Showing posts with label South East Asia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label South East Asia. Show all posts

9 December 2017



From reminiscing on his relationship with India, to highlighting how the American national anthem was written by Francis Scott Key aboard a ship built in India, to expanding on the vision for an Indo-Pacific order driven by the U.S.-India partnership, there was no dearth of optimism in Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s recent speech highlighting Washington’s vision for the Indo-Pacific. No potential area of cooperation between New Delhi and Washington was missed:

U.S. Third Offset Has Profound Implications for Indo-Pacific

America’s military-technological advantage, an aspect of its strategic power since the end of the Cold War, is eroding. In response, the Pentagon launched the third offset strategy in 2014—a department-wide effort to find new ways, both technological and institutional, to leap ahead of its competitors. In a new report for the United States Studies Centre, I argue that for the U.S. the third offset is partly an answer to matching its stagnating defence budget with its strategic ambitions.

1 December 2017

* Iran Reshapes the Middle East

By George Friedman

Iran has always seen itself as being in competition with the Arab states for domination of the Persian Gulf. Its ambitions were put on hold in the late 1980s, at the end of an eight-year war with Iraq that cost Iran more than a million casualties. The war ended in a military draw, but strategically it blocked Iran’s hopes for expanding its power westward. The war against the Islamic State, particularly in Iraq, has opened that door again.

The Iranian Surge

29 November 2017

Tehran Is Winning the War for Control of the Middle East

Source Link

Saudi Arabia appears to be on a warpath across the Middle East. The Saudi-orchestrated resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, and Saudi officials’ bellicose rhetoric after the launch of a ballistic missile targeting Riyadh from Yemen, appear to herald a new period of assertiveness against Iranian interests across the Middle East.Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s sudden moves on a variety of fronts may superficially have the feel of Michael Corleone’s swift and simultaneous strikes at his family’s enemies in the closing frames of The Godfather. Unlike in the film, however, the credits are not about to roll. Rather, these are the opening moves in an ongoing contest — and it is far from clear that the 32-year-old crown prince has found a formula to reverse Iran’s advantage.

19 November 2017

The new geopolitics of trade in Asia

Mireya Solís

The APEC Leaders’ summit meeting, which took place last week in Danang, Vietnam, crystallized the new geopolitics of trade in Asia. The leaders of the three largest economies in the world—the United States, China, and Japan—each redefined the roles their nation will play in sustaining, torpedoing, or adjusting the postwar trading order. Little is assured on how free trade and multilateral undertakings will fare as the three giants reposition themselves in their leadership bid. The only certainty ahead for us is that it will be a bumpy ride.


16 November 2017

How America and Its Indo-Pacific Allies Will Redefine Regional Security

Even before Trump headed off on his Asian grand tour, the shape of things to come started to emerge. The present administration’s foreign policy will place adequate emphasis on Europe and the Middle East, but America won’t be pivoting away from the Asia-Pacific. Meanwhile, the region presents more challenges than ever. An emerging China is increasingly upsetting the status-quo; North Korea remains as rambunctious as ever, and transnational Islamist terror threats appear ever-present. How the administration manages these problems will go a long way toward determining our status as an Asian power.

15 November 2017

ASEAN Must Seek Global Support To Avoid War Over South China Sea – Analysis

By Veeramalla Anjaiah

They are expected to discuss the South China Sea (SCS) conundrum. ASEAN member states are deeply divided over the SCS and even there there has been no common policy among the ASEAN’s claimant states. With the lack of leadership from the world’s sole superpower– the United States—on the issue of the SCS, China, the new power of the world and the biggest claimant in the SCS, is confidently threatening or bullying its small Southeast Asian neighbors.

4 October 2017

Trump Goes to Asia: What's on the Line?

By Ankit Panda

The White House has confirmed that U.S. President Donald Trump is set to make his third large presidential foreign trip. This time, he will travel to Asia for the usual round of November summits, in addition to more than a few tense bilateral meetings with allied leaders who have grown increasingly concerned about U.S. policy towards the Korean peninsula.

1 October 2017

The World Will Soon Have a New Terror Hub in Myanmar If the Rohingya Crisis Continues

The brutal treatment of the Muslim Rohingya minority in Myanmar is creating severe rifts with the country’s newly won friends in Washington and London. China, for geopolitical reasons, quickly stepped in to support the Myanmar government’s position while India worries about the spread of Islamic militancy. Bangladesh, as the reluctant host of hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas, also worries about internal security.

29 September 2017

Gray Zones in the Middle East

By Nicholas Heras for Center for a New American Security (CNAS)

In this article, Nicholas Heras explores how state and non-state actors in the Middle East are turning to ‘gray zone’ strategies to defeat their opponents without extensive or sustained military activity. In particular, he focuses on 1) the gray zone activities of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps expeditionary Quds Force and its proxy network forces in Syria, Iraq and Yemen; and 2) how the so-called Islamic State and al Qaeda are using gray zone strategies in the governance vacuums across the Greater Middle East to develop indefinite, state-like authority among local populations.

14 September 2017

In the Pacific Theater, A Cold War Sequel

September 11, 2017

As the spotlight shines on the Asia-Pacific theater, Japan is putting aside one of its longest running disputes to revisit its relationship with Russia. For the last 70 years, the Kuril Islands have been a cornerstone of talks between Tokyo and Moscow, and a stumbling block to reconciliation. Russia's humiliating defeat in its 1904-05 war with Japan cost Moscow half the resource-rich Sakhalin Island, as well as the still-disputed Southern Kuril Islands. The territorial loss corked the Russian Navy in the Sea of Japan, limiting the fleet's access to the greater Pacific Ocean. After World War II, the Soviets took back not only Sakhalin, but also the Northern Kuril Islands. After more than a century of rivalry, the two nations have been repeatedly frustrated in their attempts to reconcile. Even now, the territorial dispute has prevented Tokyo and Moscow from declaring a formal end to their WWII conflict.

Deeper divisions have also set in over the decades. Japan became an integral part of the U.S. alliance structure during the cold war, checking the Soviet Union's eastern-facing ambitions. As the Soviet Union began to dissolve, former Japanese foreign minister Shintaro Abe reportedly told his son, current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, that a Russo-Japanese rapprochement was his dying wish. However, only nominal trade and poor relations followed the Soviet Union's collapse, despite dozens of proposals drawn up by Russia and Japan to find a settlement for both peace and the Kuril Islands in the 1990's. Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin drew up a version of such plans, but when the Japanese negotiating team made it clear no Japanese firms would do business in Russia, Yeltsin ended talks by locking his peace proposals in his briefcase.

12 September 2017

When the U.S. Government Tried to Fight Communism With Buddhism


As Buddhist Myanmar is once again in the news for a brutal crackdown on its Rohingya Muslim minority, it’s worth remembering just how politically volatile religion can be in Southeast Asia—a part of the world more famous for meditation retreats than religious conflict. While the influence of Buddhist nationalism in Myanmar, for instance, is often framed as an entirely new phenomenon, it has reared its head before, in similar times of uncertainty and confusion. During the Cold War, this region became a hot spot of competing visions and ideologies. And Buddhism was at the center of it all.

In 1953, several months after the inauguration of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Vice President Richard M. Nixon traveled with his wife, Pat, on a whirlwind tour of Asia. The trip included stopovers in Burma, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, where the French took him to the front lines of the first Indochina war to watch a bombardment of Viet Minh fighters. Nixon was impressed but unsettled. He didn’t like the patronizing way the French, who the United States was backing against the communist insurgency in the country, treated their Vietnamese allies, concluding they had failed to summon an attractive alternative to the soul-stirring nationalism of their enemies.

25 August 2017

Southeast Asian Perspectives on US–China Competition

How do Southeast Asian countries view the competitive relationship between the US and China? To address this question, this publication features a collection of essays by scholars from the region on 1) the definition of ASEAN centrality and what it means for organization’s role in the South China Sea; 2) President Rodrigo Duterte’s foreign policy and its implications for the US-Philippines alliance; 3) what leverage Vietnam has in dealing with China’s assertiveness in Southeast Asia; 4) the impact of US-China competition on ASEAN’s efforts to combat trade in illicit goods; and 5) Chinese and US counterterrorism engagement in the region.

21 August 2017

Doklam crisis echoes loudly in South and South-East Asia

Atul Aneja

Japan’s support to India irks China but countries — from Nepal to Philippines — keenly watching the subtle power shifts without taking sides.

From Nepal to the Philippines, countries in South and South-East Asia are keenly observing the Doklam crisis, wary of taking sides, but also keeping a close eye on subtle power shifts that the unfolding crisis embroiling China and India may reveal.

As expected, Pakistan has thrown its weight behind China, its “iron brother.” During a carefully choreographed visit to Islamabad by China’s Vice Premier, Wang Yang, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Pakistan’s Independence, the Pakistani side backed all positions adopted by China, ranging from Doklam to the South China Sea (SCS), and anything that fell in-between.

Pak rues ‘Indian intrusions’ into China

The Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) reported that during talks with the visiting leader, Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Hussain “expressed concern over the reported Indian incursions into the Chinese territory and said that Pakistan fully supports the stance of China on the issue.” He also lauded Beijing’s “adept handling of the issue and reiterated that Pakistan stands by China on the issues of Tibet, Sinkiang (Xinjiang) and South China Sea.”

On the other end of the spectrum, in the Asia-Pacific, Japan has become the first G-7 country to support India’s position on the Doklam issue. In New Delhi, Japan’s Ambassador to India Kenji Hiramatsu acknowledged that the Doklam area “is disputed between China and Bhutan,” countering Beijing’s claim that the stand-off was taking place on Chinese sovereign territory. His remarks drew a sharp rebuke from the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, who asserted on Friday that she wanted to “remind him [the Japanese Ambassador to India] not to randomly make comments before clarifying relevant facts.”

22 July 2017

Southeast Asia Braces for the Post-Islamic State Era

By Bilveer Singh

The fall of ISIS will bring new threats to Southeast Asia. Is the region ready? 

When the self-proclaimed Islamic State was declared in June 2014, the primary concern in Southeast Asia was the security implications such a wannabe proto-state would have on the region. Once it became apparent that Southeast Asian fighters, especially from Malaysia and Indonesia, were “migrating” [hijrah] to Syria and Iraq, the fear was that this could complicate domestic politics through sectarianism with divisions within the Muslim community and between Muslims and non-Muslims. The gross brutalities perpetrated by the ultra-violent ISIS worsened fears of what the existence of such a cruel “regime” would mean for national security, either through large scale or “lone wolf” attacks.

Now, after more than 37 months of existence, Islamic State’s controlled territories and fighting forces have been severely degraded. With the loss of Mosul, it is only a matter of time before Raqqa will be recaptured. This would mean that the physical “caliphate” will disappear. Instead of being euphoric about the disappearance of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, however, new fears have risen in Southeast Asia. The defeat of ISIS in the Middle East will not signal the end of the threat of terrorism from extremist Islam. For Southeast Asia, there are three key issues that need addressing the day after the fall of ISIS.

Malabar 2017: Was China the elephant in the ocean?

By C Uday Bhaskar

A spectacular image of three carriers steaming abreast with 12 other naval ships following in formation marked the conclusion of Malabar 2017 on Monday (July 17). The week long, three-nation exercise that brought together the navies of India, USA and Japan was conducted in the Bay of Bengal extending into the Indian Ocean region (IOR). 

A total of 16 ships, two submarines and 95 aircraft participated and this included three carriers – the USS Nimitz, the world’s largest aircraft carrier ; the INS Vikramaditya – and a Japanese helicopter-carrier; and a US nuclear submarine. 

While inter-operability is at the core of such exercises, Malabar, which is in its 21st iteration, has enhanced India’s credibility in the Indian Ocean region as a nation that is committed to a collective effort to secure the traditional ‘global commons’ – the oceans of the world. This is in keeping with the vision outlined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his advocacy of SAGAR ( security and growth for all in the region) – which is also the Sanskrit word for oceans.

The China factor has repeatedly come up in the animated public discourse about Malabar and some invalid linkages have been made with the current India-China tension in the Doklam plateau of Bhutan. 

17 July 2017

** The Cost of Intervention

What North Korea lacks in sophistication it makes up for in guile. Its answer to any attack would go beyond conventional means to include its experienced commando force, cyberwarfare capability and submarine force, at the very least. Though North Korea has chemical weapons, they are probably no more effective than its air force and surface navy. Still, there's a psychological shock value attached to their use.

Pyongyang will do everything it can to impose a cost on any belligerent force. If the United States wishes to denuclearize North Korea, it will have to accept the consequences, as will South Korea and possibly even Japan. The United States would greatly prefer a diplomatic solution, but this has not worked well in the past. Even tougher sanctions imposed in March did little but harden Pyongyang's resolve. And in avoiding a messy, if short-lived conflict, the United States and South Korea may have set themselves up for future angst when Pyongyang unveils a strategic nuclear deterrent.

In addition to missiles equipped with high explosives, or possibly even nuclear devices, Pyongyang is known to have a significant stockpile of chemical warfare agents. There are also legitimate concerns about biological weapons development, but recent estimates indicate North Korea may have only samples of biological agents at the ready. This is a far cry from producing agents on a scale significant enough to be used offensively — huge batches have to be grown, maintained and eventually replaced, which is a monthslong cycle. Perhaps Pyongyang will have more biological weapons down the line, but that will not help it retaliate against the United States in the short term.

Why India Isn't Really 'Acting East' in Myanmar

By Jonathan Tai
As an ascendant economic and political power, India has long been eager to assert its influence on the global stage, particularly in neighboring Southeast Asia. India’s intentions for foreign engagement are best articulated in its so-called Act East policy, an ambitious effort to elevate Indian influence via economic and strategic links with the subregion.

Central to New Delhi’s strategic aims is the Southeast Asian nation of Myanmar, a gateway to connecting India to the rest of the subregion. Yet despite steps toward implementing its policy, there seems to be little focused engagement with Myanmar. Indeed, India must begin to formulate a cohesive and coherent strategy to execute, particularly in light of China’s rapid progress on its Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), if it hopes to realize the fullest potential of its Act East policy.

The Look East policy, which preceded the Act East variant heard today, was first proposed and developed during the administration of Prime Minister Narasimha Rao. Despite this ambitious plan, subsequent efforts did not manifest into what many hoped to be a vigorous Indian foreign engagement, and ultimately failed to perform what some saw as the intended counterbalance to burgeoning Chinese influence within Southeast Asia.

15 July 2017

North Korea’s New ICBM

Q1: What did North Korea launch? 

A1: North Korea conducted a flight test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that it has designated the Hwasong-14. During the July 3 test, the Hwasong-14 traveled for around 40 minutes before landing in the Sea of Japan, inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone. The missile was launched on a highly lofted trajectory to an altitude of about 2,800 kilometers and traveled some 930 kilometers in distance. Had the same motor’s thrust been put to a range-maximizing flight path, the Hwasong-14 could have traveled as far as 7,000 kilometers, enough to reach Alaska and well in range of Guam. If fired in an eastward direction to take advantage of the rotation of the earth, the Hwasong-14 could potentially reach up to 8,000 kilometers, putting Hawaii at risk. The missile appears to employ at least two stages and operates on liquid fuel.

Q2: How significant is this event?

A2: This launch represents North Korea’s first-ever test of a true ICBM. An ICBM is classified as a ballistic missile that can deliver a warhead to a range of 5,500 kilometers or more. The definition was set during the Cold War, as 5,500 kilometers is approximately the minimum distance between contiguous Russian and U.S. territories.

3 July 2017

Ex-C.I.A. Chief Stirs War Debate in Australia. Also: How Much Is the Great Barrier Reef Worth?


The Breakdown aims to put a selection of Australia’s daily news into context. Today’s picks:

• Experts are debating David H. Petraeus’s warning that Australia will be dealing militarily with the Islamic State in Southeast Asia for decades.

• The Great Barrier Reef is worth tens of billions of dollars, but will attaching a big number help save it?

• Russell Crowe continues his war on weekly magazines.

Australia vs. Petraeus

David Petraeus, the retired American general who came to prominence running counterinsurgency campaigns in Iraq and later served as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, began an Australian debate on military intervention when he spoke at a Liberal Party gala in Sydney on Friday.