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  • Author: Nobumasa Akiyama
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: On January 20, 2021, a new administration will take office in the United States. This could lead to changes in US-Iran relations. The Trump administration continued to provoke Iran by withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), tightening sanctions, and killing Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani. Meanwhile, the incoming president Joe Biden and key members of his diplomatic team are oriented toward a return to the JCPOA. In the midst of all this, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a nuclear scientist who is believed to have played a central role in Iran's nuclear development, was murdered. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani responded by saying he would retaliate at an "appropriate" time, and an advisor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said he would take "decisive" action. Although the US is not believed to have been directly involved in this incident, there are concerns that it will cast a dark shadow on the diplomacy between the US and Iran over the JCPOA. Shortly thereafter, Iran's parliament passed a law that obliges the government to take steps to expand nuclear activities that significantly exceed the JCPOA's limits and to seek the lifting of sanctions. The new US administration will need to be very careful not to overlook either hard or soft signals, to analyze Iran's future course, and to take diplomatic steps to reduce Iran's nuclear and regional security threats.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations, JCPOA, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Hussam Ibrahim
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: After the announcement of the victory of Ebrahim Raisi, Iran's hard-line judiciary chief, various analysts raised questions about the future of US-Iranian relations, particularly in light of major determinants. The most prominent of which is Ebrahim Raisi himself, who is subject to US sanctions, and his term, which may coincide with reaching a new nuclear agreement between Washington and Tehran, as well as the current debate in Washington’s political circles regarding the situation in Iran.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Elections, Hassan Rouhani
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Kevin Rudd
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Asia Society
  • Abstract: Throughout the recent 18 months of the U.S.-China trade war, which has landed in a “phase one” deal, and awaits the tackling of more difficult economic elements in phase two negotiations, there has been a slow and steady structural shift in the U.S.-China relationship as it continues to head in a more adversarial direction. Against the backdrop of this drift toward confrontation occurring in the absence of any common strategic understanding or high-level diplomatic mechanism to manage the mounting economic, security, and technological tensions into the future, Asia Society Policy Institute President the Hon. Kevin Rudd brings together a series of speeches delivered during 2019 in the collection, The Avoidable War: The Case for Managed Strategic Competition. This volume works to help make sense of where the U.S.-China relationship is heading in the current period of strategic competition, and follows on from Rudd’s 2018 collection, The Avoidable War: Reflections on U.S.-China Relations and the End of Strategic Engagement. In this new volume, Rudd focuses not only on the bilateral relationship, but also on China's domestic politics, economics, and its strategic vision. But on the bilateral relationship, Rudd writes that while there may be a truce of sorts on the trade front during 2020, that will not be the case across the rest of the economic, political, and security relationship. Challenges will continue in areas such as the future of 5G mobile telecommunications infrastructure, the Belt and Road Initiative, Xinjiang, Hong Kong, allegations of Chinese political influence and interference in foreign countries’ internal democratic processes, and China’s increasingly close strategic collaboration with Russia. Militarily, tensions will continue in the East China Sea, the South China Sea, and the wider Indo-Pacific, together with confrontations less visible to the public eye in espionage, cyber, and space. Against this backdrop, and the steady erosion of diplomatic and political capital in the overall relationship, Rudd asserts that the “2020s loom as a decade of living dangerously in the U.S.-China relationship.” The Avoidable War: The Case for Managed Strategic Competition includes six speeches from 2019 covering a range of critical challenges in the U.S.-China relationship, as well as a December 2019 conversation at the Harvard Kennedy School which begins to outline an approach to managing the growing tinderbox of tensions across the spectrum of the bilateral relationship.
  • Topic: Security, Bilateral Relations, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Trade, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Christopher A. McNally
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: With both the US and China facing a long economic slowdown, the bilateral relationship between the globe's two largest economies faces massive challenges. Making matters worse, Washington and Beijing have attempted to divert domestic attention away from their own substantial shortcomings by blaming each other. Given the economic uncertainty, each side has limited leverage to force the other into making concessions. Harsh rhetoric only serves to inflame tensions at the worst possible time. For better or worse, the US and China are locked in a messy economic marriage. A divorce at this time would exact an enormous cost in an already weakened economy.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Economy, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Kyoko Kuwahara
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: The hardening of US attitudes toward China's exercise of sharp power in recent years has been dramatic. As a result, China's sharp power has been eliminated from the US, and the confrontational structure between the US and China has shifted from a "US-China trade war" to a "political war" or "information war". Since the beginning of 2020, the two superpowers have engaged in verbal warfare over responses to the new coronavirus. Whenever the US criticizes China, China shifts the blame to the US, and they use the media to restrain each other. Now the US and China are fighting against the new coronavirus even as they also waging a "propaganda war" against each other.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Public Opinion, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Tetsuo Kotani
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: "We're not at war. Sailors don't need to die," wrote the captain of the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, which was infected with the novel coronavirus while on a mission at sea in March, in a letter to the Navy's leadership asking for permission to isolate the bulk of his roughly 5,000 crew members on shore. The U.S. Navy dismissed the captain for unnecessarily spreading the sensitive letter, while more than 1,000 crew members, including the captain himself, have been confirmed infected and one has died. In the meantime, the acting chief of the Navy, who had inappropriately criticized the dismissed captain, was forced to resign, and the command and control of the military has been brought into question in the midst of the pandemic of COVID-19.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations, Armed Forces, Alliance, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: James M Dorsey
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: Israel resides at the cusp of the widening US-Chinese divide, as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent visit to Israel attests. Pompeo’s visit was for the express purpose of reminding Jerusalem that its dealings with Beijing jeopardize its relationship with Washington.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations, Arms Trade, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Middle East, Israel, Asia, Palestine, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Emil Avdaliani
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: Many argue that the coronavirus pandemic will ultimately benefit China more than the rest of the world, especially the US. After all, America is now the worst-hit country on earth in terms of human casualties. But the crisis could in fact help the US reorganize its geopolitical thinking toward the People’s Republic, resulting in a radical break in which Washington’s political and economic elites are newly unified against a rising Beijing.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: James M Dorsey
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: It is early days, but first indications are that the global coronavirus pandemic is entrenching long-drawn Middle Eastern geopolitical, political, ethnic, and sectarian battle lines rather than serving as a vehicle to build bridges and boost confidence. Gulf states are taking contradictory approaches to the problem of ensuring that entrenched conflicts do not spiral out of control as they battle the pandemic and struggle to cope with the economic fallout.
  • Topic: International Relations, Bilateral Relations, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North America, United States of America, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Jonathan B. Rickert
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: One of the traditional tasks of diplomacy is the negotiation of bilateral and multilateral agreements. Although many diplomats may spend an entire career without ever engaging in such activity, I am pleased that I had the chance to do so.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations, Memoir
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Romania, North America, United States of America