Also discussed in this episode: Exchange hack and Pegasus; APEC; and a return to Afghanistan?
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has a new Secretary, Kathryn Campbell. Darren uses the occasion to build a theoretical model of the position, positing that the ideal candidate would fulfil four roles: administrator, consigliere, strategist, and diplomat. Allan points out that the “diplomat” skill-set is unique to DFAT, discussing the history of the position not just in Australia but internationally, and some of the novel challenges every DFAT secretary will face.
The two next turn their attention to a pair of recent cyber stories: the attribution to China by a broad coalition of western governments of the massive and indiscriminate hack of Microsoft’s Exchange server earlier this year, and investigative reporting that surveillance software sold by the Israeli company NSO is being used to monitor thousands of individuals, from political and business leaders to journalists and activists. Is it possible to develop norms in this domain, especially given how extensively the US conducts its own spying? What is different (if anything) about these events, and can a rules-based order that regulates this behaviour be built?
As the podcast wraps up, Allan briefly discusses the recent APEC extraordinary meeting, the first of its kind for the organisation. Can the vigour of hosts New Zealand breathe new life into a troubled organisation? Finally, exclusive reporting by the ABC suggests the Australian government is considering returning a presence to Afghanistan, which would represent a rapid reversal of the decision to close the embassy indefinitely just a few months ago. Why?
We thank Mitchell McIntosh for audio editing and Rory Stenning for composing our theme music.
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Dana Priest, Craig Timberg and Souad Mekhennet, “ Private Israeli spyware used to hack cellphones of journalists, activists worldwide”, Washington Post, 18 July 2021: https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/interactive/2021/nso-spyware-pegasus-cellphones/
Scott Morrison, APEC Virtual Informal Leaders’ Meeting, Transcript, 17 July 2021: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/apec-virtual-informal-leaders-meeting
Andrew Probyn, “Australia considering future return to Afghanistan to monitor Taliban resurgence”, ABC News, 20 July 2021: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-07-20/australia-considering-return-afghanistan-monitor-taliban/100305336
The Rachman Review (podcast), “Coming to terms with Putin’s Russia”, 24 June 2021: https://www.ft.com/content/842e9410-d0df-4d11-bd07-bb319a2dd30f
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Loki (TV show): https://disneyplusoriginals.disney.com/show/loki