ASPI suggests
19 May 2017| and

Image courtesy of Pixabay user Olichel.

Hidey-ho, readerinos.

Here’s a bunch of stuff that’s guided us through the action-packed week stateside: Politico calls in the big guns to grapple with the question of whether we’re approaching constitutional crisis territory; over at Foreign Policy Max Boot suggests Republicans bail; the almighty James Fallows, who covered Nixon as a journo, reckons the Comey tale is worse than Watergate; and in the Grey Lady, Ross Douthat is fed up, handing down an astonishing indictment of the President, appealing directly to the GOP leadership and serving up the 25th Amendment as a way out of this mess.

The folks over at Lawfare—a bloody ripper of a blog, by the way—have been earning their keep this week. Check out this sober analysis, written in the style of an intel brief, which draws together a range of threads including White House disfunction, the Comey affair, interplay between the administration, GOP and Congress, and the President’s Twitter dependence, among others. In the last 24-hours, the site’s editor-in-chief, Benjamin Wittes, has gone on the record to clarify his relationship with Comey—a mate—over at Lawfare, in the Times and in front of PBS’s camera (26 mins). All sensible stuff.

A quick shout out to our pals over to at Devpolicy Blog for the launch of their fresh new look. With both eyes on the UX prize, the team has split their analysis into two streams: one focusing on Papua New Guinea  and the Pacific, the other on aid and global development efforts. Bookmark it (if you haven’t already).

As the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day war approaches, transcripts from the Israeli cabinet committee charged with strategic decision-making have been declassified and posted online. If you don’t have time to pore over them all, this interesting longread from Tablet has some key quotes and analysis unpacking the material. And looking to the future, The Economist has a solid read that argues that a Palestinian state would actually help Israel to cement its victory in 1967—referencing the ‘Trump card’ as a new opportunity for brokering lasting peace in the conflicted region.

Following on from Israel–Palestine, a couple of other historical pieces caught our eye this week. First up, London Review of Books has a cracking article on US involvement in the two Koreas since the end of WWII, and what shapes our perceptions of the North today. Here’s a primer:

South Korea’s stable democracy and vibrant economy from 1988 onwards seem to have overridden any need to acknowledge the previous forty years of history, during which the North could reasonably claim that its own autocracy was necessary to counter military rule in Seoul. It’s only in the present context that the North looks at best like a walking anachronism, at worst like a vicious tyranny.

And next up, War is Boring examines the legacy of the 1893 mishap that saw the sinking of the Royal Navy’s HMS Victoria—and where overconfidence in one’s own maritime superiority might lead to hubris.

And finally, if developments around the world have been too much for you, allow us to offer you duck ramps. While some in the heart of DC have attempted to politicise ducklings’ access to the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, others choose to see the happy birds and their families for what they are—très cute.


As Donald Trump prepares to board Air Force One and leave behind the burning ruins of Washington DC for the oil fields of Saudi Arabia, a couple of podcasts weigh in on what the President’s last week means for foreign relations, and what pundits can expect from his first jaunt abroad. Global Dispatches checks out the political and strategic implications from the trip and the significance of Trump’s selection of Saudi (20 mins), while CSIS’s hit series About the News features The New York Times’ White House correspondent Peter Baker on the week that was and the week that will be (37 mins).

The CogitASIA podcast is back this week with a brand new offering on Japan’s engagement—political, economic, security—with Southeast Asia. Listen to CSIS’s Kei Koga and Geoffrey Hartman sit down with host Will Colson to unpack the benefits Japan could have for the sub-region’s security in this quick 20 minute episode.


Late last month New America held their annual Future of War conference which was, as usual, a bonanza for wonks of all predilections. The day-long event was recorded and sliced into 16 videos, all of which are available over on YouTube. Have at ’em.


Canberra: Here’s something to keep Canberrans warm as winter settles on the capital—the AIIA has announced that their National Conference, this year on Foreign Policy in an Uncertain Worldwill be held on 16 October. Register here. (And young things should also have a gander at the masterclass series which will run again in advance of the conference.)

Sydney: Sydney-siders only have one day left to register for a pretty special opportunity: an evening with visiting ASEAN ambassadors and members of the ASEAN Committee of Permanent Representatives who will be stopping by Sydney for a networking event and panel discussion hosted by the Asia Society Australia. Mark your diaries for 29 May, and register now.