Once was a hegemon: Australia and the decline of the US

Australia’s Indo-Pacific obsession hides a radical global geopolitical shift, and denies the reality that US hegemony has passed a tipping point. Increasingly, the decisive great power actor(s) in any situation will be context specific, with delineation of spheres of influence and shifting balance of power arrangements requiring Australia to be nimble, smart, and independent.

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Warriors, war and Mike Pezzullo’s ANZAC Day message

What are the ‘drums of war’ that senior Australian public servant, Michael Pezzullo, can hear? His words have been understood as echoing anti-China warmongering found among some commentators and hinting strongly at the current hysteria around Taiwan. So how did the Australian government deal with a senior public servant stepping into the political limelight in this way?

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Democracy militant: strategic autonomy and Europe’s lessons for Australia

The Europeans won’t join with the like-minded allies massing behind America’s banner of democracy militant. While they will add theirs to other voices standing up for human rights, international laws and norms, and multilateralism, the EU won’t follow Biden’s clarion call into an all out multi-spectrum confrontation with China. Is there a lesson here for Australia?

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New study shows vast majority of Australian voters support climate action, up to a point

A new peer-reviewed study has found that the vast majority of Australian voters support climate action, but also highlights that more will need to be done to counter the fact that support for strong climate policy action may be limited by voters’ preparedness to incur personal costs, especially among older and conservative voters.

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US to ask 17 biggest emitters, including Australia, for net zero emissions by 2050

The United States officially rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement on 19 February 2021. The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, issued a Statement in which he called the rejoining “momentous”, but noted that “what we do in the coming weeks, months, and years is even more important”. You have seen and will continue to see us weaving climate change into our most important bilateral and multilateral conversations at all levels. In these conversations, we’re asking

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Biden embraces science and facts, but falls short on climate action

President Biden’s recognition of climate change, and determination to shift science to the centre of climate policy is important, and welcome. But a program that “achieves a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and puts the US on an irreversible path to a net-zero economy by 2050” will not be enough. Adaptation to a 3.0°C temperature rise this century must now be a focus for governments.

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Taiwan: a ‘wicked’ strategic problem for Australia

For Australia, the question of Taiwan remains a ‘wicked’ strategic problem. The Taiwanese have over time established strong claims for their autonomy. The US has a huge investment in Taiwan’s security, while not denying it is part of China. And defence of Taiwan could see the island devastated, the ANZUS alliance become irrelevant, and Australia’s security lost. Why would Australia go to war over Taiwan?

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Document Daze: Understanding Trump’s “Indo-Pacific Strategic Framework” (James Curran)

In the dying days of the most chaotically dysfunctional presidency in living memory, outgoing officials in Washington declassified the Trump administration’s Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific. At issue is not only the contents of this document, but the manner and timing of its release and further, what its reception in Australia says about Australia’s relationship with the United States, and whether it shapes expectations for the new Biden presidency.

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Early public release of US’s Indo-Pacific ‘Strategic Framework’

On 12 January 2021, the outgoing Trump administration released a declassified document titled em>United States Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific. The document was declassified some thirty years ahead of schedule to enable its early public release. This unusual step by an outgoing US administration has seen the emergence of a range of views on the merits of the document, and the intention behind its early release.

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The curious case of the ‘United States Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific’

On 12 January 2021, the then US National Security Advisor, Robert O’Brien, released a declassified document titled the United States Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific. The document was declassified for release on 5 January 2021, thirty years before this was due, in the last days of the outgoing Trump Administration. What should an Australian analyst make of this document?

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What should Australia want from a Biden National Security Strategy?

If President Biden produces a National Security Strategy in 2021, Australia should hope for a major shift away from that of President Trump. But not an uncritical return to the 2015 version of President Obama. If stability and a workable international system are the outcomes the Biden Administration seeks, then three deeply interwoven issues need to be given serious attention: leadership, democracy, and sovereignty.

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Preparing for a 3°C warmer future: the ideological shift and institutions Australia will need

Collective emission reduction efforts of nations will not avoid 3 degrees centigrade global warming by the end of the century. Therefore, national adaptation actions will need to prepare for the worse than expected scale and impact of climate change. Earlier ideological assumptions about governments will have to give way to policies that are interventionist and systemic.

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China-Australia decoupling? ASPI float a hydrogen balloon

It will become increasingly the case that if Australia doesn’t address the demands of the next economy, its prosperity, and therefore its security, will decline. In this context the development of an Australian clean steel industry using green hydrogen, proposed by ASPI’s Michael Shoebridge, looks enticing. But is it feasible of itself, let alone as part of decoupling from China’s economy? Or is it a distraction from the real economic and security issues facing Australia?

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The deceit of deterrence: a bankrupt strategic justification for defence expenditure

One of Australia’s three key strategic objectives is to “deter actions against our interests”, although what this means in practice is largely unexamined. Yet the concept of deterrence is frequently used to justify acquiring expensive, high-tech weapons platforms and systems. But what does the government envisage the submarines, new naval vessels, F-35s, and variety of long-range missiles will deter? In Australia’s strategic circumstances, what part can deterrence play in its strategic policy?

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The Indo-Pacific is a distraction: economics not geography is the strategic arena

Australia’s fixation on the South China Sea, and policy-makers’ indulgence of the fatuous Indo-Pacific concept, is obscuring the major developments in the strategic environment and misdirecting the public debate. While military power will continue to play a role in international relations, the fierce competition over the technologies and materials crucial to the next economy should be preoccupying strategic policy-makers.

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