ASPI suggests
1 Aug 2014|

String-like Ebola virus particles are shedding from an infected cell in this electron micrograph. Credit: NIAID

I’m kicking off today with biosecurity: Ebola outbreaks in West Africa have raised fears it might spread to other continents. In a new video interview (7mins), CSIS Senior Vice President and Director, Global Health Policy Center, Dr J. Stephen Morrison says ‘this is far and away the worst [outbreak] we’ve ever seen’. He explains that it’s the scale and scope of this outbreak that’s concerning and discusses the capacity challenges in African states that undermine attempts to keep the spread under control. Keep watching here.

The Strategist has featured an ongoing debate about power shifts in the Asia Pacific and a potential ‘choice’ between China and the US. If you’re looking to read more on this strategic competition, over at Inside Story, Graeme Dobell reviews the contributions of three authors, Geoff Dyer, Robert D. Kaplan and Malcom Fraser, and concludes that ‘this will be more a nineteenth- than a twentieth-century struggle – a contest over power rather than ideology. Australia’s opt-out options are limited’.

This year’s Aspen Security Forum focused on WMD, Afghanistan and Pakistan, the future of warfare, intelligence oversight and more. Featuring a stellar cast of national security practitioners and ambassadors, you can watch the highlights here, including US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey on Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), retired CIA and National Security Agency Director General Michael Hayden on intelligence and transparency, and Pakistani Ambassador to the US Jalil Abbas Jilani addresses the topic of US drone strikes in his country. For full videos, check out the Aspen Security Forum 2014 list on YouTube.

Moving to Northeast Asia, the Ilmin International Relations Institute, a research institute in Seoul, has just released this report (PDF) on the future of North Korea. Surveying 135 experts, the report probes regime stability (interestingly, 42% of Chinese experts surveyed believe it’ll last more than 20 years), the causes of domestic purges, nuclear and foreign policy, the economy, unification and the role of international society.

Turning to military matters, here’s an interesting, if not controversial, read on the army’s next enemy: peace. Writing in the Washington Post, US Army Lieutenant General David W. Barno (rtd) grapples with challenges the transition from high-tempo combat to peacetime will bring. He recalls concepts like ‘selection disobedience’ were introduced after Vietnam in order to ‘empower junior leaders in the face of stultifying Army bureaucracy’. Relevant to our context with the Australian Army set to experience a similar transition, keep reading Barno’s argument here.

Violence in Gaza continued this week. For those wondering how the anti-missile system used by the Israel Defense Forces known as Iron Dome works, check out this primer by Raoul Heinrichs. Although it has achieved a success rate of 80–90% in intercepting rockets from Gaza, Heinrichs argues the system provides ‘incomplete protection’. Keep reading here.


Military History and Heritage Victoria are holding a conference in Melbourne on the fifteenth anniversary of the intervention in East Timor (INTERFET). The keynote speaker will be current Timor-Leste Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão. Other speakers include the current Governor General Peter Cosgrove (rtd) and Indonesia’s Lieutenant General Kiki Syahnakri (rtd). Held on 20–21 September, for more details and registration info see here.

Natalie Sambhi is an analyst at ASPI and editor of The Strategist. Image courtesy of Flickr user NIAID.