ASPI suggests
11 Aug 2017|

Welcome back, dear readers, for another ‘ASPI suggests’ full of ‘fire, fury and, frankly, power’. And a big thanks to M’sieur James Mugg for diligently shepherding this feature for the past couple of weeks … Wonks of all stripes (particularly those rare capability-focused beasts) can keep up with Jimmy by following @JDMugg on Twitter.

First, here are a few select links on this week’s war of words between Donald Trump and the North Korean regime. Over at War on the Rocks, Ankit Panda and Vipin Narang give their take on Trump’s improvised foreign policy, claiming that the president has ‘negotiated himself into a disastrous strategic corner’. Oy vey. With that in mind, this month’s editorial in Scientific American takes aim at the president’s ability to unilaterally order the use of nuclear weapons. Here’s another idea, I guess …

Ian Buruma has a fresh piece in the New York Review of Books on the 4.5 hour 1976 doco The Memory of Justice. ‘Nuff said.

Another week, another stack of shiny new research … Brookings India’s Dhruva Jaishankar has penned this tidy chapter on Indian grand strategy in our ‘non-strategic age’, while over at CSIS, Christopher K. Johnson has set out to help the rest of us understand the leadership machinations in the CCP as the Party Congress approaches. Don’t miss this punchy 101 on the Beijing–Pyongyang relationship, courtesy of Geoff Wade over at the Parliamentary Library’s Flagpost blawg. And after their recent conference exploring the ASEAN perspective on Freedom of Navigation, RSiS have distilled the conversation into a handy summary for your delectation. 

I don’t know about you, but it seems that most people I come into contact with are enamoured at present by the small-screen telling of The Handmaid’s Tale—the whole thing is over here on SBS. If that’s your jam and you’ve already devoured Margaret Atwood’s novels (and this killer New Yorker profile), then this collection of 100 works of dystopian fiction. Yes, some are far better than others… but who doesn’t enjoy a good list?


Here are two aural delights from CSIS. The first is from the well-known CogitAsia podcast, which opened the door to a recent event featuring Ely Ratner (formerly in Joe Biden’s office and now at the Council on Foreign Relations), who discussed his provocative Foreign Affairs piece on the South China Sea. The second is from their ChinaPower project. Bonnie Glaser was joined by Ben Bland for a discussion about youth and identity in Hong Kong. (Bland is the brains behind this recent Penguin special on HK.)

Ahoy, history buffs! If it’s not already on your radar, be sure to at least check out the Revolutions podcast, which does exactly what it says on the box: week in, week out, the world’s great political revolutions are presented in granular, gripping detail. And when you’re not listening, wade into the show’s hefty list of recommended reads.


The Alliances and American Leadership Project at CSIS recently convened a tremendously useful panel which looked into the history of Washington’s Asian alliances in order to shine a light on how those relationships might evolve and be used to tackle some of the challenges the region now faces. Check it out here (91 mins).


Sydney: Our friends at the Lowy Institute have some heavy hitters landing on their doorstep in a couple of weeks, when Kori Schake and Thomas Wright will show up to discuss US international policy under President Trump. Details over at the Lowy site.

Canberra: Japanophiles and security scholars will revel in the recent confirmation that Andrew Oros is set to bring his book tour to town. Get along on 17 August. (Oros’ recent effort, Japan’s security renaissance: new policies and politics for the 21st century, is a must-read.)

Also in the capital, Alliance watchers should make sure their calendars are clear on 24 August when the ANU’s National Security College will host a trio of CSIS’s top Asia hands—Mike Green, Amy Searight and Andrew Shearer—to talk all things ANZUS. Don’t miss it.

Perth: On 24 August, the Perth USAsia Centre will host a public panel event in advance of the inaugural two-day Bali Process Government and Business Forum. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will join the forum’s co-chairs, Aussie mining mogul Andrew Forrest and Indonesian media mogul Eddy Sariaatmadja, to discuss how to fight modern slavery and human trafficking in our region.