Author Archives: Mack Williams

Mack Williams

About Mack Williams

Mack Williams former Ambassador to the Republic of Korea.

MACK WILLIAMS. New Cold War: Just how independent can Australia be ?

As renewed discussion grows pace in Australia about being less dependent on the United States in any Cold War against China how realistic is that option? For one thing we would need to loosen some of the linkages which have … Continue reading

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MACK WILLIAMS. Korea: Still many challenges ahead

Despite President Trump’s exchange of “love letters” with the North Korean leader, from the public record it seems that Secretary of State Pompeo’s last discussions with Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang failed to achieve any significant breakthrough on denuclearisation. But there … Continue reading

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MACK WILLIAMS. Korea: We’re here because we are here!

Korean issues  have often been edged out of the headlines in the past few months by a plethora of other global issues but they remain far from being resolved. “War War” been replaced by “Jaw Jaw” at least for the … Continue reading

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MACK WILLIAMS. Korea: what should Australia be doing?

While the pace of media reports about the Korean Peninsular has slowed a little since the Singapore Summit there has been much going on – in public and under wraps. Skepticism about the North’s commitment to the core issue of … Continue reading

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MACK WILLIAMS. North Korea – managing Donald !

Amid the avalanche of reporting and commentary of the Singapore Summit one needs to step back to assess just how the Trump’s much vaunted (by him) negotiating style so far has played out . This is not just an academic … Continue reading

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MACK WILLIAMS. Korea : After Panmunjeom

Much has been written about the recent Kim:Moon Summit and its communique. The signs on the interKorean front are encouraging but all still hinges on how the Kim:Trump Summit. It will have to address the absolutely critical issue of “denuclearisation” … Continue reading

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MACK WILLIAMS. North Korea – it’s summit time!

The pace of developments on the  Korean peninsular in the past month or so has been breathtaking matched by  the plethora of pundits who have sought to interpret what it all means and where we may be headed. Not surprisingly … Continue reading

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MACK WILLIAMS. Vanuatu : Chinese Cargo Cult ?

Fairfax Media’s awakened interest in the South Pacific would have been only too welcome if it had not been sparked by a leak from the all too familiar ‘senior defence sources’ in Canberra and Washington which so distorted the scene.  

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MACK WILLIAMS. North Korea: What now?”

President Trump’s positive response to Kim Jong-un’s invitation to direct talks naturally has created a swirl of media commentary and speculation.  It has served Trump’s interest to promote a sense of surprise though it probably also reflects a considerable amount … Continue reading

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MACK WILLIAMS. Admiral Harris : Ambassador or Viceroy ?

The appointment of Admiral Harris as Ambassador to Australia raises serious concerns about the role he will play in the development of Australian strategic policy as we seek to maintain the sort of relationship with China and the US outlined … Continue reading

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MACK WILLIAMS. Revisiting Australian strategic policy in the light of NDS18 – Where to start ?

The new US strategic policy requires serious and urgent revisiting of our key strategic policy positions to identify implications it has for Australia. Any attempt to minimise differences for short term political gain could endanger the nation’s longer term future.

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MACK WILLIAMS. China : “All the way with USA” ?

The Turnbull Government was clearly caught flat-footed by the significant change in the Trump’s security strategy announced by Defense Secretary Mattis. Defence Minister Payne’s initial comment and background briefings had to be corrected quickly. All of which underlines the urgent … Continue reading

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MACK WILLIAMS. New US National Defense Strategy: Back to the Cold War?

The new US National Defense Strategy heralds a new strategic direction under Trump which significantly reduces the priority of counter-terrorism and confirms a return to global competition with China and Russia with the basic objective to “outspend” both in defence. … Continue reading

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MACK WILLIAMS. Adrift in  the South China Sea? -A REPOST from May 22 2017

While Washington is paralysed by alleged White House scandal the US has taken its eye off the South China Sea. Continuing developments in the region have reinforced China’s position. Australia cannot afford to delay its own examination of our long … Continue reading

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MACK WILLIAMS. Breaking the ice at Pyeongchang?

The decision by the DPRK to reopen high level talks with the ROK next week in preparation for the Winter Olympics is monumental for the ROK. Followed by the US:ROK decision to defer major military exercises at the time of … Continue reading

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MACK WILLIAMS. 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper : An urgent case for genuine change management !

The White Paper provides a long overdue but commendable assessment of the extensive challenges and opportunities for Australian foreign policy. It should have formed the basis for considered parliamentary debate. Unfortunately, while acknowledging for the first time the extent and … Continue reading

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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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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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MACK WILLIAMS. Talisman Sabre just confuses strategic thinking for Australia

The recent joint US:Australian Talisman Sabre joint military exercise has added further confusion to  the challenge of determining sensible Australian strategic thinking. US talk of a joint expeditionary force to combat IS terrorism in SE Asia camouflages an attempt by … Continue reading

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MACK WILLIAMS. North Korea ICBM threat to Australia.

The DPRK’s recent ICBM test raises some extremely serious concerns for Australia which will need to be carefully considered by the Australian Government before it rushes off into decision making on the run as has been the case in the … Continue reading

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MACK WILLIAMS. Mindanao call to the Caliphate !!

Media coverage of the claimed IS connections of the jihadists in Marawi have highlighted their call for a “caliphate”. The intractable scene in Mindanao indeed is concerning but it is born out a much longer and different history than elsewhere … Continue reading

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MACK WILLIAMS. Trump’s ‘smart cookies’

President Trump’s characterisation of Kim Jong-un as a “smart cookie” illustrates the learning process he is undergoing about how to operate in Asia and who might be contributing to it. Learning how to manage President Duterte may be another challenge. 

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MACK WILLIAMS. Korean Peninsula – just where are we right now?

So much is going on in the different channels between the US and China, China and the DPRK and by now maybe US and DPRK that reading the tea leaves is an almost impossible – if not frantic – task. … Continue reading

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MACK WILLIAMS. Canberra wrong-footed in our region?

For Ms Bishop to be talking in Singapore about China and democracies, the Japanese “big ship” and rallying the claimants while pleading with the US to remain staunchly committed in the region certainly is risky. We could be exposed as … Continue reading

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MACK WILLIAMS. Joint patrols with Indonesia in the South China Sea?

Has Foreign Minister Bishop finally been able to kill off the proposed joint Australia: Indonesia patrols in the South China Sea ?  

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MACK WILLIAMS. South China Sea: China taps in the last nail!

It is now clear for all to see that the only potential US “ally” for any US confrontation in the region could be Australia. China has successfully wedged the ASEAN’s in through their common concern that it would be them … Continue reading

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MACK WILLIAMS. When and how to say ‘no’. Darwin?

We cannot remain oblivious to the fact that the creeping incrementalism, which has characterised the Defence Postures relationship, is likely to slip us into positions from which it would become increasingly difficult to say No. We need a line in … Continue reading

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MACK WILLIAMS. Trump : Getting our priorities right

  Is China going to fill the void? The media-hyped flurry to try to establish the likely policy guidelines of the Trump administration is timely and natural but should be approached very cautiously. Not only is it virtually impossible at … Continue reading

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MACK WILLIAMS. General Macarthur, the Philippines and Australian troops in WWII.

  The very good Boston Globe article reminded me of two other events in Philippines history of WW11 about which so little is known in Australia. They have some relevance to the contemporary scene. For a long time prior to … Continue reading

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MACK WILLIAMS. The real shipping choke point for Australia – Sibutu Channel

Neither the Australian government nor the Australian media have informed us about the critical nature of the Sibutu Channel. As mentioned in this blog some time ago. the active political and media discussion in Australia about the South China Sea … Continue reading

Posted in Defence and Security, Economy, Media, Politics, World Affairs | 2 Comments