As President Barack Obama unveiled his plan to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State (IS) in Syria, U.S. military and its Arab allies yesterday launched airstrikes against the extremist group in Syria. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from China, Russia, India, Japan, South Korea, and Brazil on the ongoing fight against IS.
Commentary in China was divided: some advocated for China’s involvement in the Middle East due to economic considerations and China’s status as a global power, while others cautioned against aligning with the United States. (more…)Continue Reading →
As the death toll by the Ebola virus continues to rise in West Africa, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently declared an “international emergency,” calling for global efforts to combat the deadly disease. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from China, Russia, India, Japan, South Korea, and Brazil on the Ebola outbreak.
While an Ebola outbreak is unlikely in China, public health officials have implemented a prevention and treatment plan for Ebola. (more…)Continue Reading →
Fighting between Israel and the Palestinians ensued over the past month in response to the kidnappings and murders of three Israeli teens in the West Bank. Israel and Hamas have both drawn international condemnation for the ongoing violence, which has worsened the grave humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from India, China, Russia, Japan, South Korea, and Brazil on the recent events of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Despite closer ties with Israel in recent years, Indian commentary was by and large critical of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. (more…)Continue Reading →
A torrent of security, diplomatic, and economic challenges intersect on the Korea Peninsula to complicate debates on nuclear issues. While the threat posed by the North Korean nuclear arsenal looms over the region, experts at a recent conference co-hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Korea Economic Institute in Washington, D.C. suggested that an evolving security environment could open up new possibilities to alter the nuclear landscape.
The United States and South Korea are currently engaged in talks on the future of nuclear energy cooperation between the two allies. Park Jin, former Chairman of the Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Unification Committee in the South Korean National Assembly, urged Washington to allow Seoul to expand its civilian nuclear program despite concerns about how those activities may impact proliferation risks. According to Jin, decision-makers focus too often on North Korea and not on the needs of South Korea’s civilian nuclear program when discussing nuclear issues on the Korean peninsula. “Under these circumstances,” Jin said “the South Korean government’s desire to revise the nuclear cooperation agreement to allow civilian recycling of the spent nuclear fuel and to move toward uranium enrichment for civilian purposes in a very transparent manner is certainly a challenge.” Nevertheless, South Korea and the United States signed the last so-called “123 nuclear cooperation agreement” over four decades ago when South Korea was still an under-developed economy. Jin insisted today South Korea has become the fifth largest nuclear energy power in the world, and it is crucial that his country supplies nuclear fuel to its domestic reactors in a more stable manner. (more…)Continue Reading →
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.
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…)Continue Reading →
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…)Continue Reading →
The 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.
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…)Continue Reading →
The 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.
Rajesh 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…)Continue Reading →
Iran and the P5 + 1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) are currently engaging in historic negotiations over Iran’s controversial nuclear program. The Joint Plan of Action (JPA), signed in November 2013 and entered into force in January 2014, gives the parties six months to solve the international dispute with a final deal. This fragile détente followed the election of Hassan Rouhani – considered by some to be a voice for moderation in Iran – as president last June. These developments triggered enthusiastic reactions within Asian powers soon after the interim agreement was signed. Several countries in the region have vested interests in Iranian oil for their energy needs as well as important concerns regarding nuclear nonproliferation and regional security issues.
On June 9-10, U.S. officials held bilateral meetings with their Iranian counterparts in Geneva on the status of Iran’s nuclear program. Analysts have predicted the talks will be extended an additional six months to resolve outstanding issues, but the JPA formally expires a year after it entered into force. As the July 20, 2014 extension deadline approaches, this Nuclear Debates in Asia Digest highlights the evolution of diplomatic relations over the past months between Iran and countries in the Nuclear Debates in Asia project. (more…)Continue Reading →