US’ Unfinished Business in Asia

Written on September 8, 2016 by Waya Quiviger in Americas, Asia, Foreign Policy, Global Economy

Laos provided fitting closure to President Obama’s 11th official trip to Asia, which ends Thursday. The stop, the first by an American president, acknowledged the devastation caused by American bombing during the Vietnam War and the millions of unexploded bombs that remained in Laos after the war. That visit and the Asian tour was the last of Mr. Obama’s broad efforts to strengthen engagements with countries in the region.

There is significant unfinished business in Mr. Obama’s Asia policy, including the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that appears gridlocked in Washington and an expanding North Korean nuclear weaponsprogram that he and other world leaders have failed to halt.

But Mr. Obama has made headway in reassuring Asian nations that the United States intends to remain a stabilizing presence in the region, as it has been for decades, and to serve as a counterweight to China’s growing power and increasing assertiveness, especially in the South China Sea.

In addition to opening a new chapter with Laos, Mr. Obama established relations with Myanmar when the former military dictatorship of that country agreed to move toward a democratic system. Ties were expanded and an arms embargo against Vietnam was dropped. New agreements on military bases for American forces were negotiated with the Philippines and Australia. Read more…

Editorial Board nytimes.com, Sept. 8th, 2016


BACK in June, after Spain’s second indecisive election in six months, the general expectation was that Mariano Rajoy, the prime minister, would swiftly form a new government. Although his conservative People’s Party (PP) did not win back the absolute majority it had lost in December, it remained easily the largest party, with 137 of the 350 seats in the Cortes (parliament), and was the only one to increase its share of the vote. But the summer holidays have come and gone and Spain’s political stalemate is no closer to ending. That is cause for growing frustration and concern.

In two parliamentary votes, on August 30th and September 2nd, Mr Rajoy fell tantalisingly short of securing a mandate, with 170 votes in favour but 180 against. These votes started the clock for a third election, once seen as unthinkable. If no one can secure a majority by the end of October, parliament will be dissolved and Spaniards would face a Christmas election.

For this, most commentators put the blame squarely on Pedro Sánchez, the leader of the opposition Socialists. His 85 deputies hold the balance of power. But he refuses to allow enough of them to abstain to give Mr Rajoy his mandate. He accuses Mr Rajoy and the PP of betraying the trust of Spaniards and of burdening the country with austerity and corruption. Read more…


Sept. 5th, 2016


Having Britain as an additional party to a U.S.−EU free-trade agreement would benefit all sides.

U.S. President Barack Obama cautioned that the United Kingdom would be at the ‘back of the queue’ for a trade agreement with the United States if the country chose to leave the European Union. But in the post-Brexit world a deal might be struck more swiftly. Various ideas for bringing Britain and the United States into a formal trade arrangement have been floated. These range from a bilateral UK-U.S. trade deal, to the United Kingdom joining the North American Free Trade Agreement that connects the United States with Canada and Mexico, to Britain being a party to the the Trans-Pacific Partnership that the United States hopes to seal with 11 other countries along the Pacific Rim.

One option stands out from the rest: opening the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, to the United Kingdom after Brexit. The United States and European Union are currently negotiating TTIP. Read more…

By Marianne Schneider-Petsinger
August 30, 2016



Globalization is remaking and reshaping America’s two big political parties. This transformation lies behind the bedlam of this year’s presidential campaign.

For the past half-century, the Democratic and Republican parties have been unified around clear identities. Broadly speaking, the Democrats were liberal, economically and socially, and the Republicans were conservative. The Democrats were the party of big government, the Republicans of big business. Degrees of difference existed within each party, but the most liberal Republican was still more conservative than the most conservative Democrat.

That’s changed. Globalization has split American society into global winners and global losers, the haves and have-nots, global citizens and global left-behinds.

In a coherent politics, there would be a party for each side, a party for the haves and a party for the have-nots. Instead, each party now embraces large constituencies of both winners and losers, and these constituencies are battling for control.

This, more than anything else, explains the chaotic and vitriolic class-based campaign going on now. Read more…

August 16, 2016 | By Richard C. Longworth



However tempting it is to keep writing about Donald Trump, I’m going to move on to less bizarre topics. Last week I participated in a panel at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences on the implications of the Brexit vote (along with Leslie Vinjamuri of the University of London and Barry Posen and Francis Gavin of MIT). Their comments got me thinking— and not for the first time — about where the world is headed these days.

It’s easy to understand why people think the current world order is rapidly unraveling. Despite steady reductions in global poverty, the continued absence of great power war, and mind-boggling advances in science and technology, world politics doesn’t look nearly as promising as it did a couple of decades ago. It’s still possible to offer an upbeat view of the foreign policy agenda — as Joe Biden recently did — but the vice president is not exactly the most objective judge. He thinks the next president will be able to build on the Obama administration’s successes, but a more candid evaluation would conclude that the next president — whoever it might be — is going to face some serious challenges. Read more…


  • By Stephen M. Walt
  • August 21, 2016
  • Stephen M. Walt is the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University.


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