Saudis Playing with Fire

Maybe, as we renegotiate our relations with Iran, we should also be asking why Saudi Arabia is not working to create a more peaceful world instead of stirring up sectarian animosity. Perhaps this relationship, too, needs to be renegotiated. A little more distance would seem to be in order. Read more »

The US and Southeast Asia: Then and Now

Yet before the fall of Saigon to Ho Chi Minh’s forces and the messy US evacuation from South Vietnam, came the US evacuation of its embassy in Cambodia, an event that has, for the most part, sunk into obscurity. In fact, the US government had already left Phnom Penh – evacuating its remaining embassy staff - and the killing fields of Cambodia 18 days before the Saigon departure began. Read more »

The Ideal Man: Jim Thompson and the American Way of War – Book Review Essay

Jim Thompson himself, though, was a mystery and that contributes to questions surrounding his disappearance. Joshua Kurlantzick’s The Ideal Man: The Tragedy of Jim Thompson and the American Way of War (Johnathan Wiley and Sons, 2011) tries hard to solve that mystery but in the end the trail runs cold. The only thing we’re pretty sure of is that Thompson had a number of enemies as well as friends, was likely not eaten by wild tigers or other four legged predators then inhabiting the Cameron Highlands, did not commit suicide and would not have taken a fatal misstep and slipped into some ravine. Read more »

Lawrence Freedman’s Strategy: A History – A Book Review Essay

The major reason I decided to embark upon Freedman’s journey – and see it through to the end – was because the term strategy (or lack thereof) has become one of those words that are tossed around all too easily by people complaining that so and so or such and such organization has no strategy. But they then fail to define what they mean or they give it such a rigid, outdated meaning that they, in essence, render the term useless. Read more »

But What Will China Choose? A Review Article

If it would be disastrous for America to go to war with China and self-defeating for America to pull out of Asia entirely, there’s only one realistic policy path for America now and in the near future: to work toward a cooperative sharing of power in Asia such that all, great powers and small, will benefit. Harking back to nineteenth century European history, he calls it a Concert of Asia. Whatever it’s called cooperation would seem to be a no brainer. Except for the details, of course, where the devil resides. But sadly there’s no room for detail in Hugh White's The China Choice. Read more »

In Typhoon Haiyan’s Wake

But why do Americans know so little about how their tax dollars are spent? Or that so very little can do so much good and create such good will for the US abroad? In 2004 the US provided some of the same kinds of humanitarian assistance to the survivors of the huge tsunami which devastated Aceh, Indonesia and the previously anti-American population there made an about-face. Why then is this country’s role in international humanitarian relief and the good it does abroad so underreported here at home? Is it simply because positive stories aren’t news? Or is it something more? Read more »

Back to the Future? The US and the Philippines

An article in the New York Times on July 13, 2013 reported that the US military is now looking for a more or less permanent return to the archipelago although this time on less grandiose scale, stationing more or less permanent US troops inside Philippine military bases as opposed to re-establishing large, expensive stand-alone American installations of times past that were the last US hold-overs since Philippine independence in 1946 and that had been considered vital to US military efforts in Asia throughout the Cold War. Read more »

Double Standards: Buddhists, Muslims and Murder

Particularly poignant in regard to the Muslim-bashing in Myanmar has been the restraint and remoteness of Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s virtual saint who is reputed to have meditated regularly while under house arrest. During those long years as a political prisoner she was globally admired as a martyr of conscience, and she received the Nobel Peace Prize for her non-violent resistance to military rule. Since she’s been free to speak out, however, she seems to have lost her tongue. She certainly hasn’t been campaigning very vigorously to protect the lives and human rights of Myanmar’s Muslims. The Lady is a politician, it seems, not a Buddhist saint. Why is the world giving her such an easy pass? Read more »

Living in Challenging Times: the US and East Asia

LIVING IN CHALLENGING TIMES: THE UNITED STATES & EAST ASIA a two-day symposium April 8-9, 2013 St. John’s College, Santa Fe, New Mexico sponsored by SANTA FE WORLD AFFAIRS FORUM Co-sponsors: U.N.M. Center for Science, Technology & Policy Albuquerque Committee... Read more »