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Showing posts for "Scott A. Snyder"

Sony Hack: North Korea’s “Toughest Counteraction” to Obama’s “Proportional” Response

by Scott A. Snyder
the-interview-open General Manager Brandon Delaney looks up at the marquee sign after the announcement that the Plaza Theatre would be showing the movie "The Interview" beginning Christmas Day in Atlanta, Georgia on December 23, 2014. Sony Pictures said on Tuesday it will release "The Interview" to a limited number of theaters on December 25, less than a week after it canceled the comedy's release following a devastating cyberattack blamed on North Korea. (Tami Chappell/Courtesy: Reuters)

For most Americans and for President Obama, the turn of events over the last few days feels like a happy ending:  1) Sony and Seth Rogen have defended the American right to free speech, regardless of its quality; 2) the bad guys and their leader have been deprived of their internet connection for at least nine hours, plus the deplorable North Korean human rights record made its debut Monday on the agenda of the UN Security Council; 3) the Obama administration can claim victory for giving Sony and a few independent theaters some backbone while helping to formally expose North Korea’s human rights tragedy to the light of day. But, the North Koreans being North Koreans, it is unlikely that this story will end on Christmas Day. Read more »

The Interview and Its Challenge to North Korea’s Leadership

by Scott A. Snyder
the-interview-premiere A security guard stands at the entrance of United Artists theater during the premiere of the film The Interview in Los Angeles, California on December 11, 2014. (Kevork Djansezian/Courtesy: Reuters)

Today is the third anniversary of Kim Jong-il’s death, marking the completion of a traditional period of mourning for Korean leaders and the presumed consolidation of power under Kim Jong-il’s successor, Kim Jong-un. During the three-year mourning period following the death of North Korea’s founder Kim Il-sung in the mid-1990s, Kim Jong-il waged a struggle behind the scenes to overcome the Arduous March, a famine that decimated North Korea’s population. In 1997, Kim Jong-il emerged publicly as chairman of the National Defense Commission and as leader of a “military first [pdf]” policy. Read more »

New Challenges for the U.S.-ROK Alliance

by Scott A. Snyder
2014 US-ROK 2 plus 2 U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (second right) and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel co-hosted the 2+2 Ministerial with South Korea's Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se (second left) and Minister of National Defense Han Min-Koo, at the State Department in Washington on October 24, 2014 (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy: Reuters).

The U.S.-South Korea alliance has grown deeper since 2009, when Presidents Obama and Lee Myung-bak announced a U.S.-ROK Joint Vision Statement that expanded the framework for bilateral cooperation beyond the Korean peninsula to regional and global issues. This statement set the stage for both deeper U.S.-ROK security coordination toward North Korea and for South Korean contributions to anti-piracy missions in the Gulf of Aden and South Korean participation in the ISAF mission in Afghanistan. The vision was reaffirmed by Park Geun-hye last year in Washington on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the alliance. I argue in my chapter for National Bureau of Asian Research’s most recent volume, Strategic Asia 2014-2015: U.S. Alliances and Partnerships at the Center of Global Power, that further implementation of this broadened vision has created new internal and external challenges. Read more »

Obama’s Rebalance to Asia In His Own Words: Where Does it Stand?

by Scott A. Snyder
obama-g20-brisbane U.S. President Barack Obama waves after holding a news conference at the conclusion of the G20 Summit in Brisbane on November 16, 2014. The leaders of the United States, Japan, and Australia lined up together against Russia on Sunday, vowing to oppose Russian incursions into Crimea during a rare trilateral meeting held at the G20 summit in Brisbane (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy: Reuters).

A version of this post also appeared as a Pacific Forum CSIS PacNet publication, and can be found here.

President Obama had a better than expected visit to Asia for annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), East Asia Summit (EAS), and G-20 gatherings, due largely to a productive summit with Xi Jinping. At the end of his trip in Brisbane, Obama gave his second major speech on the U.S. rebalancing policy to Asia, coming almost three years to the day following an address to the Australian parliament on his previous visit to Australia. A side-by-side reading of President Obama’s two major Australian speeches on the subject (he has yet to give a major policy speech on the rebalance in the United States) provides a useful benchmark for assessing the administration’s progress in implementing the policy. Read more »

Not U.S. Isolationism, But a Rebalancing of Priorities and Means

by Scott A. Snyder
shangri la sideline U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (center) join hands with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera (left) and South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin during a trilateral meeting on the sidelines of the 12th International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Asia Security Summit: The Shangri-La Dialogue, in Singapore on June 1, 2013 (Edgar Su/Courtesy: Reuters).

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs 2014 survey released last month entitled “Foreign Policy in the Age of Retrenchment” reports that over 40 percent of Americans believe that the United States should “stay out” rather than take an active part in global affairs. But the survey also shows that over four-fifths of Americans believe that the United States should continue to show strong leadership in world affairs. Possibly the strongest counter-arguments for smart American leadership versus isolationism and retrenchment are expressed in poll results regarding American attitudes toward its alliances in Asia. This is an important finding because it shows growing American understanding of the importance of Asia and growing support for the strategic value of the U.S. rebalance to Asia. Read more »

Kim Jong-un’s Absence: Who Should Be Worried?

by Scott A. Snyder
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un looks through a pair of binoculars during an inspection of the Hwa Islet Defense Detachment standing guard over a forward post off the east coast of the Korean peninsula, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on July 1, 2014 (KCNA/Courtesy: Reuters). North Korean leader Kim Jong-un looks through a pair of binoculars during an inspection of the Hwa Islet Defense Detachment standing guard over a forward post off the east coast of the Korean peninsula, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on July 1, 2014 (KCNA/Courtesy: Reuters).

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un has not been seen in public for over one month, failing to participate in a major Supreme People’s Assembly gathering and anniversary commemorations of the founding of the Korean Workers’ Party. These are the same sorts of events that his father, Kim Jong-il, failed to attend six years ago following a stroke from which it took months for him to recover. North Korea’s official media has publicly acknowledged Kim’s “discomfort.” Read more »

Podcast: Remarks by Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon

by Scott A. Snyder
park won-soon Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon speaks during a news conference for foreign media in Seoul in this file photo from November 9, 2011 (Lee Jae-Won/Courtesy: Reuters).

Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon spoke at a CFR Korea Program roundtable on the future of Seoul, as partner with its neighbors and role in engaging with North Korea on September 24, 2014. Listen to his opening remarks here.


Read more »

South Korea-U.S. Nuclear Cooperation: How to Move Forward

by Scott A. Snyder
shin kori 3 and 4_au The Shin Kori No. 1 reactor of state-run utility Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO) are seen in Ulsan, about 255 miles southeast of Seoul. Picture taken on September 3, 2013 (Lee Jae-Won/Courtesy: Reuters).

South Korea’s vibrant civilian nuclear sector, which consists of 23 reactors that supplied approximately 30 percent of its electricity in 2012, was built through cooperation with the United States. The United States shared know-how and technology that enabled the construction and operation of South Korea’s first reactors in the 1960s. American companies such as Westinghouse and the former Combustion Engineering worked closely with South Korean counterparts over decades to build a vibrant nuclear power generation capacity in South Korea, a country that has virtually no indigenous energy production resources. Read more »

The U.S.-DPRK Hostage Stalemate

by Scott A. Snyder
kenneth-bae-interview Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American Christian missionary who has been detained in North Korea for more than a year, appears before a limited number of media outlets in Pyongyang in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on January 20, 2014 (KCNA/Courtesy: Reuters).

Note: This post was published prior to Matthew Miller’s trial. On Sunday, September 14, Miller was found guilty in North Korean court and sentenced to six years’ hard labor.

North Korea has announced the trial next week of Matthew Miller, an American currently detained in North Korea for ripping up his tourist visa and claiming asylum. This announcement follows interviews last week on CNN that the DPRK hurriedly arranged with Miller, detained tourist Jeffrey Fowle, and convicted American Kenneth Bae, who have become three American pawns in the ongoing nuclear standoff between Washington and Pyongyang. Read more »

Park Geun-hye’s “Correct View of History” With Japan

by Scott A. Snyder
park-geun-hye-8-15 speech South Korean president Park Geun-hye speaks in Seoul on August 15, 2014, during a ceremony marking the 69th anniversary of liberation from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule (Ahn Young-joon/Courtesy: Reuters).

The August 15 anniversary of the end of World War II—when the Korean peninsula gained independence from Japanese colonial rule—is not just a time of reflection on  the legacy and costs of that war; it is also a perennially sensitive diplomatic moment in Northeast Asia.  The festering political disconnect between Park Geun-hye and Shinzo Abe, allies of the United States who have been thus far unable to meet each other bilaterally heightens the importance of such a moment. Read more »