James Mattis visited Asia this month on his first foreign trip as the new head of the Pentagon. It was less a get-acquainted visit than a damage control tour. His boss, President Donald Trump, had threatened to escalate tensions with China and prevent North Korea from launching a nuclear-capable ICBM. He’d accused Japan of currency… Continue reading Will Trump Complete the Pivot to Asia?
On the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, Europe is at peace. There are no major border disputes. The countries form a unified economic bloc instead of a patchwork of jostling alliances. In the last 70 years, the only large-scale violence took place during the unraveling of Yugoslavia, which ended 15 years… Continue reading Asia: The Ghosts of 1914
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