Author Archives: Mike Scrafton

Mike Scrafton

About Mike Scrafton

Mike Scrafton was a Deputy Secretary in the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment, senior Defence executive, CEO of a state statutory body, and chief of staff and ministerial adviser to the minister for defence.

Australian strategic policy: why we need a robust public debate

Australia’s writings on the history of strategic policy and military history are abundant and of a high quality. However, this knowledge is not reflected in the public debate on issues pertaining to Australia’s strategic policy choices.

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AUSMIN 2020: confirmation of Australia’s abandonment of strategic autonomy?

Australians should not be quite as comforted by the government’s recent statements around Australia-US Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) as some have indicated. Reassuring word s are the slippery province of diplomacy. Strategic policy is founded in force structure and force posture.

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Confronting global warming: do democracies have the expertise?

Global warming, ecological collapse, biodiversity loss, and social injustice are complex, technical challenges. Understanding them and their relationship to each other requires high levels of expertise, and solutions will demand political leadership. Confidence that democracies can meet these challenges isn’t … Continue reading

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The Rationale for the 2020 Force Structure Plan: A 2040 War with China?

There is a mismatch between the urgent need to respond to the supposed recent deterioration in Australia’s strategic circumstances and the 2020 Force Structure Plan (FSP).

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The 2020 Defence Strategic Update: Finding coexistence with China

There is little to quarrel with in Hugh White’s assessment of the uncertainties in East Asia. His counsel to the government on the way forward for strategic policy, on the other hand, is less satisfactory.

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Race is not real: It’s time to stop acting as though it is.

For something that doesn’t exist race exerts a pernicious and persistent influence on society. Rational arguments and protests won’t exorcise the racial ghost and the struggle against its worst manifestations will be endless.

Posted in Human Rights | Comments Off on Race is not real: It’s time to stop acting as though it is.

The Australia-India Strategic Partnership: ‘Shared values’ mask the real strategic purpose

The phrase ‘shared values’ is regularly used as the basis for international relationships and alliances, and the lack of the same ‘shared values’ as the reason for adversarial relationships or friction. It is a mantra that is much over-used, and … Continue reading

Posted in World Affairs | 5 Comments

Sovereignty and Self-determination: The wider implications of Israel and the West Bank

‘The great thing about sovereignty is we always respect the sovereignty of other nations and we simply expect the same in return’, said Australian Prime Minister Morrison on 14 May 2020. However, there is nothing simple about sovereignty and it … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 4 Comments

MIKE SCRAFTON. The Deep State conspiracy theory

 When, without apparent reason, good things disappear or bad things appear it cannot be random. That’s when conspiracy theories flourish. The US presidential election campaign is haunted by one. Is Trump laying the groundwork for The Great Presidential Robbery?

Posted in Politics | 6 Comments

MIKE SCRAFTON. Historical amnesia: Great power behaviour and criticism of China

Between 1890 and 1920 the democratic US became a great power. It’s trajectory from western hemisphere state to global power has some economic, military and foreign policy parallels with authoritarian China’s growth in the twenty-first century.

Posted in Defence/Security, Politics, World Affairs | 12 Comments

MIKE SCRAFTON. A blinkered view: China in the Antarctic

The recent report Eyes wide open: Managing the Australia-China Antarctic relationship by Anthony Bergin and Tony Cross falls into the category of ‘if China’s doing it, its malevolent’.

Posted in Defence/Security, World Affairs | 7 Comments

MIKE SCRAFTON. The harder reality of humanity’s road to the future

After the pandemic passes the world will be left with a series of far graver challenges. The solutions, if there are any, will only be found through clear-eyed, objective analysis of the interrelated causes and effects, shorn to the extent … Continue reading

Posted in World Affairs | 4 Comments

MIKE SCRAFTON. Regulation, tariffs and reform of supply chains.

The political leaders that brought us global supply chains, hollowed out public services, and dwindling administrative capacity, are potentially about to find themselves in a series of contradictions.

Posted in Infrastructure, Politics | 2 Comments

MIKE SCRAFTON. The dogs of war cry wolf: The post-pandemic China threat

Two senior analysts of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) recently published pieces that put its reputation for sound analysis and practical policy recommendations at risk.

Posted in Defence/Security | 12 Comments

MIKE SCRAFTON. Australia’s strategic quandary: political leadership and the abandonment of strategy

On current planning, in the next great war Australia will have no strategy.

Posted in Defence/Security | 7 Comments

MIKE SCRAFTON. Blinded by ‘the science’: COVID-19 and the authority of science in public policy

Governments should not be able to avoid scrutiny and accountability for their actions by leaning on the authority of science.

Posted in Politics | 3 Comments

MIKE SCRAFTON. A tale of two Americas: Australia’s foreign policy choices post-pandemic

As Michael Shoebridge has rightly pointed out, how the US rebounds from the COVID-19 crisis will be important for international relations and Australia’s foreign policy. However, hagiography and selective historical references don’t substitute for serious reflection and reassessment.

Posted in World Affairs | 7 Comments

MIKE SCRAFTON. COVID-19 and preparing for global warming

The COVID-19 crisis tells us some important things. The flaws in the neo-liberal model have been exposed. Democratic politics have been stressed to breaking point. The shocks to the economic, social and fiscal systems required to stop global warming are … Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | 9 Comments

MIKE SCRAFTON. Capability gaps: mean dogs and submarines

A flurry of submarine related commentaryhas followed a new Insight Economics report, Australia’s future submarine: do we need a plan B? Its arguments for submarine capability, and for a Collins 2.0 class to fill in until the Attack class enter … Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security | 4 Comments

MIKE SCRAFTON. COVID-19: ‘Dirty hands’ and political leadership in a crisis

Normally, bringing ethics and crisis politics together in a crisis is like putting Siamese fighting fish in the same tank; only one is likely to survive.

Posted in Politics | 5 Comments

MIKE SCRAFTON. Shades of herd immunity stalk COVID-19 government responses.

Seeping faintly through the pronouncements and policies of some government responses to the coronavirus pandemic are the vapours of older belief systems; a whiff of utilitarianism, the scent of social Darwinism, and the fetid reek of eugenics.

Posted in Politics | 12 Comments

MIKE SCRAFTON. When to take the military option off the table

Many of the Chinese regime’s practises are repugnant to democratic values and human rights. That distaste and disapproval doesn’t warrant Australian governments pursuing a crusade or adopting an irrational strategic policy based on fighting a war with China, either in … Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security | 5 Comments

MIKE SCRAFTON. What do the Chinese think of the US-Australian Alliance?

With similar articles in The Australian and The Strategist, Peter Jennings has lauded the government’s decision to refurbish and expand RAAF Base Tindal in the Northern Territory as ‘a giant strategic step forward’.

Posted in Defence/Security | 5 Comments

MIKE SCRAFTON. Is the US a normal country?

Remarks at the Munich Security Conference by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper are full of unconscious irony.

Posted in World Affairs | 3 Comments

MIKE SCRAFTON. The warning that wasn’t on the submarines.

The Australian’s correspondent Robert Gottliebsen (The Australian 12 Feb 2020) has found ‘a clear warning to the Australian nation’ buried in the ANAO audit report on the Future Submarine Program.

Posted in Defence/Security | 3 Comments

MIKE SCRAFTON. Traps, Trump and Thucydides

The Belfer Center has announced the winner of the public competition run by Harvard academic Graham Allison to ‘craft a grand strategy to meet the China challenge’. Allison’s concept of a Thucydides Trap was the theme of the competition. The … Continue reading

Posted in World Affairs | 3 Comments

MIKE SCRAFTON. A critique of SEA1000 from the outside

When critiquing government’s strategic policy, the ‘things were better in my day’ syndrome needs to be avoided. That these decisions and the supporting background strategic analysis and assessments are always hidden from wider view by secrecy classifications and need-to-know protocols … Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security | 5 Comments

MIKE SCRAFTON. Democracy and Ignorance-climate deniers and climate believers

Behind many of today’s challenges is the problem of ignorance. That’s not to deprecate or disparage the intellectual capacity of citizens or their desire to be well-informed. The proliferation and complexity of knowledge and the segmentation of disciplines and expertise … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 15 Comments

MIKE SCRAFTON. Future Submarines and Future War

The SEA1000 Future Submarine project is back in the news following the ANOA report. Jon Stanford has demonstrated how badly this acquisition project is flawed. How government imagines the submarines will be employed remains imponderable.

Posted in Defence/Security | 5 Comments

MIKE SCRAFTON. Mnuchin, Thunberg, Economics and Science

The comments of US Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin concerning Greta Thunberg were meant to be droll. However, they reveal a serious and dangerous cognitive dissonance affecting much of the world’s political elite.

Posted in Politics | 8 Comments