Monday 23 May 2022 | 23:58 | SYDNEY


Japan: Prepared and resilient

We're not hearing enough about this from the mainstream media (h/t Browser): Japan is exceptionally well-prepared to deal with natural disasters: it has spent more on the problem than any other nation, largely as a result of frequently experiencing them... ...The overwhelming response

China\ new silk road (part 3)

Roger Irvine is writing a PhD on China's future at the University of Adelaide. He spent most of 2010 conducting research at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Part one of this series here; part two here. China's emphasis on rail development is understandable given the huge demands placed

Japan and the future of nuclear power

Japan's post-earthquake nuclear problems have escalated, with major accidents at two or more nuclear reactors, which are the most serious since the Three Mile Island meltdown in 1979 and the Chernobyl accident in 1986. While the consequences and implications from these accidents will take weeks,

CSCE/OSCE: A European model for Asia?

Dr Daniel Woker, Swiss Ambassador to Australia, was a junior member of the Swiss delegations to the CSCE meetings in Belgrade (1977/78) and Paris (1990). The EU is the European structure under most scrutiny by governments and academia in the Asia Pacific. It is undoubtedly the most

Australia selective on Arab democracy

The problem with being ideologically disposed towards democracy and having to deal in the real world of international politics is that you often have to say one thing but do another. The trick for public figures is to avoid having to do it too often or too close together in time. A good example is

Reader riposte: NZ the ghost at Gillard\ party

Paul Cotton writes: Since Julia Gillard arrived in Washington to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the ANZUS Treaty I've been waiting for one of your correspondents (or anyone else for that matter) to ask what the NZ stands for. And if the visit is to mark the signing, where

Leading in the Indian Ocean

In an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal, Lowy Institute Director of Studies Andrew Shearer and Thomas Mahnken argue that Australia and the U.S. need to organise allies to maintain freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean as regional rivalries heat up.The op-ed is available here.Wall Street

China\ new silk road (part 2)

Roger Irvine is writing a PhD on China's future at the University of Adelaide. He spent most of 2010 conducting research at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Part one of this series here. High-speed trains require track that is as straight as feasible and highly stable. A high proportion of that

High speed rail: China\ new silk road?

Roger Irvine is writing a PhD on China's future at the University of Adelaide. He spent most of 2010 conducting research at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Part two of this series here; part three here. Few things demonstrate better that something very big is happening in China than its

Boat arrivals: The answer is offshore

While it will take time for Julia Gillard's foreign policy approach to reveal itself, one area of clear difference between her and Rudd is people smuggling. Gillard has rejected the popular approach of high-visibility domestic solutions. Deploying the navy to stop the boats, changing visa

Australia\ ties with the Middle East

I can't let Andrew Carr's comment that 'Australia's trade relationship with the Middle East is negligible save for our wheat industry' pass without comment.   Even a cursory view of the DFAT website reveals some issues about bilateral trade relations with the region at odds with his

Gates draws curtain on Afghanistan

A minor point on US Defense Secretary Robert Gates' recent West Point speech (a more thorough treatment of that speech to follow): talking about the need to break up the concrete of the Army’s promotion process, Gates started a sentence with this subordinate clause: 

Sultan of Oman: Exception to the rulers

Not all autocratic rulers in the Arab world are necessarily bad, or even disliked. Besides, in the Arab world, one man's autocrat is another's strong, wise, consultative ruler. Nowhere is that better illustrated than in my favourite Arab country, Oman. This piece gives some idea of the ability

Malaysia\ domestic dilemma

Catherine Chan is an environmental lawyer and journalist in Beijing. This is part two of a three-part series arising from her recent visit to Malaysia; part one here. Malaysia's reliance on cheap foreign labour is reaching a quiet crisis point. In a country of 28 million, foreign workers

Russia\ power ambitions in the Pacific

Dr. Alexey Muraviev is a senior lecturer and Director of the Strategic Flashlight forum on National Security and Strategy at Curtin University of Technology, Perth.  On 9 February 2011, Russia's Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced plans to deploy a pair of French built Mistral-

Libya and R2P: What now?

Tim Dunne is Professor of International Relations and Director of Research in the Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, University of Queensland. The UN has come a long way in recent years in developing norms to protect human beings and not the governments that

Libya: A turbulent future?

Christopher Herbert is based in New York and has worked in public relations and consulting for Middle East-related businesses. Chris' previous post, on his close brush with Qadhafi, is here. Assuming that Qadhafi's end is near, what does it mean for Libya' What type of polity will

Portrait of Iran (part 3)

Vanessa Newby is PhD candidate at Griffith University who is studying Arabic in the Middle East. The photos in this post are her own. Part one here; part two here. The second time I visited Iran, the British Museum had just loaned the Cyrus scroll. I nearly ran into the President himself

Qadhafi: My part in his downfall

Christopher Herbert is based in New York and has worked in public relations and consulting for Middle East-related businesses. He has a Master's degree from Harvard on Italy's colonisation of Libya. In 2009 I was hired by a public relations firm in New York to manage the visit of Libyan leader Mu'

Reader riposte: Innocents abroad

Vanessa Newby (who is contributing a series on Iran to The Interpreter) writes: As a student of niche diplomacy I found your comments particularly interesting. I just wanted to draw your attention to the work of Qatar in the past decade. Despite being a microstate, Qatar’s

UN acts swiftly on Libya

This past Saturday, the UN Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1970, which imposed sanctions on Libya, placed travel bans and asset freezes on Qadhafi and several key officials, and condemned the recent regime-sponsored violence (the US Permanent Mission to the UN has a useful fact

Malaysia\ shining city

Catherine Chan is an environmental lawyer and journalist in Beijing. She recently visited Malaysia. In uptight Singapore, the Malaysian city of Johor Bahru had a reputation as a seedy escape of fast cars, cheap golf and sex tourism. It is a stereotype that holds less truth

Reader riposte: Eyes over Libya

Margot Carlson Delogne from DigitalGlobe responds to Prakash Mirchandani: I read with interest your posting about Egypt and the recent events in Libya, with the note that it 'is surprising DigitalGlobe has not released any images of Libya'. We actually give any news agency our imagery in

A portrait of Iran (part 2)

Vanessa Newby is PhD candidate at Griffith University who is studying Arabic in the Middle East. The photos in this post are her own. Part one here. In Iran you cannot fail to notice, especially around Kashan and Isfahan to the south and Mashhad in the West, that many people are

Indonesia-China: Relaxed and comfortable

Beni Sukadis is Program Coordinator at the Indonesian Institute for Strategic and Defense Studies; Henwira Halim is a security analyst based in Jakarta; Greta Nabbs-Keller is writing a PhD at Griffith Asia Institute on the impact of democratisation on Indonesia’s foreign policy. One might

Vietnam breaks Mekong dam silence

Until now, there has been very little indication of the Vietnamese Government's view of plans to build dams on the mainstream of the Mekong River in Laos and Cambodia. As reported in my November 2009 Lowy Paper, 'The Mekong: River Under Threat', officials I interviewed in Hanoi were reluctant to

A portrait of Iran (part 1)

Vanessa Newby is PhD candidate at Griffith University who is studying Arabic in the Middle East. The photos in this post are her own. Late last year, I was chatting to a friend in his home in Tehran about politics, the favourite topic of Iranians. 'I'm going to tell you something I wouldn't

Islam in Cambodia

Cambodia's small but growing Islamic community — perhaps 500,000 in a total population approaching 15 million — receives very little attention, even within Cambodia itself. Following the arrest of Jemaah Islamiyah leader Hambali in 2003 and the revelation that he had spent months

A look at the networked Middle East

With the Middle East continuing to reshape itself and so much focus on youth-led uprisings and their use of social media as an organising tool, I was curious to see what the networked Middle East looks like. The chart below uses US Census Bureau stats from 2010, mobile stats

The Kiwi as puny predator

The Australia-New Zealand relationship is set by history and geography, but fueled by the edgy animosity of eternal neighbours. In taking the temper across the Tasman, consider these two jests that also contain truths. Here is an Australian Army compliment for the quality of their Kiwi

Reader riposte: Japan\ deficits

Kien Choong asks: Could you clarify the 'cold turkey' approach' I thought the problem (as Richard Koo describes it) is that liabilities far exceed debt (ed. note: we assume 'debt' should actually be 'assets'), causing debtors to save. Wouldn't making companies bankrupt cause asset values to

Does Egypt offer any lessons for Fiji?

Watching events in Egypt unfold over the last few weeks, I have wondered whether a similar popular protest could take place in Fiji.  The two countries have little in common beyond the fact that the militaries of each occupy a dominant and somewhat sacred role in political life, and both

Egypt: TV skewing our perceptions

Daniel Larison, a blogger at The American Conservative, writes: It is not immediately obvious that “the people of Egypt” approve of what has happened, and it certainly isn’t true that “the people” caused Mubarak’s fall. A large, dedicated group of protesters

5-minute Lowy Lunch: e-gypt

Anthony Bubalo delivered the Wednesday Lowy Lunch yesterday to a packed audience (podcast here) on the recent uprising in Egypt. A prominent tool used by the protesters, particularly in the early stages, was social media like Facebook and Twitter. We spoke together afterwards on the role it

Deficits: The special case of Japan

Sam is right in finding Richard Koo's arguments on government deficits compelling. As usual, however, there are two sides to every argument. For Japan, it's only just over a month ago that The Interpreter linked us to a warning that, with government debt issue equal to tax

Uranium to India: Game on

So, the game is on. With these remarks, it appears that Resources Minister Martin Ferguson is heralding a concerted bid by multiple pragmatic elements within the Australian Labor Party to change policy on uranium exports, to allow safeguarded sales to India for civilian use. The moment of

Egypt and \'the electoral norm\'

Yesterday, I poured some cold water on Sarah Hanson-Young's starry-eyed view of Egypt's future. But it seems there is some evidence to back up her optimism that Egypt will move toward democracy:  Source: Putsch for democracy: The international community and elections after

Egypt: Curb your enthusiasm

Is The Age subtly editorialising against its own op-ed contributor' Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young has written a rather misty-eyed column about events in Egypt, comparing Mubarak's fall to the end of Apartheid, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the liberation of India from the British.

Egypt after Mubarak

Now that Mubarak has gone, what can we expect' Here are five initial observations: 1. After the elation comes frustration: The protesters have done something really remarkable, certainly by the standards of Middle Eastern politics. They feel justifiably empowered and their leaders and

Yemen is not Egypt, but...

Vanessa Newby is a PhD candidate at Griffith University. She is in Yemen as part of her research on public diplomacy among Islamic states. 'Why have you come to Yemen at such a tense time'' asked a journalist and activist the day after I arrived in Sanaa. She continued, 'I am very

Mubarak speaks, no-one listens

President Mubarak's much anticipated address to the nation on Thursday evening (Egypt time) did even less than people were expecting. He did not resign, he did not lift the emergency law or make major constitutional changes that would make September's presidential election genuinely free and

Egypt unrest: Watch this video

I recommend anyone with an interest in what is happening in Egypt to watch this powerful interview with Wael Ghonim, one of the web activist leaders of the current unrest.  It is highly emotional, but gives a far better insight  into the motivations of at least one important segment

Thailand-Cambodia: Temple of gloom

For the past week, Thai and Cambodian forces have been exchanging fire near the Preah Vihear temple and other nearby locations along their common border, resulting in five deaths. This is far fewer than occurred in clashes in 2009, but the rising rhetoric from both sides suggests

K Subrahmanyam, 1929-2011

India's strategic community is mourning a great loss: its most respected thinker, K Subrahmanyam, passed away on Wednesday 2 February at age 82. Strategist, official, adviser, journalist, scholar, mentor: his work had a direct bearing on some of New Delhi's most profound national security decisions

Egypt: What do the neighbours think?

The closer you are to events, the less principled and more pragmatic you become.  Hence, while Western governments advocate for the departure of President Mubarak, views from the region are somewhat different, even if the likelihood of the Tunisian contagion spreading beyond Egypt is