ASPI suggests
5 May 2017| and

Image courtesy of Pixabay user PublicDomainPictures.

Welcome back; let’s roll.

World Press Freedom Day on Wednesday was marked by the release of the annual World Press Freedom Index, which shows a worsening global situation. (Here’s a run-down on the state-of-play in Asia.) Getting ahead of the curve, Sky’s David Speers last week delivered a keynote at the Press Freedom Australia dinner. His topic, naturally, was fake news. Speaking to the Australian context, Speer implored journos to go ‘back to basics’ and treasure the trust readers place in them. He also had a few choice words on transparency, singling out the oft camera-shy Defence establishment as the worst example in government. ‘When was the last time you saw the Chief of Defence do an interview?’, Speers asked. Well, we’ll have just that here on The Strategist next Wednesday!

An excellent longread from pollster extraordinaire Nate Silver encourages the media to come to grips with the extent to which Hillary Clinton’s race to the Oval Office was damaged by FBI Director James Comey’s October letter to Congress. The tenth article in a series that hopes to unpack the truth behind the biggest political upset of 2016, Silver says that while the letter wasn’t the be-all and end-all of the election results, that the press is still in denial about the fact that the move likely cost Clinton the presidency. Ouch. Comey, of course, this week said the thought of having affected the election outcome makes him ‘mildly nauseous’, testimony which was dissected in The New Yorker and demolished in The NYT.

Here’s China from a few different angles: first, a must-read riposte to a recent lecture delivered by Hugh White (who had a rejoinder of his own). Second, Foreign Policy’s just-released list of the 50 power players in the US and China who are driving the bilateral relationship. Third, a special report recently in The Economist on Beijing’s actions and ambitions in Asia is worth spending some time with. And finally, a corker from The New York Times: Is China the World’s New Colonial Power?

To mark their 20th anniversary, Asia Society Australia are unfolding a collection of 20 essays on Asia and Australia. While Disruptive Asia will receive an official launch in Sydney and Melbourne next month, David Epstein kicked things off in the Fin today by tracking the trend to find Australia’s place in Asia. (Check out his full chapter here.) Asia Society Australia are encouraging everyone play along at home by jumping onto Twitter to contribute under the #DisruptiveAsia hashtag and by subscribing to their newsletter. With 19 more analytical gems to come down the line, this series is one to watch.

And although we’re a day late—something something next year—May the Fourth be with you, dear readers. Take a second to look at this re-upped piece from FiveThirtyEight which charts the relative power of Imperial Forces from the beginning of Rogue One to the conclusion of Return of the Jedi—and shows the aspiring galactic war strategist why you shouldn’t start a ground war on Endor.


With the big vote taking place this weekend France has been all over the airwaves. Two podcasts stand out this week, the first from ‘On Point’ (46 mins), featuring Sophie Pedder—The Economist’s Paris bureau chief—and New America CEO Anne-Marie Slaughter. The pair discuss the rise of nationalism and how it affects an increasingly interconnected world. Next up, on the CSIS Podcast (13 mins), Europe program director Heather Conley holds a magnifying glass to round one of the elections, and forecasts what’s next for the European nation.


Japanophiles can get their fix with a heft of events that have been happening stateside this week. Sasakawa USA pulled together a manel of heavyweights to dive into Asia policy in the time of Abe and Trump (72 mins). Another bunch of dudes had been out in force across town at CSIS the day before, where three esteemed Japanese lawmakers, ably aided by Mike Green, spoke of Japan’s strategy for the Trump administration (86 mins). CSIS also hosted a solid panel (and femme-tastic antidote) looking at US–Japan cyber cooperation and cybersecurity in advance of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics (90 mins).

Footage has emerged (2 mins) this week of the F-35A Lightning IIs taking on the famous Mach Loop Low Flying Area during their first overseas training deployment to Europe. The Mach Loop LFA is a series of valleys in western Wales, and is a go-to training spot for fast jets learning to manoeuvre at low altitudes. (If you’re interested, check out this footage of a A400M Atlas tactical airlifter and some American F-22s strutting their stuff in the Loop).


Canberra: The Annual Civil Society Report Card has played an integral role in grading the government’s progress in implementing the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security since its inception in 2012. The fourth Report Card will be launched here in the capital next Thursday, get along to make your voice heard. (For some background reading, don’t look past a recent ASPI Strategic Insights paper which examines the WPS agenda and Australia’s implementation role.)

Melbourne: Worried about the state of democracy around the world? Wondering what all the electoral acrobatics mean? Never fear, because Melbourne Uni VC Glyn Davis will soon moderate a panel that’ll canvass a whole range of crucial issues for the concerned citizen. Details here.