March 11, 2013 by Franz-Stefan Gady
In the kaleidoscopic world of power politics in Asia, the United States’ pivot to that region may yield the unintentional consequences of fostering closer strategic ties between the two Asian giants – China and India – which could result in a strategic alliance ostensibly hostile to Western interests in the region.
Analysts will be quick to point out that the ‘all weather friendship’ between the two countries, has hit a natural ceiling due to the strategic competition between the (re)emerging powers. For example, China is deepening its ties with Pakistan militarily (both countries signed a military cooperation agreement in September 2012), provides nuclear support, and has finally taken over management of the port of Gwadar on Pakistan’s Makran coast. India on the other hand is trying to counter China’s influence in Asia by fostering closer ties with the countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), especially in the field of naval cooperation, which adversely affects China’s position in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea. Both countries’ increasing energy demands also put the two giants on a collision course.
March 6, 2013 by Ramzy Baroud
One fails to understand the unperturbed attitude with which regional and international leaders and organizations are treating the unrelenting onslaught against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, formally known as Burma. Numbers speak of atrocities where every violent act is prelude to greater violence and ethnic cleansing. Yet, western governments’ normalization with the Myanmar regime continues unabated, regional leaders are as gutless as ever and even human rights organizations seem compelled by habitual urges to issue statements lacking meaningful, decisive and coordinated calls for action.
Meanwhile the ‘boat people’ remain on their own. On February 26, fishermen discovered a rickety wooden boat floating randomly at sea, nearly 25 kilometers (16 miles) off the coast of Indonesia’s northern province of Aceh. The Associated Press and other media reported there were 121 people on board including children who were extremely weak, dehydrated and nearly starved. They were Rohingya refugees who preferred to take their chances at sea rather than stay in Myanmar. To understand the decision of a parent to risk his child’s life in a tumultuous sea would require understanding the greater risks awaiting them at home.
February 13, 2013 by William Thomson
We are currently living in a world of geopolitical competition, and that competition is increasingly taking on the nature of a zero-sum game. Although the US has played the role, at times, of a global hegemon since the collapse of the Soviet Union, it no longer possesses the political influence or the economic bandwidth to continue to do so. Perhaps more importantly, new rising economies are flexing their muscle and demonstrating their ability and desire to carve out their own spheres of influence.
Ian Bremmer, CEO of Eurasia Group, and Nouriel Roubini, Chair of Roubini Global Economics, have termed this new geopolitical paradigm a “G-Zero” world, a world in which no single country can meet the challenges of global leadership.
December 26, 2012 by Conn M. Hallinan
In March 1990, Time Magazine titled an article “Ripples in The American Lake.” It was not about small waves in that body of water just north of Fort Lewis, Washington. It was talking about the Pacific Ocean, the largest on the planet, embracing over half of humanity and the three largest economies in the world.
Time did not invent the term—it is generally attributed to Gen. Douglas MacArthur, U.S. Pacific commander during WW II—but its casual use by the publication was a reflection of more than 100 years of American policy in this immense area.
December 22, 2012 by Sudhanshu Tripathi
Perhaps enacting their age old cultural bonds into a fresh endeavour of mutual cooperation both India and the Association of South East Nations (ASEAN) are today riding on the crest of high hopes of signing an historic free trade agreement (FTA) on services and investment during the scheduled two-day ASEAN summit on Dec.20 and 21, which, India for the first time will host in its capital, New Delhi.
During this meeting, several ASEAN leaders – as many as nine Presidents and Prime Ministers from ten South East Asian Nations – are putting forth a special effort to be present in this India-specific event. Earlier, all India-ASEAN summits were held on the sidelines of the summit proper, that is, always in an ASEAN country.
Along with signing the FTA with ASEAN, India is also negotiating with the members of the block for a market opening pact. Continuing with the policy to boost its ties with the member-countries of this region, India has already implemented FTA with Singapore and Malaysia and is negotiating with Indonesia and Thailand, as well.
October 26, 2012 by Richard Javad Heydarian
Depending on one’s ideological bent, America’s so-called “pivot to Asia” could be interpreted in varying ways. However, one thing that is increasingly clear is that the Obama administration is intent on re-asserting America’s strategic centrality in the Asia-Pacific. This was very explicit in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2011 piece for Foreign Policy, entitled “America’s Pacific Century.”
The U.S. pivot to Asia is motivated and shaped by both economic and military-strategic factors. Essentially, it is still an ongoing process that will depend on the cooperation of regional allies as well as the evolving patterns of Sino-American relations.
July 25, 2012 by Kourosh Ziabari
For Muslims around the world, Ramadan is a month of peace and calmness. That is hardly the case for the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. The ethnic rift between them and the ethnic Buddhists since June has spiraled out of control, leaving scores of Rohingya Muslims dead and homeless. Many have crossed the border into Bangladesh. Amnesty International’s Benjamin Zawacki said the latest violence has been “primarily one-sided, with Muslims generally and Rohingya specifically the targets and victims.”
Branded by the United Nations as one of the most persecuted minorities of the world, Rohingya’s live in the Rakhine State, located in west of Myanmar. With a population of 3 million, the Rakhine state borders Bay of Bengal to the west and the majority of its residents are Theravada Buddhists and Hindus.
July 19, 2012 by Sudhanshu Tripathi
China and the United States have never been close allies, but do differences between these two respective superpowers run the risk of erupting into a new-Cold War? Today, Chinese assertiveness on the world stage acts as a counter-balance to American overtures to several Asian-Pacific states: Vietnam, Cambodia and Burma.
American policy towards Taiwan and Japan has always made China uneasy, not to mention a military aliance with South Korea for over fifty years. An American policy shift away from Europe and the Middle East towards the Pacific has made China unneasy. After a decade or more of influencing China’s neighbors, the United States is seeking an opportunity to develop allies in the region, which will pave the way for renewed tensions.
Since President Barack Obama visited the East Asia Summit in Bali in November 2011, and later concluded a security arrangement with Australia, the United States has cemented its relationship with several Asian-Pacific states.
June 4, 2012 by Binoy Kampmark
“The Joint Force will be prepared to confront and defeat aggression anywhere in the world.”
– Leon Panetta, ‘Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership’, Jan 5, 2012
Empires huff and puff, and sometimes stutter. Bloodied heels are not taken as a warning that their time has come – rather they are simply seen as part of the job prescription. Despite a slow economy and stagnation in such theatres as Afghanistan, the United States is moving inexorably into the Pacific, and the military wise men are intent that they do so with speed. The 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance called “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense” is the guiding document in that mission. It is little secret that a primary focus of the report is China and its busy profile.
May 23, 2012 by Sagar BM
Every relationship has its ups and downs and the Indo-Japan relationship is no exception. The link connecting India and Japan has existed for several decades. The history of Indo-Japan relations has been quite unique and the growth of this alliance has been slow. The physical distance between these two states has also meant a level of mental distance as neither country has figured on each other’s political or economic radars for decades.
Although cultural ties between the two countries go back fourteen centuries when Buddhism spread to Japan in the 7th century AD via China and Korea, the relationship has primarily been indirect. Direct contact between these two countries was established in the mid-19th century.
April 27, 2012 by Iqbal Ahmed
Luminaries smelled blood. Hillary Clinton, Kevin Rudd, and David Cameron came and went, openly advocating for continued democratic reform. All met with Ms. Aung Sun Suu Kyi. In the aftermath of grandiose state visits from such luminaries to Burma (officially known as Myanmar), Aung Sun Suu Kyi and military leaders face a long and difficult task to bring about political, social, and economic reforms in a country that has remained under a brutal military junta and isolated from most of the world since 1960.
In politics, relationships matter less. Interest matters most. U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell, a high-ranking Republican, recently expressed his glowing enthusiasm and hopes for the reform in Burma. He thought Burma is on the path to achieve something that once seemed impossible. Ironically, Sen. McConnell is also the “architect” of the economic sanctions against Burma.
April 4, 2012 by The Morningside Post
This is the fourth post in a TMP series titled “The Great Debate,” a round-up of opinions from experts, officials, professors and students on a pressing question in international affairs.
After decades of military rule, Myanmar’s government has embarked on a surprising run of reforms over the past year–beginning to open the country’s economy, loosening controls on the media, and freeing political prisoners. These efforts culminated in last week’s parliamentary elections, the first in which Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) had field candidates since the military overturned her election more than 20 years ago. Myanmar has pledged to permit outside observers to monitor the elections, yet some reports have emerged last week of irregularities and intimidation.
In the end, the NLD won 43 out of the 45 vacant seats, but the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), created by the former junta, still holds most of parliament’s 664 seats.
March 20, 2012 by Anis Bajrektarevic
For over a decade, many relevant academic journals have prophesized the 21st century as the Asian century. The argument is usually based on impressive economic growth, increased production, trade and booming foreign currency reserves.
Undoubtedly, the fact that Asia holds nearly 1/3 of the total world population doesn’t hurt its chances from overtaking the United States and Europe in many areas.
November 29, 2011 by Iqbal Ahmed
The notoriously powerful military junta of Burma is loosening its grip. In an uncharacteristic move, former army general Thein Sein, who came to power in March, thwarted the Chinese-funded $3.6 billion Myitsone dam project in the state of Kachin, relenting to the continuous pressure from the Burmese citizens in that region. The Burmese government has recently released more than 6,000 jailed political prisoners.
The U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set to pay a visit to a country that has been closed to outside world for more than 50 years. These events indicate that Burma maybe inching toward a democratic reform.
November 26, 2011 by Patrick Hall
China’s centralized policymaking continues to be at odds with a world system that strives to observe the principles promoted by the international community. At the Reuters Washington Summit, Undersecretary of State Robert Hormats stated that “There’s competition between the American economic model and the more state-centered economic model of China” and “We have a challenge in dealing with China. On one hand, the global system won’t work well if we and China can’t cooperate and productively resolve our differences”.
With the developed world reinforcing the notions of democracy and open markets, China continues to combat Western influence as a means to preserve its national sovereignty and diminish foreign interference in domestic affairs. Undersecretary Hormats’ resolution to this issue is for the West to promote its “principles and practices” as a means to “signal to China that other countries are playing by a higher set of international rules”.