ASPI suggests

The world

Ten years ago, the Lehman Brothers collapse was the final catalyst for the global financial crisis that sent economies across the world spiralling into the recession. The crisis had been brewing for at least a year. The Financial Review peers deeply into what happened and puts together some of the lessons learned. Arancha Gonzalez explains in The Economist why multilateral cooperation has proven to be essential in the aftermath of financial crises. For Quartz, Gwynn Guilford travels back in time to the global financial crisis of 1825 to explore the roots of emerging-market crises. And this Guardian long read takes a different angle, using James Bond to assess the Bretton Woods system but also diving into the history of eurobonds.

A UN Human Rights Council report on Syria claims that three government attacks on rebel-held regions in the past six months incorporated chemical weapons, taking the total number of such attacks to 40 in the seven-year conflict. Reuters reports on indications from Germany that it may participate in military intervention if the use of chemical weapons continues.

Foreign Policy looks at Israel’s support of Syrian rebels in the context of its standoff with Iran, and the National Interest examines whether Turkey and Russia will butt heads over the growing crisis. This regularly updated interactive map of Syria shows the latest events and where they happened.

The September issue of CTC Sentinel, West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center’s publication, features an article by Bryant Neal Viñas and Mitchell Silber on Viñas’s experiences as the first American recruited by al-Qaeda after 9/11. And are you wondering why John Bolton, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, has an issue with the International Criminal Court? Read Slate for the details.

Word has spread that Australia outbid China to fund Fiji’s new military base, and the East Asia Forum dives into changes in the South Pacific due to increased Chinese, Russian, Australian and French engagement in the region. The ABC provides all the facts and figures about China’s presence in the region. Moving further afield, The Strategy Bridge describes the strategic importance of Southeast Asia and of the US’s role in it. Some new analysis from Rahul Roy-Chaudhury at the International Institute for Strategic Studies looks at maritime security in the Indian Ocean and how to foster cooperation among regional groupings.

Brookings has released a new report on the future of military technology. Against the prevailing view, Michael Horowitz believes the race for AI software won’t just be run between the US and China. Also swimming against the tide is War on the Rocks, with its suggestion that the development of swarming technology may be a bit hyped up. Rain Liivoja explains the difficulties in achieving an international agreement on autonomous weapons.

The Global Climate Action Summit wraps up today in San Francisco. While Brookings analyses what to expect from the summit, National Geographic has already found the answer to global warming: forests. The Atlantic looks at the impact climate change is having on world politics using the ‘Day Zero’ scenario from the South African city of Cape Town.

Rounding it off, the Financial Times’ Yuan Yang describes her feelings about returning to China, where she was born, as the paper’s correspondent. Both National Geographic and The Conversation shed light on elephant poaching in Botswana and its effects on conservation. And the Smithsonian Magazine has a fascinating long read about the essential role women played in the Venona project, the US’s effort to break Soviet spy communications.

Tech geek

Ever wanted to peek inside an American E-4B National Airborne Operations Center (codenamed ‘Nightwatch’, or, more prosaically, the ‘doomsday plane’), the jet that follows Air Force One around? There’s a fascinating video of what it’s like inside the aircraft. This aircraft, of which the US has four, is based on a converted Boeing 747 and is responsible for managing nuclear warfare. Its systems are ’80s retro and fittings are hardly luxurious!

The risk of space war is increasing. France looks set to get serious about space security after one of its satellites was approached by a Russian co-orbital inspection satellite, suspected of gathering intelligence. Meanwhile, the US is looking at options to build a space-based surveillance network that would help counter the rapidly growing threat posed by Chinese and Russian hypersonic weapons. That would likely see Russia and China target such a system with their anti-satellite capabilities.

Another option to counter the growing menace of hypersonic weapons is a DARPA project called ‘Glide Breaker’, which is designed to counter hypersonic glide vehicles like China’s DF-17 (formerly DZ-ZF) and Russia’s Avanguard system.

If a major military conflict does happen between the US and Russia in Europe, the Suwalki Gap in Poland will likely be the first point of conflict. There’s an interesting article in Stars and Stripes looking at forward-deployed US forces in the region, which is the modern equivalent to the Cold War Fulda Gap in West Germany.

Finally, Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force has successfully tested the latest Aegis system, with an SM-3 Block 1B missile shooting down a target missile.


Meduza has some powerful images from the violent 9 September protests across Russia, where demonstrators expressed their anger about the planned pension reforms.  

This week is Media Literacy Week, and the ABC has put together a ‘survival guide’ for navigating the increasing challenges of information reporting. [Videos, 39–48 minutes each)

SBS on Demand has added the hit British TV series The State to its line-up. The four episodes follow four Brits (two men and two women) travelling to join the Islamic State, capturing how they come to grapple with the reality of life in the so-called caliphate.


ASPI brings you two episodes of Policy, Guns and Money this week: a special with voices from the Land Forces exhibition [32:58], and the latest episode talking about rising right-wing extremism, decriminalising gay sex in India, PLA expansion and Chinese surveillance capabilities. [33:00]

The Dead Prussian hosts the ANU’s Dr Brendan Taylor and chats about his book The four flashpoints: how Asia goes to war’. [28:19]


Sydney, 18 September, 6–7.30 pm, University of Sydney/Sydney Ideas: ‘Differing views: valuing disagreement’. Register here.

Canberra, 20 September, 12–1.30 pm, ANU’s College of Asia and the Pacific: ‘Expanding horizons: Indonesia’s regional engagement in the Indo-Pacific era’. Registration here.

Canberra, 20 September, 6–7 pm, Australian Institute of International Affairs: ‘Hybrids and cascades: new thinking on peacebuilding’. Tickets here ($10 ☹).