ASPI suggests


Britain attempted something right out of Australia’s political playbook: a leadership spill (without years of practice, though, this one was unsuccessful and Theresa May remains PM). Vox, CNN and Carnegie get into the details. The National Interest investigates the latest European Court of Justice ruling on the possible revoking of Article 50. See the IISS for Brexit’s impact on European defence.

And it wasn’t just the UK—France and Poland also had no-confidence votes this week. However, both leaderships easily survived. The Wall Street Journal details Macron’s moment of truth, following the violent ‘yellow vest’ protests, which The Verge approaches through the Facebook lens. And the Washington Post explains why the vote in Warsaw was actually a tactical move by the government.

In Germany, meanwhile, Angela Merkel’s successor as head of the Christian Democratic Union (and potentially the next chancellor) has been picked: Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer—‘AKK’ to make life easier for non-German speakers—profiled in this Guardian article and this AFP piece.

Hungary continues to cause headaches in European capitals. After the forced closure of the Central European University (read a former student’s take here), Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has continued his government’s dismantling of democracy. The New York Times has details on Hungary’s forthcoming parallel court system and Bloomberg has some additional analysis of how Orban cemented his grip on power and executive control over the judiciary.

This NATO Defence College policy brief looks at the impact of the EU’s security and defence aspirations on NATO. Politico spells out four suggestions for improving the continent’s defence, while the American Enterprise Institute says the proposal to establish a European army isn’t realistic. Look back at this European Council on Foreign Relations report, which claims that rearming Europe would allow for arms control negotiations with Russia. Estonian defence minister Jüri Luik, meanwhile, has written on the importance of NATO and how to respond to Russian aggression.

Artificial intelligence is booming all over the world, and the latest developments are covered by The Verge. What may surprise you is that, according to Quartz, Europe, not China or the US, is the global leader in research on the subject—based on the Artificial Intelligence Index 2018 annual report. Darran Anderson, in The Atlantic, looks at the grim future of urban warfare, highlighting how it—and the design of cities themselves—will be changed by technology and smart data. Speaking of technology, this fascinating analysis by Matt Korda shows how Yandex Maps—Russia’s Google Maps equivalent—has revealed military facilities in Turkey and Israel by blurring satellite images.

Very visible indeed is the picture on Vladimir Putin’s Stasi ID, which was uncovered in Germany this week. This older BBC analysis explains how Putin’s years in East Germany had a lasting impact on him. And this Foreign Policy article criticises the soft stance Berlin has taken towards Chinese tech company Huawei.

The end of the year is a time to look both back and ahead. Politico presents its list of 28 people who will shape Europe in the coming year. And Time selected ‘the guardians’—four journalists and one news organisation—as its ‘person of the year’, in order to acknowledge their courage for reporting the truth. Sticking with this theme, we commend this piece on the experiences of war photographers and the legacy of photojournalism, and the ABC’s investigation revealing Australia’s secret connections to the war in Yemen.

Tech geek

The big news this week (besides the arrival of Australia’s first two F-35 joint strike fighters) is the naming of Australia’s future submarine as the ‘Attack’ class, with the first boat to be named HMAS Attack. Will Australia follow British tradition and give all the new submarines names that start with ‘A’?

From the oceans on earth to the ocean of space, NASA’s OSRIS-REx asteroid probe has discovered water inside asteroid Bennu, which it is now orbiting. With other asteroids like Ceres showing evidence of water, this implies that the substance is common in asteroids. There’s a possibility that it could one day be mined from asteroids to provide rocket fuel and support human exploration of the solar system.

China analyst Richard Fisher thinks Beijing is planning a global navy with at least five aircraft carriers, including nuclear-powered ones. He argues that China could end up with 10 carriers and a marine corps of 100,000 troops, supported by up to 40 amphibious ships.

The Center for International Maritime Security has an interesting interview with novelist and former US naval officer David Poyer on how he writes his naval thrillers, which seems apt given the blog’s great support of future war fiction. Check out The great Pacific war and short story fiction week.

Following the flight of Russian strategic bombers to Venezuela, Stratfor offers some insight on the implications this may have, and the Jamestown Foundation looks at the electronic warfare capabilities Russia has deployed in Kaliningrad.

This week in history

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed in Paris on 10 December 1948. Here’s a short video on its history, and the International Policy Digest analyses its effectiveness and what’s changed since over the past 70 years. The UN has put together an overview of the women who have shaped the declaration.


This DW documentary follows Nobel Peace Prize winner Denis Mukwege and his fight against sexual violence [28:25], and Al-Jazeera interviewed him and his fellow laureate, Nadia Murad. [25:20]

This New York Times documentary shows that fake news is not just a recent phenomenon in a look at the history of disinformation successfully harnessed by the KGB during the Cold War. [15:37]


Mark Leonard’s World in 30 Minutes analyses how Germany’s approach to international leadership has shifted from economic power to a new-found sense of strategic purpose. [47:37]

Brussels Sprouts chats about the security environment in northern Europe, including NATO’s recent Trident Juncture exercise and EU defence initiatives in the region. [14:15]

EU Confidential talks racial and gender diversity in the EU before addressing Europe’s migration debate. [39:07]


Canberra, 19 December, 6–7.30 pm, ANU Climate Change Institute: ‘Explaining the Katowice Climate Change Conference’. Registration here.

Canberra, 10 January 2019, 10 am – 12 pm, the National Youth Science Forum: ‘STEM speed dating’. Registration and FAQs here.

Don’t forget to purchase tickets for ASPI’s ‘Women, peace and security masterclass: in policy and on operations’ in February. Tickets are selling fast!

This is the last ‘ASPI suggests’ for our European team member, Jacqueline Westermann, and in case you hadn’t noticed, we made use of her final edition to hound you with analyses and deep dives almost entirely on European topics. We wish you a happy festive season and a good start to 2019, when our weekly suggestions for reading up on China and President Trump (and Europe) will resume.