Category Archives: Defence/Security

RICHARD BROINOWSKI. Can Australia Defend Itself?

Since the advent of Donald Trump as United States president, the certainties that are said to underpin Australia’s defence doctrine are less than ever convincing. Trump’s cynicism about alliances underlines the fact that ANZUS is no longer (if it ever … Continue reading

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MIKE SCRAFTON. “I’m afraid of Americans”

The opinions to which we should pay most critical attention are those of commentators best placed to influence government. Peter Jennings, Executive Director of ASPI, is one. Now he is claiming a ‘new cold war with China is playing out … Continue reading

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RAMESH THAKUR. Professor White, the bomb can endanger but not defend Australia.

Nuclear weapons have dubious operational utility and discarding treaty obligations would leave the stench of hypocrisy.

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HUGH WHITE. Australia needs to give up its South Pacific dream (AFR 13-14.7.2019)

What can Australia do to restore and preserve our sphere of influence in the South Pacific, and deny it to China?  

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MELISSA CONLEY TYLER. Will Hugh White Change How We Defend Australia?

Australia’s options for defending itself are in the news with the release of Hugh White’s How to Defend Australia. Will it shake up thinking? Or is it too hard to change the way we do Australia’s defence because there is … Continue reading

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HUGH WHITE. Why Pacific nations would host a Chinese military base (AFR 13-14.7.2019)

Our neighbours’ commitment to values and interests shared with Australia might prove feeble in the face of Chinese persuasion.  

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CAVAN HOGUE.  Canada, Australia and the USA

Canada tries to differentiate itself from the USA but because of its proximity and similarities this is not easy. Australia has the opposite problem: we try to find similarities. Canada’s geography makes it easier for it to defy requests to … Continue reading

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SUE WAREHAM. Nuclear weapons must be rejected

Professor Hugh White’s recent suggestion that Australia might need to consider nuclear weapons is highly provocative and dangerous. He is helping to legitimise these instruments of terror, and gives credence to the deeply flawed notion of nuclear “deterrence”. Australia must … Continue reading

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MIKE SCRAFTON. The real cost in How to Defend Australia.

In How to Defend Australia, Hugh White has produced a work that removes much of the mystery surrounding Australian defence policy making. The historical experiences and institutional influences affecting Australia’s major past and present strategic policy positions are lucidly set … Continue reading

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HUGH WHITE.  With China’s swift rise as naval power, Australia needs to rethink how it defends itself (The Conversation, 2 July 2019)

Visiting Wellington in April 1996, I fell into conversation with a very wise and experienced New Zealand government official. We talked about the still-unfolding Taiwan Straits crisis, during which Washington had deployed a formidable array of naval power, including two … Continue reading

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NOEL TURNBULL. The curious incident of the dog that didn’t bark

There is nothing more beloved of apocalyptic thinkers, intelligence agencies, conservative politicians and general scare-mongers than the threat of some disaster. It is even better when the threat is insidious, little understood and able to be transformed into policies which … Continue reading

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PAUL BARRATT. Australia should not participate in conflict with Iran.

Australia should not participate in any military action against Iran. The current tensions have been created by the Trump Administration, and the ANZUS Alliance creates no obligation for us to assist. President Trump may think that a war against Iran … Continue reading

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MARK BEESON. The US Lobby and Australian Defence Policy, Vince Scappatura, Monash Publishing (a review)

One of the most enduring features of Australia’s foreign and strategic policies is the close relationship between this country and the United States. A number of other countries such as Britain and Japan also claim to have a ‘special relationship’ … Continue reading

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MIKE SCRAFTON. The Chief of the Defence Force and political warfare

General Angus Campbell’s presentation at ASPI’s conference War in 2015 was thoughtful and provocative. Some of the CDF’s views are germane and apt are others contestable. He opened by saying, ‘I sense a renewed concern in the world for the … Continue reading

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MIKE SCRAFTON. Strategy In A Bubble: ASPI’s war plans

ASPI’s relentless push for ever greater defence spending gets another iteration in Malcolm Davis’s Forward defence in depth for Australia . As a breathless list of ‘key horizon technologies’, Davis’s paper makes entertaining and informative reading. As a justification for … Continue reading

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RICHARD FLANAGAN. The AFP media raids aim to suppress the truth. Without it we head into the darkness of oppression. (The Guardian 6.6.2019)

In March of this year police union leaders warned that the Australian federal police was losing “its independence and integrity and must be separated from Peter Dutton’s home affairs portfolio”. 

Posted in Defence/Security, Media, Politics | 9 Comments

DENNISS ARGALL. Thinking through the choppy issues in trade and strategic threat.

The public discussion of trade war and security issues is too simplistic. Trump’s bilateral adventures in liking and bullying will mean discussion of structural changes in regional affairs to which Australia will not be party. Trump is not a passing … Continue reading

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MICHAEL McKINLEY. Another climate change warning and the return of a Pentagon prophecy the new government might take seriously.

Richard Butler recently made the point on this site that, in relation to foreign policy,  the Australian Government finds the disposition and pose of the ostrich to be  to its liking: a futile self-absorption in reality denial. To this I would … Continue reading

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MIKE SCRAFTON. Unquantifiable strategic madness of war on Iran

There have been reports that President Trump is less enthusiastic about attacking Iran than his advisers. For the moment, an unanticipated source of sanity. The current US posturing against Iran seems confected. It also seems mad. A US attack on … Continue reading

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CAMERON LECKIE. The global war of terror and the demise of the empire

As a young Army officer, watching Prime Minister John Howard’s announcement of the deployment of Australian military forces to Afghanistan in late 2001, I remember the extreme disappointment from both my soldiers and I that we would not be going … Continue reading

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MICHAEL McKINLEY. Returning to the time of “Able Archer” and Australia’s need to remember 1983

Nearly thirty-six years ago NATO carried out its annual Able Archer command post exercise designed to simulate an escalation in conflict with the USSR and the Warsaw Pact nations which culminated in a coordinated nuclear attack against the Soviet homeland.

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DAVID WROE AND DANA McCAULEY. Sack ‘nutter’ spy chiefs to fix relations with Beijing, Paul Keating urges (SMH 6.5.2019)

Former prime minister Paul Keating has launched an extraordinary attack on Australia’s spy chiefs, calling them “nutters” and urging Bill Shorten to sack them to improve relations with China if he wins the election.  

Posted in Defence/Security, International Affairs, Politics | 2 Comments

AMY ZEGART AND MICHAEL MORELL. Spies, Lies, and Algorithms. Why U.S. Intelligence Agencies Must Adapt or Fail. (Foreign Affairs 20.4.2019)

For U.S. intelligence agencies, the twenty-first century began with a shock, when 19 al Qaeda operatives hijacked four planes and perpetrated the deadliest attack ever on U.S. soil. In the wake of the attack, the intelligence community mobilized with one … Continue reading

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MIKE SCRAFTON. The rules-based international order; or a ‘dead parrot’.

Strategic policy is perhaps the most challenging area of government. For decades policy settings have largely been perfunctory with the US alliance occupying the central place. The post-Cold War setting of a single dominant hegemon has meant policy makers haven’t … Continue reading

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VACY VLAZNA. The Sarafand Massacre and Anzac Cover-up, Part 2

Cover-ups are a reprehensible part and parcel of military history and testimonies collected on Australian Military History of the Early  20th Century: Desert Column siteare tainted with fundamental lies and racist justifications that have become the prototype for subsequent historical … Continue reading

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MIKE SCRAFTON. China in Australia’s Defence and Strategic Policy

An incoming government addressing China in defence policy and strategic policy must overcome the natural impulse to assume the future will be a linear projection of the present. There is no reasonable scenario in which a major war in East … Continue reading

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VACY VLAZNA. The Sarafand Massacre and Anzac Cover-up, Part 1

In the early winter of 1918, the wheat, barley and sesame fields of Sarafand al-Kharab lay fallow. Oranges, figs, almonds and olives had been harvested, the summer honey stored. At night the goats and sheep were  brought into the warmth … Continue reading

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GREG LOCKHART. What we forget on Anzac Day.

On the first Anzac Day, 25 April 1915, the Australian Imperial and New Zealand Expeditionary Forces landed at Gallipoli. On Anzac Day 2019, Anzac forces are again in the Middle East – and Afghanistan – this time sixteen years after … Continue reading

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JOHN MENADUE. Best we forget – the Frontier and Maori Wars. An update

 The Frontier Wars were the most destructive and decisive in our history. The first war we fought alongside ‘New Zealanders’ was not at Gallipoli in 1915 but in the Maori Wars in the middle of the nineteenth century. Yet both … Continue reading

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DAVID STEPHENS. Beneath the tumult and the shouting: Anzac Day as a private experience.

Anzac should be mostly private. It should be about the quiet, within-family, remembrance of – and caring about – people who have suffered in war, those who have been killed and not come home, those who have come home injured … Continue reading

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