ASPI suggests
30 Jan 2015|

Travels of badger - Berlin Holocaust MemorialThis week’s reading picks include US grand strategy, India’s Machiavelli, oversight in Afghanistan and China’s two silk roads, also Jokowi’s CNN interview, new podcasts and more.

If America is to assure its future security and prosperity, we need a new grand strategy that harnesses its peoples’ spirit, sense of optimism, and perseverance…

Those words belong to William C. Martel, associate professor in International Security Studies at The Fletcher School, who passed away on 12 January. The National Interest has published the final chapter of his bookGrand Strategy in Theory and Practice: The Need For an Effective American Foreign Policy, on the fundamental attributes of grand strategy and the role of alliances. It’s a long but useful read for students and practitioners of strategy.

Is the Islamic State expanding into Libya and the Sinai? Aaron Zelin of looks at the Islamic State’s model in a new Washington Post article.

‘In light of the stunning failure that the collapse of the Iraqi forces represents, the last thing that the government ought to be doing is classifying the inputs and outputs regarding Afghan military training and assistance.’ That’s from Adam Elkus on the US’ decision to classify data usually presented to office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) for reporting and oversight purposes.

In a new ISEAS report (PDF), David Arase examines the implications for Southeast Asia of Xi Jinping’s policies to restructure Eurasian economics with the development of two silk roads: Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

President Obama’s visit to India bore fruit in a number of areas of cooperation including on aircraft carrier technology. See here for USNI’s reporting on the agreement. For greater depth on US–India relations, Carnegie Endowment’s Ashley J. Tellis has a new report called Unity in Difference.

Also on India, Akhilesh Pillalamarri looks at the country’s answer to Machiavelli, the ancient minister Chanakya whose work Arthashastra on power and the international system was described by Henry Kissinger as containing a realist vision long before The Prince ever came into print. And if you’ve got a spare weekend (or two), you can find a translated version of all fifteen books online here.

This week marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The Altantic’s Cari Romm looks at why the results of an infamous psychology study, which have been often used to explain the Holocaust and other atrocities, are now disputed by psychologists. In the 1960s Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram proved, the use of a machine that delivered electric shocks, that ordinary people would obey orders from authority figures, even if they knew the shocks administered could kill the victim.

In his latest East Asia Forum post, Peter Drysdale asks, ‘If Abe wasn’t exactly wowing the Japanese electorate with confidence in his ability to deliver his agenda last time round, has anything changed now the election is done and dusted?’ Drysdale says there are good and bad signs. On the other hand, writing for the National Bureau of Asian Research, Tom Cutler has a new essay on how US energy exports to Japan under the terms of the TPP could potentially strengthen the trade relations.

ASPI’s Lisa Sharland has a new report ‘Building capacity for peace operations in response to diversified threats’ here. The report summarises discussions on the relationship between peacekeeping operations, terrorism and transnational organised crime, which took place during the Challenges Annual Forum 2014 in Beijing, last October.

This week’s photography pick is a series of striking images, taken in 1960 by then 22-year-old paratrooper James Speed Hensinger, that captures the unfolding of an assault by US troops on a Viet Cong sniper’s position near Da Nang.


It’s been a 100 days since Joko Widodo stepped into his new role as Indonesia’s president. CNN’s Christiane Amanpour spends a day hanging out with Jokowi, grilling him about his crackdown on corruption, his controversial police chief nomination and his view on illegal fishing.

The Women in Defence & Security (WDSN) team have produced a video of their last event in which Professor Gillian Triggs and Dr Susan Harris-Rimmer discuss their experiences in promoting human rights and international law, and how women can get ahead.


Last week I recorded a CIMSEC Sea Control podcast with ISEAS’s Malcolm Cook and ASPI’s Ben Schreer on the implications of Japan’s defence budget increases on capability, tensions with China, and relations with the US, Australia and Southeast Asia (32mins).

War on the Rocks’ Ryan Evans sat down with CSIS’ Mira-Rapp Hooper, the Hudson Institute’s Bryan McGrath, CNA’s RADM Mike McDevitt (ret), and CIMSEC’s Scott Cheney-Peters to discuss Asian maritime security, territorial disputes and a rising China (53mins).


Canberra: the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, ANU, is hosting a war studies seminar by Dr Albert Palazzo on resource scarcity, climate change and the future character of war, Tuesday 10 February at 6pm. More details here.

Sydney: The Lowy Institute is hosting a talk by President and CEO of the International Crisis Group, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, on security and tectonic shifts in Asian geopolitics on Friday 20 February at 12.30pm. For more details, see here.

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