Despite impressive changes over the past three years, Myanmar (or Burma) now faces growing insecurity and rising disappointment among citizens that reform has not brought higher standards of living. Interethnic and interreligious unrest now threaten to halt reforms altogether, depress much-needed investment, and could even lead to broader regional tensions.
"All of these steps are meant to ensure that the prime minister, and not the Army chief, is the most powerful Sharif in Pakistan. But that status is not easy to guarantee: before he was toppled by Musharraf, in 1999, Sharif thought that his position was invulnerable, thanks to a landslide victory that gave him an overwhelming majority in Parliament. If the direct threat of a coup has receded, today Sharif faces a broader array of checks on his power."
The U.S.-Japan alliance has been the cornerstone of Washington's security policy in East Asia, but rising threats from China, North Korea, and economic recovery in both countries have raised questions about the future of the rapport.
Vice President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivered remarks to the press in Tokyo on December 3, 2013. The meeting was the beginning of the vice president's travel in Asia, to discuss the Obama administration's rebalance to Asia and China's announcement of an Air Defense Identification Zone.
The Asahi Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper, conducted a written interview with Vice President Joe Biden on December 2, 2013, before the vice president's trip to China, Japan, and South Korea. The interview covers China's announcement of its Air Defense Identification Zone, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, defense and cybersecurity alliances, and the Obama administration's "pivot to Asia."
"China is eager to re-establish dominance over the region. Bitterness at the memory of the barbaric Japanese occupation in the second world war sharpens this desire. It is this possibility of a clash between a rising and an established power that lies behind the oft-used parallel between contemporary East Asia and early 20th-century Europe, in which the Senkakus play the role of Sarajevo."
Robert D. Blackwill reviews The Blood Telegram, by Gary Bass, a text that smears Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger as "heartless villains" of Pakistan's political stalemate and human rights crisis in the 1970s.
"In the coming weeks, Thailand's political crisis is likely to escalate, not de-escalate, ultimately resulting in either a snap election or some kind of extraconstitutional removal of the government," writes Joshua Kurlantzick.
Senior administration officials preview Vice President Joe Biden's trip to China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea during December 1-8, 2013. According to the briefing, the trip will underscore the Obama administration's "rebalance" to Asia.
"Once you have beaten back a disease to just a few hundred cases, they will almost by definition be concentrated in places where there's some barrier—geographical, cultural, political—to easy vaccination. In general, each marginal case will cost more, and will consume more time and effort and labor, than the one before it...[but] the math of cost-benefit analyses runs aground when it comes to eradication campaigns, because the benefits, in theory, are infinite."
Frank Klotz and Oliver Bloom examine the prospect of formal discussions with China on strategic stability and nuclear arms control, and address recent debates on China's nuclear capabilities and doctrine.
The United States maintains important interests in Afghanistan, even as most U.S. and allied troops are withdrawn in 2014. Seth G. Jones and Keith Crane assess the political, security, and economic challenges facing U.S. policymakers in Afghanistan and evaluate a range of policy options.
Following recent decisions made during a meeting of the Afghan grand assembly, Gayle Lemmon discusses how Afghans, U.S. foreign policy leaders, and others are working to shift the international perception of the Afghanistan war from one of hopelessness to one that reflects the strides the country has taken in economic growth, development progress, and human rights.
"If Japan's government can overcome a demand setback after the tax increase takes effect – leaving the economy functioning smoothly and initiating a recovery in government revenue – Abe will be able to declare Abenomics an unequivocal success."
"Unlike his predecessors, Xi is making foreign policy with the mindset of a great power, increasingly probing U.S. commitments to its allies in the region and exploiting opportunities to change the status quo."
"When asked if Karzai was concerned that the US might lose faith and withdraw altogether, the president's spokesman said: 'We don't believe there is a zero option.' This rock solid belief that the U.S. will not walk away from Afghanistan gives Karzai the confidence to hold out when the Americans, as well as everyone at the jirga...are pressing him to sign."
Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel responded to China's announcement of its Air Defense Identification Zone, which includes territories administered by Japan and South Korea. On December 5, 2013, The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee sent the Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai a letter urging the Chinese government not to implement an Air Defense Zone in the East China Sea. The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission released a report on January 14 , 2014 to analyze China's purpose in announcing its ADIZ.
China's Government and its Ministry of National Defense announced on November 23, 2013 the establishment of and rules for its East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone, which includes territories administered by Japan and South Korea.The defense minister responded to U.S. officials' concerns.
For more on the complex challenges that lie ahead for the world's largest and most rapidly changing continent, visit the Asia Program.
CFR Experts Guide
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The author examines Pakistan's complex role in U.S. foreign policy and advocates for a two-pronged approach that works to quarantine threats while integrating Pakistan into the broader U.S. agenda in Asia.