ASPI suggests
13 Mar 2015|

Welcome back for another serve of the latest defence and security links, media and events, this week coming to you from the Brisbane Line.

As the government’s data retention legislation waits in the wings, the Financial Review has conducted a poll on the issue to find that Australians are uncertain as to what data is captured, believe that they’re giving up too much privacy and remain unconvinced that the terror threat will be lessened by the bill’s passage. The incoming chair of the Australian Press Council has noted his strong opposition, saying the measure is ‘far too intrusive’ and will likely ‘crush investigative journalism.’ Those comments come as the heads of News Corp and the main commercial networks formed a united front to voice similar concerns.

Over at Defense One, Bruce Schneier ponders the future of government surveillance, which he says will come down to data sharing through vast international partnerships based on current cooperation—Five-, Nine-, and Fourteen Eyes—that’ll eventually be too much to resist for most smaller countries.

If you hang out for The Strategist’s ‘Graph of the Week’ posts then new book The Art of War Visualized, a mashup of Sun Tzu’s military treatise in charts and graphs, might be right up your alley. Here’s a primer.

As we come up on one year since Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Carnegie Endowment has gathered the best of their analysis.

Carnegie Foundation also brings the research goods this week with a new publication looking at naval nuclear dynamics in the Indian Ocean. In his new publication Murky Waters, Iskander Rehman thinks that the development of naval nuclear forces by India and Pakistan should be accompanied by deeper institutionalisation of relations and greater transparency if stability is to be maintained in the IOR.

The Center for a New American Security has tied off an ongoing research project into how Asian maritime security might be built and preserved. The final paper (PDF) calls for coercive Chinese behavior to be met with consequences, with the authors offering a framework of cost imposition, denial, and offset strategies. Catch up with the Maritime Strategy project here.

A new interactive report from The New York Times chronicles the devastation of four years of war in Syria, finding that the country is 83% darker at night than in the pre-war days. It comes as the UN and international NGOs slammed powerful nations for putting ‘their own interests ahead of the need to end [a] war’ that has now killed over 220,000 people. In related news, Buzzfeed and MicNews take a look at the cultural crisis being wrought by IS in Syria and Iraq.

It seems a caliphate is much easier declared than realised, with The Washington Post reporting that ‘dissent, defections and setbacks on the battlefield’ are eroding the strength of Islamic State as ‘grandiose promises collide with realities on the ground.’ While recruitment efforts continue—this week in sign language—solace can be sought in a piece from The Atlantic that finds reports of a global jihadist ‘movement’ to have been greatly exaggerated.

Finally, with estimates ranging from 9,000 to 200,000, just how many are fighting for IS? In a piece for War on the Rocks, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross runs the numbers and reckons a total force of around 100,000 is about right.


UK Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond was at the Royal United Services Institute in London this week to deliver a speech on terrorism, technology, and the balance between privacy and security. Check out the video or read the transcript.


Running into a second week is the controversy over Hillary Clinton’s decision to conduct government business through a personal email account and home server rather than through State Department channels. Blogs of War runs a risk analysis on the infosec and intelligence aspects of the story.

The latest episode of Lawfare blog’s Rational Security podcast is out, and this week they’re talking the Petraeus plea, ISIS propaganda and organisational change at the CIA.


We’ve got two events for those in Canberra. First, get along to the ANU’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre on 16 March to hear Professor Keith Jeffery of Queen’s University Belfast speak on the challenges faced by intelligence agencies in a digital world.

Second, head to the National Press Club to grab some chow with the Foreign Minister on 25 March. United Nations Association of Australia will host Julie Bishop to talk UN and the direction of Australian diplomacy. Tickets available here.

David Lang is an analyst at ASPI and an editor of The Strategist. Edited image courtesy of Flickr user Mike Mozart.