Category Archives: Defence/Security

ALISON BROINOWSKI. Truth is not an excuse.

If ASIO bugged Mr Huang’s phone, and sat on what it knew, the political timing of the latest leak against Dastyari could not have been more deliberate.

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MICHAEL McKINLEY. Australia and the wars of the alliance: fragments for a coronial inquiry – Part 4: The finding: a disordered national mindset and body politic

Australia’s alliance wars – their respective causes, conduct, and consequences – are overdetermined by the politics and strategies of the United States. In general, though they consist of few battlefield successes, the overall record is one of failed campaigns informed … Continue reading

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JOHN MENADUE. The Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

Agents of influence,presumably Chinese are in the news. But the really important agents of influence are organisations linked ‘hip to hip’ to the US and its military/industrial complex. One of these is the Australian Strategic Policy Institute which is an … Continue reading

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MICHAEL McKINLEY. Australia and the wars of the alliance: fragments for a coronial inquiry – Part 3: The United States military

Australia’s alliance wars – their respective causes, conduct, and consequences – are overdetermined by the politics and strategies of the United States. In general, though they consist of few battlefield successes, the overall record is one of failed campaigns informed … Continue reading

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MICHAEL McKINLEY. Australia and the wars of the alliance: fragments for a coronial inquiry – Part 2: United States strategy.

Australia’s alliance wars – their respective causes, conduct, and consequences – are overdetermined by the politics and strategies of the United States. In general, though they consist of few battlefield successes, the overall record is one of failed campaigns informed … Continue reading

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MICHAEL McKINLEY. Australia and the wars of the alliance: fragments for a coronial inquiry – Part 1: History and politics.

Australia’s alliance wars – their respective causes, conduct, and consequences – are overdetermined by the politics and strategies of the United States. In general, though they consist of few battlefield successes, the overall record is one of failed campaigns informed … Continue reading

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ALLAN PATIENCE. Whose ruled-based international order?

There is much bleating in Australia about the obligation on states to comply with a rules-based international order. The bleating intensifies whenever the Foreign Minister reacts to Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea or in relation to the … Continue reading

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DOUGLAS NEWTON. First World War Centenaries that really matter are looming

Centenary moments of huge significance are upon us: the centenary of the so-called ‘Lansdowne Peace Letter’ of 29 November 1917, and the centenary of the publication of the texts of the so-called ‘Secret Treaties’ in Britain, beginning on 12 December … Continue reading

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HANS J. OHFF. Nukes, the strategic advantage or otherwise.

In a reply to Paul Dibb’s and Richard Brabin-Smith’s piece ‘Australia’s management of strategic risk in the new era’, Hugh White observes :  ‘…so much of the investments we’re now committing to in massive warship programs make no sense. [The] ADF … Continue reading

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ROSS BURNS. Syria: the Task Ahead

The next attempt to hold UN-sponsored talks in Geneva with the main parties to the Syrian conflict is due to begin this week. With the defeat of ISIS on the ground, what hope is there that a clearer picture will … Continue reading

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CAVAN HOGUE. The White Paper – a curate’s egg?

There is much to be commended in the Government’s White Paper but there are some assumptions which need to be questioned. The focus on Asia is welcome and most of the analysis of our changing world is good, in particular … Continue reading

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JOHN MENADUE. 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper.

Yesterday, the government released the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper.   A group associated with Pearls & Irritations made a submission in the preparation of the White Paper:  Submission on foreign policy white paper – filling the void. The media release … Continue reading

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RICHARD BUTLER. Making the use of nuclear weapons thinkable – again?

The Trump  Administration is preparing a new Nuclear Posture Review, (NPR) to be completed by early 2018. The instruction under which it is proceeding is to make US nuclear weapons more useable, in a variety of situations. It is being … Continue reading

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ANDREW FARRAN. Eternal vigilance or eternal military deployments?

Prime Minister Turnbull recently visited the Philippines to attend regional economic and trade talks attended also by US President Trump. Given the presence of both, what do we know about their commitment of military assistance to their host, President Duterte … Continue reading

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RICHARD TANTER. The nuclear ban treaty, Pine Gap and the Nobel Peace Prize.

The world is worrying about nuclear weapons more than at any time since the frightening days of Reagan and Brezhnev, and with good reason.  We are all hoping that Kim Jong-un is rational with no ambition for suicide.  And at … Continue reading

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DOUGLAS NEWTON. Armistice Day – narrow nationalist naiveties and voodoo vindications of war

Every year, in the days leading up to Armistice Day, a little crop of opinion pieces appears urging Australians to do more than merely remember the dead of war. Various writers argue that we should also recognise the justice of … Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, International Affairs, Politics | 6 Comments

GREG LOCKHART: Remembering the charge at Beersheba and forgetting the Balfour Declaration

This week, as our $600 million Great War centenary rolled on, the Australian Light Horse charge at Beersheba on 31 October 1917 has come out of the culture in a tsunami of centenary excitement at home and abroad. Media enthusiasm … Continue reading

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RAMESH THAKUR. Heading over the nuclear cliff.

The answer to growing regional uncertainty isn’t to build up nuclear arsenals. 

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DOUGLAS NEWTON.  Beersheba – the Scramble for the Ottoman Empire

The centenary of the bloodshed at Beersheba this month is being used to bolster a narrow nationalist understanding of Australia’s First World War. Vital truths about the worldwide catastrophe that had enveloped countless millions by October 1917 are being obscured … Continue reading

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HENRY REYNOLDS. Beersheba and the Militarisation of Australian History.

The commemoration of the centenary of the battle for Beersheba illustrates many features of the progressive militarization of Australian history. No other aspect of our past attracts the lavish funding provided by the federal government. The cost of the commemoration … Continue reading

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MARGARET BEAVIS. US militarism: what are the costs to Australia?

When it comes to the defence of Australia, much is made of the ANZUS treaty. Compared to other treaties, for example the NATO treaty, where an attack on one is explicitly regarded as an attack on all and consultation, assistance … Continue reading

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An open letter to the Prime Minister on climate and nuclear perils

This open letter was initiated by Dr  Andrew Glikson (Earth and Paleo-climate science, ANU School of Anthropology and Archeology) and signed by over 200 Australian scientists, including those in the medical, environmental and physical disciplines, as well as scholars in the … Continue reading

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HENRY REYNOLDS. Unnecessary wars.

In a letter written in August 1855 to his colleague John Bright, the great free trade liberal, Richard Cobden, expressed his hostility to Britain’s involvement in the Crimean War.  ‘And yet I doubt’, he observed, ‘if there be a more … Continue reading

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STUART HARRIS. The US and North Korea: the importance of history.

North Korea’s belligerent missile tests have given rise to fears that the hardening rhetoric on both sides will lead to military conflict involving nuclear weapons.  These fears have resulted in moves to moderate this tension by some of the players, … Continue reading

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KELLIE TRANTER. Pine Gap: Full Knowledge & Concurrence

Heavily redacted documents produced in accordance with Freedom of Information laws appear to imply that the Australian government has full knowledge of current and future operations taking place at Pine Gap and that it is given the opportunity to approve or … Continue reading

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RICHARD TANTER. Pine Gap and a possible Korean nuclear war

The Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap is a huge and controversial US intelligence base near Alice Springs in central Australia. Again the debate is flaring over whether or not the costs of hosting the base — most relevant being its … Continue reading

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RAMESH THAKUR. Gorbachev: A voice of sanity from a past that has become a foreign country

Ramesh Thakur would welcome the shock and awe of PM Turnbull and Foreign Minister Bishop backing Gorbachev’s plea for a summit to restore US–Russia relations to normalcy and lining up with Iran, the Europeans, China and Russia in recommitting to … Continue reading

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WE ARE ALSO READING AND LISTENING TO …

Pearls and Irritations provides the following links for weekend reading:

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BRIAN TOOHEY. Could our new subs sink our new frigates?

Could Australia’s big new $70 billion submarines sink its big new $35 billion frigates? Could the frigates sink the subs? The questions are worth answering before we spend these huge sums on potentially vulnerable frigates and subs. The subs cost, … Continue reading

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JON STANFORD. Australia’s Future Submarine. Part 3 of 3. Responding to the criticisms

At the National Press Club in Canberra on 27 September 2017, Hugh White, Professor of Strategic Studies at the ANU, launched an independent report by Insight Economics on Australia’s future submarine (FSM). The report, Australia’s Future Submarine: Getting This Key … Continue reading

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