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Experts Discuss Perspectives on Nuclear Centers of Excellence in Asia

South Korean President Park Geun-hye speaks to the plenary group at 2014 Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague (source: Netherlands Ministry of Defence/Sjoerd Hilckmann)

South Korean President Park Geun-hye speaks to the plenary group at 2014 Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague (source: Netherlands Ministry of Defence/Sjoerd Hilckmann)

On July 18, 2014, the Center for Strategic and International Studies held a talk on Asian nuclear Centers of Excellence (CoEs) where experts and officials gathered to review the accomplishments made by Japan, China, and the Republic of Korea in nuclear security matters and to offer their perspectives on future developments.

At the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, DC launched by President Barack Obama to mitigate the threat posed by loose nuclear materials around the world, three Asian countries pledged to create these CoEs. These training programs aim to develop expertise in nuclear security to support national nuclear energy programs. Japan and the Republic of Korea respectively established their own centers in 2010 and 2014; China will open their facility in 2015. (more…)

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Policy Alert: Rising Powers Comment on 6th BRICS Summit

brics_pr[1]The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) held its sixth summit on July 15-16 in the Brazilian cities of Fortaleza and Brasilia, where agreements were signed for creating a Contingency Reserve Arrangement (CRA) worth $100 billion and establishing a $50-billion New Development Bank (NBD), to be headquartered in Shanghai. In this Policy Alert, we examine reactions to the outcomes of the BRICS summit from China, Russia, India, Brazil, and Japan. The RPI’s coverage of previous BRICS summits can be found here and here.

CHINA

Numerous commentators and media outlets in China hailed the BRICS summit as a milestone, praising the BRICS for positioning the group for a bigger role in both the political and economic spheres. (more…)

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RPI Author Amitav Acharya: Move Over, Big Brother

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The BRICS leaders at the 2014 summit in Brasilia, Brazil. (Source: AP)

Amitav Acharya, Professor of International Relations, American University, wrote an op-ed for The Hindu where he discussed the BRICS countries’ decision to create the New Development Bank and a contingency fund to deal with financial crises. While he admits that it is “too early to say whether these mechanisms will challenge…the Bretton Woods system under U.S. hegemony,” Acharya concludes that these new mechanisms “at least serve as a reminder that the era of Western and American dominance of the world is ending, giving way to a more complex and diversified world order: the multiplex world”:

The western media has been dismissive of the BRICS move to set up a bank, but such cynicism misses the larger picture — the end of western hegemony and the rise of the multiplex world.

For the first time since its creation in the aftermath of World War II, the structure of global economic governance established and dominated by the United States has some serious competition. At their summit in Brazil on July 15, 2014, the five BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) agreed to set up the New Development Bank (with a capitalisation of U.S. $100 billion) and a contingency fund to deal with financial crises.

It is too early to say whether these mechanisms will challenge the role of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) or the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which have been the bedrock of the Bretton Woods system under U.S. hegemony. But they at least serve as a reminder that the era of Western and American dominance of the world is ending, giving way to a more complex and diversified world order: the multiplex world. The move by BRICS, though outwardly economic in nature, has serious geopolitical undertones.

It comes after a speech last May to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point by U.S. President Barack Obama in which he declared: “America must always lead on the world stage. If we don’t, no one else will.” Such remarks would seem arrogant and dismissive of the ambitions of the emerging powers. The BRICS nations do not accept the view that the world is for America’s alone to lead or manage. The BRICS summit in Brazil also showed that the emerging powers do not buy the Obama administration’s move to punish Russia for its actions in Ukraine by isolating it internationally. (more…)

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RPI Authors Deepa Ollapally and Robert Sutter on Economic Ties and Security Rivalries in Orbis Summer 2014

orbisIn the Summer 2014 issue of Orbis: A Journal of World Affairs, RPI authors Deepa Ollapally and Robert Sutter explore the implications of economic ties and security rivalries in the Sino-Indian and Sino-American relationships, respectively.

In “China and India: Economic Ties and Strategic Rivalry,” Deepa Ollapally examines how well theories of economic and interdependence and structural realism explain the India-China divergence between growing economic relations and continuing strategic mistrust. Her article looks at the Indian side and argues that we need to go beyond economic and strategic factors, and brings in a more contingent approach based on domestic elite discourse and thinking. The article suggests that a more nuanced and complex debate on China is emerging in India than that posited by interdependence or realism, a debate that is framed by what the nationalist, realist and globalist schools of thought, with the latter two groups currently holding the center of gravity.

Robert Sutter continues the discussion regarding integration and divergence in “China and America: The Great Divergence?” arguing that although there have been many sources of tension in U.S.-China relations since the Cold War, they generally have been held in check by circumstances that have inclined the governments to cooperate. Nonetheless, the multi-faceted U.S.-China relationship remains fragile. Given the complicated situations, such frameworks as the contemporary “great divergence,” and forecasts based on them, have proven to be incomplete and incorrect.

The full Orbis issue can be found on their website.

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Japan’s Collective Self-Defense: A Catalyst for More Deterrence or Security Competition?

abeAnnouncing his Cabinet decision to enable Japan to exercise its collective self-defense rights, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe assured the public that the new security policy will serve as deterrence and ensure peace. This explanation, however, overlooks the fact that a robust military posture could also trigger a security dilemma and invite conflict. Abe must explain to his people and neighbors how he will address the potential negative aspects of the new policy.

On July 1, the Abe administration announced a historic revision to Japan’s pacifist postwar security policy. It provided a new constitutional interpretation that will enable the country to exercise its collective self-defense rights, meaning that the Japanese force can now defend friends and allies under attack for the first time in history. Prime Minister Abe explained the new policy as one of deterrence, which will prevent aggression and ensure peace in today’s rapidly changing international security environment. Some Japanese newspapers supported Abe’s views.

“Deterrence maintains peace.” The logic is by no means a new one. It underlines balance-of-power politics throughout history, as well as the U.S. military “rebalancing” toward Asia, or more specifically, toward a rising China. The logic also applies to Japan’s new defense policy. “The most important thing is that this [collective self-defense] makes it possible for us to work more closely with countries in the region to maintain the balance of power and deterrence vis-à-vis China,” explains Narushige Michishita, director of the Security and International Studies Program at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo.

The logic tells only half the story, however. The other half of the story is this: deterrence can also invite conflict. One’s purely defensive military posture can appear offensive and trigger the adversary’s assertive reaction, which in turn sets off a negative spiral of security competition that can ultimately lead to war (remember World War I). Military efforts alone cannot solve this so-called “security dilemma.” Diplomatic efforts are necessary to avoid such unnecessary conflict. (more…)

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Policy Alert: Rising Powers Respond to Winning and Losing at the World Cup

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe 2014 World Cup games came to a close on Sunday, July 13 after an exciting final match between Germany and Argentina. In our latest Policy Alert, we examine commentary on how the games played out for Brazil, China, Russia, India, South Korea, and Japan.

BRAZIL

Host nation Brazil finished a disappointing fourth in the tournament, punctuated by a humiliating 7-1 defeat to eventual champion Germany in the semi-finals. Concerns about overtaxed infrastructure, unfinished stadiums and massive protests leading up to the games proved unfounded, as the tournament proceeded with relatively few setbacks. (more…)

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RPI Author Hui Zhang: United States and China Expand Cooperation on Nuclear Security

china-us-nuclearNuclear Debates in Asia project scholar Dr. Hui Zhang recently wrote an analysis piece for PacNet exploring the expanded U.S.-Chinese cooperation on nuclear security. While China was reluctant to address nuclear security challenges before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Dr. Zhang argued leaders in Beijing have moved in recent years to coordinate efforts with the United States in civilian nuclear sectors, measures to lock down military-grade nuclear material, and other venues.

Why the change in policy? According to Dr. Zhang:

The Chinese government has taken significant steps to develop and apply approaches to nuclear security and nuclear accounting in the aftermath of 9/11. One driver of Chinese improvements has been international cooperation, in particular with the US. Since the 9/11 attacks, China has actively cooperated with the US to improve its nuclear security in the civilian sector. Such cooperation should continue and grow stronger. More importantly, China-US cooperation should extend to the military sector that has custody of the largest stocks of weapon-usable fissile materials and all nuclear weapons.

At the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed that increased cooperation regarding the nuclear security of one country is beneficial to all nations. As Xi pointed out, “The amount of water a bucket can hold is determined by its shortest plank. The loss of nuclear material in one country can be a threat to the whole world.” President Barack Obama has emphasized that the biggest threat to US security is the possibility of a terrorist organization obtaining a nuclear weapon. The three Nuclear Security Summits have focused the top leaders in Beijing and Washington on nuclear security issues and enhanced consensus on the danger of nuclear terrorism. It is time to extend China-US cooperation on nuclear security to the military sector. Since the threat of nuclear terrorism is a top US priority, Beijing’s cooperation on the issue would benefit the Sino-US relationship. Moreover, Beijing’s active participation in building a robust global nuclear security system would improve its international image.

(more…)

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POLICY ALERT: Asian Powers Respond to Crisis in Iraq

iraqSectarian conflict erupted earlier this month as Sunni militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, swept through northern Iraq, inflicting violence against the Shiite majority and Shiite-ruled government. In this Policy Alert, we examine reactions to the ongoing Iraqi crisis from India, China, South Korea, and Japan.

INDIA

The crisis in Iraq touched India in a personal way after 40 Indian construction workers in Mosul were abducted by ISIS aligned forces, prompting strong reactions from Indian leaders and the Indian public; thousands of Shiite Muslims living in India have pledged to defend Iraq’s holy shrines and join the fight against ISIS. (more…)

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POLICY ALERT: Rising Powers Respond to Corruption and Kickoff of 2014 World Cup

worldcupThe 2014 World Cup games kicked off on Thursday amidst protests of poor public services, corruption, and the high cost of staging the World Cup in host country Brazil. In addition to the ongoing protests, soccer federation FIFA is under scrutiny for its decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar due to recent allegations that the nation handed out bribes in exchange for votes to win the bid. This PolicyAlert examines reactions from Brazil, India, China, Japan, South Korea, and Russia on the corruption charges and predictions for the World Cup.

BRAZIL

The 2014 World Cup is Brazil’s second time hosting the games. Ongoing protests and debate regarding spending and corruption have resulted in dampened enthusiasm for the games in comparison to the past several World Cups, according to Folha de São Paulo, (more…)
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RPI Author Rajesh Rajagopalan Warns 21st Century Evolving into 20th Century Europe

asiaRajesh Rajagopalan, a participant in RPI’s Nuclear Debates in Asia and Worldviews of Aspiring Powers projects and professor in International Politics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, wrote an op-ed for The Economic Times where he warned “great power politics in Asia today seems to resemble very much Europe a hundred years back” before the start of a series of world wars. Rajagopalan offers  five major pieces of evidence for this comparison: 1) changing and uncertain balance of power; 2) hyper-nationalism among emerging powers; 3) intensifying arms races; 4) general optimism both about the unlikelihood of war as about the prospects for victory; and 5) plenty of minor disputes that could provide the necessary spark.

He noted the presence of nuclear weapons in Asia is a significant difference compared to pre-WWI Europe: ”Nuclear weapons are a new factor which induces at least some caution in how leaders behave. But on the other hand, this works only if both sides have them and many East Asian states, including Japan, do not. They are protected by Washington’s extended nuclear deterrent which makes Japan and others dependent on an increasingly fickle America.”

While the author does not conclude war in Asia is inevitable, he wrote that it will take both “prudent behavior” as well as “providence” to avoid conflict: (more…)

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