China’s threat to the US makes us a power player

March 12, 2021

There’s a seminal shift underway in Australia’s relationship with the US based on mutual need and Morrison’s determination to act more forcefully.
Originally published in The Australian.

In a historic geopolitical shift, ­Australia is emerging as a key ­alliance hub and partner for the US in Asia as the Biden administration moves to reshape and strengthen its military to meet China’s growing challenge.
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Credit Biden’s bid for united states of democracy

March 10, 2021

Originally published at The Australian

Uniting democracies in defence of shared interests and values will be the cornerstone of US President Joe Biden’s foreign policy, showcased by his ambitious Summit for Democracy, to be held later this year. Biden wants the gathering to “bring together the world’s democracies to strengthen our democratic institutions, honestly confront nations that are backsliding, and forge a common agenda”. Read more

Only a resilient democracy could have survived the mob violence

January 11, 2021

Does Donald Trump’s act of constitutional vandalism in inciting mob violence presage an end to America’s greatness or the rebirth of a country that has lost its way? After last week’s unprecedented scenes of mayhem and wanton destruction in Washington’s Capitol building, the notion of a rebirth seems far-fetched. Worse could follow in the waning days of his presidency if Trump gives full vent to his vindictive nature by inflaming his hardcore supporters or initiating an international crisis. Without bipartisan support, impeachment risks turning Trump into a martyr and further polarising the electorate.
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Fighting the dragon: we’re doing it wrong

December 28, 2020

As China slowly strangles our exports to break our will, Australians have responded with a range of emotions from anger and denunciation to self-blame and resignation. Difficult though it may be, we cannot afford to let emotion cloud our response to Beijing’s pressure tactics. Cool heads are required and, above all, an astutely targeted strategy that shields us from irreparable damage while working to stabilise the relationship and keep the door open to some form of reconciliation, no matter how distant the prospect.

But first we need to understand better why China is punishing Australia. This means cutting through the confused reactions and misperceptions that have obscured China’s real aims and tactics. Asserting we should “keep a low profile” or avoid “irritating China” is not a strategy.
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NT ‘could be a forward operating base for ADF’

October 30, 2020

The worst pandemic in a century bookends a wider set of national security challenges that are shaking up entrenched habits and assumptions.
Great power rivalry is at levels unseen since the Cold War and the destabilising consequences are rippling through Australia’s maritime front yard to Darwin’s north. The worst pandemic in a century bookends a wider set of national security challenges that are shaking up entrenched habits and assumptions, forcing governments everywhere to rethink their strategies and operating models.
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US-China decoupling and the eve of economic destruction

October 9, 2020

This year will go down as the century’s worst if measured by the disruption, misery and strife that has marked the Year of the Rat. There seems no end in sight to the cascading series of crises afflicting millions of people around the world. Even those with no religious bent must wonder whether the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse have been let loose as drought, wildfires, hurricanes, floods and pestilence continue to wreak havoc. Read more

Australian independence at the Ausmin talks: Thatcherism and Reagonomics

July 30, 2020

This week Defence Minister Linda Reynolds and Foreign Minister Marise Payne flew to Washington to attend the annual Ausmin talks. The backdrop to this year’s talks is a series of escalating events and rhetoric on Hong Kong’s new national security laws, ownership of the South China Sea, cyber-attacks and theft, and the closure of consulates in the US and China. But the deeper issue on the agenda was a choice. The US was hoping Australia would throw everything in with the US – and officially cast China as a strategic rival.
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Trump wants an ‘alliance of democracies’ to oppose China

July 24, 2020

“The difference between this cold war and the last one is the alignment and bifurcation are a lot more fluid,” said Alan Dupont, a leading Australian security strategist. “It’s a far more interdependent world now, and a lot of countries will not be in a single bloc. They’ll want to straddle both.”
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Who’s afraid of the big bad wolves?

July 24, 2020

Australia may be chewing gum on China’s shoe, but Xi Jinping should consider the other 800-pound gorilla in the room.

Authoritarian countries have always been difficult for Western democracies to comprehend. Winston Churchill famously characterised Russia as “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”. But unravelling the mystery of China has proved even more difficult for the West despite centuries of trade and interaction.
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