Saturday 30 May 2020 | 04:53 | SYDNEY

Australia in the World

Iran: Australia reaction

What a difference an election makes. And I'm not talking about Iran's contested effort, but the one Australia conducted in late 2007. Before that poll, then-Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd was ready to take Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the International Court of Justice for inciting

India media should look abroad

The controversy over the safety of Indian students in Australia continues, despite the serious efforts of both governments to bring some sensible perspective to the situation. The good news is that some in the Indian media are beginning to get the hint – delivered this week by Prime Minister

Reader riposte: China subtleties

Professor Stuart Harris from the Australian National University sees a link between my recent post on Chinese nuclear capabilities and another which questioned Peter Drysdale's proposal for Australia to conduct a China policy review: A useful and interesting post on Chinese missiles, which

Hyperbole watch

From today's Sydney Morning Herald editorial, about the job facing new Defence Minister, Senator John Faulkner: ...fighting the Taliban is a relatively small task compared with the major job ahead of the minister - wielding control over the vast Defence portfolio and its many fiefdoms of

Political generals and a military Cabinet

Beyond personal drama and claims of betrayal, the fall of Joel Fitzgibbon points to a deeper structural change in relations between the military and political leadership. Three other factors are worth considering: leaks from Defence, the evolving West Wing culture of Ministerial offices, and the

A review of our China policy?

Over at East Asia Forum, Peter Drysdale argues that Australia takes its good standing in China for granted, and that the Rio-Chinalco episode should lead to some deep reflection. Drysdale makes a passionate case for a top-to-bottom policy review of Australia's relationship with China: But much

Reader riposte: ASEAN sets the agenda

Kevin Rudd has found out that you might not be able to do much with ASEAN, but you can do even less without it. ASEAN realities have reshaped the Rudd bid for a broader and strong Asia Pacific organisation. That was the pivot for my column written immediately after Rudd’s Shangri La speech.

FIRB, Treasurer escape China test

The collapse of the Rio-Chinalco deal means that the long-awaited ruling from the Foreign Investment Review Board – due by 14 June – is no longer required. That means we don’t get to further test Canberra’s views on Chinese investment in Australia.  Still, unless all the kerfuffle

The Fitzgibbon spy story source

It was the Fairfax papers, including the Sydney Morning Herald, which reported back in March that now ex-Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon was being spied on by his own department. As Defence Department Secretary Nick Warner said yesterday in his piece for The Interpreter, two separate inquiries have

Fitzgibbon resigns

As you will probably be aware by now, the Defence Minister has resigned. At first blush, this does look like a pretty serious lapse in judgment from Fitzgibbon. He claims in his resignation letter (h/t Crikey) that he acted to minimise the appearance of wrongdoing, but allowing a meeting between 

The PM Foreign Affairs article

News that Foreign Affairs, the world’s pre-eminent foreign policy journal, rejected a piece submitted by budding Australian essayist Kevin Rudd is hardly a surprise given his turgid performance at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore or the quality of his offering in The Monthly. No doubt

Canada first war crimes conviction

There was some important news from Canada recently — it achieved its first successful conviction under its war crimes legislation. Désiré Munyaneza was charged with seven counts related to genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. He was convicted on all counts. It's a significant

ASPI lobs a brick

The Executive Summary of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute's analysis of the defence budget makes for entertaining reading. It says 'that "the most comprehensive White Paper of the modern era" has been followed by the least comprehensive Defence budget papers of the past decade', and ends

Indian students' safety: Let cool it

It is hard to know how to contribute constructively to the debate about the safety of Indian students in Australia. As someone long committed to the Australia-India relationship, I am dismayed about what has happened. Like the overwhelming majority of Australians, I deeply sympathise with those

Labor and free trade

We've witnessed an interesting little study in internal Labor Party politicking over the last few days, with several trade-related issues emerging. For mine, Trade Minister Simon Crean is on the side of the angels; he released a report yesterday which found that trade liberalisation has made

Final thoughts from Shangri-La

To wrap-up my reporting from the Shangri-La Dialogue, a few highlights of day two. First, a pleasant surprise: Pakistan's Secretary of Defence, Syed Athar Ali, was asked whether there was any chance of Pakistan and India cooperating in Afghanistan given their common interest in its stability. In

Rudd at the Shangri-La Dialogue

Prime Minister Rudd’s speech to the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore last night marks a welcome evolution of his thinking on Asia-Pacific security and regional diplomatic arrangements. It was a clever speech – his best-crafted statement on foreign and security policy so far – which managed

Piracy: Australia contribution

It's happening: Australia will send a frigate and, apparently, an Orion maritime patrol aircraft to join the international effort against piracy in the Gulf of Aden, an idea that some of us at Lowy have been advocating since January. It is a commendable move not only because it shows Australia

In defence of military recruitment abroad

Earlier this week, Cameron Crouch proposed a foreign recruitment scheme for the ADF. Below, Cameron responds to criticisms of his idea. In response to the comments from Rodger Shanahan: First, Nadi, Manila and Johannesburg were provided as examples of possible locations to establish

Reader ripostes: Foreigners in the ADF

Two reader responses below to Cameron Crouch's post, first from Peter Layton, then Marc Gugliotta. Cameron will respond to these and Rodger Shanahan's post soon: Cameron Crouch makes some good points. I would suggest, though, that focusing recruitment on the South-West Pacific could have

North American news frenzy

Sam has commented before on North American TV. But the thing I always notice when I'm visiting is how incredibly busy the news programs are compared to those in Australia. I mean, there are split screens, ticker tapes, side banners — for the uninitiated it is like reading under a strobe light. So

The ADF as sociological petri dish

I know I'm supposed to be writing about the role of Arab women in politics (and I am), but I felt the need to reply to this post proposing that the ADF go overseas in search of recruits. As a starter, Cameron Crouch proposes looking in Fiji, the Philippines and South Africa for high quality

ADF: 'Cutting fat' more than a euphemism

I’m shamed into admitting it — I am one of the 9,206 Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel determined as either overweight or obese by a report recently tabled to the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence & Trade – a travesty broken by Paul Maley in the Australian last

Women in IR: Analytic barriers

Why are more men than women visible in international relations, especially as analysts and commentators? As noted by Amy, visibility is important: role models will be a factor in helping young people make a decision about what they choose to study. That said, and absent a burning sense of vocation

Overseas recruitment for the ADF?

Cameron Crouch is author of the forthcoming 'Managing Terrorism and Insurgency: Regeneration, Recruitment and Attrition'. The recently-released Defence White Paper is an ambitious document. It proposes the acquisition of significant maritime and aerospace capabilities and the expansion of the ADF

The passion of Simon Crean

You can operate quite successfully as Trade Minister while hardly talking to the Foreign Minister, the point of  my  earlier column on Simon Crean. The difference between Crean and Stephen Smith was shown in the way they took up their ministerial posts.   Crean, the discarded ex-leader and

Dupont on the Defence White Paper

In his address to the Lowy Institute last week, Professor Alan Dupont offered a well argued rebuttal to the Government’s Defence White Paper. In his interview with me afterwards, he summarises his overall reaction to the White Paper, the likely regional response to the document and what will have

Et tu, Bruce?: The buzz around AusAID

The Canberra buzz is that the long-serving head of AusAID, Bruce Davis, is about to ascend to some version of multilateral heaven. Davis has reigned at the top of the Australian Agency for International Development for more than a decade. His tenure is an ironic counterpoint to the complaint that

Reader riposte: Welcome to the Lavy Institute

Jennifer Roberts writes: In response to your comments on Sally's well argued piece, which resounded a big 'yes!' in my head when I read it, I've decided that a picture tells a thousand words.  How would you feel if you frequently saw the following 'look

Budget boost for Aussies on ice

Mark Corcoran is presenter of ABC TV's Foreign Correspondent program. One of the more modest funding increases to slip under the radar of last week’s federal budget was a 10% top up for the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) to run Australia’s Antarctic bases. The extra  $25.2 

Reader riposte: Women in international relations

A correspondent disagrees with my views about the lack of female participation on The Interpreter: While there are many women with outstanding qualifications in international relations — and I look forward to reading more of their blogs — only a fraction of policy-makers, decision-makers

Some contradictions in the Defence White Paper

Geoff Miller is the former Director-General of the Office of National Assessments.  The new Defence White Paper, 'Defending Australia in the Asia Pacific Century: Force 2030', states in para.6.23 that 'The enduring reality of our strategic outlook is that Australia will most likely remain, by

Reader riposte: Why spare Defence from budget cuts?

Responding to a reader riposte from yesterday, Lachlan McGovern writes: Rory, you haven't answered Greg's point, besides pointing out that he's outflanked you on the Left. How do you justify a 3% real increase in spending on Defence when nearly every other area of government spending is being

An important question for the Defence Minister

And the question is, is this true?: Why is the (US) Navy promoting AEGIS BMD (ballistic missile defence)...when the new anti-ship ballistic missile capability being developed by China cannot be stopped by the Lockheed Martin AEGIS BMD capability of the DDG-51. Oh, you didn't know

New Caledonia election: Reduced pro-France majority

Elections on 10 May returned the New Caledonian Government, which will implement important transfers of powers and prepare the way for the future long-term status of New Caledonia.  But the results showed some potentially worrying trends, and present risks to the peaceful path New Caledonia has so

Reader riposte: We cannot eat weapons

Greg replies to my post on what I liked about the Defence White Paper (my comment follows): On what basis can an expansion of offensive capacity can be defended by a truly objective analysis? We are facing an ecological catastrophe — the scientific evidence is unequivocal. We cannot

Five-minute Lowy Lunch: The civil-military nexus

Yesterday the Lowy Institute welcomed as its Wednesday speaker Michael Smith AO, Executive Director of the Asia Pacific Civil-Military Centre of Excellence. You can listen to Michael's presentation and see his slideshow here, or join me below for a five-minute chat with Michael about the

Rudd election headache: The Asian economic cycle

Mark points to the trifecta of official forecasts which assume that a sustained recovery in Asia’s growth is conditional on growth returning in the developed world. Australia’s budget expresses similar thinking but is not as explicit. The Canberra caution is due to an unmentionable

The cost of border protection

So, another hard decision in the 2009 budget: $654 million over six years for 'border protection', AKA preventing illegal boat arrivals and protecting us from the 'vilest form of human life', people smugglers. Only 711 people have arrived in Australia since September last

Defence White Paper vs Federal Budget

The Defence White Paper and the Federal Budget offer two maps of how Australia sees the world. One way of presenting these maps is to seek the topography offered by the typography. In other words, see how countries rank by checking how often they are mentioned. The country count is used by

DFAT budget: Better than nothing, just

After a quick look at the 2009-10 foreign affairs and trade budget my initial reaction was relief that the Government has at least spared DFAT further cuts. As the Institute’s Blue Ribbon Panel Report Australia’s Diplomatic Deficit made clear, that would have been just about the final straw

Five points on foreign investment (part 5)

Mark's first point is that Australia is inescapably dependent on foreign investment. His second is that foreign investment from emerging economies will grow. Third, he argues that state-owned entities investing in Australia should be treated differently. And fourth, he says that while

Defence budget day: A different trajectory

The Defence White Paper released on 2 May promises that Defence will deliver $20.6 billion in savings over the next decade. That’s close to saving the equivalent of one year’s budget over the next ten years. Tonight’s Australian budget will be the first indication of whether Defence can stay

Five points on foreign investment (part 4)

Mark's first point is that Australia is inescapably dependent on foreign investment. His second is that foreign investment from emerging economies will grow. Third, he argued that state-owned entities investing in Australia should be treated differently. 4. The issue of investment

Five points on foreign investment (part 3)

Mark's first point is that Australia is inescapably dependent on foreign investment. His second is that foreign investment from emerging economies will grow. 3. Foreign investment by government-controlled entities such as state owned enterprises (SOEs), sovereign wealth funds (SWFs

Reader riposte: The Keelty legacy

Paul Cotton responds to my column about outgoing Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner Mick Keelty: Reports reaching me of the AFP in the Solomons lead me now to refer to them as the Australian Foreign Legion. Armed with heavy automatic weapons they arrive in peaceful

Five points on foreign investment (part 2)

Mark's first point is that Australia is inescapably dependent on foreign investment.  2. The international environment within which Australia’s foreign investment policy regime has to operate has changed in significant ways. One element of change is that the growing economic and

DMO review too radical for comfort

If a government accepts all but one recommendation of a defence review, then go immediately to the one idea that got the thumbs down. It will tell much about Defence as an institution and the interaction between ministers, the military, public servants and industry. So it is with the government

Five points on foreign investment (part 1)

Last week, I was a panel member in a discussion organised by CEDA on the issues raised by foreign investment in the Australian mining sector. I made five points, which I'll summarise in blog posts over the next two days. Here's my first point: 1. The overall policy debate about