A game of high stakes on the high seas

February 2, 2024

~ Alan Dupont. Originally published in The Australian on 2 February, 2024.

Awakened from a long, peace-induced slumber, Western countries are scrambling to address their naval ­deficiencies in the face of China’s unprecedented peacetime naval build-up, Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and the Houthis’ attacks on shipping in the Red Sea.

But they are starting from a long way back.

Australia is no exception. Our navy’s capabilities have deteriorated alarmingly at a time when the need for sea power has never been greater. More on this later.

The Houthis’ targeting of ships that carried nearly 15 per cent of world trade through the Red Sea last year is the latest example of the growing threat to seaborne trade.
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The long fight to disarm Hamas

January 13, 2024

~ Johnathan Spyer. Originally published in The Australian on 13 January, 2024.

‘We’ve been on the mission from the first day. We were mobilised on October 8,” Col. Tal Kuritzky, commander of the Israel Defence Forces’ 5th Infantry Brigade, tells me. “Our task is to make it possible for the residents of the Gaza envelope to return to their homes. We’re creating a safe area along the border to enable their return. And we’ve struck hard at Hamas’s infrastructure.”

We are sitting, a group of journalists and soldiers, in a house in Khirbet Khuzaia, Khan Yunis Governorate, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. It is midday but the house is dark, its electricity long ago cut off. Its prior function seems to have been as a religious centre of some kind. Islamic texts and, improbably, a poster of Palestine Liberation Organisation leader Yasser Arafat are strewn around one of the rooms, amid broken glass.
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‘Axis powers’ a formidable force for evil in 2024

January 9, 2024

~ Alan Dupont. Originally published in The Australian on 9 January, 2024.

Looking back on 2023, it’s hard to remember a more volatile year geopolitically. But in worrying echoes of the turbulent 1930s, there are signs that 2024 could be worse as the international order continues to unravel.

On November 1, 1936, Italy’s fascist dictator Benito Mussolini gave an impassioned speech to 250,000 fellow Italians. He declared a new friendship with Nazi Germany and a political realignment of the Italian state.

“This Berlin-Rome protocol is not a barrier,” Mussolini said. “It is rather an axis around which all European states animated by a desire for peace may collaborate on troubles.”
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How a modern polycrisis will innovate the future of business

November 22, 2023

Alan joined CEO of Business SA Andrew Kay on the ThirtyNiners Podcast, to discuss the current ploycrisis, and how developing a greater understanding of current and past geopolitical issues, can prepare South Australian businesses for incoming change, and the innovation required to evolve business strategies within this change.

Listen here…

Polycrisis as defined by Alan, is the recognition of multiple ​‘big system’ shaking events that are inevitable key macroeconomic risks facing businesses that inherently influence investment decisions.
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Israel fights terror with one arm tied behind its back

November 18, 2023

~ Alan Dupont. Originally published in the Australian

Should Hamas be free to ignore the rules of international humanitarian law while Israelis are constrained in defending themselves by the laws that are meant to protect them?

The outpouring of pro-Hamas and anti-Jewish sentiment in the Middle East is hardly a surprise given the longstanding animosity between Arab nations and Israel over the intertwined issues of a Palestinian state and Israel’s right to exist.
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Labor’s hard-won security credentials hang in the balance

October 30, 2023

~ Alan Dupont. Originally published in The Australian on 30 October, 2023.

As security challenges mount, it’s politically untenable and strategically irresponsible for the Albanese government to maintain defence spending at just 2 per cent of gross domestic product.

In the six months since Defence Minister Richard Marles declared that Australia faced the most challenging set of strategic circumstances since World War II, a “polycrisis” of cascading, interconnected threats has worsened with the addition of the Middle East to the lengthening list of global flashpoints. The start of Israel’s much anticipated ground offensive doesn’t augur well for a speedy settlement of one the world’s most intractable conflicts.
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Tehran makes its move in a long, deadly game

October 26, 2023

~ Johnathan Spyer. Originally published in The Australian on 26 October, 2023.

Israeli forces are completing the final stages of preparation before the start of a ground offensive into Gaza. The goal of this offensive, according to statements by senior Israeli officials, will be to put an end to 16 years of Hamas rule over this area.

But even as the world’s attention remains focused on the narrow and dusty strip to Israel’s southwest, a far larger and potentially more consequential mobilisation is taking place across the Middle East.

From Lebanon to Yemen, via Syria and Iraq, the Iran-led regional axis of which Hamas is only a minor element is moving into position.
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US and China wage cable war deep beneath the waves

July 27, 2023

~ Alan Dupont, The Australian

A few weeks after the explosions that ripped through the Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea last September, a Russian spy ship was tracked and intercepted by the Dutch coastguard near a wind farm in The Netherlands’ territorial waters. Although the jury is still out on who was responsible for the explosions, Western intelligence is in no doubt that Russia has been systematically mapping Europe’s extensive subsea infrastructure.
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Why the US alliance remains our best defence

July 26, 2023

~ Alan Dupont, The Australian

Former foreign minister Bob Carr asserts in the opinion pages of this newspaperthat Australia should not get involved in a conflict over Taiwan.He writes that “loose war talk over Taiwan” risks “sleepwalking”
the world towards“the first war between nuclear powers”. The answer is “more spirited diplomacy”, guard rails and off-ramps.

A Taiwan that resembles Hong Kong would be preferable to a nuclear war and ourdefence force wouldn’t last long in a fight with China. The Lowy Institute’s Sam Roggeveen recently wrote in Inquirer that acquiring nuclear-powered submarines and allowing US bombers to operate from the Tindalair base in the Northern Territory effectively integrates Tindal “into America’s war planning” and makes us a bigger target. This calls into question the security benefitsof the alliance.

These are serious critiques that deserve a response. Let’s start with a fact check.
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Renewable superpower: Critical minerals are Australia’s ‘must have’ sovereign capability

June 24, 2023

~ Alan Dupont, The Australian

Rarely does a sparsely populated middle power get to play a leading role on the global stage. But could the continent’s rich critical minerals endowment make Australia a renewable energy superpower and rules maker in a world beset by geopolitical rivalry and the intertwined challenges of energy transition and climate change?

There are many who think so, including the previous and current federal governments. The preface to the 2022 Critical Minerals Strategy declared the Morrison government “is taking action to grow Australia into a critical minerals powerhouse”.
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