ASPI suggests
27 Feb 2015|

German Chancellor Angela MerkelThis week’s wrap kicks off with an in-depth profile of German Chancellor Angela Merkel from the New Yorker’s December edition. Pay attention to Merkel’s strategy for dealing with Vladimir Putin and her razor-sharp insights into his psychology: on his attempt to intimidate her with his black Labrador (Merkel is terrified of dogs), she said ‘I understand why he has to do this—to prove he’s a man…He’s afraid of his own weakness. Russia has nothing, no successful politics or economy. All they have is this.’

Meanwhile, Putin shared his thoughts (translated into English) with National State Television and Radio Company this week on the Minsk Protocol and the possibility of war between Russia and Ukraine.

Sadly, ISIS members in Mosul decided to express their artistic differences with ancient artefacts by taking to them with sledgehammers and power tools in an effort to destroy ‘false idols’. But The Atlantic’s David Graham offers a different take on the matter: ‘In reality, the relationship with icons in all three Abrahamic religions is rather more elaborate than Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi would want us to believe—but the tradition is there. Destroying traces of forebears, and even robbing and destroying tombs, has perhaps a longer tradition in civilization than preservation.’ Keep reading here.

This week’s new reports include a SIPRI policy brief (PDF) by Tetsuo Kotani on crisis management in the East China Sea, the Heritage Foundation’s 2015 Index of US Military Strength (including essays on the role of special forces and the rebalance, check out the executive summary here), and Ahmed S. Hashim’s RSIS report on the impact of Islamic State in Asia.

Grab a cup of coffee and make time for this debate in three parts between James Fallows and Restrepo filmmaker Sebastian Junger on ‘the tragedy of the American military’. Part one by Fallows grapples with ‘careless spending and strategic follow’ which lure America into ‘endless wars it can’t win’. In part two, Sebastian Junger responds to Fallows, taking him up on his discussion of a draft and what that means for future US involvement in conflict. Part three (and several cups of coffee later), Fallows tries to set the record straight on whether 1% of the US population serving in the military is a problem. Time for some decaf.

What does the future of war look like? Douglas Ollivant has a think piece on CNN that charts some future trends of conflict which corresponds with the launch of New America’s Future of War project this week. Check out the #futureofwar Twitter hashtag as well for discussion on ideas and concepts from the launch.

Meanwhile, DARPA has joined the fight against human trafficking by developing a search engine that catches results on the ‘dark web’ including job postings, chat forums and other hidden services that support modern day slavery.


CSIS has brought the podcast goods this week. The latest episode of cogistAsia’s weekly podcast features discussion with Michael Kirby who passionately advocates upholding human rights in North Korea as well as Mira Rapp-Hooper and Gregory Poling on images of China’s reclamation activities in the South China Sea (22mins).

As part of CSIS’ Smart Women Smart Power series, Nina Easton interviewed Afghanistan’s first lady Rula Ghani on her country’s future, women, and how Afghan expats can help rebuild their nation (42mins).


Take a two-minute tour into Gaza through the eyes of well-known (but anonymous) graffiti artist Banksy. Filmed as a travel ad, the footage shows children playing in rubble and houses alleged to have been destroyed by Israel’s Operation Protective Edge. ‘The locals like it so much they never leave’, states the film’s text sardonically.


Canberra: Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will launch the foundation-formerly-known-as-Kokoda, now the Institute for Regional Security, at the IFRS Inaugural Address on Regional Stability and Prosperity at Gandel Hall on Tuesday 17 March at 7,30pm. Bookings essential.

Sydney: What’s gone wrong with the Jokowi presidency? The AIIA NSW is hosting David Reeve and Zulaika Chudori on this topic at an event held at Glover Cottages on Tuesday 3 March at 6pm.

Claire Corbett will be discussing Australia’s future submarine, delving into why the decision is so complex and difficult. The event will be held at the Mitchell Theatre on Tuesday 17 March at 12.30pm.

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