Wednesday 28 Jul 2021 | 03:47 | SYDNEY
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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.

US-China rivalries: What matters for ASEAN

An interesting discussion about how Australia should respond to US President Joe Biden’s call for closer alignment and cooperation among democratic states has featured in a recent series of articles on The Interpreter. Between them, Susannah Patton and Ashley Townshend,  Michael Green, Ben

Bringing the grey zone into focus

Australia’s 2020 Defence Strategic Update was, by the standards of such publications, a hard-hitting document. It had a particularly strong focus on grey zone activities, seen as increasingly troubling the Indo-Pacific and involving “military and non-military forms of assertiveness and coercion

Russia’s National Security Strategy: Same book, new cover

“The weak get beaten,” declared Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2004 after the Beslan tragedy. Russia’s recently-unveiled new National Security Strategy bears the stamp of Putin’s world view. It is not a revolutionary document, but builds on familiar themes identified in its 2015

China’s law on conscription under revision

Last December the Chinese government released its updated National Defence Law in order to rectify the law with changes in the organisation, structure and missions of the Chinese armed forces undertaken over the past two decades, especially those resulting from force-wide reforms initiated on 31

Afghanistan, Australia and the visa conundrum

With the advance of the Taliban in parts of Afghanistan and the withdrawal of coalition forces, the question of how to help Afghans who worked intimately with Australian forces has become a significant media and political issue. Former Prime Minister John Howard, who dispatched Australian troops to

Abandoning Afghanistan won’t bring peace

Bagram airbase, the nerve centre of US and allied forces operations in Afghanistan, turned into a ghost town over the American Independence Day 4 July weekend. Reports indicate that US forces left in the dead of night on 2 July without informing their Afghan counterparts. Afghans are stunned that

Australia right to back Biden on democracy

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s recent speech, “A world order that favours freedom”, has some foreign policy commentators worried that Australia is signing up to more misguided US democracy evangelism. Australian suspicion of American liberal internationalism has a long history. And it’s

A zero-trust approach to cyber security

Amid the steady deterioration of the US–China relationship in recent years, China has become the focus of a new narrative on cyber risks, with one company targeted in particular, China’s champion of 5G technology, Huawei. Australia was the first country to ban Huawei from a 5G rollout, in 2018

Maladies, remedies and optimising security

Last week, Peter Dutton gave his first speech as Minister for Defence. In his remarks and follow up Q&A, Dutton touched on the increasing risk of war “especially through miscalculation or misunderstanding”, the challenge of China, and the relationship with the United States as being “

An alliance of democracies is essential

Susannah Patton and Ashley Townshend argued in The Interpreter last week that the Morrison government should steer the Biden administration away from a coalition of world democracies since that would narrow Australian and American influence in the Indo-Pacific. An inflexible insistence that

How Gaza occupies Indonesia’s identity wars

Indonesia’s public debate over the issue of Palestinian rights was reawakened by the latest violence, which claimed at least 243 lives in Gaza and 12 in Israel before an eventual ceasefire. Social media was especially animated by vehement arguments as most Indonesians – 86.7% of whom identify as

The challenge to the Abraham Accords

For countries party to the so-called Abraham Accords – the series of diplomatic agreements that normalised relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco and were much-lauded by the Trump administration – the latest outbreak of violence between Israel and the

Long-ago battle in Solomon Islands keeps claiming lives

Solomon Islands is littered with unexploded bombs, a legacy of the Second World War as the site of one of the fiercest battles between Japan and the United States in the Pacific. Much of the population across the islands still live with unknown quantities of explosive remains left behind from the

Pakistani Taliban turn on China

A deadly bomb blast rocked the Serena Hotel last month in Pakistan’s south-western city of Quetta, leaving five dead and 12 critically injured. The bomb exploded just as a VIP guest and his entourage were barely five minutes away from the site. He was Nong Rong, Ambassador of the People’s

The Quad’s uneasy place in Southeast Asia

Last month, the leaders of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue – the United States, Japan, India and Australia – met for the first time. Promising to strive for a region that is “free, open, inclusive, healthy, anchored by democratic values, and unconstrained by coercion”, the Quad

Iran-US-Israel: Boxing out of the shadows

Just as the negotiations between Tehran and Washington appear to be making some, albeit slow, progress over the United State rejoining the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, several incidents between Israel and Iran have again highlighted just how actively the two

The Quad (finally) delivers: Can it be sustained?

On 19 March, the leaders of four important democracies of the Indo-Pacific region – the United States, Japan, Australia and India – held (virtually) their first-ever “Quad Summit.” This meeting at the leaders’ level of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue was significant on two counts. It

An interim government would bring ruin to Afghanistan

The Afghan government is fighting for survival as external and internal actors exploit its weaknesses in preparation for a US exit. The latest US initiatives to bring “a responsible end” to the Afghan war will likely have the opposite effect, pushing the Afghan government closer to a knife’s

The Mozambique Channel is the next security hotspot

The waters off Mozambique are becoming a major new security hotspot in the Indian Ocean. An Islamist insurrection in northern Mozambique that the government seems powerless to suppress has also increasingly led to disruption in the Mozambique Channel, a key global shipping route. The Quad countries

Lessons from Christchurch

The tragedy of 51 people murdered and many more injured two years ago by an Australian-born far-right extremist was commemorated in Christchurch this week by the New Zealand government along with family and friends of the victims. For the community – in New Zealand most importantly, but also in

The US and the Rules-Based Order: Testing the plan

US President Joe Biden this month issued an Interim National Security Guidance which will, in his words, “convey my vision for how America will engage the world”. He has directed departments and agencies “to align their actions with this guidance”. This document also provides some answers

The Quad gives a boost to India’s vaccine diplomacy

The most notable takeaway from the first-ever “Quad” leaders meeting involving the US, India, Japan and Australia at the weekend was the agreement on expanding the global vaccine supply. The vaccination capacity of India will be increased to produce 1 billion doses by 2022, the leaders announced

A new “concert” to govern the Indo-Pacific

The joint statement issued following the weekend meeting of the four “Quad” leaders was titled “The Spirit of the Quad”. This title could be read as either self-affirmation or self-praise. The Quad’s first summit of leaders was a somewhat informal affair, held virtually amid a global

An oil spill nobody owns

What does the continuing, low-intensity conflict between Israel and Iran have to do with the mysterious oil spill that has washed ashore along the coast of Israel and southern Lebanon in recent weeks, leaving a costly ecological disaster? Nothing at all was the first assumption. But as more

India must be realistic about Russia relations

The visit to Moscow by India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla on 17–18 February was his first overseas trip outside South Asia during the corona crisis, underscoring the importance India attaches to its strategic partnership with Russia. But it is a relationship where New Delhi must also be

Terrorism and New Zealand’s dual citizenship conundrum

Last week, the issue of depriving an individual of their citizenship because of terrorist activity made headlines once again. An alleged Islamic State member, Suhayra Aden, had been detained by Turkish authorities crossing from Syria into Turkey and was being readied for deportation to New Zealand.

Afghanistan: To leave or not to leave

The peace agreement between the United States and Taliban signed in Doha last February is likely to be scrapped if the US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation unilaterally decide to stay in Afghanistan beyond 1 May, the withdrawal deadline set in the agreement.  With a presence of around 10

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