ASPI suggests
29 Mar 2019| and

The world

Another week, another edition of ‘Suggests’ with the latest in Brexit drama from the UK. MPs are set to vote on part of the deal—the ‘withdrawal agreement’—that Prime Minister Theresa May has already failed to get through parliament twice. The difference now might be that May says she’ll step down if her Tory colleagues back the plan. For more on how the UK got into this mess, see this Guardian piece, which, well, we’ll let the title do the talking: ‘How the media let malicious idiots take over’.

Debate surrounding international relations theory usually focuses on the differences between liberalism and realism. Considering recent Brexit revelations, however, Foreign Affairs has come out in defence of cosmopolitanism—the idea that all humans belong to a single, borderless community. This interesting read from Foreign Policy highlights the failure of IR theories to understand or even include the diversity of cultures across the globe and how they influence international politics. See this article by Lea Ypi of the London School of Economics for an insight into why socialism is still so attractive, particularly to young people.

Ukrainians will head to the polls on 31 March in an election already marred by allegations of corruption and Russian interference. The National Interest throws its two cents into the ring with some background on the elections and on the frontrunners. And see Brookings for a look at Russia’s ‘grey zone’ operations against Ukraine over the past five years and analysis of how they might affect the election results. Sit down with Ukrainian journalist Nataliya Gumenyuk, who discusses her opinions of the 2019 presidential elections with Chatham House. And finally, some Russians can’t bear the thought that their resident furry friend has successfully predicted the next president. See Reuters for details.

A train touring Russia full of ‘trophies’ that the country’s military claims it captured in Syria has reached Vladivostok. The ‘Syrian breakthrough’ exhibition from Moscow has been travelling over the past month and has visited dozens of cities on the way. See this Twitter thread from Rob Lee for a series of photos and videos of what’s been on display, including tanks, UN armoured vehicles captured by Islamic State, and US-made Humvees with extra plating attached by militants. Smaller items like rifles, motorcycles and drones used in the Syrian conflict have also been on show.

Some great analysis on feminism from around the globe has emerged this week. This fascinating piece from Al Jazeera shows how female artists in Armenia are looking to change the political landscape through cultural input as the ratio of women in the government continues to fall. Political Critique provides research into how crises disproportionately affect women due to the ‘relative devaluation of female “productive” labour’ among many other things. See National Geographic for the incredible story of the ‘world’s most famous feminist’, Gloria Steinem, and look back at this New York Times article on Sweden, a truly feminist country.

Tech geek

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi says his country has established itself as a ‘global space power’ after it successfully tested an anti-satellite weapon. The Indian military shot down one of its small satellites at an altitude of 300 kilometres. The new capability brings India into an exclusive club whose members (the US, China and Russia) may not be so thrilled to have another country join them. Acting US defence secretary Patrick Shanahan says the testing of ASATs can create a potentially dangerous field of space debris. ASPI’s Malcolm Davis looks at whether the test might fuel the space arms race.

The US Marines are testing an ‘amphibious combat vehicle’ to replace the 1970s-era ‘amphibious assault vehicle’. Last year, BAE Systems won the contract to build the ACV, which will have wheels instead of tracks and be much faster on land than its predecessor. It will travel at only 6 knots in the water, however, leading to criticism that it won’t be able to fulfil its role as a ‘ship to shore’ transport in an era when anti-ship missiles mean that the vessels unloading them may need to be stationed much further offshore than they have in the past.

It’s been a busy week in VIP transport news. The first of two Boeing 747-8s (or VC-25Bs—the plane’s military name) to be used as the US’s next Air Force One has taken to the air, flying from its storage location to the Texas base where its modification is expected to take place. The jets are set to be the most expensive aircraft ever made; the cost of the program to replace the planes used by the US president is projected to be US$4.68 billion. Japan, meanwhile, has introduced its own new VIP transports based on the Boeing 777-300ER and put its 747s out to pasture.

And for some light reading, look at this War on the Rocks piece on the ‘unicorn’ that is the concept of a fighter aircraft developed, but not used, by the US.

This week in history

This week in 1979, Israel and Egypt signed a formal peace treaty after fighting four wars since 1948, including the Suez Crisis, the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War. Politico has further details.


Al Jazeera has released the shocking results of its three-year undercover investigation into the US’s National Rifle Association and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party in a not-to-be-missed documentary series. Watch part 1 here. [48:53]

After Cyclone Idai smashed into Mozambique, Reuters has put together a photo series showing those waiting for aid and the devastation caused.

Check out this BBC interactive on the Mappa Mundi, the 700-year-old map that is the largest surviving document (can a calf skin be a document?) of its kind from the Middle Ages.


Listen to this podcast by the Center for a New American Security on the experiences of three military veterans during and after service. [1:19.48]

This week on ASPI’s Policy, Guns and Money, Peter Jennings and Jacinta Carroll offer their immediate reactions to the Christchurch terrorist attack, and John Coyne and Genevieve Feely talk about a new ASPI research program focusing on the national security challenge of protecting Australia’s north. [40:34]

Global Dispatches’ latest podcast dives into how trends in global trade affect how women work around the world. [27:09]


Melbourne, 1 April, 2.30–3.30 pm, University of Melbourne: ‘Climate engineering under the Paris Agreement’. Register here.

Melbourne, 1 April, 6–7.30 pm, Australian Institute of International Affairs: ‘US Middle East policy under Trump’. Tickets here ($30).

Canberra, 3 April, 6–7 pm, Australian National University: ‘In conversation with Michelle Grattan AO’. More information here.