On the subject of...

Defence

14
Jun
2018

More on Assessing Summit, ANU Further Exposed

In yesterday’s Commentary I suggested that the immediate media responses to the Summit missed two important points – Kim is no long in a closed shell and Trump has not been given adequate praise for bringing him out. The media has improved today but remains too equivocal about the prospects because very little agreed substance has emerged so far. We are left, therefore, with judgements about whether Kim and Trump will do what they say they will –and to what extent. The most readable assessment has been made by Cameron Stewart, who is posted in the US by The Australian and is well-equipped to assess Trump and other US leaders: nobody is equipped to assess Kim, of course. I am using Stewart’s article to draw attention to the main points of concern below (see Stewart on Summit).
13
Jun
2018

Summit, Debate on West Continues

The media response to the Summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un has been to welcome it but express reservations because there is little of substance to date. According to The Australian, “the intentions are clear but the details are missing”; Greg Sheridan asked whether the summiteers “laboured mightily to bring forth a mouse”; and The Age asked whether it is “a game changer”. But while these are legitimate questions, as are some of the other comments (see North Korea Must not be Allowed to Deceive Again and Trump, Kim Exchange Praise at Singapore Summit), they miss the two most important points.
28
Jan
2018

Trump at Davos & Australian Comments on US Defense Strategy Statement

What with the likely winners of both the women’s and men’s Australian tennis being Swiss and the address by Trump at Davos, the Swiss are in the News. Once again Trump found a phrase which helped rebut the criticism of his “America First” statement by adding “but not America alone” and, with China in mind, emphasising the need for “fair” trade as well as “free” . Separately, it is reported that Trump approved increased duties affecting about $US10bn of imports but it is not clear whether this was “justified” on a fair trade assertion. An article in The Economist, republished in yesterday’s The Australian, says that the actions were “broadly in line with the steer from the US International Trade Commission” and were weaker than sought.
3
Jan
2018

Potential for Major Improvements in Governance in Iran

In my Commentary of 1 January I drew attention to the absence of any substantive references in our media to the successful defeat of the ISIS caliphate by Iraqi and Syrian forces, with support provided by US and Australian forces. I drew particular attention to Trump’s delegation of decision-making to Secretary Tillerson and commanders in the field and to his indication that the defeat of ISIS was a priority. This contrasted with the dire situation a year ago described in a special press briefing given on 22 December by the US envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS (this was not reported in our media). His description of “a dire situation” may have reflected Obama’s policy of first requiring his clearance to take military action and his refusal to have US troops on the ground in Iraq (except for Special Forces).
22
Aug
2017

How Long Can Turnbull Last?

I headed my Commentary on Sunday “Are Our Politicians in the Real World? and suggested that some of the behaviour and events in Canberra and one or two other states in the last couple of weeks indicated that our political body is, like Alice in Wonderland, acting outside the real world. I added that “It would be surprising if tomorrow’s Newspoll does not show a further decline in the Coalition’s rating, which would again emphasise the need to replace Turnbull if the Coalition wants an election chance”.
24
Jul
2017

Same Coalition Newspoll, Dutton’s Status Rises, Abbott Speaks Out Again

I suggested in yesterday’s Commentary that Turnbull’s activism over the past couple of weeks was a desperate attempt to help him survive as leader. But while the latest Newspoll has put Turnbull 11 points ahead in the Better PM category (only 8 points ahead last time), there was no change in Newspoll’s TPP (still at 47/53 as it was a fortnight ago). Also, even though the Coalition’s primary vote did improve slightly (from 35 to 36), this is 6 points lower than it was when elected a year ago and still leaves unchanged the problem with the basic policy being pursued by Turnbull. Relevant here too is that Labor’s primary vote also increased to 37 (from 36) (see Newspoll 24 July).
23
Jul
2017

Activism by Turnbull

As I experienced a bout of flu, I have had a “enforced” quiet period for a week (my last Commentary was on Monday 17 July). During that past week, however, it was impossible not to notice Turnbull being unusually active on a number of political fronts attempting to improve the Coalition’s -- and his own-- polling. My conclusion is that any improvement is unlikely: rather the opposite.
28
May
2017

Turnbull Omits Islam; Trump to Announce Climate Change Policy

In Friday’s Commentary I highlighted the editorial in The Australian saying “that Islamist terror cannot be bought off; it wants nothing less than a totalitarian caliphate for the planet. Jihad denialism, which wilfully obscures the wellsprings of Islamist violence, has limited appeal in Australia although its supporters include progressive elites with their media megaphones”. I also drew attention to the failure of Turnbull to make any reference to the likely source of the terrorist bombing in Manchester being Islamic and that he seemed “largely to be missing” from various references by other ministers to sources and the need for policy changes.
26
May
2017

The Source of Terrorism Today

Miracles do happen! Even so I was surprised to open today’s Age and find they had published my letter arguing for action to expose and attack extremist Islam. It was also the lead letter. The Australian also published a letter by me in similar vein, along with other “strong action” type letters (see both my letters below) and an excellent editorial which identifies in no uncertain way “that Islamist terror cannot be bought off; it wants nothing less than a totalitarian caliphate for the planet. Jihad denialism, which wilfully obscures the wellsprings of Islamist violence, has limited appeal in Australia although its supporters include progressive elites with their media megaphones” ( see attached Editorial on Terrorist Risk).
30
Apr
2017

Short Time Span for Replacement of Turnbull, McCitrick on Paris Agreement, Australian Defence Against Nuclear Missiles

Trump’s agreement to meet with Turnbull this coming week (an appointment which appears to have taken longer than expected) provides an opportunity to confirm the importance of the US alliance in the context of celebrating the vital role played by the US in the defeat of the Japanese in the Coral Sea battle 75 years ago in 1942 (see press release on meeting). It also means Turnbull will obtain more photo-ops. He will doubtless also attempt to convey to the Australian electorate that his meeting with Trump reflects another acknowledgment by him of the view of right-wingers.