Friday 19 Apr 2019 | 17:23 | 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.

ISIS: the generational problem

The fate of perhaps as many as 70 children born to Australian mothers and caught up in the Iraq-Syria conflict has been the focus of Australian media attention. There are calls for them to be repatriated on the grounds that they should not be tarred with the same brush as their parents. An episode

Japan’s very busy fighter force

By international standards, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force is very busy. It scrambles fighters daily to intercept multiple aircraft penetrating Japan’s Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) – the block of airspace established over, and usually somewhat beyond, a nation’s territory in which

The cost of terror: two tales of country life

One country town, two people. One of them a hero who added to the legacy of the uncomplicated stoicism and selflessness that Australians popularly associate with “the bush”, and the other someone who betrayed it. Last week two people from the small Riverland town of Loxton in South Australia (

ASEAN Regional Forum: less might be more

The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) – with its unwieldy number of member states (27) and preoccupation with dialogue (a “talk shop”) – has been declared a failure time and again. Some criticism is justified. But it can also be argued that the earliest expectations regarding this regional

The case to prosecute “jihadi brides” at home

A woman believed to be Melbourne-born Zehra Duman has recently resurfaced among the thousands of women and children at al Hawl refugee camp fleeing the last vestiges of the so-called ISIS caliphate. At just 19 years old, Duman left Australia to join the Islamic State. She married fellow

Remembering Rwanda: small mercy from the horror of Kibeho

What you don’t expect to see when you arrive at Kibeho are the eucalyptus trees. When Belgium ruled Rwanda, gum trees were planted across the colony to provide firewood. A small country in central Africa, Rwanda is mainly populated by two ethnic groups: the minority Tutsi and the majority Hutu.

The battle to resource the US National Defense Strategy

In a recent article, (What the pessimists get wrong about Trump in Asia) Natasha Kassam argued that Donald Trump’s election has not ended Barack Obama’s pivot to the Pacific or led to a significant break with traditional approaches to US foreign policy in Asia. Kassam rightly pointed to the 2017

Christchurch enters a nightmare peculiar to our times

“The nihilist … acts out the violence that so many others perpetrate verbally and virtually on the web: he is, in that sense, the avenging angel of post-truth and the rant made flesh.”- The Revolt of the Public The cold-blooded murder of 50 persons while at prayer at mosque in

Who bears responsibility for the Children of ISIS?

The death of UK teenager Shamima Begum’s newborn son and the recent video of an Australian woman in Syria calling to be returned home with her sick infant daughter has brought the issue of ISIS minors and the role of the home government in safeguarding these citizens to the forefront. By

Five questions about the Christchurch attack

The terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch by an Australian white supremacist accused of killing 50 people as they gathered for prayer has rightfully horrified people the world over. While police and security agencies grapple with how the attack came to pass without their

Singapore’s careful F-35 fighter aircraft purchase

Singapore has finally decided to acquire four F-35 aircraft with options for eight more, initially for evaluation purposes. The purchase appears cautious, well-timed, and cost-effective. Cautious, in that development remains ongoing with a full rate production decision not likely until late 2019.

Four reasons why China supports North Korea

Of all the countries on the sidelines of the Hanoi summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un, few were watching more intently than China. Chinese financial and trade support effectively facilitated North Korea’s nuclear program by keeping its economy afloat and thus fractured the chances of a

India’s wobbly quest for fighter aircraft

India’s air strikes this week targeting suspected terrorist hideouts in Pakistan and subsequent air battles comes at a time of growing concerns about sharply declining strength of India’s fighter squadrons. The number of aircraft presently stands at 31, against the authorised level of 42. The

Behind every mujahid there is a mujahidi

The tendency to downplay the agency of female ISIS members was explored last week by my colleague Lydia Khalil (Repatriating female foreign fighters: political not personal). In media interviews, detained women or their families often make self-serving claims to have been brainwashed or

The pressure to curb arms sales to Saudi Arabia

The Australian government is finally considering a ban on defence exports to Saudi Arabia. Like-minded governments such as the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany have stated that they are also strengthening their resolve to end military support to Saudi Arabia because of breaches of

US, Taliban, Afghanistan peace talks: timing is critical

The Taliban and the US have agreed, in principle, on a peace framework that will ensure the Taliban part ways with international terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda leading to a possible withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan. The negotiations also focused on a comprehensive ceasefire and

Don’t “crush” Abu Sayyaf perpetrators, debrief them

The horrific bombing of the cathedral in Jolo last Sunday underscores the need for the Philippines government to understand more about the operations of pro-ISIS groups in Mindanao. The best way to get that information is to find, arrest, and debrief the perpetrators of violent extremist crimes.

What is the F-35 for, exactly?

The Royal Australian Air Force announced last week that it has commenced flight operations with the first two of its new F-35A Joint Strike Fighters. When the first full squadron of F-35s is operational in 2020, the Air Force will have made a substantial capability leap, particularly in “data

What happens next? Trump’s sudden Syria exit

Donald Trump’s announcement that he is pulling troops out of Syria is another example of the New York property developer turned president's decision-making style. If you don’t understand or don’t like the deal, then get out of it. All that matters is the bottom line. In business this may

International law cannot save the rules-based order

A curious aspect of the many accounts about meanings and significance of the “rules-based order” has been the relative silence from international lawyers. It is increasingly clear that this core aspect of the rules-based order, stability fixed on universal legal rules, is now all but

Disruptors disrupted: Australia’s new encryption law

Last week the Australian government successfully passed contentious national security legislation granting security and law enforcement agencies greater access to the encrypted messages of suspected criminals. The Telecommunications and Other Legislation (Assistance and Access) Bill is part of a

US killing by drone: continuity and escalation

Recent revelations confirm that under President Donald Trump, the use of armed unmanned aerial systems, drones, in US combat operations has increased significantly. For example, in 2017–18, the Trump administration launched 238 drone strikes on Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan, according to data from

Why denuclearisation is less important for South Korea

One of the most commented upon elements of this year’s outreach effort toward North Korea is the possible drift in the US-South Korean alliance. It has been widely noted that the US is tightly focused on nuclear weapons and missiles, seeking a narrow arms control deal. The US would clearly be

Review: lessons for Australia and Britain from Iraq War

Book review: Blunder: Britain’s War in Iraq, by Patrick Porter (Oxford University Press, November 2018). Clausewitz famously pointed out that war is a continuation of politics or policy by other means. Hannah Arendt wrote that “policy is the realm of unintended consequences”. Patrick

Combat drones: Australia’s uncertain future

Defence Minister Christopher Pyne’s announcement last week that Australia is buying 12 to 16 new MQ-9 Reaper drones that can fire air-to-ground missiles gets the Australian Defence Force into a capability niche that other modern armed forces, particularly the US, joined years ago

It’s time to fill Asia’s arms control void

Asia urgently needs new diplomatic initiatives aimed at reducing nuclear dangers and preventing arms racing in the region. There’s a glaring gap between the ambitious disarmament goals set out in the relevant global treaties – the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), and the

Bourke Street: debating terrorism

The violence in Melbourne’s Bourke Street last Friday is still being investigated as a terrorist incident and, as with all terrorist incidents, the media and public are rightly eager for information. While the authorities have been as open as they can be, this early in the process there

Marginalising female combatants after conflict

Australia recently took the final step towards removing any barriers for women serving in combat positions in the Australian Defence Force (ADF). Last month, the Civil Law and Justice Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 passed the parliament, removing barriers preventing women engaging in ADF combat

Xinjiang: outrage is not a policy

If the outrage about China’s forced re-education camps serves to do anything, it will be to again demonstrate that we have very short memories. Worse than being simply misguided, our outrage risks being ineffective.In Myanmar, despite all the warning signs which myself and many colleagues

The Australian Army’s drone air force

The first Military International Drone Racing Tournament was just held in Sydney, featuring competitors from across the world, and the Australian Army team did very well. This shouldn’t surprise. The Army has declared that it will soon “be the most unmanned [air vehicle] army in the world

“Would you like thanks with that?”

I think we are in danger of reaching “peak veteran”. Former defence minister and Australian War Memorial director Brendan Nelson has called for people to publicly thank the military and veterans community and their families for their service, a campaign backed by News Corporation along with

Trump scores a win over Russia

Typically, Vladimir Putin answered Washington’s decision this month to leave the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty by making new nuclear threats against Europe. His posturing underscored why this was the right decision. Better known as the INF Treaty, this agreement was signed in 1987

Chinese whispers and Pacific agency

Over the past year, Pacific specialists have been caught between bemusement, frustration, and deepening concern as elements within the strategic community in Australia and the United States have sought to shape the regional security narrative to reflect their growing anxiety about Chinese influence

Beware of fighter pilots bearing gifts

In late September, an interesting news story populated some portions of the internet. A person purporting to be a (possibly retired) Russian fighter pilot flying one of Moscow’s most modern jets, a Su-35, claimed to have engaged in (and won) a mock air-combat against America’s premier fighter

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