You are currently browsing the daily archive for 14 August 2009.

Wartime emoticons (The New Yorker).

Nouriel Roubini looks at those countries that have come through the recession reasonably well (Forbes).  The challenge for countries like Australia will be to return to—or reinforce—those liberal, market-based fundamentals that helped them get through the crisis, rather than succumbing to the temptation of control.

The US military is starting to take the security implications of climate change more seriously.  (New York Times).  Anything that gets us away from shopping lists of possibles.

When Bad People Rise to the Top. (MIT Sloan Management Review; subscription required).  Contains a ‘spotting guide’.  Prevention is all about due diligence.

The Augustine Panel is likely to suggest ‘deep space’ missions as a means to get to Mars. (New Scientist)  Sensible really, even if it means I’ll never get to go.  Don’t want to risk it all on badly planned or prepared rush job, nor do you want to make Mars as far as we ever go: the point is to get beyond the Solar System.  The immediate problem will be sustaining the effort.

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The move of Ian Watt to SecDef is being interpreted as the government moving to bring Defence under control and making sure it scrapes out the $20b in savings promised. True, the budget and Defence finances are likely to hit a wall in the next year or two—and might even be one more reason for an early 2010 election.

But far from bringing Defence under control, it further diminishes oversight of the military and their task: it risks leaving CDF in control of everything but accounting.  There is no path for alternate for alternate civilian advice to the Minister—or given the military’s influence in PM&C, to the Government—on strategy, operations or capability.  Watt will be focussed on the books.  Unless he deliberately moves to strengthen civilian capability in strategy, operations and capability inside the Department—for which he must have the absolute endorsement of both Faulkner and Rudd—he will be ‘Master of Caravan’ only, and the diarchy, and with it civilian control, will be dead.

And let’s not forget the signals sent by Nick Warner’s future.  His move to ASIS is ostensibly a demotion; that role is an agency head, a lesser position and not a secretary-ship, and one out of sight and out of mind.  When Defence is a problem, civilians are punished.

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