ASPI suggests
4 Sep 2015|

Australia’s Defence Minster Kevin Andrews was in India this week, where he met with his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar as well as Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj. Andrews contributed an op-ed to The Hindu and delivered a speech to the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (excerpted here). It was in the Q&A session of his address to IDSA that the Defence Minister raised the possibility of the Quad 2.0, which made the front page of The Sydney Morning Herald this morning (and is likely to have been well-received in India—at least in Modi’s office).

Yesterday saw China celebrate its role in the WWII defeat of Japan 70 years ago. As expected, Beijing put on a massive display of military muscle, with 12,000 troops goosestepping through Tiananmen Square alongside a veritable heft of tanks, choppers, drones and missiles. Head over to The Atlantic to check out photos of the parade. Chinese President Xi Jinping took the occasion to announce that military personnel would be cut by 300,000. Over at CSIS Anthony Cordesman and Steven Colley have released for feedback a draft of their 600+ page study on Chinese strategy and military modernisation, which you can access here.

IHS has this week estimated that China’s defence budget would swell to approximately US$260 billion in 2020, which is around double the amount spent by Beijing in 2010. The analysis comes as Japan’s Ministry of Defense requests its biggest defence budget yet, which if approved in December would mark the fourth increase in as many years. Both can be taken as signs that the temperature continues to rise in the Asia–Pacific.

The UK Ministry of Defence is currently soliciting options for their surface fleet of the future. The push is being led by Starpoint, a tech-focused procurement group in the MoD, under the title ‘Dreadnought 2050’—a nod to the UK’s 1906 battleship that completely disrupted naval warfare by outclassing all vessels then in the field.

US President Barack Obama this week secured enough votes to prevent a veto of his nuclear deal with Iran, effectively ensuring that it will pass Congress. While a DefenseOne survey found that only 26% of serving US military and civilian government employees think the deal is good for America, Michael Krepon of Arms Control Wonk thinks the deal is about as good as the US is going to get right now. CSIS’s Jon B. Alterman is thinking beyond the deal.

Bookmark this one for the weekend: A few days back, Brookings published William McCants’ longform piece charting the life and transformation of the man who now goes by the name of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ISIL’s self-proclaimed Caliph. The essay is accompanied by a range of photos, videos, maps and recordings. Beyond that commendable effort, two pieces on the Islamic State caught our eye this week. A piece in The New Yorker looks at life after ISIS, drawing particularly on the experience of some former foreign fighters in Europe; and War on the Rocks asks which devil we need to dance with in order to deal effectively with ISIL.

And what is it about ISIL and Twitter? Beyond the erudite think tank contributions to our understanding of ISIL’s social media strategy, there’s a different, lighter side to the various online efforts to counter the group: first, the conversation between a BuzzFeed journo and an Australian official running the @Fight_DAESH Twitter account; second, a run-down on ISIS-chan, the kawaii anime character waging a meme-and-melon war on ISIL; and finally, @ISIS_karoke, which attaches well-known song lyrics to photos of jihadists. Of course, any effort to counter the potent #catsofjihad hashtag should be commended.


With China’s weakening economy bringing more bad news for financial markets across the world this, Colm Quinn and Matt Goodman discuss China’s role in the global economy and its relationship with the US.


Brandon Valeriano, author of the new book Cyber War versus Cyber Realities, recently skyped-in to Robert Farley’s Foreign Entanglements program over at The pair discussed deterrence, resiliency, restraint and the psychology of overhyped cyber fears.

Last weekend marked the 10th anniversary since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. Vox speaks to some survivors about their experience, and the ABC has a striking set of now-and-then photographs.

20 years ago tomorrow, then-First Lady Hillary Clinton gave her famously forceful ‘Women’s Rights Are Human Rights’ speech in China, against the advice of some in the White House and many in Beijing. Watch it here.

Finally, Donald Trump on ‘China’ (h/t Daniel).


Canberra: What’s there to learn from Australia’s efforts to support peace through the Pacific Islands? Head to the ANU’s College of Asia and The Pacific to find out, as Associate Professor Bob Breen examines our interventions between 1980 and 2006.                       

Melbourne: This Tuesday, the University of Melbourne will host Sir David King, the UK Foreign Secretary’s Special Representative for Climate Change, to discuss a recent report out of Cambridge which recommended climate risks be assessed in the same way as risks to national security, public health or financial stability. See here to access the report, and here to register for the event.

Sydney: The NSW branch of the Australian Institute of International Affairs will soon host Carlyle A. Thayer for a discussion on the implications of China’s land reclamation efforts in the South China Sea. Mark your calendars for 15 September.