ASPI suggests

The world

Welcome back after a long Easter weekend that was anything but peaceful. Violence erupted along the troubled border between Israel and Gaza: Israeli forces killed 18 Palestinians and injured hundreds more. Vox presents both sides, while Al Jazeera describes the chaos in a Gaza hospital. The Atlantic analyses Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to renege on an agreement with UNHCR to resettle refugees only hours after agreeing to it.

Easter also kept embassies worldwide busy as Russia expelled more than 150 diplomats from more than a dozen countries in retaliation for the earlier expulsions by Western governments of Russian representatives. Despite the initial solidarity in responding to the assassination attempt on Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, Anne Applebaum argues that a Western strategy towards Russia is still missing. And if you need a quick summary of the whole incident, watch ASPI’s 6-minute explainer.

Tit-for-tat is also on display as China and the US impose trade tariffs against each other. The BBC’s Karishma Vaswani asks if China should worry, Harvard professor Kenneth Rogoff looks at the long-term chances of China becoming the global economic hegemon, and the Australian Financial Review offers a great summary of how the reciprocal tariff decisions came about. Speaking of China, its navy conducting a live-fire drill in the South China Sea. In timely fashion RAND has just published a new study on China’s approach to securing its economic and strategic interests abroad.

With Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping busy, another ‘strong man’ created a stir. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman explains in an interview with DW his motives for recognising Israel, and this New Yorker long-read portrayal of the prince tries to uncover his real ambitions for the Middle East. Wired offers a fascinating read on US Lieutenant General Paul Nakasone, soon to head the NSA and US Cyber Command. And in Politico, Lili Bayer discusses how Victor Orban in Hungary and Jarosław Kaczyński in Poland have used nationalism to guarantee electoral victories.

Further east, Kim Jong-un visited China for the first time since becoming North Korea’s leader in 2011. His talks with Xi focused on the security situation on the Korean Peninsula. With momentum picking up for renewed nuclear negotiations, here’s a great timeline stretching back to 1985. Foreign Policy looks at how America needs a strategy now that North Korea and China are slowly rekindling their relationship. C. Lee Shea’s step-for-step guide in War on the Rocks for developing strategic approaches could be a first inspiration.

Suggests wouldn’t be Suggests without more on Trump: After he changed his mind several times, the BBC explains why Trump wants to withdraw troops from Syria, and why his commanders want to stay. Syria receives a lot of coverage, while other conflicts seem to have been forgotten: With sexual and ethnic violence at record highs, the Guardian’s Jason Burke reports that renewed violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s east has caused millions to flee. Yemen is another conflict with no end in sight, as Rachel Ansley writes for the Atlantic Council. And according to Balkan Insights, the potential for renewed conflict in Europe’s southeast is growing.

To avoid ending on a depressing note, here another pick: The Atlantic explores AI’s connection to sharks—fascinating.

Tech geek

Unidentified aircraft always generate interest, and two examples are making the news. Plane spotters have released photos of a mystery aircraft built by Northrop Grumman and designed for high-altitude surveillance. Also, Otto Aviation Group is working on a highly aerodynamic efficiency aircraft called the Celera 500L that might be intended to test exotic propulsion systems.

Meanwhile Virgin Galactic successfully tested the VSS Unity for the first time in supersonic, powered flight. The aircraft is a suborbital space plane designed for space tourism.

If you want an idea of what the future of Russian robotic war looks like, check out this comic by the US Army Cyber Institute. Set in 2027, Russian robot tanks are unleashed against NATO, supported by electronic warfare from autonomous drones and cyberattacks against NATO logistics. While Western liberal democracies anguish over ethical and legal aspects of lethal autonomous weapons, authoritarian states are moving swiftly to develop and exploit them.

With US–Russia tensions rising, see what it’s like working in the US Strategic Command nuclear command centre, and what would happen if war did break out.

A key debate occurring in the United States space policy community is whether to develop a Space Corps within USAF, or even a ‘US Space Force’ separate from the USAF. President Trump is supportive but the USAF is resisting such a move. Watch this space (pun intended) for more on this potentially important development.

Podcasts

Mojo News partnered with Monash Gender, Peace and Security and launched the Peace and Gender podcast. The first episode discusses underrepresentation of women and LGBT people in diplomacy. [14:55]

Brian Whitmore is bidding farewell: Listen to the last Power Vertical podcast for RFE/RL before Whitmore moves to the Center for European Policy Analysis, where he’ll continue to produce the podcast. Brian and Mark Galeotti discuss what we’ve learned about Russia since the podcast’s inauguration in 2011. [50:14]

Multimedia

The Calvert Journal’s photo series captures the hardship faced by young males living in Nagorno-Karabakh, wedged between Armenia and Azerbaijan and subject to a protracted conflict since 1994.

Meet the ‘bike pimper’ of Zaatari camp in Jordan and learn about the untapped entrepreneurial talent inside the fastest growing refugee camp worldwide. Courtesy of The Economist. [5:11]

Events

Brisbane, 6–8 April, in conjunction with the Commonwealth Games’ Festival 2018, ‘Women of the World Festival’. Program and tickets here.

Sydney, 11 April, 6–7.00 pm, University of Sydney and Sydney Ideas, ‘Beyond trafficking and modern slavery’. Info and registration here.

Melbourne, 12 April, 6–7.00 pm, University of Melbourne, ‘Australia, the two Koreas and Asian regional security’ with The Hon. Gareth Evans AC QC, former foreign minister and Chancellor of ANU. Register here.