South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported on October 7 that “the only concern” Beijing has regarding the October 16 White House summit between President Obama and South Korean President Park Geun-hye is a possible discussion of “deployment of the THAAD missile defense system in the South.” Yonhap quoted Chinese professor Cheng Xiaohe of Renmin University as stating, at a recent seminar at Johns Hopkins University, that “China’s government explicitly opposed the implementation of THAAD systems on the Korean peninsula no matter in the U.S. military base or on the ROK’s military base.” The message is loud and clear: Beijing does not want a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) deployment in South Korea and is hoping that its new “charm” offensive to win over President Park can trump any considerations for her as a U.S. treaty ally.Read more
A lame duck President Obama, released next year from any lingering political constraints, will make a likely final official visit to Asia to attend the 42nd G-7 summit of leaders of the world’s leading economies. The summit is scheduled to be held in May 2016 in central Japan, not far from Hiroshima.Read more
John Kerry’s visit to Asia this week – like Ashton Carter’s last month – is designed to offer reassurance that America’s commitment to the region remains unwavering in the face of increased Chinese aggression. Yet despite these visits, leaders in the region have profound doubts whether the United States is serious about standing up to China.Read more
Americans have long been skeptical of the liberal arts. Frequently this takes the form of a discussion of whether a degree in history or literature is “worth it” in a purely economic sense. Annual reports highlight the top-earning college majors, subtly encouraging students to forgo a class in literature or history in favor of something useful, like nursing or engineering.
Perhaps it’s a reflection of our innate American pragmatism.Read more
At the top of our next president’s task list will be rescuing American foreign policy from the wreckage of the Obama years. The prevailing headlines detail a grim litany of new threats, each one emanating from an Obama administration policy failure.Read more
As the historically minded will recall, back in 2012 the Obama administration declared that the United States “will of necessity rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific.” That was the guidance the commander in chief gave to the U.S. military, the idea being that since, the peace of Europe was eternal and self-sustaining, and the Middle East was a mess made by George Bush, that the most important mission for the 21st century was to keep an eye on the Chinese, the “rising” great power.Read more
Alarm bells have gone off in Beijing, in Moscow, and even among some so-called “realists” in the West. They caution that the pending U.N. General Assembly consideration of an EU-Japan joint resolution on North Korean human rights violations, scheduled for December 18-19, could push Pyongyang over the edge. Publicly censuring North Korea for its crimes against humanity, they warn, might lead to a fourth nuclear test and even potentially trigger another military confrontation on the Korean peninsula. These voices, as a result, advocate continued silence despite overwhelming evidence of massive human rights violations, about which the U.N. Commission of Inquiry (COI) report wrote the following: “The gravity, scale, and nature of these violations reveal a state that does not have any parallel in the modern world.”Read more
President Obama held a townhall today in Burma where he was met with signs that read "Reform is fake" and "Change." He commented on the signs before getting on with the program.Read more
In 2007, during his first term as Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe penned a work titled Toward a Beautiful Country, My Vision for Japan. The recent re-examination of the 1993 Kono Statement on the Imperial Japanese military’s use of “comfort women” during World War II (a euphemism for sex slaves), which was presented to the Japanese Diet on June 20, is the antithesis of the actions of “a beautiful country.” It represents a backward step, reopening a dark chapter in 20th-century history, which most of the world woulRead more
The State Department is warning of a protest in Malaysia on Friday, one day before President Obama is expected to arrive there on Saturday.Read more
President Obama is about to undertake a fence-mending mission to America’s Asian allies in Tokyo, Seoul, and Manila. The U.S. “pivot” to Asia is coming under renewed scrutiny following Beijing’s announcement of an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) for the East China Sea in November, Pyongyang’s recent firing of two midrange missiles into waters near Japan and South Korea, and regional whispers questioning American resolve.Read more
You would guess that an agreement between the United States and Japan to move a Marine air base from one location to another on Okinawa would be good news. And it is, for three reasons. First, because there has been opposition to relocating the base on the island, and negotiations had stalemated. And second, because the move is endorsed by Okinawa’s governor, who had initially opposed it.Read more
The press covering Joe Biden's trip Asia caught an unusually frank comment from the vice president. Biden, speaking about himself, reportedly said that his "profound insights on policy are vastly exaggerated, but we do have profound respect for the people of South Korea."Read more
Absolute coherence when it comes foreign policy is a rare thing. International relations will forever be a mix of principles, interests, circumstances, and necessities. But recognition of that fact doesn’t mean one has to jump to the opposite conclusion that foreign policy is simply a grab bag of decisions, lacking any coherence whatsoever. But, more and more, this appears to be the case when it comes to the Obama administration’s so-called “pivot” to Asia.Read more
President Barack Obama will be traveling to Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines, at the beginning of next, the White House announced today.Read more
On the first weekend in June and for the twelfth year in a row, senior foreign policy makers, military officials, politicians, and defense industry representatives flocked to an exclusive hotel resort in this Southeast Asian city-state for the Shangri-La Dialogue Asian Security Summit. The event now draws a Who’s Who of global military power personalities: Asian, European and U.S. defense ministers; regional military commanders, including a high-level delegation of strategists from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) military.
Secretary of State John Kerry told the press in Beijing that he discussed with Chinese government officials investing in America's infrastructure. Kerry called the security concerns "very, very few; very, very little."Read more
John Kerry’s first visit as secretary of state to Asia this week will be rightly dominated by the heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula, where Kim Jong-un’s regime continues to generate headlines around the world with its bluster and brinksmanship.
Asia’s democracies need to get their acts together to address a common danger from the region’s authoritarian/totalitarian powers. Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan face rising challenges from China and/or North Korea. All have security arrangements with the United States to deter or confront those threats.Read more
The Chinese military claims for the first time to have landed a plane on an aircraft carrier, the state media outlet Xinhua reports.
China has successfully conducted flight landing on its first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, naval sources said," says Xinhua.Read more
President Barack Obama called Burma 'Myanmar' after a bilateral meeting with Thein Sein, the president of that country. From the pool report:
Obama used the word "Myanmar," the preferred terminology of the former military government and currently nominally civilian government, in a spray following the bilat, rather than use "Burma," the former name of the country, and the one preferred by Aung San Suu Kyi as well as the name the U.S. uses.Read more
President Obama heads abroad Saturday for a four-day visit to Thailand, Burma, and Cambodia. One assumes the president was going to add on to this trip a visit U.S. troops in Afghanistan, which would certainly be the fitting and proper thing to do.Read more
A post in the Wall Street Journal blog covering India suggests relations are souring between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, long the main instrument of Riyadh’s ideological influence over South Asian Muslims. The desert monarchy has extradited several terrorist suspects to India, under a treaty signed between the two countries in 2010. Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari was sent to India in June, A. Rayees was deported by the Saudis to New Delhi in October, and Fasih Muhammad, last week.Read more
During Monday night’s presidential debate, the candidates beat their breasts vying to be tougher on China. Barack Obama pointed to his accomplishments, while Mitt Romney attacked the president for being afraid to label China a currency manipulator. The amount of time devoted to America’s largest creditor and potential enemy shows that managing the relationship with China is critical for whoever sits in the Oval Office.Read more
Eric Li’s op-ed in the New York Times, timed to coincide with the annual round-up of big wigs (with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey leading the U.S. delegation) in Singapore, the Shangri-La Dialogue, is a useful reminder of the many good things American power has done to lay the foundation for what’s supposed to be the “Pacific Century.”Read more
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