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.

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

MIKE SCRAFTON. How good are Royal Commissions?

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

Posted in Politics | 5 Comments

MIKE SCRAFTON. NATO, the Middle East and the policy vacuum

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

Posted in World Affairs | 4 Comments

MIKE SCRAFTON. The re-election of Donald Trump

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

Posted in World Affairs | 2 Comments

MIKE SCRAFTON. Crisis and the Transformation of Government Administration

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.

Posted in Politics | 1 Comment

MIKE SCRAFTON. Iran, the US, and Australia

The Middle East situation now falls outside the province of rational analytical discourse. Small events might provoke unimaginably large and uncontrollable responses.

Posted in World Affairs | 12 Comments

MIKE SCRAFTON: President Trump and the world at the end of 2019

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

Posted in World Affairs | 3 Comments

MIKE SCRAFTON. Uighurs and glass houses

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

Posted in Human Rights | 6 Comments

MIKE SCRAFTON. Global warming – we’re screwed!

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

Posted in Environment and climate | 12 Comments