Tag Archives: USA

Kim Outclasses Park

7 Jun

Kim Jong un PleasedIt’s easy to be cynical – or surprised – about the prospects when negotiating with the North Koreans. It’s healthily reflexive to doubt their intentions, but it’s wrong to do so without accepting, that its better to have Pyongyang at the table than not. As Stephan Haggard argues, let’s acknowledge what the North Koreans did right, yet be wary.

Given the lack of high-level North-South channels and the fact that nothing new is likely to come out of Washington, more information is better than less. Is there really anything to lose?

What is on offer? The Northern statement, issued in the name of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea tasked with managing North-South relations, offers talks on three issues: Kaesong, the Mt. Kumgang resort and family unification visits (“if necessary”). The quid pro quo is clearly normalization of Kaesong and Kumgang—and resumption of the $120 million plus of annual transfers from them—in exchange for family visits. The North would also like some joint celebration of the anniversary of a 1972 joint communiqué and the 2000 Kim Dae JungKim Jong Il summit. Needless to say, there is no mention of the broader security context, including the nuclear issue; such discussions would have to emerge organically from these initial trust-building steps.

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Cheap Continuity

5 Jun

Atari ASBThe United States Navy released its official line on AirSea Battle, which Robert Farley cautions should not be confused with AirLand Battle.

The political situation facing the modern USAF and USN is obviously different, and different enough that the implied connection between the two doctrines may obscure more than it illuminates. The objective of smoothing inter-service cooperation is obviously worthy, and AirLand Battle is worth remembering for the peace it represented between the Army and Air Force. Given the differences between the two concepts (one is a doctrine, one is not; one had an enemy in mind, one does not; one involved a lead and support service, one involves equal cooperation between two services, etc.), the confusion generated by the comparison may outweigh the rhetorical value of the (admittedly nifty) naming strategy.

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Trouble In Shangri-La

4 Jun

Hagel's Pastel ImpotenceAnnoying pastel colors are in fashion, and the United States and China are determined to set a collision course in the world. That’s what I gather from Joshua Kurlantzick’s summary of the 12th International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Asia Security Summit: The Shangri-La Dialogue, in Singapore on June 1, 2013.

All in all, though the Shangri-La Dialogue serves a useful purpose of getting Asia-Pacific leaders to talk to each other and establish the kind of personal links that could be necessary in averting crises, the region’s arms buildup and tensions continue to rise. Though some observers are hopeful that the current head of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Brunei (the chairmanship rotates each year), will be effective in moving ASEAN and China toward real negotiations over the South China Sea, this is doubtful.  It is true that Brunei is a contestant in the South China Sea, and that it has some experienced diplomats, and is also small enough to be viewed as an impartial mediator. But as the subtext of the Shangri-La Dialogue showed, no one in East Asia seems to be in any mood for real concessions on anything.

In the context of the pivot to Asia and the mess in the Middle East, is this collision with China a product of nostalgia?

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