No Simple Thing: How Rice Will Reshape the World

June 13, 2012 by

“Have you eaten rice today?” In Asia this time honored greeting is synonymous with ‘how are you?’ and is heard from flooded paddies to corporate boardrooms. A passing reminder of how essential this crop is for the 3.5 billion people whose day begins and ends with rice. From India’s dusty plains to the metropolises of China to the Philippines’ emerald hills no common thread runs through Asia’s diverse cultures, mythologies, and languages like rice.

To the Pacific We Go: The US ‘Rebalancing’ Act

June 4, 2012 by

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.

Commentary: Will Pakistan Apologize to Bangladesh for its War Crimes?

May 25, 2012 by

The war between East and West Pakistan in 1971 lasted only nine months. But the atrocities were cowering – an estimated three million people dead, 400,000 women raped, 600,000 children killed, and scores of targeted intellectuals slaughtered in an attempt to cripple East Pakistan’s social and cultural backbone. Besides politics, atrocities against the people of East Pakistan by the West Pakistani army stemmed from ethnic hatred.

Chinese Domestic Policy and Sino-North Korean Relations

May 24, 2012 by

A key element in the debate over the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (North Korea or DPRK) nuclear weapons program that has evaded attention is the complex relationship between Chinese foreign and domestic policy. A historical trend exists in the Communist Chinese Party (CCP) that foreign policy decisions are made in regards to pursuing domestic objectives.

Frictions in the South China Sea: Chinese Strategic Mistakes

May 24, 2012 by

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.

Commentary: Asia’s Mad Arms Race

May 23, 2012 by

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.

Indo-Japan Relations: Growth and Future Challenges

May 23, 2012 by

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.

After Chicago: What Next for NATO?

May 20, 2012 by

Last year – for the first time in modern history – Asia outspent Europe on their militaries. The true significance of this milestone lies in how easily the Asian countries were able to achieve it. There is no arms race in Asia. Over the past decade, most Asian nations have consistency spent roughly the same percentage of their GDP on defence.

Disaster Management in Southeast Asia: Issues and Challenges

May 15, 2012 by

When several countries in Southeast Asia announced their intention to develop nuclear power recently, many inhabitants of that region were spooked. Even as developed countries are shutting down their nuclear power plants, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam have indicated that they will be building their first nuclear power plants. The biggest concern is that Southeast Asia is prone to frequent natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis.

Minister Peiris Goes to Washington

May 14, 2012 by

On May 18, Sri Lanka’s External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris will meet with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington, DC. The two should have plenty to talk about. The Sri Lankan government’s action plan for the implementation of the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) will be at the top of the list.

A Different Diplomatic Approach

May 12, 2012 by

The recent “crisis” over Chen Guangcheng’s flight to the U.S. embassy raises questions about U.S. diplomatic statecraft. Granted, this all went down quickly without warning, but one would think that a situation like this had at some point been “gamed” by the State Department so that a general response would have been in place.

Nomads and Networks: The Ancient Art and Culture of Kazakhstan

May 7, 2012 by

If you fly nonstop from New York to Tokyo, you fly over the Arctic Circle. The view from the plane at -59 degrees is raw and beautiful - huge moving masses of white and gray clouds, water, ice and snow. It is hard to believe that there is or was human habitation in this area. And yet the steppes of Kazakhstan – the, taigas, rock-canyons, hills, deltas, mountains, snow-capped mountains, and deserts – lie not so very far beneath. It is a vast wild landscape.

Are ‘Good-Faith Assurances’ with the Chinese Enough?

May 5, 2012 by

By all accounts, Chen Guangcheng was prepared to resettle in the United States following years of run-ins with Chinese authorities. Chen Guangcheng’s reversal from seeking asylum, to an expressed desire to remain in China and ultimately to plea for help from the U.S. State Department, including a choreographed phone call to a congressional hearing, have created a diplomatic headache for the Obama administration.

The Talented Mr. Chen

May 5, 2012 by

Chen Guangcheng’s saga says a lot about the evolution in Chinese political culture currently under way as well as about the maturing relationship between China and the U.S. Not long ago, this ‘crisis’ could have severely impacted bilateral relations between the two countries; today, it appears to be a minor irritant, based on a spirit of compromise and common sense that has apparently prevailed.

Why Europe is not yet ‘A Culture of Peace’

April 5, 2012 by

It is undoubtedly true that the greatest unacknowledged achievement of the European Union (EU) is to establish ‘a culture of peace’ within its regional enclosure for the 68 years since 1944. This has meant not only the absence of war in Europe, but also the absence of ‘war talk,’ threats, crises, and sanctions, with the single important exception of the NATO War of 1999 that was part of the fallout from the breakup of former Yugoslavia.

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