United States

Vietnam's Defensive Diplomacy

Asia’s military landscape is shifting, and nowhere more so than in maritime Southeast Asia. This week saw another major development: the inaugural U.S.-Vietnam defense policy dialogue in Hanoi.

Tuesday’s meeting builds on triennial exchanges of defense ministers begun in 2000 and marks a definite turning point in bilateral relations. Since 2008, the two countries have conducted an annual Political, Security and Defense Dialogue under the auspices of the U.S. State Department and Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Now they have developed a high-level channel for direct military-to-military discussions under their respective defense department.

BURMA: Frustrations Do Not a Policy Make

[I]mposing additional sanctions on Burma’s regime or forming still more commissions will only salve our consciences. Neither will help the Burmese people, persuade the government to loosen its grip on the population, or even assist the United States in meeting its strategic or humanitarian objectives. In fact, such moves would hinder negotiations and relations with a new government that, even if far from a model for governance, would probably give the Burmese more political voice and freedom than they have had in half a century.

Answer: Washington, DC

The 2nd US ASEAN Summit needs to be held in Washington, DC. When inviting ten foreign leaders from a strategically vital region to meet the President of the United States, symbolism and form are vitally important. The Washington choice sends the right messages at the right time.

The New Class of US Ambassadors in ASEAN

The US Ambassadors to the ASEAN countries rotate every three years or so. For the most part, with the exception of Singapore, they tend to be experienced career foreign service officers. A new class is making its way into the region. They a relatively young group with strong resumes and solid experience.

Singapore's Tightrope Walk on Taiwan

Singapore’s policy toward Taiwan is an example of the tightrope that Southeast Asian countries need to walk in the new era of an increasingly powerful China asserting itself – particularly in relation to its “core interests” including Tibet, Taiwan and (the newest addition to the “core”) the South China Sea.