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Defence & Security

The strategic order and the nature of conflict are changing. Security competition between nations and military strategy are growing in complexity even as new transnational challenges deepen. The Lowy Institute’s experts in security and defence look at changing strategic relations, security architecture, nuclear strategy, military capabilities and defence and intelligence policy.

Why Indian and Pakistani sea-based nukes are so troubling

The danger of sea-based nuclear weapons in Asia depends on the strategic context of the potential protagonists, along with the particulars of the platforms, delivery system, and doctrines. Perhaps the least menacing in the short term is the interaction between India and China as each builds its

Obama 'doesn't have a strategy yet' for ISIS. Do we?

President Obama is already being pilloried for his statement, made in a press conference earlier today, that 'we don't have a strategy yet' for combating ISIS. No strategy? This for a terrorist group that his own Defense Secretary described as 'an imminent threat to every interest we have...Oh,

Japan's continuing confidence in the alliance

The views expressed here are the author's own, and do not necessarily represent those of National Institute for Defense Studies or the Japanese Ministry of Defense. I am inspired by the recent debate on The Interpreter about the trajectory of Japan's security strategy. Brad Glosserman's

2014 Australia-India Roundtable Report: Outcomes Statement and Summary Record of Proceedings

The relationship between Australia and India has reached a new maturity, based on deepening connections between their societies, economies, education sectors and policy establishments. This positions these two democracies to work together to advance their interests in a shared Indo-Pacific region.&

Australians back tougher anti-terror laws

The early numbers are in on the Government's proposed toughening of Australia's anti-terror laws and they make for interesting reading. According to Newspoll, 77% of respondents were in favour of the new law that would require individuals who travel to pre-designated conflict zones to prove they had

Should the US retrench from South Korea? Part 2: No

A couple of days ago I laid out the arguments for a US withdrawal from South Korea. Today, I lay out the arguments for staying. This topic is rarely discussed. In the US, the foreign policy consensus for hegemony, forged between liberal internationalists on the left and interventionist

China-Japan competition: Hugh White responds

The four excellent responses to my post on China-Japan relations all present important points about Japan's situation and its options in the face of China's growing power. Just to recap, my piece questioned whether Chinese political and military pressure on Japan in the East China Sea is as

Nuclear weapons and Pakistan's naval strategy

Since 1998, when India and Pakistan both burst out of the nuclear closet and publicly revealed their formerly recessed nuclear capabilities to the world, scant commentary has been made on the impact that the introduction of sea-based delivery systems would have on the South Asian nuclear equation

INS Arihant revealed

As we begin the second round of our debate on sea-based nuclear weapons in the Indo-Pacific, here is the first clear image of the INS Arihant, India's first indigenous nuclear-powered submarine, to be armed with either a dozen 750km-range nuclear tipped ballistic missiles or four larger missiles

Australian jihadists: Is revoking citizenship the answer?

One of the policy solutions being considered by the Australian Government to deal with the expected problem of returning Australian jihadists is to preclude their return to Australia, or expel them, by revoking their Australian citizenship. A recently released report from the Independent

Should the US retrench from South Korea? Yes

Over at War on the Rocks, Christopher Lee (a former officer in the US Forces Korea [USFK]) and Tom Nichols (of the US Naval War College) have gotten into a useful debate on whether US forces should remain in Korea. This issue is not widely discussed, which is surprising given the end of the Cold

What sort of power does Japan want to be?

Hugh White graciously flags my assessment of Japan as he tries to make sense of Chinese policy toward Tokyo. He is right: my 'analysis does lend support to the idea that Japan would accept a subordinate status in a Chinese-led Asia.' I wouldn't reach that conclusion, however. Nor for that matter

China's strategy to sow distrust of Japan

Promoting mutual distrust in the Asia Pacific now appears central to Chinese strategy. As Hugh White has argued persuasively, China seeks greater influence in Asia through weakening the faith of America's regional allies and partners in US resolve to remain engaged in the region. This will be

US courts Vietnam with military chief's visit

'The place for you right now is Vietnam.' So President Obama and Defense Secretary Hagel reportedly told the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, and so originated the first visit by a top US military chief to Vietnam since 1971. That historical event began yesterday

AUSMIN 2014: What are we getting ourselves into?

Here's The Australian's Greg Sheridan on this week's AUSMIN talks: ...the two governments committed to establish a working group on integrating their efforts on ballistic missile defence...In time, the US ideal is to be able to track and follow any hostile missile with seamless allied co-

Ukraine: Aid convoy an ominous signal from Moscow

The mysterious Russian 'aid' convoy — announced with much fanfare by the Kremlin on 11 August — has now reached Voronezh near the Ukrainian border. What happens next has been the subject of intense speculation. But it does seem that Vladimir Putin has made up his mind to intervene directly in

SSBNs destablising? Not if command and control is maintained

Ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) became the seagoing platform of choice for the deployment of strategic nuclear weapons by 1960, with the availability of submarine-launched ballistic missiles. Today there are five countries with operational SSBNs. The US, the UK, France and Russia all have a

Fighting Islamist terrorism: Communities the key

There is an obvious connection between what is happening in Iraq at the moment and the Abbott Government's announcement last week of new measures to fight terrorism at home. A significant number of young Australian nationals have traveled to fight in conflicts in Syria and Iraq. Some are fighting

At AUSMIN 2014, let's talk about naval force posture

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel arrives in Sydney, 11 August 2014. (Department of Defence.) US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel touched down in Sydney today for the annual AUSMIN meetings between Australian and US foreign policy and defence leaders, which start tomorrow. There will be no

The dangers of SSBN proliferation in Indo-Pacific Asia

  It has become commonplace to lament the arms races underway in Indo-Pacific Asia. China's military modernisation over the last two decades has helped provoke heightened political tensions and growing concern in capitals from Tokyo to New Delhi to Washington and Moscow. North Korea's continued

SSBNs are unnecessary and destabilising

A Chinese Type 094 (Jin-class) SSBN. (Wikipedia.) Regarding the Chinese and Indian ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) programs and their impact on international security, my arguments are: (1) they are not necessary; (2) noisy SSBNs are destabilising and should not be deployed; and (3) China's

Sea-based nuclear weapons in Asia: Stabiliser or menace?

On this day in 1945, the first nuclear weapon was used in conflict, with devastating consequences for the people of Hiroshima. In Asia today, nuclear weapons remain part of the strategic reality, for better or worse. But calculations about nuclear armaments in the region may be changing, notably

Russia, China and the risk of 'salami tactics'

The MH-17 tragedy and Moscow's behaviour in Ukraine underscore the risks of the strategies revisionist powers are deploying to subvert the status quo from Eastern Europe to the South China Sea. While these strategies are diverse in their methods and objectives, they are marked by the same central

Relax, Japan is not remilitarising

In my previous post I argued that the last few months have seen a spike in punditry claiming that Northeast Asia's status quo is about to change, and that conflict is more likely. Japan's constitutional revisions have provoked exaggerated responses from South Korea and China, while Chinese President

Ukraine: US and Europe fail, crisis deteriorates

It is now two weeks since the downing of MH17 over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine. In that time we have witnessed frenetic activity by leaders in Europe, the US and Australia. But amid the flurry of diplomacy, little seems to have changed for the better, either for the investigation or

Why does no one care about nuclear weapons?

Terrific segment here from British comic John Oliver's new HBO show Last Week Tonight on the terrifying but seldom discussed risk of nuclear weapons mishaps. There's some NSFW language: At around the 13.45 mark, Oliver turns to the issue of public engagement in debates around nuclear weapons. As

Relax, Korea is not drifting toward China

Perhaps inspired by the centenary of World War I, this year has provoked a lot of clamouring about shifting security in Northeast Asia. The general vibe is that Japan's Article 9 're-interpretation' reflects a looming Sino-Japanese conflict, and that Xi Jinping's trip to South Korea is pulling Seoul

Time to put security issues on G20 agenda

Given developments in the Ukraine and tensions elsewhere in the world, the time has come to put security and geo-political issues directly on the agenda for the meeting of G20 leaders, and for those leaders to bring their foreign ministers to the Brisbane Summit. Soon after President Bush announced

Russia's MH17 response: How to mismanage a crisis

For Western audiences, Moscow's initial prickly attitude to the downing of MH17 can be read as an example of how not to manage a crisis. Even with the weak hand he inherited, President Vladimir Putin has been consistently strong when on the foreign policy offensive, devising creative ways to advance

Israel's Gaza ground operation: How does this end?

This morning I recorded this conversation with Lowy Institute Middle East expert Anthony Bubalo about the escalation of Israel's military operations against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. As the NY Times reports, after ten days of air operations against Hamas, Israel has overnight launched a ground

China's determination to be a great power

John Garnaut, writing for Fairfax yesterday, says I'm wrong to argue that Prime Minister Abbott and Foreign Minister Bishop do not understand the nature of China's challenge to the Asian regional order. He says Bishop's remarks, in the fine interview John did with her last week*, show that she

Alliances in Asia: South Korea unlikely to be lost

'Washington, you're on your own' is the gist of a recent piece by Stephen Walt, who assesses that Europe would have no dog in an Asian fight and will therefore distance itself from the American's long list of troubles involving China. This was underscored by Angela Merkel's recent visit to China,

Does Abbott understand the China challenge?

Sam Roggeveen says that Mr Abe's visit last week, and Julie Bishop's interview with John Garnaut, show that the Abbott Government now accepts there is a serious strategic competition underway in Asia as China challenges US primacy. If so, I think this would be an important shift. The simplest

Malcolm Fraser talks 'Dangerous Allies'

Earlier this week the Lowy Institute hosted former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser to discuss his new book Dangerous Allies. Below is the full video of the event. Yesterday evening Mr Fraser tweeted the video, adding that he was 'debating the established political class!', which brought

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