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Asia Unbound

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Showing posts for "Joshua Kurlantzick"

Moving Forward in Southeast Asia

by Joshua Kurlantzick
duterte-speech-airport Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks after arriving from Malaysia at Davao International airport in Davao city in southern Philippines, November 11, 2016. (Lean Daval, Jr./Reuters)

Although Southeast Asia was not mentioned often during the presidential campaign, the new U.S. administration will face several imminent regional challenges. For one, the relationship between the United States and the Philippines has deteriorated significantly since the election of President Rodrigo Duterte earlier this year. Duterte has publicly blasted U.S. officials and U.S. policy in the region, suggested he wants to move Philippine foreign policy closer to China, and threatened to scale down joint military exercises. Duterte expressed seeming approval of Trump’s election, presenting a possibility to restore closer ties, but the fact that Trump—a figure with some similar characteristics as Duterte—was elected will probably not change the Philippine president’s underlying anti-American worldview. Read more »

For Clues About Trump, Look Around the World

by Joshua Kurlantzick
trump-1 U.S. President elect Donald Trump reacts to a crowd gathered in the lobby of the New York Times building after a meeting in New York, U.S., on November 22, 2016. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

In the wake of Donald Trump’s stunning electoral victory, many American political analysts are arguing that his presidency has virtually no precedent, and so it is impossible to know how he might govern. Unlike all presidents since Dwight Eisenhower, Trump was never an elected politician, and even Eisenhower had extensive experience with government and public policy. Trump has few clear views on most policy issues, and has repeatedly disdained the norms of American politics. Even within the Republican Party leadership, which now wields more power in Washington than any one party in decades, there is deep confusion over how the president will lead. Read more »

Southeast Asia Responds to the U.S. Election

by Joshua Kurlantzick
trump-southeast-asia A newspaper seller prepares her stall with articles dominated by the election of U.S. Republican Donald Trump, in Jakarta, Indonesia on November 10, 2016. (Beawiharta/Reuters)

While the incoming U.S. presidential administration focuses on domestic issues that drove the presidential campaign, from health care to tax reform, U.S. relations with Southeast Asia are likely to be mostly forgotten. Southeast Asian states were not a focus of the campaign, although the presidential candidates did condemn the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which included much of Southeast Asia and is now almost surely dead. Even the South China Sea, the most critical security issue in the region, received only occasional mentions on the campaign trail. Read more »

What is Happening in Western Myanmar?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
western-myanmar-rohingya Men walk at a Rohingya village outside Maugndaw in Rakhine state, Myanmar on October 27, 2016. (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

Over the past month, the situation in western Myanmar’s Rakhine State, which has been extremely volatile since an eruption of violence in the early 2010s, has deteriorated once again. Following an attack on police outposts near the border with Bangladesh in early October, which killed at least nine policemen, the state is on edge. Some human rights groups have reported that the security forces and police, as well as individuals, are striking back at ethnic Rohingya, since militant Rohingya Muslims were believed to be behind the killings of the police. Read more »

Is the U.S.-Philippines Relationship Spinning Out of Control?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
duterte-cipher-brief Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte interacts with reporters during a news conference upon his arrival from a four-day state visit in China at the Davao International Airport in Davao city, Philippines on October 21, 2016. (Lean Daval Jr./Reuters)

Over the past six months, the U.S.-Philippines relationship has become increasingly strained and, at times, confused, as new Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has made a series of emphatic statements suggesting he wants to downgrade the bilateral relationship. U.S. officials, meanwhile, have struggled to make sense of his comments and to determine whether they accord with actual Philippine policy. Read more »

A New Approach to Thailand’s Insurgency

by Joshua Kurlantzick
insurgnency-southern-thailand A view of the scene of a car bomb attack in Thailand's Narathiwat province, south of Bangkok on August 11, 2010. (Stringer/Reuters)

The three southernmost provinces of Thailand, near the Malaysian border, have been battered by an insurgency dating, in its current iteration, to 2001. More than 6,500 people have died as the insurgents’ actions have become increasingly brutal: setting off bombs near hospitals, beheading victims, and murdering families and children. Since August 2016, the Thai insurgents also have begun trying to strike with bombing attacks nationwide, threatening a large-scale civil conflict in the kingdom. Read more »

Instability Rising Again in Western Myanmar

by Joshua Kurlantzick
maungdaw-myanmar Police forces prepare to patrol in Maungdaw township at Rakhine state, northeast Myanmar, on October 12, 2016. (Stringer/Reuters)

Rakhine State, in western Myanmar, has been rocked by violence over the past five years. As the Myanmar government transitioned from a military junta to a quasi-civilian regime and, now, to a government led by the National League for Democracy (NLD), gangs and paramilitaries have repeatedly attacked Rohingya communities. Over 140,000 Rohingya have been driven from their homes in Rakhine State, with many winding up in camps that are little more than barren internment centers. Read more »

Thailand’s New Uncertainty

by Joshua Kurlantzick
People display portraits of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Thai baht notes as they wait on the roadside while his body is being moved from the Bangkok hospital where he died to the Grand Palace, in Bangkok, Thailand. (Chaiwat Subprasom/Reuters) People display portraits of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Thai baht notes as they wait on the roadside while his body is being moved from the Bangkok hospital where he died to the Grand Palace, in Bangkok, Thailand. (Chaiwat Subprasom/Reuters)

Thai King Bhumibhol Adulyadej’s death was long anticipated, but it still came as a profound shock to Thailand. When it was announced, vast crowds gathered in towns and cities to weep and pay homage to their monarch, who had reigned for seven decades. Read more »

Insight into the (Probable) Next Thai King

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Thailand's Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn waves to well-wishers who had gathered to see King Bhumibol Adulyadej before he departed to the Grand Palace from Siriraj Hospital to take part in his coronation anniversary ceremonies in Bangkok, Thailand May 5, 2010. (Sukree Sukplang/Reuters) Thailand's Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn waves to well-wishers who had gathered to see King Bhumibol Adulyadej before he departed to the Grand Palace from Siriraj Hospital to take part in his coronation anniversary ceremonies in Bangkok, Thailand May 5, 2010. (Sukree Sukplang/Reuters)

As Thailand mourns the death of King Bhumibol, the ninth king of his line, the ruling junta has announced that the crown prince will eventually be enthroned as Rama X. However, it also announced that there will be a transitional period in which the monarchy is run by a regent, rather than the crown prince. The junta has announced that the regent will be 96-year-old former prime minister Prem Tinsulanonda, the head of the former king’s council and an archroyalist. Read more »

The Mixed Legacy of King Bhumibol Adulyadej

by Joshua Kurlantzick
king-bhumibol Thailand's revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit wave to well-wishers on the 60th anniversary of the king's coronation in Bangkok on June 9, 2006. (Reuters/Stringer)

To an outsider, an obituary of King Bhumibol Adulyadej might read like one of Queen Elizabeth II, another long-reigning monarch who became a symbol of her country, especially during times of massive political and economic transition. During his staggering seven-decades-long rule, Thailand’s economy boomed and achieved middle-income status, the country took fragile steps toward democracy, and a treaty alliance was cemented with the United States. Read more »