Category Archives: Defence/Security

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

Posted in Asia, Defence/Security | 4 Comments

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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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

Posted in Defence/Security, Media, Politics | 4 Comments

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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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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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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JON STANFORD. Australia’s Future Submarine; Part 2 of 3 : Addressing the problems in a second-best world

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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TONY SMITH. Australia’s worst threat from terrorism lies in the home.

The recent shooting in Las Vegas is a reminder that massacres are not the preserve of international terrorists. While the US Ambassador in Canberra has suggested Australia’s firearms laws could be a useful model for the USA, we cannot feel … Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, Human Rights, Refugees, Immigration | 1 Comment

LEONID PETROV. Imagining the catastrophic consequences of a new war in Korea.

The 1953 Armistice Agreement brought a sustainable halt to the Korean War, but has never ended it. Nor did it transform into a peace regime. During the last sixty four years the North and South Koreans have lived in conditions of … Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, International Affairs | 2 Comments

JON STANFORD. Australia’s Future Submarines: A response to Christopher Pyne

Last week at the National Press Club, Hugh White launched a report by Insight Economics, Australia’s Future Submarine: Getting This Key Capability Right, of which I was the principal author. The report was sponsored by Gary Johnston, a Sydney businessman … Continue reading

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WE ARE ALSO READING AND LISTENING TO …

Pearls and Irritations provides the following links for weekend reading and listening:

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MICHAEL KEATING. Contestability and Defence Advice

Major defence decisions have long been made with a minimum amount of consultation. That is certainly true of the recent decision to give the French Naval Group a monopoly over the design and build of Australia’s next submarine. The way … Continue reading

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DAVID STEPHENS. Who’s Schlesinger now? Something that may have happened in the Nixon era could be relevant today.

It is said that, when President Richard Nixon, assailed by Watergate, drunk and psychotic, wandered the corridors of the White House in the dead of night, talking to portraits of his predecessors, members of his administration put measures in place … Continue reading

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PAUL MEYER and RAMESH THAKUR. Canada’s nuclear diplomacy is make-believe

The late U.S. senator and one-time ambassador to the United Nations, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, famously rebuked a political opponent: “You are entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own facts.”

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KELLIE TRANTER. Shortage of information about Iraq airstrikes

In response to criticisms from Amnesty International that the Iraq government and coalition carried out “disproportionate” and unlawful attacks to take back Mosul, a Senior British Commander, Major Gen Jones, said recently that ‘it is naive to think a city … Continue reading

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JON STANFORD. Australia’s Future Submarine – Part 1: The problems

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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ANDREW FARRAN: Korea – could nuclear war come out of clear blue sky?

A decision about joining in the Korean conflict at any point could be the most critical war decision ever taken by Australia. Parliament should be allowed the time to take it. Whatever, the  decision must not be taken by the … Continue reading

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TOM IGGULDEN. Navy may be without submarine fleet for two decades due to replacement plan, experts say

The Navy could be left without a submarine fleet for up to 20 years because of a “wildly ambitious” schedule to replace the ageing Collins Class fleet, an independent report has found.

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