In my WPR column two weeks ago, I argued that a key challenge facing U.S. policymakers in the coming decade was in defining how the U.S. “should prioritize its interests, commitments and partnerships.” A number of recent articles and reports suggest that a broad consensus is indeed emerging, and that when it comes to U.S. foreign policy priorities, all roads lead to Asia. In his own WPR column this week, Thomas P.M. Barnett notes that “regional integration in East Asia depends on an American security presence,” a conclusion that many of the participants at a recent trilateral Korea-Japan-U.S. security dialogue […]

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan — For the past month, the word on everyone’s lips across Kyrgyzstan has been “raskol,” meaning “schism,” as voters nervously await a presidential election on Oct. 30 that will be an important test for the unity of the state. With the wounds of last year’s revolution and ethnic violence still fresh, fears of a national conflict along north-south lines are running high, a possibility that holds important implications for regional politics and the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Eighteen months after the April 2010 revolution that toppled authoritarian President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, Kyrgyzstan is struggling to consolidate its democracy in […]

Last March, in a remote monastery in China’s southwestern province of Sichuan, a young Tibetan monk lit the spark that started a quiet but dramatic new revolt against Chinese rule in Tibet. The 20-year-old Phuntsog set himself on fire and later died of his wounds. His death subsequently triggered a wave of self-immolations among Tibetans, which has persisted despite China’s blunt efforts to smother the largely silent uprising. Compared to the boisterous protests unfolding throughout the world, the actions in the tiny town of Aba (Ngaba in Tibetan) near the border of the so-called Tibetan Autonomous Region are receiving minimal […]

article card

Long before Afghanistan was an Islamic country, Buddhist settlements dotted its mountains and deserts. While the Taliban infamously destroyed the giant Buddhist statues of Bamyan Province in 2001, many archeological riches remain. This U.S. government-run Voice of America report examines efforts to preserve such riches.

article card

In an apparent throwback to the Cold War era, Germany recently arrested a married couple suspected of acting as a sleeper cell on behalf of Russian intelligence. The news flew mainly below the radar of the English-language media, and it remains to be seen how German-Russian relations may be affected. But the arrests mark the first time since the fall of the Berlin Wall that suspected Russian spies have been arrested on German soil. For Ben Judah, a London-based policy fellow and Russia specialist with the European Council on Foreign Relations, that highlights an evolving challenge facing the Russian intelligence […]

With President Barack Obama’s announcement last week that all U.S. troops will be out of Iraq by the end of this year, most Americans breathed a sigh of relief. Lost in those headlines was the collective shudder of national security experts and practitioners who know Washington’s dirty little secret: More than 10 years after the war against violent extremism began, the United States still lacks true deployable civilian power. The handover in Iraq from the Defense Department to the State Department at the end of this year will showcase this Achilles’ heel, one that will haunt U.S. foreign policy until […]

Under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Indonesia has emerged as a success story in many ways. It has waged a resilient campaign against terrorism, achieved the third-highest economic growth rate among G-20 countries and demonstrated dynamic leadership within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Moreover, this political and economic stability has been achieved in a context of deepening democratic consolidation, after a period of suppression of political rights and civil liberties during the Suharto era. But Yudhoyono’s tenure has also seen the rise of radical Islam, which some view as the greatest threat to Indonesian democracy. Groups such as the […]

Recently, authorities in Myanmar have made a series of moves that some observers have interpreted as signaling a new course under the government of President Thein Sein, elected in March. Prominent among these shifts are the suspension of the Chinese-sponsored Myitsone dam project on the Irrawaddy River and an amnesty that has freed more than 6,000 prisoners, including at least 200 political prisoners. Yet, with these moves, the government seems to be searching more for ways to ease China’s political and economic influence in the country than for avenues of democratic reform. On Sept. 30, Thein Sein announced in parliament […]

Since 2001, Afghanistan has become synonymous with the term “narcostate” and the associated spread of crime and illegality. Though the Afghan drug economy peaked in 2007 and 2008, cultivation this year still amounted to 325,000 acres, and the potential production of opium reached 6,400 tons (.pdf). Narcotics production and counternarcotics policies in Afghanistan are of critical importance not only for drug control there and worldwide, but also for the security, reconstruction and rule of law efforts in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, many of the counternarcotics policies adopted during most of the past decade not only failed to reduce the size and scope […]

From the early 1950s until 1990, when Afghanistan’s opium production surpassed that of Myanmar, most of the world’s illicit opium originated in mainland Southeast Asia. This is partly because the region’s rugged hills and mountains, heavy monsoon rains and lack of transport infrastructure have long protected rebel armies and illegal opium poppy cultivation from the writ of central governments and anti-drug agencies. Myanmar’s turbulent political history and internal wars since its independence in 1948 also contributed significantly to Asia’s long reign as the global leader in illicit opium production, as the opium economy and the war economy clearly nurtured one […]

The Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act, approved in the U.S. Senate last week by a majority of 63 to 35, risks damaging U.S.-China relations and further eroding Washington’s economic standing in the international community, and all for very little reward. The bill calls for retaliatory trade measures against countries that maintain an undervalued currency, and while it does not mention China by name, the United States’ largest trading partner is clearly its main target. The Chinese yuan is without doubt undervalued, but this is only one of a number of factors contributing to the U.S. trade deficit. Moreover, at […]

As part of a “big think” forecast project commissioned by an intelligence community sponsor, I’ve begun to think about the future geography of global security. As often with this kind of project, I find myself falling into list-making mode as I contemplate slides for the brief. So here are nine big structural issues that I think any such presentation must include – Regional integration in East Asia depends on an American security presence. Virtually every country in East Asia is realistically planning for eventual absorption into a regional economic scheme structured around behemoth China, while quietly scheming to balance that […]

article card

Amitav Acharya is one of the sharpest and best-informed analysts on Southeast and East Asia out there. We had the pleasure of including an article by him in our Regional Integration in Asia feature issue last year. He’s written a typically thoughtful op-ed on Southeast Asia’s U.S.-China dilemma that I recommend as a companion piece to Hillary Clinton’s article in Foreign Policy last week. Anyone following the region will be familiar with the broad strokes of what Acharya’s dealing with: Southeast and East Asia need to hitch their economic wagons to China’s rise, but they can’t feel comfortable doing so […]

article card

An unfortunate legacy of America’s “sole superpower” status is the tendency to over-emphasize Washington’s agency in shaping the global environment and downplay the role of others. For instance, the Obama administration deserves a great deal of credit in changing the tone of the U.S.-Russia relationship. But also critical to the reset’s success were Ukraine’s 2010 presidential election, which took that country off the European geopolitical chessboard, and the ongoing instability in Pakistan, which made the Northern Distribution Network more vital to supplying the military mission in Afghanistan. It may sound like a truism, but it is one that U.S. policymakers […]

Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered an important policy address on what she called “economic statecraft.” In it, she announced that the United States will update its foreign policy priorities to include economic considerations, arguing that doing so will strengthen both our standing abroad and our economy at home. Among other measures, Clinton said that the State Department will do more to help U.S. companies compete for opportunities in emerging markets, including advocating for them and working to level the playing field between private companies operating on market principles and state-owned companies pursuing strategic goals. Clinton is […]

article card

Indonesia and India launched negotiations for a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement at the first Indonesia-India Biennial Trade Ministers’ Forum held earlier this month. In an email interview, David Brewster, a visiting fellow at the Australian National University’s Strategic and Defense Studies Center, discussed India-Indonesia relations. WPR: What is the recent history of India-Indonesia relations? David Brewster: Political and economic ties between India and Indonesia have been quite thin for most of their modern history. Although their leaders shared many ideals at independence, the two countries later became rivals in the Non-Aligned Movement and developed quite different strategic orientations. However, for […]

Showing 1 - 17 of 471 2 3 Last