ASPI suggests
28 Nov 2014|

The big news in the US defence establishment this week was the resignation of Secretary Chuck Hagel. Reflections, recriminations and reasoning have come from every corner, so here’s a handful from the New York Times, the National Interest, the New Republic, Defense One and War on the Rocks.

Hagel has been given good grades for his work in support of the US pivot to Asia. Michael Green over at Foreign Policy thinks Hagel’s departure ‘will cause as much angst as head-scratching’ in the region, particularly amongst allies, with a view that his Defense Department was one of the few agencies really delivering on the rebalance. A piece over at The Diplomat makes a similar case, examining the Defense Secretary’s tenure and the fundamentals of the pivot. With Secretary Kerry notably less interested in Asia than was Secretary Clinton, is the rebalance slipping as a national security priority for the US?

In a new Commentary for CSIS, Adelle Neary reflects on Jokowi’s vision for Indonesia as a ‘global maritime nexus’. While a key source of Indonesia’s economic and security challenges, the new president’s policy embraces geography as an asset and an opportunity for wider collaboration on maritime issues. ASPI this week published a paper by Ristian Atriandi Supriyanto on the potential for maritime cooperation between Australia and its northern neighbour.

UK Home Secretary Theresa May used a speech this week at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) to announce beefed up counter-terrorism powers to meet a threat environment ‘more dangerous than at any time before or since 9/11’. A July lecture to RUSI by former MI6 head Richard Dearlove is recommended as an interesting counterpoint.

Back in Australia, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security is now accepting submissions to the Inquiry into the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill. The government’s scheme has recently faced criticism from both the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights and the Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills. Information on the Bill, the draft data set and how to make a submission can be found here. Submissions close 19 January 2015.

Iraqi imbroglio: the Islamic State and beyond is a new report from the Hague-based think tank Clingendael that examines the politico-security crisis we’ve seen unfold in Iraq this year. The authors recognise Islamic State as the face of a catastrophe that stems from ‘poor quality of governance, the exclusionary operation of power and the intrusiveness of foreign interference over the past decade’, challenges, they contend, that have been exacerbated by the US occupation of Iraq, civil war in Syria and Sunni–Shia tensions fuelled by Saudi–Iranian relations. The authors have a bold agenda for the international community, which you can read here.

With the 24 November deadline having come and gone this week, there has been no shortage of speculation on the future of P5+1 talks with Iran on its nuclear program. Jeffrey Lewis—founder of the excellent Arms Control Wonk—filed an incredulous column with Foreign Policy lamenting the state of play. With Obama’s Congressional challenges set to deepen in the new year and Rouhani refusing to accept any limitations on the Iranian research and development program, Lewis wants action now. The Onion engaged with standard levity, reporting that Iran had sought a more favourable deal ‘while openly assembling a nuclear weapon in the negotiating room.’

Finally, do owls hold the key to stealth aircraft design? Take a listen to this Radio National discussion to find out.


If you’re after some analysis of the Iranian nuclear negotiations, head over to Arms Control Wonk for an amusing and insightful ‘emergency’ podcast between Aaron Stein and Jeffrey Lewis.

PACOM’s LTCOL Jan K. Gleiman and ASPI’s Harry White were recently interviewed by Natalie Sambhi for the latest Sea Control Asia Pacific podcast hosted by the Center for International Maritime Security. The trio explored China’s development of land-based anti-ship missiles, and whether the US and its allies should also go down that path. Listen here.


Canberra: The International Committee of the Red Cross will host a panel discussion at the Palace Electric Cinema in recognition of the centenary of the International Tracing Agency for Prisoners-of-War and 100 years of ICRC’s humanitarian action in detention. Mark your calendar for 11 December and register online.

David Lang is an analyst at ASPI and an editor of The Strategist. Image courtesy of The Aviationist.