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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.

Would Americans give their lives for Asia? No

Picture it: it's 1 March 2015. Tokyo and Beijing are headed towards what was once the unthinkable. Over the last several months China has instituted daily non-naval maritime patrols around the hotly disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. Beijing is even sending fully-fledged naval assets within the

What Shinzo Abe actually said in Singapore

The Chinese rhetorical fireworks over Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's speech to the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore last weekend have been so widely reported that we are at risk of losing a sense of what Mr Abe actually said. As Interpreter readers will recall, the speech was denounced by

Are resource constraints driving China's Asia policy?

By Geoff Miller, Australian Ambassador to Japan (1986-89) and Director-General of the Office of National Assessments (1989-95). Recent reports from the Shangri-La Dialogue defence meeting in Singapore have put even more focus on the South China Sea and China's decision to put its new large

The diplomacy of hard and soft power at Shangri-La

The Shangri-La Dialogue styles itself as the premier forum for defence diplomacy in Asia. Given the scale of the event, the number of countries represented and the media coverage, the description is probably warranted. Defence diplomacy is a curious beast. Institutions and individuals whose

Scene set for torrid Shangri La Dialogue

Tonight Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers the keynote address to the annual Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore. It's ostensibly a think-tank conference organised by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, but is also something of an unofficial summit gathering for the region's

West Point speech neglects East Asian security

Amid tensions in the South China Sea and new alarm about a China-Russia alignment, President Obama's speech at West Point sends some confusing signals to the countries of Indo-Pacific Asia.   To be fair, the speech was not meant to be principally about Asia. It was intended to draw a final line

Data sovereignty: Up in the clouds

The surprise recent decision of the European Court of Justice to make Google responsible for removing search result information demonstrates the ambiguous sovereignty of online data. In recent years there has been a trend toward de-territorialisation of business and government operations, storing

Obama at West Point: The limits of American power

Barack Obama has declared a new foreign policy doctrine: the limits of American power. The US, he argues, 'must always lead on the world stage,' but 'US military action cannot be the only — or even primary — component of our leadership in every instance.'   Addressing future US Army

US foreign policy: Atlas seeks normalcy

President Obama's surprise weekend visit to Afghanistan was the curtain raiser to a two to four-week foreign policy sales pitch that will culminate in the release of the 2014 National Security Strategy. The President made his fourth visit to Afghanistan after an absence of two years, arriving

Inequality and security: Some strategic implications

Thomas Piketty speaking in Cambridge, Massachusetts in April 2014 (Wikimedia Commons)  Thomas Piketty's widely discussed (and contested) treatise has put the spotlight on the social consequences of resurgent inequality across the developed world. Yet the scope of his work hints at even wider

US indictment of Chinese hackers: No way out

On 19 May, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) indicted five officers of People's Liberation Army (PLA) on charges of hacking the computers of six US entities to benefit China's state-owned enterprises. This marked the first 'criminal charges against known state actors for hacking,' according to

How competitive is China's civil aviation industry?

Reports have surfaced that the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) C919 airliner program is struggling, with first deliveries pushed back to 2018, two years later than scheduled. Local newspapers have run positive stories about progress, but the tone is defensive. Aviation Week has

Anzac casts its long shadow over the Army History Unit

  For the last few months, anyone who's been unlucky enough to blunder into my path has been assaulted with the arguments in my book Anzac's Long Shadow: The Cost of our National Obsession. If you're time poor, this review in the Spectator Australia does a great job of capturing them. If you're

Solomon Islands: Was RAMSI worth it?

Tobias Haque and Doug Porter have worked on Solomon Islands for the past several years. The views expressed here are those of the authors and not necessarily those of their employers . Jenny Hayward-Jones' recent paper (Australia's Costly Investment in Solomon Islands) suggests

Asia Pacific security: Is the F-35B relevant?

With Prime Minister Tony Abbott implying recently that Australia could buy the F-35B 'jump jet' version of the Joint Strike Fighter (a suggestion reinforced this week by Defence Minister David Johnston), this is a good time to ask: what relevance could the F-35B have for the Asia Pacific? Designed

Australian defence exports: Beyond Bushmaster

Since 2007, the Defence Materiel Organisation has run an office charged with boosting Australia's defence exports. The Defence Export Unit, as it was initially known, was established with a budget of $34 million. It had a relatively inauspicious start – in 2009 it was unable to conduct its own

Bob Carr and Julian Assange: Brothers in arms

When former foreign minister Bob Carr published his diary in April, he launched himself into the struggle over what should remain a government secret and what should be revealed to the public. Carr, who worked as a journalist with the now defunct Bulletin magazine, delighted in flourishing his

Defence budget 2014: Heavy weights still in the rack

A favourite analogy of the Australian Treasurer is that the budget he delivered yesterday 'does the heavy lifting'. But like all weights regimes, we're first in for some visualisation and warm ups.  The Treasurer's speech hit the right note by outlining the goal, with the Government recommitting

South China Sea: ASEAN Summit falls short again

History neither repeated nor reversed itself at the ASEAN Summit last weekend when it came to the South China Sea disputes. Three preliminary judgments can be made with an eye for ASEAN's future centrality in relation to this issue. 1. ASEAN and its host state clearly learned from its historic 2012

Should Australia buy armed drones?

Fairfax defence correspondent David Wroe had what his editors labelled an exclusive in the weekend Sydney Morning Herald: Royal Australian Air Force chief Air Marshal Geoff Brown told Wroe the RAAF is interested in buying armed drones. No disrespect to Wroe, whose background piece on drones in

From the comments section: Chinese actions in the South China Sea

Featuring the best comments by Interpreter readers, as selected by the editors. A couple of excellent reader responses to Sam Roggeveen's post on Chinese actions in the South China Sea. First, Mishmael disagrees with Sam's proposal that China could pursue a less risky (and cheaper) 'rise' by

Malcolm Fraser taken to task for his Pine Gap claims

An addendum to the long interview I posted last Friday with former prime minister Malcolm Fraser. Fraser argues in his new book Dangerous Allies that the US listening post at Pine Gap in central Australia, known as the 'joint facilities', has evolved from a surveillance base designed to monitor

The China-Vietnam standoff: Three key factors

So, another maritime incident between China and one of its neighbours. There are reports from officials in Hanoi that Chinese and Vietnamese vessels collided on at least two separate occasions in the South China Sea on Sunday, in waters 120nm off the Vietnamese coast. The dispute began last

China escalates South China Sea dispute, but why?

Reuters reports on an escalation in China's dispute with Vietnam over control of contested waters in the South China Sea, with a Chinese state-owned oil company moving an oil rig into territory claimed by Vietnam: On Sunday, Vietnam said the coordinates of the rig put it in Vietnam's exclusive

Ukraine-Russia: Putin fans flames of invasion

Over the weekend and amid escalating tensions in Ukraine's eastern regions, the port-city of Odessa bore witness to harrowing scenes of anarchy which culminated in the death of 42 people in a blaze at the Trades Unions House. The mass media has portrayed this chaotic event as a post-football-

Defence budget: 2% is not a strategy

Andrew Carr is a Research Fellow, and Peter Dean is a Senior Research Fellow, at the Strategic & Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University. There's much we can agree with in Ric Smith's discussion of funding Defence at 2% of GDP. He is right to say that there is no science behind the 2

Jump jets for Australia?

It has just been pointed out to me that in his press conference of 23 April announcing the decision to buy 58 Joint Strike Fighters (JSFs) for the Royal Australian Air Force, Prime Minister Abbott made a tantalising reference to future additional purchases of the JSF. If it means what I think it

Interview: Malcolm Fraser on 'Dangerous Allies'

Yesterday I had a long and fascinating talk with former Australian prime minister Malcolm Fraser, who has just released Dangerous Allies, his new book calling for a substantially more independent Australian strategic posture. You can listen to the whole conversation below, but I have also

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