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Nukes and neighbours

Rory Medcalf, director at the Lowy Institute for International Policy focuses on the complications  in North Asia in the wake of a renewed push by Washington towards nuclear disarmament. In an article “Wicked weapons North Asia’s nuclear tangle”, the author provides the background of the intersecting interests of North Asian powers such as the United States, China, and Japan and highlights potential trajectories that demand mutual and coordinated concessions of Washington, Beijing, Tokyo.

Hatoyama doctrine

Yukio Hatoyama, Japan’s new prime minister, states that the creation of an East Asian community to support economic cooperation and national security in the wake of declining US power and expanding Chinese power was one of his goals. In “My Political Philosophy”, an op-ed in Wall Street Journal, he argues that the underlying structures required for the formation of a regional economic bloc were already in place and that the way to reduce bilateral tensions was to move towards greater regional integration targeting the establishment of a future common Asian currency.

China sees a strategic window of opportunity

Evan S Medeiros, analyst at the Center for Asia Pacific Policy at RAND institute analyses the multiple layers that constitute China’s foreign policy strategy, and assesses the challenges for China in implementing its strategy and implications for US policy and interests. In a RAND monograph “China’s International Behaviour – Activism, Opportunism, and Diversification”, he posits that Chinese leaders have concluded that their external security environment is favourable and that the next 15 to 20 years represented a “strategic window of opportunity” for China to achieve its leading objective of national revitalisation through continued economic, social, military and political development while deftly leveraging the current international system.

Beijing and Naypyidaw

An International Crisis Group report, titled “China’s Myanmar Dilemma”, examines Chinese national and provincial policy towards Myanmar and its implications for international approaches toward Myanmar.  The authors suggest that China’s influence on Myanmar may have been overstated and call for continued pressure by the West in the Security Council and other fora while emphasising to China the unsustainable nature of its current policies.

Pakistan’s jihad factories

Ayesha Siddiqa claims that Pakistan’s South Punjab has become a jihadi hub due to a potent mix of economic stagnation, Islamist fundamentalism and ideological indoctrination at madrassas. In an article “Terror’s Training Ground” in Newsline, she also claims that the authorities continue to be in denial while the number of madrassas in the Punjab rose to more than 3000, converting people to Salafism and training jihadis; and the state apparatus as well as the political parties have tie-ups with the militant groups. She offers a strategic solution wherein the state takes care of the economic and developmental interests of the local population.

Counter-curroption and COIN

Michael O’Hanlon, director of Research at Brookings Institution and JANE HARMAN, member of the US Congress lament that anti-corruption campaign had been largely overlooked in the west’s strategy to address the rapidly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. In an article for Brookings Institution, “Troops to Progress on Afghanistan’s Corruption”, they argue that the counter-insurgency strategy would not succeed if a larger anti-corruption effort including such measures as ombudsmen at various levels to handle citizen complaints and firing of corrupt officials, were not implemented.

Terrorism and public opinion

Alan Krueger,  assistant secretary at the US treasury department and Jitka Maleckova of the Economics Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences examine the effect of public opinion in a country on the number of terrorist attacks perpetrated by its citizens or groups against other countries by analysing Gallup poll data of public opinion in 19 Middle Eastern and North African countries who disapprove of the leadership of nine world powers. In an article “Attitudes and Action: Public Opinion and the Occurrence of International Terrorism” in Science they refute the assertion that terrorists act independently of their countrymen’s attitudes toward the leadership of the countries they attack.

Mitigating commitments and emission rights

Arvind Panagriya, professor at Columbia University, states that developed countries have chosen to play strategically on climate change by framing the negotiation in terms of mitigating commitments rather than emission rights that could let them claim the moral high ground for large cuts and yet walk away with maximum rights to pollute in the future. In an article for Brookings Institution, “Climate Change and India: Is There a Basis for US Pressure?”, he calls on the developed countries to substantially cut their emissions before asking developing countries to commit to mitigation.