In the ads in the back of old comic books, a skinny little kid is hanging out at the beach when a bully comes along and kicks sand in his face. The little kid, who weighed 97 pounds at the time, was Angelo Siciliano. He hightailed it to the gym, where he worked out until… Continue reading Is Japan’s Prime Minister the Next Putin?
It wasn’t long ago that certain pundits were predicting war in Asia. Back in the spring, the conflict over the South China Sea was heating up as China sparred with Vietnam over an oil exploration rig and with the Philippines over disputed reefs. Japan and China, meanwhile, were butting heads over a string of uninhabited rocks in… Continue reading Asia Smiles for the Cameras
President Barack Obama’s recent tour of Asia was an opportunity to reenergise his foreign policy after a series of setbacks in the global arena. The four countries on the week-long tour — Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines – have all been eager to upgrade their relationships with the United States in light of… Continue reading Obama’s Half-Pivot to Asia
For the second year in a row, the world is spending a little less on the military. Asia, however, has failed to get the memo. The region is spending more at a time when many others are spending less. Last year, Asia saw a 3.6 percent increase in military spending, according to figures just released by… Continue reading World Cuts Back Military Spending, But Not Asia
Last year was a tough time for President Obama. The health care roll-out was plagued by website malfunctions. His ambivalent approach to intervening in Syria satisfied neither hawks nor doves. Congress stalled on major legislation like immigration reform. And the leaks by Edward Snowden revealed that the National Security Agency was spying on American citizens,… Continue reading Has Obama Already Forgotten about Asia?
In a future update of The Devil’s Dictionary, the famed Ambrose Bierce dissection of the linguistic hypocrisies of modern life, a single word will accompany the entry for “Pacific pivot”: retreat. It might seem a strange way to characterize the Obama administration’s energetic attempt to reorient its foreign and military policy toward Asia. After all, the president’s… Continue reading The Empire’s New Asian Clothes
I passed through an enormous tori, the traditional gate in front of Shinto shrines. In the courtyard, white-clad Shinto priests walked quietly back and forth. A flock of white doves, specially bred on the site, pecked at the ground and then took wing at the prodding of a photographer. I visited the strolling garden and… Continue reading The Sun Also Rises
The “Pacific pivot” of the United States is nothing new. At the same time, it doesn’t really exist. And yet, even though it doesn’t exist, this pivot is partly responsible for the escalation of tensions in and around the Korean peninsula. How can all three of these statements be simultaneously true? Such are the paradoxes… Continue reading The Paradoxes of the Pacific Pivot
Written with Emanuel Pastreich The low rolling hills of the Dalateqi region of Inner Mongolia spread out gently behind a delightful painted farmhouse. Goats and cows graze peacefully on the surrounding fields. But walk due west just 100 meters from the farmhouse and you’ll confront a far less pastoral reality: endless waves of sand, absent… Continue reading From Pacific Pivot to Green Revolution
The geopolitical centre of gravity, as measured in arms spending and transfers, has shifted to Asia. The top five arms importers over the last five years, according to new data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), are from Asia. And, led by deep-pocketed China, Asia is poised to overtake Europe for the first time in… Continue reading Asia Is Up In Arms