‘New’ Malaysia: Four Key Challenges in the near Term, March 2019.
In May 2018 Malaysia underwent its first regime change in its political
history. This saw the return of Mahathir Mohamad as prime minster, 15
years after his first tenure as prime minster from 1981 to 2003. As the
country heads towards the first anniversary of the Pakatan Harapan
(Alliance of Hope) government, it is imperative that the momentum for
political change is not stalled. This Analysis identifies four key areas
that the new administration must deal with in the next 12 months: the
Malay Agenda/Bumiputra Policy; the 1963 Malaysia Agreement (MA63);
political Islam; and a clear timetable for transition of power. These
issues are not only crucial to the stability of the PH administration,
but also for long-term institutional reforms...
Reinforcing Indonesia–Australia Defence Relations: The Case for Maritime
Recalibration, October 2018.
Indonesia and Australia are increasingly important strategic anchors in
the Indo-Pacific region, as recognised by the recently announced
Indonesia–Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. Yet
historically, bilateral defence ties between the two countries have been
volatile. This Analysis makes the case for a maritime recalibration of
Australia’s defence engagement activities with Indonesia to stabilise
defence relations. The process of recalibrating defence relations,
however, cannot proceed in a historical vacuum. The evolution of
Australia’s Defence Cooperation Program (DCP) with Indonesia since the
1960s is examined in order to understand how the relationship could be
Going Legit? the Foreign Policy of Vladimir Putin, September 2018.
Vladimir Putin’s re-election for a fourth presidential term in May 2018
has enshrined his position as the dominant personality of the
post-Soviet era. Over the next six years, there will be few major
changes to Russian foreign policy. There is broad consensus in Moscow
that this has been outstandingly successful, and that Russia has emerged
as a formidable power. But alongside an overall sense of confidence,
there is also caution and even anxiety. Putin recognises the importance
of tactical flexibility in an international environment that is
increasingly fluid and unpredictable. He is also aware that Russia’s
foreign policy gains are fragile and potentially reversible, and that
the country faces considerable obstacles in its quest to become a
rule-maker in a new, post-American world order...
Indonesia's Economy: Between Growth and Stability, August 2018.
Views of the Indonesian economy oscillate between optimism that it is
set to become the world’s next economic giant and fear of renewed
instability. Such views, however, get the story backwards. Indonesian
policymakers have consistently prioritised stability over growth. The
more concerning issue is that the economy is now heading into its fifth
consecutive year of subdued growth. Although growth is solid at about 5
per cent a year, it is inadequate in terms of the job creation and
economic modernisation required to meet Indonesia’s development needs
and ambitions. The problems are structural...
ASEAN–Australia Relations: The Suitable Status Quo, August 2018.
The first ASEAN–Australia Special Summit held in Sydney in March 2018
led some Australian commentators to advocate for Australia to join the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Even if Australian
membership could be made possible by changing the ASEAN Charter and
achieving a consensus among ASEAN member states in favour of membership,
it would not serve Australian interests in Southeast Asia as well as
Australia’s current dialogue partner relationship with ASEAN...
Unregulated Population Migration and Other Future Drivers of Instability
in the Pacific, July 2018.
Unregulated population migration within the Pacific has serious security
and stability implications for the region, including Australia and New
Zealand. Drivers of unregulated population migration include
non‑traditional security challenges such as changing environmental and
climatic conditions, disaster management, food and water scarcity, and
pandemics. Other drivers include man‑made stresses such as civil
conflict and fragile and unstable governments, growing interest from
external actors, and organised crime...
“Americanism, Not Globalism”: President Trump and the American Mission,
From the end of the Second World War, the dominant current of American
exceptionalism in the rhetoric and outlook of US presidents has been the
belief that the United States has a special mission to redeem the world
by extending liberty and democracy to all peoples. However, President
Donald Trump is an exception. He believes that in the post-Cold War era
successive administrations in Washington have pursued reckless visions
of regional or global hegemony — especially in the Middle East — leaving
the home front to languish and the nation open to ridicule...
Getting Singapore in Shape: Economic Challenges and How to Meet Them,
The transformation of the Singapore economy over the past five decades
has been impressive, producing rapid economic growth and delivering
extraordinary improvements in social welfare. During that period,
Singapore has evolved into a developed economy with multiple engines of
growth including globally competitive manufacturing clusters, one of the
world’s pre-eminent financial and transportation centres, and the
location for regional or global headquarters of major corporations...
Instability in the Pacific Islands: A Status Report, June 2018.
The Pacific Islands are highly diverse in political status, population,
development, migration prospects, and potential for instability.
Resilience is most under challenge in western Melanesia: Papua New
Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu are states-in-formation
characterised by extraordinary linguistic and group diversity giving
rise to weak consciousness of nationhood. Fiji is different: a weak
democracy but a strong state. Many observers see increasing tensions,
disputes, and violence over land in Pacific urban areas as people’s
traditional connections with rural villages diminish and landlessness
becomes more common...
Trump, Kim and the North Korean Nuclear Missile Melodrama, May 2018.
As the leaders of the United States and North Korea prepare to meet for
the first time, the North Korean nuclear issue sits delicately poised
between crisis and breakthrough. Under the Trump presidency, North
Korea’s scripted brand of hyperbole and brinksmanship is encountering
the political theatre of President Donald Trump. Any US president
confronted by a direct threat from North Korean nuclear missiles would
treat it as a first-order security challenge. Yet Donald Trump’s
“maximum pressure” campaign, and showmanship, have also elevated North
Korea’s regional melodrama in ways that potentially advantage Kim Jong-un.
Even if it fails to yield any tangible outcomes, meeting a serving US
president would still be hugely beneficial to Pyongyang as a means of
strengthening Kim’s domestic and international position, particularly in
respect of its chronic legitimacy deficit in the inter-Korean
Stronger Together: Safeguarding Australia’s Security Interests Through
Closer Pacific Ties, April 2018.
Australia views stability in the Pacific Islands region as a critical
aspect of its own national security. The 2016 Defence White Paper and
2017 Foreign Policy White Paper each place significant importance on the
region. Both white papers also hint at increasing geostrategic
competition in the region and a general sense of unease with growing
Chinese influence in the Pacific. Yet why the Pacific Islands region is
so important to Australia, and the extent to which China may be
challenging Australia’s influence with its neighbours, is often poorly
Charities and Terrorism: Lessons from the Syrian Crisis, March 2018.
Humanitarian disasters offer opportunities for terrorist groups to
infiltrate conflict areas under the guise of providing humanitarian
assistance, and to raise or send funds to these areas under the same
cover. In the case of Australia, terrorists and their supporters have at
times sought to portray themselves as humanitarian workers in order to
construct a legal defence. While most humanitarian groups operating in
Syria have legitimate aims, the civil war and rise of radical Islamist
groups that resulted has shown how easily the desire to assist those in
need can be manipulated by jihadists. In order to minimise the
likelihood of this sector being exploited in the future, countries such
as Australia should utilise regulatory and legislative frameworks to
limit the ability of individuals and groups to exploit humanitarian
assistance in high-risk areas.
Beyond Access: Making Indonesia’s Education System Work, February 2018.
Indonesia’s biggest challenge regarding education is no longer improving
access but improving quality. The Indonesian Government hopes to develop
a ‘world-class’ education system by 2025. However, numerous assessments
of the country’s education performance suggest that it has a long way to
go before it will achieve that goal. Many Indonesian teachers and
lecturers lack the required subject knowledge and pedagogical skills to
be effective educators; learning outcomes for students are poor; and
there is a disparity between the skills of graduates and the needs of
The Missing Middle: a Political Economy of Economic Restructuring in
Vietnam, December 2017.
Vietnam’s cautious and sequenced adoption of market institutions has
brought more than two decades of impressive economic performance, all
while leaving the country’s underlying political economy largely intact.
Notably, Vietnam has leveraged greater integration with the
international economic system, including through ascension to the World
Trade Organization in 2007 and the conclusion of a spate of free trade
agreements, as a means of reinforcing domestic change...
Clear Waters and Green Mountains: Will Xi Jinping Take the Lead on
Climate Change? November 2017.
President Trump’s announced withdrawal from the Paris Agreement shone a
light on China’s efforts to fight climate change, which are as much
about economics and technology as environmental responsibility.
Longer-term technological and economic change may lead China to
eventually show greater diplomatic ambition on climate. China cannot
assume an international leadership position on climate until it deepens
its domestic energy transition and greens its overseas investments.
US–Vietnam Relations Under President Trump, November 2017.
Under the Obama administration, the US–Vietnam relationship expanded,
especially in terms of security cooperation. China’s increasing
assertiveness in the South China Sea has helped to warm US–Vietnam
bilateral ties. The Trans-Pacific Partnership also offered Vietnam an
opportunity to escape China’s economic orbit. But just as the
hard-earned security rapprochement was starting to gain momentum, newly
elected US President Donald Trump announced the US withdrawal from the
Trans-Pacific Partnership. Soon after the rebalance to Asia was declared
officially dead. Neither was good news for Vietnam.
Despite initial anxiety over Trump’s reluctance to engage with Southeast
Asia, there have been some positive signs that the relationship will
continue to prosper. High-level meetings have helped to reassure Hanoi
that the Trump administration has an interest in deepening bilateral
relations. President Trump’s attendance at the APEC Summit in November
2017 in Da Nang and a scheduled side trip to Hanoi will be important
signals of how President Trump views what has become one of the United
States’ most important emerging relationship in Southeast Asia.
Autopilot: East Asia Policy Under Trump, October 2017.
Despite President Donald Trump’s promise to adopt an America First
foreign policy, US policies in East Asia — on issues from trade, to
diplomatic engagement, to the North Korean nuclear crisis — now more
closely resemble those of Trump’s predecessors than his campaign vision.
There are few advisers around President Trump with the necessary
expertise, experience, and inclination to implement an America First
foreign policy in Asia. Most principals hold conventional Republican
views, and lead institutions that have advanced conventional policies.
As a result, US policy in East Asia is on autopilot. The greatest risks
are not a deliberate crash, but that of a crisis, in which the autopilot
will disengage and President Trump will be required to fly the plane; or
that the United States will drift far off course before a qualified
pilot can retake control.
An Accident Waiting to Happen: Trump, Putin and the Us-Russia
Relationship, October 2017.
US–Russia relations are more problematic and acrimonious than at any
time since the end of the Cold War. Hopes in Moscow that Trump’s
election might lead to a rapprochement have evaporated, and even limited
cooperation appears a distant prospect. Trump’s anarchic tendencies will
further destabilise relations in a volatile international context. The
risk of direct confrontation between the United States and Russia has
Xi Jinping’s Moment, October 2017.
Xi Jinping is China’s most decisive, disciplined leader in a generation,
leading a country that is fast approaching military and economic parity
in Asia with the region’s long-standing dominant power, the United
States. Xi has swept aside potential rivals at home, re-established the
primacy of the Communist Party in all realms of politics and civil
society, and run the most far-reaching anti-corruption campaign in the
history of the People’s Republic. But on the economy, Xi has been a
cautious steward of the existing order...
Neither Friend nor Foe: Pakistan, the United States and the War in
Afghanistan, September 2017.
In a speech announcing his administration’s Afghanistan policy,
President Trump singled out Pakistan saying that the United States “can
no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist
organizations”. But the likelihood that increased US incentives or
threats will change Pakistan’s policy in Afghanistan are low. If
anything the goals of the United States and Pakistan in Afghanistan have
moved further apart. The military is the key
player in Pakistan’s policy in Afghanistan...
Managing Economic Risk in Asia: a Strategy for Australia, September 2017.
Twenty years on from the Asian Financial Crisis it is timely to assess
how the region is placed to manage and mitigate risks of economic
crisis, and to consider Australia’s role in this. This Analysis frames
the policy options Australia faces through imagining a potential future
scenario where a major ASEAN economy faces vulnerabilities as a result
of volatile capital flows, exposing gaps in current risk management and
crisis mitigation arrangements...
A Global Compact on Refugees: The Role of Australia, August 2017.
The UN Global Compact on Refugees provides a unique opportunity to make
far-reaching improvements to the international response to refugees.
Australia has a vested interest to improve the refugee regime in
particular to institute a more effective and equitable regional response
to asylum seekers and refugees in Southeast Asia and reduce pressure on
its own asylum system...
Thailand's Triple Threat, July 2017.
King Vajiralongkorn’s elevation to the Chakri throne comes after decades
of whispers that he is an unsuitable king for Thailand. Despite these
concerns, the military leadership has swung behind their new monarch.
But the potential for future turbulence under the government led by
General Prayuth Chan-ocha is high. The fluid situation in Bangkok is
complicated by the potential escalation and expansion of separatist
violence in southern Thailand. The question is how will Thailand respond
to the triple threat of King Vajiralongkorn’s ascension, the
entrenchment of military rule, and the potential escalation of
separatist violence emanating from the southern provinces...
Can Russia Afford to Be a Great Power? June 2017.
Russia wants to be recognised as a great power, and has sufficient
economic power and potential to encourage it to behave accordingly.
However, under its current leadership it recognises that there are
economic limits to its behaviour. There is a consistent commitment to
budget discipline and a measured allocation of resources among key
claimants — the social and development sectors, as well as defence and
security. That limits the allocation of resources to power projection,
particularly of the hard variety, even if such allocation is at a level
high enough to cause considerable discomfort in the West...
Resource Nationalism in Post-Boom Indonesia: the New Normal? April 2017.
During the global commodity boom, Indonesia emerged as an exemplar of
resource nationalism. The government introduced a range of nationalist
policies in the mining sector, ranging from export bans to forced
foreign divestment. Once commodity booms end, however, analysts
generally predict that resource-rich states such as Indonesia will
abandon the nationalist position with a view to attracting foreign
investment. Indeed, historically, economic nationalism in Indonesia has
peaked during the good times of a resources boom, and faded during an
economic downturn. But the situation in Indonesia today seems to
challenge these market-cycle theories.
This Analysis examines the durability of contemporary resource
nationalism in Indonesia. It argues that structural features of the
post-Suharto political economy have sustained the nationalist policy
trajectory that emerged during the boom...
Understanding China’s Belt and Road Initiative, March 2017.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative (also known as One Belt, One Road
(OBOR)) is one of President Xi’s most ambitious foreign and economic
policies. It aims to strengthen Beijing’s economic leadership through a
vast program of infrastructure building throughout China’s neighbouring
regions. Many foreign policy analysts view this initiative largely
geopolitical lens, seeing it as Beijing’s attempt to gain political
over its neighbours. There is no doubt that is part of Beijing’s
calculation. However, this Analysis argues that some of the key drivers
behind OBOR are largely motivated by China’s pressing economic
One of the overriding objectives of OBOR is to address China’s
deepening regional disparity as the country’s economy modernises...
Future Proofing Australia–New Zealand Defence Relations, December 2016.
Australia and New Zealand should be natural military partners. But
differences in their strategic outlooks and military priorities have
sometimes placed limits on the extent of that partnership. Both
countries published Defence White Papers in 2016 which suggest greater
convergence in their priorities that should enhance their military
cooperation in coming years. This includes a shared concern for the
future of the rules-based order in Asia and for stability in the
Pacific. Consistent with these concerns both countries are investing
heavily in the development of maritime capabilities. In particular, some
of New Zealand’s leading priorities, including the enhancement of its
maritime surveillance capacity, will allow for even deeper collaboration
in this sphere...
The Development Benefits of Expanding Pacific Access to Australia’s
Labour Market, December 2016.
A stable and prosperous Pacific Islands region is essential for
Australia’s security and foreign policy. Australia is investing
significant amounts of aid in the development of the region with very
mixed results. The economic, demographic, governance, and climatic
challenges the Pacific faces will make sustained development of the
region even more difficult in the years to come. It is for this reason
that Prime Minister Turnbull has committed Australia to a ‘step-change’
in Australia’s engagement with the Pacific built on fresh ideas...
Indonesia in the South China Sea: Going It Alone, December 2016.
Under President Jokowi, Indonesia’s approach to the South China Sea
disputes has moved from that of an active player in efforts to find a
peaceful solution to the broader disputes, to one primarily focused on
protecting its own interests around the Natuna Islands while not
antagonising China. The shift in the Indonesian position has been driven
by an increase in Chinese incursions around the Natunas, Jokowi’s lack
of interest in regional diplomacy, as well as his goal of attracting
Chinese investment for his signature infrastructure projects...
How to Be Exceptional: Australia in the Slowing Global Economy, November
Australia is gliding into its 26th year of uninterrupted economic
expansion at the same time that the United States and the United Kingdom
are wrestling with political rebellions against the very forces that
have stoked Australia’s long boom. Open trade, high migration, and
unimpeded economic globalisation are under political challenge in major
advanced economies. In those same economies, respected economists are
predicting a gloomier future. Former US Treasury Secretary Lawrence
Summers has declared ours to be an “Age of Secular Stagnation”. US
economist Robert Gordon says the best is over for the US economy and
others like it...
Economic Migration and Australia in the 21st Century, October 2016.
This Analysis assesses the benefits and challenges of contemporary
economic immigration in Australia. While the policy arrangements
underpinning economic immigration have undergone significant changes in
recent decades, Australian governments have managed this transition
successfully. Increased intakes of skilled immigrants have assisted
structural transitions in Australia’s economy, delivered tangible
benefits in addressing challenges related to population, and produced
positive effects in relation to fiscal impact, productivity, and
immigrants’ employment and labour market outcomes...
The 2016 Presidential Campaign and the Crisis of Us Foreign Policy,
The 2016 US presidential election is the most consequential election for
international order since the Second World War. America’s status as a
liberal superpower is on the ballot. To understand Donald Trump’s
foreign policy, we must distinguish between his three core beliefs that
he has held for many decades and rarely if ever waivered from, the
central themes of his campaign, and other issues. His core beliefs are
opposition to America’s alliance arrangements, opposition to free trade,
and support for authoritarianism, particularly in Russia. If he is
elected president and governs in a manner consistent with these beliefs,
the United States will be transformed from the leader of a liberal
international order into a rogue superpower that withdraws from its
international commitments, undermines the open global economy, and
partners with Putin’s Russia...
Foreign Fighters in Syria and Iraq: the Day After, September 2016.
In the last five years, Western counterterrorism agencies have focused
largely on radicalised individuals going to Syria and Iraq. Now and in
the immediate future they will need to focus more on those coming out.
The prospective collapse of Islamic State’s ‘caliphate’ is likely to
increase the number of foreign fighters leaving its territory. More
generally, the foreign fighter fallout from the years of conflict in
Syria and Iraq will echo that of previous conflicts such as Afghanistan
and Bosnia. The fighters who survive and escape will be just as
ideologically motivated as those that emerged from Afghanistan and
Bosnia, but will be more operationally experienced, have more lethal
skills and be better networked than their predecessors.In the last five
years, Western counterterrorism agencies have focused largely on
radicalised individuals going to Syria and Iraq...
Reforming the International Protection Regime: Responsibilities, Roles
and Policy Options for Australia, August 2016.
The international protection regime is failing states and refugees
alike. It may be too soon to reform its fundamentals, but the regime
needs to be implemented more effectively, and straight away. It is in
Australia’s national interest to drive reform, in order to prepare for
future asylum flows, take advantage of the success of Operation
Sovereign Borders, and fulfil its long-standing commitment to helping
people in need. At the domestic level, Australia should set standards
for responding fairly but effectively to asylum seekers, and prepare for
environmental migration. At the regional level Australia needs to
establish leadership credentials to promote protecting people closer to
home. At the global level Australia should champion new approaches to
refugees and migration, challenging an increasingly complacent regime...
Making the Most of the G20, July 2016.
At a time when multilateralism is in decline and many countries are
turning inward, the G20 is needed. The premier forum for international
economic cooperation has design flaws, but provides political leadership
on global economic matters such as international tax, financial
regulation and international financial institutions. In an uncertain
world, it is the best means that the international community has to
coordinate responses to global economic and financial crises. The G20
can also play an important role in countering growing anti-globalisation
Principled Engagement: Rebuilding Defence Ties With Fiji, July 2016.
The geopolitics of the Pacific Islands region is changing, including the
emergence of the new Pacific regionalism. The traditional regional
security orthodoxy is also changing. The Russian arms deal to Fiji has
underlined the extent to which Australia and New Zealand face
competition for access and influence from external players in their
relations with Fiji. Since the normalisation of relations in 2014,
Australia and New Zealand have pursued a soft approach to engagement.
Australia’s and New Zealand’s response to Cyclone Winston offered an
opportunity to re-engage with Fiji’s military and test the potential for
increased defence diplomacy. It is time for Australia and New Zealand to
undertake a principled rebuilding of defence ties with Fiji.
Turning Back? Philippine Security Policy under Duterte, June 2016.
Rodrigo Duterte’s resounding victory in the presidential elections in
May has shaken up the political landscape of the Philippines. His
administration will be vastly different from that of his predecessor,
President Benigno Aquino. Security policy under Duterte will likely be
very different in focus and approach. Three key policies that involve
significant foreign country support will change substantially if the
Duterte administration follows through on his campaign promises: the
Muslim Mindanao peace process; military modernisation; and maritime
rights disputes with China...
The Lion and the Kangaroo: Australia's Strategic Partnership With
Singapore, May 2016.
There is an enduring, two-way strategic underpinning to Australia’s
interactions with Singapore, going beyond the recently agreed
Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. Canberra is enhancing its economic
access to Southeast Asia in return for granting Singapore greater access
to military training areas in Australia. Yet Singapore’s stock is also
rising, for Australia, in the context of Southeast Asia’s growing
The stark fact is that Australia needs Southeast Asia more than it needs
Australia. As a fellow ‘odd man out’ in its region, Singapore may be the
exception to this rule because of its defence interest in Australia as a
source of strategic depth. The city state can also add strategic depth
for Australia. Capabilities aside, the most important attributes to this
partnership are non-material: a shared mindset and a willingness to
commit for the long term...
The Future of Papua New Guinea: Old Challenges for New Leaders, March
With its vast resources base and young population, the outlook for Papua
New Guinea should be positive, but negative trends — in law and order,
health, and education — do not augur well for the future.
PNG’s next generation of leaders, under pressure to improve both service
delivery and the quality of national institutions, should tackle a
limited number of problems first to unblock barriers to progress.
Australia, which has enduring interests in PNG’s success, should be
creative in supporting emerging leaders, through government, private
sector, and civil society links, to help them make a real difference.
Islamic State Propaganda and the Mainstream Media, February 2016.
Islamic State’s use of social media to disseminate its propaganda is
generally well understood. What receives far less attention is how the
group also uses the Western mainstream media to spread its key messages.
Islamic State tailors the production and release of its material to the
needs of mainstream media outlets and to the media cycle. The danger
involved in sending Western journalists to Syria and Iraq has made the
media more reliant on material produced by Islamic State. The group’s
propaganda is often unwittingly used by the mainstream media in ways
that serve Islamic State’s objectives...
Russia's Asian Rebalance, December 2015. Russia’s ambitious decision
to ‘rebalance’ its strategic orientation towards Asia is going
relatively unnoticed, yet has the potential to generate significant
regional effects. It is engaging in a large-scale military modernisation
project with the intention of projecting power into Asia. Its
relationship with China seems to have deepened considerably. And it is
looking to consolidate new and existing partnerships in Australia’s
regional area of interest in the Indo-Pacific. At the same time, Russia
is seeking to tap its considerable energy and resource reserves in the
Far East to become a major Asian energy supplier...
Chinese Worldviews and China's Foreign Policy, November 2015.
China’s growing assertiveness, particularly in the South China Sea, has
resulted in greater scrutiny of Chinese intentions and led to a more
intense debate about how the United States and its allies should
respond. For some, the motives for China’s international behaviour are
simply those of any emerging — or in China’s case, re-emerging — power.
However, to gain a more nuanced understanding of what is motivating
Chinese behaviour it is necessary to examine the narratives that
underpin Chinese worldviews and China’s foreign policy behaviour...
Looking for Leadership in the Arab Middle East, October 2015.
The Middle East is in an unprecedented state of flux. It is beset by a
number of major security crises, from North Africa to the Arabian
Peninsula. The Obama administration has signalled that it will limit
America’s role in addressing these crises and that it expects its
regional allies to do more of the heavy lifting themselves. Sunni states
fear that Tehran is capitalising on both regional unrest and
Washington’s recalibration of its policy in the Middle East to expand
its influence and they fear Tehran’s position will further improve once
sanctions on Iran are lifted...
Congress and Asia-Pacific Policy: Dysfunctionand Neglect, September 2015.
While partisan gridlock in Congress has hindered the execution of US
foreign policy overall, it has disproportionately affected US policy
towards the Asia Pacific because the region has had few champions in
either house in recent years.
To the extent individual members have focused on the region in recent
years, it has often been in pursuit of narrow objectives focused on a
single country or issue area, without reference to a broader strategy.
Though there are signs of increased interest in the region among more
junior members of the current Congress, the nature of that interest and
whether it can be sustained will depend on how the Obama administration
and its partners in the region engage them.
US Global Economic Leadership: Responding to a Rising China, August 2015.
The rise of the Chinese economy means that China and the United States
must share a role, although not necessarily an equal one, in shaping
global economic rules. The United States is struggling to accommodate
China’s desire for a greater say in the way that the global economy is
run, as reflected in the US approach to the Asian Infrastructure
Investment Bank, Trans-Pacific Partnership and IMF governance reform.
Unless the United States shares economic governance with China, it will
undermine US economic leadership and have a negative impact on the
management of the global economy.
Trade Protectionism in Indonesia: Bad Times and Bad Policy, July 2015.
Difficult economic circumstances have historically led Indonesian
leaders to enact economic reforms, leading some to argue that bad times
have resulted in good policy. But as Indonesian growth has slowed over
the past year, the government has departed from this pattern, and is
instead ratcheting up protectionist measures in the form of a variety of
non-tariff barriers. These measures are likely to drive up prices for
Indonesian consumers at a time when their purchasing power is declining,
and undermine the competitiveness and productivity of Indonesian firms...
Australia and the 1951 Refugee Convention, April 2015.
In this Analysis, Khalid Koser argues that the implementation of the
1951 Refugee Convention is failing the interests of both states and
refugees. Koser argues that Australia is well-placed to lead an
international effort for reform...
Australian Foreign Fighters: Risks and Responses, April 2015.
In this Analysis, Andrew Zammit argues that Australians fighting
in Iraq and Syria pose a threat to Australia’s security and examines the
options for responding to that threat, including through non-coercive
Australia and Climate Change Negotiations: At the Table, or on the Menu?
In this Analysis, Howard Bamsey and Kath Rowley argue that any failure
to pay proper, high-level attention to the current international climate
change negotiations raises several risks to the national interest.
Strong, constructive engagement in those negotiations by Australia would
Full Spectrum Defence: Re-Thinking the Fundamentals of Australian
Defence Strategy, March 2015.
Analysis, Alan Dupont argues that successive Australian governments have
failed to define an effective national defence strategy. Australia needs
a defence strategy that counters threats across multiple domains, is
based on more diverse regional defence relationships, and is underpinned
Iranian Foreign Policy under Rouhani, February 2015.
In this Lowy Institute Analysis Rodger Shanahan examines changes in
Iranian foreign policy under President Rouhani. He argues that while the
Iranian President has changed the tone of Iranian foreign policy,
changing the substance will prove much more difficult...
Jordan's Youth after the Arab Spring, February 2015.
Despite the lack of a full-scale uprising, protests in Jordan and unrest
across the Arab world convinced Jordan’s King Abdullah to announce a
series of political reforms. Yet while the result of these reforms has
been underwhelming, popular and youth pressure for change since November
2012 has declined. In particular, youth activists in Jordan have stepped
back from public demonstrations demanding broad socio-political change.
Observing the disastrous aftermath of the Arab Spring in Syria and Egypt
in particular, Jordanian youth are caught between a desire for political
reform and a fear of instability...
India's New Asia-Pacific Strategy: Modi Acts East, December 2014.
The ‘Look East’ policy has been a major part of India’s international
engagement since its economic opening in 1991. Having received
bipartisan support from successive Indian governments, the policy has
evolved from economic and diplomatic engagement with Southeast Asia to
broader security and defence ties across the whole Asia-Pacific. In
recent years, India has signalled a willingness to play a greater
strategic role in the region, deepening links with such partners as
Japan, Vietnam, and Australia. The policy has been driven in part by
India’s strategy of external balancing against China, but has also been
motivated by India’s desire for a greater global role and its rise as a
China, the G20 and Global Economic Governance, November 2014.
At the closing of the 2014 G20 Brisbane Summit, the presidency of the
2016 G20 was awarded to China. This is the first time China will chair
the world’s ‘premier forum for economic cooperation’. Yet the G20 is
just one way that China, now the world’s largest economy on purchasing
power parity terms, may seek to shape global economic governance. China
is both seeking changes to the ‘traditional’ global economic governance
model, centred upon the Bretton Woods Institutions, and experimenting
with new processes such as the BRICS forum and the Asian Infrastructure
Defence Challenges 2035: Securing Australia's Lifelines, November 2014.
As the Australian government prepares a new white paper to guide the
country’s defence planning to 2035, the burden of strategic risk on
Australia’s national interests is increasing. Those interests are
extensive and face a widening range of risks, from coercion or conflict
in Asia to resurgent terrorism and aggression in other parts of the
globe. Australia’s region is becoming more central to global power
balances and strategic tensions. Power balances are changing with
China’s rise, and this will encourage risk-taking...
China's Foreign Policy in Afghanistan, October 2014.
On 31 December 2014 NATO will hand over its final security
responsibilities to local Afghan forces. The handover will raise new
questions for Chinese policy in Afghanistan. On the one hand, Beijing
wants a stable Afghanistan. It does not want the country to become
either a haven for Uyghur militancy, or for instability to spread
through the region. On the other hand, Beijing is reluctant to become
too deeply involved in Afghanistan, conscious of the West’s difficult
experience over the last decade and fearful of attracting the attention
of international terrorist groups...
Indonesian Foreign Policy under President Jokowi, October 2014.
New Indonesian president Joko Widodo’s inexperience in foreign affairs
and his focus on domestic issues will see him delegate decisions on
foreign and security policy to his key advisers. This will result in
increased competition between the institutions those advisers lead. On
issues where a consensus does not emerge, this competition will make it
more difficult for Indonesian foreign policy-makers to define a clear
Global Value Chains, Border Management and Australian Trade, September
In this Lowy Institute Analysis, Nicholas Humphries examines how
Australian Customs can increase Australia’s trade competitiveness at a
time when goods and services are increasingly produced across borders in
so- called ‘global value chains’ (GVC). This Analysis was written as a
part of the Australian Customs and Border Protection Services Fellowship
at the Lowy Institute...
Violence against Women in PNG: How Men Are Getting Away with Murder,
of Papua New Guinea (PNG) endure some of the most extreme levels of
violence in the world. They continue to be attacked with impunity
despite their government’s promises of justice. The situation has been
described as a humanitarian disaster yet still does not receive the
broader public attention it deserves, inside or outside PNG. It is also
a significant obstacle to PNG’s development and prosperity...
Responding to Indo-Pacific Rivalry: Australia, India and Middle Power
Coalitions, August 2014.
rising assertiveness and uncertainties about America’s response to it
are causing middle powers in Indo-Pacific Asia to look beyond
traditional approaches to security. India, Australia, Japan and some
ASEAN countries are expanding security cooperation with each other. The
next step should be the creation of ‘middle power coalitions’: informal
arrangements where regional players cooperate with one another on
strategic issues, working in self-selecting groups that do not include
China or the United States...
China's Climate Change Policies: Actors and Drivers, July 2014.
China, the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, has a poor reputation
on environmental issues and was seen to be obstructive at the Copenhagen
climate change talks in 2009. Yet paradoxically, China has invested
significant resources into policies which reduce greenhouse gas
emissions. These policies have been driven primarily by domestic
considerations – energy demand, smog, and economic restructuring – but
international image has also been a factor. The public outcry in recent
years against air pollution has given urgency to the need for a cleaner
Australia in the UN Security Council, June 2014.
In this Lowy Institute Analysis, Richard Gowan reviews Australia’s time
as a non-permanent member of the Security Council. Gowan argues that
while it has not changed the world, Australia has acquitted itself well,
bringing extra rigour and professionalism to the Council’s debates. It
has carved out a niche on the issue of humanitarian access in the Syrian
conflict, and solidified its reputation as a good international citizen
and a serious country...
Australia's Costly Investment in Solomon Islands: The Lessons of RAMSI.
In this Analysis Lowy Institute Melanesia Program Director, Jenny
Hayward-Jones, argues that Australia’s massive expenditure of $2.6
billion on the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI)
was a high price to pay for restoring stability in a small country. She
argues that although there were many laudable achievements, the key
lesson of RAMSI for Australia is the importance of knowing how much to
spend and when to leave...
Southern Thailand: from Conflict to Negotiations? April 2014.
In this Analysis, University of Leeds professor Duncan McCargo argues
that the recent Malaysian-backed Southern Thai peace initiative has now
run into some serious problems. He argues that despite its various
shortcomings the initiative is still worthy of support, since it has
gained far more traction that any previous attempts to address the
decade-long insurgency. Thailand needs to maintain focus on the southern
conflict despite its current preoccupation with a national-level
political crisis that threatens to topple the government of Yingluck
Next-gen Jihad in the Middle East, March 2014.
In this Analysis Lowy
Institute Research Director, Anthony Bubalo, argues that the current
turmoil in the Middle East is incubating a new generation of jihadists.
In many respects the current conditions in the region are worse than
those that saw the emergence of al-Qaeda. He argues that Australia will
need to sustain its counter terrorism efforts in the years to come, but
also keep a weather eye on developments in the broader Middle East...
More Talk than Walk: Indonesia as a Foreign Policy Actor, February 2014
Japan Is Back: Unbundling Abe's Grand Strategy, December 2013
China's Economic Statecraft: Turning Wealth into Power, November 2013
Fixing Australia's Incredible Defence Policy, October 2013
Syria: How the West Can Play a Weak Hand Better, September 2013
Judicious Ambition: International Policy Priorities for the New
Australian Government, September 2013
Syria: How the West Can Play a Weak Hand Better, September 2013
Saving Multilateralism: The G20, the WTO, and Global Trade, June 2013
Strengthening the Core of the G20: Clearer Objectives, Better
Communication, Greater Transparency and Accountability, April 2013
China's Foreign Policy Dilemma, February 2013
Environmental Change and Migration: Implications for Australia, December
Digital Islands: How the Pacific's ICT Revolution is Transforming the
Region, November 2012
The Audacity of Reasonableness: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, US Foreign
Policy and Australia, October 2012
Pirates and Privateers: Managing the Indian Ocean's Private Security
Boom, September 2012
Anaemic Ascent: Why China's Currency Is Far From Going Global, August
China’s currency is on the rise. Buoyed by the economy’s outperformance
and global trade impact, policy steps over the past few years have
thrust the renminbi onto the global stage. Is the renminbi going to
climb to become a major reserve currency? Not so fast.
Despite impressive progress, obstacles loom. The path to reserve
currency status necessitates a near complete retooling of China’s
economic model: lifting capital controls, floating the exchange rate and
liberalising financial markets. This involves facing down powerful
vested interests and a willingness to expose the economy to unknown
stresses and external volatilities. This is not going to happen quickly.
So why bother? The central bank, it appears, may be pursuing ‘reform by
Trojan horse’. By pinning strategic value to internationalisation,
reformers are able to achieve buy-in from top leaders in pushing their
own agenda. The central bank does not want internationalisation per se,
but the liberalisation that moving towards internationalisation brings.
It allows, for example, authorities to push towards a floating currency,
without appearing to cave to US political pressure in doing so.
Nonetheless, given rising domestic pushback and a cacophony of competing
voices, strong policy support for the necessary continued reform may be
lacking. Combine this with the unpalatable economic consequences of
further internationalisation, and it appears that breathless commentary
about the rise of the renminbi is misplaced. The renminbi’s ascent looks
Egypt's Islamist President: What Lies Ahead? July 2012
Revolution at State: The Spread of Ediplomacy, March 2012
This report is the first time the rapidly growing ediplomacy effort at
the US State Department has been mapped. It reveals State now employs
over 150 full-time ediplomacy personnel working in 25 different nodes at
Headquarters. More than 900 people use ediplomacy at US missions abroad.
The report – the result of a four-month research project in Washington
DC and extensive access to State – finds ediplomacy is being used in
eight different areas, not just for public diplomacy, and suggests a
conceptual framework for understanding this effort.
For other foreign ministries, including Australia’s, there is some
catching up to do.
A Key Domino? Indonesia's Death Penalty Politics, March 2012
Dr David McRae
Indonesia is at a crossroads regarding capital punishment, as competing
forces advocate for greater use of the death penalty and for its
abolition. In 'A Key Domino? Indonesia's Death Penalty Politics', Lowy
Institute Research Fellow Dr Dave McRae examines the stance on the death
penalty of Australia's key regional neighbour, the prospects for
abolition in Indonesia, and the policy implications for Australia.
The Dangers of Denial: Nuclear Weapons in China-India Relations, October
Fiona Cunningham, Rory Medcalf
In this Lowy Institute Analysis, Research Associate Fiona Cunningham and
International Security Program Director Rory Medcalf warn of growing
security risks in the relationship between Asia’s nuclear-armed rising
powers China and India. An asymmetry of capabilities and threat
perceptions is helping to drive these dangers. The authors call for a
strategy stability dialogue to begin between China and India, embedded
in a relationship of greater mutual respect, to ensure that possible
future confrontations do not involve nuclear threats or misjudgments.
This publication is supported by the Lowy Institute’s partnership with
the Nuclear Security Project of the Nuclear Threat Initiative,
Improving Access to Climate Financing for the Pacific Islands, July 2011
In a new Lowy Institute Analysis, Nic Maclellan discusses the challenges
and opportunities for Pacific Island governments to access adaptation
funding, to respond to the adverse effects of climate change. The United
Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) commits
developed countries to provide climate financing to developing nations,
to address climate impacts on food security, water supply, agriculture
and public health. But despite recent commitments of 'fast start'
climate funding from donors, Pacific Island governments face significant
obstacles in accessing resources to adapt to the adverse effects of
climate change. The Analysis outlines innovative approaches that could
strengthen Pacific access to climate finance and improve outcomes for
vulnerable communities in our region.
Chinese Perspectives on Investing in Australia, June 2011
China is not only Australia's largest trading partner, but is also an
increasingly important supplier of capital. Indeed, Hong Kong aside,
Australia is now China's top foreign direct investment destination. Yet
despite repeated official Australian statements welcoming Chinese funds,
attitudes on both sides of the investment relationship can be strained.
Recent Lowy Institute polls have found that Australian public opinion is
quite cool towards Chinese investment. At the same time, Chinese
investors and officials argue that Australia discriminates against
Chinese money, particularly in the resources sector.
In a new Lowy Institute Analysis, John Larum draws on a series of
interviews with Chinese investors and their advisors to look at their
attitude towards investing in Australia and to examine some of the
reasons behind China's sometimes negative perception of the Australian
Dangerous Luxuries: How the Quest for High-End Capabilities Leaves the
ADF (Australian Defence Force) Vulnerable to Mission Failure and More
Dependent on the United States, June 2011
Colonel John Angevine
In a new Lowy Institute Analysis, Brookings Institution Federal
Executive Fellow John Angevine writes that Australia’s current defence
strategy does not correspond with the realities of Australia’s security
situation. The plan for the modernisation of the Australian Defence
Force (ADF) is focused on expensive maritime and air capabilities for
conflicts that the ADF couldn’t fight alone. Consequently, the ADF is
exposed with an atrophying ground force and expeditionary capability for
the low-level regional operations in which it will be most likely to
The ANZUS alliance is emerging as the cornerstone alliance for stability
in the Asia-Pacific region but the US must understand the implications
Australian defence planning will have on the future alliance.
The Brookings Institution has published a version of this paper at:
India's New World: Civil Society in the Making of Foreign Policy, May
Ashok Malik and Rory Medcalf
India’s new world: civil society in the making of foreign policy
In this Lowy Institute Analysis, leading Indian columnist Ashok Malik
and Lowy Institute program director Rory Medcalf argue that Indian
foreign policy is being shaped increasingly by three dynamic aspects of
civil society: business, the Indian diaspora and the aggressive Indian
news media. Indian diplomacy needs to adapt to these new realities. And
foreign nations need to understand them to engage with this rising
The Quiet Achiever: Australia-Japan Security Relations, January 2011
Dr Malcolm Cook Dr Thomas Wilkins
Over the last decade, Australia-Japan defence cooperation has grown
significantly, with Australia now Japan's second-closest security
partner. The regional, alliance and national forces driving this
cooperation are all intensifying, suggesting this positive trend will
continue. In a new Analysis, Tom Wilkins from the University of Sydney
and Malcolm Cook analyse the origins of this greater cooperation and its
future outlook. This paper was made possible by the generous funding of
the Australia-Japan Foundation.
Responding to Boat Arrivals in Australia: Time for a Reality Check,
Dr Khalid Koser
Boat arrivals have been the focus for a flurry of policy-making in 2010.
This Analysis by Lowy Institute Non-Resident Fellow Dr Khalid Koser asks
why and whether it has been worth it. It argues that Australia is not
undergoing an asylum crisis of the sort that warrants such attention and
policy reform. None of the policies currently being proposed address the
root causes of the problem, and are therefore likely only to be
short-term fixes. They may not even succeed in their narrow aim of
reducing boat arrivals to Australia. They also carry significant
potential costs, both financial and political. The paper recommends that
the Government avoids enacting more border enforcement, and instead pays
more attention to the other elements of a comprehensive approach to the
challenge of boat arrivals.
The Stakeholder Spectrum: China and the United Nations, December 2010
Dr Michael Fullilove
In the past quarter-century, China has become a far more effective
player in, and contributor to, the United Nations. Yet limits to the
intimacy of the relationship are also becoming clear. In his new paper,
Michael Fullilove describes how China conducts itself in New York and
the positions it takes on issues such as peacekeeping, Iran and North
Korea. He lays out these approaches on what he calls a ‘stakeholder
spectrum’. China is not yet acting as a ‘responsible stakeholder’,
argues Dr Fullilove, however the West should be careful what it wishes
for. China’s version of ‘stepping up’ at the UN will not necessarily be
the same as the West’s. China’s leaders would probably say that the
responsibilities – and prerogatives – of a stakeholder are open to
Health System Strengthening in Papua New Guinea: Exploring the Role of
Demand-responsive Mechanisms, November 2010
Dr Katherine Lepani Julienne McKay
This Lowy Institute Analysis by Julienne McKay and Dr Katherine Lepani,
exploring the role of demand-responsive mechanisms in health services
delivery in Papua New Guinea, accompanies the Policy Brief, 'Revitalising
Papua New Guinea's health system', available here.
What Makes a Leader? Mapping Leadership in Our Region, October 2010
Fergus Hanson Alex Oliver (prev. Duchen)
Does Australia understand the leaders of our region? Is our $1.4bn in
scholarship funding reaching the right people? There is good reason to
believe that leaders matter, and that they are particularly important in
developing countries. This new Lowy Institute Analysis presents the
results of a major empirical study of nearly 100 senior leaders in
Timor-Leste and Samoa, from the President and Prime Minister down. The
study yielded intriguing insights into the pathways leaders have taken
to power, and the role Australia did (or did not) play in their lives.
The findings have important implications for future Australian policy
development in the areas of scholarship, special visits and alumni
programs, and the potential for fruitful collaboration between
government, the private and non-government sectors in building greater
understanding and stronger relationships with the leadership in our
Nuclear Weapons and American Strategy in the Age of Obama, September
Professor Hugh White
In this Lowy Institute Analysis, Visiting
Fellow Hugh White critically examines the 2010 US Nuclear Posture Review
(NPR). Professor White argues that – contrary to what has been widely
assumed – the NPR does not significantly reduce the role of nuclear
weapons in America’s strategic posture. In particular, it does not
properly address the central question of how to prevent nuclear
strategic issues destabilising the US-China relationship. This
publication was produced under the Lowy Institute’s partnership with the
Nuclear Security Project (www.nuclearsecurityproject.org).
Into the Dragon's Den: Australian Investment into China, August 2010
While Chinese foreign investment into
Australia has been the subject of a great deal of controversy,
investment flows moving in the other direction have received much less
attention. In a new Lowy Institute Analysis, John Larum reviews
Australian foreign direct investment into China and discusses the
related policy implications.
The paper reviews the Australia-China bilateral economic relationship,
looks at the drivers of Australian FDI to China, examines China’s inward
FDI policies, and reviews the potential role of a successful
Australia-China Free Trade Agreement.
Sweet and Sour: Australian Public Attitudes Towards China, August 2010
Foreign policy has hardly featured in the
2010 election campaign. That's a shame. Australia faces an increasingly
uncertain international environment. One of the most pressing challenges
facing the next government will be putting in place a durable policy
framework to guide Australia's increasingly complex relationship with a
In this paper Andrew Shearer analyses changing public attitudes to China
and the implications for policy.
Reviving Dead Aid: Making International Development Assistance Work,
program has been in the news lately, with calls for a wider public
debate on the role of overseas aid. But public debate is being shaped by
starkly contradictory arguments. An educated layperson who has just
finished reading Jeffrey Sachs on The End of Poverty, for example, might
think that aid can provide an important solution to the world’s
problems. One who has just completed William Easterly’s The White Man's
Burden or Dambisa Moyo’s Dead Aid, on the other hand, is likely to have
quite different views on the utility of their country’s aid program. In
a new Lowy Institute Analysis, Joel Negin provides a general
introduction to the increasingly complex arena of international
development assistance. Joel places the challenges of development
assistance into a global context and provides an overview of global and
Australian aid trends.
Al-Qa'ida, tribes and instability in Yemen, November 2009
Dr Sarah Phillips Dr
In a new Lowy Institute Analysis, Sarah
Phillips and Rodger Shanahan discuss the re-emergence of a significant
al-Qa’ida presence in Yemen. The authors focus on al-Qa’ida’s efforts to
build relations with local Yemeni tribes, something that will be central
to the movement’s prospects of cementing a long-term presence in the
country. The authors point to the importance of undermining any
potential nexus between al-Qaida and the tribes as critical to Western
counter-terrorism efforts in the region.
Comprehending Copenhagen: a guide to the international climate change
negotiations, November 2009
Fergus Green Dr Greg
From 7-18 December, the world’s attention
will be focused on Copenhagen, where representatives of 192 nations will
gather in an attempt to strike a new international agreement to respond
to the urgent challenge of global climate change. In this Lowy Institute
Analysis, Dr Greg Picker and Fergus Green aim to demystify the
negotiations and deepen public understanding of this important process.
From the expansion of international carbon markets to proposals for
curbing tropical deforestation, the paper elucidates the key issues to
be negotiated in Copenhagen and outlines the positions of the various
countries and groups to each issue. The paper also explains the
Conference’s processes, weighs the likely outcomes and considers its
potential implications for Australia and beyond.
Linking Growth and Poverty Reduction in Papua New Guinea, September 2009
In a new Lowy Institute Analysis, Laurence
Chandy examines the relationship between economic growth and poverty in
Papua New Guinea. Using a new analytical framework, he explains why the
'poverty dividend' from growth is often small and what can be done to
These questions have special resonance today. The PNG economy has
succeeded in unlocking growth in recent years, delivering the longest
uninterrupted spell of economic expansion since independence. Further
growth, at a much higher rate, may now be around the corner with the
highly anticipated LNG project. Yet despite this good news, the country
faces formidable development challenges and remains off track to meet
any of the Millennium Development Goals.
Wicked Weapons: North Asia's Nuclear Tangle, September 2009
The United States faces major challenges in
engaging China, Japan and the Korean Peninsula in its quest for nuclear
disarmament. In this new Lowy Institute Analysis, International Security
Program Director Rory Medcalf explores the ‘wicked’ nature of the
region's nuclear insecurity: how fixing one part of the problem risks
aggravating others. He recommends ways forward, involving mutual and
coordinated concessions among the United States, Japan and China, and
taking account of the region's strategic realities.
This publication is supported by the Lowy Institute’s partnership with
the Nuclear Security Project of the Nuclear Threat Initiative:
www.nuclearsecurityproject.org. This project builds on the 2007 Wall
Street Journal article 'A World Free of Nuclear Weapons' by George
Shultz, William Perry, Henry Kissinger and Sam Nunn.
How Defence Can Contribute to Australia's National Security Strategy,
As the Federal Government prepares to
develop the successor document to its inaugural 2008 National Security
Statement, this new Lowy Institute Analysis considers what needs to be
done to improve the oft-quoted whole-of-government approach to national
security, and where Government can draw inspiration for crafting that
Against the backdrop provided by the National Security Statement, the
ADF mission must be recognised as supporting a broader spectrum of
operations and activities and an ability to transition rapidly between
The paper considers these implications, and how Defence can actively
support more effective interactions across the national security effort,
drawing on Defence and the ADF’s resident experience in interoperability
and deliberate planning.
The Global Financial Crisis and International Migration: Implications
for Australia, July 2009
Dr Khalid Koser
In a new Lowy Institute Analysis, Khalid
Koser, Director of the New Threats and Human Security Programme at the
Geneva Centre for Security Policy, examines the impact of the global
financial crisis on international migration, the challenges to Australia
of these effects, and how national policy should most appropriately
Between Defiance and Détente: Iran's 2009 Presidential Election and Its
Impact on foreign Policy, June 2009
In a new Lowy Institute Analysis, 'Between
defiance and détente: Iran’s 2009 presidential election and its impact
on foreign policy', Iranian researcher Mahmoud Alinejad looks ahead to
the Iranian presidential election on 12 June. He assesses the four
candidates’ prospects and analyses the potential impact of the election
on key aspects of Iran’s foreign policy, in particular the nuclear issue
and relations with the United States.
Indonesia's 2009 Elections: Populism, Dynasties and the Consolidation of
the Party System, May 2009
Dr Marcus Mietzner
Indonesia's parliamentary elections in April
underlined just how far democracy has come in the world's fourth most
populous country and Australia's closest Asian neighbour. The campaign
itself and the ballot box results also provide some clear signals about
the future shape and health of Indonesia's democratic system.
In a new Lowy Institute Analysis, Dr Marcus Mietzner from the Australian
National University clearly analyses the election results and what they
can tell us about Indonesia's democratic future. The report goes well
beyond predictions about the upcoming presidential election and looks
forward to the post-Yudhoyono era of Indonesian politics.
'Indonesia's 2009 elections: populism, dynasties and the consolidation
of the party system' can be downloaded here.
Nobody's Client: The Reawakening of Iraqi Sovereignty, March 2009
In a new Lowy Institute Analysis, Lydia
Khalil explores the growing confidence of Iraq's government under Prime
Minister Nouri al Maliki.
In 'Nobody's client: the reawakening of Iraqi sovereignty', Khalil
describes the major shift that has taken place in Iraq's relationship
with the United States and how today Baghdad is pursuing its own
interests with much less regard for Washington's desires.
Lydia Khalil is a non-resident fellow in the West Asia Program at the
Lowy Institute. She was recently appointed as an international affairs
fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Prior to this Lydia was a
counterterrorism analyst for the New York Police Department and a policy
advisor for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad.
Putting the Genie Back in the Bottle: Ruling Regimes and the New Media
in the Arab World, December 2008
In a new Lowy Institute Analysis Australian
journalist David Hardaker examines the growth and impact of the 'new
media' - primarily the internet and satellite television - in the Arab
world. He explores how autocratic regimes face a difficult challenge of
reining in new electronic outlets for dissent while at the same time
ensuring that their countries benefit from the global digital economy.
David Hardaker is a former award-winning Middle East correspondent for
the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. He speaks Arabic and has lived
and worked in the Middle East for a number of years.
Ambition: The Emerging Foreign Policy of the Rudd Government, December
In a new Lowy Institute Analysis entitled
'Ambition: the emerging foreign policy of the Rudd Government', Lowy
Institute Executive Director Allan Gyngell explores what we have learned
about the Rudd Government's emerging foreign policy, about the Prime
Minister's own contributions to it and what questions it raises for the
Australia, East Asia and the Current Financial Crisis, November 2008
Dr Stephen Grenville AO
In a new Analysis, Dr Stephen Grenville
argues that as the international crisis begins to impinge more strongly
on Asia, one of the potential protective responses – the Chiang Mai
Initiative – needs some tweaking to make it politically acceptable for
countries which need it. Australia might be able to offer some low-key
support here and could use the opportunity to participate more fully.
Hope or Glory? The Presidential Election, U.S. Foreign Policy and
Australia, October 2008
Dr Michael Fullilove
In a new Lowy Institute Analysis, Dr Michael
Fullilove, Program Director Global Issues and a Visiting Fellow at the
Brookings Institution in Washington, DC, examines what is at stake in US
foreign policy in the contest between Senators Barack Obama and John
McCain for the presidency of the United States.
Bad Moon Not Rising: The Myth of the Shi'a Crescent, September 2008
Dr Rodger Shanahan
Accusations that a Shi'a crescent is
emerging in the Arab world following the rise of a Shi'a government in
Iraq and the actions of Hizbullah in Lebanon, have provoked much
discussion and highlighted fears of Iran's co-religionists gaining
political power at the expense of the traditional Sunni leadership. In
this new Analysis, Dr Rodger Shanahan examines the status of the Shi'a
communities in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and argues that, rather
than an emerging Shi'a crescent in the Gulf, there are simply differing
national groups struggling to varying degrees to achieve political
Restraining Nuclear Arms in the Asian Century: An Agenda for Australia,
In this Lowy Institute Analysis,
International Security Program Director Rory Medcalf provides background
and detail for his proposals for renewed Australian activism on nuclear
non-proliferation and disarmament issues, introduced in the Lowy
Institute Policy Brief 'Nuclear security: what else can Australia do?'
The Dragon Looks South, June 2008
China refuses to release figures on the size
of its aid program. In this new Lowy Institute Analysis, Fergus Hanson
takes a region-wide look at the scale of China’s aid program, revealing
a dramatic increase in aid pledges since 2005. It looks at the key
drivers of China’s engagement, the reactions its aid program has
sparked, and concludes with some suggestions for improving the way
Australia and other donors engage with China in the Pacific.
Nuclear Energy in Southeast Asia: Implications for Australia and
Non-proliferation, April 2008
This Lowy Institute Analysis by regional
energy specialist Andrew Symon explores the reasons and prospects for
increased interest in nuclear power in Southeast Asia, as well as
implications for Australia and nuclear weapons non-proliferation. A key
issue is whether countries will embark on sensitive segments of the fuel
cycle. Approaches to help allay such concerns include international fuel
supply mechanisms and the possibility of a co-operative approach to
nuclear power development within ASEAN. Australia, as a major uranium
supplier, regional neighbhour and supporter of non-proliferation, will
want to ensure that nuclear power in Southeast Asia develops safely and
in a context of co-operation.
Beijing 2008 Olympic Games: One Year to Go, October 2007
In a new Lowy Institute Analysis, John Bowan
looks at the progress of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. On the technical
side all looks good. On the political and public relations side, there
are a number of growing challenges. These span from Taiwan's
participation in the Torch Relay, to environmental concerns to growing
criticism of Chinese foreign and domestic policies by international NGOs
like Amnesty International. Next year's Olympics will put Beijing and
China on the world stage The question is: where will the spotlight
John Bowan has worked as a consultant on Beijing's successful bid for
the Games and was Manager of International Relations for the Sydney
Games from 1997 to 2000. In 2004, John wrote a longer piece on the
international politics of the Beijing Games for the Lowy Institute.
Second Thoughts on Globalisation: An Update, September 2007
Earlier this year in Lowy Institute Paper
18, 'Second thoughts on globalisation', Mark Thirlwell looked at how the
globalisation-powered rise of China and India was disconcerting some in
the developed world, and prompting a re-evaluation of the costs and
benefits of globalisation. This Lowy Institute Analysis looks at how
this process has evolved since the earlier Paper was written.
Ten Years After the Asian Crisis: Is the IMF Ready for 'Next Time'?
Dr Stephen Grenville AO
In a new Lowy Institute Analysis, Dr Stephen
Grenville looks back at the decade-old Asian financial crisis in search
of insights on current vulnerabilities. Dr Grenville argues that while
there is little chance of any repeat of 1997-98 any time soon, at some
point in the future the core vulnerabilities of the crisis period will
re-emerge: volatile capital flows and fragile financial markets.
Moreover, if the future does hold another sudden stop capital reversal,
the IMF has neither the resources nor the procedures to act as an
effective lender of last resort. Worse, the Fund lost credibility in the
region during the crisis, which means that countries will be slow and
reluctant to draw on its assistance.
The European Union and China: A Rude Awakening, April 2007
In this new Lowy Institute Analysis, Roberto
Menotti of the Aspen Institute Italia examines the European Union's
policy responses to the rise of China.
The EU is a newcomer to East Asian affairs, but its stake in the region
is growing rapidly in light of China's economic clout. The European
approach to China's rise differs profoundly from that of the US, due to
geopolitical realities and a general belief in the benign effects of
economic interdependence. Roberto Menotti argues, however, that the EU
has so far failed to pursue a coherent common policy, as seen in the
debate in 2004-2005 over Europe's decision to revoke the arms ban on
China. He suggests that one problem of the European approach has been
the fuzzy distinction between multilateralism (an international
methodology) and multipolarity (a particular type of international
Roberto Menotti is Senior Research Fellow in the International Programs
at Aspen Institute Italia in Rome.
After Doha: II. Is Globalisation History? October 2006
In this Lowy Institute Analysis Mark
Thirlwell asks whether the collapse of the Doha Round of trade
negotiations marks the beginning of the end for globalisation. Several
observers have warned of the dangers of a resurgent protectionism,
drawing in particular on the historical example provided by the collapse
of an earlier globalisation episode. A review of globalisation,
nineteenth century style, suggests that such concerns are overdone.
Nevertheless, the historical record confirms that globalisation does
create significant adjustment pressures, highlighting the importance of
a fully functioning multilateral trading system. This paper is a
companion piece to After Doha: I. The search for Plan B.
After Doha: I. The Search for Plan B, September 2006
In a new Lowy Institute Analysis, Mark
Thirlwell argues that while the suspension of negotiations in late July
may or may not mark the end of the Doha Round, it will almost certainly
mark a watershed for the international trading system. With Doha in the
deep freeze and the future of the multilateral system in question, the
search is now on for a Plan B for international trade. The most likely
Plan B on offer is a deepening of the world economy's recent infatuation
with preferential trade agreements. In the long term, however, the best
alternative would look to reform of the multilateral system.
or Lumbering Elephant? Assessing the Performance, Prospects and Problems
of India's Development Model, August 2006
After years of economic underperformance,
the Indian economic model has been transformed, and with it, India's
growth performance. So much so that the last two years have brought both
a widespread rethink on India’s prospects and a wave of foreign
portfolio investment. This new-found optimism received something of a
setback earlier this year, when there were sharp falls in Indian stocks
markets. In a new paper that updates the analysis in his Lowy Paper
'India: the next economic giant', Mark Thirlwell takes another look at
India's development model, evaluating both its strengths and its
weaknesses and highlighting the idiosyncratic nature of India’s
Koizumi's Legacy: Japan's New Politics, August 2006
Dr Malcolm Cook
In a new Analysis, Dr Malcolm Cook evaluates
Prime Minister Koizumi's legacy for Japanese politics and international
policy. Koizumi has rebuilt the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, moved
the Japanese political system significantly to the right and
reprioritised Japan's international policy. He has been Japan's most
powerful, controversial and successful post-war prime minister.
Fuelling Confrontation: Iran, the US and the Oil Weapon, May 2006
Anthony Bubalo Dr Michael Fullilove Mark
In this new Lowy Institute Analysis, Anthony
Bubalo, Michael Fullilove and Mark Thirlwell explore the prospect and
implications of Iran's using oil as a weapon in its current
confrontation with the international community over the nuclear issue.
The Testament of Solomons: RAMSI and International State-building, March
Dr Michael Fullilove
In this new Analysis, Dr Michael Fullilove
analyses the innovative Australian-led state-building exercise, the
Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI). The mission has
made significant progress since its deployment in 2003, securing law and
order, arresting the country’s perilous decline and placing it on a new
trajectory. The next important tests for the mission will be the
national election in Solomon Islands on 5 April and the formation of a
new government in the following weeks.
RAMSI’s design is unique: preventive; permissive; regional in nature;
nationally led; supported by the United Nations; non-sovereign; police
led; and light in touch. This Analysis examines these characteristics
and the implications for international state-building, and surveys
RAMSI’s future challenges.
Global Macroeconomic Consequences of Pandemic Influenza, February 2006
Professor Warwick McKibbin and
Dr Alexandra Sidorenko
In a major new Analysis, Professor Warwick
McKibbin and Dr Alexandra Sidorenko explore the implications of a
pandemic influenza outbreak on the global economy.
Their paper examines a range of scenarios
(mild, moderate, severe and ultra) that span the historical experience
of influenza pandemics of the twentieth century.
Their analysis finds that a pandemic
would be expected to lead to: a fall in the labour force; an increase in
the cost of doing business; a shift in consumer preferences; and a
re-evaluation of country risk.
The paper finds that even a mild pandemic
has significant consequences for global output, costing the world 1.4
million lives and approximately US$330 billion in lost output.
Multilateral Approaches to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle,
In the latest Lowy Institute Issues
Brief, "Multilateral Approaches to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle", former
Australian Governor on the Board of the International Atomic Energy
Agency, Lance Joseph, addresses nuclear proliferation dangers of today
and how these might be addressed. It would help, for example, if
proliferation-sensitive technologies — enrichment and reprocessing —
were put under multilateral control.
Australia, with its strong
non-proliferation credentials, might take a leading role with a
coalition of countries to build support for such an approach.
Angels and Dragons: Asia, the UN, reform and the next
Secretary-General, July 2005
Dr Michael Fullilove
This Issues Brief assesses the
relationship between the United Nations and Asia – both the UN's
activities in Asia and the behaviour of Asian states at the UN. Dr
Michael Fullilove, Program Director for Global Issues, reviews the
current stances of the three major regional powers — China, India, and
Japan — towards the UN, previews the September World Summit on UN
reform, and examines the prospects for an Asian Secretary-General, which
has the potential to thicken Asia's interactions with the UN.
Buying Air Warfare Destroyers: a Strategic
Decision, June 2005
Professor Hugh White
The Government has chosen a builder for
three new Air Warfare Destroyers [AWDs] before it has properly
considered whether we really need to buy them, and how best to buy them
if we do. At $6 billion it's the biggest defence equipment decision in
fifteen years, so it needs more careful consideration. In fact AWDs are
far from our highest defence priority; buying them would be a mistake,
and squeeze more important Air and Army capabilities. And Defence's
complex new acquisition process raises real risks that, if it goes
ahead, the project will run into some of the same problems that have
dogged the Collins submarines. Ministers need to look carefully before
signing off on it.
Building a Democratic Palestine: an Australian
Contribution to Legal and Institutional Development in
the Palestinian Territories, May 2005
Legal and institutional reform in the
Palestinian territories is a critical and often overlooked component of
the effort to reach a peaceful settlement between Israel and the
Palestinians. This Issues Brief by Anthony Bubalo explores the
importance of such reforms in the context of current efforts to end
violence against Israel and provide Palestinians with greater confidence
in their economic and political future. It argues that Australia should
join other donors in contributing what assistance it can to help
Palestinians strengthen the rule of law and build strong public
Sensible Climate Policy, February 2005
Professor Warwick McKibbin
After almost 13 years of negotiations the
Kyoto Protocol will finally enter into force on February 16, 2005. In a
new Lowy Institute Issues Brief, Professorial Fellow Warwick McKibbin,
one of the world's leading authorities on climate change policy, argues
that Kyoto is likely to achieve very little in the quest to address the
problem of climate change. Even worse, the Kyoto Protocol is so badly
constructed that it has set back the quest for sensible and effective
policy responses to climate change by at least a decade. The basic
tenets on which the agreement is built are flawed, leaving it worryingly
vulnerable to failure. In this Issues Brief Professor McKibbin outlines
the requirements for a sustainable and realistic global response to
climate change, describes the progress made so far in developing policy,
outlines the flaws in the current Kyoto approach, and presents a more
India's Energy Needs, December 2004
India's exploding demand for energy is
confronting New Delhi with two important dilemmas. India's internal
dilemma is that to satisfy its energy needs, it must balance reform and
expansion of its energy sector with the need to avoid alienating key
domestic constituencies. The external dilemma derives from India's
increasing reliance on imported energy against the backdrop of a hostile
Nick Hordern analyses the consequences of India's exploding demand for
energy and looks at some of the implications for Australia.
Energy Insecurity: China,
India and Middle East Oil, December 2004
Anthony Bubalo Mark Thirlwell
Anthony Bubalo and Mark Thirlwell examine
China and India's growing thirst for imported oil, particularly from the
Middle East, and consider some of the possible longer term strategic
implications associated with this trend in a new Lowy Institute Issues
The 'Khmer Islam' Community in Cambodia and Its Foreign
Patrons, November 2004
Dr Milton Osborne
Dr Milton Osborne, Australia's
pre-eminent Cambodia expert, in a new Lowy Institute Issues Brief, looks
at the revival of Cambodia's Islamic minority in the post-Pol Pot
period. After providing a detailed historical background of Khmer Islam
and its social marginalisation, the report analyses the largely
unreported role regional and Middle Eastern groups and Islamist
doctrines are playing in this proposal. Cambodia's revival, as with the
rest of Southeast Asia, is a complex mix of entrenched local factors and
new regional and Middle Eastern influences.
Beyond Arafat, November 2004
Anthony Bubalo, research fellow, argues
that Yasser Arafat's death could have longer term positive implications
for both Palestinian political reform and efforts to resolve the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but in the short term the impact will be
more limited. Arafat's immediate successors will not be able to end the
current chaos in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Nor are the fundamentals
of the current impasse with Israel likely to be overcome.
Bush is from Mars, Kerry is from Mars too, October 2004
Dr Michael Fullilove
Although there are significant
differences in style and substance between George Bush and John Kerry,
the similarities in foreign policy terms are more striking than is
From Australia's perspective, the fundamentals of our relationship with
the US are excellent and the alliance will endure regardless of
However, argues Michael Fullilove in this Issues Brief, the temperature
of the relationship will necessarily be affected by the result.
Transpacific Trade Imbalances: Causes and Cures,
Professor Warwick McKibbin
This Issues Brief by Professor Warwick
McKibbin and others explores the causes of the transpacific trade
imbalances using an empirical global model. It also evaluates the impact
of various policies to reduce these imbalances.
We find the fundamental cause of trade imbalance since 1997 is changes
in saving-investment gaps, attributed to the surge of the U.S. fiscal
deficits and the decline of East Asia's private investment after the
1997 financial crisis.
An appreciation of East Asia exchange rates (including by China) alone
will have an impact on economic activity in the appreciating economies,
but does little to change the underlying savings and investment patterns
and therefore has insignificant impact on the transpacific trade
The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games: China in the limelight,
John Bowan, a former senior Australian
foreign policy official, and consultant to Beijing's successful Olympic
bid, examines how Beijing and China won the 2008 Games and what this
will mean for China and its position in the world.
The 2008 Olympics will open China to unprecedented international
scrutiny, with consequences that will range far beyond sport.
Israel's withdrawal from Gaza: a role for Australia? May
This paper explores the possibility that
further Australian military forces will be sought for the Middle East,
in this case for a peacekeeping force in the Gaza Strip.
Despite the defeat of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan for a
unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in a Likud Party referendum, the Israeli
public will continue to press for a withdrawal, and, in all likelihood,
it will occur. But the withdrawal process itself raises a number of
questions and it is likely that international assistance, in the form of
a small peacekeeping force, will be required. If this occurs, Australia
may be sought out as one of only a few countries whose contribution
would be acceptable to Israel and the Palestinians.
Election Watch. Japan's Party System: Shifting the
Political Axis, Releasing Economic Reform, February 2004
Dr Malcolm Cook
This Issues Brief examines how changes to
the Japanese political system, reflected in the November 9 election
results, offer new hope for structural economic reforms that would
The Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement: A
Preliminary Assessment, February 2004
On 8 February Australian Trade Minister
Mark Vaile concluded an agreed text for an Australia-United States Free
Trade Agreement. This Issues Brief provides a preliminary assessment of
the agreement, based on the limited information now available.
The International Economy in 2003: Managing Economic
Imbalances in An Integrated World, January 2004
This Issues Brief suggests that a key
theme over the past year has been the management of external imbalances
in a world economy that is not only increasingly integrated but which is
simultaneously undergoing a sustained geographic shift in the
distribution of economic weight towards Asia.
Revaluing the Renminbi: A Case of 'Deja Vu All Over
Again?' November 2003
There are strong parallels between
today’s US-China tensions over trade and US-Japan economic relations in