Category Archives: Defence/Security

Make peace not war, the language of military strategists

Politicians, defence strategists and media enthusiasts for the armed forces will use words from the Defence Strategic Update proposal to spend $270 billion on weapons for the military. Via the language of non-violence, it is also valuable to convey other … Continue reading

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Australia and the United States: the opposed fantasies at the heart of the alliance relationship

One of the refrains among those defending Australia’s alliance with the United States is that arising out of their  pasts, sharing a core set of moral and ethical values, political and economic arrangements, and visions of the desirable world order.

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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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Defence Strategic Outlook lacks a civilian perspective.

The Defence Department’s Strategic Update is somewhat servant to the past rather than the future. It’s just one way to see the world and should be subordinated to a civilian perspective in less adversarial terms. The government’s endorsement of the … Continue reading

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Increased military expenditure unjustified; social needs must be paramount.

The government’s $279 billion allocation over 10 years to military spending is not justified by fear-mongering and is at the expense of health and other urgent social needs.

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Avoiding a century of humiliation for ourselves.

The “Century of Humiliation” is indelibly imprinted in the psyche of modern China. Australia’s current position towards China is inviting our own century of humiliation as we ratchet up tensions alongside a United States whose hegemonic power is rapidly collapsing.

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Australia’s American dreaming is turning into a nightmare.

Since the signing of the ANZUS treaty in 1951, Australians have been living a dream that America shares their country’s cultural values, language and democratic institutions. They dream that they are safely cacooned in Tony Abbott’s beloved “anglosphere”, with the … Continue reading

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It’s time to strip ‘national security’ of its sacred cow status. Part 2

On closer inspection, the immense financial, institutional, and rhetorical investment in this elaborate security edifice rests on questionable assumptions. The costs may far outweigh any likely benefits.

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It’s time to strip ‘national security’ of its sacred cow status. Part 1

The Prime Minister has just announced the most hawkish turn in Australia’s defence policy since the end of the Cold War.  All in the name of national security, the mantra of governments intent on justifying sprawling, costly and often unaccountable … Continue reading

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Australia’s Defence:  All the way with the USA, again?

The PM’s July speech launching the new strategic documents presents an alarming picture of the state of our immediate region, on which he says the Government will focus.

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Indefensible policies – Defence Strategic Update

The recently released Strategic Update may please traditional security analysts, but it won’t  influence the behaviour of China or make individual Australians any safer.

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The South China Sea. Who is the real threat to peace and stability?

The US led-cacophony of criticism of China for its actions in the South China Sea is reaching a dangerous level.  The situation is far more complicated than the U.S. would have it and there is plenty of blame to go … Continue reading

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Five Eyes membership threatens New Zealand’s foreign policy independence

Because of our membership of the Five Eyes, New Zealand’s ability to act independently is seriously restricted.

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Cyber hacks, media hacks and political hacks.

Greatly increased defence spending plus proposed cyber capability tie us more to the USA and clearly will be seen by China as unfriendly. Can we rely on a dysfunctional USA and do we really understand Chinese motives and the level … Continue reading

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Militarism and Popularism, a dangerous mix

Popularism in defence matters must have its limits. Being carried away on a wave of popularism may be exciting but when reality strikes the repercussions could be severe.

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BRUCE CAMERON: The Politicisation of Gallantry – will Teddy Sheean get his VC?

Public opinion (aka votes) means that a face-saving new enquiry is now to be held into potentially awarding a VC to Seaman Teddy Sheean for his extraordinary bravery during World War II.

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A rose coloured view of the dangers of Pine Gap

Fifty years ago this month Pine Gap, the American military base in the centre of Australia, commenced operations. With no public fanfare, this anniversary might have passed by unnoticed if former National Security Agency electronic intelligence analyst at the base, … Continue reading

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Morrison throws the switch to vaudeville

Fresh from his redemption after The Great Bush-fire Debacle, Scott Morrison is reverting to type. In a farcical press conference he stated that Australia’s institutions and businesses were being targeted by a sophisticated state-based cyber actor.

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Law can’t hide hypocrisy, lying and double dealing

Forty years ago, Justice Anthony Mason, later Chief Justice of the High Court, made it clear that mere embarrassment — or the avoidance of being found to be a hypocrite — is not enough to justify the protection of the … Continue reading

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Australia-‘The most oppressive of the Western Democracies’

When there’s a concerted attack on the interests of the Australian mainstream media they will rise in joint defence of journalists’ freedom. But they are slow to support five other Australians who have already lost their freedom.

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Our strategic partnerships with China, India, Japan and the US

The signature of a strategic agreement between Australia and India is being hailed as a success. Certainly our construction of positive relations with India has lagged, although efforts to do better began in the 1980s. But what’s it all about? … Continue reading

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Securitisation – Turning Problems into Threats

One of the more disturbing tendencies of modern governments is to transform policy problems into threats, thereby elevating them into the national security domain as the political rhetoric extends further into hyperbole.

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Folly of following the Five Eyes Anglo-Saxon relic

The main countries comprising this electronic espionage group have made an abysmal hash of responding to the economic and health impacts of Covid-19. Yet the Australian government has chosen them to develop a “strategic” economic response to the Covid 19 … Continue reading

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Accelerating securitisation and militarisation in Australian politics: symptoms of democracy in decline.

As though these trends are not worrying enough in themselves, in the present, they need to be understood as effects rather than causes. And the causes are even more frightening.

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GEOFF MILLER. ‘G5-Eyes’: a very strange economic grouping.

According to a report in The Australian of 8 June Treasurer Frydenberg has “led the push” and succeeded in establishing a series of “regular and formal” economic dialogue meetings among the countries that make up the “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing group.

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Mark Oliphant’s no-show at the British atomic and nuclear tests in Australia – the Fuchs factor

Seventy years ago in mid-1950, weeks after Klaus Fuchs had confessed to spying for the Russians throughout the 1940s, writes Sue Rabbitt Roff. Britain gave up hope of being able to test its first atomic bomb in Nevada and turned to … Continue reading

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ROBERT GATES. The Overmilitarization of American Foreign Policy (Foreign Affairs July/August 2020)

Donald Trump’s decision to go it alone in responding to the coronavirus pandemic is but the latest manifestation of the United States’ waning global leadership, writes Robert M Gates.

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The American Alliance: More incantation than inquiry.

Our chosen national heroes are the young men who died fighting for King and Empire on the coast of the Ottoman Empire in 1915. When will our focus shift to the many thousands of indigenous men and women who died … Continue reading

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Australia must stem our major military ally’s rush to nuclear weapon free-for-all?

The danger of nuclear war is growing. A new arms race is ramping up, and hard-won treaties reigning in nuclear weapons are being torn up – the Iran nuclear deal, the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, now the Open Skies … Continue reading

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The existential perils facing humanity: the Thucydides Trap.

Today there are three existential perils facing humanity, nuclear war, rapid climate change and pandemics. These are currently prioritised in the antipodean population’s thoughts and endeavours in reverse order.

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