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Ideas@TheCentre brings you ammunition for conversations around the table.  3 short articles from CIS researchers emailed every Friday on the issues of the week.

  • MH17: One year on

    17 Jul 2015

    This week marks a year since the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board, including 38 Australians. In a twist of tragic irony, the village of ... Read More

  • Contradictions rule in Greece

    10 Jul 2015

    Part of the difficulty in understanding where the Greek crisis will head is that so many of the actions of the key players are contradictory. Read More

  • No political solution possible in Syria

    08 May 2015

    The grim reality is that Syria’s vicious civil war requires a military solution. Read More

  • Socialism with Singaporean characteristics

    02 Apr 2015

    The legacy of recently deceased Singaporean strongman Lee Kuan Yew offers one of the most reliable guides to China’s future. Read More

  • Fight against Islamic State demands a Syrian solution

    27 Feb 2015

    Speaking in federal parliament on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop lamented the sexual slavery and abuse facing the 'increasing number of young females' joining Islamic State (IS). Read More

  • Disaster management, not demand management

    30 Jan 2015

    The global financial crisis re-ignited a division in economics between those who believe governments should boost demand through additional spending (Keynesians) and those who don't. The latter schools... Read More

  • Beware the ideology of Islamism

    30 Jan 2015

    The latest spate of radical Islamist terrorist attacks on schools, cafes, offices and other 'soft targets' has again ignited debate about Islam's compatibility with liberal democracy. Read More

  • Your Bumper, Blockbuster, Holiday-Issue Ideas@TheCentre

    19 Dec 2014

    With CIS taking a break over the holiday season, we wanted to bring you a special issue of Ideas to finish the year.  So our researchers and senior staff have summed up the most memorable... Read More

  • Economic liberals should exercise caution in their praise of Narendra Modi

    28 Nov 2014

    Much has been made about Mr Modi’s ‘pro-business’ stance, but developments thus far suggest that enthusiasts of economic liberalism should be more cautious in their praise. Read More

  • It matters to know who we're up against

    14 Nov 2014

    This week we were privileged to have Dr David Kilcullen deliver our John Bonython Lecture addressing the global conflict between liberal nations and Islamist militants. Read More

  • In defence of diplomatic talkfests

    14 Nov 2014

    Cynicism about multilateral meetings between world leaders is understandable. Read More

  • What is the right standard for success in Iraq and Syria?

    24 Oct 2014

    It would be unreasonable to expect even the best planned and most honourably intentioned international intervention to fully free Iraq and Syria from internal troubles. Read More

  • Iraq 2014 : This time it's different

    10 Oct 2014

    While Australia’s involvement a decade ago was questionable, this time it has legal and legitimate foundations, and is comparatively limited in scope. Read More

  • The Bennetts of Beijing: marriage market, Chinese-style

    19 Sep 2014

    'It's all about the hardware and the software', said Lisa, our knowledgeable 32 year old Beijing guide. She looked surprised at my blank look and set about explaining the Chinese marriage market. Read More

  • Widening war in Iraq and Syria is a necessary path to peace

    12 Sep 2014

    US President Barack Obama was pilloried two weeks ago for admitting that his administration lacked a strategy to combat Islamic State in Syria. In Washington on Wednesday, he hit back at his critics and... Read More

  • Counterbalancing China in a post-American Asian order

    05 Sep 2014

    Since World War II, the United States has been Asia's benevolent hegemon. Capitals across the region-from Seoul to Canberra-have depended directly on Washington for their security, while US military... Read More

  • The tragedy of 1914 and the precarious peace of 2014

    08 Aug 2014

    The similarities between Europe’s disastrous great power politics of 1914 and Asia’s geostrategic rivalries of 2014 are eerie. Read More

  • Mentioning the war doesn't discredit government's deft diplomacy

    18 Jul 2014

    Canberra’s affection for Tokyo puts Australia at odds with China, yet a disconnect between Beijing and Canberra is sometimes to be expected. Read More

  • Iraq's disastrous descent demands decisiveness

    20 Jun 2014

    One ineffective pre-emptive intervention in Iraq in 2003 is not a good argument against a cautious and reactive intervention in Iraq in 2014. Read More

  • More aid bang with fewer taxpayers' bucks?

    16 May 2014

    The aid community has savaged the government’s decision to cap Australia’s overseas development assistance, but their claims are inaccurate and unfair. Read More

  • Hayek offers communist China path to prosperity

    24 Apr 2014

    In September last year, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang warned that 'China's reforms have entered a deep-water zone, or the most difficult phase.' With Beijing moving to give markets a 'decisive' role... Read More

  • Abbott's diplomacy will pay dividends

    04 Apr 2014

    The Australian government’s prioritisation of economic diplomacy is perfectly suited to deepening relations with China. Read More

  • US power the best bulwark against China's assertiveness

    14 Mar 2014

    Is China set to ride roughshod over the territorial claims of its maritime and continental neighbours? Read More

  • Government not to blame for Canberra's China challenge

    28 Feb 2014

    With capitals across Asia finding relations with an emboldened Beijing increasingly fraught, Canberra’s foreign policy difficulties are not unique. Read More

  • Government wise to stand firm on China

    24 Jan 2014

    In the face of bullish Chinese foreign policy and diplomatic posturing from Beijing, the government is wise to stand firm. Read More

  • US military mettle welcomed in Asia

    29 Nov 2013

    China’s Air Defense Identification Zone over the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands has sparked a testy diplomatic row. Read More

  • China's communist party liberalises to defer democracy

    15 Nov 2013

    The CCP has taken another step towards greater prosperity and expanded personal freedoms in its pledge to pursue reform. Read More

  • The end of the end of history?

    01 Nov 2013

    Savvy authoritarian regimes around the world are plotting paths to relative peace and prosperity while denying their citizens’ democratic rights and freedoms. Read More

  • Obama's Asian about-face masks foreign policy failure

    11 Oct 2013

    America’s rivals and enemies are asserting clear positions on Syria while the US remains flat-footed, putting their power and prestige at risk. Read More

  • China's Icarus sheds light on the limits of the law

    27 Sep 2013

    In China, the CCP rules by means of the law rather than being constrained by the rule of law. Read More

  • Tepid foreign policy debate sets the right tone

    23 Aug 2013

    The foreign policy differences between the two major parties are more about rhetorical style than policy substance. Read More

  • Authoritarian China’s successes vindicate liberalism

    05 Jul 2013

    Liberal reforms are still needed in China to unlock the entrepreneurial talents and ambition of the world’s largest nation. Read More

  • The classical liberal view from Beijing

    31 May 2013

    With global leadership slipping away from the United States, will China seek to shape the world in the image of its brand of enlightened authoritarianism? Read More

  • Placating China does us all a disservice

    15 Mar 2013

    Australia and its Asian partners should consistently and carefully explain the rationale for a continuation of the US security presence in the Asia-Pacific. Read More

  • The morality of US military might

    14 Dec 2012

    Arguments for a US drawdown in the Asia-Pacific betray a lack of appreciation of the moral dimension of the US military presence in the region. Read More

  • In Soviet Australia defence is welfare

    23 Nov 2012

    In Soviet Australia, it seems defence is welfare for some groups. Read More

  • Breaking the IR code

    16 Nov 2012

    Many employers are worried that increased union presence will create an ‘us versus them’ working culture. Read More

  • And the winner is ... Robamamney!

    09 Nov 2012

    Romney might have lost the race to the White House, but much of his foreign policy platform will live on in the Obama presidency. Read More

  • Four more years of Obamanomics

    09 Nov 2012

    Obama is likely to continue his big government approach, backed by new taxes. Read More

  • No red line likely

    09 Nov 2012

    Faced now with a second-term Obama rather than a first-term Romney, Israelis must be wondering what the future holds for their tiny democracy. Read More

  • Half-baked language policy is al dente

    02 Nov 2012

    White Paper is a triumph for commonsense as a false victory for the Asia literacy lobby. Read More

  • Facts favour nuclear-powered submarines

    26 Oct 2012

    Australia must consider nuclear-powered submarines to get the best submarine for the money the government is willing to spend. Read More

  • Importing Australia’s Asia literacy

    07 Sep 2012

    Extra spending to improve Asia literacy is unnecessary because Australia is already well-positioned to prosper as power moves to Asia. Read More

  • Preferential condemnation

    02 Aug 2012

    The international community fails to condemn Hamas for evicting 120 Palestinian families in Gaza from their homes. Read More

  • The Asian languages non-problem

    06 Jul 2012

    Is Australia prepared for a world in which the greatest economic and military power speaks Mandarin instead of English? Read More

  • Australia’s Asian embrace

    15 Jun 2012

    As profound as the changes heralded by the dawn of the Asian Century might be, it does not require a great nation-building response from Australia - we are already deep in an Asian embrace. Read More

  • Defence-lite is sound policy

    18 May 2012

    Notwithstanding chatter about a US-China confrontation, Australia remains safe under America’s security embrace. Read More

  • Lessons from Southeast Asia

    30 Mar 2012

    Bob Carr must now navigate Australia’s developing relationship with China. Read More

  • Southeast Asia’s American Embrace

    02 Mar 2012

    In November 2011, Barack Obama made his first (and long-awaited) official visit to Australia. Australia and the United States share a close relationship, but this visit was more significant than usual. With... Read More

  • America’s Burma thaw motivated by Southeast Asian strategy

    03 Feb 2012

    Washington has long been a fierce critic of the Burmese regime, and its recent olive branch is partly motivated by a desire to improve human rights in Burma. Read More

  • US presidential race taxing

    27 Jan 2012

    Sketchy tax system causes problems for presidential hopefuls. Read More

  • Wrong person for a difficult job

    27 Jan 2012

    Former French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde’s ineptness as the head of the International Monetary Fund is being proven with her latest actions. Read More

  • Nudge, nudge, here come the Germans

    20 Jan 2012

    Germans can teach us a lot when it comes to family and social policy. Read More

  • Christmas pudding without butter

    23 Dec 2011

    The richest country in the world can’t afford butter. Read More

  • Indonesia cagey on US ties

    18 Nov 2011

    Obama’s visit to Australia and Indonesia ushers in a new era of engagement but with quite different foreign policy reactions. Read More

  • Will development lead to democracy in Southeast Asia?

    16 Sep 2011

    Malaysians and Singaporeans, now well accustomed to economic growth and development, are slowly beginning to demand political freedoms. Read More

  • America and Europe jump together

    19 Aug 2011

    Rescuing banks, stimulating economies and guaranteeing for bankrupt states, North Atlantic governments have turned an economic crisis into a systemic one. Read More

  • Curing insanity with madness

    05 Aug 2011

    Reply to Peter Saunders piece from the previous Ideas, when he questioned some of the benefits of free trade. “It all sounds pretty plausible when you first read it but I am afraid our esteemed colleague... Read More

  • The famous and infamous Paul Wolfowitz

    29 Jul 2011

    Paul Wolfowitz and his ideas about China. Read More

  • ‘Death of a 54-year-old family father’

    06 May 2011

    Bin Laden’s death generates a myriad of responses – from the sensible to the ridiculous. Read More

  • A ‘Royal Wedding’ the Victorians might approve of?

    29 Apr 2011

    The ‘Royal Wedding’ is the last chance at shoring up the shaky foundations of the British monarchy. Read More

  • Can Indonesia's recent past become Egypt's near future?

    04 Mar 2011

    Around the world, commentators are hoping that Egypt in 2011 will come to resemble Indonesia in 1998. Read More

  • Moving Malaysia on from affirmative action policies

    25 Feb 2011

    An honest conversation about the costs of race-based affirmative action is finally beginning in Malaysia. Read More

  • Indonesia juggles China and America

    Jessica Brown | 04 Feb 2011

    Like Australia, Indonesia looks to China for its economic growth and to America for security. How Jakarta handles this will determine its strategic role in the region. Read More

  • No one cares about human rights in China these days... except the Chinese people

    John Lee | 28 Jan 2011

    Chinese leaders remain defensive and fearful when it comes to the issue of human rights. Read More

  • The North Korea mystery

    John Lee | 26 Nov 2010

    But there is a serious problem in preventing disaster in the region: experts know next to nothing about what we need to know about North Korea. Read More

  • 'Team Clinton' on the rise in Asia

    John Lee | 12 Nov 2010

    Clinton's combative attitude towards China entrenches American foreign policy interests in the rest of Asia. Read More

  • Look beyond the 'Con Games' for India's potential

    John Lee | 24 Sep 2010

    The Indian government is in crisis mode following the disastrous lead-up to the Commonwealth Games, which begins next month in New Delhi. Despite spending more than US$2 billion on the event itself, in... Read More

  • The strategic leadership question – is this what Australia should be doing?

    Jim Molan | 10 Sep 2010

    This government and the last government believed that Afghanistan was worth the sacrifice of Australian soldiers, and if that’s still the case, the government has got to lead on this issue. Read More

  • Affirmative action policies in Malaysia prove costly

    John Lee | 23 Jul 2010

    Malaysia’s affirmative action policies may prove costly for the country’s future economic and ideological shape, with foreign and domestic (especially Chinese-Malaysian) investors taking away their... Read More

  • When liking India isn't Enough

    John Lee | 02 Jul 2010

    The Chicago Council on Global Affairs recently surveyed respondents in the United States, China, Russia, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Japan, and India in terms of its influence in the world now and... Read More

  • Nuclear's global renaissance

    Oliver Marc Hartwich | 19 Feb 2010

    The announcement by US President Barack Obama this week to provide federal loans for new nuclear power stations signals a revival of this technology. This may have implications for Australia, too. Read More

  • Obama ditches soft approach towards China

    John Lee | 05 Feb 2010

    If 2009 was the year of treating China with kid gloves, 2010 is likely to be much more tumultuous with President Barack Obama gearing up to prove that he has the mettle to defend American interests as... Read More

  • Chinese appeasement irks Indians

    John Lee | 04 Dec 2009

    President Barrack Obama’s choice of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as his first state visitor last week was meant to be about reassuring New Delhi that Washington intends to build on the strategic... Read More

  • Taking India seriously

    John Lee | 06 Nov 2009

    Washington as well as Asian capitals such as Tokyo, Jakarta, Singapore and Hanoi has been busily courting New Delhi with impressive results. But the weakest link in New Delhi’s growing network with... Read More

  • Why America Will Lead the 'Asian Century'

    John Lee | 21 Aug 2009

    The decline of American influence in Asia is exaggerated. True, power and influence are built on the back of economic success and the Chinese and India economies have been doubling in size every 10 years... Read More

  • Why China will not become like Singapore

    John Lee | 26 Jun 2009

    Recent conversations with Chinese political scientists brought home the great extent to which Beijing is obsessed with watching, analysing and replicating the success of Singapore. After all, despite a... Read More

  • Global stability depends on Pakistan

    Visiting Fellow - Tanveer Ahmed | 08 May 2009

    Pakistan finds itself at the heart of world affairs Read More

  • China Inc’s March debacle

    John Lee | 03 Apr 2009

    March has been a terrible month for the China Inc brand in Australia and enormously annoying for Beijing. Read More

  • Beware of Cargo Cult Handouts

    Greg Lindsay | 13 Mar 2009

    There is more to the South Pacific than just Australia and New Zealand. The vast Pacific Ocean is dotted with around 30 sovereign states and dependencies with populations ranging from a few thousand to... Read More

  • Shooting reinforces Pakistan’s rogue status

    John Lee | 06 Mar 2009

    It is not yet clear who was behind the Tuesday terrorist attack in Lahore against the Sri Lankan cricket team. Read More

  • Publications

    1. The Fog of Foreign Policy: Why only ‘least bad’ options are available in Syria, Iraq and other global hotspots

      Benjamin Herscovitch | 18 May 2015 | Research Reports

      This research outlines that the success of foreign policy initiatives depends on immensely complex and constantly evolving... Read More...

    2. What are We Fighting For? Islamism and the Threat to Liberal Ideas

      David Kilcullen | 10 Feb 2015 | Occasional Papers

      This volume brings together two presentations and the introductions from an event hosted by the Centre for Independent Studies... Read More...

    3. What are we fighting for? Islamism and the threat to liberal values

      David Kilcullen | 12 Nov 2014 | Speeches

      Dr David Kilcullen's address for the 2014 John Bonython Lecture

    4. Preserving Peace as China Rises II: Preparing for a Post-American Asian Order

      Benjamin Herscovitch | 01 Sep 2014 | Foreign Policy Analysis

      With US leadership unable to guarantee peace and security in the Indo-Pacific this century, the region will need to transition... Read More...

    5. FEATURE: The East is Authoritarian: Why China Will Not Democratise

      Benjamin Herscovitch | 30 Apr 2014 | POLICY Magazine

      The Chinese Communist Party may carve out an enduring place for its own brand of accountable authoritarianism.

    View All

    Opinion & Commentary

    1. The East and South China seas debate Australia has to have

      Benjamin Herscovitch | 30 Jul 2015 | China Spectator

      Beyond some mooted language changes on the US-Australian alliance and Japan-Australia relations, traditional ... Read More

    2. Australia must choose between China and the US

      Benjamin Herscovitch | 16 Jul 2015 | China Spectator

      The high-wire diplomatic juggling act of managing Australia’s all-important ties with China and the US has for years been ... Read More

    3. Beijing will beat Washington in the South China Sea’s battle of wills

      Benjamin Herscovitch | 26 Jun 2015 | China Spectator

      At the opening of the seventh annual United States-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue earlier this week, US Vice-President ... Read More

    4. Islamic relations: The victim mentality will not help Muslim cause

      Peter Kurti | 15 Jun 2015 | Daily Telegraph

      What is required on the part of Muslim and non-Muslim Australians alike is a new attitude to combatting the problem of Muslim ... Read More

    5. Australia should stay out of the South China Sea

      Benjamin Herscovitch | 04 Jun 2015 | China Spectator

      Canberra looks set to wade into the South China Sea’s turbulent waters.  ... Read More

    View All


    1. MH17: One year on

      Anastasia Glushko | 17 Jul 2015

      This week marks a year since the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people ...

    2. Contradictions rule in Greece

      Simon Cowan | 10 Jul 2015

      Part of the difficulty in understanding where the Greek crisis will head is that so many of the actions of the key players ...

    3. No political solution possible in Syria

      Benjamin Herscovitch | 08 May 2015

      The grim reality is that Syria’s vicious civil war requires a military solution....

    4. Socialism with Singaporean characteristics

      Benjamin Herscovitch | 02 Apr 2015

      The legacy of recently deceased Singaporean strongman Lee Kuan Yew offers one of the most reliable guides to China’s future....

    5. Fight against Islamic State demands a Syrian solution

      Benjamin Herscovitch | 27 Feb 2015

      Speaking in federal parliament on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop lamented the sexual slavery and abuse facing the ...

    View All