Tuesday 24 May 2022 | 01:54 | SYDNEY

Australia in the World

DFAT: Starting to master its languages

The news from the RG Casey building, home of DFAT in Canberra, has been improving of late under the stewardship of DFAT Secretary Dennis Richardson. The most recent is a promising revelation in Senate Estimates that the Department is increasing its investment in language training for diplomats

What Abbott will do: Foreign policy, aid

My previous column took the Coalition\'s leaked speaking notes for MPs as a de facto policy platform and looked at what an Abbott Government would do about defence. Using the same document, let\'s look at the Coalition\'s stance on international affairs. As to be expected from

Reader ripostes: Demystifying Darwin

From our Facebook page, some interesting responses to Linda Jakobson\'s proposal to \'demystify\' the Darwin US Marines basing decision by turning the northern city into a hub for diplomatic meetings and humanitarian joint exercises. A selection, starting with Adrian Vandermay: A

What Abbott will do about defence

As the arrival next year of Tony Abbott\'s government looms ever closer, it is illuminating to have a de facto election manifesto. The glimpse of what the Coalition will offer voters is courtesy of a fine journalistic \'get\' by Crikey, which published the Coalition\'s confidential speaker

Interview: Walter Russell Mead on Asia game of thrones

Below is the first instalment of my interview series with renowned US foreign policy analyst Walter Russell Mead, Editor-at-Large for The American Interest and author of Special Providence and God and Gold. He also runs the lively Via Meadia blog. Walter has been kind to the Lowy

Demystifying Darwin

Chinese strategic thinkers, who previously did not pay much attention to far-off Australia, now want to know more about the \'Darwin decision\'. Was it directed at China, they ask? And how does the \'Darwin decision\' figure in US strategic plans to re-balance in Asia? Today, \'Darwin\' is nearly

Hope aground in South China Sea

Talks on an ASEAN-China code of conduct in the South China Sea were not the only thing to run aground in that contested body of water last week. Yesterday the Chinese navy rescued one of its frigates, which had been embarrassingly stranded on Half Moon Shoal, in waters claimed by the

Democracy and Indonesia economy

Indonesia is getting good press, with fulsome praise for both the post-Soeharto democracy and the performance of the economy. There are some links between the two. Democratic performance is usually judged in terms of whether the elections went smoothly, whether the diversity of the

India pile-on misses soft-power gains

\'It\'s open season for criticising India\'s leaders\', notes veteran Delhi-watcher John Elliot in his blog at The Independent. He\'s right, of course. Pack-like creatures that we are, the past week or so has seen a global media pile-on. Time\'s cover portrait across much of Asia this week

Ex-Defence Minister wars with military

A former Defence Minister has taken a giant swipe at the culture and leadership habits of Australia\'s military. Joel Fitzgibbon says it is time to put a civilian in charge, sitting above the Chief of the Australian Defence Force \'to establish what Defence sadly lacks today; one final point of

Crisis and Confidence, one year on

Whatever sweet nothings cloy the public communiqués at the end of this week\'s ASEAN security meetings in Phnom Penh, the real diplomatic records will devote plenty of space to intrigue and tension over the South China Sea. The ten ASEAN states have failed to agree on the contents of a

Life of a Japanese salaryman

In my search for images to accompany blog posts, I often find photos that are amazing but just not quite right for that particular post. For John Larkin\'s recent piece about Asia\'s male-dominated corporate sector, I was looking for a crowd shot of Asian white collar workers, preferably all male

Defence: If you can't measure it, how can you manage it?

To paraphrase the architect and artilleryman Vitruvius, you can\'t manage a defence force that you can\'t measure. I\'ve spent some time asking people how good the Australian Defence Force is, and I\'m not convinced anyone can tell me. Or more accurately, people can tell me how good or bad they

Defence Challenges linkage: JSF, hackers, Indian nukes and more

The Dutch parliament has voted to withdraw from the Joint Strike Fighter program, but does that actually mean anything? India will soon have a \'nuclear triad\'. Infinity Journal is a title I had not previously heard of: \'an online, peer-reviewed “journalzine” concerned with

All change for Asia

Australia is being told of \'dramatic\' shifts to its society and institutions because of the Asian Century. Being changed by Asia is not new; but the fact that this is being openly discussed, even embraced, does mark a departure from previous habits. Often in Australia, the big shifts start

Women locked out of Asia boardrooms

John Larkin reported from Asia for more than a decade for the Wall Street Journal and Time Magazine, and is now based in Australia. Western economies can learn from Asia\'s resilience against financial crisis. But Asia\'s male-dominated corporate sectors could take a cue from more egalitarian

Whisper it: We are containing China, just a bit

Robert Ayson is Director of the Centre for Strategic Studies at Victoria University, Wellington. In his recent post on the perennial risk of alliance entrapment, Andrew O\'Neil poses a teasing post-November question: what would Canberra do if a Romney White House tried to enlist Australia for a neo

Asian echoes in Horne masterpiece

Not long after arriving in Sydney, I ran into a young Australian architect who outlined what seemed like an astonishingly heretical theory: that the best way to improve the quality of local architecture was to demolish the Sydney Opera House. Jorn Utzon\'s unfinished masterpiece, he reckoned, had

Reader ripostes: Australia alliance choices

Peter Layton\'s comment on the US alliance is below. But first, here\'s Malcolm Davis, who posted this on the Lowy Institute\'s Facebook page: This is a really great piece in the SMH. I\'ve immediately assigned it for this week\'s reading for my students doing my \'Strategic China\' at Bond

Australia slow-motion alliance choice

The posts published yesterday by Andrew O\'Neil and Malcolm Cook were each submitted without knowledge of the other, but taken together, they summarise pretty nicely the two sides of Australia\'s debate about the US alliance. O\'Neil warns that the economic and strategic forces shaping

Reader riposte: Understanding China Party

Geoff Miller, a former Director-General of the Office of National Assessments, writes: In his comment of 4 July, Hugh White roundly criticises Australia\'s efforts to understand and form a relationship of trust with China, and wonders whether we can grasp the notion of such a relationship with

ANZUS: A buyer market for Australia

Andrew O\'Neil\'s post on Australian anxieties about ANZUS abandonment reminds me of a conversation I had recently in which a colleague framed ANZUS as a \'buyer\'s market\' in which Australia is the buyer. It\'s an observation worth exploring. All alliances evolve, and as Geoffrey Barker

Asian Century linkage: Corruption, Cambodia, China banks and more

Indonesia dialing back its openness to foreign investment. \'The first question we should ask ourselves is: what kind of future does China want for itself?\' George W Bush\'s National Security Adviser, Stephen Hadley, on China\'s rise. Another side of Japan: a tour through some of Tokyo\'s

The 2011 Census and the Asian Century

Danielle Rajendram is a Research Associate in the Lowy Institute\'s International Security Program whose work focuses on India and China-India relations. Graeme Dobell cites recent census figures about languages spoken in Australian homes to argue that Australia has come a long way in its

Australia win-win security alliance

Analysts have long worried that the defence of Australia and Australia\'s Asian engagement project pull the country in different directions and create serious policy challenges for Canberra. Today, we see this worry among those who postulate that there are tremendous tensions between

The US alliance: Fear of entrapment

Andrew O\'Neil is Professor in the School of Government and International Relations at Griffith University and Director of the Griffith Asia Institute. Australia is physically far removed from the conflict hot spots in Asia and has not been seriously threatened by any regional power since

Lucky in the Asian Century

A key submission to the Asian Century inquiry – perhaps a foundational text – is a work that is fast nearing its 50th birthday. In contemplating the grand task of an Asian future for Australia, Ken Henry would well understand the many layers of thought in Donald Horne\'s The Lucky

McKibbin on Australia carbon tax

Earlier this week we caught up with Lowy Institute Professorial Fellow Warwick McKibbin to discuss the new carbon tax. For those readers who follow Warwick\'s work on economic instruments to address climate change (summarised in a 2006 Lowy Institute Analysis and more recently in 

The 'pivot' in Australia-Indonesia strategic relations

Greta Nabbs-Keller is writing a PhD at Griffith Asia Institute on the impact of democratisation on Indonesia\'s foreign policy. \'One cannot understand major developments in Australian-Indonesian relations unless we see them in the context of Australian-American relations\' argued Australian

PNG elections: Meet the candidates

The 2012 election in Papua New Guinea is well underway, with polling commencing on 23 June and due to finish at the end of this week. Because of the complexity of party politics in PNG, however, and the high number of candidates and small political parties, the result won\'t be known until at

China: Our failure of imagination

The fresh perspective in Linda Jakobson\'s excellent Policy Brief on managing our relations with China brings out all kinds of things that have escaped my attention but now seem clear, and very important.  Our relationship with China is now arguably more important to us than any

Reader riposte: Jakobson Australia-China paper

Dennis Argall writes: Linda Jakobson\'s analysis and recommendations for Australia-China relations are timely and sound. The history of the degradation of Australian government approaches to the relationship is disappointing. Recent trends reflect elements that have worked on the relationship for

India-China: The carrier race

China and India are neck-and-neck in their development of new-generation aircraft carriers. Both navies now have \'new\' ships undergoing sea trials, and the race is on to see which will be the first to undertake landing trials for fixed wing aircraft. The Times of India reports that India\'s

Doco trailer: Last Train Home

A synopsis from the official website: Every spring, China’s cities are plunged into chaos, as all at once, a tidal wave of humanity attempts to return home by train. It is the Chinese New Year. The wave is made up of millions of migrant factory workers. The homes they seek are the rural

China: The 'uneasiness of the unknown'

Soon after I began delving into the study of Australia-China relations upon moving to Sydney 14 months ago, a senior Australian official told me: \'Our top leaders find China too hard; just too hard.\' It isn\'t just the lack of English-speaking counterparts in China, nor the cultural

China quickening pace in space

Dr Morris Jones, who has written previously for The Interpreter, is an Australian space analyst. There is a condescending tone to much of the international reportage on China\'s recent space docking and expedition to its first space laboratory, Tiangong 1. Commentators applaud China\'s

Defence Challenges linkage: Pivot, malware, Southeast Asia and more

The US military is rediscovering some of the Southeast Asian bases it abandoned in the 60s and 70s. But meanwhile, Sino-Thai military relations are improving steadily. Useful table on world military spending. The US is the baseline, and it gives both IISS and SIPRI numbers. Australia\'s Tiger

India no longer shining

Just as Washington\'s bookstores were piled high at the turn of the century with works celebrating America\'s global primacy, Delhi\'s were awash with titles proclaiming the rise of India. Almost each month, it seemed, a new book would appear with cover artwork depicting a tiger squaring up to a

Time to deepen Australia-China ties

I notice Linda Jakobson\'s new paper (Australia-China ties: In search of political trust) is already getting a lot of attention on Twitter. Here\'s her video summary

Reader riposte: Ediplomacy detour in Indonesia

Dr Shannon Smith, a Jakarta-based public relations consultant who was Counselor (Education) at the Australian Embassy, Jakarta, from 2005-2010, writes: Thanks Fergus Hanson for a very thoughtful response to my riposte. Fergus brings the ediplomacy discussion usefully forward to

The currency of China prerogatives

Australia is being forced to become more sensitive to China\'s prerogatives in everything from currency flows to resource projects to the application of foreign investment rules. In meshing our economy with Japan, Australia was able to retain a US dollar frame of reference that happily cohabited

Strategic warning or strategic surprise?

Defence white papers normally include a paragraph or two on strategic warning. It is a fundamental aspect of defence policy and relates to strategic risk and hedging. The 2009 White Paper included the following commentary: Australia has an enduring strategic interest in ensuring that any

Asian Century linkage: Thai censors, China in space, Asia haze and more

Southeast Asia\'s smoky haze is back. Whose fault is it? (Thanks Milton.) China-Japan: New public opinion survey suggests high levels of mutual mistrust. Mao\'s Great Leap Forward on film. Google is doing the bidding of government censors in Thailand. The Wall St Journal\'s Japan Real Time

US strategic thinking about the Indian Ocean

David Brewster is a Visiting Fellow at the Strategic & Defence Studies Centre, ANU. US strategic thinking about the Indian Ocean is in a state of flux. While it is not at all clear where it will go, we can nevertheless understand some of the basics of US strategy in the region.

Reordering Australia Asia preferences

Trade and economic interests are not always definitive, but they have obvious weight and, most importantly, they influence the hierarchy and slow re-ordering of national preferences. The shift of economic weight has cumulative effects on preferences which feed into judgments about national

Doco trailer: 'Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry'

I\'m late to this one, as the film actually screened at the Sydney Film Festival a couple of weeks ago. But if the trailer attracts you to this documentary about dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei (\'I don\'t think I am a dissident artist; I see them as a dissident government.\'), then keep

Reader riposte: Win or lose in Afghanistan (3)

Dennis Argall writes: I don\'t understand Harry Gelber\'s assertion that our war in Afghanistan did not seek \'victory\'. War is a choice of an absolute, and the absolute word for success is \'victory\' — why else go to war? Not to play with words. We sought victory, we didn\'t

'Asian pivot' is really an 'Asian re-balance'

David Brewster is a Visiting Fellow at the Strategic & Defence Studies Centre, ANU. Should we call the recent changes to US strategy in Asia the \'Asian pivot\'? Or should we, as the Obama Administration insists, see it as a \'re-balancing\' of US defence resources? The new US strategy