ASPI suggests
16 Jun 2017| and

Image courtesy of Flickr user thierry ehrmann.

G’day, loyal readers; welcome back.

First up in our list of recommendations this week is a handful of pieces around the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War. We’d be remiss if we didn’t start with David Gardner’s effort for The Strategist. Gardner, the Beirut-based international editor for London’s Financial Times, pulls no punches in his examination of Israel’s 50-year occupation and just how unlikely President Trump is to land ‘the ultimate deal’. If you’re after an understanding of how things looked at the coalface, start with the newly unsealed transcripts of deliberations held by the Israeli committee running the war (part one; part two). A fine piece over at Foreign Policy takes stock of Six-Day War as a blow to intellectualism and enlightenment in the Arab world. And then there’s some further food for thought courtesy of The London Review of Books.

The US–China tango made it into the pages of The New Yorker this week, courtesy of this effort by Ian Buruma. But save for handy history and some nice turns of phrase, Buruma plumbs familiar depths, so save some energy to consider this memorable takedown of Allison’s Thucydides’ Trap text. It’s a keeper.

A couple of stellar Russia-related reads bubbled up this week, kicking off with a tale of murder, intrigue and espionage straight from BuzzFeed News HQ. A team of journalists claim to have uncovered evidence of the murder of a Russian citizen, ordered by Vladimir Putin, committed on British soil, and covered up by the UK government. Spy novel or investigative journalism? You be the judge. Next up, The New York Review of Books has a solid read on Alexei Navalny, a prominent Putin critic, and the new face of Russian political activism, following the 12 June protests that rocked the streets of Moscow and other cities across the country. And finally, two strong reads from Politico deserve a mention: the first implores readers to lift their gaze from minor intel leaks to the wider picture: Russia’s repeated attacks on democracy.The second holds a magnifying glass to Russian officials’ efforts to infiltrate targets in the US military.

David Michôd’s latest film, War Machine, has divided viewers since it appeared on Netflix a couple of weeks ago—particularly those with personal experience of the war in Afghanistan. If you can’t decide whether to see it or not, a couple of top quality reviews might help you. Over at Foreign Policy, Whitney Kassel’s disappointment and disgust for the film is palpable:

‘I had not prepared myself for the level of condescension and hand-waving dismissiveness of a war effort that, while certainly replete with absurdities and mistakes, was and continues to be fought by men and women who are dedicated to improving the security of the United States and its allies by helping to build an Afghanistan that will not provide safe haven for al Qaeda or, more recently, the Islamic State.’

But, over at War on the Rocks, while David Barno and Nora Bensahel aren’t shy about the film’s flaws—particularly the unflattering portrayal of General Stanley McChrystal’s character—they also offer a broader perspective of some of the areas where War Machine hit the nail on the head. Those include the isolation of senior officers from the real world, hubris as an occupational hazard, and the difficulties faced by the armed forces’ families when their loved ones are posted to the Middle East.


If you’re not already into the The Daily podcast produced by One Times Square, you really ought to be. While it’s not a security and defence pick, checking in with Times’ reporters on the stories of the day really is one way to keep up with the relentless hustle (if that’s how you choose to live your life).

Another one to keep an eye on is ProPublica’s podcast series ‘The Breakthrough’, which will re-launch this week after a season break. For as glimpse of how investigative journalists get the job done and uncover the biggest stories of their careers, bookmark this site.


The Kremlin Playbook, the CSIS report which we and nearly every other mob has been recommending for months, has truly been one of the most informative and useful ways to get to grips with exactly what Putin’s Russia has been up to and what they might have in mind. Because Russia is the story that just keeps on giving in the time of Trump, this week CSIS pushed their remarkable research back onto the main stage. Superstar veteran journo Bob Schieffer moderated a cracking panel, with lead author Heather Conley of CSIS, David Sanger of The New York Times, and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who’s on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism responsible for investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 election campaign. Catch up with the event over at YouTube (56 mins), or marinate in the transcript (hello, keyword search…).


Melbourne: Melbournians can get their Asia–art fix by heading along to the NGV on 30 June, where the Asia Society Australia will be hosting the Victorian debut of their Disruptive Asia publication with the help of a bevy of esteemed pals. Details and registration here.

Canberra: Asian economics heavyweight Peter McCawley, a visiting fellow at ANU’s Indonesia Project, will stop by AIIA’s national office to offer some thoughts on the Asian Development Bank, its role in the region, and how it fits into the Asia–Pacific’s future security and economic architecture. Jump aboard here.