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ASPI suggests

Posted By , and on May 24, 2019 @ 15:16

The world

How good are elections? There’s been a lot of voting around the world so we’re dedicating a large part of this week’s ‘Suggests’ to those festivals of democracy.

In Australia, Indonesia and India, the incumbents have all been returned to power in what should mean a general maintenance of the status quo in the Indo-Pacific.

The biggest surprise was in Australia, where most pundits and the polls tipped a win for Labor and Bill Shorten. See the Guardian’s eight charts that show some of the reasons why the Coalition was able to retain power. This piece in The Conversation argues that Labor’s defeat is partly explained by some key historical trends.

There are now questions about the value of the hold that opinion polling seems to have on Australian politics and politicians. The Coalition’s Newspoll results were famously quoted by Malcolm Turnbull when he rolled Tony Abbott as prime minister, something that haunted him until his own demise last year when Scott Morrison took over. Poor polls were partly behind the ousting of Kevin Rudd for Julia Gillard in 2010 and, in turn, for Rudd 2.0 before the 2013 election.

As Labor pollster John Utting asked in the Financial Review, ‘Did polling create a parallel universe where all the activity of the past few years, especially the leadership coups and prime ministerial changes, were based on illusions, phantoms of public opinion that did not exist?’

The Sydney Morning Herald and the Age have said they’re looking at the value of polling and how the reporting of it serves voters, and have already dropped polling company Ipsos.

The New York Times argued that Morrison’s win was down to a populist wave similar to that which propelled Donald Trump to the US presidency. Matthew Knott rebuffed that argument, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald that the Morrison victory represents an upholding of the status quo and wasn’t Australia’s ‘Trump moment’.

Narendra Modi’s victory in the Indian election, by all measures of logic, was more or less guaranteed; however, nobody could’ve predicted the landslide in his party’s favour, let alone the complete annihilation of the major opposition parties. It wasn’t a Modi wave, it was a TsuNaMo (for the uninitiated, NaMo is the equivalent of ScoMo). The Strategist’s two pieces on the theme, one looking at the structural reasons for the BJP’s victory and the other exploring the possible next steps for India’s foreign policy, are well worth your time. Milan Vaishnav’s article in the Hindustan Times tries to make sense of the Indian electorate’s behaviour. Meanwhile, a piece in The Print sets out a six-point economic agenda for the new government.

Not everyone’s happy with the Indian election outcome, of course. Much like in Australia, a certain section of the liberals and moderates find themselves in despair. Pratap Bhanu Mehta’s opinion piece in the Indian Express ruminates on how the BJP’s sweeping victory stands to damage the liberal traditions of the Indian polity. And if you’re interested in a deep dive into the tough foreign policy choices facing the new Modi government, Ashley Tellis’s long read published by the Carnegie Endowment is unmissable.

Indonesia’s so-called ‘surprisingly quiet’ election has ceased to be so—Joko Widodo’s re-election as president has led to widespread backlash from opposition leader Prabowo Subianto’s supporters. This article in the Sydney Morning Herald explains why the results have sparked mob violence on the streets of Jakarta. Yohanes Sulaiman’s article in the South China Morning Post last month explores the link between Prabowo’s political problems and his supporters’ radical Islamic orientation. Alexander Arifianto’s article in The Strategist this week succinctly lays out the broad contours of the Islamic challenge that Jokowi faces in his new term. Al Jazeera published a photo series documenting the violent protests that took place in Jakarta this week.

Voters in Europe are heading to the polls for the European Parliament election. There are predictions that Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party will receive up to 30% of the vote in the UK. The results won’t be announced until Sunday, but Farage may have already won by helping to unseat another prime minister. Theresa May is expected to be out of a job within days.

Using the collapse of the far-right party in Austria’s coalition government as an example, this piece in Foreign Policy argues that now may be the time when European voters begin to return to establishment politics.

Tech geek

The US Air Force is testing new decoy technology. BriteCloud, developed by Leonardo, is an advanced expendable decoy system which captures signals from an incoming missile, analyses them against an on-board threat library, and emits a spoofing signal to cloak the targeted aircraft. It can be ejected from existing flare and chaff dispensers. See the video here.

South Australian company DEWC Systems is developing a constellation of electronic warfare satellites which will be launched from the proposed Whalers Way launch complex on the Eyre Peninsula. The constellation will comprise 20 cubesats that can detect electronic emissions on the earth’s surface from low-earth orbit.

How might asteroid mining be done? Greg Rowlands provides an overview of various methods and the practical risks.

CSIS’s ChinaPower project has put out a great interactive infographic on how China is modernising its navy. The People’s Liberation Army Navy is already larger than the US Navy, and it is rapidly eroding the US Navy’s qualitative edge. By the mid-2030s, China might have 430 surface ships and 100 submarines.

Japan looks like it may set up its own (smaller) version of the proposed US space force—the Space Domain Mission Unit—by 2022, which will have a focus on space situational awareness.

Staying in space, NASA has released the full plan for project Artemis—the return to the moon by 2024. But getting money from Congress may be challenging.

With tensions between the US and Iran still high, and continuing on from last week’s tech geek, there’s a great article by Max Boot on the risks of a US–Iran war in the Washington Post.

This week in history

The ‘Pact of Steel’ between Germany and Italy was signed this week in 1939. The deal agreed that in the event of war, the two countries would support each other economically and militarily, and that neither country would agree to peace without the other’s consent. Japan was set to join the pact but pulled out only to join the Axis powers the next year.


The ABC’s The Party Room sifts through Australia’s election result and looks at what next for Labor and who is likely to make up the new Morrison cabinet when it’s sworn in. [34:18]

Ankit Panda and Prashanth Parameswaran’s podcast in The Diplomat dissecting the Huawei crisis and geopolitical rivalry between the US and China is worth a listen. [26:21]

Touching on the same theme of great-power competition, don’t miss Lowy’s newly launched podcast’s first episode by David Shambaugh. [31:08]

Planet Money examines why Deutsche Bank kept lending money to Donald Trump after his businesses defaulted on loans and when other major banks wouldn’t. [26:41]

A documentary on Al Jazeera features interviews with Russia’s foreign policy thinkers and delves into the drivers behind Moscow’s decision-making. [47:59]


Brisbane, 28 May, 6–7.30 pm, Australian Institute of International Affairs, Queensland, ‘India’s national security election, 2019: The rise of the watchmen’. Register here.

Melbourne, 28 May, 6–7.30 pm, Australian Institute of International Affairs, Victoria, ‘Strangers next door? Australia and Indonesia after elections’. Register here.

Canberra, 6 June, 9 am – 5 pm, Australian National University, ‘Workshop: How does the “Pacific” fit into the “Indo-Pacific”? The changing geopolitics of the Pacific Islands’. Register here.

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

URL to article: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/aspi-suggests-130/

[1] How good are elections?: https://www.smh.com.au/federal-election-2019/how-good-is-how-good-is-australia-note-this-is-not-a-question-20190522-p51q0g.html

[2] eight charts: https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2019/may/22/the-eight-charts-that-help-explain-why-the-coalition-won-the-2019-australian-election?CMP=share_btn_tw

[3] piece: https://theconversation.com/labors-election-loss-was-not-a-surprise-if-you-take-historical-trends-into-account-117399

[4] haunted him: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-07/analysis-malcolm-turnbull-awaits-30th-newspoll-loss/9626492

[5] Poor polls: https://theconversation.com/poll-wrap-worst-reaction-to-midterm-pm-change-in-newspoll-history-contrary-polls-in-duttons-dickson-102186

[6] asked: https://www.afr.com/news/politics/national/australian-polling-is-broken-here-s-how-to-fix-it-20190522-p51pyl

[7] looking at : https://www.smh.com.au/federal-election-2019/why-we-re-pressing-pause-on-political-polling-at-the-herald-and-the-age-20190523-p51qj6.html

[8] dropped: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2019/may/24/sydney-morning-herald-and-age-to-stop-running-ipsos-poll-after-surprise-election-result?CMP=share_btn_tw

[9] argued: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/18/world/australia/election-results-scott-morrison.html

[10] rebuffed : https://www.smh.com.au/federal-election-2019/why-scott-morrison-s-victory-wasn-t-australia-s-trump-moment-20190521-p51pfc.html

[11] one: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/modis-re-election-and-the-future-of-indian-democracy/

[12] other: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/after-modis-election-win-whats-next-for-india-in-the-indo-pacific/

[13] article: https://www.hindustantimes.com/analysis/modi-owns-the-win-and-the-aftermath/story-vUQF8BSnT21wSrNm8U7bHM.html

[14] a piece: https://theprint.in/opinion/this-6-point-economic-agenda-can-help-modi-fulfil-his-promises/239984/

[15] opinion piece: https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/narendra-modi-lok-sabha-elections-2019-results-bjp-congress-rahul-gandhi-5745371/

[16] long read: https://carnegieendowment.org/2019/05/20/troubles-aplenty-foreign-policy-challenges-for-next-indian-government-pub-79161?utm_source=carnegieemail&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=announcement&mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiWmpaak56WXdaR1U1TkRnMiIsInQiOiIrVktSK291dkdpSG1BZExwUXk0NDU5SFM1V29iY0JpWUhwbWxMYlpxRzZKQjVcL25jck9zRExMTDVKNzAwN1VqeUlROWk0d0poeGNwZmIxM29oVUszQ3dNQXRpTzBBaGtFU2lDYlhsUXErYWNcL25keDFoOFhDK1dZODBRZm1LclJGIn0%3D

[17] ‘surprisingly quiet’: https://thediplomat.com/2019/04/indonesias-surprisingly-quiet-election/

[18] article: https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/why-are-indonesians-dying-on-the-streets-of-jakarta-a-month-after-their-election-20190523-p51qcr.html

[19] article: https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/3006633/indonesia-election-hardline-islam-where-it-all-went-wrong

[20] article: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/jokowi-wins-second-term-as-indonesian-president-but-the-islamist-challenge-remains/

[21] photo series: https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/inpictures/jakarta-protests-fireworks-tear-gas-mark-jokowi-election-190523071624562.html

[22] already won: https://news.sky.com/story/whatever-happens-now-nigel-farage-has-already-won-11727365

[23] within days: https://www.ft.com/content/0151b838-7cb9-11e9-81d2-f785092ab560

[24] piece: https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/05/23/europe-is-ripe-for-a-return-to-establishment-politics/

[25] BriteCloud: https://www.c4isrnet.com/electronic-warfare/2019/05/15/can-new-spoofing-tech-give-us-aircraft-a-shroud-in-the-clouds/?fbclid=IwAR1oVb3VFN7kVro-ZtnLQEOERB9xg8KRzmhcwhvqkcq-P2uJiicp5S6gK-s

[26] here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDDhS7xt2Ws

[27] satellites: http://theleadsouthaustralia.com.au/industries/space-industry/launch-site-flagged-for-australian-electronic-warfare-satellites/

[28] Whalers Way: https://southernlaunch.space/

[29] Greg Rowlands: https://blog.moonshotspace.co/a-deadly-game-of-asteroids-mining-astronautics-space-environments-e61a3a2798d2

[30] interactive infographic: https://chinapower.csis.org/china-naval-modernization/?fbclid=IwAR1v1Fef9uFGMRbcUjg4HprXEYi6_3mVG0RbwL19EFmLxAaGoxLVhVyHUt4

[31] Space Domain Mission Unit: https://spacewatch.global/2019/05/japanese-military-space-mod-to-allocate-100-personnel-for-space-domain-mission-unit-by-fy2022-seeks-replacement-for-lost-worldview-4/?fbclid=IwAR2LCvHXyXJ26WnAiaPwheCO31Qke25n9eiLu525teBT3cDK8L7vXH4HLFg

[32] plan: https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/05/nasas-full-artemis-plan-revealed-37-launches-and-a-lunar-outpost/

[33] Congress: https://www.spaceconnectonline.com.au/operations/3390-nasa-request-for-moon-landing-funding-runs-into-snag

[34] article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/05/20/war-with-iran-would-be-mother-all-quagmires/?utm_term=.85a4473779d5

[35] Pact of Steel: https://astro.temple.edu/~rimmerma/Italo_German_alliance_1939.htm

[36] the next year: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-tripartite-pact-is-signed-by-germany-italy-and-japan

[37] sifts through: https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/partyroom/the-post-election-shuffle/11142388

[38] podcast: https://thediplomat.com/category/podcasts

[39] first episode: https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/rules-based-audio-new-lowy-institute-podcast

[40] examines: https://www.npr.org/2019/05/22/725893104/episode-914-trump-and-deutsche-a-long-affair

[41] documentary: https://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/specialseries/2019/05/peace-war-view-russia-190513072606909.html

[42] here: https://aiiaqld.tidyhq.com/public/schedule/events/24861-india-s-national-security-election-2019-the-rise-of-the-watchmen

[43] here: https://aiiavic.tidyhq.com/public/schedule/events/24422-strangers-next-door-australia-and-indonesia-after-elections

[44] here: https://www.anu.edu.au/events/workshop-how-does-the-%E2%80%98pacific%E2%80%99-fit-into-the-%E2%80%98indo-pacific%E2%80%99-the-changing-geopolitics-of-the