Monday 18 Oct 2021 | 12:56 | SYDNEY
People | experts Rory Medcalf
Nonresident Fellow
Lowy Institute
Areas of ExpertiseAsia-Pacific/Indo-Pacific strategic order; India and the Indian Ocean; maritime security; nuclear arms control

Foreign aid and strategic shocks

In looking at the global context of likely future demand for Australian development assistance, it is worth thinking about key countries and scenarios where strategic shocks might greatly change the picture. For comprehensive surveys of what might lie in store, I recommend these two ambitious

Uranium to India: Game on

So, the game is on. With these remarks, it appears that Resources Minister Martin Ferguson is heralding a concerted bid by multiple pragmatic elements within the Australian Labor Party to change policy on uranium exports, to allow safeguarded sales to India for civilian use. The moment of

The Defence debate down under, in context

In this piece for the CSIS Asia policy blog Cogitasia, the Lowy Institute’s International Security Program Director Rory Medcalf argues that a new independent report calling for Australian strategic clout against China needs to be seen in context, and not as a representation of official Australian

In remembrance of India’s nuclear and strategic guru

In this obituary essay in Foreign Policy magazine, Lowy Institute International Security Program Director Rory Medcalf pays tribute to K Subrahmanyam, independent India’s leading strategic thinker, who passed away on 2 February 2011. Subrahmanyam strongly influenced India’s decision both to

K Subrahmanyam, 1929-2011

India's strategic community is mourning a great loss: its most respected thinker, K Subrahmanyam, passed away on Wednesday 2 February at age 82. Strategist, official, adviser, journalist, scholar, mentor: his work had a direct bearing on some of New Delhi's most profound national security decisions

Wednesday Lunch at Lowy: 2011 The year ahead - Lowy Institute presentations

On 2 February, the second half of the Wednesday Lunch series was launched with a discussion by three Lowy Institute scholars, Rory Medcalf, Annmaree O'Keeffe and Sam Roggeveen, on how Australia should be preparing for some of the big global and regional policy challenges in the second decade of the

Breaking down old barriers

In this op-ed in The Times of India, Program Director Rory Medcalf argues the case for Australia to end its ban on uranium exports to India, in order to fulfil a much-needed strategic partnership between the two Indian Ocean democracies. This is an extended version of a piece that first appeared in

Time to sell uranium to India

Rory Medcalf argues that Australia should lift its ban on uranium sales to India, for the sake of economics, climate change and international fairness.The Age, 21 January 2011, p 15

How social media got the J-20 scoop

The way the world found out about China's stealth fighter test flight yesterday is a fascinating lesson in the agility and impact of social media, and the disadvantages faced by traditional news organisations and governments in handling fast-moving stories. It took hours for mainstream media,

J-20 flies, Gates sighs

I hope US Defense Secretary Robert Gates was braced for disappointment ahead of his visit to China this week, because that is precisely what he is being served up. The flight test yesterday afternoon of China's prototype J-20 stealth fighter looks to have been a calculated signal of defiance

Three things I have changed my mind about this year

One thing I have not changed my mind about this year is the value of constantly questioning one's own assumptions and assessments. 1. India's prospects: India's image has had a shocking year, and I am increasingly convinced that this potentially great nation will not progress far as a global

My books of the year

First, a sermon: any international affairs analyst who does not read fiction is weakening their ability to consider discontinuities and, most of all, to understand the sometimes critical role of idiosyncratic human agency in world events. It is not all big structural forces; leaders' (and yes,

Ruinous US-China relations the big danger from North Korea

In this opinion piece in The Age, Lowy Institute International Security Program Director Rory Medcalf argues that the greatest damage from the November 2010 North Korean bombardment could be to US-China relations and thus to peace among the great powers in Asia.The Age, 25 November 2010, p. 21

Korea crisis: Beijing\ choice

I came to Seoul this week to discuss nuclear deterrence and North-South relations with local experts. Little did I expect that scholarly consultations would turn into all-too-lively field research. Here are a few very initial thoughts on what is happening. First, the good news: escalation is

Calling young strategic minds: Update

Earlier this week we advertised the next Thawley scholarship, a great opportunity for young Australian strategic thinkers to work with the Lowy Institute and with CSIS in the United States. We are already receiving a lot of interest in this. In response to some of those queries, we are

Washington and Lowy Institute call young strategic thinkers

The Lowy Institute is on the hunt for Australia's sharpest young strategic minds. Applications are open for the 2010–11 Michael and Deborah Thawley Scholarship in International Security, offered by the Lowy Institute in partnership with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in

Obama, India and the Australia Group

Obama's visit to India this week achieved more than most pundits had anticipated in bolstering US–India strategic links.  One reason was his willingness to signal that the United States would support India's membership of so–called non-proliferation export control regimes —&

Advance Column: Think tanks look to Asia

In his column on global think tanks in the November 2010 issue of the journal American Review, Lowy Institute Program Director Rory Medcalf looks at the challenges for foreign policy research in China and India as well as the evolving policy debate on Afghanistan. This survey covers recent work by

AUSMIN: Decoding the declaration

Yesterday's Australia-US Ministerial Consultations, or AUSMIN, was one of the most consequential Australia-US security discussions in years. It is an answer to this year's unsettling Chinese assertiveness. And, as one newspaper has long trumpeted, it marks a shift towards a greater US military

Top five foreign policy priorities

Sam's post has inspired me to offer my top five foreign policy priorities for Australia: China: ensuring China's rise in Asia does not amount to a destabilising dominance, diplomatically or in the maritime military domain. This involves not only closer involvement with the US alliance, but

India wins gold in security

Whatever the mixed reviews of the management side of the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India's security forces deserve praise for their exceptional success in preventing terrorism there. At the start of the Games, I published a Lowy Institute Perspective explaining the risks and the

Delhi defies the doubters

The Commonwealth Games in New Delhi have ended, and the critics and doubters need to do a bit of soul-searching. It was not a triumph for the organising committee — after the chaos and scandals leading up to the event, chairman Suresh Kalmadi and his crew do not deserve glory. The Delhi

New Delhi Games: All quiet?

India desperately needed some good news. Thankfully, the initial public response to a court verdict yesterday that had vast potential to inflame inter-religious tensions has been calm. It is to be hoped that the birthday tomorrow of Mahatma Gandhi will give further heart to India's

Advance column

In his column in the new journal American Review, Lowy Institute Program Director for International Security Rory Medcalf surveys new research on strategic issues in US and other global think tanks. In the May-October 2010 issue, he looks at recent work by the Center for a New American Security, the

Naval exercises sooth tensions

After a rocky patch, defence relations between China and Australia are back on track in a tangible way, with parallel bilateral naval exercises off the Chinese and Australian coasts. One of these even included some gunnery — a far cry from the minimalist search-and-rescue training

Silver lining for India in threat of tarnished games

In this op-ed in The Weekend Australian, Lowy Institute India specialist Rory Medcalf argues that the fiasco around Commonwealth Games preparations might just have a long-term payoff for India if it strengthens internal forces seeking to reduce corruption and complacency in the way the nation is run

Delhi Games: Gillard\ tightrope

Cassandra or Pollyanna' Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is caught in a cursedly difficult position over security at the forthcoming Commonwealth Games. The Indian press calls her a doomsayer, while some Australian papers think she's hedging her warnings too much. It all began 

Inchon: An anniversary and a signal

With all the maritime tensions in North Asia lately, it would have been good if more of the Australian media had picked up on an important move in Canberra's defence diplomacy in that region — although at least this ABC television report was nicely done. Yesterday, the

Asia maritime security is all at sea

In an opinion piece in The Australian, International Security Program Director Rory Medcalf warns that China and its neighbours lack even the basic maritime rules that kept the Cold War cool. This article is based on the recent Strategic Snapshot Decisions and Destinies: Asian Security in 2010,

Commonwealth games linkage

The Commonwealth Games are due to begin in New Delhi in just 18 days. But from infrastructure to terrorism, from corruption to health, the headlines surrounding the preparations are negative more often than not. Here are a few pieces worth a look for those trying to make sense of it all. On

Australian foreign policy post-election

What sort of world will a new Australian government be dealing with, and how is it likely to approach it? Deputy Director Martine Letts, Director of Studies Andrew Shearer, International Security Program Director Rory Medcalf and Myer Foundation Melanesia Program Director Jenny Hayward-Jones briefed

Decisions and destinies: Asian security in 2010

In the Lowy Institute’s third Asia security 'Strategic Snapshot', Program Director for International Security Rory Medcalf assesses how recent security choices in Asia – especially at sea – could have long-term consequences for peace or conflict. Looking at recent events in light of Power and

Subtlety would help India rival China clout

In an opinion piece in The Australian, International Security Program Director Rory Medcalf argues that New Delhi must be assertive without provoking Beijing.An earlier version of this article was published in The Wall Street Journal on 3 September 2010.The Australian, 7 September 2010, p. 12

India must master the great game

India needs to stay cool in the face of diplomatic and security provocations by China, argues International Security Program Director Rory Medcalf in this opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal. Through development, deterrence and diplomacy New Delhi can be prepared for looming rivalry.The Wall

India on front foot in East Asia

Does art imitate life or does life imitate journalism' Two weeks ago, The Economist trumpeted a looming China-India rivalry as its cover story. One week ago, a series of fresh tensions arose in the China-India relationship. Today I have tried to make sense of some of this in an opinion piece 

Tuesday security linkage

Blowing in the wind: not long ago, it seemed that commercial and job-creation imperatives in France's defence industry were going to bestow Russia with the sort of maritime reach the Soviets never had. But now it looks like the sale of four Mistral strategic projection ships is in doubt. 

Parliament and war: A sleeper wakes

Last month we published this paper by former Australian Chief of Army Peter Leahy. In the midst of the election campaign, and the author's comments elsewhere on other defence issues, it drew only fleeting media attention. But, as momentum gathers over the argument for a

Defence decisions defy dodging

The 2010 Australian federal election has been silent on the nation's big defence and security challenges. Yet whoever is in office for the next three years will face tough choices, about which voters have been told little. Australia's defence budget this year is $26.8 billion, or about 1.9

Monday security linkage

At last: The Pentagon is about to release its long-overdue annual report on Chinese military power. Only, this time it seems it will be couched in ultra-diplomatic language – a report about 'security developments' rather than military power. If so, that would seem oddly out of step

FP debate: Substance, at last

'Significant' and 'considerable' would have to be the blandest words in the bloodless lexicon of foreign policy. Thankfully, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith's use of them to describe Australia's standing in the world was just about the only truly dull moment in today's foreign policy election debate

Australia-China: Curb your enthusiasm

What to make of this story in today's Sydney Morning Herald claiming a great leap forward in Australia's defence ties with China' This could be good news, if true. As a trading power, China has a stake in the security of the global commons, such as sea lanes — a reason that

Security linkage

Strategic ripples from the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico are reaching the troubled waters of Southeast Asia: as China flexes its naval muscles over control of the South China Sea, the stage is set for new frictions with India – since Indian interests plan to acquire British

Writing a new chapter

In this opinion piece in The Times of India, Lowy Institute program director and India expert Rory Medcalf looks at what the sudden rise of Julia Gillard as Prime Minister might mean for Australia-India relations, including the vexed issue of uranium sales.Times of India, 15 July 2010

The Australia-India Strategic Lecture

It is striking to hear an Indian analyst identify why India should take a leading role in cooperating with China in the Indian Ocean, a line contrary to some of the more defensive and fearful arguments coming out of New Delhi's security commentariat.  'The Indian Ocean: Navigating Beyond Rivalry'

Rudd: Bewildering in Asia

Some commentators are being too gentle on former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's foreign policy legacy. Or is it too soon to speak of a legacy? Rumours and hints that he will replace Stephen Smith as foreign minister continue to circulate – and if this does indeed transpire, we will see a strenuous

Shangri-La Dialogue: Sounds of silence

Sometimes what is left unsaid is more profound than what is said. This was very much the case at the 2010 Asian security dialogue held at the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore at the weekend. For me, there were at least three palpable and troubling silences. Silence number one: extraordinarily, China

US forces, give the nod?

I had an uncomfortable moment last week while being interviewed by a Japanese journalist seeking Australian views on the controversy over the US airbase at Futenma. No doubt the Australian security establishment dearly wants to see the US maintain a strong defence presence in Asia. So too – as

Power and choice: Asian security futures

This paper sets the foundation for the Lowy Institute’s MacArthur Asia Security Project. It outlines four regional security futures, the strategic dynamics and political choices that could give rise to each of them, and their implications for the region’s security architecture. It then examines

It a natural alliance

In this opinion piece in The Times of India, Lowy Institute program director and India expert Rory Medcalf argues that flawed perceptions and flawed policy are holding Australia and India back from a potentially deep strategic partnership. This article, which cites recent Lowy Institute polling, is