Shared Values Driving Ever Stronger U.S.-NZ...
In a speech given on Monday to the Pacific Islands Society at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), the Acting New Zealand High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Mr. Rob Taylor, argued that shared values, not just shared interests, are driving the renewed strategic partnership between the United States and New Zealand. According to Mr. Taylor, the 2010 Wellington Declaration...
Google in North Korea: Pyongyang Kowtow or Smart...
When Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, and former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson headed to the DPRK in early January they certainly turned some heads. Many viewed their trip as undermining Western efforts to secure stronger sanctions, following North Korea’s ballistic missile launch in December 2012. They have also been criticised for providing Kim Jong-un with an opportunity to...
Facebook: The New Weapon in Counter-Proliferation?
How should the American and British governments utilise the internet in combating WMD development and proliferation? Will the pursuit of one of these foreign policy objectives inevitably come at the expense of the other? These important questions are considered in this December 2012 OpEd for Al Jazeera English: Instagram Arms Control Image Credit: Mashable
WWF Drones and Internal State Security
We are currently bearing witness to great changes in international security. Gone are the days of state monopoly over internal and external security agencies. State policing and military agencies are now serving alongside a variety of global, regional, and subnational security providers.The latest to join this mix of non-state actors is the World Wildlife Federation (WWF), who just announced...
'Arab Spring' Unlikely in Cambodia?
This month, Faine Greenwood published her latest article, “Sitting Pretty,” in the Southeast Asia Globe. The article addresses the current political situation in Cambodia and asks whether the incumbent regime has anything to fear. Its subline accurately captures its tone and substance by concluding, “observers say the leadership has little to fear.” I am one of those...
Protecting Endangered Languages: Smart Public...
According to UNESCO, “half of the 6,000 plus spoken languages today will disappear by the end of the century” if the world fails to take action to preserve endangered languages. The situation in the Pacific is particularly troubling. According to the Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, well over a hundred native languages are listed as vulnerable or endangered in Pacific ACP (African,...
Obama’s Empty Pivot in the Asia-Pacific
A debate has raged for the past few months about what to call President Obama’s Asian strategy. To be honest, it really doesn’t matter whether you call the shift toward Asia a pivot, a refocus or a rebalancing. What does matter is that it’s a relatively hollow move which belies something of much greater concern: The administration is effectively jeopardizing American national security interests...
How to Respond to Chinese Revisionism?
In the aftermath of the failed Russian re-set, much has been written about the Obama Administration’s inability to convince Moscow to support Washington’s diplomatic priorities. Nowhere is this more evident than Syria, where Russia’s third veto at the United Nations’ Security Council was widely portrayed as Moscow’s support of Assad’s reign of terror.[[MORE]] ...
U.S. Must Send Right Signals to the Pacific
Is the United States upping its diplomatic engagement in the Pacific? One would think given rumors that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is considering heading to the Cook Islands for next month’s Pacific Islands Forum (PIF). The problem: Her attendance could send the wrong message to regional partners; thereby undermining U.S. influence in the Pacific.[[MORE]] Last year, the...
Small State Dynamic in Fiji-Australia Relations
The vast majority of the world’s small states are the developing small island stateswhich dot the Pacific and are far removed from major regional centers. Profoundly dependent on tourism and primary export crops, these states are particularly vulnerable to fluctuations in the global economy. As a result, many are heavily dependent ondevelopment aid and emergency assistance. In return,...
Papua Needs Inclusive Policy Approach
Separatism in Papua is a complex issue with many underlying, interrelated causes. Geolocation, history, and identity (ethnicity/religion) all play an important role in the parties’ construction of the conflict. These are reinforced by another set of factors: political, economic, social and humanitarian grievances. The question is: which set of factors is more amenable to resolution and thereby...
Australia Uranium Deal: A Risky Proposition
Former Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd’s recent defeat by incumbent Prime Minister Julia Gillard was severe. With only 31 of 102 votes cast his way, many speculate that Rudd will never again be considered for prime minister. Such are the consequences of political hubris.[[MORE]] While the tabloid media has savored the opportunity to skewer Rudd, his failed attempt to lead the...
Why Congress Cares About Iran-Venezuela
What is driving the sudden Congressional interest in Iran and the Western Hemisphere? A closer look reveals a complex set of overlapping non-partisan security concerns and partisan political interests are at play.[[MORE]] In mid-January, US Representative Jeff Duncan (R-South Carolina) introduced HR 3783 – Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act of 2012. The bill requires the “United...
Will Fiji Overplay Its China Card?
For more than two decades, Fiji has endured one coup after another. During the latest one, Commodore Frank Bainimarama overthrew Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase’s duly elected but troubled government. Since then, Australia has tried to coerce Fiji back to democracy. The regime’s failure to return to the polls, has led to Fiji’s suspension from the Pacific Islands Forum and the...
Congress Playing with Balochistan Fire?
Over the last few months, a small faction of congressmen, minority Afghan groups, Baloch nationalists, and their supporters have laid out the framework for an alternative US policy approach for Southwest Asia.[[MORE]] This alternative policy centres on backing remnants of the Northern Alliance and Baloch insurgents, who seek to carve out semi-autonomous territories or independent states from...
An Uncertain Future for Fiji?
In a recent conversation with Ambassador Winston Thompson of the Republic of Fiji, the ambassador was asked how he addresses skeptics who believe that Commodore Frank Bainimarama’s lifting of martial law was disingenuous. His opening remark, “We can only wait and see.” While out of context, this response quite rightly captures the larger state of affairs in Fiji. Led by a...
Spicy Ramen along Nagano Shinkansen
Taking the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Nagano can be a bit of a drag. Sure, it’s a thrill to take the bullet train for the first time. But, after a few round trips, the allure wears off. So, if you are looking to spice up your next trip, I recommend taking a break in Takasaki. [[MORE]] To be frank, Takasaki is no tourist mecca. Sure, it offers nice parks (especially during cherry blossom season)...
OpEd: Obama’s Nuclear-Redux Fantasy
Earlier this month, James N. Miller, principal undersecretary of defense for policy, acknowledged to the House Committee on Armed Services that China is increasing the size of its nuclear arsenal, North Korea continues to pursue the development of enriched-uranium weapons, and Iran is advancing its own nuclear ambitions. Mr. Miller also admitted that despite the administration’s decision to...
Carlo Kopp: F-35 Extended Coverage
For the past few weeks, I have been providing coverage of the lingering Australian F-35 debate via publications in The Diplomat, East Asia Forum, The Asia-Pacific Reporting Blog, Pnyx, and Foreword Report. In preparing this series of articles, I had the opportunity to interview Carlo Kopp, Research fellow at Monash Univerity and Co-Founder of Air Power Australia. Unfortunately, not all of that...
Still Life Left in Air Force B-52 Fleet
Addressing the press at the Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition I attended last week, US Air Force Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, Commander of the Air Force Global Strike Command, argued that there’s a lot of life left in the country’s fleet of B-52 bombers – the backbone of the United States’ long-range strike force.[[MORE]] Citing the current H-models’ use in providing close air...
Australia's High Octane F-35 Debate
Concerns about the changing balance of power in the Asia-Pacific are fuelling a debate in Australia about the potential acquisition of 100 F-35s. The decision is important in a country where maintaining regional air superiority remains critical to its national security thinking.[[MORE]] Last month, Australia’s Minister for Defense Stephen Smith told Parliament that the Australian government...
OpEd: India's Libya Takeaways
India’s current military strategy is the product of various factors, not the least of which are its assessments of US military intervention decision-making. It therefore is critical that regional experts better understand the complex inter-relationship between India’s strategic thinking and US military operations in places such as Iraq, Libya and Yemen.[[MORE]] For example, military...
Asia Pivot Needed for American Education
Late last month, I filed astory announcing the launch of thePacific Partners Initiative (PPI) by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the Lowy Institute for International Policy. As part of that piece, I spoke with Ernie Bower, Director of the CSIS Southeast Asia Programme and head of PPI. Due to space and topic limitations, certain portions of our conversation weren’t...
Canberra Reassessing the F-35 Commitment?
The Australian government is now reconsidering its $16 billion-plus commitment to the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program.[[MORE]] Experts believe that the Lockheed Martin program has suffered significant damage to its public and political standing in Australia.Recently, Minister for Defence Stephen Smith told Parliament that repeated delays and escalating costs were...
Australia Rethinks Its F-35 Purchase
Persistent talk that the Australian government is reassessing its $16 billion-plus,100-plane commitment to the F-35 fighter programme has sharpened following recent statements by Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith.[[MORE]] As one of only eight official F-35 global partners, analysts fear that any serious reduction in Australian commitments could have a major impact on the shareholders...
Cosplay Diplomacy: Worth a Play?
Cosplay – in which participants dress up as fictional, typically sci-fi or manga characters – is becoming increasingly popular in the United States. It’s a potential source of soft power that Japanese policymakers should be keeping a better eye on. According to American webcomic Onezumi ‘Oni’ Hartstein, co-founder of the Internet culture convention Intervention, Americans should also adjust...
Australia: America's Southern Anchor
Late last month, Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith gave a luncheon speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington. He addressed a number of key issues, including the 60th anniversary of the Australia-US alliance, the rise of India, China and the Association of Southeast Asian nations, and ongoing joint military operations in Afghanistan. However, as Benjamin Reilly, visiting professor...
Why Oceania Matters to the Pentagon
Since World War II, the United States has devoted few resources to the promotion of peace and stability in Oceania. Instead, it has relied on Australia and New Zealand to maintain Western strategic influence in the region. However, faced with a rising China and other emerging security issues, many analysts believe that the United States can no longer take Oceania for granted. Indeed, without the...
AUS Northern Sea-Air Gap Right for F-35?
Can the F-35 ensure Western air superiority in the Asia-Pacific? This question inevitably leads to passionate debate among military experts and scholars alike.[[MORE]] Vocal critics of Australia’s $16 billion plus F-35 commitments, such as Carlo Kopp, Research Fellow at Monash University and Co-Founder of Air Power Australia, believe that the F-35 is little more than “a specialised...
Soft Power of Asian Contemporary Arts
For hundreds of years, traditional Southeast Asian artwork, such as Indonesian batik, Vietnamese porcelain, and Thai stoneware, has garnered the attention of traders and collectors from around the world. In contrast, Southeast Asian contemporary art has only emerged on the international scene in the past few decades. Still, despite the relative novelty, awareness of the region’s artists has been...
Managing the New Threats Facing Asia
Asian diplomats are confronting new issues that challenge the very concept of what constitutes a security issue. Non-traditional security (NTS) issues — such as transnational crime, terrorism, disaster relief, information security, climate change, and public health epidemics — are now considered core national security issues. The rise of NTS issues presents new challenges for developing a...