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Author Archives: Mike Scrafton
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 However, hagiography and selective historical references don’t substitute for serious reflection and reassessment.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.
Morrison’s call for a Royal Commission on matters related to the bushfires is puzzling. It is difficult to avoid the suspicion that it was a thought bubble exuding from the advisors of a Prime Minster under great pressure. For the … Continue reading
The Iran crisis has inspired three public utterances of relevance to Australia’s foreign and strategic policy; from, in chronological order, NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg, President Trump, and our own inestimable Prime Minister. Collectively, they reveal the real depths of the … Continue reading
The biggest question in geopolitics is; will President Trump be re-elected? This issue will be prominent in the private councils of Heads of Government in Europe, Asia and elsewhere. However, the American presidential election will be determined by domestic issues … Continue reading
Today, there are four simultaneous and momentous crises before which modern democracies seem impotent; global warming, population growth, wealth inequality, and a dangerous geostrategic shift. This brings me to the Thodey Review.
The Middle East situation now falls outside the province of rational analytical discourse. Small events might provoke unimaginably large and uncontrollable responses.
Like the fierce Atlantic storms than weaken overtime and end as gentle zephyrs playing harmlessly along the coast, Trump’s blustery and boisterous foreign policy is visibly running out of wind. Strong words and sanctions have led to foreign policy impasses … Continue reading
The West’s modern sensibility is rightly offended by the scale of Uighur incarcerations in Xinjiang the and the ruthlessness with which the Chinese government is pursuing the extermination of Uighur culture, language, and religion. To the contemporary mind these acts … Continue reading
In 2018, the IPCC warned with high confidence that ‘Global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if [the rate of emissions] continues to increase at the current rate’. The World Meteorological Organisation reported this week that … Continue reading