Like many policy issues regarding North Korea, the U.S. has no good options regarding the question of whether or not to resume deliveries of food aid to the isolated country. Last year’s flooding and severe weather have combined with Pyongyang’s perverse policies and rising world food prices to produce major shortfalls in food supplies in many parts of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). The United States used to be one of North Korea’s major food donors until the deterioration in bilateral relations in 2008-2009 and the refusal by DPRK authorities to allow extensive monitoring of the aid flows […]
After almost 40 years of intermittent and fruitless talks, Bangladesh and Myanmar appear close to a final settlement of their maritime boundary dispute in the Bay of Bengal. Frustrated with stalled negotiations, Bangladesh submitted the case to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in 2009. After a series of oral hearings in September, which included numerous technical arguments, the court recently adjourned and plans to deliver a ruling in March 2012. The speed with which the case has progressed is in stark contrast to other maritime boundary disputes in Asia, but that is not surprising: There […]
This report produced by the U.S. Defense Department offers a slice of life look at U.S. military operations in Afghanistan through Operation Brass Monkey, a recent mission in the remote Saygal Valley in the eastern part of the country.
Many observers today view Pakistan much as they do neighboring Afghanistan: primarily in terms of terrorists and the Taliban. Yet, despite their lethality, these groups have so far remained largely limited to Pakistan’s periphery — an area of historical neglect with little consequence for the upper echelons of state power. In contrast, attention paid to the rest of Pakistan, where the vast majority of Pakistanis reside, has been sparser. This skewed focus makes it difficult to fully grasp the challenges driving insecurity in Pakistan. In fact, despite the dire depictions, no tribal insurgency can defeat Pakistan’s army and overthrow the […]
Iran recently joined Russia in expressing concern about negotiations among the European Union, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan over a proposed trans-Caspian pipeline. In an email interview, Gawdat Bahgat, a political science professor at National Defense University, discussed diplomacy among the Caspian littoral states. WPR: What are the main issues facing the Caspian littoral states in terms of maritime boundaries and resource rights? Gawdat Bahgat: Though the Caspian region does not have the massive proven oil and gas reserves the Persian Gulf region holds, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan have proven themselves as major energy producers and exporters. The intense disagreement over maritime […]
What future does the United States Army face? During eight years of operations in Iraq and 10 years in Afghanistan, the Army has shifted from being a force focused on high-intensity conventional operations to one more comfortable fighting a dispersed enemy intermingled with the population. However, operations are winding down in Iraq, and an endpoint seems to be nearing in Afghanistan. Armed with the collective experience developed in the War on Terror, how will the Army move forward to face new challenges and threats? The answers involve political and military considerations that may contradict each other. The fact that the […]
China announced earlier this month that it would give $1 billion in preferential loans to Caribbean countries to support economic development. In an email interview, R. Evan Ellis, an assistant professor at the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies of the National Defense University, discussed China-Caribbean relations. WPR: What is the history of China’s relations with the Caribbean? R. Evan Ellis: China’s relationship with the Caribbean has historically been colored by politics, and in particular the politics of diplomatic recognition. Ideological affinity between mainland China and the new regime in Cuba led Havana to diplomatically recognize the People’s Republic of China […]
The proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring crude oil from the so-called oil sands in Canada’s Alberta province through an almost 2,000-mile pipeline to the U.S. Gulf Coast, has in many ways become ground zero in the U.S. debate over fossil fuels, the environment and climate change. But perhaps most relevant in the current row, though practically absent from the debate, is the increasing awareness that energy security must be included as part of the calculus in determining energy sources. Indeed, terminology such as “friendly” supplier — regularly applied to Canada in U.S. energy discussions — underscores what is […]
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung recently visited Indonesia, where he and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono agreed to establish joint patrols of their countries’ maritime border. In an email interview, Donald Weatherbee (.pdf), a professor emeritus at the University of South Carolina, discussed Indonesia-Vietnam relations. WPR: What is the recent history of Indonesia-Vietnam diplomatic, trade and defense relations? Donald Weatherbee: Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s visit to Indonesia earlier this month was the usual courtesy call by a newly named head of government to his counterparts in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Indonesia and a Hanoi-based […]
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s announcement last week that he will introduce sweeping reforms has mostly met with a positive reception. Some observers have also added that in seizing the political initiative on reform, he has stopped the momentum of Bersih, a grouping of 62 civil society organizations closely associated with the opposition coalition. There are grounds for a less-rosy assessment, however. What Najib has promised, and how Bersih is likely to respond, needs to be seen in the context of both Najib’s recent slump in popularity and indications that he wants to burnish his image before calling a snap […]
A World Trade Organization (WTO) panel ruled earlier this year that China was violating its obligations in restricting exports of several raw materials. In an email interview, Terence Stewart, an expert in international trade law at the law firm Stewart and Stewart, discussed China’s compliance with its WTO obligations. WPR: What has been China’s track record on compliance with its WTO obligations since its accession in 2001? Terence Stewart: China’s accession to the WTO has been a great experiment for the global trading system. Many of China’s obligations were phased in, so not all obligations were in place by late-2001. […]
Japan recently moved to provide aid to the rail sector in Bangladesh, with as much as $1.7 billion in infrastructure funds under discussion. In an email interview, Purnendra Jain, a professor at the University of Adelaide’s Center for Asian Studies, discussed Japan-South Asia relations. WPR: What is the state of Japan’s relations with South Asian countries, and who are its major interlocutors? Purnendra Jain: Japan’s overall relations with the South Asian nations have had a rather low profile throughout the postwar period. Japan became a lead supplier of official development assistance (ODA) to a number of countries — such as […]
This is the second of a two-part series examining the policies and political challenges facing the new government of Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Part I examined domestic issues. Part II examines foreign policy and the implications for regional stability. With its domestic opponents watching closely for missteps, the government of Thailand’s recently elected prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, will have to tread extremely carefully in matters of foreign policy. The mishandling of relations with Cambodia by the administration of Yingluck’s predecessor, former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, had resulted in border skirmishes that killed 28 people this year alone. Yingluck’s Pheu […]
Indian and Mongolian troops are currently holding a two-week military exercise in Mongolia, following a visit by the Indian army chief to the Central Asian country. In an email interview, Sharad K. Soni, an assistant professor of Mongolian and Central Asian studies at the School of International Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, discussed India-Mongolia relations. WPR: What is the recent history of India-Mongolia relations? Sharad K. Soni: The two countries, known as “spiritual” neighbors, have been in close contact not only on the basis of their historical relationship, but also on the basis of post-Cold War realities. The Treaty of […]
Leaders of China’s Communist Party are indicating that they seek a return to the “six party” talks on North Korea’s nuclear disarmament, which came to a standstill more than two years ago.
Last week, WPR’s Judah Grunstein noted some interesting developments in Russia-Korea relations. These included North Korean leader Kim Jong Il’s conferring with President Dmitry Medvedev and other Russian leaders in a rare visit to Russia in August; the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding regarding construction of a gas pipeline connecting Russia to South Korea via North Korea; the launching of a rail link between Russia and the North Korean port of Rajin; and plans to conduct a joint maritime search-and-rescue exercise in 2012. These developments have highlighted Moscow’s desire to play a major role in the future of the […]