Sunday 19 May 2019 | 16:22 | SYDNEY
What's happening on

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 resurgence of Al-Qaeda

Nearly seven years after the killing of Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda is numerically larger and present in more countries than at any other time in its history. Indeed, the movement now boasts of some 40,000 men under arms, with approximately 10,000–20,000 fighters in Syria; 7000–9000 in

Countering youth radicalisation in Indonesia

A group of ten Muslim students gathered in the shady courtyard of central Jakarta’s Roman Catholic Cathedral are reluctant to pass through its neo-Gothic doorways. Some argue that entering the cathedral would contravene their devotion to Islam and equate to an abandonment of faith.

Australia’s fraught global arms ambitions

Australia’s new defence export strategy to transform the country into a top-10 global arms exporter raises many questions. This indicates that the government does not fully understand – or, at least, is yet to fully explain – the mechanisms behind the international

The myth of Chinese containment

The great debate on the meaning of China’s rise is coming to a close. Where academics once argued over whether the Asian power would be a status quo or systemic challenger, there is growing consensus that China intends to reshape the global system in its image. From its criticism of the US

Time for women to “wage war on war” once more

It is International Women’s Day (IWD). Step away from the pink cupcakes and listen up. IWD is an important opportunity for the wider community to celebrate contributions and gains while also recognising the persistent gender inequality that exists in all countries and contexts. The UN&

“Global Britain” on the line in the South China Sea

During a trip to Australia this month, UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced that HMS Sutherland, a British frigate currently deployed to Australia and the Western Pacific, would return from its tour via the South China Sea, “making it clear our navy has a right to do that”. Williamson

China and the military balance

The International Institute for Strategic Studies has launched the 2018 edition of The Military Balance, which tracks the development of military forces around the world. It contains a striking stat about China’s naval development: OK, this is an isolated factoid, but it illustrates a

Indian Ocean base race: India responds

It seems that we are in the middle of a base race across the Indian Ocean. The latest move, reported on Tuesday, involves an agreement to give India access to naval facilities in Oman, close to the Strait of Hormuz. This may be the first step towards a greater Indian naval presence in the

Base race in the Horn of Africa

A race is underway between Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Turkey to build naval and military bases right across the Horn of Africa. This threatens to change the naval balance in the north-west Indian Ocean. But it may also presage the beginnings of a new strategic order

Defence export strategy revives old ethical dilemmas

Contra Tim Costello, it is not unethical to sell arms to foreign countries. Indeed, if a state is threatened by aggression, it might be unethical not to help it acquire the means to defend itself. But of course it can be wrong to sell weapons if we think there's a good chance they will be used

China’s new network of Indian Ocean bases

According to recent reports, China may be about to construct a naval and air base near Gwadar, in west Pakistan. This would be China’s second base in the Indian Ocean and indicates that it may be moving fast to establish a network of military bases across the region. China’s first

Asia’s escalating missile race

If the Cold War was one long arms race, the modern era could be accurately described as an arms jog. Countries are defined less by how many nuclear warheads they have, and more by what they can do with them. This is particularly the case in Australia’s immediate region, where a

Why Australia should consider sharing nuclear weapons

The future looks ominous. There are grim warnings that Australia's strategic situation has worsened dramatically, with major power conflict increasingly likely. Some commentators fret over US withdrawal from the region, which would leave us disturbingly exposed. Others worry that the US is now too

The UN nuclear ban treaty is historic on five counts

Nuclear weapons are the ultimate weapons of war and therefore the ultimate weapons to prevent and avoid war. This two-axis struggle is captured in competing treaties for setting global nuclear norms and policy directions. This also reflects the mantra of realism - amended to include the importance

Congress considers the Iran nuclear deal

The US Congress could scuttle the nuclear deal with Iran this week. But it's unlikely to do so. Donald Trump has railed against the deal since his campaign. In a speech on 13 October, Trump said 'the Iran Deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever

Does the nuclear weapon ban treaty warrant the Nobel Prize?

This year’s Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) for: Its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of

How America can build a durable military balance in Asia

During his tour of East Asia last month, US President Donald Trump visited five countries, but Americans could be forgiven for thinking that he only went to China, given the US media's coverage of the trip. Whereas journalists dissected Trump’s every move during his visit with Chinese President Xi

The limits of ‘global Britain’

This is an edited extract of a speech delivered to open the Australia-UK Asia Dialogue, co-hosted by the Lowy Institute and Ditchley Foundation, and supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Whether or not Brexit was a wise move for the

Advancing the Quad through diversification

This article is part of a series for the Australia-UK Asia Dialogue, co-hosted by the Lowy Institute and Ditchley Foundation, and supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The 'Australia-India-Japan-United States consultations on the Indo-

Australia-UK cooperation on the rules-based order

This article is part of a series for the Australia-UK Asia Dialogue, co-hosted by the Lowy Institute and Ditchley Foundation, and supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. There should be plenty of scope for cooperation between Australia and

Quad redux: A new agenda for Asia's maritime democracies

With President Donald Trump part-way into his protracted tour of Asia, much of the focus has been on the North Korea threat, his personal relations with Prime Minister Abe of Japan and President Moon of South Korea, and his interaction with President Xi Jinping, China’s political strongman who

A reborn quadrilateral to deter China

Recent news that Australia’s Foreign Minister has indicated interest in taking part in a resurrected US-Australia-Japan-India quadrilateral dialogue on the sidelines of the upcoming ASEAN Summit is to be welcomed. It is an indication how much the strategic situation in the Asia Pacific has shifted

Why South Korea and Japan should not go nuclear

By David Vallance, an intern in the Lowy Institute's International Security Program, and Euan Graham, Director of the International Security Program. The road to nuclear Armageddon is not straight. The North Korea crisis has led commentators to reassess the conventional wisdom that, when it

India needs a more robust naval presence in Asia

At a biannual naval commanders’ conference in New Delhi last week, the Indian Navy’s top leadership cleared a new maritime deployment plan. In a bid to counter emerging challenges in the Indian Ocean littorals - in particular, the growing presence of Chinese warships and submarines in India’s

North Korea: How to start a nuclear war without even trying

If effective strategy requires realistic aims, then America is in trouble. US officials have shown themselves to be pathologically overconfident in their ability to achieve political outcomes with military signals, and the outcome they’re trying to achieve is utterly unrealistic.   Imagine

Time to fast-forward the Future Submarine

Australia’s future submarine program has attracted fewer headlines since the Government decided on the French Shortfin Barracuda design last year. But it was heavily criticised in a recent Insight Economics report, and on the receiving end of some speculative depth charges in a strange, testy

Marawi battle has implications for Australians

Recent terrorism-related developments in the Philippines could lead to an increased security threat to Australians in parts of Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia and Malaysia. Earlier this year, ISIS had portrayed the Philippines as something of a success story to distract from its reverses

Australia’s navy needs to mind the missile gap

David Axe’s recent War is Boring article on China’s new Type 055-class cruiser focused on its bristling load of vertical-launch missile cells. The Type-055 carries 112 cells (not 122, as Axe states), which almost matches the US Navy’s Ticonderoga-class cruisers and exceeds the 96 launchers on

The limits of India-Japan defence cooperation

The visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to India this September was much talked about in the context of the evolving Asian balance of power. Big ticket ventures including the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Railway were the highlight of the summit. But the larger issue of defence cooperation,

Britain’s defence planners face hard questions

In the last few days, the British press and social media have been rife with reports that the Royal Marines are to be reduced by 1000 from their present establishment of 6500. In addition, the amphibious fleet may be similarly reduced with the decommissioning of the landing platform dock (LPD) that

A regional focus on cyber security

The digital revolution is fundamentally a story of prosperity, of growth through disruptive business models, the opening of new markets, and of sustainable and inclusive development enabled by digital technologies. But these benefits are not guaranteed. We must work collectively – domestically,

Ballistic missile defence: New options for Australia

Kim Jong-un has set North Korea on the path to establishing a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile capability. We don’t know how much further the international community will push, and how the North Koreans will respond. But Kim Jong-un’s actions remind us that state-on-state

War reporting 101: Check your sources

Earlier this year I wrote about the willingness of the news media to highlight claims of civilian casualties caused by coalition forces operating in Iraq and Syria, but their apparent unwillingness to critically examine their sources or to follow up when their claims have been denied, dismissed or

Pages