ASPI suggests
14 Oct 2016| and

Image courtesy of Twitter user @sullikevphoto.

Professor Desmond Ball AO, a towering figure of issues strategic and defence, passed away on Wednesday after a long illness. While Graeme Dobell will reflect on Des’ enormous impact in his Monday column, a few key links follow here. First, in this cracking 2012 interview (51 mins) Des talked about his contemporaries and mentors, the obligations of the academy (including the importance of championing the next generation of thinkers), and the contributions and controversies of his career, among others topics. The interview was tied to the release of a collection of essays in Des’ honour, titled ‘Insurgent Intellectual’ (available here, and also written-up in the SMH). He was a central figure in the life of ANU’s SDSC, having once headed the Centre, which this week released A National Asset, a book of essays reflecting on the SDSC at 50. Des, too, was a national asset—an unalloyed pioneer, a fearless scholar, a warm and generous man. Vale Des Ball.

This time next month American voters will have cast their ballots. This week brought the launch of 30 days, 30 songs, a campaign by Artists for a Trump-free America, which kicked off with Death Cab for Cutie’s effort, Million Dollar Loan. On the Trump candidacy, two short clips from the recent New Yorker Festival: one from comedians Sarah Silverman and Andy Borowitz; the other, a panel on Trump’s first term. This was also the week that Foreign Policy endorsed a Presidential candidate in Hillary Rodham Clinton—the first time the magazine has done so. Another from FP: an exceedingly useful 18 Questions feature, released in advance of the second “debate” held last Monday.

Three key reads: first, from The Conversation, an absorbing piece on sound as a weapon to foment fear, from the biblical Battle of Jericho through to the sirens of WW2 dive-bombers though to drones, sonic weapons and music torture (feat. Black Sabbath and Britney Spears). Second, a long read on social media in war from the cover of The Atlantic. And third, continuing his savvy hunt for new media opportunities, President Barack Obama has guest edited the November issue of Wired. Check out his optimistic essay here.

Kicking off this week’s smorgasbord of fresh research is this excellent longer publication from CSIS (PDF) on the future of US–India security cooperation under the next administration—notably recommending that the Oval Office occupant meets with Indian PM Narendra Modi within their first 100 days on the job. A brand new report from RAND recommends that the US should use a military strategy that embraces a preventative form of A2AD to defeat the A2AD challenges of potential US adversaries—based on case studies involving China, Russia and Iran. For your weekly dose of AI, check out this new commentary from RSIS (PDF) which argues the benefits of using advanced robotics to enforce the law. And a new study from ICSR (PDF) recommends a re-think of radicalisation based on findings about the convergence between criminal and jihadist social environments.

And finally, Thailand is in mourning this week after the passing of 88-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who held the Thai throne for over 70 years. The Economist has a fascinating piece that looks at the career of King Bhumibol and the uncertain succession planning process. But from this sad news for Thailand comes a lighter story from Foreign Policy on the controversial miniature white poodle named Air Chief Marshal Foo Foo, who was owned by the now-heir to the throne, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn.


In the latest episode of War on the Rocks’ new podcast series ‘Pacific Pundit’ (29 mins), host Van Jackson focuses on a handful of prominent trilaterals that are shaping the Asia–Pacific. From the demise of ANZUS to the challenges of China–Japan–ROK cooperation, as well as an overview of the success rate of trilateral negotiations, the show is definitely worth a listen for any geopolitics wonk.

CSIS has released a brand new podcast series, ‘Building the Future: Freedom, Prosperity and Foreign Policy,’ hosted by Dan Runde. There are three episodes out already, each showcasing a different aspect of global development, foreign policy and US national security. Keep an eye on the site for new releases!


In an epic 2-hour long special, Frontline delves into US efforts to undermine and confront ISIS in the Middle East. With footage from Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Turkey showing how each state is coping with the strain of the terrorist group, this video is a must-watch.

In his weekly interview series, Charlie Rose sat down with John Carlin—who’s nearing the end of his time as the US assistant attorney general for national security—to discuss government responses to cyber security threats and counterterrorism. Check out the interview here (55 mins).


Canberra: Fresh of the back of a visit from CNAS president Richard Fontaine, Canberrans can hear another mind from the DC outfit, Patrick Cronin, tackle some of the prickly questions on order and leadership in the Asia–Pacific. Get along on 24 October.

Sydney: The University of Sydney China Studies Centre’s crown jewel, the 2016 Sydney China Business Forum, will also take place on 24 October—and tickets are selling fast. Expect discussion on China’s economic transformation and the future of China–Australia business relations.