These are the articles that were most popular among our readers in 2018.
10. Turkey must be thinking of the Bomb, by Wayne McLean
There are strong incentives for a nuclear pathway given Turkey’s vulnerabilities and strategic position. Turkey has historically eschewed a nuclear program because it already housed nuclear weapons: the US has stationed missiles there since 1959. As part of NATO agreements, an estimated 50 B61 bombs still remain on Turkish soil at Incirlik Air Base, in the country’s south, as a deterrence measure.
But Trump’s disdain for NATO threatens this arrangement. In fact, a 2015 Carnegie paper assessing Turkey’s nuclear posture argued that the most probable scenario under which Turkey would seek nuclear weapons would be a collapse of its relationships with NATO and the US.
9. Glug, glug, glug: India’s interest in unsinkable aircraft carriers, by David Brewster
Deferring the Vishal and using the resources in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands (and elsewhere, such as in the Himalayas and India’s Laccadive Islands in the Arabian Sea) may be sensible, if politically difficult, for a country that places a very high priority on status. But the disparity between India’s and China’s defence budgets creates an imperative for India to find asymmetric approaches to addressing potential military threats. India will likely get far more bang for its buck from less glorious but unsinkable facilities than from floating status symbols.
8. The “unsinkable” island is no substitute, by Abhijit Singh
Even assuming New Delhi decided to develop military facilities in the Andaman Islands, the Indian Navy wouldn’t want them as part of a swap-bargain with its aircraft carriers. Despite facing an increasingly hostile operational environment, the aircraft carrier is still the only platform that provides comprehensive access to littoral spaces, for surveillance and effective sea command.
7. Change in Malaysia, awkward questions for Singapore, by Kirsten Han
If Singapore does see a ‘tsunami rakyat’ (people’s tsunami), it’s unlikely to come so soon. The People's Action Party is not the Barisan Nasional: it’s done a better job, with more consistency. Lee’s siblings have accused him of nepotism and misuse of power, but this is still a far cry from the outrageous corruption that Najib was alleged to be neck-deep in. Yet the PAP hasn’t been indifferent. Shortly after the Malaysian election, a PAP minister paid tribute to former Workers’ Party chief Low Thia Khiang, while Lee Hsien Loong said that the opposition party had a role to play in Singapore’s political system.
6. Jonghyun and depression in South Korea, by Nicole de Souza
Some people hope the highly public nature of Jonghyun’s death will lead to a change in the country, particularly within the music industry. Yet the challenge is long-standing. ‘There have been many public suicides which are gossiped about but then quickly forgotten,’ says Dongamin. One of the most notable public deaths was of former South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun, who took his own life in 2009.
To reduce the suicide rate in South Korea, dramatic change is required to break public taboos around the discussion and treatment of mental health. Recovery and treatment can only begin when Korea’s apathy is turned into action.
5. China’s looming financial crisis, by Stephen Joske
This slowdown could have been avoided if China had not undertaken the massive 2015 stimulus. Once confident about China’s economic management, it took me some time to realise just how large the 2015 stimulus was, as Chinese banks and shadow banks began concealing loans on a large scale at that time to avoid regulatory scrutiny.
4. The cliché is true: this is the most important US midterm ever, by Robert Kelly
The US has never had a blood-and-soil nationalist party, but if one watches Trumpist media, most obvious is Fox News, in the weeks running up to this week’s midterm election, the messaging is drenched in racialism, if not openly racist.
Hence, the 2018 midterm has emerged as the most important midterm election in a long time, certainly in my lifetime. This is the first time since 2016 for American voters to respond to Trumpism as a governing philosophy rather than just campaign sloganeering. If the Republican party’s majority survives in the Congress, Trump, Congressional Republicans, and GOP voters will take this as a validation of the Trumpist turn of 2016.
3. Surabaya and the ISIS family, by Sidney Jones
Indonesia has again exploded in a paroxysm of terrorist violence, but with a new twist: family suicide bombers. This may be the first time in the world that parents took their children on a family outing to blow themselves up.
2. Missing in action: India’s aircraft carriers, by Himanil Raina
Today, anti-ship missile technology immensely outstrips the range of carrier aviation, submarines present a graver threat to all things afloat than any time before and the probability of detecting surface forces has increased exponentially. However, should India envision the employment of naval power to project power far from its own shores, then despite its historical record and contemporary developments, the possession of a carrier will become indispensable.
In this case, the central debate in India should not be about whether it should get more carriers or not, nor should it be about how many. Rather, the debate should be about the development of the relevant tactics and technologies that allow for carrier operations far from it shores in a high-end conflict.
1. A year of internet stardom: “BBC Dad” reflects, by Robert Kelly
People often ask me and my wife what it has been like to suddenly become virally famous. It has mostly been fun, and sometimes weird. After a year, here are some reflections on the things I am most often asked about.