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Asia Unbound

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

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Showing posts for "U.S. Foreign Policy"

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 »

The U.S.-ROK Alliance and the Trump Administration

by Scott A. Snyder
A woman takes a photograph of her friend with a cut-out of Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump during a U.S. Election Watch event hosted by the U.S. Embassy at a hotel in Seoul, South Korea, November 9, 2016. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)

South Korea’s unfolding domestic political crisis has been all-consuming, with daily revelations by an unrestrained Korean media into multiple scandals that have created the likelihood of a prolonged political vacuum and implicated President Park Geun-hye. Despite the biggest Korean political scandal in decades, however, Koreans have been focused on seeking explanations and assurances from American visitors following the election of Donald J. Trump as the next president of the United States. Read more »

Abe’s Trump Test

by Sheila A. Smith
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R) meets with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 17, 2016 (CABINET PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICE).

Like many around the globe, Japanese are stunned by the election outcome and worried about what this means for the United States’ role in the world. Of particular concern, of course, are the comments Candidate Donald J. Trump made on the campaign trail about Japan, about trade, and about U.S. alliances. But what matters now is what President-elect Trump will do to reassure Tokyo that he values the U.S.-Japan strategic partnership. 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 »

Securing Strategic Buffer Space: Case Studies and Implications for U.S. Global Strategy

by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder
A world map from 1507 world map by cartographer Martin Waldseemuller is pictured in this handout image from the Library of Congress. The map shows two continents across the ocean from Europe, with a skinny isthmus between them, an embryonic Florida peninsula, a western mountain range on the northern continent, and on the southern continent, a clearly-lettered name: "America", the first known recorded instance of the use of the name. The Library of Congress acquired the 1507 map in 2003 for $10 million. (Reuters/Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress/Handout)

Sungtae “Jacky” Park is research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations.

A series of geopolitical fault lines are coming apart today. There is a hybrid conflict in Ukraine, an arc of destruction from the Levant to Iraq, rising tensions on the Korean peninsula, and instability in the southern Caucasus, just to name a few. What these conflicts have in common is that they are taking place in strategic buffer zones, physical spaces caught between competing regional powers. To address these problems by drawing lessons from the past, my paper for the Center for the National Interest, completed in September and published in October, examines four major cases of strategic buffer space conflicts: the Belgian crisis of 1830-1831, Byzantine-Sassanid and Ottoman-Safavid wars, China-Japan-Russia competition over Korea during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, and the Balkan powder keg that led to World War I. A brief summary of the four case studies can be found in The National Interest. Read more »

Podcast: The Future of U.S. Statecraft in Asia

by Elizabeth C. Economy
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell speaks during a news conference at the U.S. embassy in Kuala Lumpur December 13, 2012. Seen in the background is a display of traditional Malay "songket" fabric. REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell speaks during a news conference at the U.S. embassy in Kuala Lumpur on December 13, 2012. Seen in the background is a display of traditional Malay "songket" fabric. (Bazuki Muhammad/Reuters)

“The lion’s share of the history of the 21st century is going to play out in Asia,” states Kurt Campbell, the former assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, on this week’s Asia Unbound podcast. Asia is now the top market for U.S. exports and home to 60 percent of the world’s top arms importers.

Read more »

Duterte and China

by Guest Blogger for Joshua Kurlantzick
duterte-china-japan President Rodrigo Duterte walks towards the entrance of the Philippine Airlines passenger plane as he leaves for Japan, at the Ninoy Aquino International airport in Paranaque, Metro Manila in the Philippines, on October 25, 2016. (Erik De Castro/Reuters)

Richard Javad Heydarian is an assistant professor in political science at De La Salle University in Manila, and, most recently, the author of Asia’s New Battlefield: The U.S., China, and the Struggle for Western Pacific.

During his four-day visit to Beijing (October 18-21), the Philippines’ firebrand leader, Rodrigo Dutetre, once again grabbed global headlines by reportedly bidding goodbye to and “separation” from the United States. Instead, he spent his time in China declaring his realignment with China’s “ideological flow.” Read more »

North Korea: Ten Years After the First Nuclear Test

by Scott A. Snyder
A rally celebrating the success of a recent nuclear test is held in Kim Il Sung square in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang September 13, 2016. (KCNA/via Reuters)

A decade has passed since North Korea first tested a nuclear weapon, on October 9, 2006. It conducted its fifth nuclear test last September, and there are rumors that a sixth will come within weeks or months. The United States has tried to both negotiate with and sanction North Korea while strengthening deterrence with South Korea and conducting shows of force to underscore the U.S. commitment to South Korean defense, but these measures have not halted, much less reversed, North Korea’s nuclear program. Read more »

Duterte Shakes Up Philippine Foreign Policy

by Guest Blogger for Joshua Kurlantzick
duterte-foreign-policy-2 Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a news conference in Davao city, southern Philippines on August 21, 2016. (Lean Daval Jr/Reuters)

Richard Javad Heydarian is an assistant professor in political science at De La Salle University in Manila, and, most recently, the author of Asia’s New Battlefield: The U.S., China, and the Struggle for Western Pacific.

The Philippines’ controversial president, Rodrigo Duterte, has once again grabbed global headlines with his inflammatory statements. This time, he reportedly invoked Hitler to underscore his commitment to continuing a ‘shock and awe’ campaign against illegal drugs, which has provoked global outcry. Read more »

Podcast: India and China’s Brave New World

by Elizabeth C. Economy
modi-xi-g20 Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the West Lake State Guest House ahead of the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, September 4, 2016. (Wang Zhao/Reuters)

On this week’s Asia Unbound podcast, Anja Manuel, cofounder and partner at RiceHadleyGates and author of This Brave New World: India, China and the United States, offers her prescription for how the United States can understand and engage with Asia’s two largest rising powers. Manuel compares and contrasts Indian and Chinese history, leaders, and trajectories, ultimately arriving at a pair of distinct national ambitions: China aims to regain its long-lost place on center stage, and India wishes to re-engage with the world after being relatively isolated since independence. Read more »