Sunday 21 Apr 2019 | 18:28 | SYDNEY
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The International Security Program

The International Security Program looks at strategic dynamics and security risks globally, with an emphasis on Australia's region of Indo-Pacific Asia. Its research spans strategic competition and the risks of conflict in Asia, security implications of the rise of China and India, maritime security, nuclear arms control, Australian defence policy and the changing character of conflict. The Program draws on a network of experts in Australia, Asia and globally, and is supported by diverse funding sources including grants from the MacArthur Foundation and the Nuclear Threat Initiative. It convenes international policy dialogues such as the 2017 Australia-ROK Emerging Leaders International Security Forum and has a record of producing leading-edge, influential reports.


Latest Publications

China-Taiwan: Risk of war 'near zero'

This is one of those interviews that I wish could have gone longer. Former Taiwan Deputy Defence Minister Dr Chong-Pin Lin visited the Lowy Institute last week for a roundtable with China experts from around Sydney, and he was kind enough to agree to this short chat. Dr Lin has a mild-mannered

Today in killer robot planes

Chinese military websites have been abuzz lately with images emerging of China's first stealth drone, dubbed 'Sharp Sword', which has started undertaking so-called 'taxi trials' (moving under its own power on a runway) and will presumably make its first flight soon. This image posted today on

Defence in depth: The budget

Today we launch the first in a series of videos looking at Australia's defence and strategic policy. Entitled Defence in Depth, the videos feature interviews with defence and strategic experts on a range of issues, including the defence budget, strategic relationships, Australian Defence Force (

Defence White Paper round-up

Dougal Robinson is a Lowy Institute Defence Intern. The Australian Government's Defence White Paper is a week old. Islamabad noticed, as did New York. Here's a round-up of the major judgments: The Lowy Institute's Rory Medcalf: 'Canberra's revised strategic policy is not as meek as it

China-PLA: 2nd comes right after 1st

Every year the US Defence Department releases a Congressionally-mandated unclassified study called Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China. This year's edition was released earlier this week.  China specialists tend to pay this document some attention and so

Trailer: Captain Phillips

Captain Phillips tells the story of the Maersk Alabama hijacking in 2009, which was eventually brought to end by US Navy SEALs in what was interpreted as an early foreign policy victory for the new Obama Administration. The Wikipedia page on the hijacking tells a pretty hair-raising story, and

Defence White Paper: Politics over strategy

Major Gen (Retd) Jim Molan is author of Running the War in Iraq. The Defence White Paper (DWP2013) has pretty well negated defence as a political issue. From the point of view of the Government, that means it's a roaring success. Beginning with an American style launch and ending with a shambolic

Defence White Paper pulls its punches on China

Andrew O'Neil is Professor in the School of Government and International Relations at Griffith University. The most striking feature of the 2013 Defence White Paper is the growing gap between Australia's strategic policy aspirations and the crunch in defence spending. Nowhere is this more evident

Syria: Claims, damned claims and reality

I wrote previously about the philosophical reluctance of President Obama to use US power unless key US interests were at stake. Martin Indyk's excellent talk at the Lowy Institute last Thursday gave us more insight into the way Obama views the Middle East in general, and Syria in particular. It

Defence White Paper: One American's view

Michael Green served on the US National Security Council staff from 2001-2005 and is now Senior Vice President for Asia at CSIS and a non-resident fellow at the Lowy Institute. Australia's new Defence White Paper has its flaws, but the first thing that struck me about it was the hope that the

First impressions: Defence White Paper

Herewith my initial thoughts on the Defence White Paper 2013, with the usual caveat that this is the result of a first quick read and thus subject to revision. All the talk about this White Paper is that it takes a softer line on China, and although Minister Stephen Smith says the Government

Defence White Paper out tomorrow

The media is reporting that the Defence White Paper will be released tomorrow. The document itself will presumably appear here first, and in the hours and days after the launch, we will have commentary from a range of experts both here and on Twitter (look for the #ausdef13 hashtag). In the

Closer look at Coalition defence policy

The Shadow Defence Minister, Senator David Johnston, addressed the Lowy Institute last night to outline his view on the state of defence in Australia and the outlook for the 2013 Defence White Paper. Unsurprisingly, he was scathing in his criticism of the Gillard Government's approach to defence

Syria and the chemical weapons norm

There's no easier way to demonstrate the appalling standard of online political debate than to cite comment threads: abusive, intolerant, disrespectful, rude, inflammatory etc. That's true, but it's not the whole truth. I give occasional seminars here at the Lowy Institute for groups of public

Syria and the Obama Doctrine

My colleague Anthony Bubalo has taken President Obama to task for failing to put his political-diplomatic shoulder to the wheel in seeking a resolution to the Syria crisis. It is fair criticism. There is an overwhelming focus in the Middle East on the need for some type of US-led military

Boston and the changing nature of terrorism

Sam Roggeveen has suggested that, in its response to the Boston Marathon bombing, America 'got it right'. Likewise, Sam linked to a piece by Thomas Friedman on the 'right' response to terrorism.  I agree with Sam that President Obama's response was tone-perfect: strong, measured, resolute. 

Shining a light on wartime sexual violence

Paul Madden is the British High Commissioner to Australia. Important issues can sometimes be neglected by the popular media until a celebrity gets involved. So Angelina Jolie's visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo, together with British Foreign Secretary William Hague, helped to shine a

Social media to the forefront in Boston

  So unfolded the abhorrent events on the Boston Police Twitter feed today. The feed – with its updates, instructions and attempts to crowd source — went out to the Police Department's 110,000 followers. Through Twitter's network effect, many, many more were able to see the Boston

The Falklands Play

Fairfax websites have been spruiking this dramatic account of British politics leading up to the Falklands War since the weekend. You can watch it in one hit (with ads) here, but the BBC also has it in ten parts on its YouTube channel. I had not heard of this production before, but according to

DPRK: Getting closer all the time...

Earlier this week Jeffrey Choi wrote on this blog that: North Korea's missile and nuclear technologies appear more advanced and sophisticated than previously thought and it is more common now to acknowledge North Korea as the world's ninth nuclear power. It seems Jeffery might be on to

Reader ripostes: Howard, Ware and Iraq

Below, Mona Scheuermann responds to Michael Ware. But first, Ashley Murtha: Some important qualifications should be made regarding Sam Roggeveen's mention of Canada as a country that opposed the Iraq War, ostensibly referenced as it is a middle-power that enjoys close relations with the US and

A shift in China's North Korea policy?

Jeffrey Choi is a PhD candidate at the School of Politics and International Relations at ANU and an Endeavour Award Scholar. He previously served as an officer in the South Korean Navy. North Korea's successful long-range rocket launch last December and its subsequent third nuclear test in

More on the avoidable Iraq insurgency

Michael Ware was a war correspondent for TIME Magazine and CNN. He spent six years in Iraq. fantasy – (noun) the faculty or activity of imagining things, esp things that are impossible or improbable.  A few of Kipling's words keep peeling like church bells in my head as I finally sit and

Further DPRK tests a show of weakness

If North Korea soon tests another missile or even, as some reports suggest, a fourth nuclear device, it will be a sign of regime weakness and clumsiness, not strength and cunning. Pyongyang may be able to stage the ultimate festivals of synchronised human movement, but under Kim Jong-un it is losing

DPRK: How effective are US missile defences?

Dr Stephan Fruehling is a Senior Lecturer in the Strategic and Defence Studies Program, ANU. Once again, North Korea's missile program has led the US to make major investments into its missile defence capabilities: a Theatre High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD; pictured) battery will be deployed

Indonesian ties much tighter

In an opinion piece in The Australian, Alan Dupont, Non-resident Senior Fellow at the Lowy Institute, comments on the remarkable recovery in Australia's strategic relationship with Indonesia in the last decade

DPRK: China pressure is the key

Responding to Sam Roggeveen's post and the question he poses to me: I think the best way to increase the costs to North Korea of its present course of action (and not only over the last weeks but years) is for affected parties to put pressure on the PRC for its support of North Korea through

Korea: The perverse logic of crisis

Malcolm Cook is quite right to say that Pyongyang's belligerence should not be rewarded with calls for compromise, and he's also right that shows of solidarity among South Korea and its allies are materially and symbolically useful. But should the allies try to 'increase the cost' to Pyongyang of