ASPI suggests
13 Sep 2013|

Last week’s Australian election  has raised the question of how the new Abbott government will manage our foreign and security policies. Here we have Michael Fullilove and Hugh White in the New York Times and Foreign Affairs respectively, talking about Australia’s balancing act between the US and China. The Economist has this analysis, and James Brown has a more Defence-focused look at Australia after the election here. Lastly on this topic, ASPI’s Peter Jennings has this video on the opportunities and challenges for the new government (with videos here on the same subject from Andrew Davies and Anthony Bergin):

The Syria crisis grinds onwards (for Obama as well as Syria). John Kerry made this apparently off-the-cuff remark when asked how Assad could avoid military action by the US. Russia then leapt on the proposal, leading to a week of slightly half-baked political wrangling. Highlights included this speech from Obama, described by the Economist as ‘a little confusing’, and Vladimir Putin’s oped in the New York Times.

Today’s Australian reports that an Australian reportedly blew himself up in a suicide attack in the east of the country. A number of Australians believed to be fighting alongside Syrian rebels. Writing on foreign fighters in December, ASPI’s Tobias Feakin noted:

Those [foreign fighters] who gain frontline combat experience in Syria and the ideological extremes and motivations that they bring back with them, are likely to concern Australian authorities. These skills and motivations create a potent magnetism to others interested in the violent jihadist message.

Sticking with Syria, ASPI’s Lydia Khalil has an op-ed also in The Australian arguing that Australia’s approach so far has be right but there’s more to be done including:

Australia should, as a leader in the Security Council and on humanitarian principles, do what it can to assist this desperate humanitarian situation and bolster the norm against chemical weapons use through robust diplomacy to shepherd through a UN resolution and inspections regime that would ensure the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile.

Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa has declared that his country will reject the new Prime Minister’s plan to disburse millions of dollars to Indonesian villagers in exchange for information on people smugglers. More specifically, he said, ‘We will reject his policy on asylum seekers and any other policy that harms the spirit of partnership.’

Indonesia’s democracy is in need of reform, writes Vikram Nehru. The Carnegie Endowment Senior Associate notes a number of factors including, ‘New rules [that] have reduced the number of political parties, many of which have become vehicles to achieve the personal ambitions of a powerful political elite.’


Canberra: Once a year the Australian War Memorial throws open the doors of its Treloar Technology Centre (its conservation facility and storage hub) to the public. You can see its collection of aircraft, rockets, vehicles, tanks, artillery, and more this Sunday, 15 September from 10am to 3pm. Details and program available here.

Update: Former British Army officer and author Emile Simpson will discuss the fusion of military and political activity in 21st century combat at ANU’s Hedley Bull Centre on Wednesday 18 September at 5.30pm. Register here.

Working in national security? The Kokoda Foundation has another Future Strategic Leaders’ Program Networking Event at the Waldorf Hotel, Civic, on Thursday 26 September at 5.30pm. Register here.

Sydney: In a region dominated by China, does Japan matter? Hosted by AIIA NSW, Dr Peter Sutton will talk on the subject at Glover Cottages on Tuesday 17 September at 6pm. Details here.

Brisbane: Hosted by RUSI Qld, Group Captain Geof Harland, Officer Commanding No 82 Wing, will speak on the Super Hornet at Victoria Barracks on Wednesday 18 September at 1pm. Details and registration here.

Hobart: Australian High Commissioner in Islamabad, HE Peter Heyward, will give an update on recent developments in Pakistan. Hosted by AIIA Tasmania, the talk is at the Lord Mayor’s Court Room, Town Hall, on Tuesday 17 September at 5.30pm. RSVP required.

Perth: Major General Simone Wilkie, Commander of the Australian Defence College, will present on leading defence training and education in order to build defence capability. Hosted by RUSI WA, the event is at the Army Museum of WA, East Fremantle on Thursday 26 September at 7.30pm. Flyer here (PDF).