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Showing posts for "Joshua Kurlantzick"

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 »

What is Duterte’s Strategy Toward the Abu Sayyaf?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
duterte-abu-sayyaf Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a news conference in Davao after Norwegian national Kjartan Sekkingstad was freed from the al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf Islamist militant group in Jolo, Sulu in southern Philippines on September 18, 2016. (Lean Daval Jr/Reuters)

Having already launched a grim, brutal war on drugs that has reportedly led to thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of arrests, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is now turning his eye to southern Philippines, where a collection of insurgent groups/terrorist organizations/bandits have wreaked havoc for decades. (Southeast Asia is also now home to more piracy attacks than any other region of the world, and the waters of the southern Philippines are part of this massive piracy problem.) Read more »

Where Next for Cambodian Politics?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
kem-sokha-cambodia Kem Sokha (C), leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), greets his supporters during his speech at the CNRP headquarters in Phnom Penh, on September 9, 2016. (Samrang Pring/Reuters)

Over the past two years, Cambodia’s government has steadily ramped up the pressure on the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), as well as on any civil society activists and journalists who question the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). In just the past year, security forces have cracked down on demonstrators holding regular Monday protests, while the government has pursued criminal charges against opposition leaders Kem Sokha and Sam Rainsy. In July, someone murdered prominent activist Kem Ley in broad daylight at a gas station, and while police have arrested one suspect, the motive for why he would kill the activist remains murky. Read more »

Will Aung San Suu Kyi’s Visit Spark U.S. Investment in Myanmar?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
National League for Democracy (NLD) party leader Aung San Suu Kyi arrives at Union Parliament in Naypyitaw, Myanmar March 15, 2016. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun National League for Democracy (NLD) party leader Aung San Suu Kyi arrives at Union Parliament in Naypyitaw, Myanmar on March 15, 2016. (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

Later this week, State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi will visit Washington, as part of a broader trip to the United States that will include addressing the United Nations General Assembly. In addition to meeting President Obama, Vice President Biden, and several senators and congresspeople, Suu Kyi reportedly will appear at a dinner hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council. There, she plans to outline Naypyidaw’s economic strategies, and likely make a pitch to potential U.S. investors in sectors ranging from mining to telecommunications. Read more »

What Aung San Suu Kyi Hopes to Gain From Her U.S. Visit

by Joshua Kurlantzick
aung-san-suu-kyi-u-s-visit Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi arrives at the ASEAN-India Summit in Vientiane, Laos on September 8, 2016. (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

Later this week, Myanmar State Counselor, and de facto head of government, Aung San Suu Kyi travels to the United States. She will address the United Nations General Assembly and will meet with President Barack Obama in the White House this Wednesday. She also will hold meetings with a range of other U.S. officials, Myanmar specialists, and companies. As James Hookaway of the Wall Street Journal notes, the trip clearly solidifies Aung San Suu Kyi’s role as de facto head of government, although she is not technically president. Read more »