ASPI suggests
17 Apr 2015|

President Obama greets Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India as he and First Lady Michelle Obama arrive at Air Force Station Palam in New Delhi, India, Jan. 25, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)To get you across the week’s big stories in security and defence, here’s ASPI Suggests with new reports, videos and podcasts.

Following Hillary Clinton’s announcement of her run for the White House, Strategist editor David Lang and I wrote on Monday that, if she becomes president, expect a rebooted version of the Asia Pacific pivot. Brad Glosserman and David Santoro hammer home the need for American attention in the Asia Pacific in an important piece in The National Interest. They outline what allies should expect from Washington but they also warn, don’t expect the US protection to be a silver bullet every time.

For the military’s part, Stephen Liszewski writes on Defense One how the US armed forces can help reinforce the pivot to Asia. He expands on the recommendations made in a new Council on Foreign Relations report by Robert D. Blackwill and Ashley J. Tellis on revising US grand strategy toward China. For a quick rundown of their arguments, read their feature article here.

Also this week, the US Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) released a new report and videos on the PLA-N’s new capabilities and missions for the 21st century. As Andrew Erikson of the US Naval War College points out, the report rightfully covers the Chinese Coast Guard which serves as ‘China’s Second Navy’ (just ask the Philippines). Keeping reading his War On The Rocks piece for the highlights of the ONI assessment.

A few weeks ago, the Afghan Taliban popped back into frontpage news with the release of an official biography of their elusive, one-eyed leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar on their website. According to the BBC, he’s got a ‘special’ sense of humour and picks the humble RPG-7 as his weapon-of-choice. While some analysts see the biography as an attempt to challenge Islamic State’s growing influence, Michael Kugelman asks a more poignant question, does Mullah Omar still matter?

Shifting to India, Barack Obama keeps the bromance alive with Narendra Modi, penning a short and sweet assessment of the Indian leader for TIME magazine online:

As a boy, Narendra Modi helped his father sell tea to support their family. Today, he’s the leader of the world’s largest democracy, and his life story—from poverty to Prime Minister—reflects the dynamism and potential of India’s rise.

Both Quartz and the Wall Street Journal riff on the Obama–Modi bromance theme and what it means for US–India relations.

For more TIME leader profiles, see Paul Wolfowitz on Indonesia’s Jokowi, K-Rudd on China’s Xi, and US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on his colleague, the ‘Notorious RBG’ aka Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a strident supporter of womens’ rights.

For more on pro-ISIS networks in Indonesia, I highly recommend this IPAC report released this week on the linkages between extremist communities located in the archipelago and Syria. In typical IPAC form, the report carefully details how six men became radicalised and explains what this tells us about the susceptibility of certain groups in Indonesia to ISIS recruiters.

Lastly, The Onion reports that an architect has presented President Obama with generic options for a war memorial that could work for Syria, Libya and Yemen. Owen Levin, the architect in question, explained: ‘We’ve also included a reflecting pool in the design that is ringed with placeholder names of battle sites, but these can easily be swapped out for Tripoli, Tikrit, Sana’a, Mosul—whichever ones you need.’


This week ASPI’s Anthony Bergin and Clare Murphy published a new report on Australia’s terror threat level. For a quick wrap of terror threat levels around the world and the report’s recommendations, watch Clare’s interview with Strategist editor Amelia Long (5mins).


Keep your ears free for this Loopcast podcast in which J.M. Berger discusses whose recruitment messaging is more on point: ISIS or al Qaeda? (1hr)