ASPI suggests

The world

US President Donald Trump’s next target in a growing list of international agreements is the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Commentators in the Washington Post and The National Interest contend that Trump is right to leave the agreement, arguing that it constrains America while allowing other states to build up their intermediate-range missile arsenals. On the other side of the silo, DW claims that it’s not in Washington’s (or Europe’s) interests to withdraw from the treaty. Finally, The Atlantic takes a stab at what might come next and provides all the background you need.

As several thousand people fleeing violence and poverty approach Central American border checkpoints, Trump says he plans to cut foreign aid to the affected countries. The potential impacts of aid cuts are explained by the Council on Foreign Relations, which believes slashing aid will merely create more caravans. Taking you back to the beginning, Vox shares how the caravan formed and why.

With more gruesome details being revealed in Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, this AFP piece collected other voices of Saudi dissidents to show the fear they live in and how the murder aggravated their situations. International condemnation of the murder has also continued, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel announcing she intends to halt arms exports to Riyadh. Saudi Arabia is yet to receive such strong condemnation for its role in the brutal war in Yemen, a conflict examined here by the New York Times.

BuzzFeed has an in-depth portrait of Maria Zakharova, the infamous Russian foreign ministry spokesperson, focusing on how she turned around Russia’s diplomatic communications strategy. The Daily Beast and Associated Press have both summarised an investigative piece by Russian journalist Denis Korotkov in which he reveals that Yevgeny Prigozhin—better known as ‘Putin’s chef’ and the man behind the St Petersburg troll factory—allegedly ordered violent attacks against opponents of the Russian president.

The Japan Times looks the history of the relationship between Japan and China and the New York Times examines what to expect from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to China this week. Branching off slightly and for the economists out there, see the Financial Times for the latest on China’s economic decline and this War on the Rocks piece on China’s economic vulnerability.

The Belt and Road Initiative may be losing some of its appeal as concern grows over debt traps and ‘Chinese colonialism’. Chatham House explains why progress on the BRI has stalled and looks at whether China is running out of resources to support it. The Carnegie Endowment investigates scepticism in Europe surrounding the BRI and the challenges faced by both the EU and the US in maintaining a rules-based global order. Further afield, The Diplomat analyses the impact Pakistan’s new stance on the China–Pakistan economic corridor will have on the BRI.

This interactive tool put together by the Council on Foreign Relations gives a neat overview of gender parity and its potential economic impact. It offers details on how to achieve it, how selected countries perform and how significantly the GDPs of various economies would grow through if gender parity could be achieved.

Bringing it home, the debate on whether to move Australia’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has continued, with arguments on The Strategist both for and against the move, and a look at the potential effects on Indonesia–Australia relations in The Diplomat. It’s also been revealed that senior diplomats and military chiefs were not consulted before reports emerged about Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s plan to review the embassy’s location.

Tech geek

Assuming the US withdraws from the INF Treaty, what are America’s options for deploying new intermediate-range conventional and nuclear missile systems? A key factor will be responding to China’s build-up of intermediate-range nuclear forces. Jesse Johnson in the Japan Times has a good overview of how Washington might counter such weapons.

There’s also a great piece by Eric Sayers in War on the Rocks on how intermediate-range nuclear and conventional ballistic missiles might be deployed in the Indo-Pacific region to counter Chinese and Russian nuclear forces. How are the Russians responding? Check out three key strategic commentators giving Moscow’s view.

There’s some interesting news in military airpower. At Euronaval 2018, France’s Dassault Aviation showed models for its UCAS (unmanned combat air system) and, most interestingly, its next-generation fighter, making clear that the French are thinking about manned-unmanned air combat capabilities as part of Europe’s proposed future air combat system for the mid-2030s.

China is developing liquid metal robots, inspired by the T-1000 Terminator in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and is planning to produce a new generation of ‘soft robots’ within the next 10 years using liquid metal alloys that can self-reconfigure.

Thinking about the future of submarine warfare? David Axe in War is Boring talks about the US Navy’s plans for future attack submarines, and Tong Zhao has a great piece on China’s desire for more nuclear-armed submarines.

This week in history

This week in 1945 the United Nations was officially established after the original 51 members ratified its charter on 24 October. The UN has conducted 63 peacekeeping missions across the globe since its founding and its membership has expanded to 193 nations. South Sudan became the newest member in 2011.


Having trouble picturing the size and scope of the Central American immigrant caravan? Be blown away by The Atlantic’s photo series.

See the insightful and confronting address by the chief of the Australian Defence Force, General Angus Campbell, at this year’s Women in National Security conference held at the Australian National University. [32:26]


ASPI’s special episode of Policy, Guns and Money dives into counterterrorism from Australian and British perspectives with special guest Sir Paul Stephenson, former commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police. [31:20]

Listen to Can He Do That? to remain up to date on the challenges presented to Trump by the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and what exactly is at stake for the US president. [29:53]

How effective is the US nuclear umbrella in the Northeast Asia? The Korea Society focuses on South Korea and Japan and how they fit into America’s Asia strategy. [28:19]


Canberra, 1 November, 6–7.15 pm, ANU Gender Institute: ‘Countering violent extremism and national plans for women, peace and security’. Information here.

Melbourne, 30 October, 12–1.30 pm, University of Melbourne: ‘Reporting North Korea’. Book here.

Sydney, 29 October, 5–7 pm, University of Sydney: ‘Annual Hedley Bull memorial lecture’ with Bob Carr. Tickets here ($2).