Tuesday 24 Nov 2020 | 18:25 | SYDNEY
People | experts Sam Roggeveen
Director of Digital and Senior Fellow
Lowy Institute
Areas of ExpertiseChina’s military forces, drone warfare, US politics and foreign policy, new media, Australia's foreign and defence policy

Goodbye to 2012

[vimeo:51960515] With our fifth year of blogging under the belt, it's time for The Interpreter to close up shop and wish you all the very best for Christmas and the new year. Normal blogging resumes on 7 January. But I can't let this occasion pass without noting the enormous contribution Graeme

Friday linkage: Mayan apocalypse, Defence White Paper, Russia and more

A major scoop for The Australian, getting its hands on a draft of next year's Defence White Paper. The US-Japan alliance continues to strengthen, with the Pentagon announcing a deployment of stealth fighters to Japan. (Thanks Malcolm.) Maritime Security: A Practical Guide. (Thanks Chris.) The

Tuesday linkage: China in NZ, missile defence, gun laws, DPRK and more

Wow: more members of China's Communist Party central committee visited New Zealand in the past decade than almost any other country. (Thanks Danielle.) Just how well did Israel's Iron Dome rocket defence system perform in the most recent Gaza conflict? Indonesia will redenominate the Rupiah in

Documentary trailer: Chasing Ice

Chasing Ice is a film about photographer James Balog, the man behind the Extreme Ice Survey, which uses time-lapse photography to track the retreat of Arctic glaciers. The documentary includes footage of the largest glacier 'calving' (breaking or cracking) ever captured on film. Chasing Ice

The coolest video you will see today

Cool space station, charming host. Just over 15 minutes in, Sunita Williams of NASA even fulfills every school-age space nerd's fantasy of flying like Superman. The day after this was recorded (18 November), Williams and two other International Space Station crew members landed back on earth at

Monday linkage: Japan election, gun control, Mayan apocalypse and more

Even before the polls closed in Japan, China's state-run media was airing its dissatisfaction. Will the LDP's sweeping victory mean a swing to the right for Japan's foreign and security policies? Don't believe the hype. If the Mayan apocalypse happens, US decision-makers will be safe on their '

Thursday linkage: Social media, car webcams, solar power, Santa and more

A Pew survey tracks the unstoppable global rise of social media. Why does so many Russians put webcams on their dashboards? The explanation is revealing about life in modern Russia. A promising new TV political drama from Denmark. 'If solar is really the Next Big Thing and the renewable energy

Google annual end-of-year video

OK, this is really just an ad for Google, but feel your cynicism ebb away over the course of two-and-a-bit minutes of inspiring visuals and a soaring sountrack, bookended by Felix Baumgartner's astonishing leap from near-space. (And note the brief shot of PM Gillard, confirming her 2012 internet

The case for a N-free Middle East

Below is an omnibus reply to Stephen Walt, Tzvi Fleischer, Crispin Rovere and Rodger Shanahan, who responded to my argument that Israel would actually be more secure in a nuclear-free Middle East. Thanks to all of them for laying bare some of the unspoken assumptions behind my argument, though I'm

Gillard UN loss: Bruise or body blow?

In light of Michael Danby MP's intervention in the debate over last month's UN vote on the status of Palestine, it's worth taking another look at Graeme Dobell's excellent column from last Thursday, When a Foreign Minister Rolls the PM. An extract: ...how do we rate Bob Carr's rout of Gillard

Movie trailers: End of the world x 3

Hollywood's recent obsession with the apocalypse continues. Above and below, three new trailers about how the world copes with a global catastrophe (World War Z), or what it's like afterward (Oblivion, After Earth). Disasters and the post-apocalypse are Hollywood staples (Planet of the Apes [1968

Monday linkage: Predictions, male workers, Singapore, China and more

'Political analysts think they know a lot more about the future than they actually do'. An interview with Philip Tetlock about expert political judgment. (H/t 3QD.) Canada has reversed its commitment to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Will this affect other buyers, such as Australia? Why is US

Friday funny: Party etiquette

As the party season approaches, it's worth reminding ourselves of the proper comportment. This is a pretty old gag and you can see the punchline arrive a mile off, but it's all in the delivery

Wednesday linkage: Secrecy, Doha, Homeland, TPP, migration and more

The Guardian's environment blog is carrying regular updates from the Doha climate conference. Anyone want to suggest some good Doha reading? The internet was meant to make governments more responsive to citizens, but a statistical study in seven countries shows parties and candidates aren't

Life in Phnom Penh

A rather hyperactive time lapse video of Cambodia's capital, but maybe that's fitting for the place being depicted. (H/t TDW

More Middle East nukes, or none?

Andrew Sullivan agrees with Stephen Walt that an Iranian nuclear bomb would not be the disaster that many people suggest. Sullivan goes on to say that he's staggered that support for nuclear deterrence, once a mainstream position in the US, is now eschewed by both major parties in favour of the

Tuesday linkage: Manila, climate change, Japan infrastructure and more

China surpasses the US as the top trading partner for other countries (124 vs 76). Almost all the top 50 fastest growing cities are in Asia. Where do you suppose the fastest shrinking cities are found? Manila is booming, and you can learn a lot about what that means for its residents by looking

Another blogging lesson

I know there are readers waiting for me to publish the speech I gave in Canberra last month on '10 lessons from 5 years of political blogging'. The speech was partly ex tempore, so I'm still refining the final text. But having published two lessons already, here's another extract, prompted by the

Friday linkage: Land mines, space boom, manufacturing, PNG and more

The transcript of PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill's address to the Lowy Institute yesterday on 'Papua New Guinea in the Asian Century'. Is commercial spaceflight about to have its 'Netscape moment' (ie. the start of a long boom)? The latest issue of The Atlantic is out, with a cover story

Tuesday linkage: FOX News, think tanks, Taiwan, climate change and more

Taiwan didn't get much attention in the Asian Century White Paper, despite its importance to Australia. How to build a better think tank ranking system (thanks Danielle). And here's a thoughtful response. '...the best clues to Chinese foreign policy under Xi Jinping may be found in the lengthy

Missile defence comes of age

A short piece in the Global Mail makes the important point that Israel's Iron Dome missile defence system, which has an 85% success rate against incoming rockets in the latest Gaza conflict, has given Israel the flexibility not to escalate the war. Yossi Drukker, from the Israeli weapons

Monday linkage: Commonwealth, econoblogging, foreign aid and more

Hubris, paternalism and sentimentality: our aid program is an anachronism, and needs to be drastically revamped. The Economist pours cold water on Euro sceptic suggestions that the Commonwealth could be an alternative to Europe. And in case you're feeling sympathetic towards the Commonwealth,

Friday funny: Aid for Norway

The Simpsons set the bar pretty high for We are the World parodies with We're Sending our Love Down the Well. This one, called Africa for Norway, covers much of the same territory. Still, the message about Western condescension towards Africa never gets old

Our sporting and diplomatic cultures

I'm attracted to Nick Bryant's idea of using football as a metaphor for Australian diplomacy, but he's altogether too nice about it. The sports metaphor also reveals some of our limitations*. In football and in diplomacy, Australians tend to be sticklers for the rules. We can't abide cheating

Linda Jakobson on China new leaders

Yesterday Sydney University China expert Kerry Brown wrote on The Interpreter about the challenge China's new leadership has in trying to re-connect with ordinary Chinese people, who ignored last week's Politburo unveiling and feel little connection with China's leaders. Watching  the interview I

Wednesday linkage: South China Sea, Obama, trains, Germans and more

A proposal to create a small group, outside ASEAN, that would present a united front to China on the South China Sea dispute. (Thanks Stephen.) 51 wonderful photos of Chinese architecture, old and new. Obama's Myanmar visit isn't going down well in Beijing. But that was probably the point.

Tuesday linkage: Cold War, Garuda, Japan, urbanisation, Europe and more

The failed merger of two European defence giants, BAE and EADS, and what it says about the surprising resilience of 'political Europe'. 'The orthodox view says making cities more compact is essential to improve sustainability significantly. However research suggests the environmental pay-off is

Calling all China scholars

I commend to all Interpreter readers Stephen FitzGerald's recently published paper, Australia and China at Forty: Stretch of the Imagination (it was meant to be a speech to ANU's Australian Centre on China and the World, but due to illness, FitzGerald did not deliver it). FitzGerald, Australia

TV trailer: House of Cards

When American political drama takes a dark turn, its source of inspiration is often British. No Brit could match the uplift of Aaron Sorkin's The West Wing, but no American could come up with anything as sardonic and cynical as Armando Iannucci's Veep. Attempts to migrate the British political

Thursday linkage: AUSMIN, Keating, Syria, Petraeus, American oil and more

It's official: Xi Jinping is China's new president. The 2012 AUSMIN communique. The Interpreter will have more on this issue soon. The text of Paul Keating's Keith Murdoch Oration, called Asia in the New Order, delivered yesterday. It led to an entertaining interview on last night's Lateline

Movie trailer: Promised Land

A follow-up to the post just below, which mentions a new International Energy Agency report predicting that America will surpass Saudi Arabia in the coming decade to become the world's largest oil producer. How is this possible? The answer is 'fracking' or hydraulic fracturing, a method for

The oil glut and the environment

The Guardian, summarising the latest International Energy Agency World Energy Outlook report, comes up with the attention-grabbing headline that the US could become the world's biggest oil producer in a decade, displacing Saudi Arabia. The story itself puts the date at 2017, making the headline

Wednesday linkage: US-Japan ties, Party Congress, Lowy Lecture and more

The US and Japan are revising their defence cooperation guidelines, and 'there is little doubt as to the nature of the new antagonist.' Fiji's Attorney-General heckled by protesters in Brussels. (Thanks Danielle.) The unnerving atmosphere in Beijing during Party Congress week. That atmosphere

We have a terrorism insurance pool?

This was unknown to me until yesterday, but yes, Australia does have something called the Australian Reinsurance Pool Corporation. The best plain English description of ARPC's role that I could find was not on its own website but comes from the National Insurance Brokers Association: The

What do the French make of Petraeus?

The CIA Director's decision to resign over revelations of an affair had me scratching my head yesterday. A reader shot me an email in full agreement, pointing out that, when de Gaulle was informed that one of his ministers was an adulterer he is reported to have said: 'Il fait son devoir comme

China Party Congress linkage

Edward Kus helped to put this post together. Zhang Lifeng, Editor in Chief of the Financial Times Chinese language website, asked his Weibo (Chinese Twitter) followers what question they most want to ask at the 18th Party Congress press conference. See some of the more than 600 replies. the WSJ

Why did Petraeus resign?

Stephen Walt says: In the world of intelligence, extramarital dalliances are dangerous because they create the obvious potential for blackmail. If some foreign intel service found out that a mid-level intelligence analyst or operative was cheating, they might be able to extract sensitive

Monday linkage: China reform, Bond villains, PNG democracy, Fiji and more

China watchers having their Twitter accounts hacked during the Party Congress? (Thanks Danielle.) Don't ignore the history of liberalism and reform in China. There's another China story out there, says Paul Monk. Scathing assessment of David Petraeus: 'More so than any other leading military

Stealth in Beijing

In an opinion in the Indian Express on China's military modernisation, Sam Roggeveen, Editor of  the Lowy Institute's weblog The Interpreter, writes that analyses of aircraft carriers and jet fighter designs such as China's newest stealth fighter aircraft give us hints of China

The tabloids and the Asian century

I thought Graeme Dobell's column on the Asian Century White Paper last week was a real cracker. I found this passage particularly reassuring: Malcolm Cook remarks on the limited coverage by the tabloids. The tabloids are, indeed, important attack dogs because of their finely tuned populist

Lessons from five years of blogging

A number of people who couldn't attend the speech I gave last night in Canberra on '10 lessons from 5 years of political blogging' have been kind enough to ask me whether they could see it in published form. The talk wasn't entirely scripted, so I don't have a finished text yet, but I will make it

Obama II: Implications for Australia

Here's a short video I recorded this morning with Lowy Institute Executive Director Michael Fullilove, focusing mainly on the Australian angle to Obama's victory. The Lowy Institute paper I refer to in one of my questions is here: The Audacity of Reasonableness: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, US

Documentary trailer: Camp 14

The use of animation brings to life the story of a North Korean defector who was born inside a 're-education camp'. The interviews with former North Korean prison guards look absolutely chilling. If readers have details about where and when this film is due to be screened in Australia, please let

US election day linkage

We're all being pummeled by media coverage of the US election just now, so let me offer some links to places you might not have thought to look: Stephen Walt lays out America's foreign policy agenda for the next four years, whoever wins. Which candidate will be better for the US economy? I

Gillard media lament

As you digest the avalanche of media coverage of the US presidential election over coming days, keep in mind that there's another leadership transition beginning in Beijing on Thursday. These were Prime Minister Gillard's words last week at the Asian Century White Paper launch: Think about the

Best political ads of the US campaign

My thanks to Fergus for sending me these links to the Brookings Institution's top 5 Obama commercials and top 5 Romney ads. Brookings foolishly left this one off the Obama list (h/t Browser