ASPI suggests
24 Feb 2017| and

Michael Flynn’s recent fall from grace opened the door for yet another General to join the Trump administration. Since the President announced that H.R. McMaster will take on the role of National Security Advisor, portraiture of the oft-described “soldier-scholar” has piled up. One effort from POLITICO paints a picture of a strong-willed intellectual, a man of discipline, history, independence and ethics. On the back of that profile, George Packer for The New Yorker asks, ‘Can a free mind survive in Trump’s White House?’ If you’re short on time, McMaster was the topic of conversation for a snappy 5 on 45 podcast from Brookings’ Michael E. O’Hanlon (5 mins). And to get a grip on how McMaster sees the world, catch up with these four articles he penned between 2008 and 2015 for IISS’s Survival journal; this NYT op-ed on war as political, human and uncertain; and this speech on future war delivered to CSIS last year.

Fans of The Dish (2000–2015) will have been pleased to see that Andrew Sullivan has started a new weekly ‘experiment’, which he says is in the ‘the British magazine tradition of a weekly diary — on the news, but a little distant from it, personal as well as political, conversational more than formal.’ Week one of the series ‘on life in Trump’s America’ considered lies; week two, Kremlin–White House links. *bookmarked*

China’s plan to revise its 1984 Maritime Traffic Safety Law—essentially grabbing the pen and trying its hand at rewriting some of Asia’s rules—is ruffling feathers worldwide. The revision will push for the following:

‘Foreign submersibles should travel on the surface, display national flags and report to Chinese maritime management administrations when they pass China’s water areas, the draft says. They should also get approval from the relevant administration to enter China’s internal waters and ports’

Sichuan University’s Yang Cuibai has noted that the draft will allow China to take the lead in creating legal precedents in its waters, which he understands to include both the East and South China seas. This week saw the Asian superpower finish construction of nearly two-dozen storage units on Subi, Mischief and Fiery Cross reefs, which are expected to house long-range surface-to-air missiles. At least the US still has the soft-power monopoly, right? Wrong. With China set to overtake the US by year’s end on the metric of highest grossing country at the box office, it’s worth listening to the latest ‘ChinaPower’ podcast from CSIS, where Bonnie Glaser and Stan Rosen take a look at the soft power of Chinese cinema. And one more for Sinophiles: check out this excellent longread on where Trump should focus his energies as he seeks to reset US–China economic relations.

Finally, we know you’re doing alright if you’re tuning in for ASPI suggests each week, but if you’ve ever thought you need to diversify your news intake, here are two handy tools to help you out. The first is a new initiative from BuzzFeed called ‘Outside Your Bubble,’ which will show readers of popular BuzzFeed news articles the opinions of others from Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and more, to help them burst free of their digital echo chambers. The second, from Alphabet’s Jigsaw incubator, is called ‘Unfiltered.News,’ and uses Google News data to create a map of the most prominent topics and headlines from across the globe. Happy reading, strategists!


Latrobe Asia’s podcast, Asia Rising, recently sat down with former ONA boss Allan Gyngell to talk Australian foreign policy and Canberra’s efforts in Asia (16 mins). There’s likely no-one better when it comes to extemporising on our external affairs—he literally [co-]wrote the book, and recently put down some thoughts on the Foreign Policy White Paper process.

Hosted in NYC rather than their usual studio high above Dupont Circle, the latest installment from Foreign Policy’s ‘The E.R.’ podcast series (38 mins) seeks to sift fact from fiction to determine whether the USA has actually become a reality show.


Vowing to bring viewers ‘the stories behind the research,’ Brookings’ Creative Lab YouTube channel recently kicked off a new series called Unpacked, where the think tank’s experts shed light on issues in the news cycle. Two recent offerings look at the US Department of Homeland Security’s plans to implement Trump’s EO (4 mins), and “sanctuary cities” (4 mins).


Canberra (but also, across Australia): International Women’s Day will be almost upon us on 8 March, and tickets to country-wide events run by UN Women are selling quickly. Each event will feature all-star panels of women excelling in their fields, as well as a delicious meal. What’s not to like?! Make sure you register your interest now so you don’t miss out.

Brisbane: Brissie-based readers shouldn’t miss their chance to get a handle on just how the Trump administration might make its mark on the Japan-Australia strategic relationship. Japanese Consul-General Hidehiro Hosaka will join the AIIA at the Queensland Multicultural Centre in Kangaroo Point this coming Tuesday evening to lay it all down.