ASPI suggests

The world

Australia has lost its longest-serving Labor prime minister. Bob Hawke died yesterday at the age of 89. He was known as a larrikin who loved Australia (as well as a punt and a beer or two), and was loved by millions of Australians in turn. But some of his most notable achievements were on the world stage. When Chinese student protests were brutally quashed in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989, he decided—without consulting his cabinet—to offer asylum to Chinese students in Australia and their partners and children. More than 40,000 were eventually granted visas. Watch his emotional speech in the aftermath of the massacre here.

Hawke also abhorred racism and, starting in 1969, campaigned for an end to apartheid during his time as president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. Later, he was an influential figure in the Commonwealth in initiating an investment boycott of South Africa.

Former US president Bill Clinton and former UK prime minister Tony Blair have been among those who’ve paid tribute to Hawke and his legacy.

And if you get sacked for not turning up to work today in honour of Hawkie, well, your boss is a bum.

Australians all over the country are beginning to salivate at the thought of a delicious, freedom-flavoured democracy sausage served with sauce on a slice of white bread and a side of election ballot. Polls open at 8 am tomorrow for those who aren’t among the more than 4 million voters to have cast their ballots early. To the important stuff: here’s the history of the democracy sausage, and this interactive map lets you find your nearest snag, cake or coffee.

Otherwise, Bloomberg has everything you need to stay up to date with the election, and the Museum of Australian Democracy asks the big question—why have elections, anyway?

The BBC has two pieces that are well worth a read: and article on why Australian politics is ‘toxic for women’ as female representation continues to fall amid allegations of bullying and misogyny, and a visual representation of the election in charts. Writing in The Strategist, Graeme Dobell highlights what the politicians haven’t talked about during the campaign. Finally, and in case you’re still confused as to who is leading our nation, here’s a Twitter feed that provides half-hourly updates on who the PM is.

Staying on the election train, see this piece by ASPI’s Mali Walker for an analysis of the impact that disinformation is having on Indonesia and its democracy.

Did you know that casualties are 14 times higher among women and children than among men during a disaster? On women, peace and security, see Jacqueline Westermann’s piece for The Strategist highlighting why climate change is also a gender issue. And The Strategy Bridge dives into how the Pentagon can further NATO’s successes in the WPS area through actions like the appointment of high-level gender advisers.

Yemeni Houthi rebels have used sophisticated drone technology to strike Saudi Arabian critical infrastructure deep within Saudi territory. See the Financial Times for the details and Al Jazeera for a great background piece on advances in the drone technology employed by the rebels. The BBC has footage of another attack in which a drone exploded over a Yemeni military base, reportedly killing six soldiers.

Tech geek

Can a computer feel the need, the need for speed? Maybe, as DARPA is exploring how AI can be used in air combat, specifically in dogfighting. With the apt acronym ‘ACE’, which stands for ‘air combat evolution’, the project seeks to design AI that lets a human pilot concentrate on managing the overall air battle, while the AI manages tactical air combat manoeuvering. The project will be important in manned–unmanned teaming scenarios, with manned fighters supported by unmanned aerial combat vehicles like the ‘loyal wingman’.

China has begun deploying its H-6N heavy bomber, which is equipped with the new CH-AS-X-13 air-launched ballistic missile. The combination could potentially give China the ability to strike northern Australia from Chinese bases in the South China Sea.

The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments has released a new report on global nuclear-weapons trends. It’s filled with useful, up-to-date information and numerous charts that give a comprehensive perspective on global nuclear stockpiles.

Although it was written back in 2014, Forward 2035, a report prepared by the Defence Science and Technology Organisation, is well worth reading for its thought-provoking analysis of where key technological and global security trends are heading.

With tensions on the rise between the US and Iran, two key articles should be on your reading list. A great piece written back in 2015 by Zachary Keck shows the operational and logistical challenges that would face the US if it ever tried to invade Iran. And Newsweek takes a look inside potential US planning for war with Iran.

This week in history

This week in 1955, the Warsaw Pact was established in response to the integration of West Germany into NATO in the same year. The collective security clause of the pact was never invoked. See the NATO website for a great retro graphic comparing the military power that resided on either side of the Iron Curtain.


Al Jazeera’s Inside Story covers the likelihood of open conflict in the Persian Gulf as tensions between Iran and the US continue to intensify. [25:10]

Reuters brings you images of the squalid conditions inside a migrant camp set up by US Border Patrol in Texas.


Pod Save the World covers this week’s latest, from the US–China trade war to the conflict in Afghanistan and rising tensions with Iran. [1:10:53]

If you’re following what’s happening in Syria, Global Dispatches has more detail on the intensifying conflict. [21:27]

The Council on Foreign Relations podcast records a long discussion on the illiberal shift in global politics that is well worth a listen. [1:19:13]


Canberra, 20 May, 5.30–7.30 pm, Australian National University and International Committee of the Red Cross: ‘Practising humanity amid changing conflict’. More info here.

Hobart, 21 May, 6.30–7.30 pm, University of Tasmania: ‘European Union Ambassador Dr Michael Pulch: 10th Anniversary Sir James Plimsoll Lecture’. Register here.

There are still tickets available for ASPI’s international conference, War in 2025, which will run from 12 to 14 June in Canberra.