military diplomacy

More than two decades after the Cold War supposedly came to a peaceful conclusion,Russia’s encroachment on Ukrainian sovereignty and its outright annexation of Crimea have occasioned a retro flashback. A byproduct of this geopolitical turmoil is NATO’s renewed importance to foreign policy.

"Will China invade its neighbors?" This is a question I tend to be bombarded with whenever I present lectures or attend talks on East Asian affairs. From Tehran to Tokyo, one can sense the growing anxiety towards China's international influence.

Malaysia Airlines flight 370 (MH370) is presumed to have crashed into the southern Indian Ocean, “about as close to nowhere as it’s possible to be, but . . . closer to Australia than anywhere else,” according to Australian prime minister Tony Abbott. In response, Australia’s formidable humanitarian assistance and disaster relief/search and rescue (HADR/SAR) machine has sprung into action.

 The Philippine navy will soon return to a South China Sea island it lost to Vietnam 40 years ago to drink beer and play volleyball with Vietnamese sailors, symbolising how once-suspicious neighbours are cooperating in the face of China's assertiveness in disputed waters.

Despite a mild economic slowdown amidst China’s economic rebalancing and the U.S. Federal Reserve tapering—and despite a dip in Indonesian shares following asurprisingly weak performance by the favorites in Wednesday’s parliamentary election—the general direction of Indonesia’s economy seems clear: onwards and upwards.

The conventional wisdom on U.S. alliances in Asia, at least in the West, Japan, and Taiwan (but not necessarily in South Korea), is that they are broadly a good thing. One hears this pretty regularly from U.S. officials and the vast network of U.S. think tanks and foundations, such as the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the American Enterprise Institute, and their many doubles in Asia.

Pakistan announced last week that it received a $1.5 billion grant from Saudi Arabia, which it termed a “friendly gift” and an “unconditional grant." Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have long had warm ties, but the no-strings-attached gift sparked immediate concern from Pakistani journalists, security experts, and opposition politicians, who question whether the grant is part of a behind-the-scenes deal for Pakistan to provide weapons for Syrian rebels.

If only America were fighting more wars, Russia would never have taken Crimea. That’s basically the argument John McCain made last Friday in The New York Times. “For five years,” he complained, “Americans have been told that ‘the tide of war is receding’.… In Afghanistan and Iraq, military decisions have appeared driven more by a desire to withdraw than to succeed.”

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