Author Archives: Michael McKinley

Michael McKinley

About Michael McKinley

Michael McKinley is a member of the Emeritus Faculty, The Australian National University. Formerly he taught International Relations (Strategy, Diplomacy and International Conflict) at the University of Western Australia and the ANU.

Australia and the United States: the opposed fantasies at the heart of the alliance relationship

One of the refrains among those defending Australia’s alliance with the United States is that arising out of their  pasts, sharing a core set of moral and ethical values, political and economic arrangements, and visions of the desirable world order.

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Pathological philanthropy in the Australia-US Alliance

With confirmed coronavirus cases in excess of two million, the number of new, confirmed cases across the country approaching 45,000 per day for most of the last ten weeks, and resultant deaths in excess of 126,000 (and climbing), the decisions … Continue reading

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Accelerating securitisation and militarisation in Australian politics: symptoms of democracy in decline.

As though these trends are not worrying enough in themselves, in the present, they need to be understood as effects rather than causes. And the causes are even more frightening.

Posted in Defence/Security, Politics | 3 Comments

MICHAEL McKINLEY. Arse-backwards: Surveying Australia’s future submarine debate and finding that it doesn ’t start with Australia. Part 5 of 5.

In the course of studying the arguments for and against the decision to acquire the Shortfin Barracuda submarine to replace the Collins Class boats the sense has emerged that almost every aspect of the debates was concerned with the need … Continue reading

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MICHAEL McKINLEY. Arse-backwards: Questions which should have preceded the decision on the future submarine. Part 4 of 5

The enemification of China and Russia in US, and thus, alliance statements and documents on international security can now reasonably be described as an idée fixe: a persistent preoccupation which has become a delusional idea that dominates all proceedings and … Continue reading

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MICHAEL McKINLEY. Arse-backwards: Substituting the Strategic Dreamtime for the Berthold Brecht Principles of Strategic Analysis. Part 3 of 5.

Sometimes important strategic issues and questions are made more intelligible and transparent when viewed from the perspectives not normally associated with national security and defence policies. Now is one of those times.

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MICHAEL McKINLEY. Arse-backwards: The SEA 1000 Attack Class future submarine project and the emergence of the neo-Carrollian School of Maritime Strategy. Part 2 of 5.

In a reproach to all reason the Red Queen in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland famously demanded verdict first, evidence later. In an evolutionary turn, the decision to acquire the Shortfin Barracuda for the Royal Australian Navy has taken the … Continue reading

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MICHAEL McKINLEY. Arse-backwards: the now unmistakeable nature of the Future Submarine programme by refusing to ask the prior questions. Part 1 of 5.

Even from well outside the arcana imperii of the processes which led to the decision to select the Shortfin Barracuda proposal by French shipbuilder Naval Group to replace the Collins-class submarines it is apparent that the result is contrary to … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 8 Comments

MICHAEL McKINLEY. The “China threat” has moved beyond the frantic into the realm of the explicitly dangerous. 

One of the most disturbing features of Australian Foreign and Defence policies over the last two years has been the obvious encroachment into actual policy-making by not only the intelligence agencies – which is outrageous enough in itself – but … Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security | 7 Comments

MICHAEL McKINLEY. Australia’s Domestic War Parties: The Colonisation of the Australian Strategic Mind

National Defence and Security questions in Australia are, like so many areas of government policy, difficult to follow, let alone master, and debate about them tends to attract only a small attentive public. The answers to them, in the form … Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security | 7 Comments

MICHAEL McKINLEY. Australia’s AUSMIN invitations: clean the driveway, wash the dishes. Again

In the course of the current AUSMIN talks Australia has once again been invited, by the United States, to assume a role for which it is well, indeed over-qualified for – namely to provide janitorial services in the aftermath of … Continue reading

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MICHAEL McKINLEY. Reflections on the nuclear dimensions of Hugh White’s ‘How To Defend Australia’

Australian strategic thinking, like Dracula’s Transylvania, is very much troubled by the undead. Research undertaken 50 years ago by Ian Bellany, a nuclear physicist and predecessor of Hugh White in the ANU’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, wrestled with a … Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security | 3 Comments

MICHAEL McKINLEY. Another climate change warning and the return of a Pentagon prophecy the new government might take seriously.

Richard Butler recently made the point on this site that, in relation to foreign policy,  the Australian Government finds the disposition and pose of the ostrich to be  to its liking: a futile self-absorption in reality denial. To this I would … Continue reading

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MICHAEL McKINLEY. Returning to the time of “Able Archer” and Australia’s need to remember 1983

Nearly thirty-six years ago NATO carried out its annual Able Archer command post exercise designed to simulate an escalation in conflict with the USSR and the Warsaw Pact nations which culminated in a coordinated nuclear attack against the Soviet homeland.

Posted in Defence/Security | 3 Comments

MICHAEL McKINLEY. The present and future national security policy of Australia is to be found on the coast of Victoria.

National security will not be the determining factor in the forthcoming elections but it will get frequent redacted mentions for the purpose of injecting elements of fear and additional insecurity into the impoverished discussions it will attract. 

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MICHAEL McKINLEY. The unsettling reality if Five Eyes is the guardian against Huawei, Part 2: A survey audit concerning prudence, integrity, law and ethics.

In the frequent denunciations of Huawei and ZTE the inference is that these Chinese corporations are existing, or potential espionage agents of the Beijing Government and a threat to all who have been foolish enough to acquire their products.  These … Continue reading

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MICHAEL McKINLEY. The unsettling reality if Five Eyes is the guardian against Huawei, Part 1: Questions of Honesty and Loyalty.

According to a recent assessment Australia is the world’s 11th most vulnerable country in terms of its exposure to internet security threat.  This is the general case.  The particular case, articulated by the Five Eyes signals intelligence agencies, is that China is to … Continue reading

Posted in Asia, World Affairs | 4 Comments

MICHAEL McKINLEY. The Occupation of the Australian Mind.

Fear and apathy have taken up residence in the collective political consciousness of Australia. Indeed, it may be that they have achieved that most desirable of states for governments seeking to remain in power, or oppositions sensing their imminent ascendency … Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, Human Rights | 2 Comments

MICHAEL McKINLEY. The ascendancy of the age of Thorby (PART 1 – the state’s justification for requiring passive citizens)

Contrary to popular belief, modern democracy does not welcome an active, engaged citizenry especially between election campaigns because its interventions would hinder the operations of the state. The preferred condition is one of citizen passivity in which the authorities go … Continue reading

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MICHAEL McKINLEY. The age of Thorby (PART 2 – The addictive denial of transparency and the protection of malfeasance)

Where matters defined under the rubric of national security are concerned, the intelligence agencies of the state demand nothing less than the indulgence to act with unwarranted secrecy – secrecy beyond that which is absolutely essential.  Over the last 80 … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 3 Comments

MICHAEL McKINLEY. The ascendancy of the age of Thorby (Part 1 – The state’s justification for requiring passive citizens)

Contrary to popular belief, modern democracy does not welcome an active, engaged citizenry especially between election campaigns because its interventions would hinder the operations of the state. The preferred condition is one of citizen passivity in which the authorities go … Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security | 3 Comments

MICHAEL McKINLEY. The age of Thorby (Part 2 – The addictive denial of transparency and the protection of malfeasance)

Where matters defined under the rubric of national security are concerned, the intelligence agencies of the state demand nothing less than the indulgence to act with unwarranted secrecy – secrecy beyond that which is absolutely essential.  Over the last 80 … Continue reading

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MICHAEL McKINLEY. Crony capitalism and corruption in our midst.

Revelations of corruption and actions that look suspiciously like corruption shock us but they shouldn’t: look for corruption in Australia – as in many western democracies – and you will never be disappointed.  It’s as common as other national institutions  … Continue reading

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MICHAEL McKINLEY. Whither Political Science?: Not dead but on life support – a response to Roger Scott.

In a recent post Roger Scott asks an appropriate question but it’s anachronistic – like asking why doesn’t Elvis do live concert anymore? Political Science was always a bastard, left-handed, red-haired child of the turn to scientism by the social … Continue reading

Posted in Education, Politics | 5 Comments

MICHAEL McKINLEY. A possible deep-seated flaw in the ADF’s third inquiry into allegations of misconduct and war crimes.

The allegations against rogue elements within the Special Air Service Regiment are, sadly, almost predictable: other, similar units in the military traditions of both Britain and the United States have succumbed to such behaviour in similar circumstances as those faced … Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights | 1 Comment

MICHAEL McKINLEY. Australia’s China policy: who rules, who governs and the SAS connection

Australia’s China policy in recent days has moved from being a subject of heated and understandable debate and controversy based on argument and evidence, to a target of bureaucratic and organisational guerrilla warfare.  From within the state and parliamentary system, … Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security | 5 Comments

MICHAEL McKINLEY. Are we preparing to fight the wrong war : an interesting but lower order question.

In weapons systems, as in many other areas of life, Artificial Intelligence is being heralded as “the future for all humankind”.  This description is part of the problem: it comprises a submission to a fatalistic view of the future in … Continue reading

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MICHAEL McKINLEY. Australia, China and three fragments of militarisation in context.

The term ‘militarisation’ is the new portmanteau expression for describing China’s initiatives in the South China Sea; it is at once accusatory and exculpatory: China is the instigator, the Western powers and those Western-aligned (defensively-minded, and innocent) are exonerated from … Continue reading

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MICHAEL McKINLEY. War talk, China phobia and Australia’s Hobbesian choices.

Australia’s choices and policy debate on China are in need of clarification and rethinking.  Currently, they are mired in an idealised past which has gone and cannot be recovered but the resulting nostalgia, now indulged, requires accepting phobic propositions by … Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, World Affairs | 3 Comments

MICHAEL McKINLEY. Deeply Denying the American Reality. Part 2: Australia’s avoidance means complicity.

 In any other context but the alliance, the facts attending the US global strategy at both the conventional and nuclear levels would be seen by Australian strategic analysts and policy-makers for what they are – profoundly threatening developments and habits … Continue reading

Posted in World Affairs | 5 Comments