Saturday 30 May 2020 | 05:10 | SYDNEY

Australia in the World

Abbott: Did he or didn't he?

Fascinating, the different ways the Opposition Leader's remarks to the Lowy Institute have been interpreted, particularly the comments he made about Australia increasing its military commitment to Afghanistan. In a Canberra Times article that doesn't appear to be online, Nicholas Stuart says

Reader riposte: Defence dollars

Former senior defence and intelligence official Alan Wrigley writes: In his 'riposte' to Graeme Dobell's typically thoughtful commentary on the Minister's finger-wagging approach to its Defence managers, John Hannoush asks whether implied threats to withhold money from the military if it doesn

Dark China days

Kevin Rudd has offered a series of dark scenarios for China's international future. The Prime Minister's China speech last Friday was a rare foreign policy interlude in what will be a remorselessly domestic year. The big sign over The Kevin's mental mantelpiece reads: 'It's the election,

Tony Abbott has left the building

There was a decent media contingent here at the Lowy Institute for Tony Abbott's first major speech on defence and national security as opposition leader, so you'll see some coverage later today. We'll also have a full recording of the event on our website on Monday. (UPDATE: Text of the speech here

The Defence diet: Fear and love

To save $20 billion in a decade, Defence has to overturn history. Defence has no record of sticking to a diet, and a diet that lasts a decade is unheard of. I've been pondering reasons why Defence might be able to deliver this time, when it never has before. The starting point must be the

Reader riposte: Defence goodies

John Hannoush writes: As usual a great piece by Graeme Dobell. One thing struck me that might need a bit of exegesis. By his characterisation of the 'threat' from Minister, Secretary, and Finance implicitly, Graeme seems to be saying the 'goodies' of Force 2030 only have utility for the armed

Confusion on Kashmir

Some surprises in Indian media coverage of Australia this week, one welcome, one anything but – and both by the same journalist.  Dileep Padgaonkar, a veteran writer with the Times of India, seems to have been on a visit down under recently. He produced this extraordinary piece offering a

Defence: Try and try

 Jimmy Cliff is the soundtrack for the decade-long budget battle facing the Australian Defence hierarchy. The lyrics are more than a reggae classic. They are the rhyme that rocks Russell: Persecution you must bear, Win or lose, you've gotta get your share... ...Try and try, you'll

Afghanistan quid pro quo?

Peter Hartcher's front page story ('We've got your back in Afghan province') in today's SMH reveals that the US will replace Dutch forces in Oruzgan. It seems that the confidence displayed by our Washington Ambassador Kim Beazley in his interview on Wednesday was not misplaced. When he said

Beazley on the alliance

The ABC's Kerry O'Brien has been in Washington to interview President Obama. The full 20 minutes will air tonight, but here's O'Brien previewing it on ABC Radio National this morning. O'Brien also took the opportunity to interview Australia's Ambassador to Washington, former Labor leader and

Chinese investment: How Canada compares

Jean Michel Montsion is a Research Fellow at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada. Australians and Canadians have similar reservations about Chinese government money coming to their respective countries. A recently released national survey by the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada found less

Aussie bogongs, Pommy mice

The annual influx of bogong moths gives a certain rustic feel to the house on the hill in the centre of Canberra. The country ambience is in keeping with the robust and sometimes earthy ways of our elected leaders. The bogong visitation (plague) is an annual example of the law of unintended

A bigger Australia? Speculation and polls

Last week Dick Smith wrote under the headline, 'The people have spoken, halt population growth': For the past three months I’ve been traveling all over the country talking to people about plans to rapidly increase our population. Nine out of 10 people I talk to oppose the idea. Others

Defence IT mess

Major Gen (Retd) Jim Molan is author of Running the War in Iraq. Graeme Dobell's recent post raised two issues. The first, on Defence 'jointery', I addressed here. But Graeme also talked about Defence's information and communications technology (ICT). My long term education on ICT leads me

Defence 'jointery': It not about the services

Major Gen (Retd) Jim Molan is author of Running the War in Iraq. Graeme Dobell raises the issue of 'Jointery', but he has chosen the wrong messenger to shoot. The problem with ADF jointery is not with the fact that that there are three services. The issue is whether or not the three services

War crimes: First extradition?

The High Court has opened up the prospect of Australia's first successful extradition of an accused war criminal after quashing an earlier ruling from the Federal Court. That should let the Australian Federal Police off the hook. A reply to a Senate question released in February revealed the

Ministering to the South Pacific

Previous posts in this series were on Australia's Pacific drift, the Pacific Islands Forum, the chance for big bang changes in Pacific policy and the need for an Aid Minister. Australia has talked some wonderful talk about what needs to be done in the South Pacific. Rudd came to

Reader riposte: Aussie drones

Alan Wrigley writes: The piece on the continuing life of the U2 spy aircraft in your Monday Linkage took my mind back to my first career as an aeronautical engineer.  Around the late 1960s (I'd need to do some work to fix it any better) I was the design engineer responsible for

Diplomacy in ruins

In an article in The Weekend Australian, Lowy Institute Research Associate Alex Oliver and Senior Research Fellow Andrew Shearer write that Australia's ability to have its voice heard overseas has been dangerously compromised.The Australian, 27 March 2010, Inquirer p. 4

Our intellectual exports

Blogger Tim Andrews ('an Australian classical liberal in Washington DC') wants to know who we might include in a list of Australia's top intellectual exports. It's not a very long list that he and his readers have compiled so far, so let me add one name that is obvious to me: Hedley Bull. I

Defence jointery and open IT

Last Friday I was flicking to the back of the Financial Review to find the weekly Verona Burgess column on the public service. On the way, I paused on the Information page to read a piece headlined 'Soldiers losing strategic advantage' (subscription needed). The opening sentence talked about the

A Minister for Aid and Development?

The Foreign Minister, with his Department screaming in his ear, would rage against any move to shift foreign aid into the Prime Minister's Department. Roaming through the Canberra jungle, I see no evidence that the big beasts are fighting over such a prize. So please regard the idea of the

Reader ripostes: Military names, etc.

Three emails below, the first two responding to James Brown's piece on military naming conventions, and the last about an error of expression I have probably made many times. First, Sam writes: A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to spend a few weeks in the Austrian Alps with one BRIG

What in a military name?

James Brown has worked as an Australian Defence Force officer and completed his Masters in Strategic Studies in 2009. These are his personal views. A great article in the Washington Post last Saturday takes a detailed look at how the US military names its various operations. Names range from the

Reader riposte: The Freeport attacks

Joe Collins from the Australia West Papua Association (Sydney) responds to Jim Della-Giacoma's post: A number of media articles have mistakenly  implied  that the International Crisis Group (ICG) report 'Radicalisation and Dialogue in Papua' blames so called 'separatists' for the attacks

Australia-Japan relations are not 'fine'

My thanks to Joel Rathus for his concern about the state of my nervous system, especially as we have never met. I can assure him that he is wrong and that my nerves are fine. As for Joel's substantive points: On the polling numbers, I did note in my original post the unfortunate change in the

Aid and the Pacific: Rudd big bang?

Australia needs to do some deep thinking about how it deals with the South Pacific and how it manages international aid. My previous column canvassed the most likely explanation for the vacant chairs and sense of drift in Pacific policy — the election-year vortex effect in Canberra. In a

Pacific Forum: The absent Chair

Graeme Dobell's post about Australia's drift from the Pacific region covers an issue close to my heart and one I am dwelling on in my research. This recent article from Islands Business also reflects consternation in the region that Australia is losing its Pacific focus. One of the benefits

Karzai and McChrystal visit Uruzgan

James Brown has worked as an Australian Defence Force officer and completed his Masters in Strategic Studies in 2009. These are his personal views. Afghan President Hamid Karzai and ISAF Commander General Stanley McChrystal visited Uruzgan province in Afghanistan and met with Australian troops over

APc morphing into the EAS?

As discussed at length on The Interpreter, Prime Minister Rudd's Asia-Pacific community idea has not found a very welcoming audience in Southeast Asia, with Singaporean voices being the most negative. In the last week, though, both Indonesia's Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa and Singapore's

Japan-Australia relations are just fine

Joel Rathus is a Phd candidate at Adelaide University and a Monbusho Scholar at Meiji University. Much ink is being spilled in Australia about the state of the Japan-Australia relationship, including by the Lowy Institute's Malcolm Cook. While concerns were raised almost as soon as the Rudd

Australia Pacific drift

Has Kevin Rudd totally forgotten about the Pacific Islands? Maybe this election year has cleared the subject off the Prime Minister's desk. It should not be so. Australia holds the chair of the Pacific Islands Forum. And this Government has proclaimed a new, cooperative relationship with the

It about leadership, not awareness

I share Sam's scepticism about 'greater public awareness', so perhaps he won't mind me pointing out that I didn't use that phrase in the post he links to. I talked about the need for stronger political leadership, which is a very different thing. The Grim Reaper ads were about 'public

Reader riposte: Raising awareness

Jo Gilbert, a PhD candidate at the Griffith Asia Institute, responds to my post expressing scepticism about building public awareness of various foreign policy issues. I feared that my piece might be interpreted this way; more thoughts from me below Jo's email: I read with interest your

Smartening up military writing

James Brown is a Lowy Institute intern. He has worked as an ADF officer and completed his Masters in Strategic Studies in 2009. These are his personal views. Military officers are easily typecast as unthinking and uncritical. In Australia we have done little to bust that stereotype, having few

So you want to create awareness...

When I read a call for 'greater public awareness', I tend to shift uncomfortably in my seat. In different ways and on different subjects, both Hugh White and James Brown have recently called for greater public awareness of issues (in order: our relationship with Indonesia, and our defence

Japan-Australia: Signs of damage

Since the beginning of the 2007 election campaign in Australia, I have been worried about Japan-Australia relations. I thought long-standing differences between Tokyo and Canberra over Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean could come to dominate the public face of the relationship. I also

Fraser and the Falklands

Margaret Simons is co-author of Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs. Below, she responds to my post from 3 March, which questioned an anecdote Mr Fraser related in an interview, about the influence he had on the Reagan Administration's policy on the Falklands War.  Fraser claimed that, during

SBY in PNG: Making up for lost time

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was busy improving bilateral relations with more than one neighbour last week. Incredibly, for two countries that share an island and a difficult border, President Yudhoyono was the first Indonesian President to visit PNG since President Soeharto in

Reader ripostes: SBY and JSF

Alison Broinowski writes: It is a welcome sign of how things have changed, as Hugh White says, that a President of Indonesia even visits Australia, as well as delivering a frank and finely honed speech to the Parliament. Dr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono surveyed the history of the relationship and

Security theatre at the Harbour Bridge

Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson has mocked the anti-terrorist security measures he observed while walking along the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which took the form of one weedy-looking security guard: Bypassing security guards was as simple as putting on a broad smile, (Clarkson) said. "

I hereby unendorse Robert Gottliebsen

Readers, I have failed. My job is to communicate ideas and arguments, yet my attempt to question Robert Gottliebsen's argument that Australia faces a crisis in its air defence capability has led Gottliebsen to believe that I actually 'endorsed' his views. Perhaps my choice of words was poor.

SBY speech to parliament

President Yudhoyono's speech to Parliament (p.29) last week is a remarkable document that makes uneasy reading.  Rudd welcomed SBY with a routine speech of mutual self-congratulation for having such a splendid relationship (p.27 of the above document). SBY responded with a sophisticated,

Travel on the time tram

...domestic affairs are governed by the delights and discontents of democracy, foreign affairs by the iron logic of power. This line has the twin values of being elegantly expressed and true. Reading that thought in a broadsheet newspaper the other day suddenly took me back a fair

Reader riposte: Travel advisory pitfalls

Here are two reader replies to my post on travel advisories to Indonesia. First Trevor Harrison from Asian Strategies writes: The largest impact of the travel advisory is in the corporate area, on those companies and organisations that require their executives be insured for travel. Some

5-minute Lowy Lunch: Malcolm Fraser

Yesterday we hosted former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser for a public conversation with our Executive Director, Michael Wesley. You can listen here to the discussion, which focused on the foreign policy elements of Mr Fraser's new book. It includes Q&A with the audience. But I recommend you

Australian forces: Drinking the Kool-Aid?

Major Gen (Retd) Jim Molan is author of Running the War in Iraq. I recently came across this speech by Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, at Kansas State University. The first sentence should provide cause for pause for Australians: The Australians are experts at