ASPI suggests
12 May 2017|

Image courtesy of Pixabay user 181381.

Welcome back to ASPI suggests, dear readers, where nary a week goes by without a fresh incident from 1600 Penn for us to sink our teeth into. This week, of course, it’s FBI Director James Comey’s trip to the chopping block. While we wait for the dust to settle and debate to begin about the future of democracy, whether the firing might lead others to take advantage of an American power vacuum, why Spicer was lurking in the bushes, etc. etc. etc., hats off to those who covered the fallout comprehensively and professionally. This interview with presidential powers expert Matthew Waxman, on how the sacking might impact on US national security, is a standout, as is The Atlantic’s look at what options are left for those wanting to pursue the Russia investigation. The Cipher Brief also deserves a mention for two snappy interviews, the first with US Ambassador James Jeffrey, who discusses diplomatic implications for the Trump administration, and the second with Michael Hayden, a former Director of the NSA and CIA.

Beyond the Comey controversy, a handful of interesting reads emerged from the White House this week. There’s The Economist’s interview with the President himself on ‘Trumponomics’, immigration and healthcare. The second is a detailed look at the extensive (and expensive!) air capability used to protect POTUS. The article is an excerpt from Garrett M. Graff’s recent book, the aptly-named Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government’s Secret Plans to Save Itself—While the Rest of Us Die. And, while you might have thought that he’d be preoccupied with other things, it appears that Mr Trump has a view about the best way to launch aircraft from a carrier deck.

And finally in the US, The Intercept has offered a sketch of Julia Hahn, a young reporter brought across to the West Wing from Breitbart HQ by her boss, Steve Bannon, whose rapidly developed political persuasions have led to her framing as the face of the extremist, radicalised far right. It has been a week for profile pieces. Two particularly comprehensive ones stand out, the first on Barack Obama from David J. Garrow, whose 1,400 page biography of the former president hit the shelves this week. The second, from France24, is an interactive multi-media history of Emmanuel Macron, France’s brand new president, who has paired ‘a preternatural sense of his own destiny’ with ‘a determination to get what he wanted’ since childhood.

And now for something completely different: China. A great interview from the Council on Foreign Relations with Jennifer L. Turner, Director of the Council’s China Environment Forum, looks at the steps China should take to become the world’s preeminent authority on clean energy, and how it might overcome domestic complications to reach that position. But, speaking of issues that might potentially hold the great power back, The Economist has a short but illuminating read on China’s Muslim population and the heavy-handed restrictions the Uighers are subject to. Or if you want something visual, don’t go past The Atlantic’s photo essay, which zooms in on the lives of the 10 million Uighers living in Xinjiang.

And finally, following our recent coverage of the heartless attack on a Knightscope droid designed to improve safety in public spaces, Popular Mechanics has compiled a list of the seven most notable robot beatdowns, which the machines will certainly remember when they take over the world. Absent from the list, however, was the sad tale of the Spirit rover sent to Mars in 2004 who never came home. Never fear, xkcd have got you covered if you want to know what became of the robot (hint: have tissues at the ready).


The podcast world immediately leapt into action to address the weirdness behind the firing of Jim Comey. Two ‘emergency’ podcasts stand out: the first is from the gang behind The Lawfare Podcast, who admirably pulled together a top-notch panel (35 mins) of policy experts within hours of the announcement. (It’s also worth taking a look at Lawfare’s written coverage of the firing). The second podcast is the latest installment of ‘The E.R.’ from Foreign Policy, which examines potential international repercussions that the decision may have for America (59 mins).

I mean, I’d listen to Gary Kasparov read the phone book (for millennials, this is what I mean)… In this week’s episode of Conversations with Tyler, a podcast dedicated to ‘one-on-one dialogues with today’s top thinkers,’ Kasparov touches on a couple of his favourite topics (1hr 7mins), ranging from people’s unfounded fears about artificial intelligence and the inevitable upwards trajectory of technological advancement, to Vladimir Putin’s desperation to maintain his ‘one-man dictatorship’.


Following the release of his excellent new paper for Lowy, ‘A Wary Embrace’, Bobo Lo headed stateside for a discussion at Brookings on China and Russia’s role in determining the rules of global politics and developing an alternative geoeconomic model, and how comprehensive their relationship really is. Check out footage from the discussion here (1hr 28mins).

In a recent episode of the Wilson Center’s NOW series (12 mins), Robert Daly, Director of Wilson’s Kissinger Institute on China and the United States, sat down with John Milewski to unpack the aftermath of the Trump–Xi summit. The interview focuses on Chinese perceptions of the US and its president, and the issues both countries will face in realising their interests on the Korean peninsula.


Canberra: Next Tuesday, Valerie Hudson—Director of Texas A&M University’s Program on Women, Peace, and Security—will give a presentation at ANU on the Womanstats Project and Database—one of the largest datasets available on the links between women’s security and state security, with stats from 176 countries. Be sure to bring your laptop for a practical tutorial on using the database, and register here.

Sydney: Although it’s still a couple of weeks away, it’s probably wise to get ahead of the curve on this one. Senator John McCain, Chairman of the US Senate Armed Services Committee, will be hosted by our friends at the United States Studies Centre on 30 May. It’s set to be an enlightening discussion, especially as significant uncertainty still clouds the Trump administration’s policies for the Asia–Pacific, so make sure you get in quick to not miss out.