ASPI suggests
9 Jan 2015|

Show of solidarity in Madrid against the Charlie Hedbo shootingWelcome back for 2015! Of the news items and commentary surrounding this week’s Charlie Hebdo shooting, consider reading these thoughts by The New Yorker’s Philip Gourevitch on which is mightier: the pen or the gun.

Turning to Asia Pacific matters, CSIS has a new report ‘Pivot 2.0’ or, as I like to put it, ‘how the Administration and Congress learned to work together and love the rebalance’ in which a number of leading experts share their recommendations for bipartisan action on trade, China, defence and resourcing (for the Mark Thomson fans), Korea, India, and Southeast Asia.

If that isn’t enough pivot talk, Murray Hiebert and Gregory Poling also have a snappy summary here of how the Obama administration can ‘advance the rebalance’ in each ASEAN state.

‘It’s difficult to say ISIS is winning by any objective measure’. That’s a quote from a new piece by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross on how ISIS has ‘convinced us of its growing power while actually treading water’. For more on the jihad hype and whether ISIS can maintain its ‘slick, shocking PR’, keeping reading here.

The makers of ‘The Interview’ got a lot right about North Korea, writes DPRK-watcher Barbara Demick. And while the low-brow comedy has generally received tepid reviews, drawing on her extensive interviews with North Korean defectors (compiled into this book) Demick defends the accuracies of how the hermit kingdom is portrayed. Keep reading for Demick’s explanation of the psychology of North Korea.

The Australia–Japan strategic relationship is the subject of a newish piece by Malcolm Cook and Thomas S. Wilkins for The Tokyo Foundation, worth reading for its comprehensive look at both factors warming the relationship as well as areas for future cooperation.

If you’re following the Russian bear, Dmitri Trenin reviews Russia’s new military doctrine, signed by President Vladimir Putin in late December last year, and its implications. Add to that Trenin’s Global Times op-ed on why Russia’s got tougher economic times ahead.

Will China change its South China Sea approach in 2015? The Diplomat’s Prashanth Parameswaran looks at recent developments in the region to describe what he calls China’s strategy of ‘incremental assertiveness’. For more on that formula as well as the outlook for 2015 and beyond, keep reading here.

In Southeast Asian news, Indonesia plans to set up a national cyber agency. And good thing too, given the country was reported to be the world’s largest source of cyber crime attacks (38%) during the second quarter of 2013. In light of growing internet use in the country, current efforts to combat cyber attackers were deemed insufficient, according to the country’s Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno.

Finally, in central France sits the bedroom of Hubert Rochereau, a 22-year-old soldier who died in Belgium during World War I. His parents preserved his bedroom as he left it, with the wish that it remain so for 500 years, even in the event the house is sold. For a glimpse into Hubert’s world, see here.


Canberra: Which think tanks are at the top of their game? Find out when the results of the Global Go To Think Tank Index compiled annually by the University of Pennsylvania are released on Friday 23 January at the AIIA’s national offices in Canberra. For more info and registration, see here.

Natalie Sambhi is an analyst at ASPI and managing editor of The Strategist. Image courtesy of Flickr user Adolfo Lujan/DISO Press.