Delegations from India and Brazil toured South Africa’s defense industry in November to explore possibilities for defense cooperation among the three IBSA countries. In an email interview, Daniel Flemes, a researcher in the Institute of Latin American Studies at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies, discussed IBSA defense cooperation. WPR: What is the recent history of defense cooperation within IBSA in terms of defense industry collaboration and military-to-military cooperation? Daniel Flemes: As yet, most of IBSA’s ambitious agenda for defense cooperation has not been put into action. Increasing military personnel exchanges and joint exercises have been the most […]

U.S. President Barack Obama’s trip to Cambodia in mid-November was portrayed as a success by the media, marking the first time since the Vietnam War-era bombings in the 1970s that an American president landed in Phnom Penh. However, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s smiles for the camera hid the reality of a tense private meeting in which Obama pressed Hun Sen on human rights concerns. It didn’t help that during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit meeting preceding Obama’s visit, Cambodia undermined ASEAN’s often-claimed political unity for the second time this year by blocking a joint position on […]

MANILA — Earlier this year, the Philippines and China teetered on the brink of direct military confrontation over the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, precipitating a series of high-stakes diplomatic exchanges that prevented open conflict but left the underlying dispute unresolved. Although the episode jolted the Filipino leadership into recognizing the perils of armed brinkmanship with China, Manila’s subsequent diplomatic approach to the conflict has achieved little. After almost seven months of intensive diplomatic engagement with China and the states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), regional maritime tensions are still on the rise. Now, facing […]

Park Geun-hye, the daughter of former dictator Park Chung-hee, was elected president of South Korea on Wednesday, defeating her liberal opponent, Moon Jae-in, and becoming the first female leader of the country. While the campaigns of Park, of the conservative ruling Saenuri Party, and Moon, of the progressive opposition Democratic Unity Party, focused mainly on the slowing economy and other domestic economic issues, the candidates took significantly different lines on foreign policy, particularly when it came to North Korea. “The main foreign policy difference that came out of the campaign was the pace and conceptual approach in dealing with North […]

This weekend’s parliamentary elections have returned Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its leader, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, to power after several years of rule by the centrist Democratic Party of Japan (DJP), led by outgoing Prime Minister Yoshita Noda. The LDP is projected to have increased its total to around 300 seats in the 480-seat lower house. Combined with its long-time partner New Komeito, the LDP’s right-wing coalition government might enjoy a two-thirds majority, which is required to amend Japan’s constitution. Though the DJP, which assumed power in 2009, was unable to overcome many of its early domestic […]

On Dec. 16, the Japanese public delivered Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda a predictable, but nonetheless crushing defeat in parliamentary elections. The magnitude of the public’s rejection of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) trumped poll predictions and resulted in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), led by Shinzo Abe, wresting total control of the Lower House. The LDP along with its ally, the Komeito Party, won 325 seats in the election, giving it a “supermajority” of two-thirds of the total representatives. This will effectively allow Abe to override any vetoes from the Upper House of the Japanese Diet, which is […]

Editor’s note: This is the second in a two-part series on the policy priorities and initial reforms of China’s new leadership. Part I examined domestic policy. Part II examines foreign policy. While signs indicate that China’s new leadership will continue with its agenda of gradual reforms to domestic policy, in the foreign policy sphere, initial signals have been less encouraging. The external challenges facing senior officials in Beijing involve assuaging the concerns of a far greater range of constituents than on domestic issues. Here, so far, the evidence is consistent with the analysis that China’s foreign policy is becoming more […]

Editor’s note: This is the first in a two-part series on the policy priorities and initial reforms of China’s new leadership. Part I examines domestic policy. Part II examines foreign policy. Despite the sense of disappointment surrounding China’s leadership transition in the month since the November party congress, policy formulation has moved ahead, even as incoming President Xi Jinping actively forges his public persona. China-watchers have been able to piece together a more detailed picture of elite politics during the run-up to the handover, while clearer signals about the new leadership’s domestic policy priorities are gradually emerging. Although political reforms […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s deferral in late-October of a planned visit to India, now scheduled to take place in late-December, encapsulates a bilateral relationship buffeted by shifting global geo-economics but still lucrative for both parties. The postponement reflects the fact that euphemisms such as “strategic partnership” do not automatically translate into preferential treatment in commercial matters in a world increasingly driven by interests over ideology and history. A number of unresolved issues had built up on both sides that precluded the possibility of a successful summit meeting. Topping the list is New Delhi’s decision to bring any additional Russian-built reactors […]

Speaking last Thursday in Dublin to a group of human rights activists on the sidelines of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) conference, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton effectively sounded the death-knell for the reset in U.S.-Russia relations. Commenting on Russian proposals for creating a Eurasian Union comprising Russia and other former Soviet republics, Clinton bluntly described the plan as a “move to re-Sovietize the region” and said that the United States is “trying to figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent it.” Given that the proposal to develop the Eurasian Union was at the […]

In early 2012, as large-scale U.S. military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan ended and the conflict with al-Qaida took on a different shape, President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta issued new strategic guidance to redefine America’s defense priorities (.pdf). One of the most important ideas in the document was a renewed emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region. This was, in part, a recognition that the United States needed greater strategic focus in order to cut defense costs. But it also reflected the fact that the Asia-Pacific region is home not only to the world’s most rapidly growing economies […]

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a comprehensive dialogue session at the Chinese Embassy in Washington among Chinese diplomats and American experts on China-U.S. relations. Several themes that emerged from engaging with our Chinese colleagues in these discussions deserve wider attention. The most interesting among them was the odd juxtaposition between Chinese policymakers’ concern about the Asia pivot with their feeling that Washington’s domestic priorities and concerns in the Middle East will ultimately derail the planned strategic rebalancing of U.S. diplomatic and military resources toward the Asia-Pacific region. The Chinese also insisted that their nonproliferation policies toward Iran […]

Amid concerns that North Korea might conduct a long-range ballistic missile test as early as this week, reports have surfaced indicating that Iran has permanently stationed staff in the East Asian country since October as part of a recent cooperation agreement with Pyongyang. According to the reports, the staff is comprised of four experts from Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL) as well as private firms. Some analysts speculate that the mission might be based near Sino-ri, a complex located near North Korea’s western coast and the Sohae Satellite Launching Station, commonly known as Tongchang-ri, where this […]

The U.S. presidential election campaign, particularly as it entered its final months, sucked up much of the oxygen in the news universe, meaning that a number of small international developments that might have otherwise drawn greater attention escaped notice. Under normal circumstances, the issues that had been overlooked would have gotten a closer look once the election was decided. But because of the breathless coverage of the David Petraeus scandal last month, since replaced by the 24/7 focus on whether the United States is about to plunge over the fiscal cliff, that has not happened. But one development in particular […]

article card

Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party, the country’s main opposition party, is likely to sweep Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s ruling Democratic Party of Japan in the general election scheduled for Dec. 16, according to polls released yesterday. The projected LDP win would install Shinzo Abe as the country’s prime minister for the second time. Sheila Smith, senior fellow for Japan studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, and William Grimes, chairman of the Department of International Relations at Boston University, told Trend Lines these elections have major implications for Japan, particularly in foreign policy. “This election could be a turning point for […]

A meeting of the Kimberley Process in New York last week concluded without agreement on redefining the term “conflict diamond.” But if the American chairwoman, Gillian Milovanovic, failed in this key endeavor, she can at least claim some measure of success in ensuring that the process was not completely derailed by its persistent and deep divisions. The World Diamond Council estimates the world’s diamond trade to be worth $13 billion annually, employing approximately 10 million people. The Kimberley Process was established in 2003 in response to diamond-funded conflicts in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo, to […]

In discussions of the so-called Asia pivot, the roles of the U.S. Navy and Air Force have been prominent, especially given the Pentagon’s development of the Air-Sea Battle concept. But the U.S. pivot to the Asia-Pacific cannot be reduced to Air-Sea Battle. The strategic rebalancing is a collective effort that spans all federal departments and all branches of the military. The Army, in particular, has a significant, if less understood, role to play. In determining the respective roles of the Army, Air Force and Navy in the Asia-Pacific, policymakers must keep in mind the larger picture of the pivot’s objectives: […]

Showing 1 - 17 of 181 2 Last