ASPI suggests
10 Feb 2017| and

Image courtesy of Flickr user manhhai.

TGIF—ASPI suggests is back to help you finish off your week with a healthy dose of defence and security news and analysis.

Let’s get the ball rolling with three stellar spotlights that surfaced this week. The first, from The Atavist Magazine, examines the story of John Hartley Robertson, an American sergeant dispatched to Vietnam in mid-1960s who disappeared after a helicopter crash during the war, only to mysteriously reappear years later. A second piece, from the London Review of Books, is a close look at Family Trump, written by Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal, who was frequently maligned by The Donald throughout the presidential campaign. Familiar themes echo throughout his piece: ‘resentment born of entitlement,’ ‘loathing and bullying’ (particularly of minority groups), and a colourful relationship with the people of New York—and that’s just in reference to Fred Trump, DJT’s father! And third, in a lengthy profile from The New Statesman, British Prime Minister Theresa May’s leadership style takes centre stage, as the author questions whether she’ll ever be known for being more than just the Brexit PM.

CSIS has a bunch of useful new microsites worth bookmarking. The Honolulu operation, Pacific Forum CSIS, recently pushed their tri-annual journal from the real world into the digital world, buying up some slick new real estate to house their East Asia-focused analysis. Medium users will no doubt already be across this, but for others, head on over here to catch all the latest content from the DC shop. And finally, defence wonks can better get to grips with what’s happening stateside with Defense360, where you can land on info about defence reform and the transition to Trump, as well as hear from seasoned military and policy voices.

Our populism pick of the week goes to P.J. O’Rourke in The Weekly Standard, a piece which is all fear and elites and liberty and mobsters:

‘The leadership elite don’t know what to do. And Donald Trump, whether we—or he—like it or not, has just become a member. The conundrum of failure in every revolt against the elites is that when you succeed in overthrowing them you become them. You cease to be a solution and start to be a problem.

A person of libertarian inclinations can understand and sympathize with the revolt against the elites. But, so far, the revolt is not promoting an increase in individual dignity, individual freedom, and individual responsibility. It’s doing the opposite—Trump vowing to build a wall between individual dignity and the United States.’

Roll up, roll up—new research abounds! First, if you’re after a good cyber read, check out this interesting piece of analysis on balancing national security with civil liberties in cyberspace. And second, a major paper from CSIS looks at the long list of troubles that Trump has inherited from his predecessors in Afghanistan, and weighs in on how they should be approached. Two good reads on the rise of fake news: the first from Demos’ Centre for Analysis of Social Media, which holds a magnifying glass to the echo chambers affecting the tone and trajectory of political discussion across the world, and its origins in the social media space. The second is a shorter piece from RSiS, which questions who has the responsibility to halt the proliferation of fake news. And finally, the National Bureau of Asian Research has released their latest edition of their Asia Policy journal. But get in quick, as it’s only available until the end of March.


The Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA recently kicked off their new podcast, Asia on Air. In episode two, you can catch up with CEO Admiral Dennis Blair, to get his take on the East Asian security situation viewed through the prism of the US-Japan alliance (24 mins). Keep an eye on their Soundcloud page for future installments.

Another brand new podcast effort was launched by POLITICO Magazine this week: ‘The Global Politico’ (52 mins). Bringing out the big guns, the first guest is former US secretary of state Jim Baker, who served George H. W. Bush. For a little something extra on the US pols front, don’t go past Crooked Media’s ‘Pod Save America’ series—a political podcast first introduced a little earlier this year ‘for people not yet ready to give up or go insane.’ The latest bonus pod, featuring Obama’s chief speechwriter Cody Keenan, is definitely worth half an hour of your time.


A strong line-up of Japanese policy stars from Keio and Doshisha universities and the Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation met in DC recently to dive into the results of a 6-month RJIF–CSIS study around the geo-economic risks, challenges and opportunities in the US-Japan alliance. Catch up here (115 mins). (DOUBLE JAPAN BONUS: Our friends at the Lowy Institute this week hosted Japanese scholar Akiko Fukushima for a worthwhile dive into the Australia–Japan strategic relationship (54 mins).)


Canberra: Each year, the Annual Australasian Aid Conference aims to bring together international development practitioners, policymakers and researchers from across our near neighbourhood to share ideas and insights, and look for areas for future collaboration. This year’s iteration, to be hosted by ANU’s Crawford School of Public Policy, will be no different. The two-day event will be held on 15–16 February.

Sydney: The Kaldor Centre at Sydney Uni continues to lead the pack with its examination of all aspects of asylum and refugee policy. (While we’re here, huge props to Madeline Gleeson for taking out the non-fiction category at the Victorian Premier’s Literary awards last week, with her book, Offshore: Behind the Wire on Manus and Nauru.) The Centre’s leadership will continue on 1 March when they host a panel discussion focused on the legal, policy and operational aspects of boat turn-backs in Europe, the US and Australia. Register here.