ASPI suggests
18 Mar 2016| and

Image courtesy of Flickr user Kevin Doncaster.

After romping in the Florida primary on Tuesday, critics and analysts are starting to take seriously the once seemingly slim chance of The Donald taking the Oval Office. The Economist’s Global Forecasting Service has ranked a Trump presidency as a top-10 risk event with the potential to hurt the global economy and increase domestic security concerns in the US. Check out Politico’s assessment of the ranking here. Dutch news site de Volkskrant has a handy infographic that will help you to determine when Trump’s flip-flopping stances on foreign and domestic policy most closely matched your own; and The New York Times sat down with Anthony Senecal, the Trump family butler, to get the goss on how ‘the king’ lives in his rare moments out of the limelight. And yes, Senecal confirms that The Donald does indeed craft his own bouffant each day, despite the in-house salon.

For another sobering look at the upcoming work of the next Commander in Chief, have a gander at this piece at War on The Rocks, which looks at the likelihood of the next administration continuing with the long-heralded Third Offset Strategy, and this series of interviews at Defense One, where leading policy experts, military officers, journalists and government employees were asked their thoughts on what the 2016 presidential candidates get wrong about the future of war. While the candidates’ misportrayal of terrorism certainly made the list, a different US entity is working to set the story straight—the real life Mad Men (and Women). The Atlantic has the scoop on meetings between top government officials and Madison Avenue’s finest creative directors to stymie online radicalisation.

Meanwhile, the Afghan National Army is employing a very different technique to recruit new troops and to counter the Taliban by laying down some sweet beats. The Afghan Army is undergoing some serious cultural changes, most notably its efforts to boost the number of female officers in their ranks.

Coming hot on the heels of International Women’s Day last week, and after we went to press, Foreign Policy Interrupted released a report which found that women accounted for a mere 21% of guests talking foreign policy on US cable television in 2014. Read about it in this New York Times opinion piece by FPI’s founders.

Finally, this week has seen the delivery of two strong home-grown research efforts. The first from the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney surveys the state of hub-and-spokes alliance system in Asia (PDF). The second, from The Lowy Institute, is a compelling interactive tool which allows an exploration of the global diplomatic footprints belonging to G20 and OECD nations.


Two giants of the US think tank scene have this week released podcasts on the refugee crisis that continues to confound and challenge Europe. The Center for Strategic and International Studies took on the EU–Turkey migration deal (14 mins), while Brookings hosted the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, who delivered remarks before a free-flowing discussion on the situation in Syria (58 mins).

For some lighter listening over the weekend weekend, check out this week’s episode from The Dead Prussian series, where Ghost Fleet co-author August Cole discusses how fiction can promote innovative thinking in national security and defence (20 mins).


Late night TV talent John Oliver regularly receives praise and viral hype for his punchy deep dives on issues of public concern—his recent piece on the dangers of The Donald was his most viewed to date. This week, Oliver delivered a deft examination of the complex and crucial issue of encryption, which has percolated through the media over recent months. Catch up on Facebook, or on YouTube (for those Stateside or with a snappy VPN).

Norton, the computer security company, has released episode two (24 mins) of its fascinating documentary effort, ‘The Most Dangerous Town on the Internet’. The series examines the interesting intersection between real life and the digital world, and the dangers and benefits of online anonymity. Check out episode one (20 mins) along with some background on the series here.


Melbourne: Get along to PwC’s Southbank office next Wednesday to take in a panel discussion on the impact of the still-fresh Japan–Australia Economic Partnership Agreement, and the prospects for the strengthening Japan–Australia relationship. Register online.

Sydney: Indonesianists, be sure to mark your diaries for 9 April, as Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono—Indonesia’s sixth president—will be speaking at a free event at UNSW on his path from villager to the leader of the world’s third largest democracy. But don’t sweat it, Canberrans: you too can see SBY when he’s in town to deliver a keynote address at ASPI’s Defence White Paper conference. Be sure to register your interest here.