Patchy Welcome for U.N. Envoy in Burma

As United Nations envoy Tomas Ojea Quintana arrived in Burma today to begin a review of the country’s reform progress, authorities reportedly rolled out an unusually patchy welcome mat. On the one hand, days before the visit, authorities released Tin Oo, deputy head of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League of Democracy, ending seven years of imprisonment and house arrest. And the 83-year-old’s vow to immediately resume his political activities didn’t result in any immediate retribution. On the other hand, opposition leaders told the Associated Press that on the following day, authorities sentenced four women to two years imprisonment with […]

Clinton: Open Dialogue Creates the Conditions for Change

Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton speaks at the U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha, Qatar. With respect to finding a peaceful, two-state, solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, Clinton says: “We support a two-state solution, with Israelis and Palestinians co-existing peacefully and with mutual security. We believe that through good-faith negotiations, the parties can mutually agree on an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet […]

Lawfare in the South China Sea

In another UNCLOS-related story, the NY Times reports that Vietnam is increasingly trying to multilateralize its territorial disputes with China over the Paracel and Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. Instead of negotiating bilaterally, Hanoi is pushing a collective negotiation between all the parties — Taiwan, Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei — that have conflicting claims. In the “Integrate but CYA” formula I’ve used to refer to Asia, this would be the “Integrate to CYA” correlary. There’s nothing terribly novel about a collection of weaker states banding together to counterbalance the influence of a more powerful one, and China is […]

Australia’s Naval Posture and Middle Power Constraints

In the “Trust but CYA” game that is Asia these days, a lot of the CYA component is taking place on the water, as well as under it. That makes sense, given the importance of shipping lanes to regional economies, the heap of maritime boundary disputes yet to be resolved, and the fact that the U.S. security guarantee to friends in the region depends to a great extent on its naval capacity. But as Nick Floyd highlights in a post on Australia’s naval posture over at the Interpreter, amphibious operations are central to strategic planning as well, given that five […]

Vietnam Continues Campaign Against Dissidents

A Vietnamese court sentenced Pham Thanh Nghien to four-and-a-half years in prison on charges of spreading propaganda on Jan. 29, the latest in a string of convictions against pro-democracy activists in the country. Human rights groups have criticized Vietnamese authorities repeatedly over the last few years for an increasingly intense crackdown on free speech — one that has seen writers, bloggers, lawyers and journalists put behind bars. “It is deeply concerning that prosecutors used Nghien’s articles as a pretext to imprison her for anti-government views. This conviction leaves Vietnamese journalists and activists vulnerable to imprisonment on the basis of published […]