Posts Tagged ‘security’

Still in business

December 17, 2010

R.O.C. Marine band members

Since my last post, I’ve been busy pursuing my hobby (triathlons / triathlon training), made a quick trip back to the U.S., and as of late, been burdened quite heavily writing papers and presenting on them at grad school.  First, I’d like to talk a little bit about this last point, sharing a little bit of what I’ve been researching, writing about, and presenting on.  I’ll also share what remains “in the hopper” – requirements left to be satisfied before the end of the semester about a month from now.  Be warned: there will also be a fair amount of miscellany tossed in for good measure!

  1. I wrote a paper and made a presentation this week entitled “China’s Rise and the South China Sea.”  I find China’s recent aggressiveness over its claims in the South China Sea to be part of their overall trend toward consolidation of territorial claims, both maritime and land-based (for example, the September 2010 row with Japan over the Chinese fishing boat which rammed Japanese patrol vessels near the Senkaku / Diaoyutai Islands not far from Taiwan in the East China Sea is another example of aggressive behavior over a disputed maritime claim).  While China’s claim of “indisputable sovereignty” over the South China Sea made just after the July ASEAN Regional Forum in Hanoi made headlines, in fact China has been making the same types of claims about the South China Sea for decades, going back to not long after the establishment of the People’s Republic.  What was significant in China’s rhetoric about the South China Sea this year was the elevation of the area to “core national interest” status, something that heretofore only long-standing PRC irredentist claims such as those involving Taiwan or Tibet were assigned.  Looks to me like China is positioning itself to be more aggressive about the South China Sea, not less.   There is a chance that the paper might be accepted for publication next year in an edited book on topics related to China’s foreign policy produced by my school, National Sun Yat-sen University (NSYSU), so I will refrain from posting it until that situation is sorted out.
  2. I also participated in the creation and delivery of a presentation this week about Japan’s national security strategy under Koizumi (2001 – 2006).  There was no paper for this project, just the presentation.  It was interesting to me to learn about how much the U.S. has pressured Japan to assume a greater and greater security role as the decades passed after World War II, and to see how changes in Japan’s laws governing overseas deployment of the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) marching in lock-step with U.S. overseas wars since 1990.  Today, Japan is assuming more and more of a “normal” role in terms of its own security, though a there is still a long way to go until the process is complete.  It will be interesting to see how far the process goes, and whether or not at some point perhaps in the next decade Japan’s people reach enough of a consensus to make changes to or perhaps eliminate altogether Article 9 of their American-authored post-WWII constitution that currently outlaws Japan from possessing “military” forces and bans aggression as a policy choice.  You can see the presentation here. (Google Docs)
  3. Papers I am still working on this semester include an examination of the continuing utility of the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act that established the current non-official relationship between the United States and Taiwan when the U.S. decided to switch official recognition to the PRC, another on non-traditional security issues in Southeast Asia (probably focusing on pandemic disease threats and response preparation, since this [East Asia]  is the region that suffered the most in the SARS outbreak back in the early 2000s and has also been subject to not a few bird flu scares).  The final paper will deal in with national security / crisis management, and will likely revolve around a case study of one or both of the Quemoy crises in the 1950s.
  4. I talked in a recent post about deliberations over selecting a thesis topic.  I decided that the anti-access/area denial (A2AD) realm is the one I am truly interested in with regard to China’s military modernization, so that will be what my thesis will be on – the effect of China’s development of A2AD capabilities like the anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) and associated systems on Taiwan Strait security.  At the very least, the Navy guys should be interested in it.
  5. We continue to benefit from NSYSU professors “mining their Rolodexes” when they will be unable to give classes due to international travel or other conflicts.  This week Ambassador Feng Tai (酆邰), formerly Taiwan’s ambassador in Tuvalu and 37-year veteran of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, delivered a talk on crisis management and negotiating skills.  By far the best parts of the talk were when he leavened it with personal anecdotes from some of his own experiences, from hosting the Saudis here in Taiwan in 1990 when the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was weighing switching its recognition of Taiwan to the PRC (it ultimately did so) to stories about preparing to negotiate with meticulous and well-prepared Japanese and Chinese delegations on various issues.  Ambassador Feng mentioned that he is weighing retiring from the MOFA next year and going into academia, teaching foreign affairs at a university in Taipei.
  6. Not really related to academic affairs as the rest of this post has been, but interesting nonetheless: last month I traveled to Taipei to attend the U.S. Marine Corps birthday celebration.  The U.S. Marine Corps was established 10 November 1775, and every year about that time Marines pause to remember fondly those who have gone before us.  The interesting part about this year’s celebration here in Taiwan was that it was the first official celebration of any size since the late 1970s when the above-mentioned Taiwan Relations Act was passed.  For decades after the TRA, there were no active-duty U.S. military officers stationed as attaché with AIT.  It was only in 2005 that the first active-duty military folks returned to AIT.  A couple years later, the first post-TRA U.S. Marine attaché came to Taiwan.  Since that time, every year the celebration of the Marine birthday grew a little bit, and now, in 2010, the celebration of the U.S. Marine birthday here in Taiwan (235 years young!) was on par with celebrations held at places with very robust U.S. Marine presences (like Marine bases in the U.S. or Okinawa).  There was one key difference, though – here we were able to celebrate hand-in-hand with out R.O.C. Marine counterparts, who attended in force this year, led by their Commandant, Lieutenant General Hsia Fu-Hwa.  The Taiwan Marines were even gracious enough to offer up their band’s jazz ensemble to provide the music for the event – that’s them in the photo at the top of this post. (Good thing, because we couldn’t make much of a U.S. Marine band here with the two of us, no matter how talented we are!)  I have no doubt that in the future these birthday celebrations will only become more and more like the finer Marine Corps Birthday Balls put on by embassies and equivalent worldwide each November.
  7. Blogroll update: I’m adding the Lowy Institute, an Australian think tank that put out a fine report on the future of security in Asia this year, and also China SignPost, an effort by Dr. Andrew Erickson of the U.S. Naval War College and Gabe Collins.  They publish periodic analytical briefs on various aspects of China and the world.  I’ve found especially their report on how China’s dependence on oil imported by sea will only continue to increase, despite efforts at developing overland pipelines.
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A few more conferences…

May 26, 2010

It’s too bad I missed Willy Lam’s talk in Taipei a couple of weeks ago…

Willy Lam flyer

…but yesterday I didn’t have to do a thing and a good opportunity fell into my lap.  As a guest speaker in my Tuesday afternoon course on Cross-

Michael Ying-mao Kau

Michael Ying-mao Kau

Strait Relations and Asia-Pacific Security, Ambassador Michael Ying-mao Kau, PhD, Taiwan’s former representative to the European Union and Belgium (also former Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, and so forth), spoke on some salient issues related to the EU and contrasted them with the current situation in Asia.  It was an interesting talk.  He is very hopeful about the EU’s integration and sensitive to challenges it faces, including issues facing Turkey’s possible accession to the union and the near-trillion US dollar bailout for Greece.  Asia, by contrast, remains firmly entrenched in the throes of nationalism and nowhere near as robust a level of integration, consisting mainly of a very loose economic regime in ASEAN.  The unilateral use of force or the threat of force is still often times the preferred way to solve problems in Asia, something that Europe has moved beyond, at least in terms of relations internal to the Continent.

But that’s not all!  Also this week I saw a couple other flyers up announcing some upcoming events that look like they might be worth checking out.  These events are both in Taipei, put on by National Chengchi University.

Kau event poster

Kau event poster

The first one is next week, June 1 – 2 (Tuesday and Wednesday).  Here’s the full scoop:

Welcome to IDAS international conference on 6/1

◆Title: Stronger Nations. Stronger Relations: New Prospects for Asia-Pacific Regional Integration

◆Time: 08:30-17:30,2010/06/01(Tue),06/02(Wed)

◆Venue: 5F, International Conference Hall, General Building of Colleges, National Chengchi University

◆International scholars: Dr.TJ Pempel from UC Santa Barbara University, Dr. Benjamin Cohen from Berkeley University, etc.

◆The conference focuses on the following issues:

*Frontiers in Public Administration Governance: Leadership for the Modern World
*New IPE Challenges for Asia- Pacific Region
*Rediscovery of social and cultural development
*Evolution of Asia-Pacific Security and New Security Focus

◆Language: English

◆P.S.: We welcome all professors and students. Registration Required. Please register through the registration system before 05/28. Please see the agenda as the link below.

Acdemics .posted by IDAS.中文 列印

The second conference, on June 12 (Saturday), looks even better.  It’s the 3rd annual conference of the Republic of China Institute of International Relations and the event, which runs all day, is entitled, “Theory and Practice of Dialogue.”  The keynote speaker will be Dr. Richard Bush, former director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and current director of the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.  I haven’t been able to locate an English version of the conference’s program, but here’s the program in Chinese (it’s essentially a larger version of the photo just below this paragraph).  Lack of English publicity materials makes me suspect this event will be in Chinese, as opposed to the two-day conference next week, which explicitly indicates that it will be held in English (see above).

June 12 event poster

"Theory and Practice of Dialogue" International Conference Agenda

Finally, for those folks a bit west of here in a few weeks (DC-area), I would recommend trying to catch an event at the National Defense University on June 16.  The symposium’s title is “China’s Naval Modernization: Cause for Storm Warnings?” and it looks almost as if the entire faculty of the China Maritime Studies Institute (CMSI) of the U.S. Naval War College will be occupying the place to put on the event.  They’ve gone as far as preparing a nice list of “read-ahead”-type items (PDF)for folks who are interested in attending.  Related to the Naval War College’s CMSI, just today Dr. Andrew Erickson, an assistant professor at the Naval War College, founding member of CMSI, and fellow in the Princeton-Harvard China and the World Program, released the first edition of a newsletter (PDF) written by him and another researcher called China Signpost.  The aim of the newsletter is to provide “high-quality China analysis in a concise, accessible form for people whose lives are being profoundly affected by China’s political, economic, and security development.”  That pretty much describes anybody in Taiwan!  The first issue concerns China’s reliance on petroleum and the authors’ conviction that China will continue to disproportionately rely on seaborne means of transportation to keep their oil supply flowing (despite what you might hear about China’s efforts to build pipelines to reduce their reliance on seaborne oil transport).  The authors go on to explore the naval security implications that arise from China’s continuing dependence on maritime transport for energy needs.  It’s certainly worth a read – as is everything else posted over at Dr. Erickson’s webpage, www.andrewerickson.com.  (See also the top of the blogroll on the right-hand margin of this page.)

See you at the conferences!

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Out of Office AutoReply

January 18, 2010

Kindle

I’m going to be on the road for the next couple weeks, so “posting will be light.”  Ha ha – like it has been heavy thus far!  I always wanted to write that, though.  I am now done with my first semester of graduate school, so I should have extra time to post things here – except that I will be conducting “TouristOps” for most of the semester break. (Classes resume after the Chinese New Year.)

Like some of the other bloggers I aim to emulate, I am going to leave some reading suggestions for you.  Here’s what I am going to have on the plane to Tokyo with me:

  1. David Finkel’s book The Good Soldiers.  It has been hailed in multiple places as one of the best on the Iraq War, so I am to see for myself.  I’ve read other acclaimed accounts like Craig Mullaney’s The Unforgiving Minute and Dexter Filkins’s The Forever War (if you haven’t read these two, you should), and I want to see if Finkel’s book measures up.
  2. The report “Tracking GhostNet: Investigating a Cyber Espionage Network” from The Information Warfare Monitor and the U.S. – China Economic and Security Review Commission’s report  on Chinese cyberwarfare.  The recent big kerfluffle with China and Google is a neat window into the spooky world of computer network operations, and in fact is an area of research that I am very interested in.  There’s a lot of breathless, overheated stuff in the day-to-day media about cyberwarfare, but reports like these (both published last year) are a lot more objective.
  3. Earlier this month, CSIS released a new report on Taiwan Strait security called “Building Trust Across the Taiwan Strait: A Role for Military Confidence-building Measures.”  Taiwan Strait security is another one of my research interests, so this one ought to be good to.  (If you missed CNAS’s China-Taiwan report last month, then you should go ahead and fix yourself right now and read it.)
  4. If that’s not enough, then I’ll finish myself off with the latest edition of the National Bureau of Asian Research’s Asian Policy.  It’s got an interesting-looking “roundtable” piece devoted to training the next generation of Asia experts.

I can’t help but “pile on” here – if you are reading this and haven’t yet read CNAS’s other new report about fixing the intelligence effort in Afghanistan, just stop and go read it.  Excellent stuff.

Are Outcomes to National Security Predictable?

January 9, 2010

Getting set to listen to “It’s Your World” on kqed.com (NPR station in San Francisco, CA).  Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, a political scientist famous for his use of game theory, will be the guest.  Starts right about…now.  Tune in yourself here: http://www.kqed.org/radio/listen/.  Should be interesting.  More about it here:

Are Outcomes to National Security Predictable?
The program’s guest is Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, Julius Silver professor of politics at NYU. He’s an expert on game theory — the idea that people compete and that they always do what they think is in their own best interest. Bueno de Mesquita uses game theory and its insights into human behavior to predict events, and his forecasts have a 90 percent accuracy rate. He boldly predicts that President Obama is unlikely to quash the terrorist influence in Pakistan, that Iran will not develop nuclear weapons and that global warming will prove immune to government prescriptions. In his new book “The Predictioneer’s Game,” Bueno de Mesquita uses his mathematical model to predict outcomes in business, national security and day-to-day life based on the self-interest of decision makers. He joins the show to detail his system of calculation. Since the early 1980s, CIA officials have hired Bueno de Mesquita to perform more than 1,000 predictions. A study by the CIA, now declassified, even found that his predictions “hit the bull’s-eye” twice as often as its own analysts did. (from http://www.kqed.org/radio/programs/index.jsp?pgmid=RD58)

The World Affairs Council of Northern California sponsors this program.

Pearl Harbor Day

December 7, 2009
Pearl Harbor veterans

Pearl Harbor veterans watch during the memorial ceremony at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, 7 December 2007

Pearl Harbor Day, every year on 7 December, seems to get lost in the shuffle now that we’ve got a more recent surprise attack (that would be 9/11) seared into our collective memory.  But it’s hard to overstate the significance of that day’s events and how the repercussions have shaped security in the Asia-Pacific region ever since.

John Lewis Gaddis, in his book Surprise, Security and the American Experience, compares a series of “shocks” to American security, including Pearl Harbor.  He says that Americans, contrary to what might be supposed to be the typical reaction to a surprise attack (drawing inward), tend to expand their influence or scope of activity after an attack.  It’s not hard to see that this is the case, based on Pearl Harbor – America entered World War II and fought for the next 4 years, afterwards cementing a dominant security position in the Asia-Pacific, largely to prevent another Pearl Harbor-like surprise attack from happening.

Post-9/11 America has similarly expanded her reach once again, projecting power most notably into the Middle East, but also into places here in the Asia-Pacific region (the US Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines is one example of this, advising and assisting the Armed Forces of the Philippines in a struggle against Muslim separatists in the southern Philippines allied with the larger al-Qaeda movement via their Southeast Asian arm, Jemaah Islamiyah).

Author James Bradley, who has a new book out that explores how US president Theodore Roosevelt inadvertently set the diplomatic conditions that would lead to the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, has a companion piece in the New York Times that encapsulates his argument.  In it, he says

Roosevelt had assumed that the Japanese would stop at Korea and leave the rest of North Asia to the Americans and the British. But such a wish clashed with his notion that the Japanese should base their foreign policy on the American model of expansion across North America and, with the taking of Hawaii and the Philippines, into the Pacific. It did not take long for the Japanese to tire of the territorial restrictions placed upon them by their Anglo-American partners.

Japan’s declaration of war, in December 1941, explained its position quite clearly: “It is a fact of history that the countries of East Asia for the past hundred years or more have been compelled to observe the status quo under the Anglo-American policy of imperialistic exploitation and to sacrifice themselves to the prosperity of the two nations. The Japanese government cannot tolerate the perpetuation of such a situation.”

Essentially what is shown is that Theodore Roosevelt was unable to foresee the second- and third-order effects that his leniency and favor towards Japan in the resolution of the Russo-Japanese War and advocacy for Japanese expansion into Korea would have.  I can’t help but think what similar “down the road” effects might come from America’s current diplomatic and military endeavours, not just in the Asia-Pacific, but worldwide – probably not all the wonderful things we are aiming for, that’s for sure.

Under Construction

November 30, 2009

This is the new blog Facing China.  The name comes from what I do every day when I go to class – my trip takes me right along the Taiwan Strait, and every day it reminds me about the challenges and opportunities attendant with China’s rise in stature and strength in the Asia-Pacific region and the world.  Since I am writing from Taiwan, this blog will mainly focus on Asia-Pacific strategic security, national defense, and intelligence-related issues, but I must admit that as an active-duty US Marine, I anticipate that I will serve in my nation’s wars again once I finish studies here in 2011, so I am also keeping an eye on the growing field of counterinsurgency and have an interest in history (military and otherwise) as well.  I hope this short introduction gives you an idea of what this blog aims to be.

Stay tuned for further material.


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