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Author Archives: Mike Scrafton
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.
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.
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
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).
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.
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.
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
‘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
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?
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.
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’.
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
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.
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.
On current planning, in the next great war Australia will have no strategy.
Governments should not be able to avoid scrutiny and accountability for their actions by leaning on the authority of science.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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’.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.