Thursday 22 Aug 2019 | 09:53 | SYDNEY
What's happening on


Taliban will go on, even without Mullah Akhtar Mansur

Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansur was confirmed killed by a US drone strike in Pakistan's Baluchistan province yesterday. Unlike his predecessor, Mullah Omar (who ruled the Taliban for at least two decades), Mullah Mansur's reign was short and controversial. A coffin believed to contain the body

Vision 2030 (part 2): Saudi Arabia's bold reinvention plan

This is the second in a two-part series examining Saudi Arabia's ambitious plan to transform its economy. Part 1 looked at the reach of the Vision 2030 plan and labour force implications; part 2 examines which industry bets are most likely to pay off. Vision 2030's central and stunning call is

Vision 2030 (part 1): Saudi Arabia's bold reinvention plan

This two part series considers Saudi Arabia's ambitious plan to transform its economy. Part 1 looks at the reach of the Vision 2030 plan and labour force implications, Part 2 will examine which industry bets are most likely to pay off. Though he is yet to reveal the details of the plan, Saudi

Will One Belt One Road pay off?

One Belt One Road (OBOR) is just getting started, but the superlatives are flowing. OBOR 'will benefit 4.4 billion people in 65 countries' and 'according to some estimates could be more than 12 times America's Marshall Plan to aid post-second-world-war Western Europe, in comparable money-of-the-day

US claims unsafe intercept by Chinese jets

In light of the news that Chinese fighters conducted what the Pentagon calls an 'unsafe intercept' of one of its reconnaissance aircraft flying over the South China Sea on Tuesday (according to the US, the Chinese jets flew within 50 ft of the the American plane, forcing it to descend), it is worth

Beyond the Indian Ocean: India in the South Pacific

India’s connection with the South Pacific Islands has traditionally been fairly limited, despite a sizeable ethnic Indian population in Fiji. However, the relationship is gaining momentum under Prime Minister Modi’s government, and not just with Fiji but across  the South Pacific. The region

Lebanon: Struggling on in the face of donor fatigue

So often we hear calls for sensible and balanced debate on international migration, and so often we are let down by leaders and officials who deliver polarised, one-sided and sometimes toxic views. We know it doesn’t have to be this way and yet all too often the discussion and debate falls far

The Cultural Revolution, then and now

It has been (arguably) 50 years since the start of one of the greatest, but least well understood, social upheavals of modern history. The Chinese Cultural Revolution, overseen by Mao Zedong, has been in the news in the West and in China both because of this anniversary, and because of controversy

Hizbullah's financial war of attrition

The death last week of Mustapha Badredinne, Hizbullah's chief of military operations in Syria, was certainly big news. His death highlights once again the cost in senior personnel that the civil war is exacting on the Lebanese Shi'a group. In December last year, Samir Kuntar was killed in an Israeli

Corruption summit brings out the best in David Cameron

The Anti–Corruption Summit held in London last week was both intensely personal for David Cameron and significant for the future of global financial flows. 'Statesman' is traditionally not the first term connected with the British Prime Minister. 'Experienced tactician' has been more common

The problem with American assumptions about Australia

US and Australian defence cooperation has always been close, but there has been a step change under the Obama Administration's 'Rebalance' policy. After years at war together in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Indo-Pacific is now the theatre of cooperation: thousands of US Marines and dozens of US

Hollywood-China movie mania: A two-way street

Could Captain America be showing the way forward in Sino-US relations? In contrast to tensions around territorial disputes and currency battles, the burgeoning Hollywood-China filmmaking relationship is a case study in the type of 'win-win cooperation' that President Xi is so keen on. Anthony and

Manoeuvring on Manus

On 26 April 2016, the highest court in Papua New Guinea held that the detention of refugees and asylum seekers in its Australian-funded 'processing' centres was unconstitutional. This was based on Section 42 of the PNG Constitution which sets out a right to liberty. The unanimous, five member bench

Movie trailer: Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

This looks amazing: Ang Lee directing and Steve Martin in a dramatic role is is enough to whet my appetite, but it looks like the film also explores the phony 'thank you for your service' patriotism that the Lowy Institute's recent guest James Fallows has written about in 'The Tragedy of the

The Republican foreign policy vacuum

Titles can be deceiving. The Obama Doctrine by Colin Dueck, for example, is not actually about Obama's foreign policy legacy or grand strategy. Rather, it is a Republican foreign policy manifesto. For readers wanting a more straight-forward analysis, Jeffrey Goldberg's 'The Obama Doctrine'

Yes, monetary policy does still work

Did you know that Australia once had a double dissolution election where the trigger was the conduct of monetary policy? It was our second double dissolution election, in 1951  (we are currently looking at our seventh), and the question at hand was the management of the Commonwealth Bank, which

Philippine elections: More continuity than change

At first glance it looks like much has changed in Philippine politics. In Rodrigo Duterte the Philippines will have, for the first time, a president from the island of Mindanao, and one who came to power without either the backing of a major party or pre-existing network of local political bosses

Australia's Antarctic nightmare

When Australian governments announce new policy that has only been thought of in terms of domestic impact, foreign diplomats in Canberra sigh, write their briefings home and know that tomorrow will be the same as today. When governments announce that they are not really interested in pursuing

Dealing with the North Korean nuclear threat

North Korea’s ruler, Kim Jong-un, has outlined his country’s nuclear weapon policy. At the Workers’ Party Congress, now in session, he announced that 'as a responsible nuclear weapons state, our Republic will not use a nuclear weapon unless its sovereignty is encroached upon by any aggressive

Budget 2016: Taxing foreign investment

Last week's budget contained two taxation measures affecting foreign investment in Australia: one lowering tax while the other aims to increase it. The first lowers the rate of company tax, which will fall from 30% to 25% by 2026. The second aims to tax more effectively those large multinational

Upsizing Singapore's defence footprint in Australia

On 6 May, as virtually his last act of policy before calling a general election, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced an enhanced defence training agreement with Singapore, as part of the new Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) between Australia and Singapore. Australian and

Policy short-sightedness exacerbates India's water crisis

By Samir Saran, Vice President, and Abhijnan Rej, Fellow, both at the Observer Research Foundation. While droughts can be written off as an 'act of god,' the fact that the ongoing drought in India has acquired its current intensity is a reflection of the sorry state of economic governance and

The shifting contours of China's maritime strategy

Has there been a recent shift in China's maritime strategy in the South China Sea? Has Beijing tempered its land reclamation and island building campaign, choosing to highlight positive aspects of its maritime security conduct? Is the PLAN becoming more accepting of the realities of the South China

People's Liberation Army ups its recruitment game

The People's Liberation Army released a new 'action-packed rap' recruitment video a couple of days ago. A couple of the lines in the video have gained some attention such as: 'Are you afraid? No! Are you afraid? No! Just need the order to kill kill kill!' and 'always think about the mission; the

Indonesia: Diplomacy as nation building

By Dr Greta Nabbs-Keller & Dr Hadianto Wirajuda In the debate over the relevance of diplomatic missions in a globalised and networked world that's been sparked by the Lowy Institute's Global Diplomacy Index, it is important to consider how diplomacy is both perceived and conducted by non-

Syria: What's in a name?

Most people understand what is involved in a ceasefire. Fewer would be familiar with the term 'cessation of hostilities', and there would not be many at all who would know what a 'regime of calm' means. This melange of terms reflects the challenges involved in brokering any kind of reduction in