ASPI suggests
1 Sep 2017| and

There’s been a lot going on in Australia’s near region this week, the closest of which is the continuing conflict in the Philippine city of Marawi. RAAF Orion surveillance aircraft are already providing intelligence support to the Philippines, but it’s possible that we’ll soon see more of an ADF presence on the ground—albeit limited to advisory and training roles. The director of IPAC Jakarta, Sidney Jones, has some thoughts about the conflict’s effects on the Mindanao peace process, and hints that President Duterte’s war on drugs could ignite a second insurgency: the Communist NPA. On that note, the Guardian has published some new photojournalism on the impacts of the Philippine drug war.

Slightly further afield, North Korea continued to be a thorn in the side of pretty much everyone by launching a missile through Japanese airspace. Residents of the Tohoku region of Japan were advised to seek shelter. There’s some discussion of whether Japan’s and America’s ballistic missile defence capabilities in the area could or should have shot the missile down at high altitude, but it flew well past Japan, anyway. Interestingly, the US Navy did complete a test to shoot down a ‘complex’ medium-range ballistic missile target a day later.

Not all the regional news has been bad; things have calmed down in the Doklam dispute between India and China. The foreign policy wonks are out in force, asking questions about what it all means for the future. A trio of pieces at The Diplomat examine the affair from multiple angles: what China learned about India; how India is discovering its own assertiveness; and what it all means for the BRICS summit next week. Meanwhile, the head of the ANU’s National Security College, Rory Medcalf, asks ‘who won?’ And a piece at War on the Rocks wonders what the rest of us can learn about countering Chinese coercion in the future.

Moving on to more thematic matters, women’s roles in terrorism and violent extremism are getting an increased amount of attention. This week, Monash University presented the executive summary of its upcoming report exploring the links between women’s roles and perceptions, gender relations and extremist violence. The evidence-based research—collected across four sites in Indonesia—provides a list of recommendations for policymakers working in the prevention/countering of violent extremism space with a specific focus on gender.

In the aftermath of Charlottesville, there have been a number of pieces documenting the rise of the far right. This piece from Jamie Bartlett explains how the anti-establishment, revolutionary subcultures of the internet and the far right are inherently sympathetic to each other. Social network companies are clamping down on the far right, which means we have to be ready for where their forums end up in the future.

Carnegie comes in with a fantastic op-ed analysing the rising global middle class. It’s well worth a read to get a comprehensive understanding of how middle classes have grown at different rates in different places, and what the economic and political consequences of that growth may be.

This piece from The Intercept deals with tricky questions about post-disaster reconstruction and the bodies responsible for doling out the dosh. Recovery and rebuilding in the wake of Hurricane Harvey will reignite a longstanding row between the National Flood Insurance Program and various environmental councils, who’ve long argued that the program ‘encourages irresponsible forms of coastal development’.

In a rather bleak, but incredibly worthwhile, read, The Guardian dissects the story of a young Parisian teenager who live-streamed her own suicide on Periscope (a social media platform). It presents the effects of ‘trite uncaring relations’ between people and the monotony of life. It highlights the hollow ‘meditisation’ of the social media generation and the paradox of sharing inane personal information and the desperation of accompanying fame.


There’s a pair of new podcasts from CSIS. The new episode of CSIS’s flagship podcast discusses the Trump administration’s new Afghanistan policy. And this week’s Smart Women, Smart Power podcast discusses the challenges of geopolitical forecasting, covering elections, conflicts and artificial intelligence.

Episode 12 of Pacific Pundit, titled ‘Conspiracy theories, devil’s bargains, and Asian security’, looks at multiple topics of interest to Australian listeners, including US–China relations and Singaporean politics. There’s a fascinating couple of minutes on how the ‘Taft–Katsura agreement’ of 1905 factors into Korean strategic culture today, despite there being no actual policy element to it.


A new episode of ‘Military history visualized’ looks at the impacts of Stalin’s Great Purge (1936–38) on the Red Army. The loss of experienced leadership and plummeting morale had profound impacts on the Soviet defence against the German invasion (10 mins).

CSIS has a great explainer video on how US satellite and radar systems would detect and track a North Korean missile launched at Guam, and what capabilities might be available to shoot such a missile down (3 mins).

And just because we can, here’s a calming five-minute video of views over the Atacama Desert. Beautiful landscapes and incredible views of the night sky, all in 4K resolution.


Canberra: The Australian Women Peace and Security Coalition is hosting two roundtable discussions in Canberra on what WPS means in practice for Australia and the Asia–Pacific. The first is tomorrow morning (the 2nd) and the other is on the evening of 12 September.

Melbourne: There’s a free public lecture on multidisciplinary approaches to cybersecurity at the University of Melbourne next Tuesday evening.

Sydney: The National Security College at the ANU is taking registrations for a 12 September event on foreign interference, citing examples like the allegations of Russian interference in America’s 2016 election.