ASPI suggests
22 Jul 2016| and

It was the week that US politics junkies had hung out for—the one where the Republican National Convention circus rolled up to Cleveland for the coronation of Donald J. Trump. While The Donald was finally elevated as the GOP’s Presidential nominee, things otherwise didn’t go to script—Ted Cruz failed to deliver an endorsement of Trump, and Melania Trump failed to deliver a wholly original speech. Both distractions have contributed to a divisive, destructive gathering—one that Nate Silver describes as ‘flirting with disaster’. Trump has just delivered his campaign speech, which you can watch here with a side of fact-checking (and here and here). If you’re after a blow-by-blow, you could do worse than check out the liveblogs filed for New York magazine by the august Andrew Sullivan (nights 1, 2, 3 and 4). And with the Donald now one step closer to the nuclear codes, it’s a good moment to explore his grey matter through these two pieces: one on Trump’s potential sociopathy; the other a psychologist’s dive into Trump’s personality. But the final thought rests with Jeffery Goldberg from The Atlantic, who claims Hillary Clinton is now effectively running against Vladimir Putin:

‘Donald Trump, should he be elected president, would bring an end to the postwar international order, and liberate dictators, first and foremost his ally Vladimir Putin, to advance their own interests. The moral arc of the universe is long, and, if Trump is elected, it will bend in the direction of despotism and darkness.’

A few research efforts and publications have bubbled up this week. Brookings’ Order from Chaos project has this month taken the temperature of US alliances and security partnerships in East Asia, with chapters focused on Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines, Singapore and Taiwan. If you haven’t yet come across New America’s worthwhile international security data project, it’s a veritable goldmine of facts and figures on MENA drone strikes and US extremism. And finally, fresh out of Copenhagen comes Foresight, a new effort honing in on climate change and energy issues. Catch up with the slick, scholarly Scandi-chic mag here.

Last Friday’s coup attempt by a small faction within the Turkish Armed Forces across Istanbul and Ankara has received significant airplay across the world’s media. Now, as the failed coup’s impact is felt, analysts are looking at what comes next for the country. The Atlantic has been live-blogging major updates relating to the coup attempt and its aftermath, concluding with Wednesday’s declaration of a three month state of emergency. For another firsthand account, this podcast (18 mins) from CSIS includes an interview with Bulent Aliriza who was in Ankara as the coup took unfolded. Looking to the future, Foreign Policy thinks that Turkey will now be unable to answer Washington’s call to provide greater assistance in the fight against Daesh; The New Yorker asks how President Erdoğan will use the coup to his political advantage; and CSIS looks into security implications from the putsch for the wider Eastern Mediterranean. Wired also has two stellar offerings on Turkey: the first on how the coup attempt played out on social media, and the second on Wikileaks’ ‘Erdoğan emails’—294,548 emails leaked from AKP HQ in response to the government’s brutal post-coup purges.

Want to catch ‘em all? There are plenty of people around the world who want otherwise, as backlash against the viral game Pokémon GO was felt this week, with some even suggesting that the game’s use of smartphone cameras could be a high-tech spying tool. That’s been the rhetoric in Indonesia, where on-duty police have been banned from hunting Pokémon; in Egypt, where Pikachu and pals have elicited national security concerns; in Saudi Arabia, where clerics have renewed a fatwa on Pokémon; and in Russia, where the game has been branded a ‘CIA plot’. Beyond espionage, others are face-palming over gamers hunting Pokémon in Auschwitz, Arlington Cemetery and the 9/11 memorial.


CSIS has the podcast goods on China this week. Bonnie Glaser sits down with Philippe Le Corre to discuss how Brexit will impact on China (28 mins); Scott Kennedy on Beijing’s 13th Five-Year Plan (19 mins); and Peter Mattis and Christopher Johnson on the origin, role, practices and structure of China’s esoteric intelligence bureaucracy (56 mins).

The Diplomat also weighs in, with South China Sea heavies Ankit Panda and Prashanth Parameswaran offering their thoughts (21 mins) on the impact of last week’s Tribunal ruling on geopolitics and security in the Indo–Pacific.


CSIS’ recently hosted a discussion on technological innovation with William Roper, director of the US Strategic Capabilities Office. Roper offers an insider’s perspective (1 hr) on how defense innovation in the 21st century will differ from previous experiences for the Department of Defense. It’s definitely worth sticking around for Q&A, too.

Earlier this week, Politico premiered a new series of short videos, ‘Retro Report’, which will run every day over the week and a half that the Republican and Democratic parties hold their conventions. The series will explore eight significant US presidential conventions and draw parallels between them and the state of US politics today. The first four episodes are already available: Episode 1: The Power of the Delegate (6 mins); Episode 2: The Mess in Chicago (6 mins); Episode 3: How it started (4 mins); and Episode 4: The Outsider Republican (6 mins).


Canberra: Richard Fontaine, head of the Center for a New American Security in Washington D.C., continues his tour of Australia for a few more weeks, so mark your diary for 8 August and get along to hear some wisdom. Fontaine will be at the ANU’s National Security College where he will sketch out US foreign policy futures under the next president. Register here.

Sydney: With Prime Minister Abe having been returned with a supermajority in the Diet, now’s as good a time as any to check in on how the Japanese economy is faring. And there’s no better bunch to do that with than has been assembled by AsiaLink, including two serving Ambassadors and corporate heavyweights. Sign up and head to PwC Sydney at midday on Friday 29 July.