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  • Author: Ralph A. Cossa, Brad Glosserman
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's choice of Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, and China for her first official trip overseas helped shine a spotlight on Asia as a high priority region this quarter, as did North Korean Dear Leader Kim Jong-il's announcement that he intended to conduct a satellite launch in early April. The drama surrounding the anticipated launch provided an unfortunate back drop for otherwise very positive pronouncements about intended Obama administration policies in East Asia, even if the quarter closed with only a handful of those eventually to be tasked with implementing these policies at their desks. ASEAN leaders finally held their postponed summit and celebrated the entry into force of their much-maligned Charter. Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd visited Washington to underscore that the U.S. and Australia are still “mates,” even as his reluctance to send more combat forces to Afghanistan foreshadowed the difficulty President Obama faces in getting allies to sign up for his “surge” there. Finally, economic forecasts kept being adjusted downward as Asian leaders prepared for the G20 summit in London in hopes that this would bring a turnaround.
  • Topic: Security, Government, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Japan, China, Indonesia, Asia, South Korea, London, Australia
  • Author: Michael J. Green
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: A new calendar year did little to change the tenor of Japanese domestic politics as the public became increasingly frustrated with parliamentary gridlock and the leadership of Prime Minister Aso Taro, whose approval rating plummeted amid a deepening recession. Opposition leader Ozawa Ichiro continued pressure tactics against the government and became the favorite to succeed Aso until the arrest of a close aide damaged his reputation and stunted momentum for a snap election. Aso demonstrated the art of political survival, touting the urgency of economic stimulus over a poll he could easily lose and which need not take place until the fall. In an effort to prevent political turmoil from weakening Japan's global leadership role, the government dispatched two Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) destroyers to participate in antipiracy operations in the Gulf of Aden.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, North Korea
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan
  • Author: Victor D. Cha
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The quarter ended with the question of whether President Obama's first late-night crisis phone call – the metric for leadership bandied about during the campaign – would be over a ballistic missile test by North Korea. The suspenseful end to the quarter contrasted with its quiet start where the focus of U.S.-ROK bilateral relations was on initial contacts between the Lee and Obama administration teams and policy coordination over the global financial crisis, while the North Korea missile launch issue slowly but steadily moved from a simmer to a slow boil. However events unfold, the launch itself gives the new administration its first taste of North Korean bad behavior and confronts it with the problem of finding the right balance between under- and over-reaction that is needed to move denuclearization negotiations forward.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, North Korea, Korea
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Government, United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Joseph Ferguson
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The bilateral dialogue in the first quarter of the year was cordial, if somewhat distant. The administration of President Barack Obama sent clear and positive signals to the Kremlin. At times President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin reciprocated with positive language; at times Moscow's negative rhetoric reappeared. Clearly the Russian leadership has been making a cautious assessment of the new U.S. leader. Optimism was again evident at the London meeting between Obama and Medvedev on the eve of the G20 summit on global economic issues. In London, the two leaders pledged cooperation on a variety of issues, centering on arms control. There has been nothing positive in the bilateral relationship to report since last April when then-President George W. Bush visited then-President Putin at Sochi. Since that time, the relationship has plunged to depths unseen since the Cold War. Although many observers wish to see progress (and have come to forecast it), there is clearly much work to be done to repair the rift that has developed over the past six years.
  • Topic: International Relations, Cold War, Government
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, London, Moscow
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Government
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Ukraine, France
  • Author: Sheldon W. Simon
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to Indonesia, part of her initial overseas journey to Asia, was enthusiastically received in the world's most populous Muslim country. The secretary praised Indonesia's thriving democracy as evidence of the compatibility of Islam and political pluralism. Noting Southeast Asia's importance to the U.S., Clinton announced that the State Department would begin consideration of a process to sign ASEAN's Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, a prerequisite for membership in the East Asia Summit. She also acknowledged that Washington's harsh sanctions against Burma's military junta had not changed that regime's draconian rule but also pointed out that ASEAN's engagement strategy was equally impotent. Nevertheless, she stated that the U.S. would consult with ASEAN in the process of reviewing its Burma policy. Meanwhile, ASEAN held its 14th summit in Thailand at the end of February. While the global economic crisis dominated the agenda, the future of a human rights commission mandated by ASEAN's new Charter proved the most contentious, with the more authoritarian ASEAN members insisting that noninterference in domestic affairs should remain the underlying principle of any human rights body.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Indonesia, East Asia, Burma, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Robert Sutter
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Southeast Asian and broader international attention focused in March on the confrontation between five Chinese government ships and the U.S. surveyor ship USNS Impeccable in the South China Sea near Hainan Island. U.S. and Chinese protests and related media commentary highlighted for Southeast Asian audiences a pattern of U.S. surveillance to learn more about China's growing military presence and activities in the area, and a pattern of China's unwillingness to tolerate such actions in areas where it claims rights that are disputed by the U.S. and other naval powers. The protests and commentary provided a vivid backdrop for China's continued efforts to claim and defend territory in the South China Sea that is also claimed by Southeast Asian nations. Meanwhile, there was little good news on the economic front as China's international trade and economic interchange with Southeast Asia continued to fall rapidly. Chinese diplomatic and political attention to the region remained low during the quarter.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Southeast Asia
  • Author: David G. Brown
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Beijing and Taipei have been making preparations for the third round of ARATS-SEF talks to be held in May or June at which time additional agreements on finance, flights, and crime are expected. The global recession has precipitated a dramatic decline in cross-Strait trade and that, in turn, has contributed to accelerated plans to negotiate a comprehensive cross-Strait economic agreement. However, the planning for such an agreement has produced a storm of opposition protest in Taiwan, which represents the most serious challenge yet to President Ma's cross-Strait policies. Officials on both sides are speaking optimistically about finding a formula under which Taipei could be an observer at the World Health Assembly (WHA) in May. Although defense reports from both sides acknowledge reduced tensions, there is as yet no sign that Beijing will reduce the military threat directed at Taiwan.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government
  • Political Geography: China, Taiwan, Beijing, Taliban, Taipei