ASPI suggests

The world

The diplomatic mega-event of the year, the G20 summit, was held in Japan last weekend. Caitlin Byrne nicely captured the main highlights in her post in The Conversation. Not surprisingly, US President Donald Trump stole the show with his antics (and with a helping of his daughter, Ivanka). The Australian covered the summit comprehensively from the ground. See here for a quick recap of the top 10 ‘cringe-worthy’ moments from the event, just in case you missed them.

Keeping political, earlier this week the European Parliament sat for the first time since elections in May. The Guardian has an insightful piece on how two women have broken the 60-year dominance of males sitting in the top jobs. Politico has the latest on why central Europe is celebrating the changes to leadership and CNN outlines the sketchy beginnings of this new parliament. And see The Atlantic for Greece’s return to political normality and Europe’s descent from it.

While there’s plenty of chatter surrounding the apparent thaw in the US–China trade war, Keith Johnson argues in Foreign Policy that Trump’s America-first proclivities have resulted in a net loss for the US, as other countries are busy stitching together trade deals. On another note, this New York Times article suggesting that the US had accepted a ‘nuclear freeze’ by North Korea, generated great controversy (and was refuted by the US national security advisor, John Bolton).

Hugh White’s latest book, How to defend Australia, hit the shelves this week and has instigated a heated debate on Australia’s strategic outlook and priorities. Sam Roggeveen’s Interpreter review was one of the first to unpack White’s ‘radical’ argument, succinctly and, for the most part, supportively. Michael Shoebridge, on the other hand, shared a different assessment in his Strategist piece, in which he pointed out flaws in White’s thesis. Ashley Townshend and Brendan Thomas-Noone’s article in the Australian Financial Review, puts forward a solid counter, arguing that investing in regional partnerships is the best way to maximise our security. Read this lively Twitter thread for a good summary of the debate.

We’ve been keeping an eye on the Huawei debate for a long time (you might’ve noticed). Read this clear-headed piece in the Economic Times, which spells out exactly why India (and all other nations) needs to be cautious on 5G.

Across to Yemen, where the Washington Institute believes the United Arab Emirates’ partial withdrawal from the embattled country may isolate Saudi Arabia, especially after attacks on Saudi territory by Yemen’s Houthi rebels. Stratfor argues the UAE’s move marks its reorientation into a regional security actor as it continues its fight against terrorist organisations and deepens its involvement in Libya. As for Saudi Arabia and its relationship with the US, see The Atlantic for how a Democratic president could turn it all on its head.

Water scarcity is a devastating effect of climate change that’s impacting countries across the planet. Geospatial World has collated satellite data on shrinking freshwater reservoirs in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Forbes has developed infographics on India’s water crisis, while Sky News explains how the city of Chennai has run out of water. Foreign Brief provides the disturbing facts and figures surrounding Egypt’s water shortages as dependency on the Nile rises and overall water levels fall.

For some extra reads, The Economist has revealed that the Gulf of Guinea off western Africa is now experiencing more pirate attacks than anywhere else, a statistic amplified by the fact that these pirates are the world’s deadliest. The Strategy Bridge analyses the impact military recruitment videos have on society. And for the climate scientists, National Geographic describes how the volume of methane produced by cows can be reduced by inoculating young animals with a low-methane microbiome which could then be passed on through breeding.

Tech geek

A deadly fire onboard a Russian submarine has killed 14 sailors during a mission the country’s defence ministry says was within Russian waters and aimed to ‘survey the seabed’. Reports suggest the submarine was a nuclear-powered AS-12 Losharik-class boat, possibly designed to cut undersea cables. President Vladimir Putin has confirmed that the nuclear reactor was isolated from the incident and is still in working order.

China has conducted what is believed to be its first test of an anti-ship ballistic missile within the South China Sea. While the type of missile tested remains unclear, China has two ballistic missiles capable of engaging slow-moving ships such as aircraft carriers: the DF-21 and the DF-26. The Drive goes into more detail on the implications for the region.

Turkey has begun hoarding spare parts for its F-16 Viper fighter jets ahead of expected sanctions from the US over its acquisition of Russia’s S-400 air defence system. That purchase may also see Turkey ejected from the F-35 program.

And see this interesting read on how AI can learn from AI. We don’t know if this scares or excites you, but just remember the words of Obi-Wan Kenobi: ‘If droids could think, there’d be none of us here, would there?’

This week in history

This week in 1997, Hong Kong was peacefully returned to China after 156 years of British colonial rule. This year’s anniversary was marred by massive protests, and China telling the UK to keep its ‘hands off’. Richard Lloyd Parry says the bravery of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protestors should shame the West.  And this week in 1964, the US Civil Rights Act was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, outlawing segregation and employment discrimination.


The BBC has collated photos from the Hong Kong protests that reveal the level of destruction in its legislative council.

Following Japan’s decision to resume commercial whaling, Al Jazeera investigates whether it’s a commercially sustainable industry, why it’s so important for Japan and the impact the decision will have on the whale population. [24:15]


The National Security Podcast has interviewed Hugh White on How to defend Australia  as well as how Australia should protect itself in the future. [1:12.15]

For some great analysis on the latest meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and why it won’t lead to denuclearisation, The Diplomat has you covered. [21:21]


9 July, Canberra, 5:30–6:30pm, Australian National University: ‘Counter-terrorism review in the United Kingdom’. Register here.

11 July, Melbourne, 1–2pm, University of Melbourne: ‘The crisis of autonomous weapons systems in conflict: a critical feminist analysis’. Register here.