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ASPI suggests

Posted By and on May 26, 2017 @ 14:40

Image courtesy of Twitter user @TheOnion.

Let’s kick off with some light relief: those legends over at The Onion have been toiling away on a set of documents which reveal the true functions and dysfunctions of the Trump administration. The trove is made up of 700 "leaked pages, and will be released by way of document dumps in the style of Wikileaks and the Panama Papers. The New Yorker gives us a glimpse of what’s out there so far:

‘Among the leaked Trump documents: a string of e-mails between the President and Boeing’s C.E.O., about Trump’s desired upgrades—marble everything—to Air Force One; some of the Vice-President’s handwritten notes, with helpful illustrations, describing puritanical inventions of his, like a “nose harness” to prevent the smelling of “sinful smells,” like a woman’s skin, and a “blouse that cannot flutter in the wind”; and three of the President’s idiosyncratic daily briefings, written on children’s placemats.’

Following the USN guided missile destroyer Dewey’s Freedom of Navigation Operation near Mischief Reef on Wednesday, our friends over at Lowy have launched a clever interactive map and timeline that details the history of the United States’ FONOPS. *hat tip* And while we’re on the topic of great think tank initiatives, CSIS’s Beyond Parallel project has also been busy working on a solid new feature that was released this week. By correlating South Korean election dates over the last 60 years with the timestamps from North Korean military aggravations, the dataset, which is the first of its kind, shows that the ‘provocation window’ between the two countries has become increasingly narrow.

Although they’re not interactive efforts, it’s definitely worth your time to check out some fresh reports from our think tank counterparts across the globe—unsurprisingly, recommendations for the Trump administration have been front and centre. First up, this effort from the Asia Society Policy Institute looks at future areas of cooperation between the US and India and lays out some policy recommendations about putting the South Asian giant at the top of the priority list. In another recommendation for The Donald, a fresh report from the Atlantic Council argues the benefits of giving the NATO alliance a make-over. Turning to the Middle East, it’s worth taking a look at this paper from the Washington Institute, which advocates a two-state solution and looks at where Trump should push for concessions from Prime Minister Netanyahu. And finally, a new report from the Institute for China-America Studies offers a comprehensive run-down on US and Chinese stakes in the South China Sea, and identifies where the two countries’ ideologies conflict most significantly.

With the weekend upon us, it’s time to get your longreads in order. We recommend this stellar profile which dives into the story-so-far of US Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

STAT, an online publication that focuses on compelling medical and scientific journalism, launched a series called ‘State of (Trump’s) Mind’ back in March. While there’s only a handful of pieces available at this stage, the most recent is a doozy. By comparing Donald Trump’s interviews from the 1980s/90s alongside his unscripted remarks over the past few months, the author details possible neurological reasons for the decline in Trump’s oration skills. And in a same-same-but-different kind of way, The New York Times offers a particular brand of fun to wordsmiths and the rest of us: try your hand at a set of copy-editing quizzes…. Word to your mother.


Bobo Lo has been doing the rounds on the back of the paper he released recently through the Lowy Institute. He was in Canberra last month and delivered a lecture through the Harry Rigby series at the ANU, where he tackled Russia’s impact on Western policy-making (63 mins).

Following their successful conference earlier this week on the state of US civil-military relations, CSIS’s International Security Program has launched a podcast mini-series called ‘Command Climate’. Available in its entirety online, the series gives a platform to experts, policymakers and practitioners to discuss a different aspect of civil-military relations. It’s fascinating for those wanting an insider’s perspective on how America’s armed forces reflect its population. The whole series is available here.


Four Corners’ report on the Sydney Siege made for gripping television. Catch up with Part One online this weekend (53 mins); Part Two will be aired on 29 May.


Canberra: Capital-dwellers should hustle over to the ANU this week for two events hosted by the SDSC. First up on Monday evening Kim Beazley will launch a collection of essays in honor of Paul Dibb. And come Thursday lunchtime the Center will launch a new Centre of Gravity paper penned by Nick Bisley. Don’t miss ‘em.

Sydney: On 30 May, join the USyd Southeast Asia Centre’s Michele Ford as she hosts a pair of prominent members of the ASEAN Committee of Permanent Representative, HE Dato’ Shariffah Norhana Bt Syed Mustafa of Malaysia and HE Mr Tan Hung Seng of Singapore. The trio will unpack Australia’s relationship with the Association, and look at where engagement might take us in an increasingly contested Asia. Register here.

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[1] true functions and dysfunctions of the Trump administration: http://www.theonion.com/interactive/the-trump-documents

[2] gives us a glimpse: http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/the-onion-leaks-a-trove-of-trump-docs?mbid=social_twitter

[3] daily briefings: http://www.theonion.com/live/presidential-briefings-55946/entry/323

[4] Freedom of Navigation Operation near Mischief Reef: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/24/world/asia/south-china-sea-us-navy-warship-spratly-islands.html?_r=0

[5] a clever interactive map and timeline: http://interactives.lowyinstitute.org/fonops_maps/2016.html

[6] a solid new feature that was released this week: http://beyondparallel.csis.org/rok-elections-and-dprk-provocations/?utm_source=CSIS+All&utm_campaign=4dbcdb3a42-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_05_22&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f326fc46b6-4dbcdb3a42-145371373

[7] effort from the Asia Society Policy Institute: http://asiasociety.org/policy-institute/trump-administration%E2%80%99s-india-opportunity

[8] a fresh report from the Atlantic Council: http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/images/publications/NATO_and_Trump_web_0523.pdf?utm_source=CSIS+All&utm_campaign=83796fdacb-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_05_24&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f326fc46b6-83796fdacb-145371373

[9] this paper from the Washington Institute: http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/toward-a-new-paradigm-for-addressing-the-israeli-palestinian-conflict?utm_source=CSIS+All&utm_campaign=da8144ee00-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_05_23&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f326fc46b6-da8144ee00-1

[10] a new report from the Institute for China-America Studies: http://chinaus-icas.org/materials/understanding-freedom-navigation-doctrine-china-u-s-relations-south-china-sea-legal-concepts-practice-policy-implication/

[11] this stellar profile: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/05/29/james-mattis-a-warrior-in-washington/

[12] a handful of pieces: https://www.statnews.com/category/state-of-trumps-mind/

[13] the most recent: https://www.statnews.com/2017/05/23/donald-trump-speaking-style-interviews/

[14] a set of copy-editing quizzes: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/05/19/insider/00copyeditquiz6.html

[15] Russia’s impact on Western policy-making : https://soundcloud.com/experience_anu/harry-rigby-lecture-series-dr-bobo-lo-on-russia-and-the-crisis-in-western-policy-making

[16] available here: https://www.csis.org/events/command-climate-state-us-civil-military-relations?utm_source=CSIS+All&utm_campaign=da8144ee00-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_05_23&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f326fc46b6-da8144ee00-145371373

[17] online: http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2017/05/22/4669879.htm

[18] a collection of essays in honor of Paul Dibb: http://bellschool.anu.edu.au/news-events/events/5318/festschrift-book-launch-geography-power-strategy-and-defence-policy

[19] new Centre of Gravity paper: http://bellschool.anu.edu.au/news-events/events/5321/integrated-asia-australias-dangerous-new-strategic-geography

[20] Register here: http://sydney.edu.au/sydney-southeast-asia-centre/events/50-years-of-ASEAN.html