ASPI suggests
30 Sep 2016| and

Image courtesy of Flickr user Nicolas Raymond.

Clinton and Trump went toe-to-toe this week for the first Presidential debate. 30 minutes in, it looked like Trump was pulling off ‘The Haranguing at Hofstra’, but Clinton soon stepped forward to slay an increasingly unhinged DJT with her studied wonkery, serene expression and even a shimmy. If you’re reading this you’ve likely imbibed a lot of debate analysis already, so we’ll just present our favourite piece (not to be ‘braggadocious’): Frank Bruni’s Sympathy for the Donald. (Break here for an effective post-Trump treatment, captured at the infamous Altamont ‘69 concert. We have no word on whether the Hells Angels will take on crowd control duties at the second debate…)

Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson wasn’t invited onto the debate dais, so instead he took to the Grey Lady’s op-ed pages to make his case for change. (For a dispassionate look at what’s on offer, check out this recent profile from The New Yorker.) It wasn’t a great week for Johnson, who had another ‘Aleppo moment’—a tag he himself slapped on his inability to name a world leader he admires, beating editors to the punch. The utility of protest votes to third party candidates—Johnson or the Green’s Jill Stein—continues to be comprehensively sidelined.

Kicking off this week’s top new research are two completely different offerings from the Council on Foreign Relations: the first is an interactive report on Syria’s civil war, and the second is an in-depth backgrounder on the FARC’s recent role in Colombia in light of this week’s peace deal. An interesting visual piece popped up on The Washington Post, helping readers to break down the US foreign aid budget as a proportion of the 2017’s federal budget, and where in the world it’s going. A brand new report by former Lowy associate Brendan Thomas-Noone looks at nuclear arms control in an era where technological advances are making nukes ‘potentially more usable’, while a longer read from CNAS, complete with infographics, asks whether Americans prefer manned or unmanned systems for airstrike capability. And this excellent piece of multimedia journalism from The National Geographic dives into the history of European immigration, from WWII to the Syrian diaspora, and how it has shaped the multicultural continent.

Earlier this month, Russian newspaper Kommersant published a story revealing President Putin’s plans to conduct an overhaul of Russia’s security services—merging their domestic and international spy agencies to create a ‘supersized secret service’: the Ministry of State Security. Check out this solid piece from Politico which assesses the role and goals of what’s being called the newly-resurrected KGB.

And finally, forget Domino’s pizza dronesthis piece from The Drive unpacks the story of Regulus I; the Cold War-era nuclear-capable cruise missile that played postman to US senators, dignitaries and President Eisenhower by carrying over 3,000 letters.


War on the Rocks’ consistently excellent podcast has a particularly good offering this week (35 mins), as editor-in-chief Ryan Evans interviewed the Hoover Institution’s Jim Mattis and Kori Schake on civil–military relations in the US, and CNAS’s Richard Fontaine to discuss his time working with our friends at USSC and US strategy in the Asia–Pacific.

Tech-heads, military nuts and anyone with a passing interest in mind-blowing national security innovation should make haste to get the new podcast from the smart folks over at DARPA. Each installment will shine a light on the work of each of the Agency’s programs. Buckle up.


Boeing’s Renton Production Facility, perhaps the most efficient airplane factory on earth, plans to up its game over the next year and produce 57 Boeing 737s a month, as opposed to the current output of 42. Wired dropped in on the well-oiled operation this week and offers a unique look (3 mins) at how the world’s best-selling jet is assembled over just nine days.

The ineffable E.J. Dionne has done a snappy video for Brookings on election polling (4 mins). The bite-sized but full-flavoured effort covers off on questions, answers, samples, methodologies and more. While we’re at it, here’s a useful Washington Post piece from 2014 to bring some more context to the polls you’re no doubt seeing a lot of.


Canberra: Join Professor Roderic Broadhurst on 25 October for the launch of his fascinating new book, Violence and the Civilising Process in Cambodia, and an in-depth discussion on the history of Cambodia and how the country has transformed itself after decades of conflict.

Sydney: Sydney-based Asia–Pacific watchers will be thrilled with the lineup at the 2016 ASEAN Forum, which will focus on China’s role in Southeast Asia. Featuring top academics from around the world, attendees will have the opportunity to engage in discussion on the security and economic implications of an increased Chinese presence in the subregion. There are only a few spots left, so register now so you don’t miss out.