Monday 21 Jan 2019 | 17:08 | 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.

To effectively counter ISIS online, we need a narrative

Back in April, Fergus Hanson highlighted the glaring need for a global response to ISIS in the cyber domain, and welcomed the announcement of an $18 million initiative to counter extremist propaganda online from the Australian Government. Last month Defence Minister Kevin Andrews announced the

Nuclear-armed submarines in Indo-Pacific Asia: Stabiliser or menace?

In this Report, Lowy Institute Research Associate Brendan Thomas-Noone and Nonresident Fellow Professor Rory Medcalf examine the implications of sea-based nuclear weapons for strategic stability in the Indo-Pacific. This paper is part of a wider research and outreach project on nuclear

Reflections on the 2015 Lowy Lecture: Greater Asia

Delivering the 2015 Lowy Lecture in Sydney yesterday, General David Petraeus outlined a thought-provoking grand strategy for 'Greater Asia'.  Geographically, Petraeus defines Greater Asia along a maritime axis from the Mediterranean to the Sea of Japan, but also overland 'from Western Russia to

Despite protests, collective self-defence and Abe remain

There were huge protests over the weekend in Japan against legislation, approved in principle by the Abe cabinet in July, which will reinterpret the Japanese Constitution to permit the very limited exercise of collective self-defence. This fierce public opposition to the normalisation of Japan's

Passive-aggressive rivalry deepens China-Japan tensions

By Yanmei Xie, International Crisis Group’s Senior China Analyst, and Rachel Vandenbrink, graduate student at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy of Tufts University. China’s unsuccessful invitation to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to attend the 70th anniversary celebrations of the

The Syrian conflict is a civil war, and R2P won't help

In recent days both Bob Carr and Gareth Evans have publicly argued that Australia has a 'moral obligation' to bomb Syria. Of the two, Evans' position is clearly the more thought through, pointing to ample 'grey areas' in the legal justification, and providing sober reflections about the efficacy of

Greste, the West and 'the republic of darkness'

Over the weekend an Egypt court found Al-Jazeera journalists Peter Greste, Mohammed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed guilty on charges of operating in Egypt without a press licence and of ‘spreading false news’. Greste and Fahmy were given sentences of three years in prison; Mohamed was given three years

Will the RAAF be assisting the Syrian Army?

The Syrian Arab Armed Forces (SAAF) are fighting ISIS in eastern Syria. Australia is planning to bomb ISIS targets in eastern Syria. But Australia will not be involved in the broader conflict in Syria involving the Assad regime. If this doesn't appear to make sense to you it's because the concept

Address by Peter Varghese AO - An Australian world view: A practitioner's perspective

On 20 August 2015, the Lowy Institute hosted an address from Peter Varghese AO, Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Mr Varghese presented his perspective on key themes in Australia’s Foreign Policy

Hegemon: Wargaming the South China Sea

Hegemon is a wickedly interactive multi-player/multi-round geostrategic game devised by the Potomac Foundation. Each player represents a country, fielding certain economic and military resources and possessing (secret) objectives. Ranged across a gods-eye planetary gameboard, Hegemon is the '

How did Chinese media react to Abe's World War II speech?

By Marie-Alice McLean-Dreyfus, an intern with the Lowy Institute's East Asia Program. According to Chinese media outlets, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's speech on 14 August commemorating the 70th anniversary of Japan's surrender at the end of World War II did not go far enough in

Iran nuclear deal opens door for Syria diplomacy

The US and Russia are reportedly promoting a concert-of-powers approach to new negotiations over Syria. Although any movement toward a political solution will be limited by the unwillingness of ISIS and other Islamists to engage in such a process, recent intelligence contact between the Syrians and

Taliban factionalism rises after Mullah Omar's death

The recent confirmation of the death of Mullah Mohammed Omar, the symbolic leader of the Taliban, has added fresh uncertainty to Afghanistan's fledgling peace process.  There were already signs that Taliban unity was under stress, and the internal disagreements that have emerged since the

Turkey-ISIS: Safe zones open up new problems

Long resisted by the US for its impracticality and because it was considered too big a concession to Turkish interests, the concept of a 'no-fly zone' in northern Syria now appears to have morphed into a so-called 'safe zone'. The plan, as far as it appears to have been enunciated, involves US and

The growing militarisation of the South China Sea

It's increasingly clear that China intends to use its artificial islands in the South China Sea for military purposes. Admiral Harry Harris, commander of US Pacific Command, delivered this assessment on a panel that I was privileged to be part of at the Aspen Security Forum last week. Harris

Japanese defence normalisation: Progress on three fronts

Over the last two months, there has been noticeable progress on three separate fronts in Japan's 30-year process of 'renormalising' its' approach to external defence: Last week, the Abe cabinet approved the 2015 Japanese Defence White Paper after revisions were made to make it focus more

Interview: Sadegh Zibakalam on the Iran nuclear deal

Sadegh Zibakalam is a prominent Iranian intellectual and political commentator and a Professor of Political Science at the University of Tehran. I spoke with him from Tehran: Q. Is this a good deal for Iran? How significant are the concessions made by Iran to reach this agreement?  Obviously it'

Is the war on ISIS coming home to Turkey?

Monday's suicide bombing in the Turkish town of Sucuc on the Syrian border, blamed on militants from ISIS, marks a significant deterioration in Turkey's national security. While not the first attack blamed on Islamist militants inside Turkey's borders, it was the deadliest in two years, killing at

Talisman Sabre 2015: Bigger and more amphibious

Exercise Talisman Sabre is winding down, bringing to an end two weeks of high tempo US-Australia war games around the continent. Held on alternate years, Talisman Sabre is the most important bilateral set-piece exercise between the ADF and US forces. Beyond its training value, the exercise serves

Why Japan hangs tough on the history issue

In one of my previous essays for The Interpreter, I argued that Japan at some point needs to come around on the history questions that divide it so sharply from South Korea and China. I argued that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his coalition persist in interpretations of the empire and the war

Iran nuclear deal: Surrendering to grim reality

The conclusion of the Iran nuclear deal – or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, to give it its formal title – has already guaranteed us one thing: mutually assured hyperbole. Barrages of outrage were being fired even before the deal was signed. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Is China ready for global leadership?

Is China ready for a larger global role and should the outside world, in particular a regional partner like Australia, embrace this possibility? Evidently not, judging by remarks made by the Secretary of the Prime Minister's Department, Michael Thawley. 'China wasn't ready to take on the

Iran has made big nuclear concessions in Vienna

Another seven days to reach an agreement; that's what the P5-1 decided this week when they weren't able to meet their 30 June deadline for a final deal on Iran's nuclear program. While some differences remain, both sides have come too far to walk away. The potential agreement achieves Western

Is Egypt falling into an Islamist insurrection?

Islamist insurrection has returned to Egypt. There has been a significant growth in the sophistication of the targeting, conduct and lethality of terrorist acts, a crisis of political legitimacy for the Egyptian Government, and the virtual abandonment of any separation of executive and judicial

Peak box? Global container trade is slackening

In a little-noticed interview, the chief of Panama's Canal Authority concedes that 'the world and the canal were unlikely to ever again see the booming container trade that characterised the 1990s and early 2000s' due to shifting manufacturing patterns and American thrift. Obviously, he has

Rumours of a Turkish invasion of northern Syria

There is heightened speculation in Turkey about a long-debated military intervention in northern Syria, where Kurdish forces are battling militants from ISIS. Both pro- and anti-government newspapers are reporting that Turkey is mulling sending up to 18,000 ground troops into Syria. The two

Attribution is key to broader ISIS strategy

The suicide bombing of a Shia mosque in Kuwait, shooting of Western tourists in Tunisia, and a beheading and attempt to blow up a chemical factory in France. Three continents, three different attack methodologies and three different targets, but ultimately the same result. The death of innocent

Who are you calling radical, radical?

Fear of ISIS, faltering economies and resentment over rising immigration from war-torn Iraq and Syria has resulted in a surge in right-wing populism in Europe and the UK.  Here in the UK, following the departure of three sisters with their nine children to join ISIS, and the emergence of the first

Pages