The most aggressive nationalist in Donald Trump’s administration has been kicked to the sidelines. Steve Bannon, who served as Trump’s chief strategist, left the White House in mid-August after giving a candid interview to a liberal U.S. magazine. After a career of outrageous statements, Bannon finally said something in this interview that was completely unacceptable… Continue reading Regime Change in Washington?
Forget RussiaGate for the moment. Forget James Comey’s upcoming testimony before the Senate intelligence committee. Forget all the conspiratorial speculation that Donald Trump is the plaything of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In strictly foreign policy terms, Trump’s election is not really working out so well for the Kremlin. The sanctions against Russia are still in… Continue reading Russia’s Not the Country Benefitting Most from Trump
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?
For Obama supporters, the last eight years have been a victory of wise leadership over the forces of darkness in Congress and the world at large. For critics of the outgoing president, Obama could do no right as he plunged the United States into the worst crisis in its 200-plus years of history. Between the… Continue reading Obama the Time Traveler
Island disputes are a big thing in Asia. Japan and China both claim the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. Japan and South Korea tussle over Dokdo/Takeshima. Japan and Russia still haven’t definitively sorted out who owns the Kuriles/Northern Territories. You’d think that these existing island disputes are a sufficient headache. But no: Countries in the region are making… Continue reading Asia: On the Rocks
(written with Emanuel Pastreich) East Asia faces an enormous number of challenges. The countries of the region clash over territory, argue over history, compete for diminishing natural resources, and dispute the balance of power along the Pacific Rim. In response to all these challenges, the United States has offered a one-size-fits-all approach: free trade and… Continue reading East Asia: A Farewell to Arms
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
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