Published daily by the Lowy Institute

Robert Ayson

Robert Ayson is Professor of Strategic Studies at Victoria University of Wellington where he works in association with the Centre for Strategic Studies. He has held academic positions with the Australian National University, Massey University and the University of Waikato, and official positions in Wellington with the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee and the External (now National) Assessments Bureau. He has written books on two of the twentieth century's leading thinkers in strategic studies and international relations, Hedley Bull and Thomas Schelling, and is a frequent media commentator on Asia-Pacific security, nuclear issues and New Zealand and Australian defence policy. Robert is also Honorary Professor at the New Zealand Defence Force Command and Staff College and Adjunct Professor with the ANU's Strategic and Defence Studies Centre.


Articles by Robert Ayson (20)

  • NZ Defence White Paper: A maritime focus with a difference

    Anyone contemplating the Turnbull Government's ship-building plans could be forgiven for thinking that an ambitious maritime strategy was the central feature of Australia's recent Defence White Paper. But to justify twelve post-Collins Class submarines, the future frigates, several offshore patrol vessels, and the Air Warfare Destroyers, among others, a compelling narrative needed to be found in the strategic environment.
  • Turnbull in New Zealand: Is he meeting his political role model?

    John Key: the popular New Zealand PM has led his party to three election victories. (Phil Walter/Getty.) In choosing the destination for his inaugural overseas trip as prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull might be doing a Narendra Modi. When India's leader was elected, speculation blossomed as to whether he might travel first to China or the US. He chose the safe option and went to neighbouring Bhutan.
  • New Zealand's flagging debate

    With New Zealanders now focused on questions of vital national interest, there's little room for what has become an insipid discussion on the future of the national flag. When he kicked off that debate early last year, Prime Minister John Key may have thought he could benefit politically from a literal example of the famous rally-round-the flag effect. But he's now reduced to dismissing a recent survey which indicates as few as one in four Kiwis really want a change.
  • Divided and confused: New Zealand's Iraq deployment

    Australia's embattled prime minister got less, and more, than he bargained for during his quick visit to New Zealand over the weekend. Australia may have lost the World Cup cricket fixture to a rising New Zealand team, but Tony Abbott got a rare vote of confidence in his leadership style from his Kiwi counterpart John Key.
  • New Zealand's UN Security Council debut: Peace in the Middle East

    One of Australia's last acts on the UN Security Council was to vote against a resolution being brought by the Palestinian Authority. Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel and John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand, 2009 Washington regarded this piece of paper as so one-sided against Israel that it would have wielded its veto had the necessary nine members said yes.
  • Trade focus disguises Abbott course-correction on Japan relationship

    At first glance, there seems to be plenty of evidence from Tony Abbott's Tokyo visit that, for the Australian leader, the Japan relationship can't get close enough. The much-vaunted FTA was signed. There was an audience with the Emperor (pictured). There was a state welcome with Japanese and Australian flags standing side by side.
  • It's not size or ambition holding Australia back

    Stephen Grenville has provided an instant answer to Michael Fullilove's recent quest for a larger Australia: the addition of close neighbour New Zealand. This is annexation season further afield, but I am confident the Crimea option is not what Grenville has in mind. Instead, his argument potentially answers a perennial Australian question: New Zealand, just what are you good for? But the answer is unlikely to be much extra size or heft.
  • Did Australia really 'scuttle' New Zealand's nuclear-weapons diplomacy?

    The nuclear-free antennae worn by many New Zealanders have been bristling at news of a counter-campaign by Australian diplomats at the UN. At issue is a statement on the humanitarian grounds for disarmament which was presented in November 2013 at the General Assembly's First Committee by New Zealand's Disarmament Ambassador Dell Higgie.