Category Archives: Defence/Security

Military and Economic Deals aren’t ‘peace arrangements’ just because Trump says so (Canberra Times Sep 19, 2020)

‘Peace’ is not in the air, (Carlill, Canberra Times, 16/9). The deal done between Israel, Bahrain and the UAE, boastfully brokered by President Trump, has little to do with ‘peace’, but much with military hardware and hoped for economic gain.

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A Tale of Two Prosthetic Legs: Panel Beating History at the Australian War Memorial

Visitors to the Afghanistan: The Australian Story exhibition are offered a theme park experience. Symbols, slogans, and sensations. Hop on an emotional rollercoaster and spin round corners to vicariously witness an ambush.

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Is Hong Kong a repeat of the CIA-sponsored Iranian coup?

The unmistakable parallels between Hong Kong SAR 2019 protests and the CIA sponsored 1953 Iranian Coup d’état is yet another ‘(c)overt’ U.S. government interference to influence and disrupt other states that challenge American hegemony.

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Sipping champagne with the arms dealers

The Australian War Memorial is mutating from the keeper of the flame to the hider of the shame.

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Intelligence is the servant of policy, not its substitute

Jack Waterford has provided a scathing assessment of the role of the intelligence and security agencies in Australia’s current contretemps with China. How should we evaluate the suggestion that the conduct of our international relations is driven more by intelligence … Continue reading

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ASIO is a Mickey Mouse outfit compromising 50 years of diplomacy with China

When head of the Australian Signals Directorate, Mike Burgess was the main adviser recommending against Huawei being allowed into the 5G network. There is no doubt about his intelligence background, or his technical talents. He has, however, yet to demonstrate … Continue reading

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The National Insecurity State

When the ‘war on terror’ was only seven years old, an Australian former Ambassador to Beijing pointed to its risks and costs for Australia. Garry Woodard warned that rather than protecting ‘national security’, such an open-ended war could widen our … Continue reading

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Problems with new F-35 fighter planes shouldn’t fly under the radar (Canberra Times Sep 1, 2020)

Defence gives an average price of less than $126 million for Australia’s 72 F-35s when fully delivered. But the Australian Strategy Policy Institute estimates the sustainment costs to be triple those of the F-18 fighters it replaces.

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The myth and the veterans’ problems that will not die

There are almost too many myths about Australia’s Vietnam War involvement to keep track. But one of them – that all National Service conscripts had the option of volunteering or not when about to be posted to Vietnam – is … Continue reading

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Spies are often the ‘second eleven’

 When the full history of Australia’s slide into McCarthyite hysteria over China is written there should be special mention of the role of our spy organizations – ASIO and ASIS in particular.  As someone who has worked over the years … Continue reading

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Government must stop militarising our biggest challenges

Proposed legislation to enable the PM to declare a national emergency and call in the troops appears to be yet another example of the government’s dangerous tendency to militarise our biggest challenges, including climate change.

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The atrocious foreign interference law – It doesn’t add up  ​

When, for example, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) receives grants from the US State Department to undertake research projects it is an admission that it is engaging in conduct on behalf of a foreign principal.

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The militarisation of Australian history: its origin

C.E.W. Bean’s account of Australia’s entry into World War I is misleading. It has a deliberate imperial bias. It was propaganda.

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Defence settings – Have we got it right?

Recent articles on our defence and security postures, and their impact on civil society, have preferred pacifism over a more defensive tone. While pacific sentiment is noble, we should never underestimate harsher realities.

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The militarization of Australian history and the myth of ‘shared values’

 Fifteen years ago when I wrote an op.ed for The Age newspaper about the militarization of Australian historical memory, amidst the frenzy of war commemoration then careering out of control, the sub-editor gave it the title, ‘The Howard history of … Continue reading

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We need a standing Royal Commission to supervise our intelligence agencies

We need intelligence agencies that are accountable. We  do not have  that at the moment. We have witnessed the failure of bank regulators. Regulatory failure in the intelligence sector is even more in plain sight. 

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The militarisation of Australia

The military in Australia has been played into a key role in the national narrative. Its achievements have been woven into myth. External threat has long been part of the political fabric.

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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

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Military and security agencies are eroding civil society

War and militarisation has become ever-present in so much of our public life. Civilian power and responsibility is being marginalised. We go to war without our Parliament even debating the merits of such a momentous act. We are ceding civilian … Continue reading

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What would an independent Australian foreign policy look like?

Only in a small number of countries is the idea of an independent foreign policy considered to be a radical approach to international relations. Australia is one of them.

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The military-industrial-intelligence-security complex

In 1961 President Eisenhower warned that a vast and permanent ‘military-industrial complex’ could produce ‘the disastrous rise of misplaced power’. Earlier, US Senators Robert La Follette and J. William Fulbright also foresaw the dangers of militarisation. Now we have a … Continue reading

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Securitisation: How to magnify problems rather than solve them

When governments have little idea of what constitutes a wicked problem, and even less idea of how to deal with it, their default position is to ‘securitise’ a problem – turning it into a problem to be solved by law … Continue reading

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It was the threat of Soviet invasion, not the bombs that drove Japan’s surrender.

The 75th Pacific War end anniversary has revived once again the debate over whether the US in 1945 had to resort to nuclear bombings to force Japan’s surrender. The global anti-nuclear movement has long used the horror of those bombings … Continue reading

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The unexceptional exceptionalism of America

There is nothing very exceptional about American Exceptionalism other than many Americans find themselves exceptional and demand that others do likewise. Australian Exceptionalism is risible.

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Australia’s daft foreign policy

To help preserve its global economic dominance, American appears prepared to fight China to the last dollar in the Australian treasury. 

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Iran’s pact with China is bad news for the West (Foreign Policy 9 August 2020)

Tehran’s new strategic partnership with Beijing will give the Chinese a strategic foothold and strengthen Iran’s economy and regional clout.

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The Decline in Power of the Oil States (Counter Punch August 17, 2020)

President Donald Trump is cock-a-hoop over the United Arab Emirates becoming the first Arab Gulf state to normalise its relations with Israel. He needs all the good news he can get in the months before the US presidential election.

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Biden’s Foreign Policy : Make America the Leader Again !

In an essay in the prestigious US publication “Foreign Affairs”, the Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, sets out a broad set of his foreign policy objectives should he win the US presidency in November. The title – “Why America Must Lead … Continue reading

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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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Demystifying Australia’s South China Sea stance (EAF 12 August, 2020)

The only freedoms of navigation under threat in the South China Sea are ones associated with rights claimed by the United States to conduct certain military activities in the maritime zones of other countries.

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