Thursday 09 Apr 2020 | 22:37 | SYDNEY

Australia in the World

Email of the day II: Too much emphasis on our image

More on Australia's image in Washington, from Christian Bennett: The contributions by Michael Fullilove and Jeremy Shapiro seem to miss one essential point — our diplomatic efforts, whether through traditional, military or intelligence channels, are not about image, they are

Let resist the urge to panic about our Japan relations

More 'KEVIN RUDD MUST GO TO JAPAN RIGHT NOW!!!' hysteria in the SMH today. As I said earlier this week, Rudd has two visits to Japan planned this year, and that is surely enough. The fact that he is not going there on his first big trip strikes me as significant only if you regard our

Voltaire in Canberra

For a footnote-rich survey of the global strategic landscape (and incidentally a handy primer for those new to the field of international relations), Senator Russell Trood’s new Lowy paper has garnered an impressive amount of media interest. Of course, the story was all about the fact

Email of the day: The small ally burden

Yesterday I had a whinge about American pollsters' imperfect knowledge of Australia. Today we received a very helpful response from across the ditch: Kiwi Paul Cotton recommends a tried-and-tested approach for small countries who believe they're being ignored by their larger allies

Nelson caught between hope and fear

In a major speech to the National Press Club yesterday, Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson said we Australians 'should ultimately see ourselves as outward looking, competitive, intensely compassionate human beings'. It was disappointing, then, that in the single paragraph he devoted to

Pacific Islands: ASPI gets it right

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s report of an Independent Task Force’s recommendations for improving Australia’s relationship with the Pacific Islands is essential reading for policy makers. The report’s strategy and recommendations are practical and sensible. In brief, the

Who really killed the Quad?

Sam Roggeveen said yesterday that:  The Rudd Government did not 'kill' the quadrilateral dialogue with the US, Japan and India at the behest of China. As my colleague Rory Medcalf has noted, nobody was proposing a new round of that dialogue anyway. I read the situation a little

The Super Hornet decision

In late January I speculated  that, given Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon’s strong language against the previous government’s decision to buy 24 Super Hornet fighters, he would be hard pressed not to cancel the deal. Well blow me down if Fitzgibbon didn’t just announce that, not only is

Rudd doing the right thing on Japan

The Australian press (or at least, the small portion of it that reports on foreign policy) is today all atwitter about Jason Koutsoukis' scoop claiming Japanese 'fury' over Kevin Rudd's decision not to include Tokyo in his upcoming 17-day world tour. Koutsoukis cites only one

Shock! Major defence project late and over budget!

I initially chose not to comment when this ABC story emerged on Wednesday, about a new report criticising the Joint Strike Fighter. I thought it was a non-story because, for reasons I couldn't fully recall, I felt that the US agency which produced the report, the Government Accountability

White vs Bolt: A pox on both their houses

Andrew Bolt’s description of Hugh White as defeatist on Afghanistan is a glib and unhelpful retort to Hugh’s proposition that the coalition’s effort in Afghanistan is likely to fail. Neither ‘avoiding defeatism’ nor ‘staying the course’ are sound bases for policy decisions that put

Afghanistan: Should we stay or should we go?

Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt calls Hugh White's latest op-ed on Afghanistan defeatist, which I guess is crudely true. But if, as Hugh seems to believe, the information to hand strongly suggests that the West cannot achieve its military or political aims in Afghanistan, then surely it

A new nuclear restraint initiative for Asia

Australia should combine its Asia diplomacy and its nuclear arms control diplomacy: this was a key theme of the lecture I gave yesterday at the Lowy Institute. I presented a case for a new kind of nuclear arms control initiative by Australia, and a way for the Rudd Government to fulfil its

Melanesia: The curse of Prime Ministers past

John Howard is not the only former Primer Minister making trouble for his successor in the last fortnight. The former prime ministers and now opposition leaders of PNG and Solomon Islands, Sir Mekere Morauta and Manasseh Sogavare, have criticised the failure of aid to advance their countries. 

The Prime Minister in Paradise

After all the flag waving, billboards, Broncos jerseys and babies named Kevin Rudd, can the Prime Minister live up to the expectations he created during his travels to PNG and Solomon Islands last week? The abundance of media releases, speeches, and joint press conferences from the visit on the

What does China military power mean for us?

The Pentagon has handed down its annual report to Congress on China’s military power. Given that it is now in its eighth edition and beginning to get a little tedious, the release of this year’s report appears to have been nicely timed to coincide with an official Chinese announcement, ahead of

The Lombok Treaty: Devil in the detail

There is a worrying little fault line in our relations with Indonesia, which may in time become a major crack.  It was neatly exposed by some deft questioning from Jim Middleton in his new program a couple of weeks ago.  First, Jim pressed the Indonesian Ambassador, Mr Thayeb (video here; scroll

John Howard goes to Washington

The Australian is splashing John Howard’s guest appearance at a ‘glittering’ dinner for the American Enterprise Institute here in Washington last night, at which he delivered the Irving Kristol Lecture and received AEI’s award for outstanding achievement. (I wonder what they would have

Howard conservatism

Regarding John Howard's speech to the American Enterprise Institute: what amazes me about such 'conservative' defences of the war on terrorism is how unconservative they are. Conservatives typically distrust the left's utopian faith in government to fix society's ills, and Howard

Australia in Mindanao: Taking up the gamble

Recently, an Australian delegation went from the embassy in downtown Manila to the jungles of Mindanao to express Australia’s interest in contributing more to the peace process between the Philippine Government and the main Moro insurgent group, the MILF. This is certainly a brave move, given

Sunk costs at home and abroad

So Joel Fitzgibbon has finally cancelled the Seasprite helicopter contract. Eleven helicopters, built and paid for, will now never see Navy service because the contractor can't get the electronics to work. Because Labor didn't make the original decision to buy the Seasprites, it was

Email of the day: 0.7 the right aid target

Ben Thurley, National Advocacy Coordinator for TEAR Australia and co-convenor of the make poverty history campaign writes in with this reaction to guest blogger Gaurav Sodhi's post: Aid campaigners do not promote aid spending of 0.7% GNI on a whim, or as a random figure plucked

Aid: One zany scheme after another

Guest blogger: Gaurav Sodhi, a researcher at The Centre for Independent Studies, sneaks in with this post on our aid thread: Aid campaigners always cite the hallowed figure of 0.7% of GDP as a firm target for foreign aid as if it has been sanctified by the economic gods. Now the Rudd

PNG has a 'new chum' called Kevin

The Australian Prime Minister may not believe Australian polls about his style credentials, but his stars appear to be on the rise in PNG ahead of his 6 March visit. Hopes are high in Port Moresby for a transformation of bilateral relations, with the PNG Post Courier referring to Kevin Rudd as

Email of the day II: No single answer on aid

The last word on our foreign aid discussion (which started here and continues here, here, here, here and then here) goes to Maree Nutt, national manager of RESULTS Australia: There is no single answer in the messy and complicated world of human needs and development: the economic models

Email of the day: Aid money should be spent locally

Edward Rees, East Timor  Country Director of Peace Dividend Trust, writes on our foreign aid thread: Some comments from Dili, Timor-Leste: As your guest bloggers, Lusby and Wheen, correctly state, there are such large and powerful vested interests involved that the reform of how

Email of the day: Aid program needs to be more liberal

Pierre Huetter writes in with this response to our aid thread: Picking up on posts by Jenny Hayward-Jones  and Tim Wilson, I'd like to humbly suggest one possible innovative avenue for supporting private sector development in aid...more liberalism in its delivery. The rhetoric in

Suggested reading for Ric Smith

The recently appointed head of the government’s homeland security review, Ric Smith (who is also a Visiting Fellow at the Lowy Institute), could find worse ways to spend an hour today than to read this Foreign Affairs essay on resilience as the key concept for a new counter-terrorism strategy

Embracing climate change in the Pacific

Donors and investors alike have long been sceptical of the economic potential of rural enterprise in the Pacific Islands. Weaknesses in infrastructure, energy and water supplies, transport, maintenance, marketing capacity and frequent land disputes have not inspired sufficient confidence to

Don't panic about our India relations

Quite a beat-up today from The Australian’s man in New Delhi. Relying on a sample size of precisely one opinion piece by one member of India’s vast pantheon of foreign affairs commentators, along with one quote from an anonymous Indian official, Bruce Loudon implies that Australia-India

Email of the day: The times suit Obama

Fergus Green writes: I have followed with great interest the debate that has played out on these pages (and on those of The Australian) over the past few days concerning whether Obama or McCain is likely to be more adroit at managing the US-China relationship. From my temporarily

Rudd Govt getting a dose of the Howard stumbles

Communiqués issued after AUSMIN meetings seldom make for gripping reading, but there was something odd and interesting about the one issued last weekend after the Rudd Government’s first AUSMIN. Tucked away under the heading ‘Regional Cooperation’ were a few sentences about the most

Capitalism and aid

Tim Wilson’s argument that the best way to promote development is the spread of capitalism is a sound one and supported by most of the Pacific. A thriving free market economy creates employment, raises family incomes and creates demand for better services and better governance, thus reducing

The coming Burma question

Hamish McDonald has a terrific piece of reporting from inside Burma in Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald. 'Where Giants Jostle' deals with the struggle for influence over the regime by its two large neighbours, China and India, and the impact their struggle is having on the society. As a

More aid isn't the answer

Guest blogger: Tim Wilson, Director, IP and Free Trade Unit at the Institute of Public Affairs, enters the aid debate that was kicked-off here yesterday by Stephanie Lusby, of Jubilee Australia, and Kate Wheen of AID/Watch. Sitting in a region that includes some of the world’s poorest,

Email of the day: Our aid program needs to be realistic

Peter McCawley writes in with this response to the aid debate that started here yesterday: Guest bloggers Stephanie Lusby and Kate Wheen call on Australians to agree that children and women in Papua New Guinea and East Timor have 'the same right to human security, political freedoms

Our Kiwi friends

The high priority attached to the development challenges in the South Pacific in Prime Minister Rudd’s 27 February meeting with his New Zealand counterpart Helen Clark is encouraging. Australia-New Zealand cooperation in the Pacific is hardly new, but the focus on development assistance

Obama vs McCain: A question of war and peace

Hugh White asks rhetorically whether there is any reason to think Obama has either the strategic vision, strategic judgement or political courage to build a new accommodation with China. 'Not much', he answers. But this overlooks one of the great strengths of Obama's campaign (and,

Vote McCain

As always, Sam scores some telling hits in his response to my argument that Australians should hope McCain becomes President. But let me just press him a little harder.  First, let us agree that for Australians the future president’s ability to manage the long-term US-China relationship is

Aid is increasing, but can we spend it well?

Guest bloggers: Stephanie Lusby, co-Director of Jubilee Australia, and Kate Wheen, co-Director of AID/Watch, kick-off a debate about Australia's aid program with a co-authored post on the following question: ‘The Rudd Government is lifting aid to 0.5 per cent of GDP, but do we have the

Email of the day: Obama has better instincts on China

From Edward Cohen, a former Lowy Institute intern now studying for the MPhil in International Relations at Cambridge University: Hugh White’s recent opinion piece in The Australian raises a critical question: which of the presidential candidates would conduct foreign policy in a way

McCain is not our man

Hugh White argues Australia's interests would be best served with another Nixon in the White House, because a Nixonian would be best placed to manage the US relationship with China. For Hugh, that man is Republican candidate John McCain. Let me explain why I disagree. [more] First, I

Super Hornet: Rein in the brass

Opposition Defence spokesman Nick Minchin's criticism of Defence Minister Fitzgibbon on Lateline last night was off base. The fact that Fitzgibbon said he hopes the air power review comes down in favour of Super Hornet is not a policy reversal. Fitzgibbon was simply making the point that

Nuclear disarmament: Eyes on Oslo

I am in Oslo this week to join a global non-government conference on nuclear disarmament. This event, hosted by the Norwegian Government in cooperation with the Nuclear Threat Initiative and the Hoover Institution, aims to seize the momentum started by two important public statements on the

Email of the day: Why we got out of the EBRD

A reader vents about our European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) thread: For heaven’s sake! The debate between Stephen Grenville and Peter McCawley about the public policy reasons behind the government’s move to withdraw from the EBRD misses the point. The real

Afghanistan: Talking ourselves into trouble

Our new government seems to be talking a lot about Afghanistan — too much, unless they really intend to do something more about it. And I hope they are not going to make that mistake.  Joel Fitzgibbon has turned up at not one but two NATO ministerial meetings to talk about Afghanistan in the

Email of the day: Why are we getting out of the EBRD?

Peter McCawley writes: Steven Grenville's observations on the decision by the Australian Government to withdraw from the EBRD prompt the questions: why, exactly, did the Australian Government decide to withdraw?  And what will the consequences be? The answers to these questions are

Has Australia backflipped on missile defence?

There's confusion this morning about the Rudd Government's position on missile defence, abetted by some rather opaque remarks by Foreign Minister Stephen Smith on the Sunday program (click on the 'more' button below to read the relevant bit of the transcript). The Age has

Australia out of the EBRD

It was only a little news item with an obscure acronym, but Australia has decided to withdraw from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Some might ask why we ever joined in the first place, but its London headquarters was a very pleasant spot to send supernumerary bureaucrats