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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.

Democracies take up arms against cyberattacks

As the Trump Administration starts ticking off targets for its first 100 days, the fallout from the Russian influence operation on the US presidential election is still working its way around the world. Multiple Western countries (mostly in Europe but also Australia) are grappling with how

Spycatcher revisited

More than 30 years after he gained international prominence for inflicting humiliating defeat on Margaret Thatcher's British government in the Spycatcher case, espionage is back on Prime Minister Turnbull's agenda, but in an utterly different form. Sometime towards the middle of this year, the

Taking the terror out of terrorism (part 3)

This is the third post of a three-part series. For part one, click here, and for part two, click here. The relationship between terrorism and the media is long and well-established. To achieve their core aim of provoking irrational fear in large groups of people, terrorists have relied on the

Taking the terror out of terrorism (part 2)

This is the second post of a three-part series. For part one, click here. An individual is entirely reliant on the actions of others (government agencies) to keep them safe from the threat of terrorism. In this context, basing a communications strategy around government prevention efforts

Taking the terror out of terrorism (part 1)

This is the first post in a three-part series. The current terrorist problem is, by most metrics, larger than ever. There have been four successful terrorist attacks in Australia since September 2014. Outside of Australia, terrorist attacks are occurring more frequently and killing greater

Neil Prakash is more than just a terrorist

It’s been almost a month since Australian Neil Prakash, thought to be the most senior Australian in Islamic State, was arrested in Turkey. In 2015, the Australian Federal Police issued an arrest warrant for Prakesh for being a member of a terrorist organisation and for incursions into a foreign

'Tis the season to be wary

The advent season has brought with it a renewed focus on the globalised nature of terrorism. This week’s grim tally of atrocities includes the assassination of the Russian ambassador at an art gallery in Ankara by a Turkish policeman, the death of 12 people at a Berlin Christmas market at the

Northeast Asia: Five big security shifts in 2016

As the year winds down, it's time to look back on the biggest stories in the always-tense northeast Asian region. End-of-year lists are a useful, if soft, methodological tool in that they force a ranking or prioritisation on events. Issues that may seem like a big deal at the time can blow over,

Quick comment: Rodger Shanahan on Neil Prakash

We are learning more about the arrest of the Australian terrorist, Neil Prakash, in Turkey late last week. Writing in The Australian yesterday, Paul Maley revealed the Australian Federal Police anticipated Prakash would try to cross from Syria into Turkey and were on hand in Ankara to help confirm

Neil, an Australian terrorist

The detention of Neil Prakash is of significant interest to Australia but perhaps less so for other countries. At this point, so little is known among open sources about the circumstances of his capture that it is difficult to make definitive statements about what it means. There are certainly many

Jakarta rally exposes division among Islamic State loyalists

By Nava Nuraniyah, an analyst at the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC), Jakarta. Extremist groups have failed to exploit the 4 November Islamist protest against the Jakarta governor in order to spark sectarian conflict. In fact, the rally has deepened internal

Trump and the Iran nuclear deal

The election of Donald Trump raises many uncertainties about the future direction of US foreign policy, including nuclear weapons and nuclear non-proliferation. A major aspect of this is the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), concluded between

PLA Air Force unveils its pride and joy

Yesterday at the Zhuhai Air Show, China's air force officially unveiled its worst-kept secret, the J-20 stealth fighter. What is China hoping to achieve by showing off this new weapons system? In earlier times China would have waited until a new fighter entered squadron service before even

Why Indonesian extremists are gaining ground

If anyone wonders why Indonesia has been ineffective in curbing extremism, the anti-Ahok campaign provides an object lesson. In the name of demanding that the Jakarta governor be prosecuted for blasphemy, it brings together violent extremists, moralist thugs and powerful political interests. And

Correcting for market failure in terrorism insurance

After the 9/11 attacks, there was a market failure in the terrorism insurance arena: insurance and reinsurance companies around the world, including in Australia, progressively withdrew cover for terrorism risk. As the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services Kelly O'Dwyer recently

Australia's FONOP debate: A necessary storm in a teacup

This is a disconcerting period for all those hoping to see more pushback against China's bid for supremacy in the South China Sea, and its pressure tactics towards that end. The US is in the throes of an epochal political convulsion masquerading as a presidential election campaign. Its ability to

New cyber threat report has warnings for all of us

The newly released Australian Cyber Security Centre Threat Report  contains some fascinating tit-bits and telegraphing of messages. It's the Centre's second report but the first since the Government released its Cyber Security Strategy. Here are my takeaways: 1. Diverting from the approach of

Picking Pakistan's next top general

Some people collect stamps, others play golf; Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif picks army chiefs. It’s a perilous hobby. If things go smoothly, in November Sharif will be required to pick the country’s top general for the sixth time in his career, which has involved previous stints as

India and China: Playing 'Go' in the Indian Ocean

China and India are fast emerging as major maritime powers in the Indo-Pacific as part of long-term shifts in the regional balance of power. As their wealth, interests, and power expand, the two countries are also increasingly coming into contact with each other in the maritime domain. How India and

Will Smith is right, everything is not getting worse

I don't expect to hear political wisdom from Hollywood movie stars, but I loved this quote from Will Smith on yesterday's The Late Show, about US race relations (from 5:23): 'When I hear people say "it's worse than it's ever been", I really disagree completely. It's clearly not as bad as it was in

Why do terrorists do it?

The philosopher John Gray is always worth reading. Two highlights from his latest book review, first on the rationality of terrorism: The practice of suicide bombing has very often been analysed in cost-benefit terms and found to be highly efficient. The expenditure of resources involved is modest

Chilcot: Don't focus on motives, focus on judgments

Former prime minister John Howard was in excellent form at yesterday's press conference in response to the release of the Chilcot Report. He'd received so many media requests, he said, that he thought it was a better idea to address them all at once. So he was certainly not running away from what at

The migration-security nexus in Asia and Australia (part 4)

There are clear signs that policy circles now consider migration to be an emerging security issue. For the first time this year’s Shangri-la Dialogue had a session on migration, during which Chinese and Indonesian delegations presented their respective policies on the security challenges of

Obama's Hiroshima rhetoric obscures growing role for nuclear weapons

By Stephan Frühling, associate professor in the Strategic and Defence Centre, ANU, and Andrew O'Neil, professor and dean in the Griffith University Business School. President Obama's historic visit to Hiroshima was rich in symbolism, but light on substance. Echoing his landmark Prague speech in

North Korea as a 'mafia state'

In January 2016, North Korea tested a fourth nuclear device. In the scramble to respond, analysts once again debated the nature of the North Korean regime. Much of the heat of this discussion comes from varying perceptions of the 'real' North Korea. Is it the last relic of the Cold War? A national

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