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ASPI suggests

Posted By , and on February 1, 2019 @ 15:08

Welcome, dear readers, to our first ‘ASPI suggests’ for 2019.

The world

Fears of a no-deal Brexit continue to grip the UK. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt opened the year with a speech in Singapore filled with positive words about Britain’s future. Hunt harked back to Singapore’s separation from the Malaysian federation in 1965, pointing out that it didn’t make the island state ‘more insular but more open’. He added that the UK could learn much from Singapore, ‘not least the excellence of its education system, the long-term investment in infrastructure and a strategic approach to how a nation sustains competitive advantage in the world’.

The ramifications of Brexit will of course go well beyond Britain. Germany’s economy is beginning to slow, a situation potentially accelerated by Brexit fallout, according to Al Jazeera. Also, look back to Jacqueline Westermann’s ASPI special report for the impact Brexit may have on Australia and the need for us to ‘engage more with like-minded European partners such as Germany’.

China and America are currently holding bilateral talks in an attempt to end their six-month-long trade war. While there seems to be plenty of pessimism out there about the outcome—including in this piece from The AtlanticBloomberg explores a possible win–win scenario. The New York Times investigates how the US government shutdown has put pressure on President Donald Trump to secure a win in this round of negotiations.

Venezuela’s domestic crisis is quickly escalating into an international battle for influence, ideology and interests. Foreign Affairs published a great backgrounder. Anne Applebaum’s piece in the Washington Post provides an insightful analysis of how the crisis stems not only from Venezuela’s insatiable ‘socialism’ but also from the continued privatisation of state institutions. Amid fears of a US–Russia tussle over Venezuela, this New York Times article argues that Moscow doesn’t have the appetite to intervene in America’s backyard. Foreign Policy warns of the strategic costs of US sanctions on Venezuelan oil.

In December, Trump boldly announced the defeat of ISIS and plans for a rapid withdrawal of US troops from Syria. US officials, including intelligence chief Dan Coats, disagreed with Trump’s decision. War on the Rocks provides a long read on the lessons learned (or that should be learned) from this ‘mess’ and YaleGlobal explains what the US withdrawal means for Iran.

And as the US makes plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, this Washington Post piece highlights the significance of the recent talks between the US and Taliban representatives in Doha. An article in the New York Times warns that despite the successful negotiation of a draft peace agreement, a complete US withdrawal would plunge Afghanistan into chaos and pave the way for a Taliban resurgence. Regional stakeholders such as India are feeling constrained after not being allowed a seat at the table, according to the Times of India. The other clear winner of the US–Taliban peace deal is Pakistan and its terrorist strongholds, as this piece argues.

And for longer analytical reads, we recommend this RAND article which analyses Russia and China as US adversaries and argues that while Russia aims to disrupt and subvert the international order, China seeks to reshape, order and ultimately dominate it. For the latest on the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen, see this report from Vox. Back home, this thread captures a lively debate on Australian defence and procurement strategy, picking up from articles in The Strategist and The Interpreter on whether Australia needs the F-35B.

Tech geek

Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and the University of Cambridge have used nanotechnology to build metallic wood. It’s as strong as titanium but four to five times lighter, and could store energy. That could open up all sorts of novel defence applications and leaps in aerospace capability including high speed, very lightweight air platforms.

Speaking of speed, Bell’s V-280 tilt rotor demonstrator recently topped out at 322 miles per hour (almost 520 km/h). Higher speeds would allow army aviation forces to dash through enemy air defences much faster than traditional helicopters, which fly at around 172 miles an hour (277 km/h) over long ranges.

Meanwhile, the US Navy is starting to think about how it will use robotic craft alongside traditional destroyers and frigates. Breaking Defense has an interesting article on ‘robot wolfpacks’ as a way to achieve a bigger navy.

The Aerospace Corporation in the US has released a wealth of documents from government archives on US space policy going back to 1945.

The Drive has an interesting article on a two-part video examining life on a Russian Akula-class attack submarine, focusing on the ‘Beast’ division of the Northern Fleet.

Finally, Robert H. Latiff’s Future war: preparing for the new global battlefield looks at how war is changing and how society will react to the changing face of war. It also considers future military technologies, from cyberweapons to enhanced soldiers and autonomous systems.

This week in history

This week in 1945, the Soviet army reached Auschwitz in Poland and liberated the estimated 7,600 prisoners found still alive in the infamous camp. An estimated 1.1 million people perished in Auschwitz from 1940 to 1945. Since 2005, the 27th of January has been commemorated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.


Al Jazeera’s Inside Story covers the latest on Saudi journalist Jamaal Khashoggi’s murder and what the UN-led investigation hopes to achieve. [24:40]

Following the collapse of a dam at Corrego do Feijao mine situated above the Brazilian town of Brumadinho, Reuters provides a moving photo series on the rescue efforts and the impact of the disaster.

Test your knowledge of Venezuela by taking this quick quiz from the Council on Foreign Relations.


Don’t know much about North Korean politics? You’re not alone. The Korea Society brings you an interview with Track2Asia director Glyn Ford, who has some amazing insights informed by his access to the regime’s leadership. [26:55]

ASPI’s Policy, Guns and Money this week covers the much-debated topic of preventing drug-related deaths at music festivals before diving into recent developments with Chinese tech giant Huawei, and the future of peacekeeping operations. [30:54]


Melbourne, 7 February, 6–7.30 pm, Australian Institute of International Affairs: ‘After Brexit: Where next for the UK?’ Tickets here ($20).

Sydney, 6 February, 6.30–7.30 pm, UNSW 2019 Gandhi Oration: ‘Tim Costello: Justice in action’. Register here.

There are only a handful of tickets left for the one-day ASPI Women, Peace and Security Masterclass: In Policy and on Operations on 13 February. More information and registration here.

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

URL to article: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/aspi-suggests-116/

[1] positive words: https://www.iiss.org/events/2019/01/fullerton-lecture-britain-role-post-brexit-world

[2] Al Jazeera: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/01/german-economy-slowing-brexit-worse-190128031440710.html

[3] Jacqueline Westermann’s ASPI special report: https://www.aspi.org.au/report/remaining-plugged-european-defence-and-security-after-brexit-australia-and-germany

[4] six-month-long: https://www.china-briefing.com/news/the-us-china-trade-war-a-timeline/

[5] this piece: https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2019/01/us-china-trade-talks-resume/581434/

[6] Bloomberg: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-27/here-are-three-scenarios-for-u-s-china-trade-talks-this-week

[7] investigates: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/28/business/trump-china-trade.html

[8] international battle: https://www.news.com.au/finance/work/leaders/venezuela-crisis-splits-superpowers-after-us-asks-the-world-to-pick-a-side/news-story/7a47c5038337015ca9e3d9d7fd3393bf

[9] great backgrounder: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/venezuela/2019-01-25/venezuelan-oppositions-high-stakes-assault-maduro

[10] piece: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/01/29/venezuela-is-how-illiberal-democracy-ends/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.a4747cf53015

[11] fears: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/24/world/americas/venezuela-news-maduro-russia.html?action=click&module=RelatedCoverage&pgtype=Article&region=Footer

[12] argues: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/30/world/europe/russia-venezuela-putin-maduro.html

[13] warns of: https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/01/29/how-trumps-venezuela-sanctions-could-undercut-his-iran-policy-pdvsa-maduro-guaido-oil/

[14] disagreed: https://www.politico.com/story/2019/01/29/dan-coats-north-korea-nuclear-weapons-1133969

[15] War on the Rocks: https://warontherocks.com/2019/01/americas-almost-withdrawal-from-syria/

[16] YaleGlobal: https://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/us-withdraws-irans-influence-swells

[17] piece: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2019/01/28/us-taliban-talks-hint-change-afghanistan-heres-why/?utm_term=.59891ebe2ccc

[18] significance: https://edition.cnn.com/2019/01/27/asia/us-taliban-afghan-peace-talks-doha-intl/index.html

[19] article: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/28/us/politics/us-withdrawal-afghanistan-taliban.html

[20] draft peace agreement: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/28/world/asia/taliban-peace-deal-afghanistan.html?module=inline

[21] Times of India: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/us-taliban-peace-dialogue-puts-india-on-a-sticky-wicket/articleshow/67727341.cms

[22] piece: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/trumps-gift-to-the-taliban/

[23] article: https://www.rand.org/pubs/perspectives/PE310.html

[24] Vox: https://www.vox.com/2019/1/30/18203857/yemen-war-deaths-injured-chart-intelligence

[25] thread: https://twitter.com/SamRoggeveen/status/1090443886378381314

[26] The Strategist: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/should-australia-follow-japan-and-take-the-f-35-to-sea/

[27] The Interpreter: https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/what-f35-exactly

[28] Australia needs the F-35B: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/plan-b-for-the-f-35/

[29] metallic wood: https://phys.org/news/2019-01-metallic-wood-strength-titanium-density.html?fbclid=IwAR3hqarhOuIFwQGwIIU4saHHvdZaq7DpdI7HuOkgEh9VD0RtUir-mKFfn_M

[30] V-280: https://breakingdefense.com/2019/01/bell-v-280-flies-322-mph-army-secretary-praises-program/?fbclid=IwAR22nZYTcypbZ3xXEqpn7wYGs07ZaGkxOVRQh25wGdAE9V9P672TaY_Du0s

[31] article: https://breakingdefense.com/2019/01/robot-wolfpacks-the-faster-cheaper-355-ship-fleet/?fbclid=IwAR0LBeP8ZFjwAccAQIEY3sn1Qc353XWEcdwGnLpKK_N7Qn64CVBrIMZm-8o

[32] archives: https://aerospace.org/space-policy-resources?fbclid=IwAR3sfgaYMsje3SB9Trb6Pk-KU4HdAUxzREHjpIwEWwj2nN5Cewaz7nz6QFo

[33] article: http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/26261/video-takes-you-inside-russias-beast-devision-of-akula-class-nuclear-fast-attack-subs

[34] Future war: https://www.amazon.com/Future-War-Preparing-Global-Battlefield/dp/1101947608?SubscriptionId=AKIAI2RRD3JBWBE6KY2Q&tag=cybe0f8-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=2025&creative=165953&creativeASIN=1101947608&t=cybe0f8-20

[35] liberated: https://www.ushmm.org/information/exhibitions/online-exhibitions/special-focus/liberation-of-auschwitz

[36] Inside Story: https://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidestory/2019/01/investigation-khashoggi-murder-achieve-190128180753515.html

[37] Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/news/picture/hundreds-missing-after-brazil-dam-bursts-idUSRTS2C9J6

[38] quiz: https://www.cfr.org/quiz/see-how-much-you-know-about-venezuela

[39] The Korea Society: https://castbox.fm/episode/Talking-to-North-Korea-with-Glyn-Ford-id2597-id124586905?country=us

[40] Policy, Guns and Money: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/policy-guns-and-money-episode-12/

[41] here: https://aiiavic.tidyhq.com/public/schedule/events/22012-after-brexit-where-next-for-the-uk

[42] here: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/tim-costello-justice-in-action-tickets-53041923822?_ga=2.267990855.87380447.1548801267-2046530416.1548801267

[43] here: https://www.aspi.org.au/event/aspi-women-peace-and-security-masterclass-policy-and-operations