CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

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

Posts by Category

Showing posts for "U.S. Foreign Policy"

What Happens to Congressional Southeast Asia Policy Under a New U.S. Administration?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
congress-southeast asia U.S. Democratic Leader, Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (front C) and Vietnam's President Truong Tan Sang (3rd R) pose for a photo with other U.S. representatives and officials after their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi on March 31, 2015. (Kham/Reuters)

Unlike many regions of the world, where U.S. foreign policy has in recent decades been dominated by the executive branch, since the end of the Cold War Congress has played a major role in policy toward much of Southeast Asia. In mainland Southeast Asia, in fact, Congress has often been the dominant foreign policy actor, in part because successive U.S. administrations—throughout the 1990s and 2000s—placed a relatively low priority on mainland Southeast Asia. Read more »

Podcast: The End of the Asian Century?

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Soldiers shout slogans as they march past a stand with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and other officials during the parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, in Pyongyang October 10, 2015. Isolated North Korea marked the 70th anniversary of its ruling Workers' Party on Saturday with a massive military parade overseen by leader Kim Jong Un, who said his country was ready to fight any war waged by the United States. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj Soldiers shout slogans as they march past a stand with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and other officials during the parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, in Pyongyang on October 10, 2015. (Damir Sagolj/Reuters)

Observers frequently characterize Asia as “emerging”, “ascendant”, or headed for an “inexorable rise”. But what if demographic, economic, and security trends are instead propelling the continent in a different direction? On this week’s Asia Unbound podcast, Michael Auslin, resident scholar and director of Japan Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, lays out the provocative arguments at the heart of his new book The End of the Asian Century: War, Stagnation, and the Risks to the World’s Most Dynamic Region. He suggests that while Asian countries have previously reaped demographic dividends from their large youth populations, governments now confront new challenges. Read more »

Expanding South Korea’s Security Role in the Asia-Pacific Region

by Scott A. Snyder
South Korean Navy patrol combat corvettes stage an anti-submarine exercise off the western coast of Taean on May 27, 2010. North Korea said on Thursday it was ripping up military agreements signed with the South in a step seen as a prelude to shutting down a joint factory park, just as Seoul staged anti-submarine drills in tense border waters. (Reuters/Kim Jae-hwan)

This post was coauthored with Sungtae (Jacky) Park, research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations.

South Korea has become a nation with a global presence, but Seoul has yet to exercise its influence in Southeast Asia. In a Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) discussion paper, Expanding South Korea’s Security Role in the Asia-Pacific Region, Patrick M. Cronin, senior advisor and senior director of the Asia-Pacific security program at the Center for a New American Security, and Seongwon Lee, deputy director for the international cooperation division of the unification policy office at the Ministry of Unification of the Republic of Korea, argue that South Korea should play a larger role in the region, particularly with regard to dealing with a rising China and coping with rising maritime tensions. Read more »

South Korea’s Strategic Choices: Separating the Forest from the Trees

by Scott A. Snyder
Protesters gather and occupy major streets in the city center for a rally against South Korean President Park Geun-hye in Seoul, South Korea December 3, 2016. (Reuters/Chung Sung-Jun/Pool)

This post was coauthored with Sungtae (Jacky) Park, research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations.

South Korea is in turmoil, with President Park Geun-hye having been suspended from office by the South Korean national assembly after being implicated as an accomplice in the criminal investigation of her close friend, Choi Soon-sil. Consequently, the South Korean conservatives have lost popularity among the public, and the center-left Minjoo Party’s Moon Jae-in has emerged as the front-runner in South Korea’s looming presidential election, which must be held within sixty days if Park’s impeachment is upheld at the South Korean constitutional court. Read more »

A Lack of Oversight—Dating Back Decades

by Joshua Kurlantzick
bin laden raid U.S. President Barack Obama (2nd L) and Vice President Joe Biden (L), along with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House, May 1, 2011. (White House/Pete Souza/Reuters)

Between 1961 and 1973, in a civil war in the tiny Southeast Asian country of Laos, the Central Intelligence Agency oversaw a massive paramilitary operation. CIA operatives, working with the U.S. embassy, Thai commandos, U.S. military advisors, and others, helped build an army of tens of thousands of anticommunist Laotians, mostly from the Hmong ethnic group. Read more »

How Will the Australia-China Relationship Adapt?

by Guest Blogger for Joshua Kurlantzick
trump-australia A pedestrian looks at a newspaper headline regarding U.S. President Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in central Sydney, Australia, on February 3, 2017. (David Gray/Reuters)

Professor James Laurenceson is Deputy Director of the Australia-China Relations Institute (ACRI) at the University of Technology Sydney.

A common assessment among Australian opinion leaders is that the start of the new U.S. administration has pushed Australia closer to China. Hugh White, a Professor of Strategic Studies at the Australian National University, said last week that the now infamous phone call between President Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had shown Australians that they can no longer trust the United States. Read more »

The Laos War and its Long-Term Impact on U.S. Relations with Southeast Asia

by Joshua Kurlantzick
obama-laos U.S. President Barack Obama delivers an address at the Lao National Cultural Hall, on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit, in Vientiane, Laos on September 6, 2016. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

In my new book, A Great Place to Have a War: America in Laos and the Birth of a Military CIA, I examine how the covert war in Laos, during the 1960s and early 1970s, dramatically changed the Central Intelligence Agency. But the war also forever altered Laotian domestic politics, and Vientiane’s relationship with Washington. Within the country, the war’s effects continue to shape politics. After 1975, Laotian security forces usually viewed Hmong communities with suspicion, and harshly repressed all political activity, as the post-1975 Laotian government instituted one of the toughest authoritarian regimes in the world. Read more »

Cracks in the U.S.-Australia Relationship

by Guest Blogger for Joshua Kurlantzick
trump-turnbull U.S. President Donald Trump (L), seated at his desk with National Security Advisor Michael Flynn (2nd L) and senior advisor Steve Bannon (3rd L), speaks by phone with Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. on January 28, 2017. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

James Curran is Professor of History at the University of Sydney and the author of the recent Lowy Institute Paper Fighting With America: Why Saying No to the United States Wouldn’t Rupture the Alliance.

Now that much of the tumult over the recent phone call between Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and U.S. President Donald Trump has abated, there remain some uncomfortable conclusions to be drawn from this drama in U.S.-Australia relations. And the conclusions are relevant not only for these two longstanding allies. Read more »

SecDef Mattis’s Mission in Northeast Asia: Provide Reassurance from the Trump Administration

by Scott A. Snyder
U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis (L) shakes hands with South Korea's acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn (R) prior their meeting at the Government Complex in Seoul, South Korea February 2, 2017. (Reuters/Song Kyung-Seok/Pool)

Northeast Asia is facing profound political uncertainty: South Korea is immobilized by a political scandal that has resulted in the impeachment of its president, Park Geun-hye, and ensnared top business elites; Japan has been left high and dry after U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned the Trans-Pacific Partnership, arguably the country’s best chance at growth; and North Korea is getting closer and closer to becoming a nuclear power. Read more »

Assessing U.S. Policy Options Toward North Korea

by Scott A. Snyder
Newspapers with pictures of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un addressing the ruling Workers' Party congress are placed inside one of halls of the Kim Jong Suk Pyongyang textile mill during a government organised visit for foreign reporters in Pyongyang, North Korea May 9, 2016. (Reuters/Damir Sagolj)

On January 31, 2017, I testified together with Dr. Nicholas Eberstadt from the American Enterprise Institute before the Senate foreign relations committee on policy toward North Korea. My opening statement appears below, and my written testimony and a video recording of the hearing can be found here. Read more »