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The Bell School presents

Inside the Wilderness of Mirrors: Australia and the Threat from the Soviet Union in the Cold War and Russia Today



12th June 2018


Atrium, Hedley Bull Centre



Paul Dibb’s book is a unique Cold War memoir that gives insights into how Australia saw the threat from the Soviet Union in terms of both national intelligence assessments and ASIO’s operations against the Soviet Embassy. It reveals the crucial importance of the US-Australian base at Pine Gap for monitoring Soviet military communications and why it was Moscow’s nuclear target. And he sets out how close the Soviet Union was to nuclear war with America in 1983.

He describes the contending assessments in Australia about the nature of Soviet power and how those who dared to challenge the prevailing “groupthink” were subject to suspicion in what he calls “the wilderness of mirrors”. The book concludes by analysing the ways in which Russia today presents a continuing threat to the international order.

Inside the Wilderness of Mirrors will be launched by Dennis Richardson, AO. He will be introduced by Professor Michael Wesley, Dean of the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific.

Paul Dibb, AM is Emeritus Professor of strategic studies in the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the ANU, which he was the Head of from 1991 to 2004. His previous positions include: Deputy Secretary of Defence, Director of the Joint Intelligence Organisation, and Head of the National Assessments Staff.

Dennis Richardson, AO commenced as Secretary of the Department of Defence in 2012, a position he held until his retirement in 2017. He was Ambassador of Australia to the United States from 2005 to 2009 and has been a career public servant since 1969, when he joined Australia’s foreign service. Richardson has served in various senior public service roles in the Departments of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Foreign Affairs and Trade and Immigration. He was Head of the Review of the Intelligence Community post-Cold War in 1992 and Principal Adviser to the Prime Minister from 1990 to 1991. Richardson holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) from the University of Sydney and was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2003.

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