ASPI suggests
9 Sep 2016|
Image courtesy of Wikimedia user Elizabeth Thompson - Royal Collection Trust

On the back of Gary Johnson’s ‘What is Aleppo?’ gaffe overnight, The Atlantic have gathered a harrowing set of photos to show us all exactly what Aleppo is. Commentators have put their hands up to help, too, with Uri Friedman and David Remnick offering their own personal, pointed smackdowns (here and here). But it wasn’t just the of the Libertarian presidential nominee who was confused about Syrian cities—The New York Times wasn’t quite sure either. Oy vey.

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The Independent Commission on Multilateralism, convened by the International Peace Institute and chaired by former PM Kevin Rudd, recently released its report on how the United Nations must reform to better meet the world’s challenges. The full report is online (PDF), but if you’re short on time, head over to The Atlantic for a potted history, or to The Guardian for Rudd’s ‘10 principles’ comment piece.

It’s a bit outside our usual track, but a couple of choice picks on letters bubbled up this week. First, acclaimed Aussie novelist and essayist Richard Flanagan used a recent lecture to highlight the power of words, reading and writing, employing incident reports from Australia’s offshore detention facilities to leave his mark. Second, Politico editor-in-chief, John Harris, penned a worthwhile reflection on the function and practice of journalism. And though it’s not new on the scene, it’s right (and useful in these Trumpian times) to include here Orwell’s Politics and the English Language (PDF).

Those cool cats at Jigsaw—the tech incubator whose work we’ve previously featured—are at it again. This time, they’ve unveiled a new program called the Redirect Method which tracks Google searches from would-be jihadists and fires back a range of adverts and videos designed to dissuade. Head to WIRED for the full run-down, and over to The Intercept to read about the program’s next target: right-wing American extremists.


Malcolm Gladwell doesn’t often pop up in ASPI suggests, but his recently finished 10-part podcast series, Revisionist History, is cause for a shout out. The premise is simple enough: history is one version of events, but what nuance and new learning can we uncover from reexamining the record? In episode one, Gladwell uses the stories of Elizabeth Thompson (who painted The Roll Call, above, in 1874) and former PM Julia Gillard to illustrate moral licensing theory. The second installment is an engrossing look at RAND Corporation’s Saigon-based intelligence gathering—the personalities, the practices—in the Vietnam War. Check it out here.

And if you’re hankering for a home-grown podcast, head over to Sub Rosa to listen to Andrew Zammit’s recent sit down with Mick Cook, who runs the social media and online engagement operation for the Australian Army (53 mins).


The New York Times is slowly unfolding The Obama Era, a six-part chronicle of Barack Obama’s impact. The Regulator in Chief was the first effort. The second, reported from Midway Atoll and Hawaii, is on climate change. As well as an long piece published earlier today, the Times has put up a 13-minute interview conducted with the President.

And to mark a decade since the release of Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth, Vox recently put together package showing how climate science was politicised and toxified to a point where it’s near-untouchable for Republicans. It’ll break your heart. Someone please send Brian Cox.


Canberra: In a sign of the times (as well as of hopes and dreams), the ACT arms of the AIIA and the Benjamin Franklin Club have teamed up to host Tom Switzer talking US foreign policy in a post-Trump world. Get along next Wednesday.

Perth: On 21 September, the PerthUSAsia Centre and China Matters will convene a panel discussion on Australia-China Relations in an Era of Global Uncertainty. Linda Jakobson, Michael Wesley and Graham Fletcher (head of DFAT’s North Asia Division) will join Gordon Flake for what’s sure to be a compelling chinwag.