ASPI suggests
12 Jun 2015|
Thai military

Welcome back to another round-up of interesting things to read, listen and watch from the world of defence and security. First up, what should we do if the Islamic State ‘wins’? Live with it, says Stephen Walt. To crudely summarise Walt’s argument, if the group manages to retain control of its current territory and survive attempts to destroy it, it will only be a moderate actor which can be ‘socialised into the system’ via containment strategies. Walt’s Foreign Policy piece is paywalled, but it’s worth reading in full if you can access it. Otherwise, read Adam Elkus’ response to Walt in which he grapples with the inherent issues to such an approach (see North Korea).

Maritime security and naval power wonks might like to pore through these ungated papers from Taylor & Francis on issues including India’s navy, Japan’s maritime strategy, piracy and maritime terrorism and, of course, the South China Sea. The full index is here.

Also on maritime issues, Indian think tank Gateway House’s Amrita Jash argues why India needs to take a stand against China’s belligerence in the South China Sea.

In the region, Indonesian president Joko Widodo has just submitted his nominee for military chief to Parliament: Army Chief of Staff Gatot Nurmantyo. It’ll be the first time that the pattern of rotating the job through the services has been ‘reset’ since 1999. CSIS Jakarta’s Iis Gindarsah has a new paper on Indonesia’s defence diplomacy which seeks to ‘moderate the impact of geopolitical changes whilst maintaining the country’s defensive ability against regional uncertainties’.

Sticking with Southeast Asia, for an in-depth look on politics in Thailand, read Thongchai Winichakul and Tyrell Haberkorn on the junta’s doublespeak and its policies of ‘attitude adjustment’ for political opponents.

Turning now to the results of Turkey’s election, King College’s Francesco F. Milan looks at what President Erdogan and his coalition government—Turkey’s first in 13 years—mean for policies on Syria and the EU. Listen to Neelam Deo, director of Gateway House, on the election’s impact on Turkey’s Kurds and the fight against Islamic State (10mins).

This week’s tech pick is a sword-wielding robot that learns katana techniques by studying the moves of world-renowned swordmaster Isao Machii. The Yaskawa Electric Corporation in Japan undertook this ‘Bushido Project’ which brings to light how robots can mimic us and could perform a number of human tasks—possibly even editing blogs!


For more on Southeast Asia, check out this documentary by RSIS’ Dr Farish on border towns in Laos, Thailand and Cambodia which won a Silver World Medal at New York Festivals 2015 (23mins).


For my latest CIMSEC podcast, I interviewed Bloomberg’s Chris Brummitt and ANU’s Andrew Carr about the Shangri-La Dialogue and the Asia-Pacific Roundtable. Special guest Herizal Hazri, country manager for the Asia Foundation in Malaysia, shared candid thoughts about Malaysia’s handling of the Rohingya crisis and the future of ASEAN (43mins).

Has the US policy of appeasement to Pakistan failed? In this podcast, C. Christine Fair argues why an American policy of containment is now needed and what it could look like (17mins).


Canberra-based young professionals in national security, come on down to the Institute for Regional Security’s free winter networking event on Thursday 25 June. It’s an opportunity to meet and get to know peers and senior professionals in a social environment. Held at the Kingston Hotel, it’s 6 – 8.30pm, register here.

Lastly, last chance to register for Army’s Future Force Structure Options Conference hosted by ASPI in Canberra, 24 – 26 June! Distinguished speakers include US Army Pacific’s General Vincent K. Brooks and Chief of Army Lieutenant General Angus Campbell. See the draft agenda here, registrations close Monday 15 June.