Sunday 29 May 2022 | 11:24 | SYDNEY


Our purpose in Afghanistan

I admit to being extremely disappointed with my colleague Raoul Heinrichs\' prescription for an Afghan security strategy: Australia\'s Afghan contribution is pointless, therefore the solution is to bring everyone back behind the wire ASAP and then withdraw.  I can only assume that Raoul wrote

Reader riposte: China aircraft carrier mystery

Charles writes: In reply to Raoul Heinrichs\' three-part piece (1,2,3) on China\'s aircraft carrier, the assertion that China\'s acquiring of an aircraft carrier is for status, or navy nationalism, doesn\'t sit right with me. By all projections, China is going to be massive by 2050:

US and Indonesia: A growing military bond

Esther Sainsbury is the Lowy Institute\'s Thawley Scholar for 2011. All views are her own, and do not reflect the opinion of the Department of Defence or the Australian Government. An Indonesian corruption watchdog has revealed more than MP travel junkets whilst examining the extensive

China speaks to Oz – about everything

The official Chinese conversation with Australia can now easily range over the problems of university administration or middle class obesity to security in Asia and the remaking of multilateral institutions. All those topics got a run on Friday when China\'s Ambassador to Australia, Chen Yuming,

The Kurils: Japan needs to move on

Dr Alexey Muraviev is Director of the Strategic Flashlight forum on National Security and Strategy at Curtin University of Technology, Perth. The 37th G-8 Summit in Deauville, France, gave Russia an opportunity to strengthen its foothold in the Pacific, and not just through a final go-ahead of

Afghanistan: What did they die for?

It was only hours after the ramp ceremony for Australia\'s previous casualty in Afghanistan that the horrible news began to filter in: another Australian soldier was dead, shot and killed by a rogue solider from the Afghan National Army. This morning, a second soldier was revealed to have

Hints of China changing values

Catherine Chan is an environmental lawyer and journalist in Beijing. China\'s property developers are admired stalwarts of one of the nation\'s biggest money-making industries, but they are also known for their lavish lifestyles and outré fashions, and are envied and criticised as some of

How to break up the IMF old boys club

Don\'t get me wrong: I\'m not arguing that a European should be the next head of the IMF. Just that realpolitik makes that outcome inevitable. Regardless of fairness, logic, the re-balanced world economy, natural justice, the moral case, past promises, or the competence of the candidates, the

China aircraft carrier mystery (part 3)

China has spent much of the past two decades trying to exploit the limitations of aircraft carriers, yet now has its own carrier program. Beijing probably doesn\'t want to challenge US sea control directly, so why is it pursuing this course? A more plausible rationale for China\'s carrier

China aircraft carrier mystery (part 2)

Having spent much of the past two decades seeking to exploit the limitations of aircraft carriers, why has China embarked on its own carrier program? The first and arguably least likely reason is that it represents the first step in an effort to challenge the US for sea control on the open ocean.

Rehabilitating Bahrain

Let\'s face it, you can keep a good autocracy down forever.  Concerted support for Arab democratisation really only has a realistic hope if the West at least remains \'on message\' about the need for substantive democratic reform. But British PM David Cameron sent a mixed message

Speaking of China

Grappling with the huge questions posed by China is producing a plethora of responses from the Australian polity.  Prime Minister Gillard goes to Beijing seeking \'mutual respect\' and claiming Australia\'s right to be \'clear and robust\'. The Treasurer talks up the Asia Century being

China aircraft carrier mystery (part 1)

In the mid-1990s, China, protesting against what it perceived as a relaxation of constraints on Taiwanese independence, staged a series of military exercises in the Taiwan Strait. The US response was direct and coercive: with its credibility at stake, Washington dispatched two aircraft-carrier

Indonesian democracy in reverse

Greta Nabbs-Keller is writing a PhD at Griffith Asia Institute on the impact of democratisation on Indonesia’s foreign policy. Readers of last Friday\'s edition of The Australian may have been struck by the juxtaposition between an opinion piece by Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd, in which he

Through Chinese eyes: Interview series

Peter Martin is a political consultant based in Beijing. Along with David Cohen, he is conducting a series of interviews on behalf of The Interpreter with Chinese academics and journalists. Next week, David Cohen and I will conduct an interview for The

Yemen: Saleh backflip hat-trick

\'Dancing on the Heads of Snakes\', the title of Victoria Clark\'s book about governing in Yemen, says much about last night\'s third refusal by President Saleh to sign a GCC-brokered agreement for him to step down in thirty days\' time. Saleh has gone through the motions of negotiating and

Initial thoughts on Obama ME speech

The problem with policy approaches to the Arab Spring is that each Arab country is quantitatively and qualitatively different and each requires a unique solution. As I have heard said elsewhere, the problem with addressing the current unrest is that \'One size fits none\'.  With that in

Reader riposte: GCC membership

Ralph Evans writes: A comment on Roger Shanahan\'s piece on the Gulf Cooperation Council and the possible accession of Jordan and Morocco. Jordan is near the Gulf, but Morocco is about as far as Hong Kong is from Sydney. And Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Algeria all lie in between Morocco and

Burma and WMD: Lost in translation

Andrew Selth is a Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute and author of Burma and North Korea: Conventional Allies or Nuclear Partners? Over the past ten years, the public debate about Burma\'s nuclear ambitions and possible missile purchases has generated more heat than light. This is

GCC: Identity politics

Last week\'s announcement by the Gulf Cooperation Council that it was accepting membership applications from two new members, Morocco and Jordan, raised a few eyebrows.  At first glance, the choice appears a bit strange. While Jordan at least has a common border with Saudi Arabia,

China, we reject your rejection

Mary Fifita is the Board Research Officer at SBS and co-author of China in the Pacific: The New Banker in Town. China has reacted badly to analysis of its aid program in a Lowy Institute policy brief Fergus Hanson and I published last month.  It was however, a softer touch than the press

The East Asia Summit: From Wen to Hu

This year, Indonesia will host (probably in Bali) the first meeting of the newly expanded East Asia Summit, soon after the US, maybe for the last time, hosts APEC in Honolulu. One of the big questions is: how will the inclusion of the US and Russia in the East Asia Summit affect this

The India-Pakistan border ceremony

Just found this on an annoyingly addictive site called The Best of YouTube. (Don\'t click on this link if you want to be productive.) The ceremony reminds me of a passage in John Keegan\'s masterly A History of Warfare: ...over the course of 4000 years of experiment and repetition,

KL hearts KSA

If there is one way to endear oneself to the Saudis, it is to display Sunni Islamic solidarity in the face of external opposition. This must be the reason for Malaysia making the public offer to contribute peacekeeping troops to Bahrain in order to \'de-escalate tensions\'.  There is

Hot potatoes for Pacific trade policy

Nic Maclellan works as a journalist and researcher in the Pacific islands. For more than two decades, Australia has been promoting trade liberalisation and structural adjustment in the Pacific islands, including — in late 2009 — negotiations for the PACER-Plus trade

Interview with Australian HC to India

Unfortunately, only those of us who were at the Lowy Institute this afternoon heard the remarks by Australia\'s High Commissioner to India, Peter Varghese. And the Chatham House Rule prevents me from telling you about his candid and revealing remarks on the state of Australia-India

Stepping into the Asian Century

In the 1990s, Australia\'s leaders assured the nation it would not have to alter its society or institutions to engage with Asia. Adjust the diplomatic settings, of course, and learn the languages and ways of the region, but Australia could attend the Asian party dressed as it was. Ownership

How do we feel about Indonesia?

One line from John Quiggin\'s latest piece about Michael Wesley\'s new book jumped out at me: Australians are gradually adjusting to the idea of Indonesia as a friendly neighbor rather than a foreign threat. I would love this to be true, but the Lowy Institute\'s polling data doesn

The Arab spring and the logic of force

What lessons you draw from the political unrest we are observing in the Arab world depends to a large degree on where you stand. In the West, the focus has been on the dissatisfaction of the Arab youth bulge, the power of social media to rally activists, the demands for personal and political

Laos Mekong dam on hold, for now

At a Mekong River Commission (MRC) meeting on 19 April in Phnom Penh, Cambodian and Vietnamese officials recorded their Governments\' firm opposition the Xayaburi dam the Lao Government has proposed building on the Mekong\'s mainstream between Luang Prabang and Vientiane. This was followed by

Singapore elections: No going back

Michael Barr is a Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Flinders University. Singapore went to the polls on 7 May 2011 and delivered the ruling People\'s Action Party (PAP) Government its worst result since 1963, both in terms of the proportion of votes and the number of

Solving the asylum seeker problem

On Saturday came news of an agreement between Australia and Malaysia for processing asylum seekers: Malaysia has agreed to take up to 800 asylum seekers and their claims will be processed in Malaysia by the United Nations. In return Australia has agreed to take 4,000 genuine refugees who have

Arab spring or Lebanese summer?

It\'s not often that Lebanon can look out at the region and consider itself an island of stability in a sea of political turmoil. But while members of the Mubarak family go on trial, the former Tunisian leader Zein al Abidin ben Ali enjoys exile in Saudi Arabia, Muammar Qadhafi is subject to

Five reasons Australia should wake up

My thanks to John Quiggin for plugging my new book on his blog, and apologies for taking so long to reply. John admits he hasn\'t read the book, and then takes issue with a claim on the jacket that \'the benign and comfortable world that has allowed Australia to be safe and prosperous is

Libya: Setting the record straight

Stephan Fruehling is a lecturer in the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, ANU. The Interpreter has carried several informed and informative contributions on Libya, especially on the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine. But for the decision to intervene, R2P was only one

Australia Indonesia policy: Lessons from China

Greta Nabbs-Keller is writing a PhD at Griffith Asia Institute on the impact of democratisation on Indonesia\'s foreign policy. For Australian policy-makers interested in ways to deepen and enhance our relationship with Indonesia, the answer is simple: emulate China! In fact, one should start

Libya: Aligning means to ends

Major Gen (Retd) Jim Molan is author of Running the War in Iraq. The string of posts on the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) intervention in Libya has been given greater relevance with the reported death of members of the Qadhafi family, from an air attack on what appeared to be a residence.

The bin Laden story, from Beirut

The news about bin Laden\'s death came while I was en route to Beirut on a research trip. In the short time I have been here it has been interesting to see how the story of the death has been portrayed on western vs Arab television.  On BBC, Sky and CNN there has been nothing but bin

Australia Fiji policy needs an overhaul

I\'ve been struck by two separate statements by Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd this year. In a television interview in New Zealand in March, he denied the need for a new approach to bring about democracy in Fiji. Rudd argued there was: \'a tendency in parts of the region for the question to

Umar Patek was arrested in Abbottabad

There is an interesting bit of detail in the killing of Usama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan. In January this year Pakistani intelligence arrested the Indonesian extremist, Umar Patek, one of the organisers of the 2002 Bali bombings, in the same town (although details of his arrest

The ripples of bin Laden death

The crimes of Osama bin Laden on 11 September 2001 had lasting, devastating strategic impacts. His death in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad will also have ripples across the international security landscape — and not all the effects will be benign. For now, Americans and their friends

A trip to the Cold War’s last border

Raffaello Pantucci is a Visiting Scholar at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. Stepping into North Korean territory was not quite as dramatic as I thought it would be. The small huts straddling the demarcation line between North and South Korea in the Joint Security Area are small plots of

Where to for R2P?

Andrew Farran is formerly of the Departments of External Affairs and Defence; Law Faculty, Monash University; International Trade adviser; and a former Vice-President of AIIA. Having submitted two guest blogs on the R2P concept, the first of which foreshadowed a probable stalemate in Libya, the

Syria: Flicking the switch to repression

In light of current events in Syria, February\'s Vogue puff-piece on Syria\'s chic first lady now seems particularly ill-timed. There was much about the Assad view on secularism and modernity, but no mention of the stormclouds gathering in the region other than Asma\'s observation that \'