Des Ball, Australian security and defence expert, Died at 59

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Desmond John “Des” Ball was born on May 20, 1947, and died on October 12, 2016.

He was an Australian academic and expert on defence and security.

Ball was credited with successfully advising the US against nuclear escalation in the 1970s.

He attended the Australian National University in 1965, shifting from being a promising student in economics to security studies.

Des completed a PhD supervised by Hedley Bull, on the global nuclear strategies of the United States and the Soviet Union.

Ball was based for several months in the USA at the Institute of War and Peace.

Ball joined ANU as a lecturer in 1974, later becoming Special Professor in the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific in 1987.

He was an opponent of the draft for the Vietnam War in Australia (although not the war itself, at the time), and was arrested for protesting it.

Des won an appeal in the Supreme Court against his conviction.

Since 1966 he was a “person of interest” for ASIO, particularly following his inquiries into the Pine Gap secret tracking facility and Nurrungar in Australia from 1969, and was taken to court after the publication of A Suitable Piece of Real Estate in 1980.

Des held ASIO in disdain, for its inability to recognise aspects of defence co-operation with the US infringed Australian national interests by remaining entirely secret.

Des Ball passed away at 59 years old.

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