ASPI suggests
20 May 2016| and

Image courtesy of Flickr user Eli Duke

Welcome back, comrades.

A fresh batch of new research has been served up in the past week. In time for Tsai Ing-wen’s inauguration in Taipei, the Center for a New American Security has released a report on the future of US–Taiwan relations; the Lowy Institute launched Euan Graham’s latest research effort on the strategic partnership between Australia and Singapore (PDF); and the US Department of Defense set free its 2016 report on China’s military power (PDF). (CSIS last week hosted a power panel with Bonnie Glaser, Joseph S. Nye and David Shambaugh, who considered ‘the rise of Chinese power, its strengths and weaknesses, with a particular focus on China’s soft power.’)

Head on over to War on the Rocks for a cracking read on how the work being done by next-gen spaceracer Elon Musk (through his company SpaceX) could and should be applied to help the US meet its military challenges. Here’s a sneak peek of ‘Militarizing Musk’:

‘SpaceX and Elon Musk are thinking big about the solutions to the big problem of accessing outer space cheaply. Moreover, they are on the cusp of succeeding in revolutionizing the way that the U.S. accesses outer space. This capability can be an important part of winning a guided munitions salvo competition – a key aspect of the third offset strategy. The U.S. military should consider the potential advantages of this promising technology to solve several of its most pressing emerging military problems and work with the most innovative parts of the emerging private space launch industry.’

For a longer read over the weekend, be sure to check out these two beautiful manifestos on time spent in Antarctica. The first, by Maciej Ceglowski, reflects on a visit to the McMurdo Station and the enduring military presence in the frozen continent. Somewhat more glamorously, the second piece—spun by Jonathan Franzen for The New Yorkerrecounts a birding expedition and cruise to the South Pole and Franzen’s ponderings on climate change and human nature after sighting an Emperor penguin. Run, don’t walk.

‘Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.’ At least, that’s what Lord Acton thought in 1887. 1843 Magazine, pulled together by The Economist, interrogates his claim in a piece on how entitlement and privilege play out in decision-making. Those who drive a black Mercedes, beware.

Now for two yarns on Daesh recruitment and radicalisation. The first, from Foreign Policy, deconstructs two prominent theories about what western women want when they join Daesh—are they aggressively fangirling ‘jihotties’, or are they being groomed? The verdict of the Caliphettes is scornful. The second, over at the Eurasia Review, discusses rising Daesh recruitment in Southeast Asia, and the challenges ASEAN states will need to overcome to address radicalisation in their region.

In honour of the man who needs no introduction (but gets four, anyway), the Australian National University has released a series of essays on the exceptional career of Paul Dibb. Written by a veritable who’s who in defence policy and strategy, the essays review Paul’s work in both government and academia. An essential read for any aspiring strategist. Download the PDF here.


By now, The CSIS Podcast is well-known to Strategist readers for being insightful and quick off the mark. The myth continues to build with their latest effort on the election of Rodrigo Duterte and what it might mean for the Philippines and the Asia–Pacific. ‘The Strongman Cometh’ is available here.

For those in need of a little high culture boost this week, check out this podcast from The Diplomat (23 mins), where Australian playwright Ross Mueller discusses his latest work, I Can’t Even, which offers a glimpse into both the mind of Malcolm Turnbull and Australian attitudes toward Asia.


It was reported earlier in the month that Aung San Suu Kyi requested the US not use the term ‘Rohingya’ in reference to the generations-old Muslim population that lives under siege in Myanmar. Landing all but a week later was this VICE News piece on the discrimination and violence faced by the country’s heavily persecuted minority (40 mins).

In the lead up to November, Vox has shredded the utility of the classic map of the US that comes out every election season and made us all think that Romney had trumped Obama back in 2012. The short video (2 mins) argues that through ‘prioritising geographic accuracy over electoral importance’, the map fails to shed any light on how Americans actually vote. Check out this more accurate alternative at The New York Times, which gives states a size commensurate with their number of electoral votes.


Canberra: Next Wednesday, the AIIA’s national branch will be host a poignant panel event on the tragic extent of Europe’s refugee crisis. The speakers—Raihan Ismail, Stephan Fruehling, Mohammed Qassar and Michael Wilson—will discuss how Europe is responding to the crisis and how it’s projected to affect the region’s security. Register for this free event here.