ASPI suggests
16 Sep 2016|

15 years since 9/11 and stories from the days, months and years that followed continue to leach out into the world. One of the most remarkable to emerge this week was POLITICO Magazine’s oral history of what happened around President George W. Bush in the eight hours following the attacks. The piece mucks into the minutiae of this time, from Bush being herded onto Air Force One as it becomes a flying crisis management centre and the frontline of Presidential protection (not to mention the only plane in US airspace), through to Bush flying back into Washington to see the Pentagon aflame. It’s a doozy.

A range of notable items marked this week’s anniversary. A TIME video looked into Richard Drew’s well-known Falling Man shot. (For more on the image, see this 2006 doco.) New America’s Peter Bergin released a big research effort on jihadist terrorism, covering off on policy responses, foreign fighters, ISIS’s modus operandi, and future global trends, among others. Dick Cheney and eldest daughter Liz penned a long piece for The Wall Street Journal ostensibly about American leadership in a dangerous world (alternate title: Obama’s Failings in Beijing, Tehran, Pyongyang and Damascus). From The New York Review of Books comes a reflection on tactics, trials and human rights in the War on Terror. And as just about everything seems to have a Trump angle, here’s The Daily Beast with a run-down of The Donald’s lies, ambivalence and insults related to 9/11.

This week has brought calls for (and against) a presidential pardon for Edward Snowden, as well as the release of the Snowden film. So it was handy timing that the Reuters Institute at Oxford University also released a hefty new working paper on state surveillance and journalism in the post-Snowden era. The piece dives into the data retention legislation that’s in place in Australia and the UK, and asks all the right questions of spooks, journos, lawyers and police to judge whether such tools jeopardise press freedom in our liberal democracies.

Fans of HBO’s VEEP—surely the smartest, funniest writing on the box—should get a kick out of this one. The show’s executive producer and writing team got together to imagine Hillary Clinton’s first 100 days. The highlights are said to have been ‘recorded near the end of her second term, in 2024, by her official biographer, and recovered from a deleted email in 2025.’ Boom.


A strong showing from CSIS this week. First, National Security Advisor to two Australian PMs, Andrew Shearer, talks foreign fighters, CVE and counterterrorism strategy in Australia and stateside (30 mins). And the sterling ‘About the News’ podcast hosted the NYT’s Maureen Dowd to dive into the US election race (46 mins). Dowd’s latest book, The Year of Voting Dangerously: The Derangement of American Politics, was released this week.

And one from the ASPI team: Peter Jennings recently sat down with Michelle Grattan to talk about the PM’s upcoming trip to the US. Their chat covers off on a range of issues, including refugees, cyber security, ISIS, China, political donations and ASEAN (24 mins).


In a crafty illustrated opinion video for the Times, Jay-Z reflects on the war on drugs, 45 years after the offensive was launched by Nixon. The rapper spits out a narrative filled with facts and stats, painting a picture of an ineffectual policy that’s had a disproportionate impact on blacks and Latinos. His bottom line: ‘The war on drugs is an epic fail’ (4 mins).

Japan’s new Defence Minister, Tomomi Inada, was in DC this week where she gave a key speech on the US–Japan alliance and Japan’s security environment (66 mins), in which she announced bilateral and multilateral JMSDF activities in the South China Sea. Inada-san walked through recent developments in the alliance, had some strong words for Pyongyang and Beijing, and singled out Australia and India as Japan’s like-minded security partners, before a Q&A. The minister’s remarks are available online (PDF).


Canberra: The Australia–Japan Research Centre and the ANU Japan Institute will next week host their annual Japan Update event, supported by MOFA’s Japan Foundation Sydney and DFAT’s Australia–Japan Foundation. This year’s conference will focus on three key areas—the Japanese economy, ‘Womenomics’, and Japan’s politics and foreign policy—and has drawn a typically strong cast of speakers. Take a look at the program here (PDF).

Sydney: On Monday the US Studies Centre will host a discussion with Charles P. Ries on the national security challenges that lay in wait for the next administration. Reis, VP (International) at the RAND Corporation, will be joined by USSC’s James Brown for a Q&A after his remarks.