CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

CFR experts give their take on the cutting-edge issues emerging in Asia today.

Posts by Author

Showing posts for "Joshua Kurlantzick"

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 »

The Global Decline of Democracy Suggests Trump Isn’t Going Anywhere

by Joshua Kurlantzick
trump Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump appears at a campaign rally in Ocala, Florida, U.S. on, October 12, 2016. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

Less than a month before Election Day, most major public polls point to a victory for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. One national poll shows Clinton up by double-digits, and the former Secretary of State leads in polls in some swing states as well. Many prominent Republicans apparently have written off Trump’s chances—a group of former senior Republican National Committee (RNC) staffers last month penned an open letter to the RNC calling on it to stop funding Trump’s campaign and save money for downballot races. Read more »

Review of “The Penguin History of Modern Vietnam” by Christopher Goscha

by Joshua Kurlantzick
vietnam-a-modern-history Tourists visit the Victory Monument in Dien Bien Phu city on May 26, 2011. The Dien Bien Phu siege lasted for 56 days in 1954 and is considered one of the great battles of the 20th century. The French defeat led to the signing of the Geneva Accords on July 21, 1954. (Kham/Reuters)

In forty years, the relationship between the United States and Vietnam has swung about as widely as is possible. In 1975, the United States cut diplomatic ties with the country after the end of the Vietnam War—or, more formally, the Second Indochina War. Now, though Hanoi remains a repressive, one-party, nominally communist state, it has become one of Washington’s closest partners in Southeast Asia. Indeed, Vietnam, which fears China’s growing maritime power, is perhaps the closest U.S. strategic partner in its region, other than Singapore. Read more »

How Much Damage Can Duterte Do to the U.S.-Philippine Relationship?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
duterte-us-philippines Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte (C) clenches fist with members of the Philippine Army during his visit at the army headquarters in Taguig city, metro Manila, Philippines on October 4, 2016. (Romeo Ranoco/Reuters)

Over the past decade, the United States and the Philippines have bolstered what was already a strong strategic and diplomatic relationship with deep historical roots and a 65-year treaty alliance. During the George W. Bush administration, after 9/11, the U.S. launched a training and assistance program for the Philippine armed forces, designed to help combat terrorist networks based in the southern Philippines, especially Abu Sayyaf. For a time, a significant detachment of U.S. Special Forces was based there, training Philippine soldiers. Read more »

South and Southeast Asia—The Islamic State’s New Front?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
indonesia-islamic-state Police officers react near the site of a blast in Jakarta, Indonesia, on January 14, 2016. (Darren Whiteside/Reuters)

Over the past year, as the Islamic State (ISIS) has suffered multiple losses in Syria and Iraq, the group has clearly been looking to widen its impact, taking the fight to countries outside of the Middle East. Increasingly, ISIS leaders have used social media to call on Islamic radicals to stage attacks in countries in the West like France and the United States, where the Orlando gunman, the San Bernardino gunmen, and the Nice attacker, among others, have publicly identified themselves with ISIS. Read more »

Malaysia’s Parties Prepare for 2018 Elections

by Joshua Kurlantzick
mahathir-ibrahim Malaysia's former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad (center L) meets with jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim (center R) in a high court in Kuala Lumpur on September 5, 2016. (Lawyers for Liberty/Handout via Reuters)

Two days ago, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib tun Razak told reporters that he would not call national elections until 2018, when his parliament’s term runs out. As The Diplomat recently reported, some Malaysian observers thought that Najib would hold elections earlier—even as early as the middle of next year—because his party’s grip on power will wane in the face of a newly emboldened opposition. As The Diplomat noted, “The idea of holding early elections rests on the idea that Najib and his supporters perceive his political position as being stronger now than it will be within the next year or two.” Read more »