ASPI suggests
3 Feb 2017| and

Edited image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Welcome back to ASPI suggests for 2017. Boy, what a week…

Our first suggestion of the year has to be The Atlantic’s latest cover story. How to Build an Autocracy, written by one-time George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum, imagines how Trump’s temperament and tendencies could presage an erosion of American democracy. Frum looks to how leaders like Venezuela’s Chávez and Hungary’s Orbán have inched their nations towards kleptocracy, and paints a chilling picture of how the 45th President might unfold his reign, abetted by a close circle of advisors, GOP interests and a weak armoury of ‘checks and balances.’ It’s quite a yarn about how one man could wreck the joint by introducing a degree of authoritarianism while enriching himself and his family in the process. A must read.

We once joked about making this Friday feature a Trump-free zone, but quickly chose submission over a safe-space. We continue on that road, so here are some useful reads now that we’re really getting a taste of Trumpian policy. A great piece over at Lawfare casts the “Muslim ban” as ‘malevolence tempered by incompetence,’ while Nicholas Kristof at the NYT and Julia Ioffe in The Atlantic offer some affecting personal stories about America and the refugee experience. This Foreign Policy piece has a stab at reconciling Trump and grand strategy, a Sisyphean task if ever there was one. Any fellow travellers who get a kick out of copyediting shouldn’t miss this New Yorker video that takes a hacksaw/2B pencil to Mr Trump’s remarks to the CIA—a most gratifying 18 minutes. And one to keep handy in your bookmarks: (go on, click!) As Obama once said, ‘Four more years.’

There’s plenty to choose from if you’re after some fresh research after the break. Two regional pieces stand out: the first is from Sasakawa USA, which dissects the US–Japan alliance and its future challenges, and the second is from the ever-impressive Bonnie Glaser, who offers some recommendations to the Trump administration on how to balance relations with Beijing and Taipei following the ‘One China” policy bungle. Over the break, the World Policy Journal teamed up with the dynamos over at Foreign Policy Interrupted to produce ‘World Policy Interrupted’, an all-female edition of the Journal which gave women from across the globe a platform to voice insights on foreign policy and national security issues (check out the accompanying podcast here). Foreign Policy launched a new blog, ‘Shadow Government’, where you’ll be able to keep up with foreign policy musings of Democratic policymakers, academics and practitioners over the course of the Trump administration. And if you’ve still got some time on your hands, earlier this month, the CIA released its largest collection of declassified records ever—totalling a whopping 930,000 documents. Have a browse at the Agency’s Electronic Reading Room.

If you’re already tearing your hair out at 2017, Team Strategist has the perfect stress relief—check it out here. (Although, it may be too late for a handful of people across the Pacific… To catch up with some of them and what they’re thinking, the fantastic @Trump_Regrets Twitter account is certainly worth a follow.)


If you thought War on the Rocks couldn’t up their game any further, you were wrong. Cue Bombshell, a brand new offering from the Washington DC outfit, hosted by Loren DeJonge Schulman, Radha Iyengar Plumb and Erin Simpson. The new series will ‘talk military strategy, White House mayhem, and the best cocktails known to (wo)man’. The first episode (48 mins) is out now, check it out for great analysis on Trump’s first week in office, the immigration order, Chelsea Manning and more.


CSIS’s Smart Women, Smart Power initiative this week hosted Madeleine Albright for a Q&A moderated by Nina Easton. Catch the former Secretary of State’s insights on technology, diplomacy, trade, Russia, Brexit, the post-truth world and a stack of other areas (65 mins).

Director of the NYU Center on International Cooperation, Sarah Cliffe, and Director of Multilateral Affairs of the international Crisis Group, Richard Atwood, recently gave a stellar presentation (1hr 10 mins) at the Council on Foreign Relations on… *drumroll* …what the world needs to worry about in 2017. (‘sif 2016 wasn’t enough…) CFR’s annual Preventive Priorities Survey ranks the top potential conflicts for the upcoming year, and is a great primer for the video.


Canberra: Head along to the ANU’s Australian Centre on China in the World next Tuesday for the launch of Anthony McMichael’s final book, Climate Change and the Health of Nations. Let ‘em know you’re coming.

Also in the capital, join Peter Dean and ANU’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre on Monday 13 February for a fascinating installation to the War Studies Seminar Series. This next session will unpack Australia’s strategic culture, and the extent to which it’s influenced by the ANZUS alliance. Check out the event details here.