Friday 24 May 2019 | 07:35 | SYDNEY
What's happening on

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.

Shadow boxing on the Korean Peninsula

The report that Korean People's Army General Hyon Yong-ch'ol, Minister of the People's Armed Forces, has been shot for insubordination – by an anti-aircraft gun and before a crowd of officials, no less – raises troubling questions about both halves of the divided Korean Peninsula. While there

A way forward for Indonesia-Australia relations

It is hard to avoid a sense of déjà vu when one looks at Indonesia-Australia relations today. Our fundamental strategic interests mostly converge – from regional and maritime stability to managing China's growing power – even if our policy preferences diverge in various issue areas. And

US, EU and Russia compete over Black Sea

Some see recent trips by US officials to Russia — including a meeting between Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian President Vladimir Putin at Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi — as signs of a budding détente. Yet the north-western corner of the Black Sea remains the scene of a three-

Assad's regime is brittle, and it may fall fast

It is not yet possible to say whether, when and how the Syrian regime may fall. But recent military setbacks, and an objective analysis of the challenges the regime faces in the longer term, strongly suggest that its future is increasingly precarious. The momentum of the military conflict has

China-Russia: An uneasy friendship

The China-Russia relationship is the world's most important, and the best between any two great powers, Xi Jinping told Vladimir Putin a couple of years ago. Last week, at the Kremlin's V-Day celebration, their ties were reaffirmed in grand style. Some observers dismiss the partnership as an '

China's dangerous cyberwar strategy

There's an 'Uber for X', goes the little ditty, celebrating the ubiquitous infiltration of the online 'sharing economy.' It seems Uber's business model can be turned to virtually all our needs, and a global ecosystem of app buttons has popped up on our smartphones. As in so many things, however,

Jokowi hoping for good news from Papua

President Jokowi lifted an effective ban on foreign journalists reporting from Papua during his visit to the province over the weekend. Aside from being a positive step for press freedom, the move has been interpreted as an effort by Jokowi to boost his own image as a human rights defender and to

Are peace talks in Afghanistan slowly taking shape?

In a positive sign for political reconciliation in Afghanistan, an Afghan Government delegation recently met with Taliban representatives in Qatar – ostensibly for a research conference, but most likely to discuss the commencement of formal peace talks. Representatives from Pakistan also attended

West absent as Russia marks Victory Day

On 9 May, Russians celebrate the 70th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany in 1945. The leaders of the Soviet Union's allies in that conflict, Great Britain and the US, will not be present. Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend. But of major Western leaders only German Chancellor Angela

Unquestioned beliefs on both sides of US-China divide

China and the US have both been described as countries that consider themselves to be exceptional. China, so much so, that some analysts argue it sees itself as 'uniquely unique'. What this means in China is that most Chinese understand themselves to be part of a culture that no-one else can truly

New Defence Guidelines re-brand US-Japan alliance

The US-Japan Defence Cooperation Guidelines are best thought of as an occasional re-branding exercise for the US-Japan alliance in response to changing strategic conditions. Following a review, a revised version of the Guidelines was announced on 27 April. The 1960 Treaty of Mutual Cooperation

Burma: Police reforms expand women's roles

There was a time when there were very few women in Burma’s national police force, and they were practically invisible. Under an ambitious plan to enlarge, modernise and reform the Myanmar Police Force (MPF), however, that situation is rapidly changing. Not only are there now many more female

Nepal aid response reflects regional rivalries

In recent years, strategic rivalry between India and China has been evident across the Indo-Pacific, with Beijing progressively growing its diplomatic, economic and military influence on India's land and maritime periphery, and India belatedly pushing back to preserve its once privileged position in

North Korea's new diplomacy

Russian state-run news agency Tass confirmed on 22 April that Kim Jong-un will be in Moscow for the 9 May Victory Day celebrations. The North Korean leader will be among 26 other heads of state who have so far confirmed their attendance. North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong (Flickr/UN Geneva)

China's economic march into Pakistan

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is nothing short of a 'fate changer', said Pakistani Federal Minister Ahsan Iqbal, the man behind the historic project. The excitement appears to be mutual, as China has shown equal enthusiasm for the project throughout a two-day visit by Chinese President

Burma: The return of the 'vigilantes'

In 2011, Burma's hybrid civilian-military government launched an ambitious reform program that, among other things, envisaged the transfer of responsibility for Burma's internal security from the armed forces to the national police. Given Naypyidaw's firm and public commitment to this policy, it

China's dream scenario for Asia

'Who lost China?' is perhaps the most dreaded question of modern American foreign policy. It reveals the historical dilemma that haunts Washington today: The rise of China will inevitably challenge America's longstanding presence in Asia; it doesn't matter whether American interests actively help or

Countering ISIS online

When you look at the global response to the threat of ISIS, a glaring gap is the cyber domain. The internet has been critical to the terrorist group's success. It allows it to communicate unfiltered to the rest of the world, for onward mass dissemination by the media. It helps the group radicalise

America's China consensus slowly unravels

For a long time American (and Australian) thinking about China has been dominated by a broad consensus that, despite many signs of growing assertiveness, Beijing does not pose a fundamental challenge to US leadership in Asia. The argument goes that, whatever they might say, China's leaders know

Ashton Carter's Northeast Asia visit looks south

Ashton Carter's inaugural trip to Asia as US Secretary of Defense went about as smoothly as he could have hoped. The logic of visiting Tokyo and Seoul ahead of other capitals in the region is straightforward. Between them, Japan and South Korea host over 80,000 US military personnel and the bulk

French elections reverberate in New Caledonia

    You might wonder whether the result of the recent second round of French departmental elections – with Nicolas Sarkozy taking credit for the UMP's win of 67 departments, trouncing Francois Hollande's Socialists, who got 34 – has anything to do with Australian

The coming nuclearisation of the Indian Ocean

While the world focuses on the dangers that a nuclear-armed Iran could present in the Middle East, a potentially more dangerous and unstable nuclear proliferation is occurring in the Indian Ocean. In the coming years India, Pakistan, and perhaps China will likely deploy a significant number of

Just how absurd is the Middle East at the moment?

Even for long-time watchers of the Middle East like myself, the region's enmities and alliances have become very difficult to keep track of. This has just been taken to a mind-bogglingly new level by Saudi Arabia's decision to launch a military campaign in Yemen against the Houthi movement. Last

Are the Khmer Rouge and ISIS similar?

Elliot Brennan's comparison between the Khmer Rouge and ISIS raises a number of questions. No one is more aware than I of the terrible cost of Khmer Rouge rule in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979. It was a period that devastated a country I knew well, and which led to the death, as Elliot rightly

Shambaugh's China disaster scenario examined

'Always predict disaster', a shrewd academic economist told me some years ago. 'If it happens, you are proved right. And if it doesn't, then catastrophe was avoided by people heeding your wise and timely advice!' Dystopia is, as least for those foreseeing it, a win-win game. 18th National Congress

Do we need 'full-spectrum defence'?

The first thing to say about Alan Dupont's recent paper is that he is absolutely correct about the dire condition of Australian strategic policy. As he suggests, we lack a coherent answer to the most basic question of all: 'What do we want our armed forces to be able to do?' Until that question

The shrinking space for piety without violence

The deliberate recruitment of women by ISIS certainly brings a new twist to radicalism. It is something that al Qaeda never quite got the hang of. It is worrisome, because it reveals the long-term ambitions of the group – to create a new generation of radicalised men and women. Why is it

India is no ally of the US

In the continuing debate between Hugh White and Shaskank Joshi regarding US-India strategic cooperation, I would associate myself closely with the views of White and what he sees as the eventual limits of the relationship. But I would take it one step further. In the long-term, an anti-US

Would India go to war with China to help America?

In his latest contribution to our debate, Shashank Joshi raised some excellent points against my sceptical view of the emerging India-US strategic partnership. But I'm still unpersuaded. To explain why, it helps to step back and clarify the question we are debating here. It is not whether

The worrying parallels between the Khmer Rouge and ISIS

In an excellent exploratory piece by Graeme Woods in The Atlantic this month, he notes in passing the similarities between ISIS and the Khmer Rouge. It’s a worthy comparison – further highlighted by ISIS’ destruction of antiquities as reported last week – and something that merits a

Boko Haram: The later years

Since 2010, Boko Haram has acquired increasingly sophisticated weaponry, grown its ranks, and expanded its capacity to attack a variety of targets, primarily in northeastern Nigeria. Boko Haram´s links to international networks, including al-Qaeda, became known to the Nigerian public in March

Full spectrum defence: Re-thinking the fundamentals of Australian defence strategy

In this Analysis, Alan Dupont argues that successive Australian governments have failed to define an effective national defence strategy. Australia needs a defence strategy that counters threats across multiple domains, is based on more diverse regional defence relationships, and is underpinned by

Applying the right lessons to Iraq

The Australian Government's announcement that 300 additional troops will be sent to Iraq to help train the Iraqi Army has brought forth the usual public commentators, myself included. My view is that all those who see ISIS as evil should be prepared to commit military and other resources to oppose

Pages