Category: Uncategorized (Page 1 of 4)

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Why Korea’s election might not change North Korean policy

With the dismissal of South Korea’s former president Park Geun-hye from office, a new presidential election is coming up on May 9, and a change of parties is not only expected—it is almost certain. With the liberal Democratic/Minjoo Party replacing the conservative Korean Liberty Party/Saenuri, what kind of changes can the world expect with regard to U.S.-Korean relations and policy towards North Korea?

Throughout the past year, the Minjoo Party criticized Park’s decision to deploy the U.S.-produced Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system. The leading Minjoo Party candidate, Moon Jae-in, served as the chief of staff to the last liberal president, Roh Moo-hyun, who supported policies of engagement with North Korea. So will the next government be more open to diplomacy at this dangerous time on the Korean peninsula?

To answer these and other questions, I talked to John Lee, who is the Conservative Columnist at NK News and the writer behind The Korean Foreigner.

Lee said that because of the reality on the ground, the next president, whoever it is, will be constrained in his choices. The Minjoo Party will have to accept THAAD, because it is already a done deal. The first components of THAAD arrived at Osan Air Base, outside of Seoul, on March 6, and the system is in the process of being assembled. “By the time the elections are over, this is going to be a done deal, and they will have no choice but to accept it. They’ll just blame it on the Park administration,” Lee said.

As for possibilities of dealing with North Korea,

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Your weekend long reads, Sweden, Migrants, Trump and Russia

Some of you must remember Swedish foreign minister trolling Donald Trump’s all male lineup during a signature of a bill cutting random funding to NGOs providing abortion worldwide. That act alone doesn’t tell us anything, it might be very well a part of America First and cutting additional expenditure. Boy, the reaction was swift. The Dutch started a fund to compensate the American funding cut, prompting the question, what were they waiting for so long? Also, shouldn’t they be spending the money in NATO? But never mind. Let’s stick to Sweden. When the Swedish FM penned an opus in Guardian, named “What Donald Trump could learn from the Feminist government of Sweden“, punching questions like, “The question remains: who should decide over a woman’s body, if not herself?” (Or Iranian mullahs maybe), irony died laughing clearly. In other news, Swedish Secretariat of Gender Studies, an organisation as notorious as the Soviet politburo in their promotion of unscientific dogma, called for an academic boycott of US. I personally think the yanks dodged a bullet there. The Swedish gender research is a laughing stock in mainstream academic community, and is essentially unverifiable, unfalsifiable dross anyway.

My critique on the myth of Sweden’s Feminist foreign policy as well as my book review of Professor Tom Nichols’ “The Death of Expertise” is out in Quillette. Read them here.

Also, my first piece for “The Conversation” on threat inflating Russia came out recently. I try to provide some realism and nuance amidst the ongoing hysteria.

 

 

 

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New long essays…on Trump, Russia, Berkeley, and the new world order

For those of us old enough, late Gen-Xers and early Millennials, and influenced by mid-90s Grunge, the riots in Berkeley which forced the University of Berkeley to cancel Milo’s talk comes as no surprise. We, from a generation whose defining trait was indifference and calm unflappable belief in the forces of structure over agency, always wondered what it felt like to be constantly radical, hyper, to have the relentless altruistic idea of value and virtue promotion, of the self imposed burden and crusading revolutionary world changing zeal. It constantly felt like Big Lebowski trying to reason with Shaun King. In fact the latest riot was therefore so inevitable that it barely needs mentioning; the inevitable outrage of a pampered generation of middle class pretend revolutionaries, so ideologically inflexible, so detached from working class sensibilities, so mollycoddled to believe in inherent malleable, ever expanding rights like tampon tax, rather than calm quiet resilience; cheered on by Hollywood millionaires, some of the tweets are borderline treasonous. Everything that happened since Trump won was and remains a bourgeoisie rebellion, and here’s a word of caution from someone pushing mid thirties with a growing Homer Simpson tummy; it is going to end brutally. We’ve seen it all before, us, and the generations before us.

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Ridiculous couple of weeks, with all the protest and violence, and worst of all, the hyperbole, but here are a few essays by yours truly.

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Book Review: “Black Wind White Snow”

My review of Charles Clover’s “Black Wind White Snow”.

For International Affairs Chatham House.

 

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President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Few Recent Essays by yours truly

A lot changed in one year. Almost a pole switched, and the global order reversed, since September 2015 to Trump’s inauguration. A lot happened in between, questioning out essential assumptions about everything we know.

How did we get here? What changed? What went wrong, and how to explain the change?

From February 2017, I am starting to teach a course called “M11006 Problems in Global Politics” and I will be quite busy. But I took some time off, to write a few long essays about issues around us.

I like to see myself as a chronicler of time; a political realist, equally hated from the right and the left, and that gives me immense pleasure. True neutrality is something to be cherished, and strive for constantly. From the ashes of our civilisation, sometime in distant future, maybe there will remain some iconoclastic viewpoints, a few of them mine hopefully.

In that spirit, here are a few selected long essays from last couple of weeks. 

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The Donald vs. the US Intelligence Community

If there’s anything that’s keeping me up at night, other than my PhD thesis, it is The Donald.

On a personal level, his (dis)temper, inadequate preparation for the exigencies of the office he has won, and his utter incapability to withhold commentary on absolutely anything that is purported to relate to him, concern me. The bigotry, homophobia, prejudice and racism upon which his campaign rested concern me. His “policies,” such as they are, concern me. His alliances with, and appointment of, heads of major corporations and individuals with a similar political acumen to himself (little to none), concern me. His policies toward immigrants, women, the disabled, and the poor concern me.

But there’s something more, that concern me as an Intel researcher.

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Don’t listen to the false prophets of humanitarianism

Must be hearing how Middle East civil wars are exactly like Jews being persecuted by Nazis in Europe during the 1930s?

I wrote on Quillette, why that is a lie. An excerpt.

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Read the whole thing here.

 

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When terror hits home

As a student of political science, and as a researcher in intelligence, I am no stranger to the concept, history, and effects of terrorism. It has been widely researched, and in recent years has become a staple in the education of any person with the remotest interest in international affairs. Certainly it is a centerpiece of tertiary education in political sciences. However, being Australian and having been educated in New Zealand, terrorism has always been a remote practice, removed from my everyday life. That changed this week.

I must first admit that I was slightly behind the times when I woke up this morning. As a full time PhD student that also works twenty hours a week and reviews books in her ‘spare time,’ I rarely have enough hours in the day to complete my work AND keep up on current affairs beyond my express area of research. See, my gym session with the trainer this morning was an hour earlier than usual, so I had a little time on my hands afterward; I decided to get a coffee and some breakfast. As is my custom when I have the time to do this, I asked for the paper to read. When it was delivered to me with my glass of orange juice, all I could do was stare.

Terrorist plot foiled, seven arrested, Christmas Day explosions planned. Headlines I’ve seen before, as I’m sure many have. But this time, the plot that was foiled? Was in my city. My home. Several full colour photos dominated the multiple page spread; Flinders St Station, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and Federation Square. I was in two of those places just two days ago, and across the street from the other. Doing my Christmas shopping, glaring at the horse-and-buggies, laughing with my sister. My sister, who it occurred to me this morning, had we been in the wrong place at the wrong time, could have been killed. By terrorists. In AUSTRALIA. In Melbourne. In our home city.

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Why we get Russia wrong (Long Form)

The idea of a long form, citation-heavy, analytical article on Russia and Russian foreign policy, was not something I was interested in, particularly for two simple and personal reasons. First of all, great power relations, their military and grand strategy, with a particular focus on Russia, NATO and Europe is my area of study, research and, dare I say the much-reviled word, expertise. Like every academic, I treat my subject of research with a cherished, revered detachment; not because I feel skeptical about sharing the information/knowledge/wisdom which I spend days studying, for free, but because it is something which I essentially do all day and I feel reluctant about writing or talking about it during my journalistic leisure. Secondly, there is already an insane amount of what we call “pop analysis” on Russian foreign policy that is available online, especially snowballing during election and referendum seasons and such fluid state of Western foreign policy in general. Some written by bleeding heart rights campaigners, some written by broadly partisan ideological commentators from both left and right. Yet others written by journalists covering a single beat or region, broadly missing the greater geopolitical long game. A lot written by op-ed writers and bloggers desperate to fill up their daily content quota. I started my career as a journalist, so I don’t blame any of them. A lot of these pop analysis and explainers are inevitably asinine and demonstrably flawed, and lack even the most fundamental understanding of International Relations theory and the structural forces that shape and influence how states and nations behave and interact with each other in this Hobbesian, anarchic world.

Here, I finally deal with the issue, in details. 

 

Book Review : “From Washington to Moscow”

Book Review : “From Washington to Moscow: US–Soviet relations and the collapse of the USSR”

My review of Louise Sell’s “From Washington to Moscow” published in Chatham House’s International Affairs journal.

To cite: Maitra, S. Review “From Washington to Moscow: US–Soviet relations and the collapse of the USSR. By Louis Sell” International Affairs, Volume 92, Issue 6 November 2016 Pages 1520–1521 available online, DOI: 10.1111/1468–2346.12759

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