constructive discussion of these issues of critical national importance, the Lowy Institute is today introducing a new blog feature,

2011 Australia-India Roundtable Report: Outcomes and Summary

Relations between Australia and India have advanced impressively over the past decade. Yet in some ways the ties between these two democracies have continued to fall short of their great potential. This state of affairs provided the background for a major dialogue held in Sydney in late 2011.&

Drawing the line

In his latest column for the magazine American Review, the Lowy Institute’s Rory Medcalf looks at the way social media is affecting international relations in 2012: notably in relation to US diplomacy, Chinese political instability, and the US-based online civil society crusade against African

An Australian perspective on U.S. rebalancing towards Asia

In this Policy Q and A publication by the National Bureau of Asian Research, the Lowy Institute’s Rory Medcalf examines the extent and implications of the US 'pivot' strategy towards the Asia-Pacific, and in particular Australia’s role and responses. Sarah Serizawa: An

After the fireworks, time for some diplomacy

In this opinion piece in leading Indian daily newspaper The Hindu, the Lowy Institute's Rory Medcalf and Fiona Cunningham make the case for India and China to build a stabilising nuclear dialogue now that the Agni V missile test has demonstrated India's ability to build a nuclear deterrent

No good options to curb Pyongyang

In this opinion piece in The Australian, Lowy Institute International Security Program Director Rory Medcalf argues that the failure of North Korea’s Friday-the-13th missile test raise the risks of a nuclear test by the hermit kingdom. He warns that there are no good options for getting North

Disarming doubt: the future of extended nuclear deterrence in East Asia

Strategic uncertainty in East Asia is leaving nations look to their defences. At the same time, the United States is leading a push to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in international security. In this major international research report, the Lowy Institute's Rory Medcalf and Fiona Cunningham

War tweets

In his latest column in American Review, the Lowy Institute’s Rory Medcalf looks at the growing use of twitter as a propaganda tool in warfare, from Afghanistan to Somalia.The column can be read here. 

Global Times: On the record

Last week I blogged about how I had been misrepresented by China\'s Global Times newspaper. So it was fascinating and pleasing to see this follow-up article yesterday, written by the junior Global Times editor who had handled the original story. One observer suggests this apology is quite a

Global Times: What I really said

Never trust what you read in the papers: that was one of my first lessons as a trainee journalist on an Australian bush newspaper many years ago. It held true yesterday when I discovered an article in The Global Times, China\'s Communist Party tabloid. It appeared to be an opinion piece under my

Australia nuclear choices

As the recent debate over uranium exports to India indicates, uranium exports remain a highly contentious domestic and foreign policy issue for Australians. In a recent publication 'Australia’s Uranium Trade: The Domestic and Foreign Policy Challenges of a Contentious Export', Lowy

Guns quiet for now but hermit kingdom stirs

In an opinion piece in The Australian, Rory Medcalf, Director of the Lowy Institute's International Security Program, writes that with the death of North Korea's leader Kim Jong-il, Asia will be bracing for instability. A key question is whether his successor feels compelled to take assertive action

Obama in Australia: balancing not containment

In this article for the website China-US Focus, the Lowy Institute’s Rory Medcalf takes a sceptical look at claims that President Obama’s visit to Australia was part of a strategy to 'contain' China’s rise. Click here to access the full article

My books of the year

I am wary of strategic analysts and commentators who never change their minds. So I\'m always on the lookout for a book on grand geopolitics that will help me see the world anew. Maybe I missed something, but for me nothing has really filled that void in the past year or so, and certainly not

On the cusp of an Indian summer

In this opinion piece in the Indian Express newspaper, published on the eve of the Australian Labor Party’s historic policy change allowing safeguarded uranium exports to India, the Lowy Institute’s Rory Medcalf examines what an obstacle this issue had become to a trust-based Australia-India

Uranium sales to India would spread trust, not nuclear arms

In this opinion piece in The Age newspaper, the Lowy Institute’s Rory Medcalf addresses the common non-proliferation criticisms of possible Australian uranium sales to India. He writes that, on balance, a policy change at the December 2011 Australian Labor Party conference would build a new

Uranium to India: Decision time

On Sunday, the Australian Labor Party\'s national conference will take an important decision: whether to end its blanket prohibition on uranium exports to India\'s nuclear energy program. Wherever you stand, a robust debate on the issue can only improve the chances of a sensible policy outcome.