James M. Lindsay

The Water's Edge

Lindsay analyzes the politics shaping U.S. foreign policy and the sustainability of American power.

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The World Next Week: UN General Assembly Meets, Aung San Suu Kyi Visits the United States, and Islands Divide China and Japan

by James M. Lindsay
September 21, 2012

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon shakes hands with President Barack Obama at the United Nations in New York. (UN Photo/Mark Garten/ courtesy Reuters) UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon shakes hands with President Barack Obama at the United Nations in New York. (UN Photo/Mark Garten/ courtesy Reuters)

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed the upcoming meeting of the UN General Assembly; Aung San Suu Kyi’s visit to the United States; and China and Japan’s bickering over some tiny islands.

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The highlights:

  • President Obama will be speaking to the world when he stands at the UN podium next week, but his real audience will be American voters. With less than fifty days to go until the November 6 election, expect him to warn about the need to stop Iran’s nuclear program, insist on the inviolability of embassies and consulates, and restate America’s commitment to Israel’s security. A lot of UN member states will sympathize with the Palestinians in their bid to move from observer status to full member state, creating problems for U.S. diplomats who have been working quietly to keep that bid from coming to a vote.
  • Aung San Suu Kyi is being feted during her visit to the United States, a visit that would have been unthinkable just a year ago. The Nobel Prize winner began her visit by urging the United States  to ease the many U.S. sanctions on Myanmar, a position that some human rights activists oppose. The question being debated is whether tough sanctions are needed to convince the Burmese government to carry through on its political reforms, or whether Myanmar’s political opening will stall if Washington continues to wield the sanctions club.
  • Just as China and Japan were set to mark the fortieth anniversary of their agreement to restore diplomatic relations, tensions between the two countries escalated over who controls a few tiny, uninhabited islands in the East China Sea known as the Diaoyu in Chinese and the Senkaku in Japanese. The dispute is partly a matter of national pride, but big money is potentially at stake. Whoever controls the islands can lay claim to the potentially vast resources that can be mined, drilled, or otherwise extracted from the surrounding waters.
  • Bob’s Figure of the Week is Xi Jinping. My Figure of the Week is 51. As always, you’ll have to listen to the podcast to find out why.

For more on the topics we discussed in the podcast check out:

Heads of state address the UN General Assembly: The LA Times predicts that Barack Obama will stress Middle East issues in his address to the UN General Assembly. The Australian writes that Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas is expected to request a vote for UN recognition of Palestine. Fars News notes that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is scheduled to address the assembly amid growing concerns about Iran’s nuclear capability.

Myanmar’s opposition leader visits the United States: NPR writes that Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, will receive the Congressional Gold Medal during her 17-day visit to the United States; BBC reports that in her visit with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Suu Kyi called for the easing of U.S. sanctions on Myanmar. The New York Times notes that Suu Kyi’s trip began the same day that Burmese president Thein Sein freed 514 prisoners as the most recent attempt at political reform.

China and Japan mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties amid growing tensions: World Politics Review discusses escalating tensions between the two countries after Tokyo announced its intentions of purchasing the disputed Senkaku Islands. The New York Times reports on large-scale anti-Japanese demonstrations that took place in dozens of Chinese cities. Foreign Policy questions why the Chinese government has put a lockdown on websites that discuss “the U.S. history of purchasing territory.”

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