May 9, 2013 by Wilson VornDick
“The line between disorder and order lies in logistics.”
– Sun Tzu
Nearly two years ago on March 11th 2011, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami off the east coast of Japan resulted in one of the worst nuclear disasters since Chernobyl, killing more than 18,000 and laying to waste tens of billions of dollars in damages. But one of the surprising ‘aftershocks’ of the March 11th quake was the catastrophic effect it inflicted on the global supply network.
Factories and key infrastructure were completely destroyed. Vehicles, iPad’s and pharmaceutical ingredients worth billions were held in limbo as Japan got back on its feet. As Industry Week noted, Toyota executives knew about their first tier suppliers, but did not know how the disaster affected 2nd, 3rd or 4th tier suppliers. It turns out that many of the ancillary contractors and sub-contractors were damaged. They had virtual monopolies on particular electronic components or on the manufacture of a specific piece of metal that ultimately halted more than 2 million vehicles in production. It became particularly clear when the disaster unfolded that the global economy had moved beyond localized supply chains into the realm of globalized supply networks.
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.
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.
October 17, 2012 by Conn M. Hallinan
Behind the current impasse among China, Japan and Taiwan over five tiny specks of land in the East China Sea is an influential rightwing movement in Japan that initiated the crisis in the first place, a crisis it is using it to undermine Japan’s post-World War II peace constitution and, possibly, break the half-century taboo on building nuclear weapons.
The dispute over the islands China calls the Diaoyus, Taiwan the Diaoyutais, and Japan the Senkakus, is long-standing, but it boiled over when the right-wing governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, provoked a confrontation with China by trying to buy the uninhabited islands from their owners. When the Japanese government bought three of the islands, ostensibly to keep them out of Ishihara’s hands, China accused Japan of “stealing” the disputed archipelago.
September 25, 2012 by Conn M. Hallinan
Could Japan and China—the number two and three largest economies in the world—really get into a punch-out over five tiny islands covering less than four square miles?
According to the International Crisis Group, maybe: “All the trends are in the wrong direction, and prospects of resolution are diminishing.” That the two Asian superpowers could actually come to blows seems unthinkable, but a devil’s brew of suspicion, anger, ham-handed diplomacy, and a growing US military presence has escalated a minor dispute into something that could turn very ugly if someone makes a misstep.
September 9, 2012 by Doug Moreland
In China’s struggle to rise to its perceived natural place at the “center of the earth,” its key competitor is not the United States but India. Of China’s neighbors, only India can challenge China as a regional hegemon. This regional conflict has the potential of escalating into a military confrontation over the sovereignty of the South China Sea.
India’s civilian government has made clear that it views balancing against China a high priority. In late 2011, Vietnam sold blocks of oil and gas rights in the South China Sea to India’s state-owned oil company (ONGC Videsh Limited or OVL).
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 24, 2012 by Anis Bajrektarevic
Indonesia and Japan will play pivotal roles in the further development of Asia as an economic block to counter China’s growing influence. Beijing, presently, cannot contemplate or afford to allocate any resources in search of alternative forms of energy, which will have greater ramifications in the future.
Importantly, China’s economy is becoming overheated and too well integrated into the petrodollar system. The Sino economy is low-wage and labor intensive and Chinese revenues are heavily dependent on exports and Chinese reserves are predominantly a mix of the USD and US Treasury bonds. To sustain itself as an economic entity, the People’s Republic will require more investments in alternative energy sources and less dependency on oil, who’s availability ebbs and flows.
May 23, 2012 by Conn M. Hallinan
Asia is currently in the middle of an unprecedented arms race that is not only sharpening tensions in the region, but competing with efforts by Asian countries to address poverty and growing economic disparity. The gap between rich and poor—calculated by the Gini coefficient that measures inequality—has increased from 39 percent to 46 percent in China, India, and Indonesia. While affluent households continue to garner larger and larger portions of the economic pie, “Children born to poor families can be 10 times more likely to die in infancy” than those from wealthy families, according to Changyong Rhee, chief economist of the Asian Development Bank.
This inequality trend is particularly acute in India, where life expectancy is low, infant mortality high, education spotty, and illiteracy widespread, in spite of that country’s status as the third largest economy in Asia, behind China and Japan.
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 16, 2012 by Timothy W. Coleman
A recent report by Northrop Grumman entitled, “Occupying the Information High Ground: Chinese Capabilities for Computer Network Operations and Cyber Espionage” presented to the U.S. China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) falls short of acknowledging that China’s increasingly modernized cyber capabilities are a product and part of its “anti-interventionism” doctrine that, at once, brings together its military, civilian, and economic spheres and creates a buffer and defense projection that affects China’s regional and global power.
The 132-page report is an expansion and update to the 2009 report to the USCC entitled the “Capability of the People’s Republic of China to Conduct Cyber Warfare and Computer Network Exploitation.” The original report details the increasing interconnectivity between China’s military, civilian, and economic spheres, under the framework of an “informationalized” defense centered around an evolving cyber prowess. The new report delves into the same relationship, where China’s economic, military, and civilian spheres perpetually dovetail to achieve strategic and tactical ends.
February 22, 2012 by Ramzy Baroud
On two occasions in my life I found myself living close to the South China Sea. The sea became my escape from life’s pressing responsibilities. But there is no escaping the fact that the deceptively serene waters are now also grounds for a nascent but real new cold war.
China takes the name of the sea very seriously. Its claim over the relatively massive water body – laden with oil, natural gas and other resources – is perhaps ‘ill-defined’, per the account of the BBC (Nov 3, 2011), but it is also very serious. Countries such as Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei are uneasy but are caught in a bind.
January 14, 2012 by Michael Doyle
One of the more cliché observations currently circulating the international relations community is that while 20th century belonged to America, the 21st century belongs to China. This theory is wrong on a number of counts. For starters, the first half of the 20th century could hardly be considered American. Europe was still very much at the center of the world affairs until 1945. Nor did the last half of the century belong exclusively to the United States.
World leadership was shared with the Soviet Union until 1990. At best, the US could claim the last decade of the 20th century.
December 21, 2011 by Conn M. Hallinan
“On his recent trip to Asia Pacific, the President made it clear that the centerpiece of this strategy includes an intensified American role in this vital region.”
– Tom Donilon, President Barak Obama’s national security advisor
“An Indo-Pacific without a strong U.S. military presence would mean the Finlandisation by China of countries in the South China Sea, such as Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore.”
– Robert Kaplan, senior fellow Center for a New American Security and author of Monsoon: The Indian Ocean the Future of American Power
Donilon is a long-time Democratic Party operative and former lobbyist for Fannie Mae and a key figure in the Clinton administration’s attack on Yugoslavia and the expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe. Kaplan is a Harvard Business School professor and advisor on the Mujahedeen war against the Soviets in Afghanistan, as well as current U.S. military intervention in the Horn of Africa.
Something is afoot. Indeed, it is.