Welcome back to ASPI suggests, your recommended weekly dose of defence and security reading, listening and viewing, where we won’t even attempt to unpack Woody Island and Sunnylands until the analytical smorgasbord dwarfs the news reportage.
The latest round of the battle over encryption raged this week as Apple head honcho Tim Cook penned an open letter to customers, in response to a Californian court order pertaining to the US government’s investigation into the San Bernardino attacks. The New York Times carries the blow-by-blow; Vox has a detailed backgrounder; and The Atlantic analyses the optics. ASPI ICPC International Fellow James Lewis has published a commentary over at CSIS which is worth a look. For a range of other sources, Adam Segal from the Council on Foreign Relations has gathered reactions from across think tanks and tech, politics and presidential hopefuls.
For a different take on tech this week, be sure to check out chess prodigy Garry Kasparov’s discussion at The New York Review of Books on artificial intelligence and his infamous loss to the supercomputer, Deep Blue. It’s a timely reflection on the back of Google’s huge (and literal) win in January, where their AI beat a human player at Go, ‘the most complex game ever devised by humans’.
For CT wonks, the Quilliam Foundation is increasingly the go-to place site for current analysis, reporting and events on countering extremism and radicalisation. ABC’s One Plus One program this week released their chat with Quilliam co-founder, Maajid Nawaz, and published an insightful (and at times dark) interview about the path to extremism and challenging the use of force to impose Islam around the world. It builds on Nawaz’s recent conversation with Richard Fidler which we recommended a few weeks back. In a similar vein, Defense One has a top-notch piece (by way of The Atlantic) on the appeal of Daesh propaganda, and how its message should be countered by non-government actors.
In a recent piece for Blogs of War, Phil Walter looks at the concept of ungoverned spaces, and if they actually pose a threat to society—a prevalent idea since 9/11. You can also check out Walter’s discussion with BoW creator John Little on the national security view of ungoverned spaces here (30 mins).
And finally, Foreign Policy this week broke news that residents of Pingtang and Luodian counties in China will be relocated in order for Beijing to attempt to answer Bowie’s immortal question: is there life on Mars? The homes of the 9,100 citizens will be replaced by the world’s largest radio telescope, which Beijing hopes will ‘make contact with extraterrestrials and discover the origins of the universe’.
The ever-dependable CSIS podcast is back, with host Colm Quinn this week sitting down with Steve Morrison to understand the Zika virus and where the international response is at, with over 1 million people now believed to be infected with Zika. For background, The New York Times has the goods, and Time has the GIFs.
From 12–14 February, the 52nd Munich Security Conference saw defence, foreign policy and security bigwigs from around the globe passionately debating their areas of expertise. Check out the MSC page for a good overview of the top discussion points, or for a more in-depth look at a couple of the issues, listen to War on the Rocks’ latest podcast (54 mins), where editor-in-chief, Ryan Evans, interviews four conference-goers—including one K-Rudd—on the state of global security. For a little bit of extra reading, check out this Foreign Policy piece which uses the Conference as a hook to discuss a possible ‘new Cold War’.
VICE News has this week released a new documentary delving into the ongoing struggles and proxy battles of the nomadic Tuareg people of Libya. Head to the front line at Ubari via YouTube (25 mins).
Theresa May, the Home Secretary of the UK, joined Kathleen Hicks, director of CSIS’ international security program, for a discussion on Britain’s counterterrorism policy earlier this week. It’s a must-watch for CT fans—check it out here (45 mins).
Canberrans, get along to the Strategic & Defence Studies Centre this coming Monday evening to hear the University of Chicago’s Robert Pape consider how ISIS changed not only Iraq and Syria but the world. Pape looks at the group’s rise, territorial ambitions and shifting tactics around suicide terrorism. Register online.
Sydneysiders who want to test their trivia chops on the topic of US elections should hop along to the US Studies Centre’s Super Tuesday Trivia Night at USyd’s Manning Bar on 2 March. Two days later, the USSC will host Anne-Marie Slaughter for a deep dive on foreign policy. (Slaughter is in town for the All About Women festival at the Opera House.)