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Reader Riposte: Israel may be right about Iran

Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz, a Policy Analyst and Social Media Coordinator for the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, writes: Rodger Shanahan appears to suggest that Benjamin Netanyahu's call for a red line to be drawn in terms of Iran's nuclear development is unfounded as there is no

Burma, the Rohingyas and Australia

Andrew Selth is a Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute. Burma faces more than its fair share of complex, sensitive and potentially divisive problems, but it is difficult to imagine one more intractable than the future of the Rohingyas, the estimated 800,000 Muslims of South Asian descent

New paper launch

On Tuesday 9 October, the Lowy Institute's Executive Director, Dr Michael Fullilove, will launch his new paper, The Audacity of Reasonableness, which compares the foreign policies of US President Barack Obama and Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney. Michael's argument is that when

The passing of giants 2: Brajesh Mishra

There is one other great whose death this week is a loss to security policy worldwide. Brajesh Mishra was, among other things, India's first national security adviser, and a wise and important figure in the evolution of Indian strategic policy in the past few decades. From a few encounters with

Friday funny: Gangnam Style

Just when you thought KPop sensation Psy's Gangnam Style had been done to death, along comes a version by the dancing inmates of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center in the Philippines. The inmates became an internet sensation in 2007 with their version of Michael Jackson's 

On Coral calmness

Minh Bui Jones, co-founder of The Diplomat and editor of  American Review magazine, writes: When David Llewellyn-Smith and I started The Diplomat a little over decade ago, it was among other things a quixotic attempt to find an Australian take on world affairs. We didn't know what that was but we

Remembering Bali: tickets still available for panel discussion tomorrow

  The aftermath of the Bali bombings in 2002 continues to affect Australian-Indonesian relations. Dr Dave McRae, Research Fellow at the Lowy Institute, will talk about the resonances of this event 10 years on with panelists Ric Smith, who was Australia's ambassador to Indonesia at the time of

A 'Purple Eight'? Defence leadership and policy

Dr Peter Dean is a lecture at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at ANU. Journalist Geoffrey Barker notes in the AFR on 24 September that, given the revolving door of minsters and secretaries, Defence is actually being run by a group of untouchable top military leaders known as the '

Wednesday linkage: Fiji at the UN, Japan, debates, Joe Biden and more

Brilliant: 'I'm Joe Biden and I'll be your server'. Next week Lowy's Michael Fullilove will launch his new paper on the foreign policies of Obama and Romney. Tickets here, though if you want to score two free tickets, head to our FB page and suggest a question for Michael, which we will ask

Fallows rates the presidential debaters

Last Friday we were lucky to have James Fallows at the Lowy Institute for an 'in conversation' event to mark the fifth anniversary of The Interpreter (yes, it's been almost that long; 1 November 2007 was the first post). James is National Correspondent for The Atlantic and one of the finest long-

Reader riposte: Questioning the rise of the east

Harry Gelber, an Honorary Research Associate at the University of Tasmania, writes: I am increasingly uncomfortable with the sweeping assumption by almost all segments of the foreign relations and defence community that the global centre of economic gravity has shifted 'from West to East'

See you Tuesday

Today is a public holiday in Australia. Normal blogging resumes tomorrow

Friday funny: Comedy royalty

This one comes via Crikey. It's a presentation by British comedy legend Armando Iannucci, the man behind The Thick of It (featuring the noxious and obnoxious Malcolm Tucker) and more recently a US series called Veep, which just won star Julia Louis-Dreyfus an Emmy. Iannucci was in Australia this

The debates: Mostly inconsequential

In newsrooms across America, tape clerks and film librarians will have spent the last few days retrieving video highlights of past US presidential debates ahead of next week's showdown between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, in much the same way a sports reporter might piece together a showreel

The wisdom of the American masses

This recently released Chicago Council survey on American views of Asia provides moderate to strong support for the US policy position towards Asia referred to as 'the pivot.' Fifty-four percent are in favour of shifting military and diplomatic resources from the Middle East to Asia while only

UN: Gillard gives it her best shot

Rawdon Dalrymple is a former Australian ambassador to Indonesia, the US and Japan. Prime Minister Gillard's address to the UN General Assembly this morning was a well-crafted pitch to the annual 'leaders week' talk-fest in New York. It attributed high idealism to what is often a rather dismal

Thursday linkage: Gillard in NY, drones, skyscrapers, ASEAN and more

A transcript of Prime Minister Gillard's speech to the UN General Assembly. More on this later in the day.Self-driving cars again: one observer predicts a huge boost in productivity. 'It would be, from an economist's point of view, the Pennsylvania oil fields of man-hours...' (H/t WRM.) 

Reader riposte: Gillard in New York

Richard Green writes: Nick Bryant asks why our leaders, in a time when Australia garners international attention due to policies like the carbon tax and plain packaging, choose to forego summit hobnobbing to focus on domestic policies — like the carbon tax and plain packaging. Perhaps the

Reader riposte: Printing a drone

Clint Arizmendi writes: At the outset, I would like to say I think drones are cool. Despite the political hype surrounding their use, the fact remains that drone technology has increased the capacity to engage the enemy without unnecessarily risking the lives of soldiers. It has also

In conversation: Anatol Lieven and Hugh White on The China Choice (3)

Just before the launch of Professor Hugh White's book, The China Choice, Professor Anatol Lieven spoke to him about some of the issues raised in the book. Click here for parts 1 and 2. In the third part of their conversation, Lieven asks White what role Australia can play in avoiding

Tuesday linkage: Panetta, embassy architecture, lost drones and more

Don't forget our 'Ask James Fallows' competition. Send us your question and you could attend Friday's Fallows event for free. A TVNZ interview with Leon Panetta, who visited New Zealand recently. (Thanks Andrew.) The Opposition 'aspires' to lift the defence budget by 3% per year. Barack Obama,

Problem with the email digest

Many of our 3000-odd email digest subscribers got a weird 'Page not found' message in their inbox today instead of the usual daily summary of what has appeared on The Interpreter. We re-sent today's edition of the digest to all those subscribers and they should now have a correct copy. We

China wields trade weapon

Last week, Japan's finance minister expressed concerns over reported customs delays for Japanese companies in China. Some observers have described disruption to Japanese trade as a form of economic sanctions imposed by Beijing to signal its displeasure with Tokyo over the Senkaku/Diaoyou Islands

Homer Simpson votes

Above, a clip just released by FOX. I thought the Simpsons creators got it wrong in 2008 when they had Homer voting for Obama, so this one comes closer to the mark (though I still think they have his motivation wrong; Homer's a Republican Party Reptile who couldn't care less about government-

Drones everywhere

My thanks to guests Andrew Croome and Mark Corcoran, and to the audience, for making last Wednesday's drone discussion such a success. You can watch the full event here, or watch my interview with novelist Andrew Croome, and above is my chat with Mark Corcoran, in which he talks about his

Swan channels Howard but targets Greens

Wayne Swan has taken the bold step of weighing in to the US presidential election. Or has he? Swan, in what was an otherwise fairly pedestrian speech at the Financial Services Council breakfast in Sydney this morning, identified the two key risks to the global economic outlook: Europe and the US. '

The demise of 'Factory Asia'?

As my colleague Linda Jakobson has written, the recent burst of anti-Japan protests in China tells us some interesting things about sovereign sensitivities, Chinese domestic politics and resource security. I wonder whether they might also have some implications for the dense and complex network of

Reader riposte: Storing solar energy

Sam Roggeveen's 18 September post about the rapidly declining cost of solar energy noted the continuing problem of storing solar power. Richard Broinowski responds: I was interested to read Sam's data on the rise of natural gas to replace coal in the energy mix of the United States, and the

Thursday linkage: Submarines, Singapore, Japan, China and more

Hugh White's latest essay in The Monthly perhaps hasn't had the attention it deserves, since he makes the eyebrow-raising recommendation that Australia needs a minimum of 24 submarines (nb. that's more than Japan). What's the use of economics, and how should we be teaching it to the next

Politics and media: Ask James Fallows

The big political story in the US election campaign right now is the video of Mitt Romney describing 47% of his fellow citizens as people 'who are dependent upon government, who believe they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to take care of them, who believe they are

New numbers on China Cambodia aid

In my post of 17 July I suggested that it was no surprise Cambodia acted as China wished in relation to the South China Sea issue at the time of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting held in Cambodia. Given Chinese aid, it was always likely that Cambodia would balk at agreeing to a joint communique that

These anti-Japan protests are different

In an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal Asia, Linda Jakobson, Program Director East Asia, compares the recent anti-Japanese protests to similar anti-Japanese sentiment which swept across China seven years ago. This time around, the consequences could be much more serious

Reader riposte: More on the ADF lost voice

Hugh Smith, a former lecturer at RMC Duntroon and ADFA, writes: Al Palazzo's article on why ADF voices are largely absent from strategic debate in this country is important. It draws attention to a major weakness in the public discussion of Australian defence and security and indicates a marked

Will solar save us before politicians do?

Back in July I alerted readers to one of the more encouraging charts I have seen in some time, showing the dramatic transformation of American power generation away from coal and toward natural gas. It's not only a win for the environment, but a direct challenge to the idea that energy

Reader ripostes: Drone warfare and more

Gerard Hammond writes: Two uses of the word 'beheading' in disparate follow-on articles. Please, we have had enough of the irresponsible language. You should know better. Geoff Randal on the drone warfare discussion: The idea that military work is blessed by mutual exposure to (

The future of intelligence (part 3)

The final chapter of my video series with leading intelligence expert Dr Jennifer Sims, Visiting Professor at Georgetown University, discusses the role of women in the security/intelligence field. Dr Sims talks about the tremendous change in intelligence studies in the US, with a significant

Tuesday linkage: Romney, Keynes vs Hayek, Afghanistan and more

Via the Nautilus Institute, a 1966 US State Department study of Australia's role in the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia. (Thanks Graeme.) Another new stealth fighter prototype unveiled in China. Anti-Japan sentiment in China is pretty ugly. (H/t Fallows.) The US Marine Corps suffered its

Will QE fix the US economy?

As soon as Fed Chairman Bernanke announced a third round of \'quantitative easing\' (QE3), economic commentators reported it as another episode of \'money printing\', with newspapers illustrating the story with pictures of piles of currency. There is plenty of room for uncertainty about

If there no risk, is it really war?

Steve Weintz has taken the words out of my mouth. My original post on this topic argued that drones don\'t really revolutionise warfare, they\'re just another step in the direction military aviation has taken from the beginning: improving the accuracy of weapons delivery while

G20: Crisis committee, or more?

In the (almost) three weeks since it was announced that we are establishing a G20 Studies Centre here at the Lowy Institute, I reckon the most common reaction from interested observers (following on from some initial wishes of good luck) has been some variation on the statement, \'but the G20

The ADF rules for public comment

To consider whether Josh Farquhar is right when he says it is difficult for serving military officers to enter into professional military debate, it is worth analysing the ADF\'s rules on writing and speaking publicly. This is covered in the Defence Instruction (General) Admin 08-1, Public

Reader riposte: More on drones and morality

This response from Steve Weintz follows a post from Sam Roggeveen and a riposte from Christian Enemark: The effect of distance on warfare — physical, virtual or psychological — has always been with us, as has been the inevitable growth of military complexity. From

Reader riposte: Drones and morality

Christian Enemark writes: Sam Roggeveen\'s post deserves a bite. In the course of writing my forthcoming book on this subject, I have come to the view that the use of armed drones really is \'as novel as we might think\'. Arguably, \'moving the pilot to a fixed base out of harm\'s way\' is

Friday linkage: China, Philippines, Japan, Obama in Libya and more

The AFR has a neat infographic on China\'s leadership change, outside the paywall. The Dutch election results reveal three poor performers: the far right, the far left, and the pollsters. The mayor of Osaka launches a new political party. Will it disrupt Japan\'s orthodoxy? More here from

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