ASPI suggests

The world

The 70‑year‑long conflict between Israel and Palestine flared up again this week. Sixty Palestinians were killed, the highest fatality toll since the 2014 war. Gazans have been protesting for weeks, demanding the right to return for refugees who were forced to leave their homes in 1948. Although Israel has claimed that those protesting were forced to by Hamas, this BBC report from Jeremy Bowen on the ground in Gaza, and this Al Jazeera opinion piece, tell a different story. ‘Jerusalem, we are here’ is an interesting interactive tool that remaps Jerusalem to bring Palestinians back into public spaces that have been declared Israeli. You can go on a virtual walking tour of the West Jerusalem neighbourhood of Katamon and learn about its Palestinian roots.

Inflated expectations after the successful summit between North and South Korean leaders last month have predictably burst. This week, Kim Jong‑un cancelled the scheduled talks with Seoul and threatened to pull out of his meeting with Donald Trump as well. Vox’s analysis blames US National Security Advisor John Bolton. For further analysis about why the Libyan model of nuclear disarmament probably won’t work for Pyongyang, read The National Interest and ASPI’s Rod Lyon on The Strategist. Korea expert Robert Kelly offers a more optimistic perspective, and remains hopeful that the talks will take place.

War on the Rocks features an elaborate essay on the increasing use of kinetic diplomacy in US foreign policy. It discusses why special operations have become the weapon of choice over State Department diplomacy.

Investigations by the New York Times show that poisoned former double agent Sergei Skripal was still in the spy game after relocating to the UK. He briefed European intelligence services on the Russian intelligence services. Speaking of spying, another NYT piece features details on the ‘hack leak’ method, which is increasingly used by foreign intelligence services, and its effects on journalism.

Disinformation and fake news is growing ever more complex and challenging to monitor. Spanish newspaper El Pais has analysed which European countries are successfully combating Russian disinformation. The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab examines a fascinating disinformation campaign to influence the Moldovan election, which demonstrates how false information is spread.

We also have two deep dives into different challenges posed by the internet: first, Prospect confronts the reality of digital power, comprehensively tackling different problems with big tech—from policy and legislation to social media addiction and political disinformation campaigns. It’s long, but well worth the read. Second, Visegrad Insight discusses the false hopes of the digital era, arguing that the internet has curtailed our access to accurate information, and that we’ll quickly find ourselves in an age where reliable information will have a price tag attached to it.

An unusual (and complicated) piece on war art: ‘Dronescapes’ is a series created by Australian artist Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox that critically engages with the opaque nature of drone warfare. Her art aims to ‘represent and uncover drone warfare in ways that reveal the invisible’.

Tech geek

A crisis is brewing between China and Taiwan. China is engaged in military manoeuvres on a daily basis to intimidate Taiwan, and is also expanding an air base close to Taiwan. Taiwan is deploying advanced passive radar systems and wants to mass-produce counter-stealth capabilities by 2020 that can detect China’s advanced J‑20 stealth fighter. In response, China has sent aircraft to the disputed Subi Reef in the South China Sea. This follows its stationing of anti‑ship missile and surface-to-air missile systems to Subi, Mischief, and Fiery Cross reefs in April.

Russia’s Victory Day parade showcased the Uran‑9 robotic tank for the first time. The Uran‑9 is controlled remotely and isn’t autonomous. It’s designed to support infantry and other armoured vehicles, and raises the possibility of large numbers of such robot tanks overwhelming NATO defences in battle.

The next step in joint operations is multi-domain warfare, bringing together air, sea and land, as well as space and cyberspace, operations. Here’s an interesting analysis of the challenges of command and control in multi-domain warfare, and why US and allied forces are struggling to keep up with adversaries like Russia and China.

Finally the truth is out there. Here’s an insight into the Defense Intelligence Agency’s ‘Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program’,  the ‘X‑Files’ section of the US Defense Department.


These photos that Dr William Podlich took in the Afghanistan of 1967 offer a glimpse of what seems a different world compared to the country after decades of war.

A special edition of France24’s ‘Reporters Plus’ visits the largest natural gas reserve in the eastern Mediterranean, and explores how the gas can be both a source of conflict and an opportunity to bring hostile parties in the Middle East together. [36:25]

Financial Times’ ‘Features travels to Cape Town to show how people are dealing with the prospect of Day Zero—when the city will run out of water. Coping strategies differ, as do the worries. [16:53]


In the latest of ECFR’s episodes of Mark Leonard’s World in 30 Minutes, a conversation assessing French President Emmanuel Macron’s first year in office and how that has affected the country’s foreign policy. [42:48]

The Strategy Bridge Podcast talks about the way the Iroquois, a Native American people, waged war and conducted diplomacy around 400 years ago. [57:54]

On Carnegie’s DiploPod, Lauren Dueck talks with former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul about US–Russia relations, differences between now and the Cold War, and the future of Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy. [12:08]


Canberra, 23 May, 4–5.45 pm, ANU’s Department of International Relations, ‘Dangers to democracy in India?’ Register here.

Melbourne, 23 May, 5.30–6.30 pm, Centre for Market Design, ‘Going nuclear: reconsidering Australia’s energy mix’. Register here.

Canberra, 24 May, 7 pm, Polish Embassy, free screening of The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler. More info and RSVP by 21 March here.