Emeritus Professor Carlyle Thayer

Emeritus Professor
School of Humanities and Social Sciences


Australian Defence Force Academy, Northcott Drive, Canberra, ACT 2610


Phone: +61 2 6268 8860
Fax: +61 2 6268 8879

Professional Background

Carl Thayer is Emeritus Professor of Politics. He is currently Director of Thayer Consultancy, a small business registered in Australia in 2002 that provides political analysis of current regional security issues and other research support to selected clients; South East Asia Defence and Security columnist for The Diplomat (2013-); Consultant, Gerson Lehrman Group (2012-); Editorial Consultant for Radio Free Asia (2014-); External Expert Contributor, Oxford Analytica; Senior Analyst, Wikistrat (2015-)’ Global Adjunct Faculty member, Ohio University (2009-); Research Associate, ASEAN Studies Center, School of International Service, American University (March 2011-); Adjunct Fellow, International Association for Counterterrorism and Security Professionals, Centre for Security Studies, Stratad Malaysia (August 2013-); and Member of the International Advisory Board of Contemporary Southeast Asia (2008-), International Journal of China Studies (2014-), Journal for Social Sciences and Humanities (2015-); and Contemporary Chinese Political Economy and Strategic Relations: An International Journal.

Professor Thayer was educated at Brown University in the United States (1967). He holds an M.A. in Southeast Asian Studies from Yale (1971) and a PhD in International Relations from The Australian National University (ANU, 1977). He studied Vietnamese language at Yale, Cornell and Southern Illinois University, Thai language at The University of Missouri at Columbia, and Lao language at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.

Before embarking on an academic career, Carl served in Vietnam with the International Voluntary Services (1967-68) and as a volunteer teacher in Botswana with the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (1968-69). He began his professional career in 1976 as lecturer at the Bendigo Institute of Technology (renamed the Bendigo College of Advanced Education). In 1979, he joined The University of New South Wales and taught first in its Faculty of Military Studies at The Royal Military College-Duntoon (1979-85) and then at University College, ADFA (1986-2010). He served as Head of the School of Politics from 1995-97. In 1998, he was promoted to full Professor and Emeritus Professor in 2010.

Carl has served three major periods away from UNSW@ADFA. From 1992-95, he was seconded to the Regime Change and Regime Maintenance Project, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, ANU. From 1999-2002, he was granted ‘leave in the national interest’ to take up the position of Professor of Southeast Asian Security Studies and Deputy Chair of the Department of Regional Studies at the U.S. Defense Department’s Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, U.S. Pacific Command, Hawaii. From 2002 to 2004, he was seconded to Deakin University as On Site Academic Co-ordinator of the Defence and Strategic Studies Course, the senior defence course, at the Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies (CDSS) at the Australian Defence College. He later directed Regional Security Studies at the Australian Command and Staff College, Weston Creek (2007-08 and 2010).

Professor Thayer has spent special study leave at the ANU’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre; Harvard’s Center for International Affairs; International Institute of Strategic Studies in London; Institute of Strategic and International Studies, Chulalongkorn University in Thailand; Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore; and the Department of Political Science at Yale. In 2005, he was the C. V. Starr Distinguished Visiting Professor of Southeast Asian Studies at The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C. In 2008, he was the inaugural Frances M. and Stephen H. Fuller Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Center of Southeast Asian Studies, Ohio University.

As a Subject Matter Expert in 2014 Professor Thayer was invited to address the 2nd Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum in Da Nang, Viet Nam  and the following year he was invited to address the ASEAN-China Joint Working Group on the Implementation of the DOC Seminar-Workshop on the Implementation of the 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC-SCS) in Manila, The Philippines. In April 2015, he was appointed Eminent Person by the Department of Defence Australian Civil-Military Centre, to facilitate the East Asia Summit Rapid Disaster Response: Lessons Learned Seminar held in Sydney in September that was attended by senior officials from fifteen countries.

Courses Taught

  • Civil-Military Relations in the Asia-Pacific
  • Comparative Politics of Southeast Asia
  • Southeast Asia: Issues in Security Cooperation

Research Interests / Projects

  • Politics of Vietnam (leadership and generational change; decision-making in the Vietnam Communist Party; elections, legal reform and the role of the National Assembly; political reform and dissent, the emergence of civil society, human rights and religious freedom; treatment of ethnic minorities, political legitimacy).
  • The role of the military in Vietnam (leadership; defence diplomacy and external relations; arms procurement and force modernisation; domestic commercial and socio-economic roles).
  • Foreign Policy of Vietnam (especially Sino-Vietnamese relations, relations with the United States and relations with ASEAN).
  • Political terrorism in Southeast Asia (methodological approaches, regional counter-terrorism responses, and U.S. leadership in the war on terrorism).
  • Multilateral security institutions in the Asia-Pacific (ASEAN, ASEAN Regional Forum, and the Five Power Defence Arrangements).
  • China’s defence cooperation with Southeast Asia.
  • Climate change and its impact on Southeast Asian security

Areas of Potential Postgraduate Supervision

  • Vietnamese domestic politics, defence and national security, and foreign policy;
  • Southeast Asia civil-military relations, foreign policy, and maritime security;
  • ASEAN, ASEAN Regional Forum and other ASEAN-centric multilateral institutions foreign policy, international relations, defence and security issues.
  • United States and China, defence and security cooperation with Southeast Asia.


Thakur R; Thayer CA; Gill GJ; Saikal A, 2019, The soviet union as an asian-pacific power: Implications of gorbachev's 1986 vladivostok initiative, http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9780429314902

Thayer CA, 2010, Southeast Asia: Patterns of Security Cooperation, first, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Canberra

Thayer CA, 2009, Vietnam People's Army: Development and Modernization, Armed Forces Lecture Paper Series Paper, Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

Book Chapters

Thayer CA, 2016, 'The Southeast Asia Claimant States, ASEAN, and the South China Sea Dispute', in Roberts C; Tran TT; Kotani T (ed.), The South China Sea in the Broader Maritime Security of the Indo-Pacific Region, edn. Special, National Asian Security Studies Program, The University of New South Wales, Canberra, Canberra, pp. 4 - 10, https://www.unsw.adfa.edu.au/scs-publications

Thayer CA, 2016, 'The Militarisation of the South China Sea', in Huxley T; Choong W (ed.), Asia-Pacific Regional Security Assessment 2016 Key Developments and Trends, The International Institute for Strategic Studies, London, pp. 55 - 72

Thayer CA, 2016, 'Managing Security Tensions in the South China Sea: The Role of ASEAN,', in Brewster D (ed.), Indo-Pacific Maritime Security: Challenges and Cooperation, National Security College, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, pp. 24 - 30

Thayer CA, 2016, 'Weak States and Strong Societies in Southeast Asia', in Saikal A (ed.), Weak States, Strong Societies: Power and Authority in the New World Order, I. B. Taurus, London and New York, pp. 149 - 172

Thayer CA, 2016, 'Not Too Hot, Not Too Cold: A Vietnamese Perspective on China-US Relations', in Bo Z (ed.), China-US Relations in Global Perspecrtive, Victoria University Press, Wellington, New Zealand, pp. 215 - 238

Thayer CA, 2016, 'Southeast Asia’s Regional Autonomy Under Stress', in Cook M; Singh D (ed.), Southeast Asian Affairs 2016, ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore, pp. 3 - 18

Thayer CA, 2016, 'US Rebalancing Strategy and Australia’s Response: Business as Usual', in Asia Pacific Countries and the US Rebalancing Strategy, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 175 - 191, http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/978-1-349-93453-9

Thayer CA, 2016, 'China's Naval Modernization and US Strategic Rebalancing: Implications for Stability in the South China Sea', in Jenner CJ (ed.), The South China Sea: A Crucible of Regional Cooperation or Conflict-Making Sovereignty Claims?, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom, pp. 223 - 240

Thayer CA, 2014, 'China-ASEAN and the South China Sea: Chinese Assertiveness and Southeast Asian Responses', in Song Y-H; Zou K (ed.), Major Law and Policy Issues in the South China Sea: European and American Perspective, edn. first, Ashgate Publishing Limited, Farnham, Surrey, England, pp. 25 - 53, http://www.ashgate.com/

Thayer CA, 2013, 'Vietnam', in Encyclopaedia Britannica 2013 Book of the Year, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., Chicago, pp. 512 - 513

Thayer CA, 2013, 'China's New Wave of Aggressive Assertiveness in the South China Sea', in Yeoh EK-K (ed.), China: Development Model, State-Civil Societal Interplay and Foreign Relations, edn. first, University of Malaya Press, Kuala Lumpur, pp. 623 - 651

Thayer CA, 2013, 'China's Relations with Laos and Cambodia', in Bae J-H; Ku JH (ed.), China's Internal and External Relations and Lessons for Korea and Asia, edn. first, Korea Institute for National Unification, Seoul, pp. 189 - 247, http://www.kinu.or.kr/

Thayer CA, 2013, 'Sovereignty Disputes in the South China Sea: Diplomacy, Legal Regimes and Realpolitik', in Kolotov V (ed.), Актуальные проблемы региональной безопасности современной Азии и Африки (Topical Issues of Regional Security in Asia and Africa), edn. first, St. Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg, pp. 308 - 353

Thayer CA, 2013, 'Navigating the Currents of Legal Regimes and Realpolitik in East Asia's maritime domain', in Wu S; Zou K (ed.), Securing the Safety of Navigation in East Asia: Legal and Political Dimensions, edn. fisrt, Chandos Publishing, Oxford, pp. 17 - 50, http://www.chandospublishing.com/

Thayer CA, 2013, 'Vietnam's Security Outlook', in Katahara E (ed.), Security Outlook of the Asia Pacific Countries and IOts Implications for the Defense Sector, edn. 1st, The National Institute for Defense Studies, Japan, Tokyo, pp. 69 - 88

Thayer CA, 2012, 'Cambodia-United States Relations', in Sothirak P; Wade G; Hong M (ed.), Cambodia: Progress and Challenges Since 1991, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, pp. 96 - 107

Thayer CA, 2012, 'Vietnam', in Krieger J (ed.), The Oxford Companion to Comparative Politics, edn. 1st, Oxford University Press, New York, pp. 468 - 470

Thayer CA, 2012, 'The Five Power Defence Arrangements at Forty (1971-1991)', in Singh D; Thambipillai P (ed.), Southeast Asian Affairs 2012, edn. first, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, pp. 61 - 72

Thayer CA, 2012, 'Vietnam', in Sparks K (ed.), Encyclopaedia Britannica 2012 Book of the Year, edn. 1st, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., Chicago and London, pp. 490 - 491

Thayer CA, 2012, 'Cambodia and Vietnam: Good Fences Make Good Neighbours', in Sothirak P; Wade G; Hong M (ed.), Cambodia: Progress and Challenges Since 1991, edn. first, Institute of Southeast Asian Stuides, Singapore, pp. 62 - 77

Thayer CA, 2011, 'Political Legitimacy in Vietnam under Challenge', in Kane J; Loy H-C; Patapan H (ed.), Political Legitimacy in Asia: New Leadership Challenges, edn. first, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, pp. 39 - 59

Thayer CA, 2011, 'The Rise of China and India: Challenging or Reinforcing Southeast Asia's Autonomy?', in Tellis AJ; Tanner T; Keough J (ed.), Strategic Asia 2011-12 Asia Responds to Its Rising Powers - China and India, edn. first, The National Bureau of Asian Research, Seattle WA and Washington DC, pp. 313 - 346

Thayer CA, 2011, 'Recent Developments in the South China Sea: Grounds for Cautious Optimism', in Thuy TT (ed.), The South China Sea: Towards a Region of Peace, Security and Cooperation, edn. first, The Gioi Publisahers, Hnaoi, pp. 117 - 140

Thayer CA, 2011, 'Political Terrorism in Southeast Asia', in Liow J; Hosen N (ed.), Islam in Southeast Asia, Vol. 4, The Myth of the 'Second Front': Muslim Southeast Asia and the War on Terrorism, edn. first, Routledge, London, pp. 149 - 157

Thayer CA, 2011, 'The Five Power Defence Arrangements Exercises, 2004-10', in Storey I; Emmers R; Singh D (ed.), Five Power Defence Arrangements at Forty, edn. first, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, pp. 51 - 67

Thayer CA, 2011, 'Military Politics in contemporary Vietnam: Political engagement, Corporate Interests, and Professionalism', in Miietzner M (ed.), The Political Resurgence of the Military in Southeast Asia: Conflict and Leadership, edn. first, Routledge, London, pp. 63 - 84

Thayer CA, 2011, 'Vietnam', in Moran D (ed.), Climate Change and National Security: A Country-Level Analysis, edn. first, Georgetown University Press, Washington, D.C., pp. 27 - 41

Thayer CA, 2011, 'Vietnam', in Sparks KJ (ed.), Encyclopaedia Britannica 2011 Book of the Year, edn. first, Encyclopaeda Britannica, Chicago, London, New Delhi, Paris, Seoul, Sydney, Taipei, Tokyo, pp. 490 - 491

Thayer CA, 2011, 'The United States, China and Southeast Asia', in Singh D (ed.), Southeast Asian Affairs, edn. first, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, pp. 16 - 25

Thayer CA, 2011, 'China and Southeast Asia: A Shifting Zone of Interactino', in Clad J; McDonald SM; Vaughn B (ed.), The Borderlands of Southeast Asia: Geopoliltics, Terrorism, and Globalization, edn. first, National Defense University Press, Washington, DC, pp. 235 - 261

Thayer CA, 2010, 'The Vietnam People's Army: Victory at Home (1975), Success in Cambodia (1989)', in Dennis P; Grey J (ed.), Victory or Defeat: Armies in the Aftermath of Conflict, edn. first, Big Sky Publishing, Newport, NSW, pp. 149 - 175

Storey IJ; Thayer CA, 2010, 'The South China Sea Dispute: A Review of Developments and Their Implications since the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties', in Kevanan KV; Singh D (ed.), South and Southeast Asia: Responding to Changing Geo-Political and Security Challenges, edn. first, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, pp. 57 - 72

Thayer CA, 2010, 'Vietnam and Rising China: the Structural Dynamics of Mature Asymmetry', in Singh D (ed.), Southeast Asian Affairs 2010, edn. first, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, pp. 392 - 409

Thayer CA, 2010, 'Vietnam', in Sparks K (ed.), Encyclopaedia Britannica Book of the Year, edn. Original, Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc, Chicago, London, New Delhi, Paris, Seoul, Sydney, Taipei, Tokyo, pp. 490 - 491

Thayer CA, 2009, 'Political Relations', in Takashi S (ed.), Across the Causeway: A Multi-dimensional Study of Malaysia-Sinapore Relations, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, pp. 80 - 91

Thayer CA, 2009, 'Security Relations', in Takashi S (ed.), Across the Causeway: A Multi-dimensional Study of Malaysia-Sinapore Relations, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, pp. 163 - 174

Thayer CA, 2009, 'Vietnam', in Encyclopaedia Britannica, edn. Original, pp. 490 - 491

Thayer CA; Fealy G, 2009, '`Problematising linkages between Southeast Asia and International Terrorism`', in Tow WT (ed.), Security Politics in the Asia-Pacific: A Regional-Global Nexus?, edn. First, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge and New York, pp. 211 - 227

Thayer CA, 2009, 'Maritime Strategic Overview of the Asia Pacific', in Realising safe and secure seas for all : International Maritime Security Conference 2009, edn. Original, Select Pub, pp. 25 - 44

Thayer CA, 2009, 'Cambodia: The Cambodian People`s Party Consolidates Power', in Singh D; Salazar L (ed.), Southeast Asian Affairs, edn. 2007, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, pp. 85 - 101

Thayer CA, 2009, 'Terrorism Studies: The Dismal Science?', in Brawley S (ed.), Doomed to Repeat? Terrorism and the Lessons of History, edn. First, New Academia Publishing, Washington, DC, pp. 17 - 49

Thayer CA, 2008, 'Radical Islam and Political Terrorism in Southeast Asia', in Chong T (ed.), Globalization and its Counter-Forces in Southeast Asia, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, pp. 256 - 275

Thayer CA, 2008, 'Thailand', in Hotspot Histories: Asia and Oceania, edn. First, Greenwood Press, Connecticut, USA, pp. 241 - 264

Thayer CA, 2008, 'Vietnam', in Farson S; Gill P; Phythian M; Shapiro S (ed.), PSI Handbook of Global Security and Intelligence: National Approaches, Vol. 1 The Americas and Asia, edn. First, Praeger Security International, Westport, CT and London, pp. 301 - 317

Thayer CA, 2007, 'Vietnam`s Regional Integration: Domestic and External Challenges to State Sovereignty', in Balme S; Sidel M (ed.), Vietnam`s New Order, edn. 1st, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, pp. 31 - 50

Thayer CA, 2006, 'Political Terrorism in Southeast Asia: A Net Assessment (in Russian)', in Mazyrin V; Novakoka O; Tsvetov P (ed.), Asia Pacific Outlook 2004-2005, edn. First, Publishing House Klutch-S, Moscow, pp. 103 - 116

Thayer CA, 2006, 'Political Dissent and Political Reform in Vietnam 1997-2002', in Derichs C; Heberer T (ed.), The Power of Ideas: Intellectual Input and Political Change in East and Southeast Asia, edn. First, NIAS Press, Copenhagen, Denmark, pp. 115 - 132

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