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ASPI suggests

Posted By , and on February 15, 2019 @ 15:17

The world

The US Congress has passed [1] a compromise border security deal that will partially fund President Donald Trump’s border wall and avoid another government shutdown. But the US$1.4 billion deal falls well short of the US$5 billion Trump says is needed and, to make up the gap, he says he will declare a national emergency [2] after the Republican congressional leadership dropped its opposition to the plan. The deal’s been described as a ‘massive capitulation [3]’ and worse than one the president could have signed prior to the 35-day government shutdown that began in December over funding for the wall.

Susan Glasser writes [4] in The New Yorker that Republicans have adopted a new strategy for following a president whose plans are unclear to them: praying. This Atlantic piece [5] explains the full range of a president’s powers if a state of emergency is declared.

Staying in the western hemisphere, Colombian President Ivan Duque says his embattled Venezuelan counterpart Nicolás Maduro’s time is up [6] and has called on the country’s military to shift its vital support to Juan Guaidó. Maduro claims the US has invented a humanitarian crisis and has blocked border crossings [7] to stop American aid reaching Venezuela. This analysis [8] examines why a US intervention along the lines of those in Panama and Grenada is unlikely to end the crisis.

Earlier this year, UN Dispatch [9] highlighted the difficulties faced by UN peacekeeping forces as funding shortfalls begin to impact on deployments. Now, as mandates become more complex and political support is often patchy at best, the Cairo Review of Global Affairs [10] has put forward ideas on how to reform UN peacekeeping operations. A prime example of this much-needed reform has come from the stabilisation mission to Mali, which started in 2013. Strategy Bridge [11] details a prime example of this much-needed reform through the lens of the stabilisation mission to Mali, which has proved costly both in lives lost and financially. Further complications arise from China’s increasing involvement in peacekeeping operations. Beijing provides resources and capabilities to UN missions, but at what cost? Christoph Zuercher [12] may have the answers.

Northeast Queensland has been ravaged by floods that are estimated to have killed between 300,000 and 500,000 cattle. See the Guardian [13] for details and devastating images. ASPI’s Anthony Bergin in the APPS Policy Forum [14] highlights the need for better disaster planning in Australia.

And for some extra reading, is Rwanda becoming the powerhouse of Africa? Foreign Brief [15] seems to think so.

Tech geek

The Pentagon has released its first artificial intelligence strategy [16], highlighting the importance of AI in future national security and the economy. Wired [17] provides an in-depth look at the strategy, and Forbes [18] questions whether it will have the desired effect—to make the US the world leader in AI design and development. Brookings [19] points out the lack of initiative displayed by the US government to meet the key requirements outlined in the strategy. And, finally, Foreign Policy [20] identifies a peculiar fact missing from the document—the US military isn’t nearly as advanced in building autonomous weapons and robots as we thought, while Breaking Defense [21] asks, is the US losing the AI race?

With the signing [22] of the strategic partnership agreement between the Australian government and Naval Group, it’s a good time to think about the future of undersea warfare. The use of unmanned platforms has to be part of the future, and Boeing [23] is thinking big with the Orca Extra-Large UUV, based on its Echo Voyager [24] UUV.

Another interesting future capability, which unmanned underwater vehicles can support, is seabed warfare. CIMSEC has a fascinating two-part article on the topic (part 1 here [25] and part 2 here [26]).

Turning to the high frontier, the US Defense Intelligence Agency has released its 2019 Challenges to security in space report [27], which highlights Russian and Chinese counterspace (antisatellite) developments as a key challenge.

The Drive’s ‘Warzone’ has a disturbing report [28] on how US adversaries have used cyber operations to hack the US Army’s new Stryker Dragoon armoured fighting vehicles, in particular, the vehicles’ data-sharing, navigation and digital communications systems.

This week in history

This week in 1990, Nelson Mandela was released from prison in South Africa after over 27 years of incarceration. Four years later, Mandela would become the first black president of South Africa and is accredited with ending apartheid in the country. See the BBC [29] for the original footage of Mandela’s release.


It has been four decades since the Islamic revolution in Iran. See Al Jazeera’s photo series [30] for a look into the celebrations that occurred around the country.

BBC [31] has a series on old Cold War bunkers that can be found dotted all around the Albanian countryside.

You may have heard of the ‘whale jail’ in Russia in which 11 orcas and 87 beluga whales are being held captive to be transported to aquariums and, possibly, Chinese theme parks. See this short National Geographic [32] video for more information. [2:23]


Not for the faint-hearted, this episode of SpyCast [33] looks into the manhunt for Dr Josef Mengele, a Nazi war criminal known for conducting experiments on prisoners interned in concentration camps. [1:01.58]

After the guilty finding against Mexican drug lord Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán, this episode [34] of Planet Money explains how US authorities sought to create a decoy bank to catch drug traffickers who needed to launder millions of dollars in cash every week. [19:35]

The Modern War Institute [35] discusses virtual war, what it entails, how it has changed (and will change) conflict, and the necessity of changing how we think about war. [34:10]


Melbourne, 18 February, 11.30 am – 12.30 pm, University of Melbourne: ‘China governs borderless threats: non-traditional security in the Mekong’. Book here [36].

Sydney, 21 February, 6–8.15 pm, University of Technology Sydney/Australian National University: ‘Climate update 2019’. Register here [37].

Sydney, 25 February, 12.30–1.30 pm, ASPI: ‘Frontier cyberwars and what’s next: in-conversation with the New York Times’s David E. Sanger’. More information here [38].

Canberra, 27 February, 6–7 pm, Australian Institute of International Affairs – ACT, ‘The seven presidents of Indonesia’, talk by Dr Peter McCawley. Book here [39].

Article printed from The Strategist: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au

URL to article: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/aspi-suggests-118/

URLs in this post:

[1] passed: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/14/congress-votes-to-pass-spending-bill-and-avoid-government-shutdown.html

[2] national emergency: https://edition.cnn.com/2019/02/14/politics/donald-trump-wall-funding-bill/index.html

[3] massive capitulation: https://edition.cnn.com/2019/02/14/politics/trump-border-funding-bill-wall/index.html

[4] writes: https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-trumps-washington/the-new-republican-strategy-for-dealing-with-the-emergency-that-is-trump-pray

[5] piece: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/01/presidential-emergency-powers/576418/

[6] time is up: https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/new-atlanticist/maduro-s-days-are-over-says-colombian-president-duque

[7] blocked border crossings: https://www.economist.com/the-americas/2019/02/16/venezuelas-dictator-vows-to-block-deliveries-of-american-aid

[8] analysis: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/andres-oppenheimer/article226008405.html

[9] UN Dispatch: https://www.undispatch.com/un-peacekeeping-faces-massive-funding-shortfall/

[10] Cairo Review of Global Affairs: https://www.thecairoreview.com/global-forum/reforming-un-peacekeeping/

[11] Strategy Bridge: https://thestrategybridge.org/the-bridge/2019/2/11/the-united-nations-in-mali-a-new-approach-to-peacekeeping

[12] Christoph Zuercher: https://asia.nikkei.com/Opinion/China-s-peacekeepers-new-resources-new-values

[13] Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/feb/13/we-have-death-and-devastation-at-every-turn-the-flood-massacre-of-queensland-cattle?CMP=share_btn_tw

[14] APPS Policy Forum: https://www.policyforum.net/townsville-floods-demonstrate-need-for-better-disaster-planning/

[15] Foreign Brief: https://www.foreignbrief.com/africa/kagame-and-kigali-rwandas-curious-rise-to-africas-envy/

[16] artificial intelligence strategy: https://media.defense.gov/2019/Feb/12/2002088963/-1/-1/1/SUMMARY-OF-DOD-AI-STRATEGY.PDF

[17] Wired: https://www.wired.com/story/pentagon-doubles-down-ai-wants-help-big-tech/

[18] Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jessicabaron/2019/02/11/will-trumps-new-artificial-intelligence-initiative-make-the-u-s-the-world-leader-in-ai/#309f3fdda017

[19] Brookings: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/techtank/2019/02/12/assessing-trumps-artificial-intelligence-executive-order/

[20] Foreign Policy: https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/02/13/no-the-pentagon-is-not-working-on-killer-robots-yet/

[21] Breaking Defense: https://breakingdefense.com/2019/02/artificial-intelligence-are-we-losing-the-race/?utm_campaign=Breaking%20News&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=69858392&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_6OMP0-KxSdHymmdTrmFDcrq2PR_Fst_ErIliQqBXG_snwlqxyWA9RA34U-9Eq8qUPxYK8p_SPj9xhhr60Ge-QdfSwxw&_hsmi=69858392

[22] signing: https://www.defenceconnect.com.au/maritime-antisub/3537-one-step-closer-to-delivery-for-future-subs

[23] Boeing: https://news.usni.org/2019/02/13/41119#more-41119

[24] Echo Voyager: https://www.boeing.com/defense/autonomous-systems/echo-voyager/index.page

[25] here: http://cimsec.org/the-deep-ocean-seabed-warfare-and-the-defense-of-undersea-infrastructure-pt-1/39593

[26] here: http://cimsec.org/the-deep-ocean-seabed-warfare-and-the-defense-of-undersea-infrastructure-pt-2/39609

[27] report: http://www.dia.mil/Military-Power-Publications/

[28] report: http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/26458/the-u-s-armys-new-up-gunned-stryker-armored-vehicles-have-been-hacked?utm_source=RC+Defense+Morning+Recon&utm_campaign=fd1dc4a4b1-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_02_13_10_58&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_694f73a8dc-fd1dc4a4b1-84246429

[29] BBC: https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-africa-23102298/archive-nelson-mandela-released-from-prison

[30] photo series: https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/inpictures/pictures-iran-celebrates-islamic-revolution-turns-40-190211105327705.html

[31] BBC: https://www.bbc.com/news/in-pictures-47157127

[32] National Geographic: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2019/02/orca-and-beluga-whales-trapped-in-russia-for-aquarium-trade/

[33] SpyCast: https://player.fm/series/spycast-170555/hunting-mengele-a-conversation-with-david-kennedy-david-turk-and-howard-safir

[34] episode: https://n.pr/2S0P0l8

[35] Modern War Institute: https://mwi.usma.edu/mwi-podcast-fighting-virtual-war/

[36] here: https://events.unimelb.edu.au/events/12006-china-governs-borderless-threats-non-traditional-security-in-the-mekong

[37] here: http://www.anu.edu.au/events/climate-update-2019-sydney

[38] here: https://www.aspi.org.au/event/frontier-cyberwars-and-whats-next-conversation-new-york-timess-david-e-sanger

[39] here: https://aiiaact.tidyhq.com/public/schedule/events/22504-the-seven-presidents-of-indonesia

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