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ASPI suggests

Posted By on September 22, 2017 @ 14:58

The world

The Economist published two excellent pieces that provide the context for President Trump’s growing Iran problem. The first explores the prospect of Iranian regional hegemony and nuclear ambitions. The second examines the mess that is Trump’s Middle East strategy.

This long New Yorker profile on Hillary Clinton presents a wide-ranging analysis of her 2016 election defeat, including the role the press may have played.

Following the Mexico City magnitude-7.1 earthquake this week, this graphic from the Economist provides a good visual of all 7.1 earthquakes since 1995.

Two pieces on China and environment: the first on the historical and modern Silk Road and environmental challenges and damages caused by Chinese economic interests, especially water scarcity. The second is a photo essay that documents ‘pollution and post-communism in urban China’.

The view from Europe this week: Germany is preparing for federal elections this weekend. Our German intern, Jacqueline Westermann, has selected three pieces, which cover security and defence, the absence of foreign policy in the campaign, and what the election means for Europe. See here for a good video explainer of the parties and their principles.

The UK’s Foreign Office published a new paper setting out a vision for future UK–EU cooperation on foreign policy, defence, security and development. Among other things, the paper highlights the UK’s commitment to 50% development spending in fragile states.

A British anti-extremism organisation, Hope Not Hate, has published a new report documenting the sinister and complex world of the extreme right. The organisation sent a Swedish graduate student undercover with the alt-right. For over a year, he was embedded in the London Forum, the most important far-right think tank in Britain. This op-ed from the New York Times details how more extreme factions of the far right are benefiting from a new, moderate—yet just as dangerous—movement known as the ‘alt-light’. Another good read, on the challenges of tech policy and online extremism, is this new report from Policy Exchange, The new netwar.

Millennials, remember when we used to say ‘BRB’, for ‘be right back’ when we were online? No need to say it anymore, because we never leave. A new sub-generation called the ‘i-Gen’ lives online, facilitated by the creation of the smartphone. A fascinating piece from the Atlantic explores the mental health impact of 24/7 on this generation.

And here’s an interesting piece on electronic computing and cryptography (part two of a series) from Bletchley Park to ease you into this week’s tech section.

Tech geek of the week, by Malcolm Davis

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and don’t ever think the Chinese won’t snap up a good idea when they see it. LinkSpace Aerospace Technology—the first private space company in China—released designs this week for reusable rockets that are remarkably similar to SpaceX’s Falcon reusable booster.

Reusable rockets represent a big inflection point in technology that will lower the cost of accessing space. That means more states, as well as private-sector companies, will see less risk in investing in this sector. An excellent CSIS report lays out a future space vision for Australia.

Check out this video celebrating the 75th anniversary of Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works, including imagery of the sixth-generation fighter, advanced unmanned combat aircraft (including a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) concept that caught my eye), blended wing body aircraft and the hypersonic SR-76 aircraft.

China, by contrast, looks set to embrace the swarm. Massed attack by swarming autonomous—and cheap—attack drones, and the employment of AI to allow them to self-coordinate, raises the prospect of ‘fire ant warfare’. We’ll be forced to decide whether to develop our own swarms, or potentially be faced with a severe disadvantage on the future battlefield. That will raise uncomfortable legal and moral issues associated with lethal autonomous weapons. Western liberal democracies will have to confront this debate; our adversaries in authoritarian states won’t bother.

What we’re reading

The road to somewhere, by David Goodhart, 2017. Reviewed by Sofia Patel.

David Goodhart’s new book seeks to demonstrate why populism is on the rise in the UK, Europe, the US and elsewhere.

Goodhart, a veteran commentator on public policy issues, and a self-titled ‘post-liberal’, expertly crafts a broad visual of the UK’s current political landscape. He offers an explanation of a societal divide between two ‘tribes’ of people (with various sub-categories): the ‘Anywheres’—urban, socially liberal, universally educated people whose identities are built on global ideals; and the ‘Somewheres’—people who are tied to local communities, socially conservative and usually less educated, and whose identities are built on the value of the nation-state.

Goodhart argues that the liberal elitism of the minority Anywhere tribe has alienated the majority Somewheres by ignoring their everyday priorities and creating unrecognisable societies. Anywheres have benefited from cultural and economic liberalism, but Somewheres have been left behind.

The book is a useful portrayal of how populism has gone mainstream, and what the key public policy issues are that will inform the public debate in a post-Brexit Britain. (Though not everyone agrees with Goodhart’s thesis.)

Videos and podcasts

Adding to last week’s podcast interview with New Yorker journalist Evan Osnos, who travelled to North Korea, catch his video interview here.

Carl Miller, from UK think tank DEMOS, offers seven predictions of how technology will drastically change society.

A must-listen: former acting CIA director Michael Morrell and former secretary of defense Leon Panetta kick off a new podcast series, ‘Intelligence Matters’, for the Cipher Brief.


Canberra: The ANU Korea Institute is hosting a series of dialogues to bring together key representatives from the academic and policymaking communities to discuss recent political, economic, security and social issues related to Korea. Friday 22 September. Details here.

Sydney: The ambassador for cyber affairs, Dr Tobias Feakin, will deliver a keynote next week at the University of Sydney’s Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge, hosted by the Centre for International Security Studies.

Sydney: The University of Sydney is hosting a late-night seminar on climate change and public health with Professor Jonathan Patz, director of the Global Health Institute, University of Wisconsin. Saturday 23 September, 9.30 pm.

Melbourne: The Australian Political Studies Association Conference 2017 kicks off on Monday 25 September at Monash University. Check out the website for details.

Article printed from The Strategist: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au

URL to article: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/aspi-suggests-58/

[1] first: https://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21728907-his-distaste-barack-obamas-accord-could-make-world-more-dangerous-place-donald-trump

[2] second: https://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21728896-it-right-worry-about-irans-growing-influence-trump-administration-may-be-about

[3] long New Yorker profile on Hillary Clinton: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/09/25/hillary-clinton-looks-back-in-anger

[4] graphic: https://www.economist.com/news/americas/21729368-though-not-strong-one-12-days-latest-quake-has-caused-more-damage-another

[5] the first: https://worldview.stratfor.com/article/another-paradise-lost-chinas-ambition?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=article

[6] a photo essay : http://www.calvertjournal.com/features/show/8699/go-east-orsolya-luca-pollution-post-communism-chinahttp:/www.calvertjournal.com/features/show/8699/go-east-orsolya-luca-pollution-post-communism-china

[7] security and defence: http://www.gmfus.org/blog/2017/09/15/german-elections-party-views-security-and-defense

[8] absence of foreign policy: http://www.dw.com/en/six-parties-fight-over-foreign-policy-in-dws-conflict-zone-election-debate/a-40473896

[9] election means for Europe: http://www.gmfus.org/commentary/germanys-non-election-and-what-it-means-europe

[10] here: http://www.ecfr.eu/article/europe_in_the_german_elections

[11] Foreign Office published a new paper: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/643924/Foreign_policy__defence_and_development_paper.pdf

[12] a new report: https://alternativeright.hopenothate.com/

[13] This op-ed: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/19/opinion/alt-right-white-supremacy-undercover.html?mcubz=0

[14] The new netwar: https://policyexchange.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/The-New-Netwar-1.pdf

[15] piece from the Atlantic : https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/09/has-the-smartphone-destroyed-a-generation/534198/

[16] piece: https://technicshistory.wordpress.com/2017/09/20/the-electronic-computers-part-2-colossus/?utm_source=New+Daily+Newsletter+Subscribers&utm_campaign=861d911284-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_09_20&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_4675a5c15f-861d911284-81874305

[17] LinkSpace: http://www.linkspace.com.cn/index.html

[18] designs: https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/09/linkspace-is-a-chinese-startup-that-will-try-to-make-reusable-rockets-like-spacex.html

[19] Falcon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9M6Zvi-fFv4

[20] lower: https://www.forbes.com/sites/alexknapp/2017/03/30/what-spacexs-successful-reusable-rocket-launch-means-for-the-space-industry/#383a760d731e

[21] report: https://www.csis.org/analysis/implications-ultra-low-cost-access-space

[22] video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=16&v=7Ub0UbhDGDE

[23] sixth-generation fighter: https://theaviationist.com/2017/09/17/new-lockheed-martins-skunk-works-video-teases-the-shape-of-the-next-generation-air-dominance-ngad-fighter/

[24] SR-76: http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/aviation/a26796/hypersonic-sr-72-aircraft/

[25] swarm: https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2017/07/12/swarms_at_war_chinese_advances_in_swarm_intelligence_111785.html

[26] uncomfortable: https://www.theverge.com/2017/8/21/16177828/killer-robots-ban-elon-musk-un-petition

[27] issues: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-21/killer-robots-artificial-intelligence-tech-leaders-un-letter/8825906

[28] confront: http://theconversation.com/australia-should-take-a-stand-against-killer-robots-57735

[29] The road to somewhere: http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/the-road-to-somewhere/

[30] not everyone agrees: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/mar/22/the-road-to-somewhere-david-goodhart-populist-revolt-future-politics

[31] last week’s: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/aspi-suggests-57/

[32] video: https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/a-reporters-takeaways-from-a-trip-to-north-korea

[33] offers seven predictions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euvvaL9GxJQ&feature=youtu.be

[34] podcast series: https://www.thecipherbrief.com/podcasts/intelligence-matters

[35] here: http://www.anu.edu.au/events/2017-korea-update-crossing-borders

[36] keynote next week: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/cyber-912-keynote-speech-ambassador-tobias-feakin-tickets-37719421806?aff=es2#listing-organizer

[37] 23 September, 9.30 pm: http://whatson.sydney.edu.au/events/published/climate-change-and-public-health2

[38] the website: https://www.auspsa.org.au/page/apsa-conference-2017