ASPI suggests
20 Mar 2015|

Bibi got back.

Welcome back for another dose of defence and strategy links, this week coming to you from the ISCS–RIS conference on India and the Indian Ocean in Bhubaneswar, India’s ‘City of Temples’.

Kicking off with the optics of the week, The Atlantic has the goods with photo essays showing the devastation wrought on Vanuatu by Cyclone Pam, and the push to retake the northern Iraqi town of Tikrit from IS militants. And from Syria, there’s this striking photo of buses being stood vertically to shield against snipers in Aleppo.

Hot on the heels of work done by CSIS’ Maritime Transparency Initiative comes some new analysis of China’s land reclamation and military construction efforts on a handful of reefs and islands in the South China Sea. Over at East Asia Forum, RSIS’ Ristian Atriandi Supriyanto thinks that Indonesia should put some time into development activities on the Natuna Islands—starting with energy infrastructure—as a way to counter China’s maritime claim.

The US unveiled a new maritime strategy (PDF) last week, an update to its 2007 edition. Bryan McGrath and Bryan Clark muck in at War on the Rocks. The National Interest and The Diplomat also host reactions, here and here. And, of course, we’ve offered views from Ben Schreer and Sam Bateman on The Strategist.

A new report (PDF) from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute sees China take a place on the podium as the third largest arms exporter in the world. With their major arms exports rising 143% between 2010 and 2014, China has leapfrogged Germany, France, and the UK. Now accounting for 5% of global arms exports, China still trails well behind the contributions of the top two players: America at 31%, and Russia at 27%.

Two pieces of IS-related analysis stood out this week. From RSIS in Singapore, Paul Hedges considers the [il]legitimacy of IS’ Caliph, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. And from CSIS in DC, Anthony Cordesman looks past the degradation and destruction of IS to the future stability of Iraq and Syria—the overriding strategic objective that’ll require different prescriptions for each state.

RUSI has a new paper (PDF) out surveying the deployment of Russian troops to eastern Ukraine. With Moscow’s deployed forces pretty much equal to all of Kiev’s available combat forces, and rebel fighters (who’re essentially under Russian control) numbering ‘half the total of Russian troops’, the figures don’t look good for Ukraine.

Finally, in Israel, Bibi got back. Though the outcome surely had nothing to do with Netanyahu’s bizarre election ads and everything to do with Chuck Norris.


If you didn’t catch it earlier in the week, Barack Obama has continued his ‘new media’ outreach, this time being interviewed by VICE News. Check out the video here, as well as previous spots with Vox and Buzzfeed.


Catch up with Sarah Mendelson of the CSIS Human Rights Initiative as she talks about the murder of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, the future of Russia, and the rise of repression and decline of democracy worldwide. Listen here.

Melburnians Michael Sloan and Kyle Sherer are behind Last Stop to Nowhere, a great podcast that chronicles lesser-known stories from Australia’s history. Here are two: ‘Odd Wars’ looks at the contributions of Australian troops to the Emu War and conflicts in Sudan and Palestine; ‘Charles Cousens and the Tokyo Rose’ tells the story of a popular 2GB presenter and later prisoner-of-war taken from internment in Burma to Radio Tokyo HQ to broadcast Japanese propaganda at allied troops. iTunes has the lot of ‘em.


The Perth USAsia Centre will host the Hon. Michael Kirby for a free public lecture on 27 March covering his 2014 investigation into human rights in the DPRK.

ASPI’s Future Surface Fleet conference is on at the Hyatt Hotel Canberra from 30 March to 1 April. Be sure to get your tickets before sales close this coming Monday 23 March.

David Lang is an analyst at ASPI and an editor of ASPI’s blog The Strategist. Edited image courtesy of Flickr user TLVshac.