Monday, September 29, 2014


Normally no one cares less about a book. Publish and be dammed. 

But sometimes books are weapons . . . political weapons. 

Even if they appear to be driven by personal motives, they can have a very political effect. 

That's probably the case with these two, recently published books (one of which Rudd described as a "work of fiction"), as I wrote in the Canberra Times . . . 

Friday, September 26, 2014


Bombing is not a strategy. It is simply one way of achieving your objectives. 

This is something the West appears to have lost sight of. 

Arming planes on the USS George Washington

At the Chief of Army's conference this week it was the military men who appeared to understand war far better than the politicians, as this column for the Canberra Times explained . . . 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Triumph & Demise

I've finally got a moment to begin reading Paul Kelly's Triumph & Demise.

It's brilliant.

But there's still hope for the likes of more pedestrian authors like myself. I opened it at p102, his (Kelly's) account of the Gillard/Rudd pact to destroy Beazley. Surprisingly, I feel, although he details Rudd's visit to Melbourne to address the Left at Lygon Street (an important step in gaining support from this quarter) he doesn't even mention the meeting between the two leadership aspirants on the NSW North Coast where they sealed their pact. This was the point at which the two actually reached their agreement that Rudd would be the boss.

Also, on p105 he says Chris Evans became the "future treasurer and Senate leader". Well, it's not often that we've had a Treasurer in the upper house and I don't actually think Evans did become treasurer. And there are a few other infelicitous sentences.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not being picky and nor am I suggesting there are gaps or sloppiness in the work. It's excellent. The point is that everything is the product of a person.

Witnessing the fact that Kelly remains a mortal offers hope to those of us who are more pedestrian writers and analysts. We should be thrilled that each of us can aim to achieve Kelly's heights.

A Borderless World?

In 1984 I was part of Exercise Lionheart, the (until then) biggest UK Armoured deployment anywhere since the Second World War.

Then, in 1989, the wall began to fall.

It almost looked as if war and borders were a thing of the past. 

In Singapore in the mid 90's I remember the enthusiasm that greeted the great, uniting, "European Project".

Today things are different. Everywhere - from East Timor to Scotland - we see increasing demand for self determination.

But that's why it's so important to take the long view, as this great column from the Financial Times does.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


The best answers come from continual questioning, rather than answers.

That's my conclusion, anyway, after reading some books; as I wrote in the Canberra Times today:

Friday, September 19, 2014


THIS column isn't interesting, but it is important. Perhaps more surprisingly, it's based on an original thought.

It's about the need to keep the Services vibrant.

It shouldn't be a job for life

Becoming an officer in the military is still one of the few careers to which you're expected to make a life-long commitment.

As I said in this piece in Saturday's Canberra Times, I don't think that works for either the services or the individuals . . .

Monday, September 15, 2014


The lovely thing about living in a secure democracy is that I can have a go at the retiring head of ASIO. This wouldn't be wise in much of the world. 

The official photo

I had another think about what I wrote the other day and realise I was far too harsh on David Irvine. 

He was trapped with nowhere to go when he said things that were then taken out of context by the journo's. 

I really wasn't intending to impugn him. And it's great he's spoken to the media. May Duncan Lewis do the same, more often. 

Anyway, this was my take on the issues raised in his retiring interview last week, as it appeared in the Canberra Times. . . 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


So, outgoing ASIO Boss David Irvine reckons things are dangerous, very dangerous.

Welcome to today's world.

Irvine at the National Press Club

The real issue is how do we protect our society.

Raising the threat level, from "amber" to "red" is a pathetic, ridiculous and a bizarre way of dealing with the problem. It's difficult to treat such a vague and general "warning" as anything other than a clear indication Irvine is dealing with something that's utterly beyond him.

ASIO (supposedly) provides us with actionable intelligence. What we need is a clear warning of what might happen, why, and what we can do to avoid it's occurrence. If that can't be offered, suggest other strategies that might actually work. It's not good enough just to cry "wolf". I can do that myself.

After watching Irvine the other night, it's difficult not to suspect that whatever the answer to domestic terrorism is, it won't come from ASIO.

What other ways of de-radicalising potential terrorists are there?

How about this?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


Has growth come to a stop? 

Is this the real problem behind our current political dysfunction? 

Did this ever look plausible? 

So why is this any more credible today?

The single-most critical question in Australia is if our political system really is broken. 

I believe it is. 

However, as I suggest in this article in today's Canberra Times I believe it's more than just this. I think the economic system's broken as well . . .

Saturday, September 6, 2014


Shifting profits to avoid tax is hardly novel. 

What is new is that something's being done about it. 

One: Bono, Condi Rice, Facebook, etc

That's why it's particularly sad when we fall back into the old left/right way of analysing things. 

There's good and bad on both sides, as this report for the Canberra Times sought to point out . . . 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Flying  is marvellous . . . I love it. 

That moment of sheer delight as you fly over Sydney Harbour or walk into the airline lounge with the anticipation of the flight ahead. 

flying - wonder

It means a lot to me and that's why Qantas means a lot to me too, as this column for the Canberra Times points out . . .