Thursday 02 Jul 2020 | 23:28 | SYDNEY

Australia in the World

Reader riposte: JSF buyers beware

Eric Palmer, who blogs on military issues here, writes in response to Hugh White's post defending the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF): Australia is not ready to procure the F-35. Senior Defence management has not done the homework needed to provide government with the relevant facts. It says

Rule .303

With the death of British actor Edward Woodward, I can't resist posting this brief clip from the 1980 Bruce Beresford picture, Breaker Morant, set in South Africa during the Boer War. Woodward's performance as Harry 'Breaker' Morant is not the one his international audience will know him by, but

In defence of the JSF

The Joint Strike fighter (JSF) is a hard project to love. But let me admit to Sam that I am one of those who, without financial incentives, remains persuaded that the JSF is probably the right combat aircraft for Australia, simply because, for all its faults, I'm not sure there will be anything

Genocide: Words and action

On 9 November the quintet of Attorneys-General (from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the US and UK) met in London. In their communique they recognised 'that there is scope for all five countries to work together more coordinate action across relevant agencies against...perpetrators

Afghanistan: The costs of success

Graeme Dobell's post on the lack of Australian coverage, let alone debate, about Afghanistan paraphrases a question cited by Peter Cosgrove during his Boyer lecture: 'What would be the costs of failure?' I would be more inclined to ask about the costs of success, because success will not look

War crimes extradition reveals rot

Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor yesterday announced he had agreed to allow Australia's first ever extradition of a suspected war criminal. What should be a welcome first unfortunately also highlights the hopelessness of our current policy settings in this area. The accused is in his 80s and

Felling the 'evil flowers'

This week's Wednesday Lowy Lunch featured the ADF's Brigadier Phil Winter speaking on efforts to counter the threat of Improvised Explosive Devices – IEDs, or what Afghans are now calling, with grim poetry, the 'evil flowers'.  As commander of Australia's Counter-IED Task Force, Brigadier

Afghanistan: Rudd highwire act

As Afghanistan tears at Washington and London, the bipartisan political consensus is holding in Canberra. Consider the relative silence at Peter Cosgrove's Boyer lecture conclusion on Afghanistan: I think we can confidently say we are losing this battle. The most famous soldier of the

Mr Rudd congratulated whom?

From today's Australian: Mr Rudd also spoke by telephone with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and congratulated him on his recent election victory. My colleague Anthony Bubalo recently made a strong case that we in the West have been too hard on Hamid Karzai. And I guess if we're going to

Yesterday remembrance

It was bad form on my part to not mention Remembrance Day yesterday. If you forgot also, it's not too late to buy a poppy — albeit a virtual one, for your phone — from the Returned and Services League. I recently heard a first-hand account of the outstanding work the RSL does to help

Tightening an obvious tie

In this opinion piece in the Indian Express newspaper, International Security Program Director Rory Medcalf argues why India would benefit from recognising the value of prioritising a strategic partnership with Australia, in the week that Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd visits India.Indian

AP community: APEC demotion

After 20 years on top, APEC no longer reigns supreme in Australia's foreign policy firmament. In the week of the APEC summit in Singapore — and only days after the 20th birthday of APEC's creation in  Canberra — APEC's demotion must be seen as a significant structural shift, hastened by

Lowy speech: Rudd attacks

A few thoughts on Prime Minister Rudd's climate change speech, which he has just delivered here at the Lowy Institute. My colleagues and I will probably have some more considered views next week, but here's how it struck me at first blush: It was highly partisan: this was a full-throated attack

Small wars and big choices

Australia needs to worry a little less about the small problems it has with big wars, and address some of the big problems that it has with small wars. Don't judge a book by its cover but by its opening sentence. On that measure, Mark O'Neill's 'Confronting the Hydra' is a winner. It is an

Pacific mirage

I don't often take the time to laud my fellow contributors to The Interpreter, but can I just point you to Graeme Dobell's column this morning? The analysis of regional institution-building is sharp, as always, but this anecdote really made my day: is useful to compare the current

Another diplomatic spat with Fiji

Fiji's military leader, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, yesterday announced the expulsion from Fiji of Australian High Commissioner James Batley and Acting New Zealand High Commissioner Todd Cleaver. The decision was a signal of Bainimarama's unhappiness with advice on the applicability of travel

China declares diplomatic ceasefire

China has called a halt to its diplomatic offensive against Australia. Read the terms of the ceasefire — perhaps even armistice — in the unusual Australia-China joint statement issued after the talks between Kevin Rudd and China's Vice Premier, Li Keqiang. The statement has to be

A tribute to Duncan Kerr

Today marks the last day in office of Australia's Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, the Hon Duncan Kerr SC MP. Kerr has announced his retirement from his position and intention to retire from politics at the next federal election. Managing Australia's enhanced relations with

AP community: The concept paper

The conversation on an Asia Pacific community is entering a new phase. Last weekend's East Asia Summit has given enough of a nod to Kevin Rudd for him to claim acceptance of his call to talk. The game is launched. Rudd had a win at the Summit merely by gaining a significant bit of the four hours

Karadzic would have been safer here

Reading some of the coverage of the Radovan Karadzic trial you get the feeling there is a bit of implicit backslapping going on — isn't it great that the international community has stepped in and made sure that a high profile accused war criminal like Karadzic finally faces trial?  But it'

5-minute Lowy lunch: Paul Kelly

Paul Kelly's work lends a certain grandeur to our national story — schoolkids of my generation saw Australian history as 'boring', but Kelly makes it feel important. I look forward to seeing whether his new book, The March of Patriots, matches up to his totemic The End of Certainty.

George Brandis' liberalism

There's a spirited debate going on between two senior Liberals — Tony Abbott MP and Senator George Brandis — about the Liberal Party's philosophy and origins. In an earlier post I examined Tony Abbott's contribution to this debate, with particular emphasis on his foreign policy views, and

Reader riposte: Asylum seekers

Kien Choong writes: Might it be overly generous to think that, perhaps, the Australian Government's tough rhetoric is a cover for pursuing a more humanitarian policy? After all, if the Australian Government intends to implement a more humanitarian policy, it would hardly want to signal that

Beazley: US gets more from alliance

Consider this striking proposition: the balance of advantage in the US-Australia alliance 'has shifted to the Americans'. The view is that of Australia's next ambassador to Washington, Kim Beazley. Note, he is not saying it is shifting towards the US but 'has shifted'. To put it bluntly,

Asylum seekers: Rudd choice

Chris Uhlmann is political editor for the ABC's 7.30 Report. With his latest blog post, he might make Peter Costello think twice about Labor bias on that program: So the Prime Minister was faced with a choice. The narrow gate was to make a complex argument, to explain what he was doing, and to

Echoes of history in the South Pacific

Come and play the 'echoes of history' game with these comments on Australia's role in the South Pacific. Match the quote to the politician who might have made it: We are a Pacific country — less identifiably so than New Zealand — but our geography, our history, place us there and we need

New destroyers: Paying too much?

Last Thursday I linked to a Korea Times news story announcing that the South Korean Navy plans to build a new class of frigates, reasonably large ships (5,600 tons) that will be equipped with the AEGIS combat system. The maritime strategy blog Information Dissemination subjected that story to

Who the fairest of them all?

Since his election the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has experienced totalitarian-like approval ratings — 71% according to this Age/Nielsen poll with 69% preferring him as Prime Minister. If dissenting members of the Australian press were disappearing there might be reason to be suspicious, but

APC/APc: What in a name?

Regarding my exchange with Professor Carl Thayer on the Asia Pacific Community/community, I need to make a correction. I implied in my response to Carl that the version of the speech posted on the IISS website contained only references to 'community', not 'Community'. That was incorrect; in

Reader riposte: APC or APc?

Professor Carl Thayer picks up on an old post from Graeme Dobell, which Malcolm Cook referred to recently: With respect, I do not think Graeme Dobell has got it right about the APc. Dobell incorrectly stated that 'throughout the printed text, the reference was to an Asia-Pacific community (APc

Australia, Indonesia and East Timor (3)

Here are a few tips for Australia's relations with Indonesia, should Australia decide to pursue the Indonesian military for murdering Australian journalists in East Timor: Don't put much reliance on personal relations between leaders and foreign ministers. Don't resort to megaphone diplomacy

Wary of China, neglectful of Japan and warming to the US

In an opinion piece in The Australian, Dr Michael Wesley and Fergus Hanson examine how Australians view the world, drawing on five years of Lowy Institute polling. They find Australians to be outward-looking and engaged in international affairs. The vast majority feel safe and Australians are

Australia, Indonesia and East Timor (2)

If Australia seeks to prosecute members of the Indonesian military command for murdering Australians in East Timor, how dangerous will that effort be for the relationship with Jakarta? Stephen Grenville worries that any AFP inquiry into the Balibo Five 'will surely seriously damage the important

Climate change opinion changing

One of the surprising results in this year's Lowy Poll was the change in perceptions about climate change. Just as parliament gears up for discussions on an ETS and world leaders prepare to gather in Copenhagen for negotiations on reducing carbon emissions, concern about global warming seems to be

Lowy Poll: Australians and new media

The 2009 Lowy Institute Poll was launched today. It's the fifth annual Lowy Poll, which surveys a nationally representative sample of Australians about international issues. There is a lot in this year's poll, from climate change to Afghanistan to China and the US. One area that might get missed

Australia, Indonesia and East Timor (1)

Australia is again proving its friendship with Indonesia in a time of tragedy, underlining why Australia has some rights to speak directly to Indonesia about an old tragedy. Debate has rumbled through this blog about the interests and morality involved in the Australian Federal Police

The 2009 Lowy Institute Poll

The fifth annual Lowy Institute Poll surveys a nationally representative sample of Australians on a broad range of foreign policy issues. New questions this year cover the priority given to action on climate change, public attitudes towards relations with the US and China, foreign investment, asylum

Why won't Combet mention the war?

Major Gen (Retd) Jim Molan is author of Running the War in Iraq. Sam's astonishing comments about the amphibious ships — that they should not be warships but 'national logistic assets' optimized for humanitarian work — are no more than Defence deserves. I ignored this suggestion the first

ADF: International rescue

This FT report about Asia's recent natural disasters quotes one risk analyst who says weather-related catastrophes in Asia have grown from some 75 incidents a year in 1980 to 250 today. Responding to such regional emergencies is likely to be an increasing part of the Australian Defence Force's

Reader riposte: Afghanistan, democracy, foreign policy, etc

Dr Christian Enemark from Sydney University writes: As a hearty supporter of warts-and-all democracy, allow me to leap to the defence of Andy Butfoy. Mark O’Neill’s reply assumes a severely limited notion of democracy and exaggerates the influence of foreign policy on the voting public.

Disunity at home II

Given Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull's dismal public opinion ratings and the constant in-fighting within his party and coalition, he might be in need of a pick-me-up, or at least some consolation. He might consider the British Conservative Party, which looks set to win government from Labour at

Oh! What a lovely crisis!

The Kevin has been having a good crisis. So good, in fact, that he is having trouble adjusting to the good news in the domestic economy. As the economic figures keep popping up like the rest of Spring's fresh growth, the Prime Minister quite can't abandon the burning-deck-we'll-all-be-rooooned

Chinese investment: FIRB debacle?

Has Australia somehow managed to concede the moral high ground to China over the core issue of Chinese investments in Australian minerals? Incredibly, this might just be the case. The stakes could not be higher. The Chinese economic miracle is set to sustain Australia's prosperity for a long time

Unconventional partners: Australia-India cooperation in reducing nuclear dangers

In this Policy Brief, International Security Program Director Rory Medcalf and his Indian co-author Amandeep Gill argue that an innovative partnership between Australia and India would help erode the entrenched blocs that impede progress on nuclear disarmament

China: an unfamiliar terrain

In an opinion piece in The Sydney Morning Herald, Lowy Institute Executive Director Michael Wesley argues for some hard thinking on prioritising our interests in building a durable relationship with China.Sydney Morning Herald, 26 September 2009, p. 9