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.

IMF on global warming: impractical, naive and important

The response to global warming has to be at the same time political, science-based, and economically informed. Reading the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) 2020 World economic outlook: a long and difficult ascent, is instructive on this point.

Posted in Environment and climate | Leave a comment

The strategic aspect of human rights: a tool of hegemony

With America’s fading hegemony, new regional powers with regional hegemonic aspirations are displaying their ideas about human rights; ideas based on their particular historical, cultural, political, and religious experiences.

Posted in Human Rights | 7 Comments

The US role in the world: a new normal

President Trump has pursued a different vision of the US’s role in the world. This has had an undeniable impact on the US’s relations with allies and competitors alike, and has reshaped the general perception of the US as a … Continue reading

Posted in World Affairs | 3 Comments

The bathtub is nearly full: Australia’s extraordinary energy plan

The Coalition government’s energy plan ensures the emissions tap will continue to flow. While economic recovery following the pandemic is an important objective, to ignore the consequences of persisting with fossil fuels is incomprehensible.

Posted in Environment and climate, Politics | 1 Comment

Will Trump’s rejection of history divide America?

The 1776 Commission proposed by President Trump to counter the New York Times’ 1619 Project and other “narratives about America being pushed by the far left”, is not the equivalent of Australia’s conservative versus liberal history wars. It is about … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 9 Comments

Scientists and capitalists agree on climate. When will governments act?

Time again for Australia’s political leaders to ignore the regular cycle of reports that highlight the failure to deal with the coming climate disaster. The pandemic might provide a “look over there” opportunity to distract citizens, but the recent climate … Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate, Politics | Tagged | 2 Comments

The UN at 75: a real declaration of intent, or multilateral virtue signalling?

An atmosphere of unreality is building in advance of the virtual meeting of world leaders to mark the 75th anniversary of the United Nations (UN).  Nothing demonstrates this more than the proposed draft declaration. Rather than reaffirming the UN’s centrality, … Continue reading

Posted in Politics, World Affairs | 2 Comments

The strategic mirror: the Pentagon’s China report reveals converging power and strategy

From Australia’s perspective, the Pentagon’s 2020 Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China Report is valuable for two reasons. It reinforces the absurdity of Australia planning to participate in high-intensity conflict against China under any circumstances. Additionally, … Continue reading

Posted in China, World Affairs | Tagged | 5 Comments

Australia’s policies towards China have little support in the region.

The Southeast Asian states see themselves as being in a region where China and Japan have the most influence, and where the US’s influence is declining. The foundations of Australia’s strategic logic are very shaky.

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A bigger canvas: Russia, China and Australia’s strategic policy

In an article in The Conversation, Professor Alexey Muraviev has pointed out that Australia has failed to factor into its strategic calculations the relationship between China and Russia. While Russia poses no credible direct threat to Australia, it could be … Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security | Leave a comment

The current signs are ominous, and Australia is possibly stumbling blindly towards war.

Today’s risks and the history of war: recognising the unknowable. The point of no return is mostly only evident in hindsight, and nations occasionally find themselves unexpectedly teetering on the edge of conflict.

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Cancel culture, Nick Cave and the Harper’s Letter: a moan from the Ivory Tower or call to the liberal battlements?

Nick Cave has revived the issues raised in the Letter on Justice and Open Debate published on 7 July 2020 and signed by 150 noted authors, academics, and public intellectuals. Issues that cut straight to a key fault line in … Continue reading

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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 | Leave a comment

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