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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

Credit rating agencies must do better

Standard and Poors' credit ratings. (Wikipedia.) Foreign investors learn about the Australian economy from a variety of sources, but the credit rating agencies (CRAs) have a special place, as many investment managers are committed to following the rating agencies' assessments. As well, the CRA

Pacific trade: Sisters doing it for themselves

There's been a lot of talk about getting women into top positions in business in Australia, but our friends in the Pacific have been walking the walk. The inaugural Pacific Export Survey 2014 reveals that around 27% of exporting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Pacific are run by women,

G20: The case for an inclusive growth target

Earlier this year Treasurer Joe Hockey negotiated a significant commitment among G20 Finance Ministers to aim for an additional 2% of global growth over the next five years. As countries develop their action plans for achieving this goal in the lead-up to the next G20 Finance Ministers' meeting in

The limits of Indonesia's anti-corruption campaign

'Fight corruption!' A Corruption Eradication Commission event in Bandung in 2009. (Flickr/Ikhlasul Amal.) Indonesia's reputation for corruption in not in doubt: it comes 114th out of 177 in Transparency International's ranking. For more than a decade, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK)

Gaza: Searching for a ceasefire (mediator)

The latest Gaza war is heading into new and bloody territory with no end in sight. As with previous conflicts in Gaza (and in Lebanon for that matter), both sides are engaged in what amounts to a brutal negotiation. For Israel it is about how much of Hamas' rocket and tunnel infrastructure it can

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

Radio Australia cuts hurt the Pacific and Australia

Pacific Island leaders will meet at the annual Pacific Islands Forum meeting next week in Palau. Prime Minister Abbott has cancelled his travel plans in order to focus on the response to the MH17 disaster and is sending Deputy Prime Minister Truss in his stead. Pacific leaders will be disappointed

China: Climate wrecker or climate leader?

Lisa Williams is author of the new Lowy Institute Analysis, China's Climate Change Policies: Actors and Drivers. The views expressed here are her own and do not reflect the views of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet or the Australian Government. As the world prepares to fight for (

Will Putin go to the Brisbane G20 Summit?

One consequence of the tragedy over MH17, apparently at the hands of Russian-backed separatists, is that it raises the question of whether President Putin should attend the Brisbane G20 Summit in November. Some newspapers are reporting that Australia is threatening to ban Putin. The predominant

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

Pacific islands: Market access alone won't boost economies

Solomon Islands last week became the first country to receive approval to export timber to Australia under new guidelines on the legality of logging products. The move secures the $4 million market in Solomon Islands sawn timber exports to Australia, an industry which employs at least a thousand

MSG manoeuvres: What next for West Papua?

It hasn't taken long for the West Papua National Council for Liberation (WPNCL) and other pro-independence groups to to respond to Melanesian Spearhead Group's (MSG) recent announcement on the WPNCL's membership application, made during the MSG summit in Port Moresby. And the response can be

Infrastructure: An opportunity for emerging economies

Low global interest rates since the 2008 global financial crisis seem to provide an ideal opportunity for boosting infrastructure investment. Bond rates have been historically low, so many governments can borrow at less than the rate of inflation. There is spare productive capacity in most advanced

Abe's Canberra speech: Dispelling doubts

Prime Minister Abe's carefully crafted speech to the Australian parliament gave credence to Prime Minister Abbott's much tut-tutted claim that Japan is Australia's best friend in Asia. The historic speech also clearly helped dispel one doubt about Prime Minister Abe: that he was unwilling to

Middle powers in Asia: The limits of realism

In the world of international relations theory, the realist paradigm reigns supreme. In large part, this is because it has core features that exert strong appeal beyond the academy: explanatory parsimony and the use of historical analogy. Realists place great emphasis on Europe's experience of

Occupy Central and the battle for Hong Kong's soul

'We hope young people can raise their understanding of the rule of law, and make themselves the vanguard of preserving Hong Kong's prosperity and stability', thundered Li Yunchao, China's powerful vice president. China is alarmed by the mobilisation of the Hong Kong public in recent weeks,

Baghdadi's caliphate is a mirage, but a damaging one

ISIS has released video of its leader Abu Baqr al Baghdadi appearing at a Mosul mosque (pictured) during Friday prayers last week, claiming to be the caliph, or leader, of the Muslim faithful and calling himself Caliph Ibrahim. Carrying the supposed moniker of 'the invisible sheikh' is great for

A conservative clean sweep in Asia?

If Prabowo Subianto does win tomorrow's presidential election in Indonesia, most if not all of Asia's elected democracies will be led by realist conservatives who triumphed over candidates less associated with this political position. From Netanyahu and Modi in West Asia to Park, Abe and Ma (less

Japanese collective self-defence: Abe's changes won't help

Clearly Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has deep personal and political motives for wanting to change Japan's strategic posture, 'escape from the postwar regime' and make Japan a normal country. But he has only been able to push this week's changes through because many Japanese who reject Abe's

Australians shifting on climate change

A month ago my colleague John Connor wrote an op-ed for the Sydney Morning Herald welcoming the fact that for the first time in years, climate change was a major story coming out of the Lowy Institute's poll of public attitudes to international affairs. Expectation for leadership on the issue was up

Myanmar: Aung San Suu Kyi and the constitution

Myanmar's Constitutional Amendment Implementation Committee recently voted down a bid to change Article 59(f) of Myanmar's 2008 Constitution, which prevents Aung San Suu Kyi (ASSK) from running for  president because of her 'allegiance to a foreign power' (she was married to a British citizen and

Young Australians talk about the value of democracy

Since Fergus Hanson first polled Australians on the value of democracy in the 2012 Lowy Institute Poll, our findings about how Australians, particularly young Australians, view democracy have variously provoked astonishment, bewilderment, disbelief, worry and frustration. Our 2014 Poll, released

Can women lead? Australians think so

Comments by Hillary Clinton and Julia Gillard this week have invigorated the debate on women and leadership. Clinton's recently released book Hard Choices made news in Australia for the condemnation of the 'outrageous sexism' experienced by Gillard. In response, the former Australian prime

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