Wednesday 26 Jun 2019 | 00:49 | 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.

The limits of unilateral action against Iran

As Washington is finding, maximum pressure campaigns have their own limitations, even with the most coherent and experienced foreign policy teams. But with ​the Commander-in-Chief sending mixed messages (overnight Donald Trump described the alleged Iranian attacks on oil tankers in the

Maybe Australia should donate a warship to Sri Lanka

The Royal Australian Navy is about to take two highly capable guided missile frigates out of service. But they are not just surplus equipment, but they are important strategic assets that Australia can use for continuing strategic benefits. We should think seriously about giving them to our

A sea ride with Australia’s Indo-Pacific Endeavour

When the Australian Defence Force first dispatched its flotilla known as the “Indo-Pacific Endeavour”, the then Defence minister Christopher Pyne touted the regional drills as Australia’s “premier international engagement activity” designed to “enhance partnerships”. But what lies

Superpower scrutiny at Shangri-La

For the past two years, the highlight of the annual IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore was the keynote speech by the sadly departed former US defence secretary Jim Mattis. This year the task of speaking on behalf of America to the leading forum of Asian defence

The relativity of the death penalty

Opposition to the death penalty has a long and quite public history in Australia. Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan of the so-called “Bali Nine” drug smugglers received support from artists, singers, actors, media personalities and sports stars, while a crowd of about a thousand people

The clock is ticking on tensions with Iran

Washington’s attempts to isolate Iran economically and politically rely largely on whether it can get Tehran to opt out of the 2015 nuclear deal. As long as the Trump administration is the only signatory to withdraw from what is known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),

Australia struggles for clarity on the South China Sea

The Lowy Institute’s Richard McGregor has noted the absence of China discussion in Australia’s current election campaign, a state of affairs which prompted his colleague Sam Roggeveen to observe that “Bipartisanship on China is becoming a form of collusion”. Given that the

Myanmar: pariah status no bar to defence modernisation

It has been more than two years since military “clearance operations” against Myanmar’s Rohingyas began in October 2016. Since then, the international community has relied on public criticism, unilateral sanctions and a range of measures in the United Nations and International Criminal Court

Strategic trends across the Indo-Pacific region

Much has been written in recent years about the reorientation of US policy to the Indo-Pacific region in response to China’s expanding economic and strategic footprint. What is less clear, however, is how the region itself is responding to the new era of strategic competition proclaimed by

North Korea’s uranium and prospects of a stealthier bomb

Verifying North Korea’s nuclear stockpile will be a critical part of any future disarmament negotiations. As past experience with other nations demonstrates, it is also a tricky process. North Korea will be expected to supply an inventory of their weapons stockpile, its fissile material and the

Caliph emerges without his caliphate

This week, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the world’s most wanted man, appeared in a 20-minute video released by al Furqan Media, the official media outlet for ISIS. This is only the second time he has been shown on video as he has stayed assiduously out of the public eye since he was selected as the ISIS

Film review: On Her Shoulders

On Her Shoulders, a documentary film by Alexandria Bombach, follows young genocide survivor Nadia Murad in her global cause against sexual violence for which she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018. Women and girls in her community were subjected to widespread and systematic sexual

Atrocities of April

The month of April is littered with reminders of how cruel the world can be and should motivate us to be vigilant about the potential for atrocity crimes in our own time. 24 April marks the start of the Armenian Genocide when, in 1915, hundreds of Armenian community leaders and intellectuals were

Sri Lanka attacks: Still many puzzles to solve

It is very early in the aftermath of the Sri Lanka terrorist attacks and like all such attacks, more information will emerge in the coming days and weeks.  But a few early observations: 1. This was a well planned and coordinated attack: seven suicide bombers attacking six targets on the west

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

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