Monday 27 May 2019 | 22:28 | SYDNEY

Australia in the World

Good for the ADF and good for Australia

LT COL Ben Pronk is from the Directorate of Army Research and Analysis. These are Ben\'s own views, not official policy or the position of the Australian Government, Defence Department, ADF or the Army. I note with interest the recent debate on this blog and in the wider media about future roles

Language teaching is all about culture

Ben Moles is an intern in the International Security Program at the Lowy Institute. I followed the Asian languages in Australia debate with great interest last year and am glad to see it is a recurring theme in the Australia in the Asian Century feature too. How could it not be

Politics holding Indonesia back

With two of the three international credit rating agencies now ranking Indonesia as \'investment grade\', foreign investors (and foreign journalists) have noticed the \'good news\' story of the Indonesian economy. The story has actually been going on for more than a decade. Indonesia sailed

Reader riposte: Strategy or risk management?

Peter Layton writes: Jim Molan makes some interesting points in his protracted debate with Hugh White concerning finding the strategic rationale behind Australia acquiring the two new large amphibious vessels. In this there are two matters of relevance, albeit a trifle historical and perhaps

Asian Century linkage

A global opinion poll finds views of Europe sliding, China rising. (Thanks Malcolm.) The cancellation of the Jakarta Lady Gaga concert is the hook for this interview with academic Merle Ricklefs on the deepening influence of Islam in Javanese society. (Thanks Dave.) A

An achievable defence strategy

Major Gen (Retd) Jim Molan is author of Running the War in Iraq. One of the characteristics of discussions conducted through blogs is a tendency to divert from what was actually said while creating straw men to be heroically demolished, so that very quickly there are two quite distinct and

The Australian Century?

I\'ve got a couple of upcoming talks at Bruegel and Chatham House. Bearing in mind Daniel Woker\'s point about European perceptions of Australia, I\'ve been thinking about content.  My pitch is going to be that Australia provides a useful perspective on the changing nature of the

Education: An Asian-inspired policy solution

Arjuna Dibley was Australia\'s representative to the PABM. He recently returned from Malaysia and Indonesia, where he was a Prime-Minister\'s Australia-Asia Award holder. As we hurtle towards (or just wake up to the fact that we are now in) the Asian Century, there is growing discussion about

Australia at the St Gallen Symposium

Dr Daniel Woker is the former Swiss Ambassador to Australia, Singapore and Kuwait and now a Senior Lecturer at the University of St Gallen. Probably more than at the 2012 Davos Word Economic Forum (the uebervater of all public-private talkfests), Australia was a topic at the 42nd St

Into Asia: How infrastructure can help

Peter McCawley is a Visiting Fellow at the Indonesia Project, ANU, and former Dean of the ADB Institute, Tokyo.  Stephen Grenville\'s post on Asia\'s infrastructure deficit raises the question of how Australia\'s economic relations with Asia might evolve over the next

China: What 'grinding poverty' means

I may have recounted once before the story of a Chinese delegation, visiting the Lowy Institute, exhorting us to visit not just China\'s gleaming new mega-cities but to \'look behind the couch\' at China\'s under-developed interior. This is a reasonably common tactic from Chinese officials and

Defence: More tight budgets ahead

Derek Woolner is a Visiting Fellow at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, ANU. Let\'s hope someone tells China that Australia does not intend to nuke it, at least not for another decade or two. Sam probably thought his post had placed some qualifications on the extent to which China\'s

Asian Century linkage

Peter Hartcher\'s piece about Tony Abbott\'s apparent conversion on Asian language study is worth your time. Gareth Evans spoke on the Asian century theme in Melbourne last week. McKinsey podcast on China\'s insatiable energy appetite. The Asia Foundation has a new data visualisation

The new normal for a hungry DFAT

For the first time in a while, an Australian foreign minister has a \'normal\' relationship both with his department and his prime minister. Bob Carr will get few points for this, but he is delivering a period of business-as-usual for DFAT. To see why Carr offers a chance for an unusual \'normal

Budget harms our 'aid predictability'

Much has already been said and shouted in the wake of the Government's budget announcement last week that it was reneging on its promise to increase Australia's foreign aid budget to 0.5% of Australia's gross national income by 2015-2016. But an important aid document also released by the

Indonesia: Just a means to an end?

Talk of losses averted or gains to be made positions engagement with Indonesia as a means to an end. The case for the benefits of greater engagement and the risks of complacency has been made often. But engagement should also be an end in itself. My life is enriched every

Asia infrastructure deficit

Thanks to the strenuous efforts of US and European central banks to stimulate their moribund economies, government borrowing costs are historically very low. US ten-year bonds are paying less than 2%. At the same time, we know that much of South-East Asia is critically short of public infrastructure

Reader riposte: The Indonesia balance

Duncan Graham, who runs a blog called Indonesia Now, responds to Sam Roggeveen\'s post about Australia-Indonesia relations: The situation is unbalanced. We go there in thousands – few come here. Count the number of Asians in aircraft arriving in Australia from Indonesia. The

Islam, liberalism and Indonesia culture wars

A liberal Muslim writer on a book tour has angered hardline Islamist groups in the latest round in Indonesia\'s culture wars.  Irshad Manji, a Canadian feminist writer and activist, has provoked the wrath of Islamists for promoting a tolerant, critical, version of Islam in her latest

Rebuilding DFAT, post by post

Over the last few years, various people at the Lowy Institute have argued strongly that Australia is under-represented diplomatically in the world. Australia lags behind most of the developed world, with 95 posts across 77 of the 193 UN member states. The running down of the Department is not new

Spinning a web with Indonesia

Sam asks for specific suggestions to help our underdone relationship with Indonesia. I\'ve got nothing against a high-profile \'major leadership gesture\', but many years ago a wise observer told me that the most useful relationship with Indonesia would comprise a spiderweb of ties that

Indonesia: Reversing our losses

It is good to see the Asian Century discussion focus on contemporary Indonesia-Australia relations with Sam\'s thoughtful questions, Alex Thursby\'s hope for a better done Indonesia-Australia relationship, and Raoul Heinrichs\' realist gloom about Australia risking a security dilemma

Good for Army, good for Australia?

Jim Molan does the Army an injustice when he says it did not have the foresight to invent an amphibious future for itself a decade ago. He does himself an even bigger injustice, because I very clearly recall Jim, then perhaps still a brigadier, articulating precisely this vision with great

My Indonesia questions

On Monday, Alex Thursby from ANZ took to The Interpreter to make the case that Australia needs to turn around its perceptions of Indonesia, and think about developing a relationship as mutually rewarding as the one we have with the US. It\'s fair to say that Thursby\'s position is a variation

DFAT budget: On the mend?

For a modestly-funded department with an operating budget of around $900 million, budget time has been pretty scary for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade these last few years. The 2008 budget (Rudd\'s first) slashed $120 million and 43 positions from a department already starved of

Reader riposte: Deferring aid growth

Kate Grayson writes: In a speech to the Micah Challenge Voices for Justice Signature Event, Canberra 21 June 2010, then Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd stated: \'Prior to the last election I said we\'d commit to 0.5 by 2015-16. That is a commitment from which I believe none of us can move. I thank

Our LHDs overtaken by history

Justin Jones suggests there is a contradiction between saying, as I did, that we need to be able to deploy land forces by sea, and my claim that \'Australia does need the capacity to project power in Asia, but we must find a way to do so that does not rely on vulnerable ships.\' Let me offer

Asian Century linkage

When it comes to oil, China doesn\'t trust free markets, so it will pursue an \'indirect approach\', \'disrupting hostile alliances and replacing them with a network of well-armed friends or client states along key oil routes.\' (H/t Browser.) One-sixth of all prostitutes in Australia are Korean

Vulnerable ships?

Hugh White may have unwittingly contradicted himself in his recent op-ed. On the one hand, he states \'no one doubts that Australia needs an army with the ability to deploy forces by sea.\' On the other, he suggests that \'we must find a way to do so that does not rely on vulnerable ships.\' Hugh

Indonesia-Australia: A relationship 'underdone'

Alex Thursby is CEO of ANZ\'s Asia Pacific business and a career banker. Why is it that the conversation in Australia about Indonesia is so \'underdone\'? Notwithstanding the warmth evident during President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono\'s successful visit here, the public conversation is largely

Kiwi or not Kiwi, that is the question

The dynamic of Australia\'s slow and successful integration with New Zealand is that the Kiwis retain veto rights. Any real change has to be embraced by the New Zealanders because they are the ones who have to make the big adjustments.  This study by the Oz and Kiwi Productivity

Asian century also an intellectual shift

I should respond to Dr Daniel Woker\'s recent post, \'The Limits of the Asian Model\', if only to clarify my original comments. Rather than calling for Australia to adopt Asian models, my intention was merely to make two fairly anodyne observations. First, that in a country which traditionally

LHDs risk our Indonesia relations

In the midst of a number of ongoing national security debates here on The Interpreter, Hugh White this week opened a third front in The Age, exposing the dubious thinking behind the proposed transformation of a substantial portion of the Australian Army into a mini-Marine Corps, to be embarked on

South China Sea: Storm in a tea cup

Brendan Taylor is Head of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University. It\'s more than flattering to attract attention from Michael Wesley and Hugh White, two scholars I greatly admire. But its also left me feeling a little like a shrimp caught between two

Why the South China Sea matters

I was somewhat surprised to read Brendan Taylor\'s matter-of-fact statement that the South China Sea isn\'t really a vital interest for any of Asia\'s great powers, except perhaps for China. I\'m not so sure about this, for two reasons. First, the South China Sea is emerging as the

The limits of the Asian model

Dr Daniel Woker is the former Swiss Ambassador to Australia, Singapore and Kuwait. In his post of 27 April, \'Australia\'s head-start to the Asian Century\', Nick Bryant develops an interesting storyline of Australia moving from \'imitative country\' (with an adopted, not

Poverty and growth: How aid can help

Lawrence Haddad is Director of the Institute of Development Studies in the UK. The debate in these pages on the case for aid resonates with one we are having in the UK: is aid about poverty reduction or economic growth? I have blogged about this topic in Development Horizons. A March

The importance of China latent power

Brendan Taylor\'s post on Asia\'s shifting power balance shows his characteristic mix of grace and insight. I usually end up agreeing with Brendan. For years he has been telling me I\'m wrong to see Japan as a great power in Asia\'s emerging strategic order, and I\'m starting at last to

Finally, a Pacific worker scheme

In a small and quiet step, Australia is permanently opening its door for a few Pacific Islanders to do seasonal farm work.  The Pacific worker pilot scheme was a relative fizzer, but its slow growth has meant there was little political or bureaucratic pain involved in making it permanent

China re-balancing?

In 2010, China\'s current account surplus was over 10% of GDP. Just a year later the surplus had fallen to less than 3% as imports grew faster than exports. The International Monetary Fund is expecting a further fall to 2.3% this year, before rising to around 4% over the next few years. Does

Asian century linkage

Good news from the Philippines, no longer Southeast Asia\'s economic laughing stock. (Thanks James.) \'At present our universities survive on foreign students paying high fees. Will this flow of revenue continue if a Chinese or Indian student can get a Stanford or MIT qualification at home?\'

Asia emerging donors: China (part 2)

Part 1 of this post, an interview with He Wenping from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences on China\'s growing aid program, appeared last Friday. 4. Are there comparisons that can be drawn between China\'s and India\'s aid programs? The main areas of aid in China\'s and India\'s

Reader riposte: Alan Wrigley 'core force'

Andrew Farran, formerly with the Departments of External Affairs and Defence, writes: Alan Wrigley reminds us of the \'watershed\' in defence policy development that existed in the mid-1970s, but the pity was that the opportunity was not grasped to recast force-structure thinking derived

Asia emerging donors: China (part 1)

Translation by Dirk van der Kley, an intern in the Lowy Institute\'s International Security program. As part of the Lowy Institute\'s focus on the rise of Asian aid donors we are planning a series of blog posts that will look at how these \'new\' emerging donors, namely China and

Reader ripostes: The case for aid

Two responses to Hugh White\'s \'The case for more aid is still weak\', first from Garth Luke, then Richard Broinowski. And below, Judith Downey writes* on another Hugh White article: Garth Luke is a Senior Researcher at World Vision Australia: I agree with Hugh White\'s concern that we should

Australia head-start to Asian Century

This is not so much a lucky country, according to the overarching critique by post-war Australian intellectuals, as an imitative country. \'I didn\'t mean that it had a lot of material resources,\' wrote Donald Horne in The Death of the Lucky Country, published in 1976, lamenting not just on how

Reader riposte: We have lost in Afghanistan

Anton Kuruc writes: As Australia prepares to exit its main combat forces from Afghanistan there will inevitably be a lot of retrospective analysis about our experience in the Hindu Kush.   On Four Corners on 16 April I was surprised that Minister Smith said: \'...any political

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