ASPI suggests
25 Nov 2016| and

Image courtesy of Flickr user NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

First up this week, a couple of good military blogs to bookmark (if you aren’t already acquainted). The Modern War Institute at West Point runs the cracking War Council Blog, which surveys all aspects of the modern battlefield. Here’s a fascinating MWI read that makes the case for concrete as a weapon: ‘No other weapon or technology has done more to contribute to achieving strategic goals of providing security, protecting populations, establishing stability, and eliminating terrorist threats.’ Back home, props to the Australian Army for opening up the conversation around the future of land power and army modernisation through the Land Power Forum. And on the back of the Submarine Institute of Australia’s recent Canberra conference, it’s germane to also give a shout-out to their nascent blog effort, Deep Thinker.

Linda Jakobson and her team China Matters have done a great deal to promote a deeper discussion around the challenges and opportunities in the Australia–China relationship. And it’s not just a conversation for seasoned voices, with China Matters recently hosting their inaugural young professionals meeting in Canberra. You can catch up with meeting summary, policy recommendations, agenda, discussion papers and more here.

Here’s some long reads on which to slide into the weekend. David Remnick’s masterful profile on Obama after the election of Donald Trump. It’s an immense and insightful piece of writing. And in case you missed it, Jeffrey Goldberg turned it up to 11 in reporting his interviews with Henry Kissinger for The Atlantic.

In our populism pick of the week, over at Project Syndicate, Princeton’s Harold James likens the rise of populism to the interwar period in the 20th century which saw the rise of Italian fascism in response to Soviet communism. He also asks an important question for anyone peering into the future: ‘Can a firewall be built to prevent such political contagion?’

Kicking off this week’s fresh research is a great new report from New America which offers five policy recommendations for government and media officials based on a close examination of media reactions to Orlando’s Pulse nightclub attack; War and Tweets: Terrorism in America in the Digital Age is a must-read for any media politics wonks. A sinister read from the Atlantic Council, The Kremlin’s Trojan Horses (PDF), unpacks how Russia is using ideologically friendly politicians, parties and press in France, Germany and the UK to create a pro-Russia current under the country’s mainstream politics and media. A longer effort from RUSI offers some thoughts on the long road and important task ahead of Antonio Guterres, the next Secretary-General of the UN: committing the organisation to gender equality goals to improve its peacekeeping operations. And finally, two great new releases from the Center for a New American Security: the first on the effects of the Third Offset Strategy on the US–ROK alliance, and the second, which prescribes eight policy recommendations to bolster the security efforts behind the US rebalance to Asia.

Whether it’s a hoax created by the Chinese to oust US manufacturing or a global phenomenon one needs to have a ‘totally open mind’ about, it’s pretty clear that the president-elect knows next to nothing about climate change. A great piece from New York magazine fact-checks the section of DJT’s recent interview with The New York Times where he discussed his views on climate change—which at one point descended into a ramble on the evils of wind turbines and how they ‘kill all the birds’. Another read on from The Economist urges countries to stay the course on COP 21 commitments, even if the US backs away from its leadership position.

If that’s too depressing for you, then now’s a great time to remind yourself about the process of DiCapriation‘evidence of a man’s tendency to follow a predetermined track of beauty’ that’s just as applicable to the ugliness that’s taken hold of America as it is to Leonardo DiCaprio’s A+ looks. Right now, the US is at its rock-bottom The Revenant Leo-D phase, but as the graph reminds us, America will be handsome again.


In the latest podcast from The GroundTruth Project (18 mins), GT fellow Chris Bentley visits the watery northwest coast of Jakarta as it slowly sinks into the megacity’s rivers. As whole neighbourhoods are razed to accommodate waters crumbling the edge of Indonesia’s capital, Bentley asks what processes Indonesians are using to adapt to the flooding more damaging than the effects of climate change.


Strategy supremo Eliot A. Cohen of Johns Hopkins University delivered a keynote to the first-ever War Studies Conference hosted by the Modern War Institute at West Point. Cohen spoke on the domestic political challenges of deterrence, before sitting down to for a chat with the NYT’s David Sanger (72 mins).

Stopping an enemy ballistic missile after it has been launched is no easy task. This short CSIS informational video (3 mins) looks at just one of the technology challenges involved, determining what part of the ‘threat cloud’ released by a missile is actually the warhead that must be destroyed—a process called Midcourse Discrimination that’s carried out by sea, air, land and space capabilities.


Melbourne: Lowy’s Rodger Shanahan and Lydia Khalil will take to the stage next week to explore the future of the foreign fighter threat. Register here.

Canberra: On 29 November, join an all star cast of speakers for ANU’s Energy Update 2016. This all-day event will see speakers from government, business and academia unpacking a host of issues, ranging from new technologies and energy security to global and regional outlooks for the world’s energy sectors.