Friday 24 Jan 2020 | 09:12 | SYDNEY
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Impressions of Howard's Iraq speech

The text of John Howard's Iraq ten-year retrospective, delivered to a packed Lowy Institute audience this evening, is on our website. My first impressions are below. I hope others will provide a more sympathetic reading, because despite Howard's assured delivery and measured arguments, I found

More on the avoidable Iraq insurgency

Michael Ware was a war correspondent for TIME Magazine and CNN. He spent six years in Iraq. fantasy – (noun) the faculty or activity of imagining things, esp things that are impossible or improbable.  A few of Kipling's words keep peeling like church bells in my head as I finally sit and

Further DPRK tests a show of weakness

If North Korea soon tests another missile or even, as some reports suggest, a fourth nuclear device, it will be a sign of regime weakness and clumsiness, not strength and cunning. Pyongyang may be able to stage the ultimate festivals of synchronised human movement, but under Kim Jong-un it is losing

DPRK: How effective are US missile defences?

Dr Stephan Fruehling is a Senior Lecturer in the Strategic and Defence Studies Program, ANU. Once again, North Korea's missile program has led the US to make major investments into its missile defence capabilities: a Theatre High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD; pictured) battery will be deployed

Syria's war: Extremist proving ground

The consequences of the Syrian civil war are going to be felt for years to come, even outside the immediate region. The longer the Syrian civil war has continued, the less appealing the armed opposition has become. A large part of the problem has been that, despite claims of a unified military

Reader ripostes: What's wrong with New Zealand?

Below, a response from Duncan Graham to Stephen Grenville's column of last Wednesday. But first, Dr Rick Boven writes: The big issue is that NZ's principal 'exports', agriculture and tourism, have comparative but not competitive advantage. Reform is necessary if you have a regulatory deficit but

DPRK: China pressure is the key

Responding to Sam Roggeveen's post and the question he poses to me: I think the best way to increase the costs to North Korea of its present course of action (and not only over the last weeks but years) is for affected parties to put pressure on the PRC for its support of North Korea through

Korea: The perverse logic of crisis

Malcolm Cook is quite right to say that Pyongyang's belligerence should not be rewarded with calls for compromise, and he's also right that shows of solidarity among South Korea and its allies are materially and symbolically useful. But should the allies try to 'increase the cost' to Pyongyang of

Reader riposte: The real Iraq question

US Army Major Matthew Cavanaugh writes: I think Rodger Shanahan is taking The Interpreter's distinguished readers on a bit of a wild-goose chase with the Iraq War violence figures. They're important, but frankly there will never be a solid set of numbers on which we can objectively agree are

Korean Peninsula: Holding firm

As  Rory Medcalf suggested in his contribution, the reactions of countries threatened by North Korea's latest nuclear-tipped bombast are playing out better than in previous episodes. This may be one of the reasons the twenty-something leader of North Korea is so quickly ratcheting up his threats

Korean War II? Maybe, but not likely

Are we headed for a new Korean War? Not just skirmishes, sabre-rattling or a torpedo in the night, but a full-blown armed conflict on the Korean Peninsula? You would be forgiven for thinking so if you've followed the drumbeat of headlines since the 13 February nuclear test or even last December

DPRK 'almost ready' to deploy ICBM?

Yesterday on Radio National, Foreign Minister Bob Carr said the following about North Korea: In terms of military intelligence, it appears the country is almost ready to deploy an intercontinental ballistic missile with a capacity of reaching the United States. I contacted Jeffrey Lewis,

North Korea's permanent war footing

When your country is always on a war footing, how do you know you are on the brink of war? When your political leadership and government propaganda constantly remind that your enemies are plotting against you, how do you know that times are more tense than normal? It's a question I asked often

The Iraq insurgency: A response to Michael Ware

Derek Woolner is a Visiting Fellow at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre ANU. Fascinating as Michael Ware's post is, it remains a fantasy. Its narrow focus on the Sunni insurgency ignores what the other 80% of Iraq's population was doing. These Shias and Kurds were just as militant and

Reader ripostes: Zombie institutions and Iraq

Below, Iraq commentary from Alison Broinowski and Richard Broinowski. But first, Tony Grey responds to Malcolm Cook's post on Zombie-like international institutions: According to Greg Sheridan the Commonwealth is a zombie-like international institution that has no future — but is it? Since

Burma's Muslims: A primer

Andrew Selth is a Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute. Given the spate of articles in the news media which connect the anti-Muslim riots in Burma last week with the sectarian violence in Rakhine (Arakan) State last year, it may be helpful to sketch out the multi-faceted nature of Burma'

What I said, and did not say, about Iraq violence

Major Gen (Retd) Jim Molan is author of Running the War in Iraq. Rodger Shanahan says he was left scratching his head over my pronouncements about the Iraq war. He should not have been, because in each case he vehemently attacks something I did not say. Rodger says I should have quoted figures

Why the Iraq war was right

Alexander Downer served as Australian foreign minister from 1996 to 2007. When we judge historical events, we tend to do so out of context. Yet to understand decisions and to judge them, you have to understand the context. Soon after I became foreign minister, the Secretary General of the UN

We went to Iraq for ANZUS

The views expressed here are the author's own and do not reflect those of the Department of Defence or the Australian Government. The 10th anniversary of the US-led war with Iraq has occasioned an outpouring of commentary, both here and in the US. I was not a witness to the Iraq War; I did not

Reader riposte: Iraq casualties reconsidered

US Army Major Matthew Cavanaugh is a course director and instructor at the US Military Academy at West Point: Just thought I would attempt a small contribution to your ongoing debate on the Iraq War. I served there twice (03-04 and 05-06) and consider it an important subject, although I had to

What if the Iraq war never happened?

Michael Ware was a war correspondent for TIME Magazine and CNN. He spent six years in Iraq. Not the invasion, that's something else. That was three weeks of aggressive warfare executed, by and large, with stunning effect, scattering a half-million-man army in its wake. The tenth anniversary

For Australia Network, it's never safe

You've got to feel sorry for Australia's public international television service, Australia Network. Launched by the Keating Government in 1994 under the name Australia Television, its short life has been blighted with funding cuts, death threats, name changes and a failed out-sourcing effort

Iraq: The real intelligence failure...

...was not the failure to uncover certain facts, but a failure to consider alternative hypotheses. Here's Bush Administration National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley (my emphasis): I speak from my particular vantage point of the White House, and I recognize that everything I say can be

The Iraq Syndrome

One of the oddest parties I have ever attended was held at 'Ground Zero', the courtyard in the heart of the Pentagon so named because it was a key target for the Soviet nuclear arsenal in the event that the Cold War suddenly turned hot. The military top brass, serenaded that afternoon by a country

Saddam a tyrant, but war was wrong

Tom Switzer is a Research Associate at the United States Studies Centre, University of Sydney, and editor of Spectator Australia. One can greatly admire Major General Molan, as I do, and still profoundly disagree with his views about the Iraq war and its aftermath. Australian forces played an

Whaling: Japan does conduct research

I thank Mr Watson for his response to my recent post. Unfortunately, space doesn't allow me to respond in kind to everything he has said, so in my final response I'll focus on the following: 1. I'll begin by affording Mr Watson the same qualifier he graciously afforded me. That is, he has a

Reader ripostes: TNI and Bob Carr

Below, a comment from Jorge Bechara on Rodger Shanahan's Bob Carr's Selective Indignation. But first, Andrew Johnson: I appreciate that Gary Hogan has expanded on his contribution and rightly points out that he is bringing his own experience into the understanding of Indonesia and its

Cambodia: Disputes, delays and death

Hard on the heels of fresh evidence of disputes about the judicial reach of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal (the Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia), has come the news of the death of Ieng Sary (pictured), the former foreign minister of the Democratic Kampuchean regime, or Pol Pol's

Reader riposte: 60 Minutes in Baghdad

Andrew Farran writes: The anecdotal observations by Major Gen (Retd) Jim Molan in his piece 60 Minutes goes to Baghdad cannot sugarcoat what by any reckoning was a disastrous, hugely costly and illegal war. Agreed that those who survived the war are better off than those who did not. Agreed

Burma's fractious polity: The price of democracy?

Andrew Selth is a Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute. The Rangoon street-scene photos below the fold are by the author. It has often been said that one of the greatest challenges faced by academics, journalists and others who write about international affairs is to describe complex

ASEAN's coming-of-age

Katherine Ellena is a Research Associate with the US Naval Postgraduate School and a former New Zealand diplomat. The views expressed here are hers alone. One of my early experiences as a diplomat was in a solitary perch behind my country's flag at an ASEAN security meeting. All delegations made

Reader ripostes: Iraq, 10 years on

Two reader responses to Sam Roggeveen's call for retrospectives on the Iraq war. Below, Daniel Woker. But first, Kien Choong: From memory, I was somewhat sympathetic to the war effort. I recall thinking there were two criteria: was there a moral case? And was there a pragmatic case? I thought

Reader riposte: TNI's new generation

Edmund McWilliams, a retired US Foreign Service Officer, writes: Gary Hogan's March 6 article, A promising New Generation of TNI leaders, presents a weak case for its essential contention that new leaders of the Indonesian military (TNI) are 'more sophisticated, worldly and conscious of the

Iraq War: It's been almost 10 years

Blogger and columnist Andrew Sullivan is marking the upcoming tenth anniversary of the Iraq War by reproducing some of his stridently pro-war blog posts of the time. Those of you who follow Sullivan's site will know that he has changed his mind completely about Iraq since those days, and he has

Asia: Big issues to be settled by the few

Sam is quite right to hear echoes of Hedley Bull in Peter Varghese's point about the role of rules and institutions in managing strategic relations. This does indeed make Varghese much more than a crude realist. But that does not mean Varghese is putting as much faith as Sam perhaps suggests in

A promising new generation of TNI leaders

Gary Hogan was the first foreigner to graduate from Indonesia's Institute of National Governance (Lemhannas) and was Australia's Defence Attaché to Indonesia from 2009 to 2012. The leaders now in the process of assuming command of Indonesia's defence forces (TNI) are a different kind of officer:

Joe Lieberman at the Lowy Institute

The Lowy Institute was honoured to host former US Senator and vice-presidential nominee Joseph Lieberman during his visit to Australia.  Following a boardroom lunch with political, business and media leaders, Senator Lieberman caught up with Michael Fullilove for a fascinating discussion on

Realism with a Hedley Bull twist

Prompted by Hugh White's latest Fairfax op-ed, I read DFAT Secretary Peter Varghese's recent AsiaLink speech today. There's a lot to think about in the speech, not least the fact that Varghese continues the recent trend among senior figures in Canberra to embrace the term 'Indo-Pacific' (take a