ASPI suggests

The world

Foreign ministers of NATO countries have gathered in Washington to mark the 70th anniversary of the organisation’s creation. For a brief history of NATO, what it does and who is a member, see Al Jazeera. Meanwhile, the Financial Times questions the US’s commitment to the organisation following what has been dubbed the ‘transatlantic distancing’ under President Donald Trump and Politico asks the big question—Where to next? The German Marshall Fund has a video of the international meeting which is well worth a watch. And finally, see the Washington Post for how the alliance remains relevant today.

In the same vein, see Al Jazeera for a piece that shows European defence spending is on the up and asks whether that’s something Trump can claim credit for. And this article from Brookings recognises the shortfalls in Germany’s defence spending. Speaking of which, see Foreign Policy for the potential impacts that a split on German military spending could have on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government.

While we’re on defence spending, the Australian budget has landed and Marcus Hellyer dissects how its arrival, pre-election, will impact Defence spending and planning. For a succinct brief on the defence and industry budget, see Defence Connect and, writing in the Australian, Paul Maley highlights the impact the military defeat of Islamic State is having on Defence spending.

In an important piece laying out his defence for pulling Australia out of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue in 2008, former prime minister Kevin Rudd argues that the idea was doomed from the beginning and that the grouping was going to be made redundant anyway, regardless of Australia’s actions. On a related note, read Prakash Gopal’s Strategist piece that sets the record straight on Australia–India relations and argues that bilateral ties between the two countries have never been better, despite historical baggage and memories of 2008. Grant Wyeth’s article in The Diplomat looks at the significance of AUSINDEX, the biennial naval exercise between Australia and India, which is currently underway.

The crisis between India and Pakistan that began in February continues to generate heated debate around the world. The latest salvo comes in the form of Lara Seligman’s scoop in Foreign Policy that refutes India’s claims of downing a Pakistani F-16 in the skirmishes between the two countries. She cites two senior US officials who say that a recent count found that none of Pakistan’s F-16s are missing. Clearly, much remains in doubt and unless India can provide conclusive proof to back its claims, it’ll find itself open to questions like those raised in a Strategist special report that suggests a theory for why India’s airstrikes missed their targets in Balakot.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s visit to China this week has generated a host of commentary on her perceived resetting of ties with Beijing. This piece in The Australian contrasts New Zealand’s approach to China with Australia’s. Zane Small calls Ardern out for turning a blind eye to China’s internment of millions of Uighur Muslims and takes a stand against Islamophobia globally, in this piece on Newshub.

The US House of Representatives has approved the cessation of support to Saudi Arabia and the UAE in their campaign in Yemen. While the bill must still be presented to the president (who is apparently likely to veto it), it’s still a step in the right direction. See Al Jazeera for more details.

And for some extra reads, see the ABC for the latest on Chinese expansion in Antarctica and Politico for a long read on how Britain lost the battle for Brexit.

Tech geek

Events in the US space sector are moving into higher gear. In the last couple of weeks, the Trump administration accelerated NASA’s return to the moon, bringing the proposed dates of a landing at its south pole forward from 2028 to 2024. Now, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is planning to demonstrate nuclear thermal propulsion in its ‘reactor on a rocket’, or ‘ROAR’, which would be essential for crewed deep space missions to Mars and beyond.

Staying in space, there’s an interesting article in Breaking Defense on Pentagon research and development chief Mike Griffin’s claim that the next generation of directed energy weapons will boost missile defence from orbit.

Amazon has announced its ‘Project Kuiper’, a ‘broadband in the sky’ mega-constellation of 3,236 satellites. There’s a great article in Nature on the challenges of traffic management in space.

And there are two important reports out on counter-space capabilities—one from US Center for Strategic and International Studies and one from Secure World Foundation.

The Australian Space Agency, meanwhile, has released a new strategy document, Advancing space.

Peter Layton has written a great article in The Interpreter on Japan’s fighter operations as China continues to probe its airspace. In War on the Rocks, have a read of a good analysis of airpower in the future by Heather Venable.

There’s also a good piece in The Strategy Bridge on how science fiction can be valuable for strategists.

This week in history

On 4 April 1964, US civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr was shot and killed while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. See CNN for a glimpse into King’s life that includes a touching photo series.


The ABC’s Four Corners takes the climate change debate away from the political squabble and looks at the big picture, analysing Australia’s carbon emissions and whether we are on track to meet our targets. [44:56]

On a lighter note, see these National Geographic images focusing on India’s cultural heritage.


The latest episode of Arms Control Wonk looks into the Indian anti-satellite missile test and its implications. [35:56]

The Cyber Security Weekly Podcast has interviewed ASPI’s Malcolm Davis on all things cyber, space, China, USA, drones and more. [20:32]

CSIS’s China Power dives into China’s recent developments in unmanned systems and that technology’s future role in the military. [25:13]


Sydney, 6 April, 6:00–8:00pm, University of Sydney: ‘Murder on the reef + Q&A’. Tickets here ($12).

Melbourne, 9 April, 6:00–7:00pm, University of Melbourne: ‘Artificial intelligence and the law: challenges for lawyers and judges’. Register here.

Canberra, 11 April, 5:45–7:15pm, ANU: ‘Canberra launch—China’s rise: prosperity, power and pushback’. Register here.