ASPI suggests

The world

Two conservative leaders have taken a hit this week, with British PM Boris Johnson and US President Donald Trump both getting into sticky situations. The New York Times looks into Johnson’s attempt to suspend parliament for five weeks leading up to the Brexit deadline—something ruled unlawful by Britain’s Supreme Court. The Financial Times analyses what’s next for Johnson and explains his call for a ‘people versus parliament’ general election. Across The Atlantic, David Graham highlights Trump’s troubles, from the whistle being blown on his interactions with Ukraine to the possibility of impeachment. Foreign Policy provides an annotated memorandum of Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. See Chatham House for the potential consequences for Trump other than his possible impeachment.

UN leaders’ week is always worth following, but it’s even more interesting with Trump in the White House. This New York Times article does a neat job of setting the broad context. CNN carries an enjoyable review of Trump’s speech to the UN General Assembly, replete with little snippets of his idiosyncrasies. And check out these behind-the-scenes pictures published by the UN.

Morrison had a good week in the US, even though he did have the ‘hostage on happy pills’ look during his meeting with Trump in the White House earlier this week. Michelle Grattan, writing for The Conversation, argues that pursuing a ‘Trump-first’ policy could come at the expense of Canberra’s relationship with Beijing. While that may or may not be true, the trick for Morrison, as Graeme Dobell notes on The Strategist, ‘is to embrace Trump but not the Trump worldview’.

Climate change has been in the spotlight this week following a global climate strike and teenage activist Greta Thunberg’s powerful address to the UN. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report focusing on the impact climate change is having on the world’s oceans. Foreign Affairs brings to light the effects of climate change on human health, from exacerbating contagious diseases and water shortages to injecting unsafe, and often deadly, amounts of toxic pollutants into the air. Time has a great piece on how politics is getting in the way of real climate action.

A meeting of the Quad foreign ministers took place along the sidelines of the UNGA meeting this week, in what could be an important elevation in strategic ties between the US, Japan, India and Australia. Here’s a slightly old but increasingly relevant War on the Rocks piece by Tanvi Madan to give you some Quad context.

Over to Yemen, where the America’s supplying of ammunition to the Saudi-led coalition has once again come under scrutiny. Amnesty International reports on the US-made bomb used in an airstrike that killed six civilians on 28 June and the broader impacts American weapons are having in the conflict. The UN has now claimed that if the war in Yemen continues until 2022, the country will become the poorest on earth. UNICEF reports that an estimated two million children are not attending school, and see DW for a great article on how to empower Yemeni women.

We’ve also been keeping tabs on developments in Kashmir since the revocation of its autonomous status in early August. Rahul Pandita argues in Foreign Policy that by failing to ease the communications lockdown there, the Indian government is exacerbating differences between Hindus and Muslims. See Al Jazeera for pictures depicting some of the treatment Kashmiris have received lately.

Tech geek

US troops may soon trial new night-vision technology. Popular Mechanics reports researchers in the US and China have developed injectable night-vision technology in an effort to replace night-vision goggles. The new technology works by injecting nanoparticles that convert infrared light into visible light into a subject’s eyes. It’s unclear, however, if soldiers will volunteer to take part in trials, which so far have only been conducted on mice.

In the wake of the strikes on Saudi Arabia’s oil processing facilities, the US Air Force has said it will deploy a prototype of Raytheon’s ‘Phaser high-power microwave counter-drone system’. The Phaser is one of several counter-drone technologies currently being tested by the USAF. To learn more about high-powered microwave emissions, see here.

For a primer on Iran’s cruise missiles, Shahryar Pasandideh has an interesting War on the Rocks piece exploring the development of the country’s increasingly sophisticated capabilities.

In a busy week for the prime minister in the US, he announced that the Australian government will invest $150 million in NASA’s moon and Mars projects. But Australian astronaut Andy Thomas has warned that plans to return people to the moon by 2024 may be too ambitious. Most notably, NASA is planning to test new spacesuits in 2023, and the suit has only recently passed its preliminary design review.

This week in history

Iraq invaded Iran on 22 September 1980, beginning the longest conventional war of the 20th century. The conflict lasted eight years and led to an estimated 500,000 deaths but achieved little for either side.


See Al Jazeera for interactive graphs showing how certain countries have voted throughout the UN’s history. How does your country sit?

As Russian and Syrian airstrikes continue to pound Idlib, a local movement titled Kesh Malek (checkmate) is building awareness through graffiti and advocacy campaigns. See Atlantic Council for some of their artworks.


This week on Trade Talks, hosts discuss all aspects of the US–China trade war, including how companies are miscommunicating with both the US and Chinese governments. [22:16]

And well worth a listen is this episode of Smart Women Smart Power, which looks into gender equality within developing nations and the challenges faced by women living in them. [42:03]


Melbourne, 1 October, 6–7 pm, University of Melbourne: ‘Artificial intelligence—the implications for the legal profession, the rule of law and the adversarial process’. Register here.

Canberra, 1 October, 6–7.30 pm, Australian National University: ‘IPCC special report: climate change, the ocean and ice & snow-covered regions’. Register here.