The interview was originally published in NOVasia Issue 31 and is republished on The Policy Wire with express permission. For more exciting pieces on international relations from the brightest minds in Korea be sure to checkout their website. Though the peace agreement between President Juan Santos and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia’s (FARC) Commander Timochenko was narrowly defeated in a plebiscite on October 2nd, the world’s longest running civil war appears to be in its twilight. The intensity of the fighting has dropped precipitously since its peak in the early 2000s. Organized military groups in Colombia, FARC being the largest but not the only, are steadily losing ground in remote regions, and major cities have been free from daily terrorism for years. Current international coverage has only offered in passing the most basic of accounts of FARC, Colombia’s place in the Cold War and the land disputes that have fed a half-century long civil war. Despite the setback to a negotiated peace, a difficult prospect for any civil war, both Santos and Timochenko have promised to continue a bilateral ceasefire and search for a negotiated peace.
The interview was originally published in NOVasia Issue 31 and is republished on The Policy Wire with express permission. For more exciting pieces on international relations from the brightest minds in Korea be sure to checkout their website. Fox News was born from a desire to counteract a perceived bias in the US media landscape. Its recently deposed chairman, Roger Ailes, set out to create a cable news network for an “underserved audience that is hungry for fair and balanced news.” Conservatives since the Nixon-era have consistently argued that major news outlets, both on television and in print, hire more liberal-leaning reporters and that their own political views filter into the reporting they do.
On April 6th in Ha Tinh, Vietnam, a central province made up mostly of coastline and fishing boats, dead fish began washing ashore. The stink and the carcasses continued to arrive, eventually claiming 200km of beach and affecting four provinces by April 18th. Without any word from the government, and no offers of relief, fishermen and their families could do nothing but busy themselves with shovels, burying their livelihoods in the sand. Then, something relatively rare happened in Vietnam, Vietnamese citizens from Hanoi down to HCMC took to the streets, blaming a massive US$10.5 billion steel plant just put into operation by Formosa, a Taiwanese plastics corporation. Protesting is not done in Vietnam unless one is prepared for physical violence or a trip to the police station. Other internationally recognized human rights don’t enjoy much protection either. Vietnam is one of the worst jailors of bloggers and journalists in the world; political dissidents are routinely beaten and jailed; and religious minorities persecuted. But even more surprising than the presence of chanting in the streets was that Vietnamese marched in relative peace, with only a few reports of isolated police harassment in Hanoi and central provinces. The protests continued. At massive…
Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) is once again in the news in South Korea, the US, China and around the world. The missile system is capable of connecting with and destroying a ballistic missile in its descent and therefore functions as a last chance defense against nuclear weapons attacks. Given the actions of North Korea that have also been taking up newsprint since the beginning of this year, it is unsurprising that the US would now be more public in its calls for installing the system here in South Korea. The US has been pushing for THAAD to be installed in South Korea for years and intensifies those calls whenever the North conducts a nuclear weapons related test. To this point however not much progress has ever been made in finalizing a deal to have the US bring in this advanced missile defense system made by Lockheed Martin. It is difficult to believe that despite the official position of both Washington and Seoul that there have been no official discussions between the two nations on placing THAAD. In a recent visit to Seoul, Secretary of State John Kerry told US troops in Yongsan that “we’re talking about THAAD and…
The UN, as Paul Kennedy so lucidly describes in his book “The Parliament of Man,” is an indispensable global institution. Yet at its core it remains a fallible, if not a blatantly limited institution driven very often by the interests and caprices of its most powerful member states. Come January 1, 2017, this seven-decade-old institution will welcome its new figurehead in what will once again be the culmination of the realities of the shrewdest tenderloins of great power politics. According to Article 97 of Chapter 15 of the UN Charter, “The Secretary-General shall be appointed by the General Assembly (GA) upon the recommendation of the Security Council (SC).” This clause remains deliberately ambiguous about the qualifications of potential candidates. The closest to specifying the qualifications for appointment came in the form of a 1946 General Assembly Resolution 11/1 saying a candidate must be a “man of eminence and high attainment.” The selection process, according to the same resolution, is to be carried out through a process of secret balloting by the Security Council; the chosen candidate is then recommended to the General Assembly for approval, thus setting the tone for what has become a sort of customary law in the…
In 2000, then President Kim Dae-Jung became the first Korean to receive a Nobel Prize, for his life’s work dedicated to democracy and, to quote the Nobel Committee: “peace and reconciliation with North Korea in particular.” The award was granted shortly after the first North-South Korean summit in June of the same year, and in recognition of the merits of the Sunshine Policy in general. Yet fifteen years later, Kim Dae-Jung’s legacy remains controversial: not only is the success of the policy debatable, but some have also criticized the costs he was willing to pay in the name of reconciliation.
After going head-to-head with the West over Ukraine, and to a lesser degree over Georgia, Russia is still making waves on the international stage. Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Premier Dmitri Medvedev minced no words in stating the Kremlin’s reading of the current geopolitical order—a cynical Cold War. The Kremlin is all but confounding its critics and staking its strategic claims more vociferously than at any time in the post-Cold War era. Russia’s recent foreign policy posture is predicated on shrewd nihilism, as demonstrated in Georgia, Ukraine, Libya and Syria. This sense of nihilism owes its origins to a tradition that goes back to pre-revolutionary Russia, seeping into the Marxist-Leninist policies of braggadocios interventionism. It is premised on a crude sense of viewing the world as a contested space of interests that are disguised in value-laden narratives.
A report by the British House of Lords chaired by Lord Tugendhat concluded that Europe sleepwalked into the conflict in Ukraine through a catastrophic misreading of the mood in the run-up to the crisis. As the report rightly indicated, there is good reason to question the institutional thinking within the Western political elite. Despite President Petro Poroshenko’s initial grandstanding, the needless suffering of Ukrainian people of all political stripes further confounds the logic of the West’s triumphalist attitude going into Ukraine.
Bearing witness to today’s Asia summons to mind an almost classic resurgence of sovereignties, seemingly clashing over that ageless title of Greatest Empire of Them All. Although the warmongering skirmishes of old are not the tactic of choice among these modern kingdoms, the dynastic intensity of ancient times has found a new ascendency in the Far East.
While South Korea has become a major economic power, it is surrounded by far larger players in Asia. It may never be able to play a leading role in shaping both regional and international affairs, but is currently looking for ways to assert itself on the global stage. These aspirations are typical of what scholars define as a Middle Power – an international actor that is neither small nor large.