ASPI suggests

The world

Amid the fallout over the alleged murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey, Middle East Eye has obtained gruesome details via a leaked audio recording, purportedly of the killing. BuzzFeed reports that think tanks in Washington are debating whether to return Saudi donations and funding, and CNN has the names of those who have—and haven’t—chosen to boycott the Saudi government’s ‘Future Investment Initiative’ conference next week.

Jumping to Eastern Europe: Crimea is dealing with the aftermath of Wednesday’s school shooting in Kerch. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has the details. The BBC explains why the split in the Orthodox Church, following the Constantinople Patriarchate’s recognition of the Ukrainian Orthodox church’s independence, matters for stability in the region.

Indonesia is usually at the fore in rhetoric about Australia’s strategic outlook, but as Evan Laksmana argues, the reality of the Indonesian–Australian security partnership is different. He also has a longer piece outlining steps Canberra should take to ramp up the relationship, with a focus on maritime security. Speaking of which, RAND has laid out the challenges and opportunities presented by Indonesia’s maritime security situation. CSIS, meanwhile, outlines Indonesia’s potential to be a major player in the global system and the need for greater bilateral ties with the US.

Also from CSIS, a new report puts forward three proposals to deescalate and control the situation in the South China Sea, something which could be timely as tensions there continue to rise. The Diplomat reacts to recent US–China confrontations and explains how Australia’s approach could change as a result of the Liberal leadership spill. VOA investigates Japan’s growing pressure on China in the region after a submarine, helicopter carrier and two destroyers conducted military drills throughout the SCS. Writing in The National Interest, Mark Valencia takes a swipe at hawkish analysts and claims that proposals for the US to increase pressure on China in the SCS will only ‘goad’ the country into war.

Sticking with China, Chatham House believes there’s more to the story of Beijing launching its first indigenous ice breaker, which is ostensibly designed for scientific research. Foreign Policy claims that after some exceptional accomplishments over the past 40 years, China’s leadership may now be taking the country backward. And Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian asks whether the detention of Interpol chief Meng Hongwei will have repercussions for future Chinese leadership of international organisations.

The bubonic plague, Spanish flu, Ebola and … ? Few doubt the likelihood of another global pandemic and Vox reveals just how unprepared the world is to fight one. Gabrielle Fitzgerald provides some important steps to increase preparedness for such an event, and the BBC looks into the likelihood of an outbreak actually occurring. And in the wake of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, ABC Science explores what life could be like in Australia’s north in a hotter 2040.

And finally, Stephen Hawking’s posthumously published book Brief answers to the big questions dives into artificial intelligence, black holes and time travel, among other topics. Wired has an excerpt on how Hawkings’ life was shaped by technology and his belief that information technology will shape the future. The Guardian discusses Anna Burns’s Man Booker prize win for her timely novel Milkman. And for something completely different, see here.

Tech geek

Space analyst Namrata Goswami considers China’s ‘space dream’, which aims to create a Chinese-led system that challenges US dominance in space. Goswami argues that China wants to write the rules for the future space order, including establishing Chinese-managed zones (implying control of astropolitical terrain, such as the moon) and Chinese-led adjudication courts to settle space disputes.

The Chinese navy’s air force (PLAN-AF) has started deploying a new bomber, the H-6J. It’s designed as an updated anti-ship missile platform and can carry three times as many YJ-12 anti-ship cruise missiles as the H-6G aircraft it’s replacing. China may also be planning to reveal the H-20 long-range bomber in 2019. With a stealthy design that invites comparison with the US B-2A Spirit and B-21 Raider, the new bomber will transform China’s long-range airpower and offer the prospect of China establishing a true nuclear triad.

Part of preparing for war is thinking about how and where it might be fought. RAND has a great article by Michael Spirtas on whether the US is ready for war with Russia or China. And in a move reminiscent of Tom Clancy’s 1986 novel Red storm rising, the US Marine Corps is practising to take back Iceland from Russian occupation in the next war.

Finally, get ready for mind control of drones. DARPA is testing a neural implant that one day will allow a human to control unmanned aerial vehicles through thought alone. That could have profound implications for the future of airpower, raising the prospect of an F-35 pilot communicating with unmanned wingmen through a neural, rather than digital, link.

This week in history

The Black Power salute during the 1968 Olympics to protest racial inequality in the US sparked international outcry this week 50 years ago. The Guardian has an explainer video that also draws parallels to today, while Yahoo! Sports looks at the gesture’s impact on Australian sprinter Peter Norman’s life.


Watch Brookings’ Michael O’Hanlon chairing a discussion on political change and security challenges in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as the Congolese prepare to head to the polls after a two-year delay [1:17:38]. And see this photo series by Al-Jazeera for a glimpse of what it’s like to be a child soldier or a young woman living in the DRC.


Get the latest on Brexit and whether it should (or can) be stopped, the reopening of the Jordan–Syria border and the Hong Kong protests in this episode of Monocle’s The Briefing. [29:45]

The Atlantik-Brücke’s new podcast On the Record features Julianne Smith, former deputy national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden. She shares her opinions on the transatlantic alliance and why so many Americans support Trump and his foreign policy. [25:54]

The DiploPod brings us an update from the Balkans where Serbia and Kosovo are trying to end their century-old dispute. Jen Psaki talks to Bekim Çollaku, chief of staff to Kosovar President Hashim Thaçi, and Carnegie’s Judy Dempsey. [31:50]


Canberra, 22 October, 6–7 pm, AIIA: ‘Ukraine’s perception of world security today’ with Ukraine’s deputy prime minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration, Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze. Tickets here ($10).

Canberra, 24 October, 5–6.15 pm, ANU College of Asia and the Pacific: ‘Threat of trade wars and financial crises: Asia’s response’. Register here.

Sydney, 24 October, 6–7.30 pm, University of Sydney and Sydney Environment Institute: ‘Why island nations’ isolation on the climate change threat must end’. Free registration.