Thursday 02 Jul 2020 | 21:46 | SYDNEY

Australia in the World

Australia on the couch

As often happens when I read Sam's posts, I paused, slightly confused.  Are major bilateral relations really only an 'ephemeral' part of foreign policy for a self-described middle-power like Australia? Therefore, is Australian foreign and security policy also wilfully ephemeral due to the

Callick plays Dr Phil

The Australian's Asia-Pacific editor, Rowan Callick, has strong words today about the Rudd Government's foreign policy performance. (They're not all his words, mind you. Three of the critical quotes in the piece come from my colleagues here at the Lowy Institute.) There's certainly a case to

Reader riposte: NZ-Fiji

Paul Cotton responds to Jenny Hayward-Jones' post on Fiji-New Zealand relations: I think that if Jenny reads the item in the NZ Herald of 13 January she will see that there is much more to the recent moves than a wish to put more consular staff on the ground. A counsellor position is mentioned

India: Australia reputation suffers

Australia's reputation in India — and worldwide — has suffered greatly in the past week. The storm of outrage in the Indian media over the safety of Indian students in Australia has gone global. The catalyst for this furore has been the murder in Melbourne of a young Indian-born graduate.

Whaling: Best not to spout

Earlier today, Sam put up a link to Joseph Nye's sober argument that Washington should not risk damaging the US-Japan alliance by pushing the new (and still on training wheels) Hatoyama Government on the 'second order' Futenma issue, despite Hatoyama's reckless election promise to ditch a deal

France war crimes reform

Last year the UK moved to update its war crimes legislation to make it less likely that accused individuals could escape justice. France has just announced its own reforms in this area, with the Government to: ...set up a new panel to try cases of genocide and war crimes committed in France

Whither the NSS?

Today's blogging is partly devoted to raking over the ideas and events of 2009, but here's one thing that didn't happen last year: the Prime Minister did not deliver a National Security Statement. In his first NSS to parliament in December 2008, Mr Rudd said: This inaugural national security

Afghanistan: Get serious, get moral or get out

Major Gen (Retd) Jim Molan is author of Running the War in Iraq. Paul Kelly has written in defence of Prime Minister Rudd and his Afghanistan policy, acknowledging that the Australian contribution to Afghanistan is token. Kelly considers that the hardline stance against more troops shows '

Climate politics, high and low

The high politics of climate change in Australia shifted significantly even before the Copenhagen summit drove into the snow. For nearly three years, there was a surprising degree of agreement between the Labor and Liberal parties on the high politics of global warming. By 'high politics', I

AFP must now act on war crimes

The NSW Supreme Court on Friday handed down a striking judgment in the case of Daniel Snedden. In his defamation case against Nationwide News (publisher of The Australian) for an article the newspaper published entitled 'Serbian death squad commander alive and well and teaching golf in Perth', 

The APc continuing role

Richard Woolcott is the Prime Minister's Special Envoy to develop the Asia Pacific community concept. As host of the APc conference in Sydney last week, I want to respond to Malcolm Cook's piece in The Interpreter. Apart from the apocalyptic title ('The APc's fatal flaws'), Malcolm Cook

Reader riposte: ASEAN and APc

Carl Thayer writes in response to my post about the recent conference to discuss Prime Minister Rudd's Asia Pacific community (APc) proposal: I do not think there is an official ASEAN position on the APc. It is clear that there is no ASEAN consensus on the idea because it has not been discussed

Fiji: Regional wrecker

Australia confronts the slow-motion degradation of four decades of institution-building in the South Pacific. The Rudd Government entered office two years ago proclaiming a new era of partnership with the Pacific Islands. Instead, by seeking to discipline Fiji, Rudd may prompt a significant

Reader riposte: Climate and UNSC bid

Tim writes: I saw some of the ABC2 news program this morning, which got me thinking. I wasn't paying 100% attention until it was too late (trying not to burn myself while ironing a shirt), but I gather there was a 'walkout' from the Copenhagen summit by a reasonable number of national

Winning the war on the home front

In an opinion piece in The Australian, Anthony Bubalo, Program Director West Asia, and Michael Fullilove, Program Director Global Issues, argue that Barack Obama’s Afghanistan approach is strategically and politically realistic.The Australian, 11 December 2009, p. 8

Things I have changed my mind about this year

At the start of the year I thought Rudd would face real, public pressure from Obama to send a lot more soldiers to Afghanistan, and allow them to do more dangerous tasks there. But it has not happened. No one seriously believes that Australia is making a significant military contribution in

The APc fatal flaws

Over the last week, I have been consumed by discussion (or, more often, long and rambling monologues) around PM Rudd's Asia-Pacific community (APc) initiative and the question of Australia and regional institutions. I first attended the Asia-Pacific community conference here in Sydney and then I

Counter-insurgency: Our military future

Whenever I read a piece by Paul Kelly, it reminds me how rare good writing seems to have become among the contemporary Australian broadsheet newspapers. Kelly has the ability to cut through opinion, spin and the conventional wisdom to succinctly present the essential elements of an argument or

A useless feud with Singapore?

With real challenges like climate change, China's rise, nuclear proliferation and the fraying of Pakistan dominating Australia's horizons, you would think that the last thing we need is a prolonged diplomatic fight with a largely likeminded country. Yet, from the tenor of Peter Hartcher's

Afghanistan: One token after another

Major Gen (Retd) Jim Molan is author of Running the War in Iraq. Rodger Shanahan is right — our response to Obama's Afghanistan surge is low-risk and low-return. But that characterises our overall response to Afghanistan. Our troops are still restricted in what they can do (though less so

APc conference evaded the big issue

I was pleased to get an invite to last week's Asia-Pacific community (APc) conference (co-sponsored by Lowy), but a bit surprised too, because I am a registered sceptic about the whole idea. And I am bound to say that I came away after a day-and-a-half's discussion no less sceptical. It is not

Balibo ban not so democratic

Greta Nabbs-Keller is writing a PhD at the Griffith Asia Institute on the impact of democratisation on Indonesia's foreign policy. Although the Indonesian National Film Censorship Board's decision on Tuesday to ban the screening of 'Balibo' was not entirely surprising, it represents a small

Our low-risk, low-return Afghan surge

I argued in a previous post that sending more civilian advisors to Afghanistan and then restricting them to bases achieves little more than the rearrangement of bureaucrats' locations. Advisors who never get to interact with the locals outside the security of coalition bases are severely

Defence dilemma: To buy or to build?

Australia does fighter planes differently to submarines. Both bits of kit cost humungous amounts of money. Planes, though, we buy from somebody else. The submarines, we build ourselves. This fundamental difference is why the plane decision is starting to look relatively straightforward for the

Dump 'The World Game'

Margaret Simons' article revealing that broadcaster SBS is making legal threats against Crikey to protect its soccer slogan, 'The World Game', gives me an opportunity to get something off my chest. Namely, that 'The World Game' is a terrible slogan for promoting SBS's soccer coverage to

Our new Afghanistan deployment

Prime Minister Rudd's announcement in Washington that Australia will 'surge' police and civil aid efforts in Afghanistan is sound policy. Much of the recent focus on Afghanistan has understandably been on President Obama's announcement about strategy and troop numbers. But although sound

AP community: Whither ASEAN?

Other items in this Asia Pacific community series are on the APc concept paper, the text of the paper, Japan, the US, APEC, and Asian architecture. Australia is both stroking and shaking ASEAN in the discussion of an Asia Pacific community. The Canberra line is that ASEAN has a central role

Lowy Institute China Poll 2009

The Lowy Institute today released its first public opinion poll conducted in China. There's a lot in there, but here are some of the findings I found most interesting: In the context of the upcoming Copenhagen climate change negotiations and China's lukewarm pledge on emissions intensity

China and foreign investment

Looking closely at Fergus' poll numbers on foreign takeovers by state-owned firms into Australia and into the People’s Republic of China, three things occur to me. One is good for China's integration into the world, one is bad for Western integration with China, and one is bad for Northeast Asian

Tony Abbott foreign policy

With the election of Tony Abbott as Opposition Leader, I thought I'd republish the post I wrote on 6 August about the foreign policy sections of Abbott's book, Battlelines. I also recommend Andrew Carr's more comprehensive analysis of what we can expect from an Abbott-led Opposition. I've been

Andrew Robb redux

There's an intriguing interpretation of the Liberal Party's climate change woes at the group blog Club Troppo, where James Farrell argues that the split is less about climate scepticism than a distrust of multilateralism: ...what really send mots of them into fits of indignation, even the non-

China poll on investment and education

The Lowy Institute will tomorrow release its first opinion poll conducted in China, but today we're releasing two findings on Chinese attitudes towards foreign investment and education abroad. The poll uses a methodology developed by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs — a world leader in

Malcolm as Doc Evatt

Australian political parties seldom slay or lose their leader over an international issue. Especially from Opposition. But when a Party does tear at its own vitals over an international/ideological policy, the electoral damage is huge. Malcolm Turnbull is shaping as the Doc Evatt of the Liberal

Liberal implosion: A question for Rudd

And that question is, 'which is your higher priority: passing the emissions trading bill, or dividing the Liberal Party?' I've been planning this post for a couple of days now but I see that Michelle Grattan and Katharine Murphy have beaten me to the punch: As a discordant backdrop to the

Reader riposte: Uranium to Russia

Michael Angwin, Executive Director of the Australian Uranium Association, writes: It's always tempting to think that an industry is campaigning for something an observer thinks must be what the industry wants. That seems to be what Sandra Hajda assumes in the case of uranium exports to Russia

Interview: Extra troops for Afghanistan?

President Barack Obama is expected to make an announcement on a troop surge in Afghanistan on Tuesday, while the New York Times is reporting that allies are being hit up for an extra 10,000 soldiers.  I asked the Lowy Institute's Andrew Shearer — who has been involved in managing Australian

Asian architecture: The win-win solution

In an earlier post, Graeme Dobell argues that the Obama administration’s decision to sign the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) strengthens the United States’ hand in the Asian architecture game. I fully agree and take it even further. The United States signing of the TAC, especially if it

Consular service carries the can...again

Another hard luck story about the general lack of consular support Australians receive from their government when travelling and living overseas — this time from an Australian couple running a resort in Samoa, who are getting agitated that the Australian government has not done enough to assist

Rudd two years on: The see-saw report

The second anniversary today of the election of the Rudd Government is a chance to apply the see-saw measure to Labor's international efforts. The see-saw test recognises the reality that governments have only so much energy and time. Not every issue gets top priority. Some issues rise, some

China engagement with East Timor

Yesterday, the Australian linked East Timorese plans to build a naval refueling base with 'concerns about Beijing's military influence in a region traditionally regarded by Canberra as its own'. I was recently in East Timor and there was certainly plenty of evidence of China's interest in this

Australian attitudes towards China

I've been looking at some old opinion polls recently and came across this one the Age did back in the 70s. The findings on China were quite interesting in light of recent Lowy polling. In 1977, asked whether China was 'likely to be a threat to Australia' 41% of Australians said 'yes' and 59% 'no

Russia and Australian uranium: A dangerous mix?

Sandra Hajda is a Melbourne-based freelance writer. She has written on Russian politics for The Seminal and covered Australian foreign policy for Pickled Politics. Australian uranium interests are intensifying their campaign for new mines, state government support and a ratified export deal with

JSF: The politics of wings

The strategic sages and hardware wonks still have years of happy argument ahead over the merits of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). But the politics of the plane are settled. It's astounding how often defenceniks have these discussions without a whiff of politics. From White Paper to the

Afghanistan: We need answers!

Major Gen (Retd) Jim Molan is author of Running the War in Iraq. In response to Shanahan and Dobell, the reasons there is no debate of note on Afghanistan might be as follows: Australia is not doing much in Afghanistan. Our troop contribution is about 1.5% of the total foreign presence, our

Defence fails the laugh test

Here's a question for Australia's defence community. Hands up anyone who thinks Defence can deliver on the promise it made in the White Paper to find $20 billion in cost savings over 10 years. Don't worry about nominating where the cuts will be made. In your answer, consider only the issues of