Sunday 17 Nov 2019 | 15:19 | SYDNEY
What's happening on
  • 15 Nov 2019 12:30

    Ayodhya verdict and unruly consequences

    India’s Supreme Court has delivered a ruling that will embolden the Hindu right and challenge the country’s secularism.

  • 15 Nov 2019 10:00

    Autocrats Anonymous

    A White House confessional reveals Donald Trump incapable of change – a kind of Marvel superhero, but less interesting.

  • 15 Nov 2019 06:00

    Book Review: The original corporate raiders

    Historian William Dalrymple looks at how a small trading company in London became a mighty army and conquered India.

Australia in the World

Surviving hell

I grew up in Kerala, southern India, where the monsoons are born. Reared on an island in the middle of Ashtamudi Lake, I was surrounded by water. A family of fishermen and women, we worshiped the sea. Australia and her sunburnt plains were the furthest point on the planet for someone like me.&

Connecting the dots on the Blue Dot Network

The US, Australia, and Japan have joined together to establish a trilateral “Blue Dot Network” to help develop infrastructure “in the Indo-Pacific and around the world”. The plan was announced on the sidelines of the 35th ASEAN summit in Thailand last week. This sounds impressive. The Indo

Australia’s F-35s: Lessons from a problematic purchase

In a startling statement reported this month, two recent Air Force chiefs assert Australia has made some grave force structure errors. It seems the RAAF needs a new bomber, as the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter now entering service is inadequate for future strike operations. The chiefs’

Review: Australia, real and imagined

Review: Tim Watts, The Golden Country: Australia’s Changing Identity (Text Publishing 2019) Summer reading bins have been well stocked with memoirs by retired Australian parliamentarians casting experienced eyes over political lives lived hard and full. It’s not often we find engaging books

Chart of the week: Trump and the US-Australia alliance

Donald Trump is about to be the third US President in history to be impeached. Australians won’t be surprised – he’s never been popular here. But Australia’s alliance with the United States is another story. No matter who is sitting in the Oval Office, be it George W. Bush or Barack Obama

What Russia wants in a multipolar world

Last week, Russia’s Ambassador to Australia, Alexei Pavlovsky, delivered a keynote address at the Australian National University on Russia’s strategic architect and former foreign minister, the late Yevgeny Primakov. Reflecting on the speech, it is evident that policy makers, pundits, and the

Victoria takes the initiative with China

I thought to myself, here’s Xi Jinping walking past, here’s a chance to ask him a question. But instead he just gave me a wan look and a bodyguard quickened a step to put himself in the way, allowing the delegation to brush by before I got a word out. It was Vice President Xi back then, in

Finally, some plain talk on the Quad

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave a foreign policy speech to the Heritage Foundation on Tuesday. Australia’s foreign policy analysts can be very grateful for these candid remarks, because they should prompt Canberra to rethink its policy stance on the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (the “

ABC: Australia’s waning soft-power star

As the ABC chair Ita Buttrose reminded the audience at the weekend’s Lowy Institute Media Awards dinner, this year marks 80 years since Australia started broadcasting internationally. As she noted, Prime Minister Bob Menzies mused at the inauguration of the service on 20 December 1939, “The time

Antarctica and the China test

At the current meeting in Hobart for CCAMLR, the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, Australia is once again moving to establish marine sanctuaries off the east of Antarctica with the support of the US, Europe, and a coalition of environmental organisations. And

“Accepting the science”, rejecting the action

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has a problem. Australia’s Pacific Island neighbours urgently want industrialised economies to reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions and make policy commitments beyond existing pledges. Senior ministers in the Morrison government, however, do not accept the latest

The sharp shift on Syria

Just last week, much of Washington seemed to reach consensus on the direction of US policy in Syria. The Syria Study Group, a bipartisan committee convened by Congress to examine policy options released a final report, laying out a way forward. The committee concluded that sharp shifts and reversals

US shift on Syria puts Canberra in a bind

President Donald Trump’s style of on-the-run Syria policy has once again reared its head, although this time it has been done via press release rather than Twitter. The Twitter announcement of a US military pull-out that he made in December 2018 was gradually walked back after his

Scott Morrison strikes an anxious and inward-looking tone

After a couple of thoughtful speeches to Asialink and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Lowy Lecture last night marked a clear step away from the sort of Australian foreign policy articulated in the government’s 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper and towards the

With Pacific step up, a chance to step in

The recent state visit by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to Washington offers an opportunity to pause and assess where things stand in Australian and United States efforts to respond to Chinese influence in the Pacific and to consider where there is space for improvement. The

Book review: Common enemies

Book review: Common enemies: crime, policy and politics in Australia–Indonesia relations, by Michael McKenzie (Oxford University Press, 2018) Next month marks the 17th anniversary of the Bali Bombing, which on 12 October 2002 claimed the lives of 202 people and injured 209 others. The attack

Book review: Hidden histories of Australia’s cameleers

Book review: Australianama: The South Asian Odyssey in Australia, by Samia Khatun (University of Queensland Press, 2019) A decade ago, Bangladeshi-Australian writer and historian Samia Khatun sat on the floor of the 150-year-old mosque in Broken Hill and opened up a thick volume from the bookshelf

The sharp sword: China and the drone threat to Australia

In Saudi Arabia, a combined drone and cruise missile attack conducted by still-unknown forces (either Iran, Iraqi proxy groups, Yemeni militia forces, or a combination of all three) caused significant damage to the Kingdom’s most important oil facility. Defence writer Tyler Rogoway is alarmed

What’s so strategic about baby-food?

The discussion about China’s bid for baby-formula supplier Bellamy’s Organic shows the usual confusion about just what should guide decisions on foreign investment in Australia. Of course there will be some proposals that are defence-strategic. But baby formula is not one of them. Nor is

Remembering Timor – a soldier’s view

Twenty years ago, several hundred soldiers from the 3RAR Parachute Battalion Group, including me, flew from our base in Holsworthy to Darwin. We had a brief training session with a cavalry squadron we had never worked with, and then, never having conducted any maritime training, we embarked on HMAS

INTERFET and the defence of Australia

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the International Force East Timor (INTERFET), a multinational mission led by Australia to stabilise the country in 1999. As a former Army officer posted to Timor-Leste after INTERFET, I’m proud to be back in Dili today to represent the

Syria: Is it time for the West to talk with Assad?

Syria is one among several Middle East regimes which believe that repression, if not used in moderation, provides a necessary answer to challenges to the existing political and social order. Accordingly, Western governments have to decide the relationship they wish to have with Syria, and its

Gladys Liu and the pitfalls of cultural anxiety

This country’s diverse Chinese-Australian communities are hurting. From conversations with friends, I gather they feel burdened by an obligation to show loyalty to Australia that others simply take for granted. Some report feeling caught in the crossfire between a Chinese Communist Party (CCP)

On China, principles vs pragmatism

The escalating protests in Hong Kong, the detention of Chinese-Australian writer Yang Hengjun on trumped-up charges, and the appalling treatment of ethnic Uighurs have resulted in renewed calls and pressure on Australia to act on human rights issues with China. While this is noble, human rights

Waking up to Australia’s real Pacific family

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has copped flak for claiming that Australia regarded the Pacific countries as vuvale (a Fijian term for family). He was under fire again following the Pacific Island leaders meeting in Tuvalu last month, for emphasising Australia’s aid contributions to the region and

Should ScoMo support Trump’s “madman” tactics?

It makes good sense for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to look for areas of common interest during his forthcoming state visit with President Donald Trump. His interview with the Australian Financial Review suggests a stronger allegiance: to join Trump’s economic battle with China. This would be a

Australia sails into muddy waters in the Gulf

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was at pains last week to emphasise the “modest and time-limited” nature of Australia’s contribution to the new US-led maritime security mission in the Strait of Hormuz known as the International Maritime Security Construct’ (IMSC). He batted away suggestions

Australia in the Gulf: Will we make a difference?

Australia’s commitment to the US-led coalition to provide maritime security for the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf will be one maritime surveillance aircraft, to start operations later this year, and one frigate from early 2020. Military personnel will also help staff a coalition

The changing dynamics of Australia, PNG and the Pacific

Prime Minister Scott Morrison showed he was serious about the Pacific “step up” when he ensured that his first overseas visit was to the Solomon islands and the first foreign dignitary he invited to host was Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape. The visit by Marape represented a

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