Thursday 27 Feb 2020 | 21:06 | SYDNEY

Australia in the World

Afghanistan: Death with sense

Australia’s morning started today with what is becoming a familiar, saddening ritual. Television and radio crossed to the Defence Department in Canberra. In front of an array of flags, the chief of the Australian Defence Force, Angus Houston, announced the death of another soldier in Afghanistan

APC: Dead duck or bird with a few important feathers?

Malcolm is right to argue that the Asia Pacific has long understood what options are on the table for evolving what little multilateral security architecture is now in place. But the running-on-the spot debate the region has conducted over the past decade is the reason it is now possible to

Friday funny II: Interesting ways to die in Australia

This one's for our foreign readers. Earlier this week I referred to reports of a large-ish shark in the vicinity of a beach I was visiting. And many of you will have read this week about a kangaroo breaking through the window of a family home and going on a rampage inside (the man of the house

Friday funny: Gift of the gab

As the Prime Minister discovered this week (and Annabel Crabb politely noted) when politicians are so closely scrutinised, sooner or later one itsy bitsy word is inevitably going to sneak out at the wrong time and place. Over his lengthy career as Australia's longest serving foreign

Asia Pacific Community: The duck that didn't quack

As always, I enjoyed reading Graeme’s latest post, especially as I myself am a supporter of the 'US into the EAS' school of thought on the future of regional architecture. However, I think Graeme may be too kind, even at a stretch, regarding progress of the Asia Pacific Community idea.

Architecture winner: The East Asia Summit

As the outsider, Australia’s unspoken role at meetings in the South Pacific has long been to ’throw the dead cat on the table’. This ’dead cat’ responsibility was described to me a couple of decades ago by a South Pacific thinker who had a high regard for Australia’s role in the

Could missile defence make us less secure?

I've just returned from a very pleasant 24 hours at HMAS Creswell, where my job was to lecture a group of officers about ballistic missile defence (BMD). I also enjoyed the superb hospitality and scenery at the base (the Navy photo below goes nowhere near to doing it justice), but I'm

Reader riposte: GG trip to Africa a concern

Alistair writes in with this reply to our thread on the Governor-General: Mr Bowtell is as disingenuous as those he complains of in their criticism of the Governor-General. He betrays his own prejudices in depicting critics as 'rabid' and as 'poodles'.  In short, he

The bizarre contortions of Quentin Bryce critics

The head of state should protect and advance the national interest as defined by the national government. From Albania to Zambia, from North Korea to North Dakota and from Palau to Panama, no patriotic politician, party or pundit could possibly disagree with such an unexceptional

Happy 60th birthday to the Commonwealth

When John Howard took over as Prime Minister in March, 1996, he sat down with his new foreign policy advisers to survey the international calendar for the rest of the year. There were some obvious  trips inscribed in the list: APEC, the South Pacific Forum and bilaterals to the US, Japan and

Australia-Afghanistan: A short look at a long war

Afghanistan is to be the longest war of the long war. That prediction by General David Petraeus to Donald Rumsfeld in 2005 is going from forecast to a statement of fact. So Kevin Rudd and Canberra’s defence establishment are thinking long and hard about what a generational war in Afghanistan will

The Downer legacy (part 3): The war on terror

The struggle against terrorism and its extremist ideology is one of our generation’s greatest political challenges. - Alexander Downer, December 2006 Alexander Downer’s thinking on Muslim extremism reflected a US starting point in 2001, but slowly broadened to accept Indonesian

The 5-minute Lowy Lunch: Defence white papers past

Peter Edwards gave yesterday's Wednesday Lowy Lunch address, in which he surveyed Australia's history and the effects it has had on the crafting of various defence white papers. You can listen to his speech here, and below is a short interview I conducted with him just before he gave his

Dengue: A sign of the times

Cairns is in the grip of the worst dengue outbreak in Australia in years. Late last year, the Lowy Institute released a report on the impact of climate change on mosquito-borne diseases in that predicts a growing dengue threat in northern Queensland and the gradual migration of this deadly threat

NZ: Embracing and resisting Australia

The Australians are our best friends, whether we like them or not. - Former New Zealand Prime Minister, Mike Moore. The Oz-Kiwi relationship has slowly shifted beyond partnership to a form of marriage where large elements of integration are locked in place. Australia

Reader riposte: UNSC maneuvers

Paul Cotton furthers yeterday's discussion on what Australia is doing to further its ambition for a seat on the UN Security Council: Further activity in support of the Security Council bid can be seen in the Defence Minister’s recent visit to meet Ministers at the Africa Union

Andrew Symon

At the Lowy Institute we have been saddened by the news of the untimely death of a highly valued colleague and Lowy Institute author, Andrew Symon. Several of us got to know Andrew over the past 18 months through the production of a highly-regarded publication he authored for the Institute on

UNSC bid in full swing

Sam's post is rather unfair on UN Ambassador Robert Hill. Other sources say that the Australian UN Security Council push is, in fact, in full swing and that Robert Hill is investing a great deal of energy into it, in New York and through a tour of African capitals. This has been low key — so

Transparency: An Australian trade agenda for G20

Bill Carmichael is a former Chairman of Australia's Industries Assistance Commission and is a member of the Tasman Transparency Group. After a long pause since he received the Mortimer Review on trade policy, Simon Crean has  announced the government’s position on trade. It regards

Reader riposte: Sons and daughters and missiles

Anton Kuruc writes: You asked the question re. the air warfare destroyers (AWD): 'How do you sell a capability like that to the electorate?' How about on the basis of the primary purpose for buying the AWD. The AWD Alliance website overview describes its capabilities thus: '

DPRK missiles raise thorny questions for Canberra

In my previous post I said certain politicians and commentators might call on President Obama to order the shoot-down of a North Korean ballistic missile, should it be tested soon. The commentators and politicians I had in mind are those that, for various reasons, want to see missile defence

Climate change: Adding insult to policy

When she pauses for a moment's honest reflection, I wonder if Climate Change Minister Penny Wong will regret this sentiment, from her op-ed in today's Australian: Some commentators, and the Opposition, appear intent on diverting us from action by embarking on yet another round

CPRS: Review cancelled, opportunity lost

It was good news when Treasurer Wayne Swan announced that the House Economics Committee was to enquire whether the core of Australia’s response to climate change – the Carbon pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) — is the best way to tackle climate change. This now cancelled review could

Australia fighter jet wars...again

I see that business and economics commentator Robert Gottliebsen has entered the defence debate today. Here's his lead sentence: The most disturbing news for Australia today is not the economic reports out of the US but rather a report in The Australian Financial Review that states

Peter Garrett interview

I got just a few moments to talk with Environment Minister Peter Garrett today about his speech to the Lowy Institute on the future of international whale conservation. A recording of his full address, which he has only just finished delivering, will be posted on the Lowy Institute website

'Full and total support': Bishop hears the death knell

Julie Bishop has just discovered the law known to all football coaches — when the club starts vowing its full and total support for you, the knives are out and the light over the exit door is flashing. And so the deputy leader of the Liberal Party has ‘stepped aside’ as shadow Treasurer.

How not to do defence planning (part 2)

Major Gen (Retd) Jim Molan is author of Running the War in Iraq. Reader Chris Skinner challenged me to offer some ideas on defence planning. I took up the challenge in three parts; this is part two, in which I will offer some suggestions about what to do to improve the process. In

Exports: Japan by the numbers

Some statistics really do open the eye, especially those that counter what is the conventional wisdom and focus of the moment. A 3 February press release by Trade Minister Crean reports that for the 2008 calendar year, Australian exports to Japan rose by 58% to $50.3 billion (equal to about 5% of

Reader riposte: Nationals and trade

Peter Frank agrees with the sentiment of my post yesterday criticising the Nationals' language on Chinese imports: It gets even worse, with Barnaby Joyce ranting this morning against the Rio Tinto-Chinalco deal. No-one would argue against a sober assessment of the national interest

Nationals feeling the Chinese burn

Well, this is just ugly (h/t Peter Martin): “I’m worried about when big chunks of money turn up in one fell swoop just before Christmas, because a couple of weeks later you see a lot of Australia’s $10 billion scattered around the floor with Made in China on the back,”

Confronting war criminals in Australia

My colleague Fergus Hanson gave the Wednesday Lowy Lunch presentation yesterday, to launch his new Policy Brief on war criminals in Australia. You can listen to Fergus' presentation here, or below you can hear a short interview I conducted with him. He talks about why there is good reason to

Howard defends Bush

Former Prime Minister John Howard on the Bush legacy: Bush’s challenge in the wake of that attack was the greatest faced by any president since Roosevelt at the time of Pearl Harbour. The collective sense of dread that there would be another, and perhaps even worse, attack, which was

Reader riposte: Defence stimulus

Will Clegg adds some rigour to my slightly sloppy post on stimulus and defence spending, but I still have doubts: It is true that investment in productive assets has a multiplier effect on economic activity, because of (1) the spending of people who receive income from the assets'

It time to cut the defence budget

I'm already on the record as advocating a more modest, non-provocative defence policy, and part of that argument was a call for a small cut to defence spending that could go toward beefing up our diplomatic capacity. But even if you think that argument lacks merit (and I'm pretty

Hillary Clinton first stop

Carl Ungerer is Director of the Australian National Security Project at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.  Foreign policy pundits like to play a game called 'where will they go first?' Following the election of a new government, speculation is rife about the location and

More on IRENA

You'll recall that a week or so ago I wrote a short post wondering why Australia had decided not to join the new International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). At the time, I thought the Department of Climate Change had carriage of this issue, so I asked them for comment. I subsequently

War is the health of the state

As if to reinforce the point I made yesterday, the Prime Minister employed the language of national security again last night when describing the financial crisis: With a battle erupting in federal parliament over the passage of his $42 billion plan, and sounding more and more like a

Mr Rudd war

Like Sam, I’ve been struck by Kevin Rudd’s use of warlike metaphors to describe our economic problems, and like him I suspect there is more political artifice than policy analysis in the choice of imagery. International Relations scholars in recent years have amazed themselves by discovering

Rudd confronts the neo-con con

With the demise of neo-liberalism, the role of the state has once more been recognised as fundamental. - Kevin Rudd, essayist and Prime Minister. There’s been much discussion of the idea that the good ol’ Westphalian system is back, hacking its way through the door with

The global financial crisis: Rudd war?

Unlike Fergus, I don't think the scale and complexity of today's global challenges requires us to feel much sympathy for political leaders of Kevin Rudd's generation. Most are probably revelling in it, and although we cannot see into Rudd's soul, I would be shocked if he did not

Australia and war criminals

Australia inched towards an embarrassing first yesterday: the successful extradition of a resident war criminal. We have never managed such a basic feat before despite persistent claims that suspected war criminals are living here and a handful of attempts by other countries to extract them.

Government back: Who wants in?

As Mark keeps reminding us, government is back, but if you were in government would you really be that pleased to be on centre stage right now? If you are in government and your country hasn't already been bankrupted Iceland-style, you might find yourself on the list of those about to

A bleak outlook for defence spending

Sam Bateman is a Senior Fellow with the Maritime Security Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University. Mark Dodd’s piece in The Australian two weeks ago referred to an independent audit of Australia’s defence budget that

Reader riposte: Our foreign policy needs independence

Alison Broinowski writes in with this reply to part two of Graeme Dobell's post on the Downer legacy. I hope Graeme Dobell’s series on the alliance will point out, in addition to the American views he has quoted, the long series of statements that make it clear that the United

Howard and the US alliance: Not so clear cut

There are a few points on which I find myself in mild and respectful disagreement with my learned colleague, Graeme Dobell following his post on the US alliance. These are based in part on my observations working within government on alliance issues over the Coalition’s first four years in

The Downer legacy (part 2): The US alliance

Ed. note: Here's part 1 of this series. Australia’s leaders can be divided into two groups – those hot for the US alliance and those who are merely warm, or even lukewarm. In office, all Australian leaders publicly support the alliance. It’s the strength of the embrace that matters. The hot

Why aren't we in IRENA?

It was barely reported in Australia, but via this clean energy blog, I discovered yesterday that Australia has decided not to join the newly minted International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the renewable energy equivalent of the IEA. According to this report, the US, UK, Japan and China are

Afghanistan: Fitzgibbon clarifies, somewhat

After sowing confusion yesterday, Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon has partially clarified his comments about further Australian troop deployments to Afghanistan. In an interview with the ABC, he nominates several 'threshold questions' for any such deployment, which I would summarised

Timor-Leste: Looking for a UN exit strategy?

Jim Della-Giacoma is an Associate Director at the Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum at the Social Science Research Council in New York City. Citing continued stability in Timor-Leste, the Department of Defence announced last week that a Company-sized group of about 100 ADF soldiers would

More troops to Afghanistan? Well, maybe

Perhaps Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon is signalling a new willingness to consider additional troop deployments, but let's wait for clarification first, given how garbled his quote is: Mr Fitzgibbon says Australia will not consider a change unless there is a tactical or strategic

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