Hugh White

Hugh White is a professor of strategic studies at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University.

Articles by this author

Making sense of a new reality and the return of power politics – a Quarterly Essay extract
Without America: Australia in the New Asia
For almost a decade now, the world’s two most powerful countries have been competing over which of them will dominate the world’s most important and dynamic region. America has...
Australia needs to rethink its approach to regional security
Relying on Trump
That a person with Donald Trump’s character should now be president of the United States is so strange and striking that it can be hard to see past that character and consider the...
The US and China’s struggle for power in Asia
Lines in the sand
China is not the first country to build military outposts on tiny rocks and reefs in the South China Sea. Several other countries laying claim to these contested flyspecks have...
Elizabeth Pisani’s ‘Indonesia Etc.’ and Hamish McDonald’s ‘Demokrasi’
Indonesia on the brink of change
In April, the World Bank–affiliated International Comparison Program published figures that compared the size of economies around the world. Its new methods provided a truer...
© Beawiharta Beawiharta / Reuters
Northern Exposure
What Indonesia’s rise means for Australia
Indonesia was barely a blip on Australia’s strategic radar until the Pacific War, when Japan seized it from the Dutch and attacked Australia from bases there. Indonesia won...
The ANZAC Ethos and the Justification for War. Hugh White (audio)
At his thoughtful and thought-provoking best, academic, intellectual and author Hugh White addresses the Thinking For Yourself conference (La Trobe, February 2013) about the...
Julia Gillard visiting the Forbidden City, Beijing, April 2011. © David Foote/Commonwealth of Australia
A blueprint for the Asian Century?
White-papering the Cracks
Eric Hobsbawm begins his three-volume account of Europe in the 19th century by observing that the industrial revolution was perhaps the biggest event in human history. This is a...
A ceremonial sunset aboard the HMAS 'Manoora' off Vanuatu in 2006. © Commonwealth of Australia
A Middling Power: Why Australia's defence is all at sea
In trying to explain the purpose of our armed forces, defence ministers often fall back on that plangent phrase “the defence of Australia”. In a recent speech to the...
Illustration by Jeff Fisher.
Julia Gillard, foreign policy and the summit season
Summit season
It’s summit season. Prime Minister Julia Gillard will lift her head above the toxic miasma of domestic politics and breathe the purer, finer air of foreign affairs. On 21 October...
Prime Minister Naoto Kan of Japan addresses the nation about the worsening situation at Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, 25 March 2011. © Tomohiro/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Reflections on Japan
The foundering miracle
The figures moving among the wreckage conducted themselves with a quiet dignity that was not only moving and impressive, but also strangely familiar. The tsunami seemed to push...
Stanley Melbourne Bruce in the early days of his prime ministership, c. 1923. © Newspix/News Limited
David Lee’s ‘Stanley Melbourne Bruce’ and David Bird’s ‘JA Lyons’
Balancing acts
Most of us think that for much of Australia’s history we have not really had a foreign policy. We assume our approach to the world has always been determined for us by our great...
'Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Battle for Supremacy in the 21st Century' By Robert D Kaplan, Black Inc., 384pp; $34.95
‘Monsoon’ by Robert D Kaplan
Monsoon melds two very different books into one. One book is a geopolitical treatise, conceived on a grand oceanic scale. It argues that global power shifts mean the Indian Ocean...
Illustration by Jeff Fisher.
The Defence Minister
It seems so unfair. Stephen Smith is one of the nicest people in politics. What did he do to deserve defence? Consider the record: in the past 40 years, 17 men (yes, all men) have...
Illustration by Jeff Fisher.
Rudd’s China policy
The big story of 2009 has been the economic downturn, better known as the Global Financial Crisis, and the biggest part of that story has been the continuing upswing of China. Its...
Illustration by Jeff Fisher.
When soldiers die, our political leaders speak of the nation’s shared grief. In the big wars of the last century, when so many soldiers died and so many families grieved, that may...
‘The Accidental Guerrilla’ by David Kilcullen
Turning a mouse into an elephant
Soldiers who are also scholars have always had a certain cachet, but since 1914, when major warfare became unrelentingly industrial, soldier-scholars have flourished best at the...