As every university student learns in their first-year international relations course, there is no global cop, no enforcer to make sure every country plays by the rules. It’s anarchy, every country for itself. The big ones build military forces to protect their territory and interests. The small
The refusal of the Vanuatu government to allow high-profile Vanuatu-based journalist to fly home on Saturday has given a sharper edge to concerns about a wider trend of attacks on media freedom in the Pacific and highlights both China’s influence and Australia’s policy failure in broadcast and
Book Review: Ross Garnaut, Superpower: Australia’s Low-Carbon Opportunity, La Trobe University Press, 2019)
If anyone in Australia deserves the somewhat overused epithets of “public intellectual” or even “policy entrepreneur”, it’s Ross Garnaut. Over a long and distinguished career, he
Last week, as the world’s attention fixed on the United States Capitol and the presidential impeachment inquiry, across the road in the US Supreme Court, another hugely consequential hearing was taking place. On 12 November, the court heard oral arguments for three cases related to the lawfulness
I grew up in Kerala, southern India, where the monsoons are born. Reared on an island in the middle of Ashtamudi Lake, I was surrounded by water. A family of fishermen and women, we worshiped the sea. Australia and her sunburnt plains were the furthest point on the planet for someone like me.&
When then–Prime Minister Tony Abbott was asked by Angela Merkel about Australia’s relations with China, he summed it up, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, in two words: “Fear and greed”. For a visual embodiment of such sentiment, take the graph charting which countries have been buying the bulk of
This is an edited and abridged transcript of the launch of Sam Roggeveen’s new Lowy Institute Paper Our Very Own Brexit, held last week at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne with prominent social commentator and award-winning journalist George Megalogenis. George MegalogenisNormally,
The US, Australia, and Japan have joined together to establish a trilateral “Blue Dot Network” to help develop infrastructure “in the Indo-Pacific and around the world”. The plan was announced on the sidelines of the 35th ASEAN summit in Thailand last week.
This sounds impressive. The Indo
Review: Tim Watts, The Golden Country: Australia’s Changing Identity (Text Publishing 2019)
Summer reading bins have been well stocked with memoirs by retired Australian parliamentarians casting experienced eyes over political lives lived hard and full. It’s not often we find engaging books
Donald Trump is about to be the third US President in history to be impeached. Australians won’t be surprised – he’s never been popular here. But Australia’s alliance with the United States is another story. No matter who is sitting in the Oval Office, be it George W. Bush or Barack Obama
On 3 October, Vladimir Putin confirmed that China and Russia have forged a multidimensional alliance in economics, politics, and defense. This announcement both confounds the many observers who refused to accept it as a possibility and significantly transforms the stakes not just in Asia, but in
“Category 5 strength cyclones have occurred in some years with similar conditions leading into the 2019/20 season,” New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research recently reported. “Therefore, all communities should remain alert and well-prepared for severe events.”
Earlier this year, French authorities intercepted a boat from Sri Lanka heading to Réunion Island, a journey of more than 4000 kilometres in the direction of Madagascar. Reports indicate this was not a one-off, and several of these trips were being planned.
The audacity of the journey is notable
Last week, Russia’s Ambassador to Australia, Alexei Pavlovsky, delivered a keynote address at the Australian National University on Russia’s strategic architect and former foreign minister, the late Yevgeny Primakov. Reflecting on the speech, it is evident that policy makers, pundits, and the
In the last two years China’s engagement in the Pacific – particularly through its aid program – has sparked alarm in Canberra. The spiking orange line in 2017 is part of the story.
In 2017 China committed to spend almost US$5 billion in the Pacific. US$4.1 billion of that was to upgrade
There has been a surge in climate litigation in national courts over the past few years, especially in the United States. Accompanying this has been growing interest in litigating climate change in international forums, including the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
I thought to myself, here’s Xi Jinping walking past, here’s a chance to ask him a question. But instead he just gave me a wan look and a bodyguard quickened a step to put himself in the way, allowing the delegation to brush by before I got a word out.
It was Vice President Xi back then, in
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave a foreign policy speech to the Heritage Foundation on Tuesday. Australia’s foreign policy analysts can be very grateful for these candid remarks, because they should prompt Canberra to rethink its policy stance on the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (the “
The latest set piece showdown between the Labor Party leadership and its union base over a trade deal – this time with Indonesia – comes with some overlooked historic irony.
It is now more seven decades since the industrial and political wings of the labour movement
As the ABC chair Ita Buttrose reminded the audience at the weekend’s Lowy Institute Media Awards dinner, this year marks 80 years since Australia started broadcasting internationally. As she noted, Prime Minister Bob Menzies mused at the inauguration of the service on 20 December 1939, “The time
Sceptical of US interests in the Middle East, averse to military deployments and non-committal to the value of alliances, US President Donald Trump has repeatedly said he will pull US troops out of Syria. As he puts it: “We want to protect the Kurds but I don’t want to be in Syria forever. It’
At the current meeting in Hobart for CCAMLR, the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, Australia is once again moving to establish marine sanctuaries off the east of Antarctica with the support of the US, Europe, and a coalition of environmental organisations. And
It is common to hear talk of a “trust deficit” in modern society, and Australia is no exception. Faith in public institutions is fragmenting, for a whole host of reasons. Trust is in trouble – as seen in the fallout of the Global Financial Crisis and growing wealth inequality, in domestic
In a new book edited by Dr. Michael J. Green of Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington D.C., the final chapter by Alex Oliver looks at international public opinion towards the US' system of alliances and finds that attitudes have been surprisingly
Just last week, much of Washington seemed to reach consensus on the direction of US policy in Syria. The Syria Study Group, a bipartisan committee convened by Congress to examine policy options released a final report, laying out a way forward. The committee concluded that sharp shifts and reversals
After a couple of thoughtful speeches to Asialink and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Lowy Lecture last night marked a clear step away from the sort of Australian foreign policy articulated in the government’s 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper and towards the
It’s not just the phone ringing at the Lodge – Scott Morrison needs to keep an eye out for the postie, too. Because like Donald Trump before him, senior US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham plans to contact Australia, this time with a letter, to ask for cooperation.
“To find out,” as
Book review: Common enemies: crime, policy and politics in Australia–Indonesia relations, by Michael McKenzie (Oxford University Press, 2018)
Next month marks the 17th anniversary of the Bali Bombing, which on 12 October 2002 claimed the lives of 202 people and injured 209 others. The attack
Paying the piper
Last Thursday as Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne was talking up the role of values in foreign policy to a business audience in Canberra, Indonesia was promoting its tourism investment opportunities to a different business gathering in Sydney.
It will probably never be
Twenty years ago, several hundred soldiers from the 3RAR Parachute Battalion Group, including me, flew from our base in Holsworthy to Darwin. We had a brief training session with a cavalry squadron we had never worked with, and then, never having conducted any maritime training, we embarked on HMAS
Should journalists really be trying to impose an order on Trump’s thinking, when he himself displays none?
One of my favourite old sayings is, “You don’t ask the fish to describe the water”. This sentiment, that creatures can become so immersed in their environment and lose all perspective
Democracy is in trouble. Far from sweeping all before it in an unstoppable historical wave, confidence in democratically elected politicians is collapsing among the young, and authoritarian regimes are on the rise. The decision in Australia to hold a Senate inquiry into the links between national
Syria is one among several Middle East regimes which believe that repression, if not used in moderation, provides a necessary answer to challenges to the existing political and social order. Accordingly, Western governments have to decide the relationship they wish to have with Syria, and its
TrumpHave you seen my tweet? MorrisonIt was brought to my attention … and then … honestly, this is what we call it the Canberra bubble. It’s ridiculous. It’ll be sorted out. TrumpWhy? I will study this dumb deal! MorrisonThe President gets that. I get it. TrumpSee, I said you’re going to
On the weekend of 24–25 August, the Brisbane City Council painted over a freshly-completed mural of a Korean statue on a traffic signal box. The mural had been approved by the Council as part of its Urban Smart Project but it responded to complaints that it was “offensive graffiti
This country’s diverse Chinese-Australian communities are hurting. From conversations with friends, I gather they feel burdened by an obligation to show loyalty to Australia that others simply take for granted. Some report feeling caught in the crossfire between a Chinese Communist Party (CCP)
Scott Morrison said it himself, only last week. “I mean he’s a very different President to previous Presidents.” And in another timely reminder ahead of the Australian Prime Minister’s visit to Washington, the revolving door at Donald Trump’s White House has turned again, with the
The way incessant talk of China’s rivalry with the United States dominates the present turbulent world, it’s hard to conceive of an earlier time when Australia’s prime ministers devoted hours upon hours to the fate of far-off Zimbabwe. But the death on Friday of African independence hero-
Marise Payne is visiting Dhaka, the first trip to Bangladesh by an Australian Foreign Minister this century. The last was in 1998, while the last Australian cabinet minister to visit the country was immigration minister Amanda Vanstone in 2006.
Payne’s visit can be observed from a couple of
Prime Minister Scott Morrison was at pains last week to emphasise the “modest and time-limited” nature of Australia’s contribution to the new US-led maritime security mission in the Strait of Hormuz known as the International Maritime Security Construct’ (IMSC). He batted away suggestions
Australia’s commitment to the US-led coalition to provide maritime security for the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf will be one maritime surveillance aircraft, to start operations later this year, and one frigate from early 2020. Military personnel will also help staff a coalition
Prime Minister Scott Morrison showed he was serious about the Pacific “step up” when he ensured that his first overseas visit was to the Solomon islands and the first foreign dignitary he invited to host was Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape. The visit by Marape represented a
Back in December, Scott Morrison went halfway in following Donald Trump’s change to the diplomatic recognition of Israel, deciding to leave Australia’s embassy in Tel Aviv while formally acknowledging “West Jerusalem” as the capital. But at the same time, Morrison decided not to follow Trump
On 23 November this year, Bougainvilleans will vote in a referendum to decide whether they wish to stay part of Papua New Guinea or become an independent nation.
It is perhaps the high point of a 20-year peace process that in turn followed a gruelling, 10-year battle for independence waged between
The Australian government’s announcement today that it will contribute assets to a maritime coalition force in the Persian Gulf comes as no surprise, given the very public way the US request was delivered in Sydney at the recent AUSMIN meeting. Washington doesn’t make those type of requests
This week in the Australian parliament, the Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security held the first public hearing for its inquiry into press freedom. The inquiry follows raids in June by the Australian Federal Police on the home of a News Corporation journalist and the offices of the national
Australia is known as a great export nation, but one of its least successful and most tenacious exports has again surfaced this week. In a video that appears to have “gone viral”, an Australian tourist in Bali terrorises locals – fly-kicking a motorcyclist off his bike, assaulting a man in his
For all the back-and-forth Hugh White has generated with his latest book, How to Defend Australia, in a national preoccupation with the China question, little serious discussion has been devoted to how to defend Australia’s southern front and cope with China’s increasing Antarctic footprint.
Washington has asked for Australian support to participate in a coalition maritime Persian Gulf security force. The request was formally announced as part of Sunday’s AUSMIN talks.
It is the type of request that Australia would prefer not be made. Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the
A new call to split trade negotiation from diplomacy in Australia has once again underlined how the rise of China has unsettled traditional frameworks for making policy about economic and security interests.
The divide between neo-liberal economic policy approaches