National security wrap

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The Beat

Feds seek to police the police

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has concluded a 14-month investigation into the Baltimore City Police Department (BPD) and its findings are damning. The investigation was launched following the highly publicised death of Freddie Gray under police custody in April 2015, and the civil disorder that ensued in Baltimore. The report doesn’t mince words, accusing the BPD of routinely violating either the US constitution or federal laws. Baltimore has entered into an ‘agreement in principle’ with the DOJ, which identifies problem areas in need of reform, principally in police training and practices. The agreement paves the way for a planned court-enforceable consent decree and an eventual federal court order. This arrangement aims to increase federal oversight of state and local police in the US, which is in line with recommendations from the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing report released in May 2015.

Argentine civ-mil tensions

Argentina’s new PRO administration continues its militarisation of domestic security. In January President Mauricio Macri decreed a ‘public security emergency’ authorising the air force to shoot down planes in the fight against organised crime and drug trafficking. Following this policy, on 3 August, Argentina inked an arms deal to purchase 24 military aircraft for $US300 million, the largest US-Argentine arms deal in a decade.

CT Scan

The long march to Mosul

Prominent former members of the US defense establishment—including David Petraeus and Eric Olson—have stepped forward in the past week with concerns over post-Mosul Iraq. Military offensives are bringing anti-ISIS forces ever closer to the city and the question on everyone’s mind is what next? With the amalgamation of various groups of fighters set to take part in the operation, it’s unclear whether alliances of convenience will hold. As for ISIS post-Mosul, some analysts aren’t so convinced territorial losses will have a significant impact on the group’s operations abroad.

Resilience and CT

With the uptick in terror attacks on the West, is it time to re-think our approach to CT? Uri Friedman, writing for The Atlantic, argues the importance of building resilience in Western societies—‘the goal is for societies to determine the lengths they are willing to go to try and stop terrorist attacks, and then to find ways to reconcile with the risk that remains by minimizing the costs of terrorism’—part of that means being realistic about the nature and extent of the threat. Anthony Cordesman pushes a similar line in a recent CSIS Report, arguing that terrorism is just something we’re going to have to learn to live with (PDF).


Turkey wrangles over EU border deal

Turkey has again threatened to cancel its promise to limit refugee flows into Europe if the EU does not grant Turkish citizens visa-free travel within the bloc by October. In an interview with German newspaper Bild, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cauvsoglu expressed dissatisfaction over ongoing negotiations with the EU and the Western response to July’s failed coup attempt. Brussels has baulked at extending the Schengen Area into Turkey in light of Ankara’s heavy-handed post-coup crackdown and its steadfast refusal to circumscribe its expansive anti-terrorist laws. Over 60,000 individuals in the military, education and public sectors have been dismissed, suspended, detained, or investigated—including a third of Turkey’s generals and admirals. The West’s delayed condemnation of the attempted putsch has done little to dampen domestic disquiet over its perpetrators, with one poll suggesting 70% of Turks believe the US was involved.

Tensions in Kashmir region

Last week Kashmiri Islamist separatist terrorists from Hizbul Mujahideen attacked and killed three Indian Border Security Force soldiers posted in Jammu and Kashmir. On Tuesday further clashes in the region left five dead and 18 injured. The mounting unrest follows the death of former leader, Burhan Wani, at the hands of Indian Security forces on 8 July.

First Responder

Financial resilience

An article in The Japan Times recently highlighted the risk posed by natural disasters to ports in Japan, China and the US. According to risk-modelling firm, RMS Inc., those ports were ill-prepared to manage any financial fallout. Gloria Grandolini, writing for the World Bank, notes the importance of ‘far-sighted preparations’ in mitigating the financial impact of natural disasters—particularly ‘as climate change intensifies extreme weather events across much of the planet’.

Morrison says no to Ausgrid lease

And finally, the blocked sale of NSW electricity distributor Ausgrid to Chinese buyers over national security concerns generated a media frenzy last week. ASPI’s Peter Jennings and Paul Barnes both chimed in on the issue—Peter highlighting the national security dimensions of foreign investment in critical infrastructure, while Paul examined the economic side of the equation. Allan Behm also weighed in on The Strategist. Check out two pieces over at The Diplomat and The Interpreter for how the decision played out and its potential impact on the Australia–China economic relationship.

ANU’s East Asian Bureau of Economic Research and the China Center for International Economic Exchanges have urged greater economic cooperation with China—the duo has outlined a potential roadmap in a major new study, the Australia–China Joint Economic Report: Partnership for Change (PDF).