ASPI suggests
23 Oct 2015|
From the April 29th, 2014 photo by David James at Pinewood Studios, UK — Writer/Director/Producer J.J Abrams (top center right) at the cast read-through of Star Wars Episode VII at Pinewood Studios with (clockwise from right) Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Producer Bryan Burk, Lucasfilm President and Producer Kathleen Kennedy, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill, Andy Serkis, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Adam Driver and Writer Lawrence Kasdan.

We begin today’s Suggests with a tribute to Jacky Sutton, an activist and writer, who’d been working as the Iraq director for the Institute of War and Peace Reporting when it was announced she was found dead in an Istanbul airport earlier this week. Also a research scholar at the ANU’s Centre of Arabic and Islamic Studies, she’d been travelling in Iraq and Kurdistan. Here is her life, in her own words.

What does analysis of the Islamic State’s messaging keep missing? Writing in the Washington Post, Haroro Ingram pulls apart why Western governments are failing to effectively counter IS’ narrative, from the US State Department’s sarcastic video of the Islamic State to the Australian Defence Force’s ‘error-filled counter-narrative tweets’. Ingram finds that the IS messaging is far more nuanced than popular commentary depicts, appealing to rational-choice decisions more so than other militant Islamists like al Qaeda. Keep reading here. (For more on IS propaganda, check out Charlie Winter’s podcast and report below.)

Can Afghanistan hold on? Ahmed Rashid takes a close look at political and security prospects for the Central Asian state after President Obama announced his decision to retain 5,500 troops beyond 2017 in the country.

Meanwhile, Brahma Chellaney has penned a provocative piece for Project Syndicate on why Japan should rearm. He says (and I paraphrase), ‘it’s not the economy, stupid!’ that we should be thinking about. Rather, Japan’s security threatened by a revisionist China should drive the decision to rearm for the sake of long-term peace in Asia. Keep reading here.

For the political economy types, Raghuram Rajan, governor of the Reserve Bank of India, delivered a detailed speech at India’s first Think20 (T20) meeting in Mumbai about the global economy. He covered issues including structural reform, inequality and deflation not only in emerging economies but advanced ones. It’s worth reading for an erudite and sober perspective from the Indian subcontinent.

Think tanks aren’t going extinct but they’ll have to evolve, writes James Jay Carafano of the Heritage Foundation. Tackling Michael Tanji’s five-year-old prediction that think tanks would die off (still here, buddy!), Carafano argues that American ones in particular ‘provide a space for a human community of thinkers’ which the internet can’t replace. To understand why #thinktangthuglife will endure, keep reading here.

Lastly, to mark the release of the Star Wars: the force awakens trailer, here’s a throwback to 2009 with an Economist piece ‘Why is there no counterinsurgency in “Star Wars”?’.


This week on CIMSEC’s Sea Control: Asia Pacific, Tim Huxley of IISS-Asia and I discuss Singapore’s strategic outlook and the drivers of its foreign policy. In particular, we delve into its relationships with China, the US, Five Power Defence Arrangement partners and Indonesia. Huxley also shares his thoughts on which maritime capabilities the city state needs to develop (40mins).

Over on Loopcast, listen to Charlie Winter of the Quilliam Foundation on Islamic State propaganda which he analysed by studying their hashtags, daily bulletins and other source materials (54mins). For more, check out Winter’s new paper, ‘Documenting the virtual caliphate’ (PDF).


Recently in DC for AUSMIN talks, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop dropped by CSIS to deliver a speech on challenges to global democratic governance (57mins). Meanwhile,  the latest cogistASIA podcast features Bishop on the current geopolitical environment and South Korean President Park Guen-hye on the US–ROK alliance (32mins).


Canberra: registrations are now open for the 2015 Timor-Leste Update which will bring together the world’s scholars and practitioners to discuss issues ranging from Timor–China relations to poverty and domestic violence (program here). It’s on 19–20 November at the ANU, registrations here.

Melbourne: Monash University is hosting a conference titled ‘Social media and the spectrum of modern conflict’, Friday 13 November, 9am – 5pm at their Caulfield campus (program here). Details and registration here.