Category Archives: Defence/Security

MACK WILLIAMS. Muslim Mindanao: once more into a quagmire?

We need to be very careful in not overhyping the IS activity in Marawi and soliciting an invitation to military involvement without a comprehensive Australian review of the complex issues at stake in Mindanao and our wider relationship with the … Continue reading

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ANDREW FARRAN. Not the time to deny natural justice to the Kurds.

Will the revived march of the Kurds for an independent homeland be the time when the Sykes-Picot agreement, which amidst the chaos of the First World War divided the Arab world between British and French influence and control, becomes finally … Continue reading

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CAVAN HOGUE. Mindanao and terrorism.

The situation in Mindanao is complicated by historical, ethnic, religious, criminal and social factors that are not easily unravelled. The introduction of Saudi Wahabism and foreign fighters complicates the mix even further. Separatism is not new but the arrival of … Continue reading

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RICHARD BUTLER. The Alliance: The Facts and the Furphies

A review of how we conduct our alliance relationship with the US is urgently required, not simply because it has elected a President who is unfit for his job, but because of the US’ attachment to war.

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JAMES O’NEILL. The South China Sea and the risk of war: a summary.

It is self-evident that the risk of war is not confined to the South China Sea.  In fact, the risk of war there is probably less than in other significant flash points around the world.  

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ANDREW FARRAN. After North Korea: breakdown of regional non-proliferation?

“The existence of a nuclear threat is not sufficient reason to go nuclear; if it were [these Asian states] would have nuclear arms by now. In each case, the reliability of the US security commitment is the dominant variable”.

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RAMESH THAKUR. North Korea’s nuclear progress isn’t the only bad news

North Korea’s rapid advances are a game-changer, but the quality of strategic analysis and decision-making in Washington is highly suspect. This portends troubling times ahead.

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PETER HAYES and DAVID VON HIPPEL. North Korea – How crucial are oil imports for its nuclear and missile programs?

A recent report by the Nautilus Institute by Peter Hayes and David von Hippel suggests that the impact of strong sanctions against oil imports by North Korea from China may not have a telling or early impact on its nuclear … Continue reading

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JOHN MENADUE. Are we stopping the boats to save lives at sea?

To justify its harsh refugee policies, the government has been telling us that its policies are designed to save lives at sea.  The ALP also joins in this shabby chorus

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RICHARD BUTLER. Anarchy restored: Trump and Kim jong un.

The dispute over the DPRK’s nuclear weapons program is a disturbing example of the renewal of anarchy as the main determinant in international politics. It is being conducted by two unreliable leaders. Intervention by saner states is needed urgently.  

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ANDREW FARRAN. The Korean impasse: transformed geo-politics.

While in recent weeks North East Asia has been on the edge of a precipice, the likelihood is that the military stalemate will grind on indefinitely. A decisive act by any of the principal parties would lead all into negative … Continue reading

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CAVAN HOGUE. Sanctions and virtue.

Sanctions are a form of force but seem to be the only answer Western countries can come up with. There is no evidence that they are effective, probably because it is not the decision-makers who suffer from them. Pressure on … Continue reading

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PAUL FRIJTERS. What does the North Korean situation say about China?

It is easy to get drawn into the drama of rockets fired over Japan, and massive hydrogen bombs tested by a North Korean regime that likes to threaten mass extinction of its enemies, particularly with the tweeter-in-chief responding in kind. … Continue reading

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ANDREW FARRAN. SAS Special Forces to the Philippines – Useful tactical move or first step on another escalator?

Reports that ISIS is relocating to the Philippines following defeats in Iraq and Syria have raised concerns about its possible spread elsewhere the region. The Australian government has offered support to the Philippines, but it should think more deeply before … Continue reading

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RICHARD BUTLER. Iran: Trump is demanding fake facts.

President Trump is demanding that US intelligence agencies provide material on which he can base a declaration that Iran is not in compliance with the international agreement to curb its nuclear programme. The material does not exist, so they’ll need … Continue reading

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JOHN MENADUE. When will Saudi Arabia be brought to account for its malign influence and promotion of terrorism?

Through its support of extremist Wahabism, the Saudi government has been promoting radical Islam around the world. Its influence has included funding schools, universities and mosques in over 80 countries. But like the issue of the burqa, few Australians want … Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, Human Rights, International Affairs, Religion and Faith | 5 Comments

ALISON BROINOWSKI. Till war do us part.

A survey reports a significant movement of Australian opinion about the US alliance, away from current government policy which unquestioningly supports the Afghanistan deployment.

Posted in Defence/Security, International Affairs | 7 Comments

JAMES O’NEILL. American blueprints for war pose an existential threat to Australia.

The recent statement by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to the effect that on defence issues Australia and the United States were “joined at the hip” raises the serious question of how far Australia will actually go in support of the … Continue reading

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MICHAEL McKINLEY. Pine Gap: A Case of Australia’s Reckless Endangerment

The Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap is a reproach to  Australian democracy, independence and government.  Over the years Australia has achieved its goal of being fully integrated within the operations of the facility to such a degree that it is … Continue reading

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ADAM BROINOWSKI. Picking up the pieces amid the U.S.–North Korea nuclear stand-off

North Korea is often righteously condemned for being the only nation to have conducted five nuclear tests and a barrage of missile tests in the 21st century. Led by a young chubby dictator with a bad haircut, we have long … Continue reading

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RICHARD BUTLER. Trump’s “Principled Realism” : details withheld

President Trump’s speech on a new Afghanistan strategy was partly designed to mitigate the extreme harm he did by his Charlottesville outbursts.  Apart from claiming that the US would win in Afghanistan, no details were given.  He bashed Pakistan, embraced … Continue reading

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JOSEPH A. CAMILLERI. Australia’s engagement with Asia and the world has fallen on hard times.

In the vain hope of minimising the catastrophic consequences of America’s 16-year long military intervention, Donald Trump has just announced yet another surge in its military presence in Afghanistan.  Australia, like other allies, will also be asked to do more, … Continue reading

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DENNIS ARGALL. Pine Gap and national strategic independence.

For a long time people have focused concern on Pine Gap.  But Pine Gap is but an element of our entanglement with United States strategic policy, which is the big thing to be addressed and turned around. 

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ANDREW FARRAN. We should discuss Pine Gap!

Whether the leaked documents from the US National Security Agency were revealing, as claimed by the ABC’s Background Briefing on Sunday morning (http://ab.co/2vSXdhD), enough has been known about the Pine Gap facility long enough for some searching questions about its … Continue reading

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MACK WILLIAMS. The South Koreans are a critical part of the equation

As the shouting match becomes more heated between Kim Jong Un and President Trump the role of the popular new President Moon has become more difficult. The most likely casualties in any outbreak of military exchanges would be the population … Continue reading

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ANDREW FARRAN. John Howard and the Coalition’s views on war powers could lead to conflict in South China Sea

Recent comments by former Prime Minister John Howard is indicative of just how easily conflict situations can engage quickly and end badly in the hands of a ‘strong’ Prime Minister who takes the Howard view that the Executive alone has … Continue reading

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GEOFF MILLER. Korea: Missiles or exercises or both?

  Despite President Trump’s latest supercilious Tweet, North Korea may still seek to make the cancellation of exercise Ulchi-Freedom Guardian the price of not firing its missiles into waters near Guam. 

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JOHN McCARTHY. The West needs to talk about Russia.

The place Russia occupies in the political maelstrom in Washington, the recent sanctions bills in Congress and Putin’s cuts to the American diplomatic presence in Russia are driving the US’s relationship—and hence the West’s relationship—with Russia from bad to worse.  … Continue reading

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MARK BEESON. The unconventional wisdom

When it comes to military matters, there is – forgive the pun – a remarkable uniformity of opinion. Sensible and serious observers agree that not only is the ANZUS alliance the indispensable bedrock of national security, but Australian policymakers would … Continue reading

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ALISON BROINOWSKI. Existential threats

In a sequence of events that recall the Cuban missile crisis, the world has again come within a brain-snap of nuclear destruction. This is the moment Australia should have been ready to deal with properly and democratically, by having a … Continue reading

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