WEEKLY ROUNDUP (12-16 September)

This roundup includes information of interviews and stories of interest for the week of 12 – 16 September 2016

In the Media

Lone Wolf Attacks (13 September) 

John Bruni was interviewed by Ian Henschke, 891 ABC Adelaide, on the topic of ‘Lone Wolf attacks as the new face of terrorism in Australia’, following an unprovoked knife attack on an elderly man in Western Sydney by someone purporting to support the aims of Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

Click here to listen

Stories to Watch

Outbreak of violence in Bangalore, India, over water rights (15 September)

There was an outbreak of violence in India in the country’s high-tech capital of Bangalore, in the state of Karnataka, when tensions between the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu boiled over, over water rights.

The violence occurred one month after the Indian Supreme Court ruled that Karnataka release some 12,000 cubic feet of water to Tamil Nadu for irrigation. However, coming as this decision did during a time of drought in both states, relations between these two Indian states plummeted, leading to Kannada-Tamil violence in Bangalore with a number of school buses torched and Kannada school children intimidated by local Tamils.

Why is this important? It shows the very real social and political effects of global warming during a time of water scarcity and drought. As national capacities degrade and decline in developed countries, similar effects may well be seen there as well in the not too distant future.

US’ 38 billion dollar foreign military aid package to Israel (15 September)

President Barack Obama signed off on the largest foreign military aid program in the history of the United States. The US$38 billion package to Israel will replace a previous 10-year military aid program in spite of the public spat between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the American President over Netanyahu’s intransigence on Palestine. However, there is a catch to this new agreement.

US aid monies are to be spent on purchasing US military products and not to be used by the Israeli government to buy from its own very capable defence industries. Furthermore, Israel cannot seek additional military funds over and above what the US has already pledged to Israel.

While this may appear a particularly limiting agreement from an Israeli perspective, it is unlikely to be carved in stone. With a new president slated to be in the White House come January 2017, and considering that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have ties to the peak Israeli lobby group in Washington, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), it is likely that both of these presidential candidates will be sympathetic to any request to water down the limiting clauses signed off by Obama & Netenyahu.

This is an important deal because whatever shape it holds for the long term, Israel’s military superiority in the Middle East is guaranteed. It also demonstrates America’s will to underwrite Israel’s military superiority without putting into effect any requests for change to Israel’s behaviour regarding the rights of the Palestinian people and/or accepting Palestinian statehood.

North Korea’s latest nuclear test (12-16 September)

Much frenzied speculation surrounded the latest North Korean nuclear test carried out on 09/09/16. The successful test, estimated to be within the 25-kiloton range, rattled nerves south of the 38th Parallel, in the South Korean capital Seoul, and further east in Tokyo. Experts and analysts jockeyed for airtime trying to unpack the nuclear capability of North Korea. Some suggested that this latest test was a major breakthrough for Pyongyang, allowing it to start producing warheads small enough to be fitted on to its fleet of Cold War vintage, Soviet-derived ballistic missiles.

These missiles are by and large of dubious quality, most only with a capacity to fly to targets in South Korea. But without sophisticated guidance systems, their accuracy is questionable. Furthermore, adding dense payloads such as nuclear warheads, will only further degrade missile accuracy the further away the target.

This is not to suggest that unleashing inaccurate, nuclear-armed missiles against South Korea and US forces stationed there, would not be a highly destructive enterprise. It just wouldn’t be a particularly effective war fighting strategy. Other analysts, such as George Friedman from Geopolitical Futures, suggests that North Korea’s test was political bluster and should in no way be seen as a major technical breakthrough. The truth lies somewhere in between.

The importance of this story is, that short of war, no one will ever be able to predict the actual capability of the North Korean military – conventional or nuclear. What can be guaranteed is that North Korea would not survive a US-South Korean counter-attack were the North to start a war.

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