Friday 06 Dec 2019 | 03:01 | SYDNEY

Australia in the World

Lifting our game in India

I argue in today's Melbourne Age that Australia needs to lift its diplomatic game and take India at least as seriously as the Chinese now do.  If news reports and informed analysis are anything to go by, China is moving closer to India's position on matters that are close to New Delhi&#

A reader defends cultural exports

In response to my post on the DFAT budget cuts, a reader writes: I fail to see how you equate a cut in cultural exports funding as 'great news' and an 'improvement (sic) to our image'. We all know the power of lasting film images and the investment needed to project a

DFAT budget cuts are a lost opportunity

The DFAT budget cuts reported in today’s Australian are a tough blow for an organisation that was never exactly swimming in funds under its previous minister. It’s the cuts to overseas posts that will hurt Australian interests the most (the cutting of cultural exports funding, on the other

A seasonal work policy for the Pacific Islands

Reader Paul Cotton makes an interesting reference to a subject close to my heart and one I will continue to follow on The Interpreter: Of particular interest will be the Government's view on work programs for Pacific islanders in Australia. Comments have been made that Australia is

Australia-India: Nuclear ideals versus national interests

The Australian media saw whaling and cricket as the two big take-outs (horrible word, I resolve not to use it again in 2008) from Foreign Minister Stephen Smith’s press conference on 7 January. Which is a pity, since even a skim of the transcript suggests that Mr Smith (who had just emerged

Australia getting F-22s? Not so fast

Herald Sun defence reporter Ian McPhedran has overcooked his lead paragraph a little. Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon clearly wants to consider the purchase of F-22 Raptor stealth fighters, but that's not the same as saying the Government 'wants to include' the fighter in its line-

Australia role in Pakistan

I argue in today's Sydney Morning Herald that Australia can and should do considerably more than it is accustomed to in supporting a more democratic and secure order in Pakistan.  The Bhutto assassination confirms that allowing an increasingly unstable Musharraf-managed status quo to continue

Pacific Islands: Overcoming the aid mind-set

The previous government’s hectoring of Pacific Island leaders and politicians, which led to the image problem identified by Cynthia Banham in today's SMH, received surprisingly little scrutiny in Australia. The Pacific is our region; we should understand it, we should have positive and

Australia relations with India

From: Rory Medcalf, International Security Program Director, Lowy Institute for International Policy To: Hon. Stephen Smith, Minister for Foreign Affairs Your Government needs to seize the moment with Asia’s other waking giant, India.  I was struck by your attention to India as a priority for

The politics of missile defence in the Pacific

So Japan has conducted its first successful ballistic missile defence test, shooting down a target missile with an interceptor fired from one of its destroyers. Development of Japan's missile defence system is leading to unprecedented levels of integration with the US military, bringing the

More on Australian foreign policy radicalism

In response to my post arguing Howard was a foreign policy radical, reader The Piping Shrike writes: I think your assumptions on the Gorton-Keating years are wrong. It was American policy to make accommodations through détente with China and Russia as their failure in Indochina became

Little scope for Rudd radicalism

Some clarification is warranted on my apparent suggestion (Sam's original post here; Bill Bowtell's follow-up here) that the Rudd Government’s foreign policy might seem more ‘radical’ than it actually is.  To keep the discussion more analytical than normative, I’ll start by

A fresh look at the Pacific

From: Fergus Hanson, Research Associate, Lowy Institute  To: Hon. Stephen Smith, Minister for Foreign Affairs Before you have too much time to settle into the new job, you can be almost certain a crisis will erupt in the neighbourhood. Will Fiji’s Commodore start backtracking on

Howard was the foreign policy radical, not Rudd

If being 'radical' is defined as a wild deviation from a pre-existing “normal” state, then whether Mr Rudd’s foreign policy can be characterized as 'radical' as compared to Mr Howard’s simply depends on what “normal” Australian foreign policy settings might be, and

Rudd foreign policy: If it looks like a duck...

Last week's Wednesday Lowy Lunch panel discussion on the new Labor Government's foreign policy included this observation from our International Security Program Director Rory Medcalf (I'm quoting from my own notes here, not out of Rory's mouth): Rory Medcalf said Labor

What are intelligence agencies for?

If you measure the performance of intelligence agencies by the number of predictions about major political events they get right, their record is pretty awful. Last weekend, Sunday Age journalist Jason Koutsoukis wrote a helpful list of the CIA's history of bungling, which he argued is also

A 'Brisbane Commission' on Asia strategic order

FROM: Hugh White, Visiting Fellow at the Lowy Institute and Professor of Strategic Studies at the Australian National University TO: Hon. Kevin Rudd,  Prime Minister At your campaign launch you listed the rise of China and India among the biggest challenges Australia faces over

US Studies Poll: Warming to China, loving the UK

The University of Sydney’s US Studies Centre poll, released yesterday, has some unusual findings mixed in with the more predicable anti-American sentiment that seems to stem from Australians’ negative feelings towards the current Administration and the Iraq war. Oddly, Australians had

Super Hornet: Dennis Jensen MP replies

Yesterday I wrote a post questioning why Liberal MP Dennis Jensen waited until his party was in opposition to speak out about his concerns over the then-government's decision to buy Super Hornet strike fighters. Dennis Jensen writes today to correct the record: I have just read

Australian opinion leads on climate change

As Kevin Rudd enters climate talks in Bali, he would have to be happy with the latest poll from the Program on International Policy Attitudes. It shows Australians at the forefront of countries concerned about climate change and prepared to cough up to do something about it. Of 19 countries

Sovereign wealth funds: Another reader response

 Reader Peter McCawley responds to my post on sovereign wealth funds in Australia: In his article about sovereign wealth funds (SWFs), Stephen Grenville suggests that it is important for Australian policy-makers and commentators to participate in the growing international debate

More pot-shots at Super Hornet

As an international policy blog, we will pass over the domestic subtext to Liberal backbencher Dennis Jensen's weekend intervention in the debate over the purchase of Super Hornets to replace our F-111s, though it is tempting to ask why Jensen didn't speak up when then-Defence minister

Linking regionalism and globalism

A post-script to Malcolm Cook’s Incoming Government Brief on East Asian regionalism: for Australia, there are some important issues in the way the international economic architecture is evolving. In the region, it is clearly in our interests that more of the action goes to the East Asia Summit (

Wednesday Lunch at Lowy: Australia’s international policy under the Rudd Government - Panellists' presentations

On 24 November a new Australian Government was elected under the leadership of Kevin Rudd, MP, a Chinese-speaking former diplomat with deep expertise in foreign policy. At the Wednesday Lowy Lunch on 5 December a panel of analysts commented on prospective international policy under Mr Rudd's

Nicholas Burns at the Lowy Institute

Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns today gave precisely the kind of speech you would expect from the State Department's most senior career diplomat: slick, reasonable, and uncontroversial. He sketched the mutual challenges facing our two countries, but offered few criticisms and made no

Sovereign wealth funds: A reader responds

Reader Kerry Duce responds to my post on sovereign wealth funds in Australia:  The article rightly played down sovereign wealth funds but to me raised much more important policy issues that are driving the current debate. The article correctly identifies that the name can obscure the

Why Latin America matters to Australia

Guest blogger: Jose Blanco, Vice Chair of the Council on Australia-Latin America Relations and Chairman of the Australia-Latin America Business Council. Jose gave a presentation to the Lowy Institute in September 2006 about Latin America's move to the left. The Rudd Government

Wednesday Lowy Lunch: Foreign policy under Rudd

An mp3 of today's Wednesday Lowy Lunch, in which Michael Fullilove, Rory Medcalf and Malcolm Cook spoke on Australia's likely international policy under the new government, should be up on the Institute's homepage tomorrow. For now, here are some highlights: Michael

The Defence White Paper

FROM:  Hugh White, Visiting Fellow at the Lowy Institute and Professor of Strategic Studies at the Australian National University TO: Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon, Minister for Defence Once the introductory briefings are out of the way, your first priority in Defence will be to commission a

East Asian regionalism

FROM: Malcolm Cook, Asia and the Pacific Program Director, Lowy Institute TO: Hon. Stephen Smith, Minister for Foreign Affairs Congratulations on becoming Australia’s new Foreign Minister, especially during such an exciting and challenging period when the contours and power

Solomon Islands: One step forward…

This Solomon Star report suggests the Australian-led intervention to Solomon Islands (aka RAMSI) still has a lot of work to do before it can leave the country. After a recent soccer match, rioters overwhelmed local Solomon Islands police, forcing them to retreat to their Chinatown base, where they

Indian nuclear cooperation: What will Australia do?

Guest blogger: Henry Sokolski (below), Deputy for Nonproliferation Policy in the US Department of Defense from 1989 to 1993 and now executive director of The Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, a nonprofit research center in Washington, DC. How should nuclear fuel-supplying states

Sovereign wealth funds in Australia

Sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) are the topic-du-jour in financial circles (especially among the big finance houses that want to earn fees from managing them), and it seems that every self-respecting country needs to have one. Some people even want to include Australia’s Future Fund, although it

Rudd press conference: Did he say 'mind' or 'mine'?

During the press conference at which he announced his ministry today, Prime Minister-elect Rudd said of Greg Combet, the new parliamentary secretary for defence procurement:  He has a first class mind, and defence procurement is a first class mind field. At least, I think he

Australia election: What do the neighbours think?

The Rudd election has received a relatively subdued reception in the Pacific press; odd given their strong dependence on Australia. The Solomon Star reported some hopeful words from the embattled and troublesome PM Sogavare, who appears somewhat ungrateful for the Australian-funded, billion

Annapolis: Beyond the photo op

Annapolis has lived up to lowered expectations of it being little more than a photo op. Of course, it was important who was in the photo. The presence of the Saudi Foreign Minister and Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister was something of a success for American Middle-East diplomacy and harks back to

No Homeland Security Department?

Well that didn't take long. The SMH reports this morning that the newly-elected Rudd Government is set to abandon plans for a Department of Homeland Security. But hang on: earlier this month, The Australian's Paul Kelly seemed certain the Homeland Security reorganisation would happen.

Australia future in Afghanistan

Somewhat lost in local media coverage of the election was the Dutch Government's apparent decision to extend its troop presence in Afghanistan by a further two years to 2010. I say 'apparent' because although the news leaked to the Dutch broadcaster NOS and was reported in Australia

More on the bureaucracy and Rudd

In response to my post of yesterday, which argued that the national security bureaucracy has lost the habit of strategic thinking over the last 11 years, a former ministerial staffer writes that there might be other reasons why the Rudd Government won't call on the bureaucracy for strategic

Keating and the 'Asian country' canard

In a recent blog post about Australia's election, FT foreign affairs columnist Gideon Rachman replays the old canard that Howard’s predecessor, Paul Keating, 'had decided that Australia was an "Asian country"'. Note the authoritative quotation marks. I was Keating’s foreign policy

Rethinking travel advisories

While the new government is thinking about the big things it might do on foreign policy, what about a little change that would be a good signal to our near-neighbour Indonesia: what about relaxing the travel advice that you should 'reconsider your need to travel' to Indonesia? This has not

Is the national security bureaucracy ready for Rudd?

To answer this question, we have to examine the bureaucracy we have now. Its defining characteristic, to my mind, is its ability to conduct operations and manage events. The Department of Defence, for instance, has had to cope with a far higher tempo of operations since the end of the Cold

Australia election: What the bloggers are saying

Among prominent non-Australian blogs that focus heavily on international events, reaction to the Australian elections has been slight. Given so many of those blogs are American, we can charitably put this down to the US making a slow start to the week after Thanksgiving. The most extensive

And so to work

Prime Minister-elect Kevin Rudd is wasting no time. The Australian reports he has already summoned senior bureaucrats to his Brisbane office and ordered them to begin the preliminaries for Australia’s ratification of the Kyoto Treaty. And his first congratulatory phone call from a foreign leader

Democracy: Australia has a right to be proud

Voting in today’s Australian Federal election is finishing. Something that sets Australia apart from its US ally — far more than most Americans realise — is that  Australians are typically far from boastful about the merits of democracy or the special qualities of their own. Yet we have

Australia election: It 3:49pm on election eve...

...and neither major party has released a foreign policy document. Wait, wait. That's unfair. I see on their website that the Liberal Party released its foreign policy yesterday. But given we had to wait five weeks and five days of a six-week campaign, that might actually make it more

Rudd less muscular?

In a recent CFR analysis on Changing the Aussie Guard, Jayshree Bajoria writes: ...within its Asia-Pacific neighborhood, a Rudd Government might bring a change in tone. This could include a move away from the muscular diplomacy that led to an Australia-India defense agreement last