ASPI suggests
2 Sep 2016| and

¡Hola, comrades!

This week saw the first commercial flight in over 50 years take-off from the US bound for Cuba, the most significant step toward rapprochement between Washington and Havana since Obama visited back in March. But what happens to those American and Cuban fugitives who were long-ago given shelter from their governments and from facing up to their crimes of terrorism, murder, kidnapping and alike? Well, it’s complicated.

Two good, if quite different, features out this week on two quite different transparency warriors. The first, a tale from The New York Times Magazine, is a rambling journey through the unlikeliest of marriages between Edward Snowden of Moscow and Oliver Stone of Hollywood. Second, also from the Times, is an incredible yarn about how the work of Wikileaks, and the agenda of its so-called editor-in-chief Julian Assange, have actually served to support the Kremlin. (This Daily Beast piece, which we brought you a few weeks back, remains an unsettling read on that very subject.)

John Hersey’s ‘Hiroshima’ has been recognised as ‘perhaps the most famous piece published in The New Yorker’. Hersey’s phenomenal reportage—published one year after the city was obliterated at the close of WWII—tells the sorry story through the eyes of six survivors. If you haven’t read it, set some time aside and dive right in. You’ll be changed.

Loads of new research from think tanks around the world has been published this week, kicking off with two infosec-related reports from CNAS: the first on the importance of digital resilience to the US military, and the second on the use of open source software in the US Department of Defense. Over in Sweden, SIPRI has an interesting new blog piece on the pros and cons of a complete ban on nuclear testing. And a little closer to home, RSIS published a stellar new commentary on the state of the Middle East, and IISS has a new report on the implications that Brexit has for global efforts to mitigate climate change.

Presidential hopeful Donald Trump took off on his first foreign travel of 2016 (not including golf trips), and somewhat surprisingly, it was at the behest of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. The Economist has speculated on Peña Nieto’s possible motives for inviting ‘the scourge of Mexico’ to discuss the future of US–Mexico relations. Hours later Trump was back on US soil to deliver his long-awaited speech on immigration, which was everything you’d expect from The Donald, and then some. The Washington Post has fact-checked some of the more interesting claims made in the address.

So what has become of Trump’s fabled wall after his time in Mexico? ‘Mexico will pay for the wall. One hundred percent,’ he decreed in his speech, then shortly after on Twitter. President Peña Nieto seemed to disagree after the pair’s meeting when the wall reportedly wasn’t mentioned, and the difference of opinion has now digressed into a Twitter battle. So much for diplomacy…

And for a slightly longer read from The Atlantic, check out this university professor’s reasoning to include fascism as a topic in his course on American political thought. Hint: Trump.


WWF-Australia has released a brand-new podcast series, Climate Cash, on how Australia should respond to climate change-related disasters in its near region. Focusing on Southeast Asia and the Pacific, the series features interviews with business, government and community leaders about how Australia can help its near neighbours build resilience and stability in the face of serious environmental challenges. Episode one (the Solomon Islands, 21 mins), episode two (Australia’s role in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, 18 mins) and episode three (Australia’s corporate support for vulnerable states, 22 mins) are worth a listen.

A great new podcast from Brookings (32 mins) debunks the ‘myth’ that the US is better off without the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership by addressing fears people have about losing their jobs to trade, and explores the reasoning behind both presidential candidates’ stance on the agreement.


Al Jazeera’s 101 East program has this week taken a dangerous journey into the heart of Fukushima (25 mins) five years after the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster. The program looks into the lives of the workers who still live in the radioactive wasteland, whose job to clean up the toxic mess might span decades.

The US Air Force flew its final mission of an unmanned QF-4 Phantom in mid-August, and some footage of the Vietnam War-era aircraft’s last unmanned flight surfaced this week (2 mins). Airman Magazine also put out a farewell video (5 mins) back in July that looks at the fighter’s history and its more recent use as a target drone for USAF live-fire testing.


Sydney: If you couldn’t get along see outgoing US Ambassador John Berry’s speech to the National Press Club this week (catch up online), fear not: the US Studies Centre has your back. The Ambassador will join USSC’s James Brown on 12 September to reflect on his time in Oz and on the Australia–US relationship.

Canberra: ANU’s Coral Bell School will host a three day event from 13–15 September to explore the intersection between policymaking and research on Australia’s relationships with its near neighbours in the Pacific. Democracy, political economy and regionalism are all topics that’ll be on the cards across the three days, and will be discussed by an all-star line-up of ANU research staff, policymakers, business leaders and journalists.