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Speaking Freely
Speaking Freely is a Front Page feature for guest writers to have a say on issues relevant to Asia.
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India and Pakistan's elusive peace
India and Pakistan have a history of seeking peace almost as long as they have a history of conflict and hostility. The parties of the countries' present leaders, Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif, have tried peace moves in the past, which may augur well for the future, but domestic and institutional opposition to peace also has to be overcome - yet again. - Qaisar Abbas (Mar 18, '15)

Taub and the world's triple crisis
Islamic extremism, the financial meltdown and the conflict between the West and Russia, on the surface three different issues, are strategically related. In the background, China. American futurist Lawrence Taub made sense of this decades ago. The West's power establishment should take notice of his views. - Jan Krikke (Mar 13, '15)

China's parade a warning to Japan
China intends to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and its war with Japan by staging a grand military parade. This is quite distinct from parades staged every 10 years on October 1 to mark the founding of the People's Republic of China, and as such carries important overtones with implications for other countries - including, most important of all, for Japan. - Amrita Jash (Mar 11, '15)

China's 'artificial islands' in South China Sea
China's construction of artificial islands on a series of disputed reefs in the South China Sea has raised concerns of a fresh "China threat" in the Asia Pacific, causing a new kind of security dilemma. It is hard to dismiss the likelihood of a military collision in the area in the near future. - Amrita Jash (Mar 5, '15)

Why can't we be more like Mr Spock?
A tenet of "Vulcan philosophy" is that it cannot be disregarded for personal gain. That view, albeit fictional, sheds light on the merits of world government - preferably created by consensus, not coercion. Even falling short of that, we should recognize that appropriate organizations give us a clearer view of reality and so help us to avoid calamity. - C Ikehara (Mar 5, '15)

Aung San and Dworkin: Well-lived lives
Most countries have their national or political "heroes". One such is Myanmar's General Aung San, born 100 years ago this month. Less celebrated publicly is Ronald Dworkin, who passed away just two years ago, also on February 13. But the latter's view of life can help us better understand that of the former and of other once-living emblems of nationhood. - Myint Zan (Feb 27, '15)

The conceit of Western liberalism
Liberals might be loosing the moral high ground in what seems a watershed in Western public discourse, as "political correctness" increasingly leads to self-censorship (and claims of "microaggresion") among individuals, in academia, and in the media. The jewels Westerners have always been proud of, honest reporting and free speech, seem no longer compatible with pluralism and liberal multiculturalism. - Friedrich Hansen (Feb 27, '15)

Israeli Arabs must use poll opportunity
If the Israeli Arabs want equal distribution of resources to improve their socio-economic conditions, fully integrate into Israeli society, and contribute constructively to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, they must now fully exercise their right to vote in the March 17 elections and not squander this historic opportunity. - Alon Ben-Meir (Feb 25, '15)

The answer to the Needham Question?
Famed Sinologist Joseph Needham asked why China in about the 1500s seemed to have abandoned technological innovation although it had led the world in that area up until then. It is possible that Neo-Confucian officials of the time knew what they were doing and the global problems of the 21st-century could have been predicted centuries ago. - C Ikehara (Feb 18, '15)

Insult and the pre-modern mind
One person's insult is another's right to free speech, and where the pre-modern mind cannot tolerate insult, modern consciousness cannot appreciate the power of an insult to provoke a violent response. Of note, in nearly every characterization of Charlie Hebdo's portrayal of a cartoon Prophet Muhammad, the offense is not described as blasphemy but as insult. Even careless drivers should take note. - Jeff Howison (Feb 18, '15)

India's Modi faces five priorities
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has five diplomatic challenges he must face up to this year, ranging from the "neighborhood-first" policy regarding the countries on its borders to how India balances these with affairs further east and with its new chum, the United States. - Abhismita Sen (Feb 18, '15)

Tibetans vote in Delhi elections
For the first time, Tibetan refugees were given the opportunity to cast their vote in elections for the Delhi Assembly earlier this month, adding an international dimension to a poll that already had large domestic significance. - Sana Hashmi (Feb 17, '15)

Bennett: Demagogue on the loose
Naftali Bennett, the leader of the Jewish Home party, declares that, since the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is stuck, Israel should focus on "upgrading Palestinian autonomy" in certain areas. His agenda is nothing but a cover for a plan to deprive Palestinians of a state of their own, and little does he realize that it will bring Israel ever closer to self-destruction. - Alon Ben-Meir (Feb 13, '15)

Yemen: Much ado about proxies
The resignation of Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and strengthening of the role of the country's Houthis has prompted a renewed determination to see this as part of the region's Shi'a-Sunni / Iran-Saudi rivalry. This dilutes the non-sectarian and local features of such crises that demand and require local solutions for their resolution. - Kevin Schwartz (Feb 12, '15)

Khomeini and Russian Orthodox revival
In 1989, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Seyyed Ruhollah Mousavi Khomeini, sent a message to Mikhail Gorbachev rumored to concern an arms deal. In reality, it concerned Soviet state atheism. The later full-fledged revival of the Russian Orthodox Church is not unrelated. - Issa Ardakani (Feb 6, '15)

China: Seas near and far
China's maritime presence is of import in two key regions - the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean. While in terms of maritime capability, the country still has a long way to go in comparison with the United States, countries of South and Southeast Asia need to acknowledge the fact that China's role will become increasingly manifest. - Pratnashree Basu (Feb 6, '15)

The tragic tear In US-Israel relations
There is no doubt that Prime Minister Netanyahu's acceptance of House Speaker John Boehner's invitation to address a joint session of the US Congress on Iran is extraordinarily damaging to Israel-US relations. The damage, however, transcends the bilateral relations as it reverberates and impacts adversely on Israel's relations with scores of other countries. - Alon Ben-Meir (Feb 6, '15)

Refugee deal a political gimmick
Australia's deal with Cambodia to resettle there the asylum seekers at present in the South Pacific island of Nauru is one of the worst proposed ideas one could come across. It is shortcut for Australian Premier Tony Abbott to gain popularity, and the refugees have done the logical thing by declining to meet with Cambodian government officials. - Iffat Rahman (Feb 6, '15)

Time to engage Myanmar's military
The recent signing of the US National Defense Authorization Act for 2015 facilitates the gradual opening of military to military relations between the United States and Myanmar, even as the Tatmadaw's continued involvement within the political and economic spheres and ongoing violence in the border regions remain major inhibitors in facilitating such a relationship. - Adam P MacDonald (Feb 4, '15)

Netanyahu betrays what's best for Israel
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must understand that the eventual normalization of relations between the United States and Iran is the best way by which to eliminate the Iranian nuclear threat. Therefore, if there is any chance, however small, that such an agreement will stand the test of time, it must be explored. - Alon Ben-Meir (Feb 2, '15)

Oil price boost for Indo-Vietnam ties
The decline in oil prices has been great news for the Narendra Modi government, which in just seven months of being in office has seen a drop in India's current account deficit and an easing of inflation. It also creates an opening for strengthening ties with oil-exporting Vietnam. - Sadhavi Chauhan (Jan 22, '15)

FreeSpeech, but we won't cover your skin
Yo the victims of American drone strikes,
You and your lot ain't White.
So, we won't fight
Fight for your right to life
You lives ain't newsworthy.
Don't you dare be testy!
- Maung Zarni (Jan 16, '15)

Turkey and the Middle East quagmire
Pressure on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to present an image of strength could tempt him to intervene more deeply in the chaos in the Middle East. However, before engaging itself completely in the region's mayhem, Turkey might learn from other Muslim nations now suffering from terrorism because of misguided policies in the past. - Qaisar Abbas (Dec 23, '14)

Netanyahu shatters Israel's image
The collapse of Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition government makes it time for Israelis to take stock of the damage he caused to the image of the country, to its moral standing, to its place among the nations, to its future as a Jewish state, to its friends (especially the United States), and to its prospect of living in peace and real security. - Alon Ben-Meir (Dec 19, '14)

Israel lends al-Nusra a hand in Syria
Israeli air force and artillery have intervened several times to protect al-Nusra Front "safe havens" against fire power from the Syrian government, which is still committed to its ceasefire agreement of 1974 with Israel. Such attacks not only violate Syrian sovereignty and further al-Nusra's position, they also violate also the UN-sponsored ceasefire agreement over the Syrian Golan Heights. - Nicola Nasser (Dec 19, '14)

Crossroads for terror in South Asia
The abrupt discovery of a resurgent terror network operating from West Bengal and Assam to wreak havoc in Bangladesh and India serves as a wake-up call for New Delhi to more effectively work with Indian states and their neighbors to counter the threat. The evidence points to a clear risk that the northeast of the country will become a safe haven from which new terrorist allies can cross borders to attack. - Uday Deshwal (Dec 19, '14)

Solutions trump ideology in India
Wide-ranging disquiet over inequality has in recent times converged with the electoral triumph of the economic right in two of the world's largest democracies, the United States and India. In South Asia at least, the result was down to Prime Minister Narendra Modi offering the practical-minded electorate solutions to the endless problems of inequality. Ideological alignment counted far less. - Abhirup Bhunia (Dec 17, '14)

Iran poised on a slippery slope
The Iranian government's portrayal of the extension of nuclear talks - which are set to resume on Wednesday - as a diplomatic victory is a deception to the Iranian people. Rather than put Iran on a firmer footing, President Hassan Rouhani and his negotiators have exposed the country to years of continued sanctions and tactics by the United States and its allies to avoid honoring their promises. - Ismael Hossein-zadeh (Dec 15, '14)

Northeast India needs a Yoda
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has unveiled an investment plan to drive the development and connectivity of India's poor northeastern region as part of the vision of India as a "gateway to Asia". The immediate challenge is to provide personal leadership to resolve issues that have plagued the region. For that, Modi needs to build much more than a synthetic sense of unity. He needs a greater force to be with him. - Namrata Goswami (Dec 11, '14)

South Asia faces tranquility - or turmoil
South Asia has a great potential to become one of the largest economic regions of the world if it decides to utilize its cultural similarities, deeply rooted in its historical legacies as they are, rather than its differences. Despite its failure to tackle deep-seated issues of conflict, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation offers potential to develop an effective regional trade system. - Qaisar Abbas (Dec 11, '14)

The cleansing of a nation
A "clean India" campaign that is being fervently supported by Narendra Modi seems an apt allegory for a cleansing underway in politics and education of any people or group that doesn't suit the Hindu nationalist revival agenda being pursued by his government. The mission to "regain national pride" could be glorious - if it wasn't based on an imagined history of India. - Samir Nazareth (Dec 11, '14)

Myanmar regime in test of solidarity
With one year remaining before Myanmar's general election there is growing skepticism both internationally and domestically that the reform process is at best beginning to stagnate and at worst rolling back in some critical areas. This was highlighted earlier this month during the visit of President Barack Obama, when opposition leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi voiced concerns that the reform process had stalled over the past two years. - Adam P MacDonald (Nov 24, '14)

Mediate for peace in Kashmir
International mediation is the right path to end the stalemate between India and Pakistan over disputed territory in Kashmir, bringing increased trust, trade and prosperity. Since third-party involvement has been so successful in resolving other disputes in Asian, it is more than "unfortunate" - as the United States puts it - that India continues to reject such advances. - Brian Cloughley (Nov 21, '14)

Iran takes center stage in East-West struggle
The Atlanticist camp is only now realizing Iranís economic and geostrategic worth as momentum shifts towards the emerging Eurasian juggernaut. Tehran may covet the massive US energy market, but the decades when the West tried to Balkanize the country wonít be forgotten overnight. - Ramin Davoodi (Nov 21, '14)

India opts out of admonishing Israel
India's pursuit of deeper trade, political and military relations with Israel contrasts with the distance other allies have sought following the brutal assault on Gaza this summer. The Indian approach to relations, which seemingly equates the Palestinian struggle with cross-border terrorism, will not only damage India's global image - it could also lead to flawed internal policy decisions. - Ninan Koshy (Nov 19, '14)

Af-Pak a frontline against IS goals
The Islamic State's efforts to obliterate nation states to create the Khurasan caliphate as a Sunni heartland is likely to culminate in a showdown in Afghanistan, especially at the Pakistan border. Afghanistan could emerge, together with Shi'ite Iran and the Central Asian countries, as a torchbearer in halting the militants' territorial ambitions. - Rajeshwari Krishnamurthy (Nov 17, '14)

Japan is the best hope for US 'pivot'
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe possesses the dedication and the means to steer Japan towards a closer alliance with the US and take more responsibility in addressing regional and global threats. As such it makes sense for President Barack Obama to put aside mistrust and embrace the Japanese leader as the best hope to help Washington's moribund "pivot" to Asia deliver its promises. - Dmitry Filippov (Nov 14, '14)

Eurasian consolidation and India's policy
Sustaining a balance between the Atlantic and Eurasian worlds has become an ingrained feature of Indian foreign policy practice, but the contemporary alignment of Russia and China and prospects of a stronger global East complicate India's position. The strategic elite may welcome a test of Western dominance, but the regional challenge China poses is still difficult to pin down. - Zorawar Daulet Singh (Nov 14, '14)

What Obama should tell Thein Sein
United States President Barack Obama could use his Myanmar visit this week to acknowledge the stumbling blocks and realities that have emerged amid the Asian country's much ballyhooed "democratic transition", and he could demand a halt to the ethnic persecution there. Washington's defensiveness over the end of Obama's Myanmar policy honeymoon suggests he would rather fantasize over the still largely military-run governments continued "opening". - Maung Zarni (Nov 14, '14)

Russia faces new realities in Central Asia
Central Asia is often cited as another place where Russia could seek, through a diaspora, to exert the muscle it has flexed in Ukraine. But Russian populations are declining across the region, and governments there have a number of richer suitors. To counter this growing sense of political and economic independence, Moscow needs to re-position itself as the only ally that can deliver security. - Michal Romanowski (Nov 12, '14)

Kashmir skirmishes Modi's first test
Exchanges of cross-border fire in Kashmir are a key test of whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi will apply his strict policies in dealing with provocations from Pakistan. The mortar shells now raining down on the Pakistani side of Kashmir show that Modi, whose focus is on economic affairs, is determined to stick to his guns. - Arman Sidhu (Oct 31, '14)

What stays the coalition's hand in Kobani
The US-led coalition's purported fight against Islamic State in Kobani is akin to a parent trying to discipline a disruptive child. No matter how harsh the punishment, it will not include killing. Islamic State is simply too useful to the nefarious interests of coalition members to be eliminated. - Ismael Hossein-Zadeh (Oct 31, '14)

The rhetoric of discontent in Pakistan
The reality show that was the Pakistani protest sit-in outside parliament appears close to an ending, without achieving the objectives of the two protest leaders. Cleric Tahirul Qadri rolled out the magical mantra of revolution yet didn't succeed in fomenting mass unrest, while overused cricketing metaphors aside, nobody knew what Imran Khan actually meant, and the rhetoric lost the movement all credibility as a force to be reckoned with. - Qaisar Abbas (Oct 29, '14)

Ideological dilemma grips Hong Kong
The so-called umbrella revolution in Hong Kong has at its heart a greater mistrust over the implications of Beijing's invisible hand in the city's governance than the design of the 2017 elections. This mistrust reflects fundamental ideological differences between the Hong Kong people and the inflexible Chinese government over the relationship between citizens and their rulers. - Crystal Lin (Oct 24, '14)

The rising cult of China experts
Western "China experts" who see the Beijing leadership as corrupt and illegitimate are increasingly becoming a law unto themselves. Policing social media, punishing "apologists" and vilifying anyone who refuses to discuss China solely on Western terms, the evangelists present themselves as social justice warriors. However, China isn't their country - and the negativity is poisoning everything. - Thorsten Pattberg (Oct 23, '14)

Rouhani's 'economic package' is empty
The belief of Iran's Hassan Rouhani administration that the establishment of better relations with the US would serve as a panacea to the country's economic woes has effectively linked any chance of financial revival with an uncertain negotiation process. Perceptions that an unrestrained integration into global capitalism and wholesale privatization will end the West's imperialist policy on Iran are equally naive. - Ismael Hossein-Zadeh (Oct 21, '14)

Ebola and security opportunities lost
A fraction of the trillions of dollars spent in the past decade on military activities in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere could achieve far more for human security if properly directed to areas such as public health and education. The threat of the Ebola virus demonstrates a key feature of the modern world: none of us can enjoy our full potential for security unless all of us have a basic level of security. - Paula Gutlove and Gordon Thompson (Oct 21, '14)

Iran's Baloch insurgency and the IS
Separatist sentiment in Iran's restive Sistan-e-Balochistan province and the Salafist core of the insurgency there suggest the region could easily become fertile ground for Islamic State sympathizers - or more. While al-Qaeda has never launched any attacks on Iran or its interests, the IS has repeatedly stated the desire to strike the Islamic Republic. - Daniele Grassi (Oct 20, '14)

No 'orbital leap' in Sino-Indian ties
Despite the apparent upward trajectory in ties between current leaderships in China and India, chances of significant bilateral progress continue to be undermined by unresolved border issues and core differences like China's all-weather alliance with Pakistan. If New Delhi fails to act proactively, areas of potential cooperation could become areas of conflict. - Anand V (Oct 14, '14)

Navigating India's smart new electorate
Greater awareness, increasing restiveness and higher expectations among the Indian electorate are helping to shape a new era in Indian politics. While this new awareness helped the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party win a historic mandate this year, it is now leading to by-election jolts as the BJP fails to fulfill its grand promises. - Abhirup Bhunia (Oct 14, '14)

Ma, don't go
Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou's offer to hold an historic meeting with his mainland China counterpart in November has raised hopes of a game-changing summit that sets the tone for a new cross-strait relationship. But a meeting with Xi Jinping is unlikely to make decisions on Taiwan's political future any easier. Both publics' entrenched positions would remain - and expectations would soar dangerously high. - Kristian McGuire (Oct 10, '14)

Modi provides path for Southeast Asia
Parallels between challenges that India and developing Southeast Asia face in job creation, governance and infrastructure make the path new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi treads significant for both the country and the region. Overcoming poverty and corruption requires a paradigm shift beyond long-held stereotypes of the role of business in society and a nation's economy. - Curtis S Chin and Meera Kumar (Sep 30, '14)

Obama neglects South Asia at his peril
As the Middle East refuses to stabilize, war against Islamic State heats up and Russia chips away at Ukraine, it's perhaps understandable for US President Obama to expect these issues to define factors in his legacy. However, South Asian peace is also fragile and important - and even a limited agreement there could bring peace to more than a billion people. - Arshad M Khan (Sep 26, '14)

Terrorism as a cover for intervention
Persuading the Gulf monarchies to enact democracy end theoir support for Jihadi terror groups all over the Islamic world would take the presence of just and upright international arbiters really interested in enforcing justice rather than pandering to corporate greed. Instead, Western powers chose to use terrorism as a pretext for interventions targeted more at keeping the oil flowing than supporting democratic reform. - Nauman Sadiq (Sep 26, '14)

Western jihadists and risks brought home
Islamic State's high-profile gains in the Middle East will boost recruitment efforts while their foothold in the Levant provides foreign jihadists a base to improve their terrorist skills. However, Western intelligence agencies agree that IS currently lacks the ability to orchestrate a large-scale spectacular, with the most likely threat in lower-level attacks such as assassinations and kidnappings. - Weimeng Yeo (Sep 24, '14)

How Syrian jihad spawned Islamic State
While the fight against Islamic State has created a parallel reality where war appears as "humanitarian intervention" and hardcore jihadis are innocuous-sounding "Syrian rebels", it is futile to deny the fact that in its eagerness to defeat the Syrian regime, the international community created Islamic State, even as the group itself is an brittle alliance of militants. - Nauman Sadiq (Sep 22, '14)

Canada fails to meet East Asian potential
As the world moves beyond a "unipolar" order with the rise of East Asia, a growing number of Canadians want deeper involvement in the security dynamics of the region. Trade has evolved healthily over the past two decades, but Ottawa needs to include political and defense aspects if the relationship is to move forward. - Adam P MacDonald (Sep 22, '14)

China bargains with Indian territory
Far away from the cheer of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to India and the inking of deals which will boost investments, cut the trade imbalance and build a high-speed rail corridor, Beijing has orchestrated spurts of aggressive intrusions on India's border which reveal up close its true intentions and undermine the sincerity of strategic agreements. - Namrata Goswami (Sep 19, '14)

China still haunted by Japan
This month's celebration of a newly created "Victory against Japan" day in China is a reminder of how, despite burgeoning economic ties, Beijing continues to view the past as window into the future. China wants Japan to constantly remember its imperialist past and not repeat the mistakes of that period, but there are also risks in this approach. - Amrita Jash (Sep 19, '14)

Palestinian reconciliation at crossroads
President Mahmoud Abbas has unleashed a media campaign against Hamas and the Palestinian resistance which makes it appear that he has prioritized "peace with Israel" over national reconciliation. If public pressure fails to stop the divisions, Abbas may achieve politically what Israel failed to achieve militarily. - Nicola Nasser (Sep 17, '14)

Tibetan railway signals border imbalance
Infrastructure development, including road and rail links on the Chinese side of the border with India, is a major cause of concern for India's political and military leadership, given the countries' long-standing border disputes. The recently completed extension of the Qinghai-Tibet railway line holds worrying security implications for New Delhi, but its concerns can be best addressed by increasing connectivity on the Indian side of the border. - Sana Hashmi (Sep 17, '14)

China expects Modi to deliver
China's companies confidently put off expansion plans in India until Narendra Modi took the helm. Beijing silently absorbed the Indian prime minister's nationalistic election rhetoric. As Chinese President Xi Jinping begins an overdue visit to New Delhi, both can reasonably expect Modi to deliver better relations, especially in the economic sphere. - Santosh Pai (Sep 16, '14)

Green light for Rogun dam?
After decades of delay, a hydropower dam project in Tajikistan that will cost US$3-5 billion, involve the relocation of around 42,000 people and enrage downstream neighbors has been given an apparent go-ahead by the World Bank. Although Uzbekistan has raised the specter of war over the project, domestic political pressures and electricity shortages leave the Tajiks with little choice. - Alec Forss (Sep 16, '14)

Mitigating militancy in northwest Pakistan
While the Pakistan army claims to be succeeding in a major anti-militancy operation in North Waziristan, many suspect groups such as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan simply melted away into Afghanistan to fight another day. Rather than short-term fixes such as these offensives, perhaps Islamabad should focus on de-radicalization and addressing the area's socio-economic strife. - Humaira Israr (Sep 12, '14)

Iranians' fractured hope for US deal
Despite sanctions imposed on Iran by the US Congress, including new measures last month, there is hope across Iranian society for a final nuclear deal with Washington, without considering how it would take place. But a core question remains as to whether, in the event of a comprehensive deal, US leaders would adhere to their obligations. - Reza Ekhtiari Amiri (Sep 12, '14)

Show IS no mercy, for you'll receive none
For the first time in 30 years, the United States is involved in a war that's neither morally ambiguous nor grounded on shaky evidence or faked connections, yet President Barack Obama refuses to commit his country to the fight against Islamic State. Such hesitation is viewed in the Arab extremist world as weakness, and spurring IS to take its brutality right to America's shores. - Tiffany Kendal Koogler (Sep 11, '14)

Islamic State and the Western response
Islamic State's brutal treatment of enemies aims to stoke enough fear to achieve victory without a battle, with its uncompromising outlook part of plans to paint this as a "civilizational" conflict. Proof of this strategy's effectiveness lies in IS's state-building achievements. To alleviate the regional morass fuelling IS's rise, the West must swallow its pride and reverse flawed policy. - Tafhim Kiani (Sep 8, '14)

The script behind Pakistan's sit-in
The public relations department of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency has been forced to deny that it is has written the script obediently followed by leaders of the ongoing sit-in protests against the government in Islamabad. The strength of the rebuttals is undermined when the dots are connected between seemingly separate events. - Malik Basharat Awan (Sep 4, '14)

Pakistan: Narrative of a counter-revolution
Imran Khan and Tahir ul-Qadri may proclaim the best of intentions for the "revolutionary march" in Pakistan, but whereas true revolution overthrows the establishment and sets the scene for a new balance of power, the present protests have weakening the Nawaz Sharif government as their main objective. This will only allow the military old guard resume control of the country's domestic and foreign policy. - Daniele Grassi (Aug 25, '14)

ISIS: Caliphate or pretenders?
The historic basis of the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, now Islamic State, is highly questionable. ISIS is also not only far short of attaining the capability of a secure state, its actions and deeds are curiously in line with overarching American objectives for the region. - Muhammad Asim (Aug 22, '14)

Media suppression imperils Myanmar reform
The detention of journalists on dissent charges, restrictions on international media visas and official claims that the media instigated anti-Muslim violence are all raising fears that Myanmar's government is rolling back media reforms that had helped spur confidence in the country's democratic steps. Such crackdowns also threaten important development of the industry being nurtured by nongovernmental organizations and news agencies. - Elliot Brennan (Aug 18, '14)

Maritime ruling lifts Delhi-Dhaka prospects
A UN tribunal's settlement of a maritime dispute between India and Bangladesh opens the way to large-scale investment on both sides of their new international boundary and may ease the way to on-land water-supply and other agreements. It may also curb China's expansionist designs. - Rupak Bhattacharjee (Aug 18, '14)

Leap of faith needed on North Korea
The West and its East Asian allies have failed to coax North Korea out of isolation with both economic incentives and punishments, underlining the need for more-creative strategies. Rather than a carrot and a stick approach, perhaps what is needed is a policy of "principled engagement" based on incremental trust-building. - Zhiqun Zhu (Aug 15, '14)

The West's dirty war in Iraq
As the specter of disintegration looms for Iraq, the main victor in this scramble for power is none other than Israel. It is succeeding today, with the help of its Western allies, in realizing the goals that it has been silently and carefully planning for the past few years - a base for any future attack on Iran, Syria, Iraq and even Turkey. - Moufid Jaber (Aug 15, '14)

Putin's double standards in Ukraine
The long-standing fear of NATO's eastward expansion that has shaped the Kremlin's position on eastern Ukraine invites comparisons with the fears of foreign influence that prompted Stalin to establish his European empire. Russian President Vladimir Putin's double standards on arming the pro-Russians in Crimea are even worse than Western moral myopia towards the peninsula's desire to reunite with Mother Russia. - Brad Williams (Aug 15, '14)

Parades in Pakistan's political circus
Although some credit Pakistani politician Imran Khan and his opposition movement with breathing life into the country's democracy, others say gestures like the mass anti-government Independence Day march on Thursday miss the target. Instead of taking aim at corruption, Imran could mobilize against a secular military-political establishment that's failing to meet, feed and secure the population. - Muhammad Asim (Aug 14, '14)

Subsidies, or 'To those who have Ö'
A standard grouse of the rich is that their wealth helps to subsidize the poor - not least in India. Yet a closer look at the apportioning of such goods as electricity, water and road space indicates that the better off are doing quite nicely from subsidies themselves. Or as the Bible puts it, whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. - Samir Nazareth (Aug 13, '14)

Healing the 'comfort women' rift
One theory has it that the Imperial Japanese Army's creation of "comfort women" stations during World War II - while irrational, brutal and immoral by today's standards - created a channel for soldiers' rage that may have paradoxically "saved" larger female Asian populations from the rape and worse seen from Shanghai to Nanking in the late 1930s. However controversial, this theory could become a basis for healing the rift between nations. - Yu Bin (Aug 7, '14)

The end of Israel's historical immunity
Israel's leaders have attempted to immunize the country against criticism of its conduct in Palestine by referencing the genocide of Jews in Europe as the precipitating factor for the establishment of a "safe haven". This method of immunization is collapsing now that an increasing number of Jewish critics of Israel are joining the chorus of international condemnation. - Michael Marder (Aug 6, '14)

Modi must resolve Sino-Indian border row
Some 18 years after then Chinese premier Jiang Zemin emphasized that Beijing and Delhi had agreed to speed up the process of clarification and confirmation of border demarcation between the two countries, there is little sign of haste. Given the benefits that would follow, it is time for India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi to get things moving. - Rup Narayan Das (Aug 4, '14)

The al-Sisi his allies can't see
The US and Middle Eastern allies see Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as a compliant figure who'll re-fill the role of regional puppet vacated by Hosni Mubarak. Sisi's impulsive, paranoid style of rule and intense focus on building up the military suggest he'll more likely become a Saddam Hussein - complete with the penchant for invasions. - Monte Palmer (Jul 30, '14)

Vietnam buckles under Chinese pressure
Vietnam's failure to counter China's months-long placement of an oil rig in disputed waters with any meaningful gesture threatens the Hanoi government's legitimacy. If the public believes that it capitulated - particularly at a time of slowing economic growth - this could spark demonstrations aimed at both China and Vietnam's Communist Party-led government. - Zachary Abuza (Jul 29, '14)

The Pashtun factor in Pakistan's insurgency
Political scientists, sociologists and anthropologists, whose wont is to look for "cultural" reasons behind the use of violence to advance causes in the Af-Pak borders, have held up Pashtuns for scrutiny. Facts on the ground, however, show it is the absence of the basic necessities of life and any political stake in the system that leads people to turn to the Taliban and al-Qaeda for answers. - Luqman Saeed (Jul 28, '14)

Modi courts Chinese with maiden budget Narendra Modi has defied entrenched views over Chinese investment - and his own campaign warnings over China's "expansionist mindset" - by using the Union budget this month to encourage greater Chinese participation in India's infrastructure sector. Chinese firms will welcome the Indian prime minister's move but should prepare for intense public scrutiny over labor rights and environmental norms. - Santosh Pai (Jul 28, '14)

Raising unneeded tension in Hong Kong
The Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong is losing sight of the big picture: China is an emerging superpower and intends to keep the Communist Party in power for a very long time. In that context, the group's controversial "civil referendum" is another item in a long list of efforts counter-productive to democratic development. - Shannon Gong (Jul 18, '14)

Hatred as politics in Myanmar
Deadly anti-Muslim attacks in Mandalay have again revealed that dark forces loom large over Myanmar. While the international community invests millions in institutions such as the Myanmar Peace Center, more must be done to hold the government accountable for the role it has played in supporting movements responsible for inciting hatred and violence. - Kyaw Win (Jul 18, '14)

India-Pakistan: New leaders, old tensions
Expectations that new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi would oversee a new era of India-Pakistan relations have faded following his appointment of policy figures perceived as mistrusting Islamabad. Ideological and religious fractures in Pakistan and post-occupation Afghanistan's regional machinations also raise the potential for a serious deterioration of ties in coming years. - Daniele Grassi (Jul 10, '14)

Regaining space for dissent in Bangladesh
Since controversial elections that effectively established one-party rule, an apparent desperation to stamp out dissenting voices has seen Bangladesh's government draft laws that threaten the freedoms of research organizations and newspapers, arrest university lecturers and warn the judiciary. Although it was a culture of collusion and graft led to the shameful Rana Plaza tragedy, the West does nothing except register "concern". - Esam Sohail (Jul 10, '14)

How Israel turned tragedy into opportunity
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu portrayed the disappearance of three Israeli teens as a "kidnapping" case despite clear evidence they'd been quickly executed. Manipulating hopes in this way boosted Israel's flagging international image while creating political cover for the military to move against Hamas members and political dissidents in the West Bank. - Justin Schwegel (Jul 8, '14)

The lessons of war
There is no guarantee that friction in Asia will not escalate into a world war just because it would benefit no one. History, particularly as seen through the lens of the Great War 100 years ago, shows the danger of irrationality causing failure to learn lessons from our past. - Andreas Herberg-Rothe (Jul 3, '14)

Iraqi tsunami hits South Asia
The Sunni militant's lightning advance in Iraq is set to test new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's diplomatic skills, with dozens of Indian workers kidnapped and some of India's 50 million Shi'ites considering travelling there to defend shrines. Neighboring Pakistan will also likely suffer financial and sectarian repercussions, putting further pressure on its precarious security situation. - Daniele Grassi (Jul 2, '14)

China makes waves with maritime 'Silk Road'
Chinese plans to revive an ancient maritime "Silk Road" route between Europe and China in conjunction with land-based initiatives could create an important economic route towards closer regional and inter-regional interaction. The idea also raises a number of potentially tension-fraught issues related to international law of the sea, political relations and security. - Evgenios Kalpyris (Jun 27, '14)

Iraq and the emerging regional disorder
The Obama administration's approach to the Syrian crisis - where it turned a blind eye to US allies financing an extremist rebellion in Syria - has spilled over into letting its Shia and Alawite rivals sink in an expanding Iraqi quagmire. This sends a clear message to Asia's rising powers: America is unable to promote a stable regional order or to share power and responsibility in West Asia. - Zorawar Daulet Singh (Jun 24, '14)

The impact of ISIS to spread
The Islamic State of Iraq and Sham's rapid growth results from interventions in regional leadership by Iran and Saudi Arabia, and ISIS's impact will spread beyond Iraq and Syria to new theaters in Lebanon, Yemen and post-US withdrawal Afghanistan. Most importantly for global stability, the creation of a caliphate would confirm the US's decline. - Daniele Grassi (Jun 20, '14)

Australia joins Israeli word games
By stating that it will not describe East Jerusalem as "occupied" and threatening similar linguistic changes on how it terms the West Bank, Australia lays itself open to criticism over the application of international humanitarian law. Palestinians are also viewing the Australian government's "terminological clarification" in the context of what they see as pro-Israel changes in policy. - Nicola Nasser (Jun 20, '14)

Oil history permeates Iran nuclear deal
The clock is ticking on the July 20 deadline for the agreement that will wipe out Iran's estimated US$40 billion investment in its nuclear program as a result of a hasty deal between the clerics and the West. The clerics' compromise carries shades of the oil nationalization in early 1950s, when they helped bring down an elected prime minister intent on defending Iran's right to nationalize oil. - Akbar E Torbat (Jun 16, '14)

Sino-US trade ties sink over spying row
To Sino-US trade tensions over tariffs, the yuan and dumping disputes must be added the US indictment of Chinese officials for alleged commercial espionage. Renewed focus on cooperation, rather than hostility, would benefit both countries. - Priyanka Pandit (Jun 13, '14)

The importance of Myanmar to Modi
New Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's focus on trade, development and religious nationalism should all resonate with Myanmar amid its transition to democracy. This creates an opening for India to use its Southeast Asian neighbor as a bridge to catch up with other regional powers' rising economic and political influence, but New Delhi will have to act swiftly. - Sonu Trivedi (Jun 13, '14)

India not acting smart on drugs
Punitive anti-drug policies in India such as harsh jail sentences and the death penalty are doing nothing to break the cycle of misery narcotics are inflicting on swathes of young people. Instead of vilifying addicts as deviants, India could re-evaluate its policies in favor of a more humane and health-based approach that relies on science and not ideology. - Kawal Deep Kour (Jun 13, '14)

Rohingya expose Myanmar insecurities
As the former military junta in Myanmar seeks political legitimacy, quiet backing for the abuses of the Rohingya Muslim minority has helped to solidify the "democratic" state's place as a defender of the Buddhist faith. By cultivating divisions and mistrust, the country's leaders have sabotaged the chances of political reforms achieving a stable society. - Nauman Asghar (Jun 11, '14)

Eastern interest in Eurasian economic deal
Kazakhstan is pressing ahead with a newly minted Eurasian Economic Union with Russia despite concerns over sovereignty exacerbated by the Ukraine conflict. Looking to deepen its involvement in Central Asia, South Korea is also glossing over foreign policy complications and taking a close look at the financial prospects of the union. - Philip Iglauer (Jun 11, '14)

Myths breed around China's energy quest
Accusations that China has resorted to military adventurism, extreme diplomatic concessions and alliances with socialist countries to meet its energy needs arise more because of Beijing's opaqueness than the facts. Such assumptions disregard that China has rarely used force to secure energy, and that Beijing's energy activities benefit host countries and global markets. - Jean-Marc F Blanchard and Maya Horin (Jun 10, '14)

US hypocrisy and Middle East democracy
US officials dismissed Syria's presidential election as illegitimate because of the war conditions and excluded sections of the population, though US-backed votes in Iraq and Afghanistan faced similar circumstances. The willful cognitive dissonance is symptomatic of Western governments' failure to present a credible alternative even as they criticize the governments and governmental processes of countries they do not like. - Ahmed E Souaiaia (Jun 10, '14)

A world war between classes, not countries
As today's super-rich increasingly become a nation unto themselves, a de facto alliance between global elites is facilitating imperialist schemes of regime change. When choosing whether an act of aggression needs hard or soft power, interventionist powers are deciding whether countries like Iran or Ukraine can be divided across class lines, and if a pact can be built with their wealthy oligarchs. - Ismael Hossein-Zadeh (Jun 9, '14)

Memo to Modi: Focus on India's near abroad
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has signaled his intent to put India's stamp on the 21st century, but this will go nowhere if the country fails to shape events in its immediate neighborhood. Despite South Asia's common civilizational and historical links, New Delhi has been unable to integrate in the region as China has done with much more culturally diverse East Asia. - David J Karl (Jun 9, '14)

New roles and relations for Myanmar's military
Myanmar's military has ensured that its core interests and entrenched position at the heart of the country's leadership will not be eroded by reforms. Despite a significant evolution underway in the army's relations with civilian opposition parties, ethnic groups and foreign actors, only gradual measures will secure its long-term support of the new democratic system . - Adam P MacDonald (Jun 6, '14)

Japan, China vie for Modi's heart
The courting of Narendra Modi by Japan and China resembles a convoluted Bollywood plot, with twists and turns waiting in the story of how the Indian prime minister will decide with which to tie the strongest knot. Modi has sown the seeds of a relationship with China that appears as friendly as the one he has cultivated with Japan; both are heavily burdened with expectations that Modi can meet their needs. - Santosh Pai (Jun 6, '14)

China swims against soft-power tide
Chinese deputy chief of general staff Lieutenant General Wang Guanzhong, speaking at last weekend's Shangri-La Dialogue, lashed out at US and Japanese accusations that China is breaking international law with its territorial claims. The general's outburst underlines that Beijing has taken a unilateral, antagonistic approach that is losing ground to an American smart-power strategy of delegating more responsibility to allies in the region. - Tim Kumpe (Jun 6, '14)

China needs South Asia anti-terror dynamic
China has ramped up economic ties with Pakistan in the hope that Islamabad's cooperation will ease the escalating terrorism situation in China's restive Xinjiang province. However, a wave of attacks suggests the strategy is failing. If Beijing is serious about creating a regional anti-terror alliance, it will need to bring a country on board with an equal need for South Asian stability - India. - Abanti Bhattacharya (Jun 5, '14)

Taliban change tack on many fronts
The Taliban in Afghanistan have become increasingly adaptable in the decade since losing power, with support for the extensive network that enables the opium trade just one example of how the militants have changed tack on many fronts to capitalize on the failure of the government in Kabul and international forces to improve the lives of ordinary Afghans. Yet loose allegiances make for an inhomogeneous force that may break apart when international troops withdraw. - Tafhim Kiani (Jun 5, '14)

Modi sizes up Beijing's motives
Narendra Modi must take the opportunity to engage China on myriad fronts, fully aware of the range of ulterior motives in Beijing's desire to improve ties. China is clearly using its economic power to make adventurist moves, but at least the Indian premier can rely on Japan's competing interest in India to leverage the best bargain. Now is also a chance to settle their long-running border disputes. - Abanti Bhattacharya (Jun 3, '14)

Is there room at the dragon's table?
Narendra Modi has chosen the BRICS summit in Brazil next month as his first official foreign visit. That suggests that beyond a desire for a strong alliance of emerging nations he is intent on exerting influence with China to get India elbow room at the top table as the Asia century unfolds. - Swagata Saha (Jun 3, '14)

Farzana Parveen stoning shames Pakistan
The horrifying stoning Farzana Parveen outside the high court in Lahore is a shameful refelection of a morally corrupted and dead-end nation. The pregnant woman died in an honor killing, an almost daily event in Pakistan, which is fast drowning in its own dreadful indifference. This will not change while the country continues to be governed by uneducated, indicted criminals and people who have no sense of history. - Mahboob A Khawaja (Jun 2, '14)

Afghanistan: All for one and one for all
As Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani head for a June 14 run-off in the Afghanistan presidential race, the White House's announcement of a total troop withdrawal in 2016 rings in Afghan ears. Barack Obama's decision to leave abruptly is cavalier. While Afghans do not need the US to make their country a "perfect place", they do need US help to establish a force capable of dealing with security threats independently. - Rajeshwari Krishnamurthy (May 30, '14)

Modi-Sharif relations key to Afghanistan
The challenges to create more stability and development in Afghanistan are felt by India and Pakistan. For any hope for better security and regional cooperation in the "heart of Asia", relations between India and Pakistan must improve. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's meeting with Indian counterpart Narendra Modi is a start in the right direction. - Francesco Brunello Zanitti (May 30, '14)

China frets over Japanese nuclear program
Chinese officials are eyeing Japan's plutonium stocks with increasingly alarm as their East Asian neighbor shifts to the right, suspecting that the real intention is to retain the option of developing nuclear weapons. With territorial issues intensifying concerns, the nuclear issue has potential to further undermine regional security if left to fester. - Hui Zhang (May 30, '14)

Indian foreign policy at a crossroads
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi takes charge amid a resurgence in nationalism around the world, and his foreign policy will likely take this path. However, New Delhi needs to tailor its security and developmental needs for different regions carefully, seeking out the most powerful or appropriate ally for each issue. - Zorawar Daulet Singh (May 29, '14)

Modi keeps his frenemies close
Although written off by some as a fortunate opportunist, newly elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has shown political acumen early by bringing rivals such as Sushma Swaraj into his cabinet and by ensuring that all his South Asian counterparts attended his swearing in. This suggests Modi intends to follow ancient India principles of statecraft, which emphasize a balancing of internal and external elements. - Medha Bisht (May 29, '14)

Ukraine: A military-industrial complex to die for
Ukraine's surprisingly well developed military industrial complex is responsible for Russian armaments ranging from aircraft and helicopter engines to space rockets, missiles and warships. If Russian President Vladimir Putin loses the country to the Europeans or worse, to the Atlantic alliance, this could spell doom for his country's military modernization and in the longer-term its position of regional strength. - Gregory J Moore (May 27, '14)

Egypt between the hammer and the anvil
Egyptians voting in this week's election face a choice between Abdul-Fattah Al-Sisi, a strongman candidate representing a military whose iron rule in the past 60 years has failed to spur economic success, and Hamdeen Sabbahi, a left-wing nationalist candidate who wants a military state blanketed in a civilian attire. Neither appears to have the attributes needed to steer Egypt towards a viable democratic path. - Muhamed Arabi (May 27, '14)

China's Silk-Road lessons for India
While US plans for a "new" Silk Road have faded in the Obama administration's second term, China is capitalizing on its better relations and rising economic clout in Central Asia to press ahead with land and maritime connections that emulate the ancient trade route. Given India's inferior connectivity ambitions, prime-minister elect Narendra Modi could take note of Beijing's ability to think big. - Tridivesh Singh Maini (May 23, '14)

Historical texts reveal Tibet solution
If the Chinese leadership were to revisit two agreements, one a century old and the other concluded 63 years ago today, it might find a solution that would protect the territorial integrity of the People's Republic and satisfy the aspirations of all Tibetan people to securing a reasonable degree of autonomy. - Jampa Tenzin (May 23, '14)

The election as an Indian awakening
Unprecedented involvement in India's general election by people across social strata suggests the election campaign awoke a slumbering political consciousness long dulled by apathy and disillusionment. While the integration of previously non-political classes into decision making represents perhaps the only route to progress, it also raises the prospect of myriad conflicting interests slowing the democratic process even further. - Ankur Gupta (May 21, '14)

After Modi victory comes the hard work
Indian and the international communities appear confident in incoming Indian prime minister Narendra Modi's promises to revive economic growth and dispel the clouds of corruption and mismanagement that hung over the previous government. While his financial achievements in Gujarat are clear enough, his campaign was built more on a series of polarizing slogans than on concrete proposals. - Daniele Grassi (May 19, '14)

Tehran treads social liberties tightrope
Iranian youths are more interested in Western culture than revolutionary values or religion and politics, with exposure to satellite television and social media leading many of the urban middle class towards a lifestyle that's far from the Islamic ideal envisioned by the regime. While loosening freedoms could unleash an existential challenge, keeping a tight grip could fuel equally dangerous levels of resentment. - Amin Shahriar (May 19, '14)

How the Taliban won the cultural war
The Taliban have developed a slick public relations campaign that combines poetry, propaganda and song to counter Western efforts to win over Afghans. With a nationalist message that eschews world opinion and instead emphasizes the Muslim values held up by conservative tribal leaders, the militants have secured wide-ranging support at a local level. - Tafhim Kiani (May 16, '14)

Guilt and shame in Crimea
The Crimean conflict, said potentially to be triggering a new Cold War, is like the last Crimean War that ended in 1856 because it is about the difference between guilt and shame culture. Russian President Vladimir Putin is on the side of guilt, and perhaps without realizing it, also defending free-market principles and free speech against the bigotry of Western liberal statism. - Friedrich Hansen (May 12, '14)

Israel acts to undermine Arabs in Asia
Once a reservoir of support for Arabs in their conflict with Israel over Palestine, Asian countries are drawn closer to Tel Aviv by the promise of modern weaponry. If the economic and military ties that Israel is developing with emerging Asian powers evolve into deeper political links, then Tel Aviv could use these to influence those countries' sympathies in the Arab-Israeli conflict. - Nicola Nasser (May 12, '14)

Rouhani floats on shrinking political base
Iranian President Hasan Rouhani stands accused by reformists of betraying alliances that helped him gain power and also faces opprobrium over his economic policy and apparent concessions he's made in nuclear talks with Western powers. With an economic austerity program due to be implemented, the sense of isolation around Rouhani seems set to grow. - Akbar E Torbat (May 9, '14)

Electoral promise survives in Afghanistan
If Afghanistan can successfully conclude its election runoff in strict adherence with electoral law, then the victor can quickly redress the lack of effective leadership that's held the country back despite the vast levels of international aid and attention lavished on it. Should the second round be seen to flout due process, then the wide array of challenges Afghanistan faces will become even more serious. - Ahmad Shayeq Bakhshi (May 8, '14)

Holes in Modi's Bangladesh migrant plans
Indian prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's threats to expel Bangladeshi migrants following this month's general election likely play on historic fears over a Bangladeshi conspiracy to "Islamize" north-eastern states. While numerous studies suggest the influx is actually caused by simple economic factors, more damaging for Modi is the fact that this flow of people, driven by poverty and hunger, is just unstoppable. - Bibhu Prasad Routray (May 7, '14)

Japan tackles the karoshi taboo
After decades of tireless work by campaigners, Japan is finally introducing legislation to tackle karoshi, or death from overwork. While the law promises to defend workers against the traditional authority of their employers, signs have already emerged that it will be deliberately diluted in favor of maintaining the status quo. - Scott North and Rika Morioka (May 5, '14)

Path forward unclear for Nepal's Maoists
Maoists have kept a low profile in Nepal since losing last November's election, with a decline in strength that suggests victory in 2008 drew more on support for their party's anti-Indian agenda than on genuine belief in its vision for a "New Nepal". As attitudes toward federalism waver and "growth-oriented capitalism" is publicly embraced, critics say the party has lost its way. - Manish Gyawali (May 5, '14)

Why the West falls into civil war
The West's scientific revolutions and faith in technology have helped it dominate the world, but Europe's constant wars underline the Western propensity to descend into civil conflict. The Ukrainian crisis is nothing more than an extension of the West's inability to live peacefully with itself, and its need to frame the world as either "partners" or "evil enemies" turned on Russia. - Nicholas A Biniaris (May 2, '14)

Abenomics' arrows fail to penetrate
The "three arrows" of Abenomics - expansionary monetary policy, fiscal stimulus and structural reform - have pierced a vicious circle of deflation in Japan. On other crucial measures, such as tackling the demographic time bomb and ballooning debt, Shinzo Abe has failed to score. - John West (May 2, '14)

Dangerous trends in nuclear South Asia
Should India's Bharatiya Janata Party come to this power this year, its victory would throw a spotlight on claims that the party is considering revoking a "no first use" clause in the Indian nuclear doctrine. Even hint of this maneuver erodes psychological barriers with Pakistan that restrain the use of nuclear weapons in South Asia. - Shams Zaman (Apr 25, '14)

Steps toward trust in South China Sea
Concerns about increased militarization over China's claims in the South China Sea amid US determination to "pivot" to Asia serve as a worrying backdrop to President Obama's visit to the region. Reversing the present intensification of tension is nevertheless possible without either side having to retreat from their overall goals. - Lyle Goldstein and Wu Xinbo (Apr 24, '14)

Obama empty-handed in Asia
As questions hang large over whether the US has the resources to back its rhetoric of standing firm behind China's neighbors, President Barack Obama has turned up in the region empty-handed. The White House is attempting to cool expectations over its proposed trans-Pacific trading bloc, and its allies and partners see reasons to doubt America's military staying power. - David J Karl (Apr 24, '14)

Rationality deserts Pakistani military mindset
Pakistan's long record of military coups stands as testament that those with the power to impose martial law in the country do not require any rationality or public approval to do so. That mindset sets the scene for what could transpire if the army closes ranks to protect Pervez Musharraf from the weight of civilian law that the generals feel does not apply to them. - Malik Basharat Awan (Apr 24, '14)

India can no longer ignore Gulf labor pain
The attraction of the Gulf countries and Saudi Arabia to Indian migrant workers used to give a diplomatic card to New Delhi. Riyadh's expulsion of 140,000 Indian expats ended that and has made it imperative to begin long-neglected hard work on the legal and institutional framework to ensure Indians in the region get a better deal. - Zakir Hussain (Apr 23, '14)

No hegemonic peace in Cyprus
Occupying powers have quit places such as Iraq and East Timor, yet the West allows Turkey to garrison northern Cyprus in perpetuity through "international treaties". Amid the discovery of hydrocarbons off the island, plans are afoot for a new regional security system, but Ankara's record for aggression could undermine any such body's international legitimacy. - Marios L Evriviades (Apr 17, '14)

New China-India era no shoo-in under Modi
Indian prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's investor-friendly image, nurtured while overseeing a boom in Gujarat state, likely appeals greatly to Chinese firms frustrated by India's opaque regulations and labor laws. However, while a victory for Modi could usher in a new bilateral era when the country's voting ends in mid-May, there's a chance that nationalism could sabotage that opportunity. - Santosh Pai (Apr 15, '14)

Assad's staying power on show
As Syrian President President Bashar al-Assad's forces take the upper hand and the rebellion against him is dominated by extremists, countries that hoped to sponsor Assad's demise can only step up support of the "increasingly rare" moderate factions. A defeat of Assad was to become a victory for political Islam - but as hopes of this fade enemies are more concerned about blowback. - Nicola Nasser (Apr 11, '14)

North Korea needs 'strategic shaping'
As diplomacy languished in recent years, North Korea doubled the size of its uranium enrichment facility and expanded the range of its missiles. Instead of an "all-or-nothing" approach that rejects anything short of a timeline for verifiable denuclearization, the US could resume multilateral diplomacy that envisions realistic, achievable interim steps. - John Bradshaw (Apr 8, '14)

Rankings tell a tale of two Indias
As long as people and institutions compete, there will be rankings to determine their place in the pecking order. And India's climb up certain wealth and development indexes in recent decades is something the country can feel justifiably proud of. Unfortunately, other metrics paint a picture of vast human misery that persists despite the advances. - Samir Nazareth (Apr 4, '14)

Turkish voters get the message
The Justice and Development Party (AKP)'s landslide victory in Turkish local elections on Sunday defied the international media's depiction of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a dictator, and the AKP as a secretly anti-Semitic religious cult with designs on state and security apparatuses. Either there was a massive miscount or Western media can't hear the Turkish people's true voice. - Adam Bennett McConnel (Apr 3, '14)

IMF chases wrong targets in China
The International Monetary Fund is targeting unsound banking practices in China, despite the fact that Chinese Communist Party influence virtually nullifies the threat of bankruptcy for state-owned entities. The real issue is financial repression and a lack of private ownership - problems that require more than piecemeal reforms. - James A Dorn (Apr 3, '14)

Cold War paradigm well suited to Crimea
Talk of a "new cold war" between Russia and the West following the Ukraine crisis appears to be undermined by the realities of today's multipolar, globalized world. However, similarities do exist in the way the United States has reacted. Then, as now, Washington framed every crisis around the world as vital to US security interests. - Urvashi Aneja (Apr 2, '14)

India a nation failing to emerge
India's main political parties are presenting the electorate with contrasting nationalist models ahead of this year's general election. While the ruling Congress party bases its message on Mahatma Gandhi's teachings, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party forwards the "Undivided India" concept. Since both are elitist models, neither addresses the caste problem that continues to limit India's development. - Meena Degala (Apr 1, '14)

Why China can grow without democracy
Under the strict Western dichotomy of authoritarianism versus democracy, China should open up politically as incomes grew. This ignores a historic belief in the benefits of benevolent dictatorship, and a prioritization of economic development over accountability rooted in ancient ideals of hierarchy and collectivism. - Lisbeth Moeller (Apr 1, '14)

UN vote shows strains in Delhi's diplomacy
India last week abstained on voting on a UN resolution approving a probe into alleged war crimes during Sri Lanka's 2009 civil war. New Delhi opted out of the vote partially to try to rebuild good will with Sri Lanka, while also being driven by the necessity to placate India's fractious states. It all adds up to a foreign policy that has become increasingly inconsistent and Pavlovian. - Ramesh Ramachandran (Mar 31, '14)

Pro-Taliban narrative threatens Pakistan
The Pakistani people believe, contrary to their leaders in Islamabad, that America's war is against the population in tribal areas - not the militants there. Seemingly unaware that this disconnect has resulted in widespread tolerance for the Taliban, the elected leadership persists with appeasing terrorists interested only in spreading violence and undermining state authority.- Deedar Hussain Samejo (Mar 28, '14)

Islamic party defies Bangladesh ban
Bangladeshi Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami has performed strongly in sub-district elections despite being banned from parliamentary votes due to its sectarian underpinnings, challenging perceptions that Jamaat is backward, misogynistic and enjoys no public support. Critics are now raising concerns that the ban was part of alleged efforts by the ruling Awami League to manipulate voting. - Mohammad Hossain (Mar 27, '14)

Staring past Central Asia's strongmen
Protests that erupted in Kazakhstan following a devaluation of the tenge underlined that Central Asia's regimes are vulnerable to economic shocks. Western schemes for "rapid liberalization" are failing to generate growth, and East Asia industrial and anti-corruption experiences offer a more viable model. - Julika Peschau (Mar 26, '14)

Pakistani Taliban tactics spread silent fear
Pakistani Taliban leader Mullah Fazalullah has built on his predecessor's ruthless use of violence to exacerbate the country's sectarian divides. By targeting both minority Shi'ites and Sunni scholars who disagree with the group's ideology, the militants have created an atmosphere of fear that is encouraging Pakistani citizens to act as "insiders" in suicide bombings and armed assaults. - Hussain Amir Hamza (Mar 26, '14)

Tibetan roots of 1962 Sino-Indian war
Australian author Neville Maxwell has ruffled feathers in India by making public part of a classified report on the 1962 border war with India. But Maxwell's account of that war follows the report - and its erroneous conclusions about the conflict's causes. The real key to the 1962 conflict was China's invasion of Tibet, and India's failure to understand its implications. - Abanti Bhattacharya (Mar 26, '14)

US and India are brothers in arms
Relations between the US and India continue to be defined by mutual mistrust rather than the shared ground that is their British colonial past, multicultural societies and federal structures. America doesn't have so much in common with other Asian powers, yet Washington continues to display a lack of patience towards its South Asian brother and this is sabotaging the dynamic's potential. - John West (Mar 25, '14)

A federal army for Myanmar?
Myanmar's top brass has dismissed demands by ethnic groups that their militias be integrated into a federal army as part of a peace deal, suggesting the generals would rather see Kachin, Karen and Shan armies crushed. Yet by allowing these groups to command their own brigades or battalions, the army could attack the disunity that's imperiling Myanmar's political transition. - Saw Greh Moo (Mar 24, '14)

Egypt becomes battleground for Arab world
When the Saudi monarchy realized that the Muslim Brotherhood was using its rule in Egypt to spread a seductive vision of pragmatic progressive Islam, Riyadh knew it had to support a counter-revolution in Cairo and fund a military regime that would crush the movement. If the Saudi plan succeeds, the Arab world will likely descend into another era of tyrants. - Monte Palmer (Mar 24, '14)

Brazil-India partnership would be win-win
As BRICS partners and rising world powers, Brazil and India are characterized by a mix of astounding growth and lingering poverty and underdevelopment. By joining forces in areas as diverse as education, entertainment and disaster management, both countries can play to their strengths and shore up their weaknesses. - Abhismita Sen (Mar 24, '14)

Riyadh takes wrong road to stability
Saudi Arabia has lavished billions of dollars on buying weapons and funding insurgencies to counter Iran's rise as a power, all in the name of securing regional stability. Instead of wasting so much blood and treasure, it could have simply found a way to support peace in its neighborhood. - Nicola Nasser (Mar 21, '14)

Money men can't make Modi a sure bet
India's financial establishment has given its full backing to the leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Narendra Modi, in upcoming elections. But despite this and the poor performance of the Congress Party since the last polls, India's voters may only give Modi a weak mandate. This would disappoint markets and have predictable consequences for the country's growth. - Daniele Grassi (Mar 21, '14)

EU draws hope from Ashton's Iran visit
Conservative elements within the Iranian government and press gave caustic appraisals of EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton's visit this month to the country, particularly following her meeting with women activists. In contrast, European countries cautiously praised her trip as a showcase of Iran's progressive new leadership, with Brussels already envisioning a future where nuclear sanctions are no more. - Edward Wastnidge (Mar 20, '14)

Steering our way to the future
The fall of the Soviet Union gave state planning a bad name, but China's rulers have had considerable success with setting clear goals in national policy. The moribund West needs to mix such an approach with real, participatory democracy via the Internet, and thus get control of its future back from the political class that has hijacked it. - Jan Krikke (Mar 19, '14)

Ukraine offers chance to cage the bear
Events in Ukraine and Crimea represent an opportunity to alter the strategic map to the detriment of Vladimir Putin. That will take more than the paltry cash offered by the US or the EU, but China might have good reasons to consider it money well-spent to pull Ukraine from Russia's orbit - leaving a competitor preoccupied with problems. - Tom Velk and Olivia Gong (Mar 18, '14)

India, Pakistan need to get serious
Recent discussions between India and Pakistan focused on some of the issues that make travel and trade between the two countries difficult. Both sides need to show that they are serious about increasing the connectivity of their sometimes tense border regions, and not just ticking the right boxes. - Tridivesh Singh Maini (Mar 17, '14)

The Rocky punch in US foreign policy
When US Secretary of State John Kerry invoked an anti-Russian Hollywood movie to implore a Russian leader to heed US warnings over the Russian putsch in Ukraine, he displayed the lack of self-awareness that is stamped all over US foreign policy. Rocky IV was a masterpiece of political propaganda, and a showcase for the absurdities of faith in American exceptionalism. - Issa Ardakani (Mar 12, '14)

Andhra Pradesh: A new low for India
The voice-vote in the Indian parliament that has just split the country's fourth-largest state, Andhra Pradesh, was far from transparent. As representatives of the state's minority bemoan "the murder of democracy", the questionable ethics behind the split should be a cause of concern for all Indians. - Meena Degala (Feb 21, '14)

Pakistan's constitution conundrum
Peace talks between the Pakistani government and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan have ignited fierce debate over the legitimacy of the country's constitution. While Islamabad argues that the law-making process upholds the state's religious underpinnings, in key areas of governance Pakistan is very different to what an Islamic state should be. Meaningful change is needed. - Muhammad Asim (Feb 21, '14)

China, Myanmar can't face dam truths
Objections in Myanmar towards Chinese efforts to reawaken the Myitsone dam project suggest both countries are ignoring realities over the plan, which was suspended by President Thein Sein in 2011 following an environmental outcry. While Beijing believes the Kachin can be won over simply with money, Naypyidaw exploits the dam's political value without facing the economic arguments for scrapping it. - Yun Sun (Feb 19, '14)

Silence as Myanmar 'genocide' unfolds
The treatment of ethnic Rohingya in Myanmar is nearing what human-rights organizations term "genocide", yet Western donor nations are seemingly being lulled into silence on the issue by promises of democratization and political reform. Calls by nationalist media to bring a "Holocaust" down upon the Bengali minority are increasing fears that there is more ethnic cleansing to come. - Nancy Hudson-Rodd (Feb 18, '14)

Baghdad plays familiar al-Qaeda card
The West has blindly accepted accusations by Iraq's Nuri al-Maliki administration that it is "al-Qaeda-linked" militants who have taken over Fallujah following fighting there. A closer look suggests organizations operating there are more likely extensions of growing Sunni opposition to Maliki's increasingly authoritarian government and the perilous political and security situation. - Nicola Nasser (Feb 14, '14)

Nepali leader faces unity challenge
That newly elected Nepali Prime Minister Sushil Koirala faced a power-sharing dispute in the country's ruling coalition just hours after taking power on Monday underlines the fractured political landscape he has to unite to draft a new constitution. With Maoists asserting their views on federalism and another opposition party seeking the monarchy's return, Koirala has his work cut out. - Kamal Dev Bhattarai (Feb 12, '14)

Japan's brutal work culture takes a toll
Although fatigue from overwork is blamed for Japan's falling birth rate and high suicide and social withdrawal rates, neither the government nor the people seem willing to address the harsh work-life imbalance. Unless Tokyo starts to hold businesses accountable for employee abuse, there's a risk the economy will be worked into an early grave. - Heenali Patel (Feb 10, '14)

India's split personality
As the ruling and opposition parties in India team up to target yet another minority group with legislation to divide Andhra Pradesh, the real issue is not about tensions between the integrationists and separatists of the southeastern state. The real issue is about whether personal and cultural rights have a place in a country where the federal model of government has run its course. - Meena Degala (Feb 10, '14)

Islamabad hides behind Taliban talks
Aware that a large-scale military offensive in tribal areas would drain Pakistan's ailing economy and deplete finite military resources, the government is pointing to the advantages of a dialogue with the Taliban that appears doomed by preconceptions. While the insurgents see Islamabad as American stooges, the ruling elite would never accept a Taliban-sanctioned interpretation of Sharia law that threatens their riches. - Shams uz Zaman (Feb 7, '14)

Cornering a Palestinian man of peace
As Israel and the US pile pressure on Mahmoud Abbas to accept a peace deal criticized as "heavily pro-Israel", Palestinians are accusing their president of giving away far too much in negotiations. Abbas has committed to demilitarizing Palestine and crossed other "red lines". Israel, by refusing to reciprocate, risks sparking the third Intifada that Abbas hopes to prevent. - Nicola Nasser (Feb 6, '14)

Karzai connives to remain relevant
Hamid Karzai is building a house near Afghanistan's presidential palace, which under the constitution he must vacate after this year's election. The location of his new home is symbolic of his desire to stay close to power after 13 troubled years of rule - a desire that may explain his current bout of belligerence towards the United States and his ingratiating outreach to the Taliban. - Ahmad Shayeq Bakhshi (Feb 7, '14)

India cuts its elderly adrift
Medical advances and lifestyle changes are helping numerous Indians to live longer, but the country's lackluster infrastructure and healthcare provision are struggling to keep pace with its demographic shift. Unless a clear plan is developed towards long-term inclusion of the aged in society, a large section of the elderly population faces extreme poverty and isolation. - Samir Nazareth (Feb 6, '14)

Fear strikes echoes of 1914 in Asia
History will probably not repeat itself as a war between China and the United States, but some comparison between events in pre-1914 Europe and a growing conflict mentality in Asia shows that the classic elements of fear and misunderstanding are strikingly present - and suggests ways to reduce the tension. - Andreas Herberg-Rothe (Feb 6, '14)

Going public with the China-Japan dispute
A formal diplomatic tool known as "public talks" would give China and Japan a chance to publish their differing interpretations of history worldwide, with "dialogue documents" distributed that also give Tokyo and Beijing an opportunity to pose questions, state negotiating positions and cover international conflicts. Critics may decry the lack of secrecy, but so far, internalizing the national wounds has only helped them to fester. - John Connolly (Feb 6, '14)

China keeps its telecoms sector close
Moves by China to prise the vast, expanding telecoms market away from state-owned enterprises have not overjoyed foreign companies. These firms know that despite Beijing's neoliberal window dressing, telecoms are a strategic sector propped on national security considerations including political stability. - Romi Jain (Jan 30, '14)

Palestine divisions worsen Yarmouk siege
Palestinian refugees living in the opposition occupied Yarmouk Camp in south Damascus are dying of starvation and thirst as Islamist groups refuse to leave their strategic "prize" and government forces maintain their siege on the camp. Yet instead of acting to end the tragedy, Palestinian factions and their regional patrons are using the camp for political point scoring. - Ahmad Barqawi (Jan 30, '14)

Arvind Kejriwal grows in light and shade
Arvind Kejriwal is less than a month into his term as chief minister of Delhi, yet the anti-corruption activist who grew from the shadow of Anna Hazare's failed movement like a banyan appears to have sights set on national leadership this year. The Aam Admi Party chief may do better to get Delhi and his own house in order, lest epiphytes within take his light and steal his thunder. - Bipin Shah (Jan 30, '14)

EU lets down Bangladeshi opposition
A European Union resolution that accuses the Bangladesh opposition of provoking violence and of being political allies with Islamic "extremists" has dismayed supporters expecting a clear condemnation of the ruling Awami League's handling of January elections. The use of such labels, says the opposition, suggests Brussels is more interesting in listening to secular urban elites than ordinary citizens. - Mir Rashedul Hasan (Jan 30, '14)

Bangladesh stares at anarchy
Political and sectarian turmoil in Bangladesh has worsened since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Awami League claimed an overwhelming victory in elections that went ahead despite a mass opposition boycott. Although post-election violence and strikes are having a dire impact on the economy, notably on the pivotal garment industry, the ruling party is unwilling to hear opposition demands. - Anshuman Rawat (Jan 30, '14)

India's moral compass swings violently
Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal are the politicians likely to slug it out as prime ministerial candidates in India's general election this year. While the backgrounds, philosophies, and experience of the men Indians pin their hopes upon are widely different, the trio have one thing in common: they are products of a swinging moral compass that is in dire need of a reset.
- Samir Nazareth (Jan 29, '14)

Nepal's Maoists face ideological crisis
Pressure is rising on the leadership of Nepal's former ruling Maoist party after it came a disappointing third in elections last November, with an internal debate raging over its ideological outlook and organizational structure. some factions are seeking a return to "cadre-based politics"; others simply want to blame India.
- Kamal Dev Bhattarai (Jan 28, '14)

India, Japan walk Chinese tightrope
India cemented ties with Japan by making Shinzo Abe the first Japanese prime minister to be chief guest at its Republic Day parade. Yet as Tokyo seeks to rope in Indian support over what it terms "recent Chinese provocative actions", New Delhi's pan-Asian take is not quite what Japan is looking for. - Narayani Basu (Jan 27, '14)

A way forward for Pakistan's army chief
Pakistan's incoming army chief General Raheel Sharif faces the challenge of clawing back the legitimacy of a position undermined by his predecessor's weak acceptance of repeated US provocations. While the challenges are great, strong clear-eyed leadership could see Raheel reset the relationship with both America and restive tribal areas. - Atif Salahuddin (Jan 24, '14)

China's dual response to the US 'pivot'
The US pivot to the Asia-Pacific is both a regional engagement and a China containment strategy, and Beijing has had to develop its own two-pronged response. While one approach envisions two economic new "Silk Roads" - a land route across Central Asia and a maritime link through Southeast Asia - China's other tack emphasizes a swift military response to territorial provocations. - Joao Arthur Reis (Jan 24, '14)

Sharon and the art of self-deception
The American media response to the death of former Israeli leader Ariel Sharon exposes the flawed narrative of US leadership, allowing the occupiers of the White House, Capitol Hill, and the Pentagon to fool themselves that their vision of themselves as champions of democracy is shared by all right-thinking people, rather than face up to the sordid realities of their imperial policies. - Jason Hirthler (Jan 23, '14)

Myanmar's minorities face multi-faced jeopardy
The confident face of reform in Thein Sein's Myanmar masks multi-faceted cracks below the cosmetic surface. Nowhere is that more evident than with ethnic tensions. After decades of debilitating military rule, base survivalism, not enlightened reform, is on the march. - Tim Heinemann (Jan 23, '14)

China-Japan rivalry overstated in Africa
Simultaneous visits to Africa this month by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi descended into a fight over who has the continent's best interests at heart. That China is increasingly modeling its economic activities in Africa on what it has learned from Japan suggest their approaches to Africa are not radically different. - Seifudein Adem (Jan 23, '14)

US-Israel alliance strange but stable
The rules by which US-Israeli relations are governed are perhaps the most bewildering of all foreign policies of any two countries. Israeli near dominance over US foreign policy in the Middle East is entrenched, if not complete, and Israel's role in shaping the outlook of US foreign policy cannot be ignored in the diplomatic dance around peace. - Ramzy Baroud (Jan 22, '14)

Pakistan a land of institutionalized anarchy
A flawed separation of powers at Pakistan's birth in 1947 created institutions that are locked in a constant struggle with each other for influence and resources. The ideological vacuum this has caused is easily exploited by religious radicals who benefit from destabilization, and Pakistani society has had to pay the price. - Deedar Hussain Samejo (Jan 22, '14)

Keep the vampires out of Indian politics
Large salaries and a bevy of perks enjoyed by Indian politicians have created a culture of greed in high office that Aam Admi Party founder and anti-corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal is taking up as a cause. As loopholes in graft laws, overburdened judiciaries and a political-bureaucratic nexus have made fiddling parliamentary expenses an almost risk-free enterprise, public and media pressure must be mobilized to cleanse the polity. - Romi Jain (Jan 21, '14)

India-US chasm opens over Bangladesh
Open Indian interference in Bangladesh elections marred by violence, boycotts and vote-rigging allegations underline New Delhi's growing disconnect with the West over the ruling Awami League. While the US and Europe seek a democratic transition that reflects the true will of Bangladeshi people, India appears more interested in securing economic favors from a ruling party desperate to keep power. - Hasan Mir (Jan 21, '14)

Karzai keeps US on tenterhooks
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, aware of American impotence in dealing with Pakistan and the Taliban, is delaying a post-withdrawal deal until his regional allies' role in the endgame becomes clearer. South Asia will likely suffer the regional destabilization that typically follows US interventions, but Karzai can still prevent his country being the epicenter of the instability. - Bipin Shah (Jan 21, '14)

The real US legacy in Iraq
As Fallujah, the city once again "lost" to jihadists, brings back to the United States the specter of the terrible loss of life among its troops in past battles in Iraq, the unspoken truth is that the indiscriminate targeting of the general population by US efforts to "liberate" Fallujah's residents entailed numerous violations of the Geneva Convention. - Nick Alexandrov (Jan 21, '14)

Violence begets violence in Cambodia
The depth of division between the ruling and opposition parties since the contested general election result brought protests and death on the streets of Cambodia has polarized the country in ways unseen since its debilitating civil war. Unwillingness on the parts of both the ruling party and its main opposition to compromise has set the stage for more violent confrontations in the weeks ahead. - Peter Tan Keo (Jan 17, '14)

Everyone is guilty of India's graft
An "us versus them" sentiment in India that is helping anti-corruption movements such as new the Aam Aadmi Party flourish ignores that acts of corruption are often initiated by ordinary Indians asking government officials to turn a blind eye - and offering them bribes. The same false sense of victimization that for decades saw colonial powers blamed for all ills is now being harnessed for political gain. - Samir Nazareth (Jan 16, '14)

South Asia's taps into water cooperation
South Asia faces increased challenges regarding the availability and quality of water, exacerbated by a lack of cooperation that fuels tensions among neighboring countries. Two recent alliances run counter to this norm, presenting an opportunity for joint development and management rather than confrontation. Pakistan is notably absent from these new tie-ups. - Ebba Mortensson and Silvia Pastorelli (Jan 16, '14)

Power-sharing wrangle rocks Nepal
Disagreement among Nepal's major parties over power-sharing in the newly formed Constituent Assembly has raised fears that the body will fall victim to the same in-fighting that saw its predecessor descend into chaos. Although the turmoil is among domestic politicians, Maoists say Western interference is a factor behind the failure to reach consensus. - Kamal Dev Bhattarai (Jan 16, '14)

US holds the Indo-Pak line of control
Indian hegemony looms over South Asia unless Pakistan can identify an approach in Eurasia that is bigger and better than a present course that enables Delhi's dominant US-supported regional role. The consequences of Pakistan's policy being subsumed in US "pivot" goals are already apparent as India builds defenses on its disputed border with Pakistan. - Majid Mahmood (Jan 15, '14)

Russia needs the US in Afghanistan
Russia's need to ensure that Afghanistan remains a buffer state between it and the Islamic world will see unprecedented support lent towards American plans to remain encamped there. Moscow knows US bases can be used for running spies and influencing Afghan policy, but the specter of Islamic insurgency - glimpsed in recent suicide blasts in Volgograd - leaves it with little choice. - Salman Wattoo (Jan 15, '14)

Erdogan risks US ties with provocations
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused the US of interference and said there's "a foreign plot" to discredit his government following claims it stifled a corruption probe that implicated his officials and allies. Erdogan may feel moved to project strength amid domestic turmoil, but by lashing out he risks undermining US foreign policy achievements in Syria and Iran. - Jayson Browder (Jan 13, '14)

Time ripe for US-China space cooperation
As falling budgets and diminishing public support cast a shadow over NASA's future, its Chinese counterpart is forging ahead with expansion and lunar achievements. Space exploration in the US will soon be driven by private enterprises, and in this brave new world there is no place for anti-Chinese scaremongering over technology transfer and cyber-security threats. - Andrew M Johnson (Jan 14, '14)

Kerry missing the message on Asia
Despite the dawning of US energy independence and China's increasing dominance of the global trade balance, the second-term Obama administration has failed to re-focus foreign policy towards Asia and away from the Middle East with the necessary urgency. From dallying on the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership to reticence over Beijing's territorial assertiveness, the leadership of Secretary of State John Kerry is failing to deliver. - Hamza Mannan (Jan 13, '14)

Turkish politics and the death of conspiracy
Turkey's elites have contended for about a decade that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his populist AK Party are trying to impose an Islamic theocracy by stealth, but the political turmoil since a corruption scandal broke last month has brought the Great Islamic Conspiracy crashing down. The ruling party has no radical program, not even a secret one. - Adam B McConnel (Jan 13, '14)

Constant scramble for power in Pakistan
Greed for power in Pakistan since its creation has seen the country become defined by a constant and violent struggle between ethnic and religious groups. While the state claims its the sole legitimate actor in the perpetual conflict, its strategies have failed to nurture the identity needed for a homogenous nation. - Luqman Saeed (Jan 13, '14)

Old ties to Myanmar's new media
Myanmar's mass media market has flourished since a long-standing censorship regime was loosened in 2012, with some 200 daily, weekly and monthly publications now covering news, sports and entertainment. That has not brought more editorial independence, since ownership is concentrated among businessmen linked to high-ranking members of the former ruling junta.
- Ko Htwe and Gene Williams (Jan 10, '14)
This is a corrected version of a story published on January 9.

Kim purges for a new economic dawn
Western pundits condemned Kim Jong-eun's execution of his uncle, Jang Song-thaek, as a hardline step away from reformist promise initially seen in the young North Korean leader. Not so: Kim was acting to secure a grand economic "opening up". These reform plans were threatened by his uncle's corruption - and in any case, it was also time for the natural order to assert itself. - Sascha Matuszak (Jan 10, '14)

Asian conflict 'ayes' have it wrong
Ask a Western-based think tank and it will say a clutch of indicators point to conflict breaking out in Asia this year. The conflict "ayes" may be rightly concerned about the factors, such as territorial disputes, that produce tension, but Asians are on a curve of hope and crave peaceful development, not war. It is therefore important not to exaggerate the potential impact of the threats. - Namrata Goswami (Jan 10, '14)

Food markets still vital in North Korea
North Korean harvests are improving for the second successive year, and the food deficit is the smallest in a long while. Yet neither the improved harvests nor additional resources from an increase in exports to China have been able to increase food supply enough to replace private markets. - Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein (Jan 10, '14)

Old ties to Myanmar's new media
Myanmar's mass media market has flourished since a long-standing censorship regime was loosened in 2012, with some 200 daily, weekly and monthly publications now covering news, sports and entertainment. That has not brought more editorial independence, since ownership is concentrated among businessmen linked to high-ranking members of the former ruling junta. - Ko Htwe and Gene Williams (Jan 9, '14)

Politics behind Turkey graft probe
The bitter conflict between Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party and the Gulen movement brings to the fore the deeply questionable goals of the latter. It also brings up the question of why has such a powerful movement as Fethullah Gulen's attempted something akin to political suicide - and has also risked the same fate for the concept of civil society in this part of the world. - Omer Aslan (Jan 9, '14)

Pakistan a crook's paradise
The Pakistan government is reaching out to anyone with a tidy sum to invest, with no questions asked about the source of their minimum quarter-million-dollar bounty. Rather than opening the doors for kidnappers and bank robbers to launder their ill-gotten gains, the government should start getting the rich to pay taxes on their income and wealth, a far more sensible way to cure the country's malaise. - Kashif Ahmad Khan (Jan 8, '14)

India's new party brings hope and danger
The stunning success of the newly formed Aam Aadmi Party in the Delhi elections brings the possibility for a new voice and less-corrupt politicians emerging from the national election in India this year. It also increases the risk of a darker presence coming to power, in the form of the BJP's Narendra Modi. - Samir Nazareth (Jan 7, '14)

China charts a collision course
Belief that China's uncompromising behavior in the South and East China Seas is an expression of national interest that can be softened through cooperation and international mediation is off the mark when Beijing will listen only to military force and political isolation. It should therefore come as no surprise that Japan aims to increase its military options while seeking closer security ties with the US and Asian partners. - Stefan Soesanto (Jan 7, '14)

Japan takes a reckless gamble
The Japanese prime minister knew his visit to the Yasukuni war shrine in December would exacerbate already fraught tensions with China and South Korea; he likely calculated that this was outweighed by the domestic political gains. Formal attendance at the shrine symbolizes patriotic defiance against outside interference, helping build public support that will help in pushing through controversial economic and defense reforms. - Senan Fox (Jan 6, '14)

Middle East theater of conflicts
The Arab Awakening was supposed to herald the dawn of new democracies but turned into a blood-soaked nightmare. The most violent region in the world is the product of deep-seated internecine conflict stemming from the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1922, while regional and global powers and al-Qaeda operatives have made the oil-rich region a theater of conflict. - Deedar Hussain Samejo (Jan 6, '14)

Taxman vs Pacquiao hits need for Philippines reform
Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao's latest contest pitches him against the country's tax commissioner, Kim Henares, who has entered the ring with a US$50 million payment demand. The dispute sheds light on much deeper issues and the need for economic reform in the Philippines. - Bonn Juego (Dec 23, '13)

God's magic bullet of fate
If the philosopher St Augustine's vision of a God who "stood above time" was correct, then God would have had foreknowledge more than 13.8 billion years ago about John F Kennedy's fate in 1963. If Dutch thinker Spinoza's destiny theory is also on target, it was pre-determined that years later Ronald Reagan would survive his assassin's bullets. - Myint Zan (Dec 23, '13)

Congress hatchet job on Modi fails
The corruption scandals and economic failures that have hit India's ruling Congress Party are undermining its efforts to remind the public of opposition presidential candidate Narendra Modi's flaws. Far from just an anti-incumbency figure, rising momentum behind Modi is also likely influenced by massive shifts in demographics. - Bipin Shah (Dec 20, '13)

Elitism and the Jodphur blues
The victimization and subjugation perpetuated by the Indian caste structure appeared alive and well at this October's Rajasthan International Folk Festival in Jodphur. From the turban-wearing helpers and self-styled maharajas to the racist landladies, there was a spirit of blue-blooded elitism that suggested there has been no social progress since independence. - Samir Nazareth (Dec 20, '13)

India deflects Israel's Iran warnings
In India, reports of a thaw between Iran and the United States were almost immediately followed by speculation that New Delhi and Tehran could revive historic cooperation on everything from energy to arms deals. While Israel has cautioned that this risks blossoming defense ties, spurning the opportunity would contradict the trail-blazing foreign policy instinct that saw New Delhi first embrace Tel Aviv.
- Alvite Singh Ningthoujam (Dec 19, '13)

In search of new life for Pakistan
Pakistan is trapped in a bubble of political, social, economic and strategic entanglement by corrupt politicians more answerable to outside forces than to their own citizens. With little hope for solving the problems of daily life under the current system, the debt-burdened country needs a new beginning, free of failed politics. - Mahboob A Khawaja (Dec 17, '13)

Iran's silent fertility crisis
For every working Iranian in the not-so-distant future there will be seven mouths to feed, unless the government can come up with a workable solution to the country's low birth rate and "graying" society. Yet it seems that the new administration is sticking to the outdated family planning slogan of "fewer children, better life". - Faezeh Samanian (Dec 17, '13)

Vested interests block reconciliation in Tibet
President Xi Jinping is in the best position to overhaul China's hardline policy on Tibet since he is untainted by any personal history of heavy-handed crackdown on protests. But to develop a robust and healthy Tibet policy, Xi first needs first to overcome resistance from those inside the Chinese Communist Party who have made their careers and fortunes on preventing reconciliation between the Tibetan people and Beijing. - Thubten Samphel (Dec 16, '13)

Why the Jews left their Arab lands
Legal and religious persecution exacted upon ancient Jewish communities in Arab countries in recent centuries left them with little choice but to emigrate to Israel almost immediately following its creation. Had it not been for the anti-Israeli frenzy and discriminatory measures, it is highly likely that some would have decided to stay. - David Bensoussan (Dec 12, '13)

Why the Jews left their Arab lands
Legal and religious persecution exacted upon ancient Jewish communities in Arab countries in recent centuries left them with little choice but to emigrate to Israel almost immediately following its creation. Had it not been for the anti-Israeli frenzy and discriminatory measures, it is highly likely that some would have decided to stay. - David Bensoussan (Dec 11, '13)

Reflections on the Iran nuclear deal
While the Iranian economy and its people are already gravely suffering from the ravages of economic sanctions, the interim nuclear deal signed with the West in November was generous to the point of threatening national sovereignty. Iran has survived decades of US "regime change" efforts, and now regional achievements are being endangered by an ambitious capitalist class desperate to trade with the West. - Ismael Hossein-zadeh (Dec 11, '13)

India and security in the Gulf
India's long-standing ties with the Gulf and its reputation as a benign power could prove useful in convincing rivals such as Saudi Arabia and Iran of the importance of launching a regional security dialogue. Battling terrorism and securing oil shipping lanes are in all Gulf countries' interests, but New Delhi is likely the best-placed interlocutor to remind them. - Rajeev Agarwal (Dec 10, '13)

How Syria's movement was hijacked
The early militarization of civilian protests in Syria destroyed their power to produce long-overdue peaceful change. As well as turning a national conflict between haves and have-nots into a regional and international struggle, militarization opened the door to al-Qaeda-linked extremists who are now operating well out of the control of the powers who supported their initial infiltration. - Nicola Nasser (Dec 9, '13)

Ankara uses Tehran to show prowess
Moves by Turkey towards engaging Iran have highlighted a dire need for collaboration between them on issues destabilizing the region. Deeper cooperation only holds promise of a solution to the escalating sectarian violence in Syria; it could also ease negotiations on Tehran's nuclear ambitions and create the region's most important energy and trade relationship. - Jayson Browder (Dec 9, '13)

Iran yields to the West's demands
Opposition groups in Iran see President Hassan Rouhani as a stooge for the West who is trying to abandon Iran's nuclear program in exchange for the West's support for the survival of the clerical regime in Tehran. The West has its lethal weapon of last resort; hopes for the annulment of the shameful Geneva deal rest in the hands of the Iranian parliament. - Akbar E Torbat (Dec 6, '13)

Japan and China rattle ghosts of Nanking
Contrary to irrefutable evidence, some Japanese politicians persist in viewing Imperial Army atrocities in Nanking during 1937-1938 as "incidents" that were exaggerated by Beijing for propaganda purposes. Meanwhile, Chinese political elites exploit the history card to bolster patriotic credentials. While it is too late for justice for the hundreds of thousands killed and raped, breaking the cycle of blame could help populations move on. - Senan Fox (Dec 6, '13)

ADIZ proves hard to fathom
While the borders of China's air defense identification zone do little to reinforce the country's territorial claims in the East China Sea, the timing of the zone's declaration threatens to derail regional trust building launched by Taiwan, South Korea and China itself. In essence, the ADIZ is missing a foreign policy rational that would justify the negative impact it is creating. - Stefan Soesanto (Dec 5, '13)

Modi faces Indian political currents
Supporters of Indian opposition premiership candidate Narendra Modi say victory would let him replicate at a national level a "small government" model that's credited with generating economic progress in Gujarat, the state he rules as chief minister. Such optimism ignores the increasing ease with which smaller parties are holding political process hostage in the center. - Subrata Majumder (Dec 5, '13)

China needs to change view of Tibet
The Chinese government points the finger for all its problems in Tibet at India and exiled groups, but the problem of Tibet in relations between the two nations is of China's own making. Beijing's policy is based on the faulty assumption that with the passing of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan problem will fizzle out. That trivializes notions of the political identity of the Tibetan people. - Abanti Bhattacharya (Dec 4, '13)

ADIZ posturing shows China's immaturity
Aggressive territorial maneuvers by China such as its unilateral declaration of an air defense identification zone in the East China Sea are designed to enhance its reputation as a major power in its zone of direct influence. However, Beijing's meek response to incidents such US bombers flying through the zone makes China look vulnerable, further compromising East Asian stability. - Namrata Goswami (Dec 3, '13)

Electorate chooses a road less rocky
As Maoists look back on their rout in Nepal's elections and declare the vote fraudulent, close examination of the reasons for their defeat shows a mature electorate was just as ready to reject the radical right as it was to reject the extreme left. The Nepali public has chosen the path of evolution, not revolution. - Manish Gyawali (Dec 3, '13)

Nepalese voters make their demands
The high turnout in Nepal's November elections signaled a belief that democracy still offers the best route out of post-conflict political turmoil. While the resounding victory for liberal parties underlines cynicism over the Maoists' limited tolerance for culture and their unholy compromises to grab power, the trick now lies in ensuring that the Constituent Assembly finally lives up to its name. - Gyan Basnet (Dec 3, '13)

Egyptian military's grand illusion fades
Egypt's military rulers succeeded in polarizing the country through media manipulation, presenting their overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood government as a necessary step supported by the people's will. However, as it gradually becomes clear to the people that the coup simply put Hosni Mubarak's corrupt and incompetent generals back in power, the illusion of legitimacy will fade. - Monte Palmer (Dec 2, '13)

Drone victims become political fodder
While militant groups hold up the examples of civilians killed by drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas as evidence of the government's weakness, activists exploit the deaths to gain media attention and funding. Debate over the strikes is increasingly dividing the country, but it seems no one is working to ease the plight of the victims' families. - Kiran Nazish (Dec 2, '13)

A 'Modi-fication' of Indian politics
Gujarat chief minister and premiership candidate Narendra Modi's rise continues despite the questionable socio-economic fundamentals of his state. To ordinary Indians and big business, his role in a 2002 religious pogrom and increasingly political gaffes are non-issues; what is more important is what he represents - a nose thumbed at authority. - Samir Nazareth (Nov 27, '13)

The drone victim and Malala
Nabeela Rehman, a nine-year-old Pakistani girl who visited the US Congress to testify about the day a drone killed her grandmother, has received little press attention nor the award nominations of Taliban shooting victim Malala Yusufzai. The contrast will likely intensify Pakistani claims that Malala's story is becoming a tool for Western political interests. - Mohammad Pervez Bilgrami (Nov 27, '13)

China reforms miss the political mark
The third plenary sessions of the Communist Party of China central committee have since 1978 been landmarks for deepening reforms. This month's meeting missed the mark as a confident springboard for change in China. Lacking a revision of the political system, its reform proposals failed a crucial test of courage. - Jinghao Zhou (Nov 26, '13)

Polls invert Nepal's political landscape
The Maoists misplaced belief that they had won the hearts and minds of the Nepali people has come crashing down with the results of last week's general election. A swing to the right and greater Indian dominance look inevitable after the Nepali Congress's landslide victory, and the Maoists and regional parties have lost their say in the vital question of state restructuring. - Jiwan Kshetry (Nov 26, '13)

China still doesn't get 'soft power'
China's recently announced plans to become a world "culture power" were accompanied by clunky party language that stressed the soft power mission would "consolidate the guiding role of Marxism in ideological areas". Beijing seems unaware that the cultural influence of Asian rivals blossomed because of less, not more, government interference. - Mark C Eades (Nov 25, '13)

Korea-Japan ties burdened by historical baggage
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's move to revise the self-defense constitution of Japan has produced an outcry in South Korea as Tokyo's seeming disregard for the victims of past aggression loom large over present-day ties. The basic difference of opinion between Koreans and Japanese over war-time reparations and apologies is a key reason that historical issues are hurting bilateral relations. - Ashley A C Hess (Nov 22, '13)

Pakistan: How to reset political darkness
Pakistani citizens do not need to look far to find enemies, having merely to hold up a mirror to see that its enemies are within, in a political elite that keeps most of the population in darkness. This sadistic political culture has to end, but another military coup will create more problems. Optimism for reshaping the country rests with an educated and intelligent young generation. - Mahboob A Khawaja (Nov 21, '13)

North Korea and Iran, a spiritual alliance
A closer look at ties between North Korea and Iran reveals something deeper than an alliance of convenience born out of mutual opposition to the United States. At their core, Iran and the North have an eerily similar historical path and worldview. This is rooted in ideological-cultural factors, such as the shared belief that revolutions, while transformative, must also preserve links to tradition. - Issa Ardakani (Nov 21, '13)

India rises above China 'space race' myth
Speculation that India's launch of its Mars Orbiter Mission formed part of frantic efforts to beat China in an emerging geopolitical "space race" ignores that India's over-achieving space program is more targeted at boosting national prestige and scientific expertise. While there is a rivalry, it is more over lucrative technology spin-offs in the commercial space industry. - Anand V (Nov 20, '13)

East Asia's future maritime highway
Global warming, seen by many as a threat, is viewed by the shipping industry as an opportunity for a new maritime superhighway, the Northeast Arctic Passage, that might replace the Strait of Malacca as the foremost sea lanes for oil transportation. - Mohd Hazmi Mohd Rusli and Wan Izatul Asma Wan Talaat (Nov 20, '13)

Peking University failing freedom test
A politically outspoken economics professor dismissed by Peking University denies that academic freedom exists in China, while there is little in the way of meaningful research, his colleagues simply busying themselves with lavish banquets and irrelevant conferences. While Western universities may commend Xia Yeliang's courage, they won't risk lucrative ties with China's education system by employing him. - Thorsten Pattberg (Nov 19, '13)

An alternative reality for Afghanistan
The roots of Afghanistan's problems lie in Western attempts to impose a system of democracy alien to a land that has fought secularism and democracy since 1919. The solution is a return to historic Afghan governance models that stress a combination of religion, statehood and tradition. This will only work if the hardened kernel of corruption is rooted out. - Najib Mojaddidi (Nov 19, '13)

Nepal as India's alter ego
Religious links between Nepal and India remain strong as in pop culture despite Kathmandu's growing political ties with Beijing. However, by focusing too hard on Hindi gods, movies and music, Nepal risks isolating micro-communities such as the Churaute Muslims and Newar Christians, as well as neglecting its rich Buddhist architectural and historical heritage. - Michael Patrao (Nov 18, '13)

Blinded by principles on Syria's war
A comfortable idealism among liberal commentators has seen them dismiss the historical, social, and political complexities of Syria's conflict, such as the religious and ethnic tensions created when such countries are carved out of colonial empires. Like his father, Bashar al-Assad likely acted not just to save his regime. He also knew Syria's fragile, 67-year-old existence was threatened. - Derek Dougdale (Nov 14, '13)

The limits of nuclear diplomacy
A diplomatic thaw between the US and Iran over Tehran's pursuit of nuclear technology may be bearable to US "allies" who for years have pressurized Washington to act in their narrows interests in the Middle East. What Saudi Arabia cannot tolerate is a lifting of sanctions that could restore Iran's political and economic clout in the region. - Ahmed Ilahi (Nov 13, '13)

India as a terror model for Southeast Asia
Indian Mujahideen's personalized recruitment campaigns and harnessing of local grievances to elicit support could be mimicked as Southeast Asian terror outfits seek to regroup. What is lacking for Indonesian, Thai or Filipino militants is the kind of protection and support afforded to Indian Mujahideen from inside Pakistan. - Shanthie Mariet D'Souza and Bibhu Prasad Routray (Nov 12, '13)

Syrian refugees as combatants
The Zaatari camp, located just over the Syrian border in Jordan, is home to nearly 123,000 refugees who have fled the civil war. But, according to a recent report, the United Nations-run facility is also a safe haven for rebel forces fighting the Syrian regime, in contravention of international law. - John Rosenthal (Nov 8, '13)

Darkness rising in Syrian opposition
The hardening of the Syrian opposition is seen in the changing language of online petitions posted by rebel forces. As jihadi "activists" from other countries dilute the movement, what were once hopeful entreaties to help the opposition "fracture the regime" have become bleak indictments of Bashar al-Assad's "terror machine". - Samir Nazareth (Nov 7, '13)

Shared goals draw India and Russia closer
Russia and India's shared interests in preventing radicalism and in limiting China's regional influence are seeing accelerated momentum in bilateral relations. If Delhi is to construct a regional role for itself beyond simply reacting to Beijing's rise, it should also study Moscow's success in resisting Western pressure on Syria and in rebuilding influence in East and Southeast Asia. - Zorawar Daulet Singh (Nov 6, '13)

Apprehension and hope over Nepal vote
This month's elections in Nepal are raise hopes of a new government that might induce cooperation between the major parties following years of political deadlock. However, if the individual ambitions and changeable alliances of the political class continue to influence the most important issues, the chances of the vote delivering stability and development will be greatly diminished. - Liam Anderson (Nov 6, '13)

Debt and deficit as shock therapy
Using the 2008 financial crash and its fallout, the financial oligarchy and government proxies have imposed austerity on the public. Yet, there is no shortage of financial resources, their apparent lack due to them being concentrated largely in the financial oligarchy's coffers. - Ismael Hossein-zadeh (Nov 6, '13)

Obama, the offshore balancer
Barack Obama's strategy of simply managing and reacting to global events rather than shaping them is driving America towards an "Offshore Control" doctrine, which emulates Britain's centuries-old strategy of keeping the European continent divided by organizing coalitions against rising hegemonic powers. While it is clever diplomacy to "play both sides", history suggests Washington will eventually face an "either/or" situation. - Miguel Nunes Silva (Nov 4, '13)

How Indians keep themselves poor
Indians from the lower and middle classes blame official corruption for widespread poverty and regressive trends such as modern-day slavery. However, graft and government failings are only partly responsible. The people also bear responsibility for adapting too readily to stagnation, manifested in turning to alcohol and blind faith. - Jiwan Kshetry (Oct 31, '13)

United States eyes a Shi'ite-led West Asia
The United States foresees the inevitable collapse of the decades-long status quo in the Middle East and is working to create a new Shi'ite-based regional leadership. In a critical transition as Washington turns away from Sunni allies like Saudi Arabia, new alliances are emerging - with Iran to the fore. - Mohammad Pervez Bilgrami (Oct 30, '13)

The Saudi Arabian conundrum
Saudi Arabia used its rejection of a United Nations Security Council seat to loftily highlight UN "double standards and failings", but US media claims it was a veiled swipe at Washington's diplomatic trysts with Russia and Iran. A more interesting debate is how, given its monopoly on religious leadership, would Saudi Arabia have stood if asked to approve crippling sanctions on fellow Muslim states? - Mervyn Hosein (Oct 30, '13)

A must-read for aspirant dictators
Myanmar's President Thein Sein is not yet noted for his literary skills, but if he put his mind to it he might fashion a work such as The Dictator's Guide: How to Keep Power and Gain the World's Respect that would be welcomed by aspiring dictators and would-be genocidal regimes. - Nancy Hudson-Rodd (Oct 29, '13)

No quick fix for China's mistress culture
The mistress culture of China is thriving, from vulgar to lustrous and glittering, with a set hierarchy serving the pairing of sex and power. The husband and his lovers happily drive the market for luxury goods and hotel rooms, and almost as an afterthought, minister to their ethical ruin. - Thorsten Pattberg (Oct 29, '13)

One-child policy shoulders too much blame
The products of China's one-child policy can be selfish, spoiled, and maladjusted "little emperors", but the policy itself should not shoulder all the blame. The cultural norm of children being reared by grandparents and other carers can better account for this phenomenon than explanations based on policy alone. - Toni Momiroski (Oct 28, '13)

India-Pakistan stereotypes begin to shift
Closer people-to-people contact between Pakistan and India's business, educational and research institutions could blunt false propaganda of sections of both countries' media. As young Indians realize that Pakistan too possesses an aspirational middle class, the stereotypes may begin to falter. - Tridivesh Singh Maini (Oct 24, '13)

Shocks to force Pakistan's hand on terror
Peace dialogue with Pakistan has not produced the result India desires; as the disabling of anti-India terror groups by the Pakistan government. However, short swift military operations across the disputed border combined with international economic sanctions might induce Pakistan to behave responsibly. - Anindya Batabyal (Oct 23, '13)

Saudi Arabia: The real terror tyrant
Responsibility for the rise of religious extremism and in the Muslim world rests with Saudi Arabia. Its hold over the holy places of Islam, its petrodollars fueling the flames of sectarian division in Wahhabi-Salafi madrassas, and its masquerading of religiosity to cover economic and political aims are the culprits - and the marque of an illegitimate tyrant. - Nauman Sadiq (Oct 23, '13)

All roads lead to Tehran
Conflict in the Middle East has a singular cause, traceable to a specific date and to specific political players: the West's ousting in 1953 of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh. Tehran holds the key to a new start in the region helped by Asia countries, whose influence there is growing, and a new place for political Islam in the global order. - Jan Krikke (Oct 22, '13)

Musharraf eyes a day in court
Pakistan's judiciary have former president Pervez Musharraf on the run after his arrests over historic incidents, most recently last week over a 2007 raid on the Red Mosque. But if the ex-commando can highlight weaknesses in the legal system to overturn the cases, a bloody stigma attached to him will be cleansed. - Irshad Salim (Oct 21, '13)

Alliances save Nepal from oblivion
Historic Nepali ruler Jung Bahadur Rana shocked local society when he travelled to Britain in 1850, and more so a few years later when he backed the East India Company militarily. Rana knew his country was no less sovereign through establishing cordial relations with the superpower of the day - a strategy that reversed Nepal's decline then and is still working today. - Manish Gyawali (Oct 18, '13)

Which way Widodo?
Speculation that governor of Jakarta Joko Widodo will throw in his hat at July 2014 presidential elections has been overtaken by debate over how the undeclared candidate would approach the divisive subject of foreign direct investment. - Joel Moore (Oct 18, '13)

Singh takes a lonely road on Pakistan
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's administration continues to negotiate with Pakistan in defiance of public and military misgivings over Islamabad's complicity in allowing its territory to plot terrorist attacks, and yet it still appears perturbed at a lack of progress. Unless Delhi can forge a broad national consensus on Pakistan, the way forward will remain obscured by diplomatic double talk. - Ramesh Ramachandran (Oct 17, '13)

Turkey counters US's Middle East strategy
While Turkey appears to have isolated itself in the Middle East by protesting so vehemently against the US-Russian plan to destroy Syria's chemical weapons and over Egypt's bloody coup, Ankara's efforts to form a Turkish-Kurdish alliance could create a force that directly challenges US influence in the region. - Mohammad Pervez Bilgrami (Oct 16, '13)

Pakistan: a culture of intolerance
Pakistan was created on the basis of minority rights, yet 66 years after independence it has become a religiously bigoted, narrow-minded state. Treatment meted out to minorities and small Islamic sects of Islam raises questions about how to change Pakistan's societal culture of intolerance. - Sajjad Ashraf (Oct 15, '13)

A federal path to Middle East peace
Only an entirely new approach can overcome the intractable demographic and theocentric obstacles to peace between Israel and Palestine. The creation of a federal state would reconcile the opposing philosophical positions of the contestants. One new boundary could be drawn that sees Jewish nationalists meet their longstanding goal of realizing Eretz Israel; another could would encompass historical Palestine. - Wong Syuh-jeun (Oct 11, '13)

Sarin a credible terrorism risk
Concerns over the consequences should Syria's chemical weapons fall into the hands of terrorists seem plausible given the very real efforts of al-Qaeda and its affiliates to build a toxic arsenal. However, jihadist organisations are weak technically in terms of weaponizing raw materials, and it's unlikely that any state - no matter how rogue - would risk the blowback from supplying them. - Weimeng Yeo (Oct 10, '13)

America as a sidelined force
Russia's use of the United Nations to force the United States into accepting a diplomatic semi-solution over Syria's chemicals weapons underlines that a new era is underway in which America no longer controls the course of history. From the end of 1940s to the 1990s, Washington made the agenda for international relations. Now it finds itself on the sidelines. - Riccardo Dugulin (Oct 10, '13)

Vietnam's hidden hand in Cambodia
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's continued pandering to Vietnamese interests squares with theories that Hanoi has maintained elaborate, behind-the-scenes control since its post-Khmer Rouge occupation of Cambodia ended in 1989. As lands and riches are handed to the forces who installed Hun Sen - and back him militarily - dreams of sovereignty and true democracy remain forever distant. - Hassan A Kasem (Oct 9, '13)

No direction home for Capitol Hill
The United States is operating from a position of weakness, not strength. But powerful individuality and obsessed absolute rulers capable of inflicting a shutdown of government on their own people show no sign of changing their evil ways against innocent humanity. Yet even as politicians give priority to their own agendas, the force of natural laws will out. - Mahboob A Khawaja (Oct 9, '13)

Sour note to Kashmir strike calls
Claims by Kashmir separatists that a Western classical music concert held in the valley last month was a government attempt to "legitimize an occupation" and allegations of killings at the hands of Indian security forces have led to calls for strike action. Yet the calls have been largely ignored by families sick of death and lost income after decades of strife in the state. - Aijaz Nazir (Oct 9, '13)

Military ties bind Israel and Kenya
The speed with which Israeli military advisers flew into Kenya to advise in negotiations during Al-Shabab's Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi underlines how economic ties the Jewish state nurtured with East African nations since the 1950s have evolved into strategic links. While African countries are happy to gain cutting-edge weaponry, an increasingly isolated Israel badly needs friends outside the Middle East. - Alvite Singh Ningthoujam (Oct 9, '13)

Obama can rebook, but can he deliver?
The problem with Barack Obama's cancellation of a trip to Asia this week is that perceptions about declining global power dynamics have a way of becoming entrenched. The red carpet will always be unrolled for the US president in Asia. But the key question is whether he will have anything substantive in hand once he shows up. - David J Karl (Oct 8, '13)

Japan's dispute diplomacy targets China
Japan paints possible trade and defense deals with India and the Philippines as part of plans to "foster shared democratic values". Under the surface, the Shinzo Abe administration clearly has China in mind. While Delhi could be a valuable friend for geo-strategic support, Manila shares common experience in countering the maritime threats to sovereignty that emanate from Beijing. - Nidhi Prasad (Oct 7, '13)

How to win a lost war
If you decide to go to war you have to decide to win. The question after Iraq and Afghanistan is what does it mean to win a war? The answer in the 21st century: coming out on top in the political narrative to communicate superiority in the battle space of policy, morality and the conduct of warfare, regardless of the military outcome. - Andreas Herberg-Rothe (Oct 4, '13)

Disturbing discourse in Pakistan
Deadly blasts last week in Peshawar underlined to many Pakistanis that it is Taliban militants holding the nation hostage through constant violence, not the United States as right-wing leaders seem to claim. Politicians advocating expanded dialogue with the Taliban seem ignorant to the militants' historic tendency to use these as a smokescreen for strengthening operations. - Deedar Hussain Samejo (Oct 4, '13)

Military limitations stayed Obama's hand
US President Barack Obama's unexpected reversal on bombing Syria may have followed a Pentagon appraisal that the regime had obtained - through Russian sources - enough satellite jamming devices to divert "smart" missiles. This would have quickly turned a US strike into a humiliating display of weakness, leaving Obama with no option but to send precious fighter-bombers into Damascus's well-equipped air defense system. - Gregory Sinaisky (Oct 3, '13)

Mindanao examines rebel siege scars
Using "human shields" for their rebel siege was never going to endear the Moro National Liberation Front to the people of Mindanao. But as the badly scarred Zamboanga City, with over 100,000 displaced people, regroups after last month's sustained attacks, reflection is due on the chain of events that lead to urban warfare in the southern Philippines, beginning with a 1996 peace deal. - Sergio de la Tura (Oct 2, '13)

India and Pakistan have to walk the talk
While India has said Pakistan must cease being "the epicenter of terrorism in our region" before a historic settling of differences, Delhi will face difficult decisions of its own - principally over Kashmir - along the roadmap being proposed towards peace. Viewing rapprochement as key to its plans to remain in Afghanistan, the United States can be relied upon to nudge the doubting couple together. - Irshad Salim (Oct 2, '13)

China exports mask domestic weakness
Recent optimism over Chinese export numbers, and claims that the slowdown in China's economy may be bottoming out, may be optimism too soon. The fall in import growth serves as a worrisome signal of the core economic problem: declining internal demand. - Tom Velk and Olivia Gong (Oct 1, '13)

A tectonic shift in the Middle East
As Israel and Gulf countries mull the implications a US nuclear deal with Iran, Tehran's allies are considering significance of the bonhomie for Iran's "axis of resistance". While it was domestic factors that eventually brought President Hassan Rouhani and President Barack Obama together, it is in the international arena that the dramatic shift will have its biggest impact. - Pervez Bilgrami (Oct 1, '13)

Pakistan rots from the top down
Pakistan's capacity for change has been badly fractured as its moral, intellectual and political consciousness is undermined by incompetent, corrupt leaders. Unless the people can develop a collective consciousness and focus on putting a younger, educated generation in power, the violence will continue and Pakistan will never fulfill its destiny of becoming a peaceful Muslim nation. - Mahboob A Khawaja (Sep 30, '13)

Pakistan forced to rethink India policy
As Pakistan increasingly realizes that terrorism and militancy are a by-product of its strategic depth maneuvers in the 2000s, instinctive mistrust of India is fading. The benefits of peace will also soon become clear, with high hope invested in the success of bilateral dialogue that such as that between the countries' prime ministers on Sunday. - Deedar Hussain Samejo (Sep 30, '13)

A whiff of reform in Cambodia
The ease with which Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has brushed aside claims of electoral fraud and an opposition boycott of parliament following contested elections in July suggests a huge vote swing against him had little impact. Yet evidence of how the poll rattled him can be seen in uncharacteristic demands for reforms and accountability. - Peter Tan Keo (Sep 30, '13)

Abe flexes ugly military muscle
International comment on the choice of Tokyo to host the 2020 Olympic Games has been mildly supportive, but very little has been said about Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's warmongering attempts to drop a constitutional pledge to "forever renounce" military force to settle international disputes. History demands the more attention. - Brian Cloughley (Sep 27, '13)

Iran's liberalism shifts with oil price
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei's decision to allow moderates in Iran to participate and ultimately win an election reflects a sober realization of the economic situation on the ground, but also mirrors past liberal stints in Iran when diminished oil revenues provoked a jolt towards democracy. Disheartening for diplomacy, removing sanctions could simply reawaken cocksure, oppressive governance. - Amin Shahriar (Sep 26, '13)

Libya: Still Gaddafi's fault?
Western media decrying a lack of support for Libya's nascent democracy blame poorly run institutions created by former dictator Muammar Gaddafi rather than the chaos that has followed "Operation Odyssey Dawn". At the forefront of critics seeking deeper US engagement are lobbyists for energy firms bemoaning the fact that an anticipated rebuilding bonanza is yet to materialize. - Dieter Neumann (Sep 26, '13)

Delusional reality of Pakistani peace
Pakistani political parties who blame the US's war on terror and drones attacks for the rise in militancy appear blind to factors such as the state's past support for sectarian outfits, the incapacity of law enforcement agencies to tackle terrorism and the impact of Islamization programs. Unless these root causes are recognized, militants will retain the strategic upper hand and peace talks will fail. - Sameera Rashid (Sep 25, '13)

Modi and minority rights
Narendra Modi, the Bharatiya Janata Party's candidate for prime minister in 2014, strikes a competent figure for those wishing to entrust the Indian economy to his hands. But the controversial record of the Gujarat chief minister shows he is the wrong man for minority rights, the unbiased rule of law, and secularism. - Liam Anderson (Sep 24, '13)

Putin wins the war on terror
Russian President Vladimir Putin's policy of combating jihadists wherever possible and his will to put Russia's full diplomatic and military weight behind his fight against terror are in stark contrast to the Obama administration's focus on dialogue and humanitarian actions. Russia's international prestige is growing as it outplays the US in a fight it started but seems unable to finish. - Riccardo Dugulin (Sep 24, '13)

Singh needs to shine in Washington
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to the US this week offers him a chance to inject renewed vigor into the strategic partnership ahead of India's general elections next year. Unless he can explore the scope for improved cooperation in areas of shared need such as securing energy resources, creating jobs and improving infrastructure, bilateral momentum could again stall. - Sanjeev K Shrivastav (Sep 23, '13)

The gospel according to Vladimir Putin
The deepest challenge Vladimir Putin made to "American exceptionalism" while chastising the US over its Syria strike plan was towards the concept's theological roots. For the United States, a country that sees itself as a "shining city on a hill", mandated by providence, the Russian president's reminder that "God created us all equal" bordered on heresy. - Ninan Koshy (Sep 23, '13)

Mollah: a Bangladeshi travesty of justice
Veteran Bangladeshi politician Abdul Quader Mollah has been sentenced to death on appeal for committing crimes against humanity during the nation's 1971 independence war against Pakistan. The death sentence imposed without the possibility of appeal is incompatible with international human rights law and is logical only when seem as the result of a political vendetta. - Mohammad Hossain (Sep 20, '13)

Afghanistan, corruption and Karzai
While US nation-building funds have fueled Afghan's endemic graft, final responsibility for the problem's exponential growth rests with the Afghan leadership. That bribes are now double the country's domestic revenue attracts no condemnation from President Hamid Karzai or other influential Afghans - most likely because he and his government and officialdom are the main benefactors. - Brian Cloughley (Sep 20, '13)

US needs cultural weapons for North Korea
The United States' reliance on feeble sanctions and China to try to denuclearize North Korea have only seen Pyongyang accelerate profit-making enterprises from its nuclear weapons programs. A better chance of normalizing relations lies in encouraging educational and cultural exchanges; when North Korean elites start to see richer people in other countries, the jealousy spurred could lead a revolt with power behind it. - Brian Min (Sep 19, '13)

Toxic agenda-setting in Washington
While the Obama administration beats the war drum and produces dubious proof that Bashar al-Assad gassed his own people, a potentially larger tragedy is brewing at the site of Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant. The 300 tonnes of radioactive water leaking every day from the destroyed plant into the Pacific could directly impact about a third of the world's population. - Jonny Connor (Sep 19, '13)

Arab society fails to grasp its destiny
Oil wealth has blinded Arab populations to how Western nations have manipulated them into decades of subservience to authoritarian rule. As obsolete rulers are overthrown by their own people, the dismantling of social, economic and institutional infrastructure will open the path to a complete take-over by foreign masters. - Mahboob A Khawaja (Sep 18, '13)

Collaborators open door to the devil
The willingness of lackeys to pander to the West has undermined the global South from colonial until present times, with ministers from Iraq to Libya turning to "the winning side" only to usher in chaos and oppression. Syria is the latest stage for collaborationists who have such contempt for their own people that they cannot imagine local solutions to local problems. - Hafsa Kara-Mustapha (Sep 18, '13)

New role for India in Myanmar
A history of volatile relations, an ongoing border dispute and the mighty shadow of China - these loom large as India pursues a policy of full engagement with Myanmar. But as New Delhi pushes to expand its interests by putting private businesses at the forefront, India is uniquely positioned to benefit and help Myanmar overcome challenges amid the political transition now underway. - Sonu Trivedi (Sep 16, '13)

Politics worsen Turkey's faultlines
Instead of responding with compromise to the national divisions made clear by a summer of anti-government protests, Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party continues to excuse all by pointing to its strong electoral mandate. Such a strategy will likely alienate all but pro-government supporters, yet the opposition can seemingly reply only with belligerent rhetoric. - Ozan Serdaroglu (Sep 16, '13)

Syria's looming economic disaster
Syria's civil war has devastated the country's economy, wrecked its infrastructure and sent the local currency into freefall. No matter the war's outcome, absent funds, professionals and political will to do what is necessary for recovery, the outlook is bleak. - Artem Perminov (Sep 16, '13)

Paving the way for the Road to Damascus
What Syria is really about involves water rights, pipelines, nation-state reconfigurations, militarized economies ... and on, and on. Somewhere well down the list are chemical weapons (perhaps), but these suit war-waging, propaganda-propounding elites. In the face of their criminal and deadly simplifications, it's high time we restored fear-mongering in America to its rightful place as a privilege that must be earned. - Norman Ball (Sep 13, '13)

Myanmar facing stock market riddle
A viable stock market in Myanmar would offer wider opportunities for local companies and local and international investors, but a premature opening could result merely in legalized gambling and risks to the wider economy. - Dennis C McCornac (Sep 11, '13)

No joy in US or Chinese exceptionalism
While American exceptionalism led the US to blunder into Iraq and now perhaps Syria, Chinese exceptionalism has seen Beijing ignore international human-rights standards and claim 80% of the South China Sea. Neither power appreciates that the issues facing humanity today are global issues that require global solutions - and global standards of behavior. - Mark C Eades (Sep 11, '13)

A post-9/11 view of John Adams
Although his strategies helped keep American free from the whims of European powers and their trans-Atlantic Wars, second president John Adams' search for national security through peaceful neutrality has been long forgotten by modern America. The US has instead embraced the partisan strife and perpetual war footing he rejected. - Dallas Darling (Sep 10, '13)

Who shall guard the guardians of India?
China is testing the mettle of the Indian political leadership with small-scale military incursions across the Indian line of their disputed borders. The PLA is not yet confident enough to invade, though that day will come. As things stand, India will lack the political resolve and military capability to support its inferior forces. - Aruni Mukherjee (Sep 10, '13)

Diplomacy offers route out of chemical crisis
Diplomatic bargaining is more likely to cool the chemical weapons crisis in Syria than military strikes with a high risk of blowback. If Damascus' allies can pressure it into signing the Chemical Weapons Convention, this could lead to benefits for regional stability such as Israel abandoning the nuclear opacity that motivated Syria to build up its chemical stockpile in the first place. - David Lowry and Gordon Thompson (Sep 9, '13)

Putin eyes Syrian abyss for the US
While Russian President Vladimir Putin has publicly compared a US war on Syria to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, privately he's likely thinking of the Soviets' 1980s conflict in Afghanistan. By refusing to send troops to Damascus but providing it with sophisticated weapons, Putin can ensure the US is dragged into a protracted war that bleed its money and credibility dry. - Ahmed E Souaiaia (Sep 9, '13)

West's wars of choice target the weak
The defining feature of the brutality that has become a hallmark of Western behavior in the Middle East is its cowardly nature, as the UK vote against military action in Syria shows; that it finds it much safer to attack countries lacking effective deterrents. Wars of choice are waged against the weak and isolated. Libya and Iraq were both of these things; Syria is neither. - Dan Glazebrook (Sep 6, '13)

Traps on the road towards barbarism
The downfall of the Soviet Union created a psychological trap for the West - that of a belief in invincibility. This is seen in the manner in which it is trying in Syria to present power as moral responsibility to protect. Convinced that advanced weapons are a guarantee of its security, the West has accepted barbarism and developed a contempt for civilized behavior. - Nicholas A Biniaris (Sep 6, '13)

China, India face stability challenge
China plans to relax import restrictions on India, build up defense ties and construct an industrial park in Uttar Pradesh. However, as China's stakes in India increase so too does its responsibility to ensure stability in the region. - Anand V (Sep 6, '13)

The re-politicization of violent conflict
Violence and conflict in the Cold War era seemed to fit into clear categories of interpretation: East versus West, or imperialist aggression. At first the aftermath saw conflicts involving ethnic groups and the formation of small states, now superseded in a more globalized yet fragmented world with politicized communities seeking influence amid the world order. - Andreas Herberg-Rothe (Sep 5, '13)

How Assad keeps the upper hand
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad is well aware of the post-Iraq syndrome which sees Western powers unable to commit to any serious extent in the Middle East, and knows he can count on Iran, Hezbollah and Russia's support. Since Assad has the strategic upper hand in the conflict, by starting a "limited war" Washington will merely put Israel in the firing line. - Riccardo Dugulin (Sep 4, '13)

Houses of the holy in China and Moscow
Just like the Led Zeppelin track, the song will remain the same in China after the Bo Xilai trial, as the party does whatever it takes to survive so the next generation of leaders can continue to line their pockets. Like Edward Snowden, Bo betrayed his house. But Bo did so for his own enrichment, Snowden fell for a seemingly noble but hopeless cause. - Jonny Connor (Sep 3, '13)

Obama challenges pathology of power
US President Barack Obama's decision to seek congressional approval before using military force against Syria has been dismissed by his opponents as symptomatic of a lame duck presidency, even "red lines" turning to a "yellow streak". But as he veers from a gun-ho path, he is challenging the pathology of presidential power. - Dallas Darling (Sep 3, '13)

Constructing an American Confucianism
Ethnic Chinese scholars of "Chinese studies" in the United States tend to switch, and switch eagerly, to the English language to explain Chinese meanings, while Western scholars seem overtly keen on adopting at least some Chinese loanwords. Both groups embody an example of mutual learning that should be followed by national governments. - Thorsten Pattberg (Aug 29, '13)

India's partition debate best left to artists
Historical analysis that places the blame on early Indian or Pakistani leaders for the massacres following India's 1947 partition often provokes needless controversy. A better way for the countries to purge inter-communal hatred is to explore the consequences of bloodletting through the poignant and thoughtful work of filmmakers and novelists. - Jiwan Kshetry (Aug 29, '13)

Erdogan flies flag for Middle East stability
Support from the United States, Europe and Gulf monarchies for the military coup in Egypt leaves Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan further isolated after his regional vision took a battering during the Arab Spring. However, his strong moral stance over both the Egyptian and Syrian crises suggests Erdogan is still the standard-bearer for Middle East stability. - Mohammad Pervez Bilgrami (Aug 27, '13)

Survival instinct spurred Egyptian military
Despite weaving a narrative of a "battle against terrorism" and "rescuing revolutionary ideals", Egypt's military seized power from the Muslim Brotherhood to protect itself against an organization whose popular political ideology and power center was increasingly a threat to the army's future. While secularists were unnerved by the Brotherhood, the force they've back will revert quickly to true authoritarianism. - Sameera Rashid (Aug 26, '13)

Egypt: From counter revolution to civil war
As Egypt adapts to rule by military fiat, diverse Islamic currents once divided and hostile to the Muslim Brotherhood are coalescing against General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi's illusory democracy. There are also new targets as extremists take charge on both sides, with Christians in the firing line, class conflicts deepening and almost the whole population feeling some form of injustice. - Monte Palmer (Aug 20, '13)

Fall of moderates seals Lebanon's fate
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah's decision to wage war against rebels and Sunni jihadists in Syria has drawn Lebanon into a bloody conflict. Yet long before any shot fired in Homs, the Shi'ite militia's destruction of the base of Lebanon's economic success, Sunni moderate political parties, had sealed the country's fate. - Riccardo Dugulin (Aug 19, '13)

The Battle of Yarmuk, then and now
The legacy of the Imperial Byzantine army's defeat in August, 636 BCE by Muslim Arabs at the Yarmuk tributary reflects in some ways today's events. In Syria the battle is for the control of Damascus, and the overthrow of Bashar a-Assad involves once again the Persians, or modern Iran. As is the case with the 21st-century West, the Byzantine West was also totally exhausted, economically and militarily. - Nicholas A Biniaris (Aug 16, '13)

Manila, Tokyo brothers in arms
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Philippines President Benigno Aquino last month agreed to comprehensively enhance the two countries' strategic partnership. While the two sides have plenty of economic reasons for closer ties, a mutual desire to counterbalance China has widened the scope of bilateral relations. - Julius Cesar I Trajano (Aug 15, '13)

Chapulling in Turkey
When Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan used the term capulcu, or looters, to contemptuously describe Gezi Park protestors, he unwittingly created a new 21st-century term for rebelling against the tyranny of a majority. In Turkey, the mandate handed to the ruling party by its electoral majority has been undermined by theocratic steps towards a total Islamization of society. - Chuck Hamilton (Aug 15, '13)

Guatemalan path for Indonesian justice
By holding former president Rios Montt accountable for atrocities in Guatemala, if only temporarily, the country became the first to convict a former president for genocide in its own territory. It was a legal victory for human rights everywhere and ideally will serve as precedent for holding other leaders accountable. Who is to say something similar cannot happen in the courts of Jakarta or Timor-Leste? - Andrew de Sousa (Aug 14, '13)

Defamation and dissent in South Korea
South Korea's over reliance on its National Security Act as an instrument of censorship has seen a legal tool designed to shield individuals intrude upon important public debates. While not solely used to protect the powerful from criticism, it is proving too easy to manipulate the law to sanction and chill political discourse. - Taylor Washburn (Aug 13, '13)

Decoding India's Telangana conundrum
The people of India's coastal Andhra region are furious about the decision to carve the new state of Telangana out of Andhra Pradesh, saying that the "loss" of Hyderabad through bifurcation would betray hard work put into creating the information technology boom town. However, the seeds of separation were inherent in a 1956 merger, which "Telanganaites" long sought to dissolve. - Mayurika Chakravorty (Aug 9, '13)

Time for China and ASEAN to make up
Remarks by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on a recent Southeast Asia tour underline that Beijing remains committed to engagement with ASEAN countries, despite increasing territorial posturing. China is starting to show more tolerance of individual countries' geopolitical maneuvers to hedge against it, and ASEAN could return the favor by redefining the strategic partnership with China. - Karl Lee (Aug 9, '13)

The post-terror terrorism of war
Heightened terror alerts from the US State Department serve as a reminder that terrorism originates from imperialism and military aggression against the poor and helpless. With the War on Terror a recipe for disasters far more destructive than rational minds can perceive, new thinking is needed to create peace; but that won't emanate from leaders intent on a never-ending war. - Mahboob A Khawaja (Aug 8, '13)

Rouhani's reforms depend on Supreme Leader
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has further signaled to the West his intention to pursue diplomacy through the appointment of a prominent reformist to the foreign ministry. Yet he is also keeping hardliners happy by handing them plum cabinet positions. Such appointments and the reform drive, however, ultimately rely on Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini's will. - Hamza Mannan (Aug 8, '13)

Politics fuel a rising sectarian fire
The rise of sectarian conflict in the Middle East and South Asia is rooted in the increasing ability of politicians to hijack religion for their own ends rather than any playing out of theology in the Sunni-Shi'ite divide. No one, not least peacemakers and Western governments trying to twist religious differences for their own benefit, stands to gain from this distortion. - Shireen T Hunter (Aug 7, '13)

Cambodia: Social media fuels new politics
Young voters were quick to reach for their smartphones and computers to record and report election-day irregularities in Cambodia's July 28 national poll. As the number of social media-savvy electors grows, sites such as Facebook are becoming the place for wide-ranging debates that will change the country's political culture. - Marta Kasztelan (Aug 6, '13)

India-China make a tryst
From energy to trade and counter-insurgency, India and China's converging interests in Myanmar are too deep to be easily undermined by economic competition and strategic power politics. By bridging their trust deficit and recognizing the potential for joint development, Beijing and Delhi could make the country a prototype for future Sino-Indian cooperation. - Sonu Trivedi (Aug 5, '13)

The war within a war in Syria
Fighting between Kurdish militants and al-Qaeda elements in Syria fuels Kurdish aspirations for independence, but is also bringing new threats to regional stability. This war within a war is a new development and a conflict that mocks Western intentions to back only the "good guys". - Hannah Stuart (Aug 2, '13)

How 'One China' risks aviation disaster
Taiwan's civil aviation authorities have full responsibility for administering one of the busiest air transport hubs in Asia, yet politics have prevented it from joining the International Civil Aviation Organization, leaving the country with no access to crucial safety information. A truly seamless global aviation security network will be impossible unless the ICAO accepts US-backed plans to end Taiwan's exclusion. - Kent Wang (Aug 2, '13)

Fourth revolutionary wave to engulf Egypt
The revolution that removed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak from power in 2011 and caught a second wave when his elected successor Mohammad Morsi was removed by the military a year later is now entering its third stage as the remnants of the Mubarak elites try to keep power. A fourth wave is inevitable in this house of cards on shifting sands. - Nicola Nasser (Aug 1, '13)

Challenges loom for post-2014 Pakistan
Anti-US camps in Islamabad expect Washington's withdrawal from Afghanistan to end drone attacks, stabilize Pakstian's domestic security and ease its economic woes. Realists expect exactly the opposite to happen on those three fronts, with the power vacuum that will be created across the border also having potentially disastrous long-term consequences. - Arshad Mahmood (Jul 30, '13)

Asia laps up lax Israeli weapons rules
Israel's limited political, economic and diplomatic leverage make its arms trade a vital facet in spreading influence and achieving foreign policy objectives. For customers such as South Korea, Vietnam, India and China, the offer of cutting-edge weaponry with lax technology transfer rules is simply too good to refuse. - Alvite Singh Ningthoujam (Jul 30, '13)

America: the powerful and the powerless
If alive today, historians from the past would be baffled at how America, perhaps once the most powerful force in moral and intellectual discourse, became a nation devoid of the most basic principles in global political affairs. Paranoid and vengeful politicians have incapacitated a nation that is now so obsessed with power it risks suffering the fate of fallen empires. - Mahboob A Khawaja (Jul 29, '13)

Cambodia nearer civil war than peace
The totally antagonistic standpoints of the ruling Cambodia People's Party and the opposition National Rescue Party in the run-up to the weekend elections were evident on the campaign trail. That poles-apart reality on the ground means that as voters to cast their ballots, it is not inconceivable that the democratic process will lead to a new civil war. - Savath Pou (Jul 26, '13)

EU fuels blowback with Hezbollah blacklist
The European Union has placed Hezbollah on its list of terrorist organizations, though it can raise funds unabated to assist Syrian President Bashar al-Assad because only its "military wing" was proscribed. All the listing is will likely achieve is further destabilization of Lebanon - and provoking Hezbollah into plotting retribution against European interests. - Olivier Guitta (Jul 26, '13)

How Iraq will win the Arab Spring
As uprisings and civil conflict implode the traditional power hubs of the Arab world, Iraq's youthful population, gigantic oil resources and strategic location give it the makings a major regional player. Freed from totalitarianism ahead of the others, Baghdad also has a democratic headstart. But the chances of more prosperity still boil down to maintaining security. - Riccardo Dugulin (Jul 25, '13)

Narrowed political gap in Cambodia
A politically charged return by opposition leader Sam Rainsy and unprecedented youth participation - notably through social media - have energized the campaigning for Cambodia's July 28 elections. While Rainsy's path to power has now been blocked, and superior financial resources and media manipulation are expected to ensure the Cambodian People's Party retains its lead, the opposition has a clear chance to sow the seeds of long-term change. - Vannarith Chheang (Jul 24, '13)

Partition no panacea for Afghanistan
Western analysts who say Afghanistan must be divided by new borders to bring security to the country ignore the population's historic hatred of occupation and attempts at separation. Despite their country's chaos and cruel history of warfare, Afghans can still look across the border at Pakistan and say theirs is a true state, not one forged artificially from colonialism. - Ehsan Azari Stanizai (Jul 24, '13)

Pashtuns rue militant image
Propaganda portraying Pashtuns as violent warriors, based on their considerable presence in the Taliban's rank-and-file, ignores that the militants have never identified with the ethnic group, and that Pashtun history is replete with heroes who fought with the pen instead of the sword. While the situation can be partly blamed on the geopolitical vortex in Afghanistan, a fragmented Pashtun leadership is also responsible. - Ajmal Shams (Jul 24, '13)

US pivot risks Asia-Pacific cold war
As the US "rebalancing" to the Asia-Pacific accelerates a militarization of regional allies, US-backed governments are also increasingly trying to convince their populations that China is the principal enemy. By drawing more countries to its strategic vision in the region, Washington is creating blocs whose interactions could sow the seeds of global conflict. - Ninan Koshy (Jul 23, '13)

The 'alternative' discourse on Asia's rise
Asian countries neighboring China are concerned about its recent territorial aggression in the South and East China Seas, and India's border, yet are alarmed that the dominant discourse points to increasing militarization and conflict. Regional determination is growing to create the regional institutional mechanisms to avert the negative impacts of China's rise and instead showcase the positive aspects of the China success story. - Namrata Goswami (Jul 22, '13)

Tsarnaev and the politics of Rolling Stone(s)
If herostratic fame was part of alleged Boston marathon bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev's motivation, the teenage suspect got it by appearing on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. The magazine's decision to put the teenage suspect's face on its cover is revealing of US society's fascination with perpetrators of violence instead of their innocent victims. - Dallas Darling (Jul 19, '13)

Hezbollah on shaky ground in Syria
As a result of overstretching itself in Syria, Hezbollah is being forced to take a defensive line instead of the offensive stance which has served it well, and is losing moral high ground on the Arab Street. The collapse of its parliamentary alliance in Lebanon means the party has to fight two different conflicts - one political, one military - on two different fronts. - Riccardo Dugulin (Jul 18, '13)

Russia navigates uncertain Kyrgyz waters
As mine closures and anti-government demonstrations in Kyrgyzstan highlight rising political instability, Russia is sticking with President Almazbek Atambayev over the increasingly powerful provincial elites. As its southern neighbor fragments, factors such as the growing Chinese business presence in the country or fears of creeping "Afghanization" could easily prompt Moscow to switch sides. - Ryskeldi Satke (Jul 17, '13)

The quicksand of self-deception
Rising tensions throughout the Middle East and beyond are a result of far too many countries feeding into the West's delusional belief about its invincibility and mastery of the political game. For evidence of the West's decline, doubters need look no further than its alignment with Gulf countries who propagate hatred and intolerance for other Muslim traditions. - Nicholas A Biniaris (Jul 17, '13)

India-Bhutan ties reach a crossroads
The fact that India's decision to withdraw key subsidies likely cost Bhutan's ruling party last week's elections suggests New Delhi took it either to reinforce its clout over the tiny Himalayan Kingdom or in anger at the government's increasing closeness to China. Either way, Bhutan's largest development partner must be careful of forces unleashed through interference. - Medha Bisht (Jul 16, '13)

China plots strategic coup in the Pacific
Far from piecemeal aggression, China's assertiveness in the East and South China Seas is a direct, if subtle, challenge to the international order the United States created in the western Pacific after World War II. Unless the US upholds treaty obligations, the region will soon resemble the Chinese system of vassal states under the Ching Dynasty. - Richard C Thornton (Jul 15, '13)

Mali and China's 'Western' foreign policy
China's engagement with Mali, despite the Africa country's seemingly limited economic and strategic value, has led to speculation that Beijing envisions taking on the US's role of interventionist global policeman. However, China's refusal to make human rights demands and indifference to "responsibility to protect" suggest it will continue to be guided by its own cultural and political premises. - Moritz Pollath (Jul 12, '13)

Tough test awaits Korean education
Centuries of obsession with status and prestige make it a wrench for the Korean education system to consider abandoning its regimented Confucian structure in favor of progressive liberal methods, However, the choice is between a grade-grinding system that's become a zero-sum game pitting student against student and another that would see Korea produce more world citizens. - Taru Taylor (Jul 11, '13)

Rajapaksa autonomy move risks harmony
An attempt by Sri Lanka's Mahinda Rajapaksa government to dilute an amendment that promises autonomy to the Tamil minority breaks pledges to bring self-rule to provinces, and to the Indian and Tamil parties initially party to the agreement. Colombo may claim that autonomy sullies the military victory over the rebels, but even the army doesn't agree. - Sumanasiri Liyanage (Jul 8, '13)

Rouhani just just another cog
Hassan Rohani's victory in the Iranian presidential election has attracted commentary suggesting reform is on the way. Given his history in the power structure, it is more likely he was anointed not at the ballot box by the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, in the same way as all previous presidents. The choice this time was geared towards improving international relations and to open the hearts of Islamic Republic's weary people. - Julia Ernest (Jul 3, '13)

Give Egypt a chance for change
As Egypt's generals enter the Tahrir Square fray, there is no political emergency in need of military dictates or intervention. It is short-sighted to think the Mohamed Morsi government in one year could deliver unthinkable goods and amenities. Instead of fireballs, constructive, creative thinking should be allowed to flourish. - Mahboob A Khawaja (Jul 2, '13)

When to trust Iran's electoral system
Tension between the moderate camp of Iranian President-elect Hassan Rouhani and the conservative establishment that oversees the electoral process means that claims of vote-rigging on the scale of those that emerged four years ago are unlikely to taint the next presidential election. As the 2009 vote showed, it takes both motive and an opportunity for cohorts to work together for a result to be fixed. - Amin Shahriar (Jul 1, '13)

China the key to India's Afghan puzzle
India's internal security and plans for economic expansion depend on post-US withdrawal Afghanistan not falling to Taliban elements controlled and manipulated by Pakistan's military intelligence. To bolster its aims, New Delhi must raise the specter of Central Asian terror to unsettle Beijing into pressurizing its "all-weather ally", Pakistan. - Prathapan Bhaskaran (Jul 1, '13)

Obama steps into China's African shadow
United States President Barack Obama and his entourage of business leaders have trade and investment in their sights on their wide-ranging tour of Africa. Wherever they go, Chinese money has probably been there first, and the specter of Beijing's flourishing influence in the region is a vital subtext. - Narayani Basu (Jun 28, '13)

Trust can break Indian Ocean vicious cycle
The growing US-India strategic partnership reinforces the view from China that Indian Ocean arc of Washington's Asian pivot is part of an encirclement strategy. Amid military build-up, a trust mechanism is sorely needed to hold back an arms race that will lead to all parties sacrificing increasingly shared economic and security interests. - Namrata Goswami and Jenee Sharon (Jun 27, '13)

How politics fueled India-Pakistan wars
Classic liberal beliefs that democratic nations are less likely to wage wars with each other, grounded in Immanuel Kant's theories, seem validated when applied to the painful history of India-Pakistan relations. If only democracy had been allowed to nourish in Pakistan from its founding, then three major wars and immeasurable misery could have been avoided. - Arshad Mahmood (Jun 26, '13)

Xi traces China's emerging world view
That China's president first swung through emerging countries and regions before reaching the United States underlines how Beijing's new leadership plans to take global engagement to a new level. The "Chinese dream" resonates with the aspirations of those countries, so as President Xi Jinping talks of changes in "great power relations", Washington should pay attention. - Anand V (Jun 25, '13)

The warrior and democratic society
The concept of the "democratic warrior" is rising as soldiers connect their warrior ethos with modern society and its liberal political goals across the world. While at first glance the concept appears self-contradictory, the potentially conflicting value systems can resolved through following classical republican virtues. - Andreas Herberg-Rothe (Jun 25, '13)

Is Egypt on the verge of civil war?
As the Egyptian government's ability to feed its population declines, so too is the Muslim Brotherhood's hope of transforming Egypt into the centerpiece of a modern Islamic empire that blends strict Muslim morality with economic and technological development. Domestic instability may spark a civil conflict, and Iranian, Russian and Chinese schemes to grasp the Middle East would fuel it. - Monte Palmer (Jun 25, '13)

US warriors in search of Afghan peace
The United States' plans to hold peace talks with the Taliban highlight the moral bankruptcy of the Washington's initial decision to invade Afghanistan. There's little chance of any peace succeeding without help from Iran and Pakistan, but it will be hard for them to help the US - a country that's continually undermining them through warmongering, drone attacks and threats. - Mahboob A Khawaja (Jun 24, '13)

Modernity makes a mark in Iran vote
The surprise victory of President-elect Hassan Rouhani in the Iranian elections represents the swing of the political pendulum by a voting public repulsed by eight years of hardline rule. In the battle between modernity and Islamic tradition, most moderates agree that revolutionary principles alone are too narrow a base to run a country where the middle class is in the ascendency. - Amin Shahriar (Jun 19, '13)

Pakistan sets sights on drones
New Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, under intense pressure from politicians and the public, has promised that his government won't secretly allow the US to conduct drone strikes on Pakistani territory. Given that the strikes are often inaccurate, and that enraging tribal citizens endangers its exit from Afghanistan, perhaps Washington should pay heed to its ally this time. - Sajjad Ashraf (Jun 13, '13)

US and China could use a go-between
At a time when US-China relations are crying out for an independent mediator, the world is bypassing the United Nations and resolving issues at multilateral and bilateral state levels. A strong path to peace is the selection of a third-party arbiter from among approved states or organizations to strengthen the principle of strategic cooperation. - Brett Daniel Shehadey (Jun 12, '13)

How prosperity destroyed Arabic culture
Despite oil-generated paper wealth and transitory economic prosperity, the Arab people have failed to regain the Islamic unity needed to restore their historical linkage to change and human progress. Since major public institutions in the Arab world were taken over by Western thinking and agents of influence, economic militarization has led to constant individualistic horrors. - Mahboob A Khawaja (Jun 11, '13)

US-China shadow boxing at Shangri-La
A few rungs lower than the presidential confab, China used the Shangri-La dialogue in Singapore to mount a charm offensive targeting the US "rebalance" in Asia. Suggestions of "peace, development, cooperation and win-win" were quickly followed with hints that Beijing may carry out tit-for-tat maritime surveillance. The US hit back forcefully, and it was left to emerging regional players to seek equanimity and restraint. - Abhijit Singh (Jun 11, '13)

Kerry spouts nonaligned nuclear hysteria
US Secretary of State John Kerry's bold claim that Iran's nuclear program gets more dangerous every month is alarmist and exaggerated. The real crux of the hysteria is fear of the US losing its monopoly on nuclear weapons and technologies as Iran expands its nuclear enrichment capabilities and shares nuclear technologies with other nonaligned nuclear nations. - Dallas Darling (Jun 10, '13)

India blinded by China's shock and awe
The notion of China as a new-age El Dorado seems to permeate India's political and policy-making elite and some portion of its academic leaders, dangerously inhibiting New Delhi from perceiving how its own views and strategic approaches are and should be quite different to those of its northern neighbor. It also blinds India to the hard core at the heart of Beijing's rise in the world. - Madhu Bhalla (Jun 7, '13)

The closed Gate of Heavenly Peace
Twenty-four years, a generation and an Internet after China's leaders quashed the Tiananmen Square protest, the political stagnation continues. With wealth inequality and corruption now part of the Chinese Communist Party's DNA, it is either ironic or just plain tragic that the "people's government" has made it clear that the people have no role in decisions. - Peter Mitchelmore (Jun 4, '13)

Islamabad faces drone dilemma
Placing limits on Pakistan's cooperation with the US in the use of drones to fight the Taliban would ease intense political pressure over the issue for the incoming Nawaz Sharif government, but the resultant power vacuum in the northwest would enable the militants to regroup and inflict maximum damage on the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. - Sajjad Ashraf (May 29, '13)

Neo-Nazi denial in Myanmar
Myanmar has a newly registered Nazi party, the Rakhine National Development Party, created in the wake of anti-Muslim violence in Rakhine State. Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has dined publicly with its leaders, confirming the strength of race-based politics in the country, where fawning by Western interests has helped to create a sense of invincibility regarding such fascist attitudes. - Maung Zarni (May 23, '13)

Western hypocrisy over Chinese nukes
Speculation that China plans to depart from a strict nuclear policy that empahises minimum deterrent and a no-first-use pledge flies in the face of official rebuttals and the fact that its nuke arsenal hasn't expanded with economic advances. Instead of assuming Beijing is aggressive, Western nations asking why their own policy is based on preemptive strikes and not more defensive postures. - Hui Zhang (May 24, '13)

America's truth-seeking drone program
Hunting militants through morally and legally questionable bombing missions hardly provides real justice to the victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. The same international laws are broken by the drone program purportedly intended to protect American soil from foreign enemies seeking to eliminate its citizens. - Elliot Saunders (May 24, '13)

Turkey puts a new paradigm in play
The Arab Spring and the conflict in Syria have forced Turkey to reassess its policy stance of non-interference towards the Middle East "swamp". Ankara has grasped the opportunity created by the conflict to resolve its Kurdish question - taking a path its leaders hope will enable a reawakening of the country's regional ambitions. - Omer Aslan (May 24, '13)

Tokyo, Seoul hold 'ugly' nuclear option
The strategic consequences of a sustained North Korean nuclear weapons program are immensely troublesome. As neighbors such as South Korea and Japan consider possible countermeasures, they might consider it time to reassess whether nuclear weapons are an option to maintain an "ugly stability" in the region. - Tahir Mahmood Azad (May 23, '13)

Darkness envelops Pakistan
Elections in Pakistan have seen one crony replaced with another, further distancing from power the educated and intelligent young generation that could shape a new future for the nation. Unless the generals and their political accomplices hand some power to the people, the moral and intellectual thread of society will continue to unwind. - Mahboob A Khawaja (May 23, '13)

New spark in the South China Sea
Sanctions Taiwan has imposed following the fatal shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman by the Philippine Coast Guard, including a hiring freeze on Filipino workers and banning tourism to the Philippines, are shows of sovereignty aimed at bolstering the administration's sagging approval ratings. Manila has no such problems, but economically and diplomatically it can't afford another front opening in the South China Sea. - Julius Cesar I Trajano (May 22, '13)

The sea rises in age of drone terror
The Obama administration's drone campaign in Pakistan, with its killing lists and execution boards, is reminiscent of the French Revolution's "Reign of Terror". Just like the guillotine - invented as an "enlightened" mode of killing - the unmanned weapons have ended up slaying hundreds of innocents. - Dallas Darling (May 22, '13)

Russia leads the way in post-Fukushima world
A Western backlash against nuclear power following the Fukushima plant disaster has seen atomic energy's contribution rolled back in numerous countries. Energy needs in developing nations demand acknowledgement that, thanks to Russian specialists, the impact of human error in the nuclear sector has considerably decreased. - Igor Alexeev (May 21, '13)

The decline of Malaysian apartheid
Scapegoating of Chinese in the wake of its disappointing recent polls reflects the degree to which the United Malay National Organization, leader of Malaysia's ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, remains invested in perpetuating race-based politics. However, there are clear signs of the demise of that model as desires grow for an inclusive modern nation free of corruption. - Sunil Kukreja (May 20, '13)

Chinese opinion jars with policy on Korea
An unexpectedly significant outburst of anger from China's elite at North Korea's brazen provocations may be enough to require that Beijing try to harmonize public opinion and foreign policy on the issue. If Beijing bows to the public demands and cracks down on Pyongyang this time, it could undermine the government's ability to censor debate on internal issues.- Niklas Swanstrom and Kelly Chen (May 17, '13)

Erdogan drags heavy bag to Washington
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan steps into the White House today for a long-awaited meeting with US President Barack Obama. The conflict in neighboring Syria will likely top the agenda, and, as he carries heavy baggage across the threshold, Erdogan will be only too aware that Middle East power games are becoming more complex. - Egemen B Bezci (May 16, '13)

Daunting challenges await Sharif
Nawaz Sharif, heading into a third term as prime minister after historic elections in Pakistan, has little time to bask in victory. Daunting challenges piling up in the pending tray include tackling economic malaise and foreign policy matters and dealing with a military establishment that ejected him in 1999. - Sajjad Ashraf (May 16, '13)

Nepal charges towards total impunity
The selection of Maoist nominee Lokman Singh Karki as the chief of Nepal's anti-graft body, despite mass objections from the public, political parties and civil society, has dampened hopes that a so-called "election government" formed to restore political stability will succeed. Seen as proxy of the Maoist leadership, critics say Lokman will usher in a era of impunity and abuse of power. - Jiwan Kshetry (May 16, '13)

An Austrian deal for North Korea
Like post-Second World War Austria, North Korea is a strategic crossroads for clashing great powers. To replicate Vienna's emergence as a stable and prosperous power, Pyongyang must counterbalance outside pressures with guarantees for military neutrality, while striving for financial independence through economic openness. - Ronnie Blewer (May 15, '13)

Dogma costs Islam innovative edge
Although Islam has been called the "Enlightenment of the East", that movement in the West established natural theology and destroyed faith as a universal category of social interaction; to the East, Islam established a religious-social imaginary. Today, the West is trying to project a secular universalism founded upon democracy, while Muslims exhibit signs of dystopia in a modern and post-modern world. - Nicholas A Biniaris (May 14, '13)

US plays with genocidal fire in Iraq
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is girding for an all-out Shi'ite war on Sunnis as he showed last month by turning his tanks on Sunni protesters in the northern city of Hawijah. If the United States sells Maliki more American weapons, including scheduled squadrons of F-16s, US President Barack Obama will be a willing co-partner in Maliki's Sunni genocide. - Mark Langfan (May 13, '13)

Hate thy neighbor in Myanmar
Violence against Muslims in Myanmar has been accompanied by their widespread identification as in some way being a "threat" to the country. Though such claims defy reality, they do strengthen the hand and public backing of the military. After all, it is not shared bread but a common enemy that brings people together. - David Hopkins (May 9, '13)

Red-line rhetoric in Syria
The US and allies, after initially throwing their lot behind the Syrian uprising, are now alarmed now by the advances of al-Qaeda affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, which pose as big a threat to Israel as they do to the Syrian regime, Iran and Hezbollah. The best the West can hope for now is some form of direct occupation, which is why it is likely Israel has been invited to intervene. - Shahab Jafry (May 9, '13)

China's incursions show strategic blindness
Incursions by Chinese troops into eastern Kashmir are reflective of new leader Xi Jinping's assertive strategy on territorial disputes. While rallying behind People's Liberation Army causes may boost Xi's leadership, such aggression merely vindicates the "China threat" discourse among the country's neighbors. - Namrata Goswami (May 9, '13)

ASEAN market integration a tough call for members
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is preparing for integration of the region's markets. Attaining remaining politically sensitive goals is proving laborious, with the pace-setting economies of Philippines and Indonesia proving notably tricky. - Julius Cesar I Trajano (May 8, '13)

China's ideas gap necessitates theft
The relative absence of industrial innovation in China makes it dependent on copying (and stealing) the best from the West's trove of new ideas. That will continue until genuine freedoms and a safe environment that harbors open exchange and creativity are allowed by Beijing. - Brett Daniel Shehadey (May 8, '13)

Democracy in peril in Bangladesh
Instead of seeking the culprits behind a deadly building collapse, Bangladesh's government has been focused on closing down an opposition newspaper and arresting its editor. Such harassment of dissenting voices has been a regular feature of successive Bangladeshi governments, but the scale of the repression has grown alarmingly under the present administration. - Hasan Mir (May 8, '13)

India-China war delayed by technology
The asymmetry and imperious emperors that could provoke an India-China conflict aren't in place, and even if a war were to break out over remote border areas, international pressures and military parity require that at most, the two countries fight a very limited war that does not cause irremediable loss of face. - Mohan Guruswamy (May 7, '13)

Pyongyang's crimes lost in power plays
As the international community trains its focus on Pyongyang's nuclear brinkmanship, the brutal human-rights situation in the country is becoming a forgotten issue. While admonishing the North over threats to regional peace, it is equally important to stop it inflicting more suffering on its citizens. - Nazery Khalid (May 6, '13)

Pakistan: Good people and evil politics
Pakistanis are questioning the incompetence and corruption of politicians who for decades have used violence as a tool for personal gain. The only route out the morass is to disconnect the country from the bogus US-led "war on terrorism" and create a non-partisan government under new leadership. - Mahboob A Khawaja (May 6, '13)

Doubly deadly drones in Waziristan
Inhabitants in Pakistan's North and South Waziristan tribal agencies not only fear death from the CIA-operated drones targeting militants in the region; there is also a risk of the Taliban targeting them as suspected US spies directing the unmanned aircraft. Charged with placing American-supplied electronic tracking devices near militants' houses, the punishments for "collaborators" include death by explosive belt. - Ihsanullah Tipu Mehsud (May 3, '13)

Social media overhyped in Indian politics
The spiraling number of Indians hooked on social media and high-profile "hashtag wars" between politicians has brought predictions that Twitter and Facebook will be key battlefields in the 2014 elections and pithy posts could swing key states. This ignores the stuffy mindset of Indian politics and that poor, starving India won't be swung by digital devices. - Shruti Pandalai (May 1, '13)

Albright's role in Iran dialogue
The world of misinformation concerning Iran's nuclear program continues to spin relentlessly. Somewhere near the center, David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, misses no real or perceived opportunity to blame the Islamic Republic for global security woes. - Ardeshir Ommani (Apr 29, '13)

What China wants from North Korea
North and South Korea are being relegated to bit-players in peninsular tensions as the contest increasingly becomes another front for their powerful sponsors. China is stoking the East Asian tensions to push US forces away from its coast, in the knowledge that US bases in Taiwan and South Korea have had the Chinese navy covered. - Joel Gibbons (Apr 26, '13)

The garrison state in Pakistan
Since the military elite's struggle with civilian power factions has subsumed all other state-building ambitions in Pakistan, such as developing modern educational institutions or a multifaceted industrial base, it seems apt to describe the nation as a "garrison state". The legacy of "fortress Islam" and woeful military governance in the past makes a stable democratic evolution even unlikelier today. - Ehsan Ahrari (Apr 25, '13)

Cold War lessons apply to Syria
President Barack Obama's reluctance to make hard decisions over the Syrian conflict has echoes of incoherent US policy behind the Bay of Pigs fiasco. As in the Cuban invasion, when Washington was unsure what would happen once the exiles established their presence on the beach, so too the current administration has no idea of what Syria should become if the rebels actually win. - Jared Metzker (Apr 24, '13)

Busting crime myths in Delhi
Delhi Police and the political and bureaucratic leadership see an increase in the force's budget as a panacea for the city's security woes. but the claim has been repeated far too often. Available resources are underutilized, and a stronger sense of intent by the force should precede the grant of additional funds. - Bibhu Prasad Routray (Apr 23, '13)

China-India border talks pivot on Tibet
For China and India to resolve issues surrounding Tibet that have for decades stalled progress on border talks, both countries must bring together their brightest minds to identify intertwining core interests. Although Beijing and Delhi both view the Tibetan independence struggle as a security threat, an impasse that prevents the Sino-Indian dynamic from reaching its full potential is allowed to persist. - Namrata Goswami and Jenee Sharon (Apr 22, '13)

Fleeing the peace in Vietnam
April 30 marks the 38th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon to communist forces. Without that day there wouldn't be as many Vietnamese restaurants in your neighborhood, though social and political systems in Vietnam remain unchanged. With hundreds of dissidents in jail for challenging one-party rule and state harassment embedded, there is still reason to flee. - Hoi Trinh (Apr 19, '13)

Qatar and Saudis divide and conquer
It's rich that Qatar promotes the rights of women, immigrants, and people without states, while being at heart a Wahhabist absolute monarchy. By funding groups and movements promoting Islamism, the Gulf kingdom has joined Saudi Arabia in Western-inspired tactics of division. - Sean Fenley (Apr 17, '13)

China's Catholic body vs the Vatican
While Western critics lambast China for its insistence on internalizing the running of the country's Roman Catholic establishment, the Vatican is just as stubborn when it comes to "protecting" its own officials, as seen in its handling of child abuse allegations. Both institutions are stuffy, tone-deaf bureaucracies, but at least Beijing has grown much more amenable to Catholic influence in recent years. - Vaughan Winterbottom (Apr 17, '13)

A Chinese nuke umbrella for North Korea?
By offering North Korea a nuclear security commitment against any Western attack on North Korea, Beijing could encourage Pyongyang to abandon its brinkmanship strategy, play down militarism, and adopt a peaceful developmental policy. The regional stabilization and diplomatic benefits would be felt by East and West, but achieving the ambitious strategy will take China's acceptance and generous US support. - Qingshan Tan (Apr 15, '13)

Afghanistan's fractured future
There is little doubt that whatever government replaces Hamid Karzai's administration in Afghanistan next year, it will be heavily influenced by the Taliban. The country will revert to its typical fractured state, with pockets ruled by warlords. US media rhetoric now concentrates on the Pakistan arena, hiding the American military's last desperate attempt to retain influence once it withdraws from Afghanistan next year. - Shahab Jafry (Apr 12, '13)

North Korea: the world needs a ghoul
Libya's Gaddafi is dead, Venezuela's Chavez too, while Iran's Ahmadinejad will be history after the elections in June - and Myanmar's Thein Sein now wears a suit. Powers need a bad guy for their geopolitical machinations, and it just so happens that there is simply no-one to equal Kim Jong-eun as he morphs from a regional to a global problem. - Hannes Hanso (Apr 11, '13)

West chemical fait accompli in Syria
While the West is concerned that forcing Syrian President Bashar al-Assadís back against the wall could prompt him to attack Israeli defenses and population centers with chemical weapons , a successful intervention against him could equally see toxic weapons including binary warheads, aerial incendiary and cluster bombs falling into the hands of radical Islamic rebels.
- Bob Rigg (Apr 11, '13)

Towards a new Korean war?
North Korea's desperation to make the current crisis appear different from previous impasses suggests a scramble for survival, with bellicose rhetoric and behavior designed to enhance the Kim Jong-eun regime's international status and ensure a smooth power consolidation. With the brinkmanship already lending Kim the aura of a triumphant war leader, it seems his strategy is paying off. - Bruno Hellendorff and Thierry Kellner (Apr 9, '13)

'Occupy' Hong Kong plan a nightmare for Beijing
Plans for an "Occupy" Hong Kong movement, timed to coincide with official celebrations to mark next year's 16th anniversary of the handover to China, have been exposed, likely filling the city's pro-business and pro-Beijing camps with dread. While pro-mainland media are already predicting the plan would be "economic suicide", it seems ordinary Hong Kongers have little interest in taking part. - Kent Ewing (Apr 8, '13)

India's strategic culture is plain to see
Hardcore realism of projecting power beyond India's borders and the Nehruvian ethos of dialogue and international cooperation underline New Delhi's strategic power. Those exalting India to take Great Power status are frustrated by the duality, and in for a disappointment as the country takes the road to greatness by focusing on the war on poverty. - Namrata Goswami (Apr 5, '13)

China finds soft power in sport
Chinese sporting stars such as tennis player Li Na, hurdler Liu Xiang and basketball player Yao Ming are proving vital tools of soft power as Beijing tries to beat rival superpower the United States at its own game. Just as American athletes like Michael Jordan and Mohammed Ali changed how the world viewed the country, China hopes sporting achievement will develop into greater global influence. - Jieh-Yung Lo (Apr 3, '13)

How Christians lost their anarchist spirit
That the Gospels are filled with tales of Jesus and his disciples committing acts of civil disobedience or launching revolutionary non-violent campaigns seems hard to fathom given that today's Church hardly expounds the philosophy that governments are responsible for society's ills. A deeper exploration of early Christianity's anarchist leanings suggests the movement lit the Great Fire of Rome. - Dallas Darling (Apr 2, '13)

South Korea, Japan: a reignited rivalry
The ascendency of K-pop as Western interest fades in facets of Japanese pop culture that so intrigued in the 1990s reflects a shift in East Asia's power dynamic as Japan's post-World War II "economic miracle" drifts into memory. With territorial disputes replacing post-colonial tensions, it seems that despite Seoul and Tokyo's overlapping economic and security interests, another delicate stage in relations looms. - Jieh-Yung Lo (Mar 28, '13)

Anti-Hindu attacks rock Bangladesh
A wave of anti-Hindu attacks in Bangladesh launched by hardline Islamist group the Jammate-E-Islami Bangladesh has seen hundreds of temples, statues and shops demolished, with purportedly secular ruling party the Awami League failing to protect the minority by punishing the vandals. Unless the government takes aim at the extremist politics taking root, they will threaten the nation's stability. - Swadesh Roy (Mar 28, '13)

Passing the buck on North Korea
East Asian and Western calls for China to crackdown on North Korea, which surface each time the former's "little brother" launches another nuclear provocation, ignore the regional instability that would be unleashed if Beijing really cut off Pyongyang. The same critics seem blind to the real goal of the North's brinkmanship: security assurances, diplomatic recognition and trade concessions from the US. - Nadine Godehardt and David Shim (Mar 27, '13)

The politics of expediency in India
The Indian government is paying more attention these days to policies on crucial matters of national interest, largely with an eye fixed on gaining votes in next year's general election. More than that expediency is required in the world's largest democracy if genuine efforts at social emancipation and welfare are to bear fruit. - Sunil Kumar (Mar 26, '13)

North Korea stirs Cuban crisis memory
The cycle of provocation created by North Korea's nuclear brinkmanship and the US refusal to compromise threatens to lead President Barack Obama and Kim Jong-eun into "eyeball to eyeball" confrontation in a repeat of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. Kim is, however, a more volatile prospect than Nikita Khruschev ever was. - Hui Zhang (Mar 25, '13)

China seeks military friends
Beijing has sent diplomats and top military brass to press official flesh in Central Europe, most likely in an attempt to gain more torque to lift the European Union embargo on the sale of arms to China. Poland is a particular target, with a strong track record supplying other Asian countries with simple technological solutions that the People's Liberation Army also wants. - Paul Behrendt (Mar 21, '13)

China seeks military friends
Beijing has sent diplomats and top military brass to press official flesh in Central Europe, most likely in an attempt to gain more torque to lift the European Union embargo on the sale of arms to China. Poland is a particular target, with a strong track record supplying other Asian countries with simple technological solutions that the People's Liberation Army also wants. - Paul Behrendt (Mar 21, '13)

India blots out Israeli issues
Israel has used wide-ranging outreach in India to overcome public opposition to burgeoning bilateral ties in defense, trade and people-to-people contacts. That some surveys now rank India as the world's most "pro-Israel country" suggest the latter's image molding has persuaded many Indians to forget points of difference like Iran and the Palestinian issues. - S Samuel C Rajiv (Mar 18, '13)

Now is the time for a solution in Kashmir
Increased repression in Indian-administered Kashmir and growing tensions with Pakistan along the Line of Control highlight that the the status quo there cannot last. There has never been a better time for a comprehensive solution to the conflict - most of what that will take is clear. What is eminently lacking is the will to take action now. - Shubh Mathur (Mar 15, '13)

China and North Korea's pit bull alliance
China not only benefits from North Korea stealing its limelight as one of Asia's biggest human-rights violators, Pyongyang also serves a key political weapon against the strangulation strategy being visited on Beijing by the US and its allies. Diplomatic efforts to paint China as "renegotiating" terms of bilateral cooperation with the North are a "dog-and-pony" show. - Brett Daniel Shehadey (Mar 15, '13)

Japan and Philippines align strategic interests
The convergence of Japan's and the Philippines' threat perceptions of China will ultimately determine the depth of the two sides' strategic cooperation. Domestic concerns have also influenced Manila's receptiveness to Tokyo's soft power diplomacy and strategic overtures, as bilateral ties with Tokyo moved from platitudes to genuinely empowering military assets and economic assistance. - Julius Cesar I Trajano (Mar 14, '13)

Securing the Indian state from the people
Renewed demands to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in Jammu and Kashmir by activists who say it protects human-rights violators underlines the draconian nature of numerous statues in Indian enforced for "national security". Often security and "anti-terror" laws not only contradict the tenets of democracy, they continue colonial-era legislation enacted to control a rebellious population fighting the British Empire. - Ninan Koshy (Mar 14, '13)

Erdogan's rhetoric is Kerry's headache
Rising tensions between Turkey and the United States are a headache for Secretary of State John Kerry. Yet the strain lies not in any actions, but rather in rhetoric as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan shows he is willing to put old alliances at risk for the sake of scoring points with a domestic audience. - Egemen B Bezci and Geoffrey Levin (Mar 13, '13)

Quagmire politics in Sabah
As tensions run high in Malaysia's eastern state of Sabah following a stand-off between insurgents from the southern Philippines and Malaysian security forces, militant action is lending credence to claims that the conflict has been manufactured to stir trouble at a politically sensitive time. The risks are rising of a wider crisis that could delay Malaysia's general election. - Nile Bowie (Mar 12, '13)

US stuck in deaf dialogue in Korea
Provocations and diplomatic miscommunication of the kind now engaging North Korea and the United States echo throughout America's presence in the Korean peninsular. The Korean conflict is one of war fought with a "dialogue of the deaf" that has no ending. It's time for Washington to change its approach. - Dallas Darling (Mar 11, '13)

Bank critics miss relative value
The financial crash is widely attributed to failures of international investment banks (with various other "culprits" also held up for castigation). Yet the problem might lie deeper, in the roots of outdated but still over-popular economic theory espoused by Adam Smith (and even Karl Marx). The way out of the mess is even deeper - and it is all relative. - Friedrich Hansen (Mar 8, '13)

The alchemy of transition in South Asia
The failure of Bangladesh's International Crimes Tribunal must not diminish attempts to create a robust transitional justice mechanism in Nepal. Blood on the streets in Dhaka may be used to undermine reparative measures in Nepal's transition to justice, but it is imperative that political classes are prevented from turning Bangladeshi "lead" into the pernicious "gold" of a general amnesty. - Michael Van Es (Mar 8, '13)

The strategy in Syria has failed
Saudi Arabia and Qatar must be urged to end their destabilization of Syria and find a non-violent political solution that ensures Sunni Islamic fundamentalists do not come to power. Syria is undeniably authoritarian, but its many sects are protected much better under the Arab nationalist al-Assad government than the Western-supported Free Syrian Army. - Sean Fenley (Mar 8, '13)

Time for India's right to look within
India needs a strong right-wing to counter the dominance of the Congress party. As the right's representative at 2014 general elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party under likely prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi must get its act together and emerge from a cacophony of indistinct policies. A first step would be the BJP declaring a sincere belief that India is not just for Hindus. - Tridivesh Singh Maini and Arko Dasgupta (Mar 7, '13)

China robots signal US challenge
The robotic invasion on factory floors in China points the way to the power of automation to "reshore" American industry. Along the way, the battle to maintain low-skilled jobs needs to end, and a swathe cut through regulations that prevent companies from attracting innovators. - Joshua Jacobs and Eftychis Mourginakis (Mar 5, '13)

US pivot puts Pakistan in a bind
The US's "pivot to Asia" will again force Pakistan to choose between two powerful and competing benefactors, this time with more significant regional implications than during the Cold War. While diplomatic and financial support has flowed freely from Beijing in recent years, rapprochement with Washington suggests Islamabad will make a familiar choice. - Hamza Mannan (Mar 4, '13)

Strikes on tribals a mistaken panacea
Deaf ears have met the demands of tribal people displaced by the battle between Pakistan's military and militants in the country's north-west. The army's Operation Rah-e-Nijat is having its own devastating consequences on the lives of ordinary people, and the constant barrage of US drone attacks has left them in a permanent state of shock. - Khan Zeb Burki (Mar 1, '13)

Foreign, domestic policy blur for Beijing
New foreign policy strategists in the hot seat as Xi Jinping takes the Chinese presidency must navigate relations at a time when international issues are having a greater impact than ever on domestic security and the public mood. From the South China Sea to Afghanistan, past approaches stressing indifference and neutrality simply won't suffice. - Nadine Godehardt (Feb 28, '13)

Iran and the implosion of Syria
Interference in the Syrian crisis underlines Iran's belief that only through opposing the creation of independent and sovereign states can it assert regional influence. As long as Tehran is allowed to aid non-state terrorist networks and militias, the disintegration of already failing Middle Eastern states will continue and terrorist threats against Israeli and Western interests will grow.
- Riccardo Dugulin (Feb 27, '13)

Southeast Asia's nuclear path post-Fukushima
Two years on from the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster, Southeast Asian states are undeterred from taking a nuclear path. Energy supply concerns, efforts to diversify and volatile fossil-fuel prices outweigh the risks and make the case for atomic fuel sources compelling. Vietnam, which plans to build 15 reactors by 2030, and Indonesia are at the forefront of the switch. - Sahara Piang Brahim (Feb 26, '13)

Casteism and corruption in modern India
Indian literary academic Ashis Nandy has said remarks in which he appeared to describe disadvantaged castes as the country's most corrupt were actually intended to to illustrate that these groups do not access to graft as an "equalizing force". The freedom of speech debate that's been sparked by Nandy's comments ignores their more importance significance for power equations developing in modern India.
- Niladri Ranjan Ray (Feb 25, '13)

ASEAN's great power dilemma
China and Japan are overhauling their strategy in Southeast Asia from vying for the balance of influence to competing for the balance of power. That shift, amid more frequent territorial disputes, makes the time ripe for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to shape a key monitoring role for maintaining maritime stability, while trying to protect a post-Cold War fundamental principle to stay above the melee. - Kei Koga (Feb 22, '13)

Change in the Middle Kingdom
Examine the composition of China's Politburo Standing Committee under Xi Jinping and it becomes clear that democracy reform is off the table, while economic reforms and political consolidation are the name of the game. That's bad news for those expecting the domestic security stance to relax, while the good news is that in the name of cooperation and stability, the territorial dispute with Japan will be shelved. - Stefan Soesanto (Feb 21, '13)

China edges closer to rule of law
Optimizing China's progress and development while maintaining a strong economy will require a more accountable and respected legal system, but Beijing need not abandon its Confucian and legalist traditions and blindly adopt Western ideals. Through a modern outlook, and transforming traditional wisdom into practical policy, China can develop a unique legal system that obtains the best of two worlds. - Thomas Velk and Shannon Gong (Feb 21, '13)

Ankara on line three, Mr Secretary
One of incoming US Secretary of State John Kerry's highest Middle Eastern priorities will be stabilizing relations with Turkey following the US embassy bombing and outspoken US criticism about Turkey's legal system. Kerry must answer Ankara's concerns knowing that public opinion blames the US not only for the Syrian crisis, but for most factors limiting Turkey's regional influence. - Egemen B Bezci and Geoffrey Levin (Feb 20, '13)

Rethinking the US-China-Taiwan triangle
The asymmetric security triangle that has defined US-China-Taiwan relations since the Cold War is becoming obsolete as the mainland becomes vital to Taipei's economic prospects and as Beijing develops the army, naval and air forces needed to counter American military support. A new inclusive triangle is the answer, with Taiwan serving as multi-dimensional entrepot for the two larger powers' business and political connections. - Brantly Womack (Feb 14, '13)
Israel fuels Syrian fire, risks contagion
Israel's air raid on Syria used the cover of chemical weapons concerns to disguise an attempt at military escalation aimed at either embroiling an unwilling United States in the Syrian conflict or gaining a larger say in negotiations to shape a future regime in Syria. Military intervention only promises more destruction for Syria, while Israel's buffer zone may create space for al-Qaeda-linked rebels to thrive. - Nicola Nasser (Feb 7, '13)

US goads Japan into China confrontation
A US delegation sent to Japan in late 2012 purportedly to diffuse island tensions with China was headed by two senior officials who in the past have stated that the US-Japan alliance can only survive if Tokyo renounces its pacifist constitution and develops a "capable military force" to face the "re-rise" of China. By becoming the US's "bait", Japan puts itself in the firing line. - John V Walsh (Feb 5, '13)

Protest never ends at Indian nuclear plant
A government crackdown on protests at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu has done nothing to deter the hundreds of men, women and children from nearby villages who are leading a campaign to stall operations. While the agitators are winning wide support from environmentalists, commissioning of the plant has been delayed. - K S Harikrishnan (Feb 4, '13)

India-Israel anti-terror axis evolves
Secretive counter-terrorism and defense ties between India and Israel have burgeoned since the United States-led "war on terror" helped create an "informal" axis in 2003. By conflating its Kashmir and Pakistan struggles with what the Indian foreign ministry calls Israel's "cross-border terrorism problem" - the Palestinian resistance - New Delhi gains access to high-tech weaponry, surveillance equipment and sophisticated training. - Ninan Koshy (Feb 1, '13)

India at 64: A struggling democracy
Despite the economic progress on show as India last week marked its 64th Republic Day, corruption in public office and delays to development of education and infrastructure - as well as continuing caste and communal hatred - underline how far the country has strayed from the inclusive, prosperous vision of its original constitution. - Sunil Kumar (Jan 30, '13)

Identity crisis in ethnic India
Competing agendas between three major ethnic groups - the Kuki, Naga, and Meitei - underpin continued instability in Manipur, India's historically restive northeastern state. While there is no quick fix to long-simmering problems over identity and land ownership, New Delhi can no longer ignore tensions that are holding back development. - Nehginpao Kipgen (Jan 25, '13)

Time to bridge Sino-Indian border differences
Unless India and China can put themselves in each other's shoes, the Arunachal Pradesh border will remain the subject of one of the world's most intractable disputes. Delhi must appreciate that compromises suggesting Tibetan independence are a no-go area, while Beijing must understand why India can't back down. The longer both sides escalate the crisis, the bigger the cost to Asia. - Namrata Goswami and Jenee Sharon (Jan 24, '13)

Thein Sein a man of war, not peace
The International Crisis Group is to honor Myanmar President Thein Sein with its "In Pursuit of Peace, Prosperity and the Presidency Award" at a gala dinner in New York City. In doing so, like other international groups, the ICG confounds the country's continuing brutal realities by supporting the very men who have committed crimes against humanity and continue to do so under different guises and through different means. - Nancy Hudson-Rodd (Jan 17, '13)

India should beware influx of megastores
India's decision to open its retail sector to international competition bodes ill for small stores and the local range of outlets. It also opens the way to corrupt practices, with events already following a path seen in America and the UK. Gainers will be highly paid lawyers and tax-avoidance experts. - Brian Cloughley (Jan 15, '13)

Blaze-hit Kabul stores race deep freeze
Kabul merchants are facing a race against the onset of deep winter to rebuild and recover from a devastating market blaze that wiped out their stock and destroyed their cash holdings. Adding to their injuries, the government is failing to help them recover while demanding that store-owners now buy insurance policies. - Ali M Latifi (Jan 14, '13)

Why freedom is a war-cry in Kashmir
Indian outrage over a now infamous gang-rape in New Delhi is in contrast to the wide indifference to the plight of Kashmiris who have suffered similar atrocities on a vast scale, as well as massacres and disappearances, at the hands of Indian security forces. As Kashmiris seek escape from repressive laws, humiliation and occupation, they are offered pronouncements and measures that only increase the demand of azadi - "complete freedom". - Syed Zafar Mehdi (Jan 9, '13)

Asia should go within, not ape the West
Economic dynamism and a position as a crucible for tensions between global players give Asia a crucial place in the multipolar world emerging as centuries of American and European domination stutters to an end. Across the region, new centers of political power should adapt ancient civilizations and culture to conditions today rather than import failed Western economic and social models. - Francesco Brunello Zanitti (Jan 7, '13)

A Confucian Christmas in China
As long as Western scholarship on China floats on a platform of misleading cultural imperialism, such as historic European notions painting Confucius as a Christian saint rather than a sage, the West isn't learning anything new from Asia. It has more to offer than British, French, and German philosophers could ever satisfactorily translate. - Thorsten Pattberg (Dec 21, '12)

Chen marks new tone for Chinese dissidence
Blind Chinese human-rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng's escape from house arrest this year was significant for more than the feat itself, as Chen's background transformation from grassroots activist to renowned rights advocate also reflects accelerating growth and evolution of the Chinese dissident movement. From liberals within the party to democracy activists and Christian liberals, groups are increasingly overlapping as bottom-up momentum grows. - Man Yee Karen Lee (Dec 20, '12)

Turkey's Syria policy fits a classic role
Support for Western-led intervention in Syria from Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) contradicts its Islamic orientation, while opposition from the military and secularists goes against their historic roles as US allies. The reversal mirrors the 2003 lead-up to the Iraq war, when the newly elected AKP backed US war efforts to build support and weaken its opponents. - Emad Abdullah Ayasrah (Dec 18, '12)

Can private universities lift India?
The performance of India's higher education institutions is a cause for alarm, particularly since the "English advantage" is being squandered as China pulls ahead in research and world rankings. While private universities and colleges are growing, they remain focused on profit over results and offer no solution to stagnation and mediocrity. - Pushkar (Dec 18, '12)

Democracy takes root in Bhutan
As Bhutan prepares for its second parliamentary elections, the past five years shows a strengthening of the "effective components" of democracy. Institutions have matured, new political parties and lobby groups have emerged, and freedom of expression has blossomed. However, the state's reticence on issues such as Nepalese refugees and human rights suggest the process is far from complete. - Medha Bisht (Dec 12, '12)

Rohingyas test Suu Kyi's credentials
Popular momentum in Myanmar behind proposals to expel its Rohingya people is based on outdated perceptions of the minority being given preferential treatment by colonial Britain, yet even "pro-democracy" leader like Aung San Suu Kyi appears loathe to condemn the religious violence in Rakhine State. Her silence suggests that 2015 general elections are simply too tempting a prize. - Ridwan Sheikh (Dec 10, '12)

Israel provokes a Doomsday test
Furious international reaction to Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to build a "Doomsday" settlement will undermine the two-state solution to his country's conflict with Palestine. The Israeli prime minister's defiance needs now to be met with action - and that will put the credibility of the powers on the UN Security Council to an historic test. - Nicola Nasser (Dec 6, '12)

Afghanistan takes stock of rebuilding
Reconstruction teams in Afghanistan have done a great job in overcoming many challenges to deliver international development projects that have boosted provincial livelihoods over the past decade. As a grateful nation taking over complete ownership of the infrastructure, the first step in the transition is to obtain a complete inventory of the assets put in place. - Ajmal Shams (Dec 4, '12)

Indian Internet freedoms in a maelstrom
Draconian reactions to Internet activity, such arrests over "likes" on social media pages and charges of sedition for cartoons, raise serious questions over the government's ability to cope with technological trends that are increasingly encroaching on the political world. While it's necessary to monitor cyberspace to prevent crime, the methods used undermine India's democracy. - Sunil Kumar (Dec 3, '12)

Myanmar reconciliation a distant dream
A year after the breakdown of a 17-year ceasefire in Myanmar's northern Kachin State, government troops continue to abuse and drive out villagers even as President Thein Sein claims he is seeking to resolve the conflict through political means. If the government was sincere about restoring peace, it would make efforts to win the hearts and minds of the local people rather than brutalizing them. - Nhkum Gam (Nov 29, '12)

Can India stay the course in Afghanistan?
The discourse on Afghanistan after the withdrawal of the United States in 2014 is increasingly shifting to the role of India. New Delhi's recent attempts to protect the gains of broad-based engagement are seen by Pakistan as flexing muscle, but will prove measures of its committment to stay the course for a stable Afghanistan. - Shanthie Mariet D'Souza (Nov 29, '12)

India fails test of 'knowledge economy'
Expectations that a surge in science and engineering graduates would see India become an economic success powered by knowledge have ignored a higher education system characterized by some as a "complete mess". - Pushkar (Nov 29, '12)

Smoke and mirrors fail the CCP
The Chinese Communist Party will find it impossible to maintain its grip power by suppressing its membership, using foreign scapegoats, and ignoring deeply needed political reforms forever. There is an alternative, but the absence of any real attempt to redefine itself means the party faces impending extinction from within. - Brett Daniel Shehadey (Nov 28, '12)

Respect for elders trumps reform
As China's leadership change takes full shape, it's becoming clear that less-popular officials who demonstrated hard-earned, on-the-job experience have triumphed over the younger, more reformist and enterprising. As long as those who escape the complex institutional process unscathed are chosen over those who display educated ambition, there is less scope for trumpeted change. - Zhengxu Wang (Nov 27, '12)

Syrian coalition faces testing time
The Free Syrian Army failed to demonstrate it represented most of the Syrian people, and now international backers are asking the Syrian National Coalition to pass the test. With division splitting the ranks of its regional and international backers, recognition of the coalition will not be enough to end the war. - Ahmed E Souaiaia (Nov 26, '12)

Korea shows America its lost intimacy
Gaping contrasts between the experience of teaching the study machines that are South Korean students and labored efforts to enlighten eye-rolling, text messaging audiences in American classes reflects how both societies are headed. The intimacy and respect Koreans show teachers and elders suggests theirs is the better path. - John M Rodgers (Nov 21, '12)

Obama touches Myanmar maelstrom
As President Barack Obama demonstrated in his election victory, a culture of inclusion is a winning ticket for the future. His historic visit to Myanmar should be seen as opportunity to call out the leadership over institutionalized racial discrimination that denies foreigners a legal identity, and contributes to the frenzy of hatred seen in situations like an ongoing pogrom in Arakan. - May Ng (Nov 19, '12)

Indian liberalism has a rough week
A literary controversy rooted in sensibilities over how the majority treat Muslims in India has underlined an paradox for local liberals: while they tend to prove their liberalism by upholding their secular credentials, those championing the rights of minorities have a keen sense of a discomfort over the latter's intractable zeal for religion. - Mosarrap Hossain Khan (Nov 16, '12)

Manufacturing a future for Myanmar's people
Despite the passage of a Foreign Investment Law, reformists in Myanmar will struggle to wrestle the commanding heights of the economy from the business elites. Rather than prioritizing extractive resource sectors, manufacturing offers a compelling long-term opportunity to tackle Myanmar's economic malaise. - George Gorman (Nov 16, '12)

Pakistani rhetoric blind to reality
Words such as blasphemy, enforced disappearances, ethnic violence and grinding poverty were conspicuously absent when Pakistan presented its human-rights record to the United Nations. Normal Pakistanis may have wondered what country the delegation was describing. No matter the token legislative changes made by Islamabad, life is increasingly hard for the majority. - Dawood I Ahmed (Nov 9, '12)

Political Islam adrift in Indonesia
Growing friction and polarization within and among Indonesia's Islamic parties are symptomatic of their leaders' reluctance to hand over the reins and a failure to develop a media image that resonates with voters. This and the fallout from assorted scandals has cost the parties almost all their social and intellectual capital. - Donny Syofyan (Nov 8, '12)

Eid al-Adha, a Russian holiday?
An increasing number of Russian citizens and guest workers perform Muslim rites at significant personal cost and sacrifice. Moscow would do well to celebrate these days as public holidays, rather than to mark events such as "National Unity Day", created as a pastiche of Stalinist myth-making and designed to undermine religion. - Chris Monday (Nov 7, '12)

Spoilers to Philippine peace deal
President Benign Aquino has been lauded at home and internationally for forging agreement with the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on a framework to end the conflict in the southern Philippines. Yet shortcomings of the deal and a host of disparate actors waiting in the wings threaten to make peace elusive. - George D Gorman (Nov 5, '12)

Beware of the Islamist trap
The West lumps Sunni Muslim groups in the Middle East together as "Islamists", assuming that this supposedly cohesive force seeks control of the Middle East and is inherently hostile to the interests of the United States and its allies. This misperception ignores sweeping differences and incompatibility between models such as Turkey's Islam lite and Salafism, and draws a needless and dangerous battle line . - Monte Palmer (Nov 5, '12)

India waits for democracy with benefits
More than 60 years of nearly uninterrupted democratic rule in India has failed to deliver good health and even moderate levels of human development for a majority of people. That record hardly makes the country a glowing endorsement for the benefits of democracy. - Pushkar (Nov 2, '12)

North Korea takes risky path of reform
North Korean farm reforms this summer had the declared purpose of easing the current economic crisis and improving people's standard of living. Given the earlier disastrous consequences of currency revaluation, the government needs to carefully weigh the impact of this and other reforms before implementing them. - Sangsoo Lee and Stefano Facchinetti (Nov 1, '12)

The death of human rights in Nepal
The Nepali government's promotion of a colonel accused of crimes during the country's 10-year civil conflict underlines an apparent lack of political will to achieve transitional justice. Unless clear evidence of unlawful killings and torture during the war is examined by a truth commission or investigation, the country is doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. - Gyan Basnet (Nov 1, '12)

Japan: Tax matters
As Japan's parliament enters an extraordinary session to debate a financing bill essential for the continued running of government, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has a chance to become a new Junichiro Koizumi - or at least appear to be that rare thing, a decisive Japanese premier. Bert Edstrom (Oct 30, '12)

Personality politics stifle Korean democracy
Personality politics in South Korea rooted in the country's Confucian traditions perpetuate a weak party structure, leaving leaders unable to tackle peopleís grievances. In an ideal world for democratic growth, political enigmas like Ahn Chul-soo would drop out of electoral races so the system can be institutionalized and parties develop realistic policy agendas. - Steven Denney (Oct 29, '12)

All Central Asian roads lead to Muscovy
Constant jostling between great powers for Central Asian influence and resources underlines the region's growing strategic importance. As Russia, China and the US make varying alliances, the smaller countries in Central Asia must hedge their bets, strike a balance between the rising influences and avoid transnational oligarchy. - Himar Arjun Singh (Oct 26, '12)

The real problem with Iran is history
The narrative surrounding Iran and its nuclear program today is crucially missing a discussion on history and identity that might help to clarify why the US-Iranian relationship is so dangerous. Without recognition of Iran's desire to stand tall again on the world stage, America will be blind to reality. - Aaron Hesse (Oct 25, '12)

New thrust to India-Australia relations
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard's recent visit to India provided a new thrust to bilateral relations that have been in the doldrums for years. By overturning the ban on uranium sales to India and paying attention to emerging areas of cooperation, Gillard has create a landmark opportunity for progress on many fronts. - Sudhanshu Tripathi (Oct 22, '12)

A farmer needs a wife in China and India
China and India both face a sex-ratio crisis that leaves men getting a bad press as the consequences of "missing women" work their way though the demographic pyramid. Solutions are needed, and some balance can be found in encouraging urban woman to marry rural sweethearts. - Lauren Johnston (Oct 19, '12)

NATO's dilemma: Turkey and Article 5
While the shelling of a Turkish town by Syrian artillery fits criteria of NATO's Article 5, which states an armed attack on one member is an attack on all, there was never a question of it being invoked. NATO should use the Syrian crisis as an opportunity to abandon such Cold War baggage, but it will likely revert to conventional deterrence and squander the chance for reform. - Riccardo Dugulin (Oct 19, '12)

West blinks at Wahhabism's dark side
Wahhabi forces foresee the fall of Iran and ultimately Russia and China to the combined forces of NATO and rebels backed by Qatar and Saudi Arabia after they grasp power in Syria. While the West has supported Wahhabism as a tool to prevent the spread of Iranian influence, it seems blind to the violence and intolerance the faith can unleash. - Zubair Khan (Oct 11, '12)

Ashes of Sino-Indian war stay warm
Half a century after the China and India war in the eastern Himalayas, aggressive posturing by both sides has seen increased militarization of the region - Beijing plans to deploy new fighters to support its 300,000 troops there, and Delhi has stationed Brahmos supersonic cruise missiles in Arunachal Pradesh. The region continues as a Sino-Indian flashpoint. Frameworks are required that can deal with misperceptions on both sides. - Namrata Goswami (Oct 10, '12)

Transatlantic dream or joke in Asia
The United States has urged the European Union to join in strengthening its Asian pivot, even as it tries to sabotage EU foreign affairs head Catherine Ashton's dreams of developing strategic ties with China. Try as it might, Brussels' desire for a more prominent role in Asia keeps on being thwarted, and a common transatlantic stance on the Pacific Rim is a risible proposition. - Emanuele Scimia (Oct 5, '12)

India renews Taiwan embrace
India is promoting itself as an alternative market for Taiwan to mainland China as a thaw in cross-strait relations eases Beijing's sensitivities over such flaunting of the "one-China" policy Delhi adheres to. The newfound push for improved trade ties with Taipei also reflects a new Indian assertiveness as its counters a Chinese encirclement strategy of building ties with countries like Pakistan and Myanmar. - Anindya Batabyal (Oct 4, '12)

Obama loses sight of Syrian reality
President Barack Obama's policy stance on the Syrian conflict stresses the US's unwillingness to commit to military intervention while using simplified premises such as "the future must not belong to a dictator who massacres his people". While such a focus reassures the war-wary US public, it overlooks major risks such as a widening regional conflict and the strengthening of jihadist elements. - Riccardo Dugulin (Oct 3, '12)

China's pedagogic pitfalls
Although the English language will the medium for future Sino-US exchanges on economics, politics, and diplomacy, English-language training in China suffers from a misguided pedagogical mindset that views classrooms through a factorial lens and flaunts enrollment numbers as if these alone underscore linguistic success. The answer is to have Western instructors in the classrooms, new facilities and performance incentives, but Beijing doesn't seem interested - James Fishback (Oct 2, '12)

The end of translation
As a result of Western media and academia mistranslating ancient Chinese concepts into convenient biblical or philosophical terminology, few in Europe or America have any real grasp of Chinese culture. The same is true of the tens of thousands of unique non-European concepts in the Sanskrit-Hindu tradition. It's if billions of Chinese and Indians in 3,000 years invented nothing. - Thorsten Pattberg (Sep 28, '12)

The weaknesses of 'national security'
The United States and other countries have sought under the pretext of "national security" to achieve global superiority through interventionism and the development of massive weapons systems. Far from creating stability, the bullying and genocidal instincts inspired by such a security doctrine cause global volatility that inevitably spreads back to the source. - Dallas Darling (Sep 27, '12)

A notice warranting reform in India
India's police have a new method of making cash - the non-bailable warrant - related to minor offences that require suspects stay overnight in mosquito-infested cells, unless an "arrangement" is made. It is a symptom of a legal system so corrupt and backlog?ged that most authorities - from cops to lawyers to petty court officials - have a little work on the side. - Siddharth Srivastava (Sep 26, '12)

Seeking truth and reparation in Nepal
A proposal to grant amnesty to serious violators of human rights in Nepal's decade-long civil conflict as a founding provision for a truth and reconciliation commission seeks to deny justice to victims of the insurgency. If the transitional justice process contradicts the rule of law, there is little hope of Nepal becoming a a viable democracy. - Gyan Basnet (Sep 25, '12)

Canada's hostility to Iran is overblown
The Canadian government's severing of diplomatic relations with Iran this month was a pathetic act. As one of the main beneficiaries of the unipolar world, in cutting its relationship with Iran, Canada aimed to back an isolation of Iran, but events way from this Western viewpoint show the Islamic Republic is far from isolated. - Ardeshir Ommani (Sep 24, '12)

Existential threats and wars of choice
The forces assembling to assault Iran are not doing so because of some existential threat posed by that country, but are engaged in an exercise in great power aggression. Israel, the United States and Saudi Arabia believe that overthrowing the ayatollahs, will benefit their individually different interests. If the past is a guide they may be successful, at least in the short run. - Alan G Jamieson (Sep 21, '12)

Kim Jong-eun prepares balancing act
Korean leader Kim Jong-eun was bequeathed a poor hand of cards - including rotten hard and soft infrastructure, corrupt government, and a bloated military - against which reforms to be announced next month will struggle to make progress. Yet Kim recognizes the need for change and that if you can't be a Deng Xiaoping, it's better to be a Gorbachev than a Gaddafi. - Chris Green and Sokeel Park (Sep 21, '12)

Islam in the 21st century
If the Muslim world is to achieve success it does not depend solely upon the attitude of the West, as some intellectuals believe. It equally depends upon the attitude of the Muslim world towards itself, and reconciliation with its own internal problems. Otherwise it will collapse upon its own fervor and anger. - Nicholas A Biniaris (Sep 18, '12)

Japan and China on a conflicting course
The latest handling of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands row showcases obvious misperceptions between China and Japan. In so far as China's repeated claim on the disputed islands is not recognized by Tokyo, Japan's purchase plan is seen in Beijing as a serious encroachment. - Karl Lee (Sep 14, '12)

Point of no return in the South China Sea
As tensions over rival territorial claims in the South China Sea rise to worrying levels, serious actions are required to turn back from a point of no return. In this effort, much will be expected from the United States and China to lead the way toward stability. - Nazery Khalid (Sep 13, '12)

Europe offers path for a nuclear Asia
The relatively incident-free transition to Kim Jong-eun's leadership in North Korea still leaves the country's nuclear program a point of deep international contention. Those seeking a breakthrough on the issue could find inspiration in the experience of the European Community's post-war efforts to regionalize the management of civil nuclear power. - Sangsoo Lee (Sep 13, '12)

Food justice for women in India
About three-fourth of Indiaís population living in the rural sector is reeling under abject poverty, illiteracy, ill-health, unemployment, and other factors that lead to a low quality of life. A gendered analysis of poverty reveals not simply its unequal incidence but also that both cause and effect are deeply gendered - women face a greater risk of poverty than men. - Kiran Sharma (Sep 12, '12)

Time for a new ASEAN way
The crisis of consensus in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations should be looked upon as an important opportunity for change. As the future of the organization depends on how much its members are willing to give in order to take, they should first consider making resolutions binding. - Khanh Vu Duc (Sep 10, '12)

Popular protests rile India's leaders
Warnings from India's Congress Party leadership that endemic protests "flirt with chaos" seem an attempt to glaze over the genuine grievances drawing people onto the streets. A more likely source of chaos is the failure of politicians on all sides to devise coherent policies that address economic and political issues. - Pushkar (Sep 7, '12)

Security vs liberty: completing or conflicting?
The raft of anti-terror measures Europe has taken to stay in step with post-9/11 US efforts highlight the inherent tensions between security concerns and civil rights. Once a champion of human rights and data protection, the scant resistance Brussels has shown to US demands suggests it has abandoned founding EU principles. - Hossein Aghaie (Sep 6, '12)

China, Europe export gangsters to Africa
Recent police shootings of striking miners in South Africa who had been seeking better pay have underscored the role of European firms in the exploitation of workers. At the same time, there is little to differentiate Chinese and European organized crime in Africa. - Emanuele Scimia (Sep 6, '12)

Myanmar reform on a familiar track
As Western countries cheer reform efforts in Myanmar, internal critics see the process as a cynical culmination of the "seven-step roadmap" drawn up by the military regime before President Thein Sein took power through election. The plan, which envisions the emergence of a "genuine and disciplined democratic system", guarantees the safety of ex-junta generals involved in widespread human rights abuses while opening the country to foreign investment. - Saw Yan Naing (Sep 5, '12)

Arab Nationalism's last heartbeat
More than turning points such as the 1967 Arab defeat or the 1981 Camp David agreement, the "Arab awakening" in 2010-2011 sounds the death knell for Arab nationalism. Protestors from Tunis to Dara'a sought to overthrow the crony capitalism of singled-out regimes - not to create Arab unity or launch a struggle against Israel. - Riccardo Dugulin (Sep 4, '12)

Much ado about nothing in Tehran
Tehran's efforts to paint its hosting of this week's Non-Aligned Movement summit as proof that Iran is not internationally isolated will garner limited political and economic gains. Despite NAM's supposed focus on redressing inequalities in the international political order, its prominent members share no long-term and reliable solidarity with Iran on its security and strategic concerns. - H Aghaie (Aug 31, '12)

Old allies, new dynamics in US pivot
United States efforts to reinvigorate Southeast Asian security alliances as part of its "pivot" to Asia are being impacted by tubulent domestic politics in the Phillipines and Thailand. While Manila is open to military cooperation that strengthens its public face against China's maritime assertiveness, Bangkok has resisted Washington's overtures in order to preserve blossoming ties with Beijing. - Julius Cesar I Trajano (Aug 30, '12)

Tehran jumps to Assad's rescue
This week's Non-Aligned Movement summit provides Iran with an opportunity to give its ally in Damascus diplomatic breathing space as the Syrian regime loses support in Arab countries and suffers high-profile defections. While Tehran will pursue all politico-diplomatic means to support the key member of its "axis of resistance", military involvement is a step too far. - Richard Javad Heydarian (Aug 30, '12)

The Taliban's al-Qaeda problem
An internal struggle between lower tiers of the Afghan Taliban favoring negotiations with the United States and top leaders refusing to sever links with the al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani network will intensify as Washington steps up its overtures. The Haqqani's Wahhabi form of religion doesn't mix well with the Sufi-soaked Islam found in most of Afghanistan, but the upper tier's ties with al-Qaeda run too deep. - Aasim Zafar Khan (Aug 29, '12)

Can civilians win the war in Pakistan?
A proxy conflict between the hawks and doves within the security establishment in Pakistan has once again pushed the country to the verge of a virtual coup d'etat. The followers of conspiracy theories see the army as a faultline at the epicenter of judicial activism. In fact, the standoff between the two pillars of the republic is a sign of transformation within the state. - Zulfiqar Shah (Aug 29, '12)

Revolution in democratizing research
While a democratic wave was sweeping the Arab world, a similar wave was silently sweeping the cerebral world of academic research. Interestingly, the demands in both cases werenít very different. Publishers have weathered storms in the past - they were remarkably nimble in embracing the digital transformation. This is an opportunity for them to demonstrate their dexterity yet again.- Muralidhar S (Aug 28, '12)

India strengthens eastern naval flank
India's need to project power in the face of Chinese maritime assertiveness in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean region will play a big role in the US$600 billion Indian Navy plan to upgrade over the next decade. While the vision for the future aims to be "flexible" enough not to be labelled a "containment strategy", it must also include technological self-sufficiency and the ability to show leadership. - Abhijit Singh (Aug 28, '12)

APEC's role in 'new regionalism'
Expectations that the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation would defy a lack of an enduring history of unity in West and East Asia and promote open regionalism have been partially realized, with APEC bringing countries together and establishing networks that were previously non-existent. However, as the body loses sight of economic goals and struggles to compete with regional sub-groupings, it faces the prospect of terminal irrelevance. - Ramzi Bendebka (Aug 27, '12)

The silent Ban diplomacy
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Asian-style diplomacy aims at building networks over time, so he talks less than he mingles behind the scenes and administrates. A drawback of this unconfrontational style is his unwillingness to target directly the people of troubled member states, and while he is often the voice of reason, his soft approach means his voice is drowned out by stronger leaders. - Brett Daniel Shehadey (Aug 24, '12)

Yen window open - for now
Japan's position as a currency "safe-haven" has helped the yen, despite a poor domestic economy, maintain its strong position against the US dollar. That creates a useful currency trading window linked to US economic data, although in the longer term a debt crisis in the Asian giant will slam it shut. - Omkar Y Godbole (Aug 23, '12)

The real Syrian problem
Rather than the embattled Syrian regime unleashing chemical weapons on its own population, a greater threat lies in the aftermath of its collapse should extremist elements gain the upper-hand. There are no guarantees rebels will not turn the considerable weapons stockpiles on minority groups that stood by the regime - or on enemy states like Israel. - Richard Javad Heydarian (Aug 23, '12)

Self-censorship stifles China's student elite
Modern China's bizarre mix of Leninist party politics and the unforgiving competition of capitalism has bred a need for conformity into students entering top universities. The rigors of the fierce race for a coveted spot teaches them that socially, emotionally and academically, it is safer to follow the party line. - Sam Sussman (Aug 22, '12)

Is Egypt's Morsi eyeing an AKP revolution?
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi's clinical removal of the military's top brass despite the army's omnipresent role in Egyptian society has telling parallels with how Turkey's Islamist politicians wrested control from the "deep state". However, it took Turkey's Justice and Development Party years to unwind an ultra-secular order - Morsi has put his Muslim Brotherhood in a powerful position in just two months. - Richard Javad Heydarian (Aug 21, '12)

Indonesia and Chinese 'congagement'
Indonesia has relied on diplomacy in its efforts to curb Chinese maritime incursions into Southeast Asian waters, instead of leveraging the countries' bilateral economic, cultural and military ties as part of a "congagement" strategy. As Chinese expansionism might one day extend to Indonesian resources and sea-lanes, this congagement plan requires that Jakarta develop an "area denial" doctrine that mirrors Beijing's defense strategy. - Jennifer McArdle (Aug 20, '12)

Europe's Chinese riddle
The European Union is China's largest trading partner - and a rich partner is needed more than ever to help the EU's failed economies. But for what does China need Europe? Governments and business acting in tandem for one; certainly not hot air on human-rights issues. - Richard Zalski (Aug 20, '12)

Human development and the Arab Spring
Arab Spring countries prepared to decentralize power to catalyze interaction among people and social movements are well positioned for a development surge that harnesses their region's abundant socio-economic potential. Nations that repeat the pattern of concentrating power in political-corporate ruling cliques are doomed to repeat the failures of the past. - Yossef Ben-Meir (Aug 17, '12)

Theater of the absurd in Myanmar
The Disciplined Democracy Play, directed by President Thein Sein, formerly General Thein Sein, is a new production in Myanmar's theater of the absurd, with theatrical troupes, formerly troops, stationed all over Myanmar to ensure everyone learns their new lines. Unfortunately, not everyone yet recognizes that this is supposed to be different from the hackneyed and brutal decades-long performances of the past. - Nancy Hudson-Rodd (Aug 17, '12)

Asian economies at risk from US funding moves
The six-month continuing resolution recently agreed by US Congressional leaders ensures that government funding keeps going if a budget can't be agreed upon by October 1. That is little consolation for defense interests in Asia and elsewhere, whose ventures with the United States can still be derailed. - Christopher Whyte (Aug 16, '12)

The pan-Afghan imperative
As Afghanistan's diverse tribes find common cause in fighting Pakistani manipulation, the time is becoming ripe for ethnic unity, balanced security forces and a "Pashtun awakening" that restores Afghanistan's sacred tribal structure and reverses the intra-Afghan animus stoked by Pakistan and the United States in pursuit of broader geostrategic aims. - Khalil Nouri and Michael Hughes(Aug 16, '12)

A disconcerting silence in Cambodia
Cambodia's underdeveloped publishing sector is kept that way by the country's poor educational standards, non-existent copyright rules and restrictions on the freedom of expression. However, as young people grow more confident about expressing themselves and explore new online technologies, hopes are rising for a new generation of Cambodian thought. - Ryan Paine (Aug 15, '12)

'Arab Summer' turns messy
The new order envisioned by Arab uprisings - liberal democratic institutions running a quasi-socialist state, with industry and agriculture revived as Arab-centric foreign policy come to the fore - is yet to emerge. Instead, economic and political chaos have stifled hope, with Islamist governments - wary of Western concerns and "bribed" by Gulf monarchies - fearful of altering relations with either Iran or Israel. - Richard Javad Heydarian (Aug 14, '12)

No end in sight to north Myanmar insurgency
Fighting between insurgents and government troops in Myanmar's Kachin state will continue to intensify unless Napiydaw addresses demands for autonomy and fundamental rights, say the rebel's political wing. With past ceasefire promises of political participation and economic incentives broken, the Kachin won't sign a new truce simply because the government takes a few democratic steps. - Saw Yan Naing (Aug 13, '12)

Istanbul Forum goals look good on paper
Turkey is seeking through the Istanbul Forum to boost cooperation with Aghanistan and Pakistan to promote economic development and resolve political, social and security problems. The goals are laudable, the prospects of success poor.
Egemen Bezci and James Warhola (Aug 9, '12)

Turning back to Napoleon
Osaka mayor Toru Hashimo is championing the cause of decentralization of power in Japan. In Europe, the burden of local debt is reversing a two-decade trend in that direction. Napoleon Bonaparte's model of a centralist state may underpin the outcome in both cases. - Emanuele Scimia (Aug 8, '12)

Baloch insurgency faces uncertain future
A shift from systematic militancy to indiscriminate violence by insurgents from Pakistan's Balochistan reflects the separatist movement's desperation as the West prepares to leave Afghanistan. Should Afghan security crumble after the 2014 withdrawal, Indian spymasters operating along the AfPak border will find it increasingly hard to supply weapons, finances and training to the militants, boosting Islamabad's counter-insurgency efforts. - Khuram Iqbal (Aug 8, '12)

Israel a role model for Japan
Japan's failure to rescue itself from years of stagnation is in marked contrast to the economic success of Israel since its own desolate period in the 1980s. The answer may be for Japan's would-be innovators to get out, get rich, and feed back. - Takahiro Miyao (Aug 7, '12)

The end of ASEAN centrality?
Cambodia's decision to relent to Chinese pressure and challenge Southeast Asian unity over maritime issues is ironic given the role diplomacy played in securing Cambodia's release from Vietnamese occupation. China also needs to remember that its soft power and influence in the region depends on it supporting, not undermining, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. - Amitav Acharya (Aug 7, '12)

Baptism of fire for India's home minister
Within days of getting his feet under his new desk, Indian Home Minister Sushil Kumar Sambhajirao Shinde is being lambasted for his response to low intensity explosions last week in the western city of Pune. Critics, pointing to low points of his previous roles - as Maharashtra chief minister and minister of power - say he's too inexperienced for his new, high-profile role. - Bibhu Prasad Routray (Aug 6, '12)

Saudi uprising trumps sectarian card
The Saudi Arabian counter-revolution against the Arab Spring relied on a time-honored strategy of exploiting sectarian divisions, with successes from Bahrain and Yemen to Egypt bolstering Riyadh's confidence that Wahhabi ideology - not democracy - would be the biggest winner. Fresh anti-regime protests spreading across the kingdom suggest the regime has overplayed this card. - Zayd Alisa (Aug 3, '12)

Iran's fate after Assad
The Arab Spring fed into Iran's growing confidence that it could lead a region-wide revisionist axis, Syria serving as a central ally. With the Bashar al-Assad regime faltering and post-revolutionary Arab republics turning to a cocktail of Sunni-based political Islam and pro-Western foreign policy, Tehran is slowly awakening to a much-changed Middle East. - Richard Javad Heydarian (Aug 2, '12)

Syria and the end of populism
Before his country's uprising, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad predicted that his country would be immune to the Arab Spring because his regime's policies were so popular among the Arab masses. Assad clearly failed to understand that the movement has been motivated by a desire to end perpetual rule, not to reward populism or benevolent leadership. - Ahmed E Souaiaia
(Aug 1, '12)

China: Lost in translation II
In the Age of Knowledge, where the average American or European will draw a blank if asked to name a single Chinese concept, late-20th and early-21st century Western "China Studies" are the greatest intellectual property theft of all time, and another impostor besides the evils of 17th-19th century missions to Christianize China. - Thorsten Pattberg (Jul 31, '12)
This concludes a two-part report. Part 1: China: Lost in translation

Sinking feeling in the South China Sea
Feeling cornered by increasing United States diplomatic and military backing for rival Southeast Asian claimants to territories in the South China Sea, China used compliant ally Cambodia as a wrecking ball for Association of South East Asian Nations unity. Half-hearted US assertions that its "pivot to Asia" has nothing to do with China's rise have contributed significantly to the convoluted situation in the sea today. - Nazery Khalid (Jul 26, '12)

India's Muslims and Hinduism's moksha
Anti-Muslim sentiment in India, marked by fears over terrorism, has corrupted crucial steps towards Hinduism's moksha, the end of the death and rebirth cycle and the religion's ultimate goal. Suspicion has eroded Hindus' ability to perceive the world correctly and to regard all others as fully equal; this is now bleeding into official state policy. - Dallas Darling (Jul 24, '12)

Sweet waters of Persian Gulf turn bloody
The Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz today resemble more a war-zone bristling with US destroyers and warplanes than passages to the land of "milk and honey" known to Sumerians. While the Pentagon has likened this week's attack on an Indian fishing boat to the al-Qaeda attack on the USS Cole, the shooting down of an Iranian passenger jet by the USS Vincennes is a more apt comparison. - Dallas Darling (Jul 20, '12)

Nepal: Put the politics first
Excessive factionalism and feuds in Nepal's party politics, such as a recent split within the Maoist coalition, threaten the country's democratic future. Divisions, all too often motivated by personal conflicts and greed for power and resources, undermine the role politicians should be playing in post-conflict recovery. - Gyan Basnet (Jul 19, '12)

Sanctions derail diplomacy on Iran
Prospects of a negotiated solution to the Iran nuclear crisis have dimmed as the West touts the deep impact of sanctions on Iran's economy as proof of their success, and Tehran revels in its resilience. The history of the Islamic Republic is replete with collective displays of sacrifice, and punitive measures simply hand hardliners an opportunity to outmaneuver pragmatists and moderates. - Richard Javad Heydarian (Jul 18, '12)

China pivots to Latin America
As the United States makes clear its determination to become more involved in the Asia Pacific, Beijing is also looking east - to the US backyard of Latin America. Yet the increased trade China brings to the region is not receiving an unalloyed welcome. - Emanuele Scimia (Jul 17, '12)

Manila seeks revival of military self-reliance
The Philipine armed forces' aging fleets of aircraft and warships and issues with corruption and mismanagement mask that the country was not always so militarily enfeebled. Facing an array of 21st-century challenges and with some critics saying modernization will benefit national economic and social development, Manila needs to make sure the army gets this latest shot at self-sufficiency right. - Ava Patricia C Avila (Jul 17, '12)

Trust deficit in Myanmar's 'transition'
Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi fears faith could be lost in a "democratic transition" seen in the Thein Sein administration's recent progressive steps. Such trust depends on Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy being able to alter the 2008 constitution to one that lays the foundations for democracy and the rule of law. However, the current statute prevents this. - Aung Htoo (Jul 16, '12)

Bhutan as a model
Bhutan, though not a wealthy nation, offers a compelling case study in how a young democracy, landlocked and with few natural resources, can better serve its citizens. Global respect for progressive governance initiatives such as car-free days, bans on junk food and the famous Gross National Happiness index, have shown that Bhutan can make an impact despite its small population and remote location. - David Matthew (Jul 13, '12)

Xi Jinping - the world's most powerful man?
If he can effectively manage foreign policy, tackle corruption and address rural poverty, incoming Chinese leader Xi Jinping has it in him to be the new posterboy of "the Middle Kingdom". Boasting strong leadership credentials, a popular wife and an enviable track record of presiding over economic growth, he has what it takes to lead one-fifth of the world's population. - Lewis McCarthy (Jul 12, '12)

India plans strategic encirclement of China
Constant rhetoric from India proclaiming that it has no desire to encircle or contain China is contradicted by New Delhi's commitment to military expansion and modernization on land, air and sea, and its increased cooperation with strategic states and historically contentious neighbors of the Chinese. However, Beijing has also undertaken actions easily interpreted as efforts to contain India's rise. - Daniel Thorp (Jul 11, '12)

Is al-Qaeda losing its Arab identity?
Through the creation of offshoots in the "Islamic Maghreb" and "Arabian Peninsula" - and jihadi escalation in the Sinai and Syria - al-Qaeda hopes to overcome the setbacks of recent years. As it does so, the Arab core of the worldwide terrorist franchise is being diluted, though new funding sources and alliances are developing in areas beyond its traditional sphere of influence.
- Riccardo Dugulin (Jul 9, '12)

Blemished gem of Pakistan's tribal regions
The historic city of Kaniguram, a picturesque seat of learning in Pakistan's tribal areas since the reign of Mehmood Ghaznavi, has become a ghost town since Operation Path to Salvation was launched by the army in 2009. With over 100,000 former Kaniguram residents displaced across the country or living in poorly equipped camps, the language and culture of the Burki tribe is under severe threat. - Khan Zeb Burki (Jul 6, '12)

Regime change in Syria: A true story
A bizarre coalition of the United States, al-Qaeda and the Gulf Cooperation Council are supporting with arms and fighters a rebel force in Syria that doesn't represent the people. The unlikely allies - aided by a biased Western media - are pushing forward with regime change despite the regional chaos that will descend once Bashar al-Assad is finally overthrown. - Francois-Alexandre Roy (Jul 5, '12)

Duplicity drives West's Syria policy
The West claims its interest in Syria's uprising is purely humanitarian, yet the United States and its allies, happy to generate controversy over Russian arms shipments to Damascus, are covertly pouring political and logistical fuel onto the flames of a civil war that threatens the stability of the entire region. - Bob Rigg (Jul 3, '12)

Remembering the other D-Day
America got its first taste of empire and the corporate, military and political elites' control over US foreign policy 114 years ago this week when the US Army landed on Daiquiri Beach in Cuba to fight in the Spanish-American War. Even the horrors of World War II weren't enough to derail the militarization these elites have pursued since that first D-Day. - Dallas Darling (Jul 2, '12)

Nepal: Breaking the political deadlock
Nepal's Constituent Assembly ended with little progress towards its task of drafting a constitution has led Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai's unalateral decision to re-establish the costly, ineffective body is folly. A better option to end the political crisis would be full parliamentary elections with a separate referendum on contentious issues such as federalism. - Gyan Basnet (Jun 29, '12)

To err is human, to smear divine
Attack adds clogging America's airwaves as the presidential race for November 2012 begins often focus on gaffes that make a candidate appear unfit for political office. By engaging in such hyper-cynicism rather than seeking much-needed solutions, the Republicans and Democrats place themselves above the sovereignty and welfare of the people. - Beverly Darling (Jun 28, '12)

Global power shift gives Pakistan options
The elimination of Osama Bin Laden in May 2011 heralded the end of a chapter of unprecedented instability and social disorder in Pakistani society. Memories from the subjugation the country suffered at the hands of internal and external adversaries during the decade-long "war on terror" will have a profound impact on Pakistan's future strategic outlook.
- Khuram Iqbal (Jun 27, '12)

Yemen's problems run deeper than security
Although the world focuses on Yemen's raging insurgency and al-Qaeda cells, more threatening to the country's long-term future is it widespread poverty, lack of food and depleting oil and water reserves. If Yemen cannot tackle economic under-development through diversification and socio-economic reform, then the post-Arab Spring era will repeat past mistakes. - George Kosmidis (Jun 26, '12)

The eagle and the dragon
The bald eagle that defines a bold America and the eastern dragon that characterizes a subtle China are both emblems of historic nationhood and general representations of what these powers want to become. While a dragon is fascinated at the marvel and the manipulation of humanity, the eagle sits prideful on its perch, focused on the next meal. - Brett Daniel Shehadey (Jun 22, '12)

North-south divide fuels Kyrgyz mistrust
A north-south divide in Kyrgyzstan created by the country's mountainous landscape and nomadic culture has worsened since violence erupted in the south between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in 2010. While Bishkek in the north pushes forward with a parliamentary democracy, southern towns like Osh and Jala-Abad increasingly ignore its rule. - Ryskeldi Satke (Jun 21, '12)

Will the BRICS rescue Iran?
Last year's failed attempt by emerging powers to seize the agenda on Iran's nuclear ambitions has underlined to Tehran that the BRICS simply aren't strong enough to meet its growing economic and security needs. As the West tightens a noose around the Islamic regime, Iran's would-be saviors are too busy with domestic political needs and mercantilist objectives. - Javad Heydarian (Jun 20, '12)

The Pacific 'pivot' gamble
Disputed maritime territories involving China and its neighbors, instead of being source of tension, could become a great bargaining chip. The United States could encourage its allies to sell or lease the territories to China at a fair price. In return, Beijing would need to enact major political reform. - Brett Daniel Shehadey (Jun 18, '12)

North Korea's crimes go unpunished
The continuing atrocities in North Korean concentration camps easily meet the United Nations definition of "genocide", which demands international intervention though diplomacy or possibly by force. However, for successive US administrations, defending the interests of these victims comes second to halting North Korea's build-up of a nuclear and weapons arsenal. - Robert Park (Jun 14, '12)

The real tragedy of Memogate
Pakistan's opposition has seized on the Memogate controversy surrounding President Asif Ali Zardari, saying the document which allegedly lists Zardari's concerns over a military coup proves he is an American stooge. Instead of viewing the imbalance in civil-military relations as something to be exploited for tactical gain, the country's political classes should be working to end it for the nation's good. - David J Karl (Jun 14, '12)

The long oil road to Tianjin
Sluggish economies in Europe and the United States (and increased US domestic fuel production) means Nigeria, Africa's biggest oil producer, must find other buyers of its crude. China is a natural buyer, although the distance to Tianjin refineries is expensive. Instability in Nigeria's oilfields and further north could be a more pressing problem. - Emanuele Scimia (Jun 14, '12)

Dangers of stalled nuclear talks in Moscow
The stakes are high for everyone as Iranian and international nuclear negotiators prepare for talks next week in Moscow. Failure would pile more sanctions on curbs that are already hurting Iran's moribund economy. But Western powers are mistaken if they think the Islamic Republic will surrender: all indications point toward Tehran resisting pressure at any cost. - Hooshang Amirahmadi and Shahir Shahidsaless (Jun 12, '12)

Intersections of peace and war
Afghanistan became yet one more of many junctures on the road to the globalization of American "might makes right", as Muslims were mobilized against the Reagan-labeled evil empire of godless communism. That Osama bin Laden was one of the first prize recruits shows how intersections of violence and war often backfire. It is a lesson we are still learning in the gunning down of Arsala Rahmani last month. - Dallas Darling (Jun 11, '12)

Iran's Islamic pipeline a mad man's dream
Iran, blessed with vast resources of oil and gas, has for decades struggled to get these to ready markets due to the ever-tighter grip of Western and United Nations sanctions. Its latest plan to secure exports by transiting Arab states has no more likelihood of success than earlier efforts. At best, it is a mad man's dream.
- Mansour Kashfi (Jun 6, '12)

Lessons from Tiananmen to Wall Street
Occupy movements agitating for the rights of the 99% will have to unite globally and be well informed to be effective. They should support and mobilize for government officials who support workers and students. These are among the lessons and legacy of the bloody events in Beijing 23 years ago. - Dallas Darling (Jun 5, '12)

The socialist family business
Political families, like those headed by former Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov and disgraced Chongqing Communist Party chief Bo Xilai, perform a vital role in post-socialist societies by integrating politics, economics, foreign relations and ideology in perhaps the only way possible. But both became a threat to the hierarchy of the elite and were therefore cut down. - Chris Monday (Jun 1, '12)

False flags on China's rocky road
Increasing activity of Chinese 'netizens' in a buzzing blogosphere, recent sagas involving Bo Xilai and Chen Guangcheng - all point to relative progress toward a more open polity, suggesting that China can be on its way to democratic development. But the real political transition hasn't even begun. - Hilary Wong (May 31, '12)

Iran's pipe dream in space
Iran holds dear to its wish to send an astronaut into space by the end of the decade. At best, however, its capability is on par with North Korea and with sanctions in place over its controversial nuclear program, Tehran is unable to gain the technology needed to set its sights so high. Western analysts also see Iranian satellite launch missions as but a cover to boost its long-range missile capability. - Radhakrishna Rao (May 30, '12)

What made Iran's revolution any different?
America hasn't always backed popular uprisings around the world, preferring to sabotage revolution wherever it suited its own, rather than democratic interests. That forms the basis for its support of recent Arab revolts. By supporting the anti-democratic, dictatorial shah in Iran, it acted entirely in character. - Dallas Darling (May 29, '12)

The mediation mirage in Palestine
Almost two decades after it began, the United States-led "process" to win peace for Palestine and Israel is still a non-starter, with failure to deliver being proof enough that there has never been any attempt at serious mediation to solve the conflict, and it is time to cut the "make-believe" and make room for more viable options.
- Nicola Nasser (May 25, '12)

Okinawa remains an intractable thorn
The latest plan to quell opposition to America's military presence on Okinawa is unlikely to reduce an enduring source of tension in US-Japanese relations. It fails to address serious problems rooted in the complex economic and security relationship. As long as there is a US military presence on Okinawa and Tokyo buys local acquiescence, the objections will continue. - Stacie L Pettyjohn and Alan J Vick (May 24, '12)

Lingualism: Changing the names of the game
It's hard to imagine the President of the United State saying: "Allah Bless America!" or the Pope calling Jesus Christ and St Nikolas "a Buddha" and "a Shengren". Yet we demand at all times that Muslims have a God and that Confucius is a saint. The destruction of non-Western ideas with Western concepts of philosophy, religion, and science was hardly ever challenged, yet this could now change. - Thorsten Pattberg (May 23, '12)

Missing links in the Arab Spring
Such is the nature of revolutions: They are initiated by dreamers, carried out by brave people, and taken over by opportunists. Several missing links in the Arab revolution suggest the process of rebuilding may take a long time, requiring much patience and sensitivity among global powers wanting to see a stable and democratic Middle East. - Monte Palmer (May 22, '12)

Europe's lost model identity
The European Union, its voters in anti-austerity overdrive, is giving up the one geopolitical "weapon" in play since the end of the Cold War: the sense of the political and economic experiment as a venture worth emulating. As a model for developing Southeast Asia, the EU is in reverse - replicating low wages, tough working conditions and social security in decline. - Emanuele Scimia (May 21, '12)

Nepal's constitution: Respect the dissenters
The transition to a new constitution and the rule of law cannot be achieved overnight (South Africa's model constitution was seven years in the making). Yet the rush to get Nepal's new code into shape has been seemly, with the result that it will not have legitimacy, simply because politicians have failed to hear the dissenting voices of the people. - Gyan Basnet (May 18, '12)

ASEAN shows "The Way" as Myanmar opens
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations was vilified in 1997 with its decision to bring Myanmar, then a pariah state, into the fold, and again when it showed the way in November by handing it chairmanship of the group for 2014, based on "encouraging signs" of reform. Reasons for the sudden change in Myanmar are still open to debate, but the expectations of stakeholders have risen exponentially. - Balbir B Bhasin (May 17, '12)

US punishes Iran for Palestinian resistance
1983 in Beirut: Islamic Jihad claims responsibility as 241 American servicemen are killed by a suicide bomber. 2007 in a United States federal court: a judge rules that Iran should pay $2.65 billion to families of the victims. With the Islamic Jihad lacking substantial amounts of money in US and European banks, nobody alive to sit in the dock, and 24 years after the event, Iran proved an easy target to exact retribution for Palestinian resistance. - Ardeshir Ommani (May 16, '12)

Understanding terrorism in Pakistan
Empirical research debunks the "madman's deed" explanation of terrorism in Pakistan, showing that economic growth is positively correlated to acts of terror. While that may sound theoretically absurd, it points to a widening income gap as the problem, and inclusive growth and more political opportunity as large parts of the solution. - Luqman Saeed (May 11, '12)

Between the lines of Bali bomber's remorse
Bali bomber Umar Patek's remorse in the dock stretches credulity, yet he clearly wants to avoid the firing squad faced by other members of the Jemaah Islamiah terror network who carried out the 2002 attack. While those executions took place without much public angst, death to Patek may act as a force multiplier for other terror groups - something that the Indonesian authorities will be keen to avoid. - Bibhu Prasad Routray (May 10, '12)

US: China's aggression written in the stars
Concerns are growing in the United States that China's military has accelerated its pursuit of space-related weaponry that could win future conflicts, with anti-satellite missiles, laser and directed energy devices set to strengthen Beijing's "anti-access" strategy. Meanwhile, China's satellite industry is challenging US dominance over the global commercial space enterprise and boosting Beijing's diplomatic clout. - Radhakrishna Rao (May 9, '12)

It's not just Manmohan's fault
It's not just India's economic travails and ructions within his own government that have put a huge dent in Manmohan Singh's once-stellar reputation as the first prime minister in decades to win re-election. He labors under institutional constraints, and has the hapless distinction of being in command of neither his cabinet nor his own party. - David J Karl (May 9, '12)

On war crimes, the buck stops here
A lack of judgment and professionalism started long before US troops posed with Nazi SS flags in Afghanistan while committing hundreds of crimes against peace and humanity. War-like pathologies begin with bureaucrats in power and those who espouse doctrines of superiority.
- Dallas Darling (May 8, '12)

Dirty games cross the Afghan divide
Mutual hostility to occupation has always brought Afghanistan's ethnic groups together, reflected in never having succumbed to foreign invaders. But the diversity of society has produced a long history of confrontation between people of different clans that regional actors must stop exploiting. - Luqman Saeed (May 7, '12)

North Korea puts China in harm's way
North Korea's repeated choice of provocation instead of engagement flies in the face of the wishes of its sole ally, China, with Pyongyang's alleged decision for a third nuclear weapons test a signal for Beijing to weigh the pros and cons of its support very carefully. Reckless North Korea is turning out to be a strategic burden for China. - Thapa Pradip (May 4, '12)

China searches for maritime stability
As the United States and other nations, including the Philippines and Japan, appear overly fearful of China's naval activities, they may instead want to learn several valuable lessons from China's sparkling maritime history. Perhaps it is time to allow China to equalize the balance of power in the Pacific region, helping to bring stability and innovation. - Dallas Darling (May 1, '12)

The great US heist on Iranian assets
The United States government in the past quarter of a century has been in the illegitimate business of taking over, seizing, freezing and expropriating Iranian banks, financial assets and accounts opened in American and European banks. False claims and the targeting of Iranians in America are all part of the sting. - Ardeshir Ommani (Apr 30, '12)

Turkey's EU membership hits a wall
Greece is determined to rapidly finish the construction of a barrier designated to prevent migrants from crossing illegally its border with Turkey. The wall - which is going to run for 12.5 kilometers - epitomizes the apparently overwhelming gap separating Europe from Ankara and casts a further shadow over the latter's accession to the European Union. - Emanuele Scimia (Apr 26, '12)

China's dilemma: Power vs freedom
China's dilemma is that it must allow greater freedom of choice if it wants to improve quality of life, but that will threaten the Communist Party's monopoly on power. What China needs most is not democracy but limited government and the rule of law, reforming a politicized and corrupt economy where the road to riches is through the pursuit of power rather than freedom. - James A Dorn (Apr 24, '12)

India's Angi V sends strong nuclear signal
The Agni V inter-continental ballistic missile should be interpreted only as a "signal" of deterrence to China's claim to Arunachal Pradesh since Indian values, national interests and military forces are not geared towards the offensive. Though nuclear "signaling" is not without its downsides, the two of the rising powers need deft diplomacy to resolve their border dispute. - Namrata Goswami (Apr 23, '12)

After the storm in the South China Sea
The stand-off in the South China Sea between vessels from the Philippines and China represents a high-water mark in simmering tensions over disputed territories. Looking beyond frenzied diplomatic efforts that should restore calm, the incident may help spur efforts to establish long-lasting peace. - Nazery Khalid (Apr 20, '12)

Beijing takes steps to free-float currency
China's decision to widen the trading limit of its currency amid a slowing economy are evidence it is not worried about a hard landing or rapid yuan appreciation, yet external politics, including the US presidential election and this week's IMF/World Bank meeting, are no doubt central factors in the timing of the announcements.
- Richard Colapinto (Apr 19, '12)

India and China can do the unthinkable
India could forge new partnerships with China by offering Chinese goods an alternative to fragile sea routes, While that would require New Delhi to do the unthinkable and set aside differences over disputed borders, the benefits for both countries would be significant. - Ritvvij Parrikh (Apr 19, '12)

How the Arab Spring was sapped dry
The magnificent Arab Spring that started in Egypt and Tunisia in early 2011 has been brutally derailed, distorted and contained by an all-out counter-offensive orchestrated by Western powers and their allies. Post-modern and age-old tactics played their part. - Ismael Hossein-zadeh (Apr 18, '12)

Democracy still in the generals' grasp
Resounding victory for Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition National League for Democracy is prompting Western governments to review their relationship with Naypyidaw, just as the government intended. But the pace of democratization is in the military's hands, and depends largely on it being convinced that a civilian government will not avenge past abuses, and on its ability to make peace with ethnic minorities. - Nehginpao Kipgen (Apr 12, '12)

Corruption a thorn in India's side
The Commonwealth Games fiasco, housing scams and investigations into the award of contracts for a mobile phone network form part of the swirling mass of corruption allegations that have fomented mass protest in India. Graft, bribery and cronyism have been important factors in India's growth story, and remain a difficult thorn to extract. - Saloni Kapur (Apr 10, '12)

Saudi Arabia's Syrian jihad
While the United States and its allies are wary of seeing Syria become a sectarian battleground, Saudi Arabia is enthusiastically hurtling towards it. Power brokers in Riyadh have clearly calculated that the potential fruits of toppling President Bashar al-Assad, and enthroning a Sunni-aligned regime, are well worth the political risk. - Joshua Jacobs (Apr 5, '12)

Lies, damned lies, and Chinese propaganda
Don't hold your breath for a miracle: China's state media are unlikely to be offering an apology for defaming the Dalia Lama. If it wants his support in containing the deepening crisis in Tibet, however, then Beijing should tone down its vitriol and engage in constructive dialogue. - Dhundup Gyalpo (Apr 4, '12)

Europe enters the new scramble for Africa
The beat of war drums along the disputed inter-Sudanese border is failing to repel a European Union push to cover a huge swathe of Central and East Africa. Like the United States, Europe is back to the old role of geopolitics where economic leverage trumps all else, and challenging China's developing interests in the chaotic but oil-drenched region. - Emanuele Scimia (Apr 3, '12)

Old rogues take different trajectories
North Korea's plans to move ahead with its satellite launch add to evidence that it is not about to follow in Myanmar's footsteps. Both were seen as international pariahs - except as viewed from Beijing, but now Pyongyang is making a conscious choice to continue its brinksmanship, while Naypyidaw looks to be choosing democracy. In the long run, all depends on who really holds the reins in both capitals.
- Ben Kolisnyk (Apr 2, '12)

Pakistan's empty nuclear claim
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani says that access to civilian nuclear technology for his country would maintain a balance of power in South Asia. It may help move the balance from a present chronic shortage of electricity, but in strategic terms the argument is fallacious. - Saloni Kapur (Mar 30, '12)

US sanctions in Iran, victims at home
President Barack Obama's Persian New Year declaration that he will use American resources to provide Iranians with access to the Internet while the US government is prosecuting Iranian-Americans for providing food, clothes, medicine, clothing and educational materials to needy children flies in the face of logic and common sense. - Ahmed E Souaiaia (Mar 29, '12)

China's better route for North Korean refugees
Officials in Beijing should recognize that rounding up and forcibly repatriating refugees to North Korea, in clear contravention of international refugee law, is counterproductive to any goal of improving China's international image. Ceasing crackdowns on North Korean refugees is not just the right thing to do, it is also in China's national interest. - Sokeel J Park (Mar 28, '12)

Is it China's turn to change economic gear?
China's economy has reached a fork in the road where it could enter a moribund phase similar to Japan's over the past few decades, or continue with fairly high growth. Optimists point to China's important advantages, while pessimists emphasize problems that pose serious threats. Getting social and economic policies right is critical. - Takahiro Miyao and William S Comanor (Mar 26, '12)

Pyongyang's freeze dried nukes
North Korea's naysayers probably didn't expect to be able to say they told us so so quickly after Pyongyang announced its plan to launch a missile in contravention of the spirit of a recent food aid deal with the United States. Even the usual apologists admit that maybe they were a little too optimistic. - Ben Kolisnyk (Mar 23, '12)

Why Khamenei made his move
Iran's elections underlined President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's fraught relations with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, who sought to quash a "deviant current" and consolidate his rule. For over two decades, he transcended the fray, but got into the thick of it amid a crisis of spiritual and temporal authority. - Kevjn Lim (Mar 20, '12)

Rare earths - the next oil
The decision of the United States, the European Union and Japan to file a joint case at the World Trade Organization against China over its handling of trade in rare earths - the first such cooperation by the three powers - highlights the strategic importance of what are, in fact, non-rare elements. China will not easily let go of its advantages in controlling supply. - Elliot Brennan (Mar 15, '12)

Broken dreams and Green Berets
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the massacre of 16 civilians in Kandahar, purportedly by a rogue US soldier, won't "change our steadfast dedication to protecting the Afghan people and building a strong, stable Afghanistan". This "dedication" has resulted in night raids, atrocities and some 40,000 Afghans killed since 2001, while spiraling levels of unemployment, corruption and poverty suggest no progress towards stability. - Muhammad Bilal Qureshi (Mar 14, '12)

China, EU share same ills
The economies of China and the European Union economies are, in theory and historically, quite different, yet, within both, reforms being urged from within bear a disconcerting similarity - and have a similar small likelihood of being adopted.
- Emanuele Scimia (Mar 13, '12)

How to not lose Russia
Some American praise for Russia's efforts to ensure the presidential election proceeded freely and fairly could put relations on a positive trajectory. Moscow's rising regional clout presents the opportunity for an equal partnership, but Washington must first set aside its propensity for moralism and respect the choice of the Russian people. - Nicolai N Petro (Mar 9, '12)

Myanmar democracy still in chains
The January release of political prisoners in Myanmar demonstrated the generals have the courage to reconcile. But no one should turn their back on the task at hand and few should be surprised that the military is not unleashing democracy. To change Myanmar, as opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has said, that the people themselves will have to take the initiative. - May Ng (Mar 7, '12)

Who really holds the gun?
It is time for the middle classes to unite against the burden of debt on society by taking direct action, such as refusing to service mortgages. They must un-learn what has been indoctrinated into them and recognize they are subsidizing a parasitical financial class. - Darius Guppy (Mar 7, '12)

Audacity of hope in North Korea talks
The recent nuclear agreements between the United States and North Korea allow new leader Kim Jong-eun to present vital food supplies to his people in this landmark "year of prosperity" while US President Barack Obama can hold up the foreign policy success in the lead-up to US elections. After those parties are over, however, the dynamic could shift dramatically. - Sangsoo Lee (Mar 6, '12)

Iran muscles in on Azerbaijan
Iran, a country with its own large Azeri minority, has for years been seeking to destabilize the secular government of Shi'ite Azerbaijan, a neighbor with vastly increasing wealth and one moving ever closer to the West in terms of security and energy. - Robert M Cutler (Mar 6, '12)

Wukan: Democracy or crisis management?
The first ever "free, transparent and democratic election" in the People's Republic of China's short history went smoothly on Saturday. But polls in Wukan are better as viewed as Beijing's first major success in diverting global attention from the real issues behind land-grabs and related protests. - Gene Q (Mar 5, '12)

Rising tide of conflict
Competing interests in the South China Sea are of importance far beyond East Asia itself, especially as the US has ramped up its presence in the area. A crucial center of maritime trade and potential source of fuel and minerals, it is poised to become increasingly - and dangerously - militarized. - Elliot Brennan (Mar 2, '12)

China's chance to to stem Syrian blood
China is using the Syrian crucible to test new foreign policies in the Middle East. Without the same historical baggage in the Middle East as Syria's neighbors, that brings a chance for some creative solutions to foster a new balance of power in the region. But first Beijing should seek to stem the flow of blood. - Francesco Sisci (Feb 29, '12)

Young America and China's dream
The deep distrust America has of China's economic expansion calls to mind Europe's 19th-century fears over "commercial invasion" by a rapidly emerging nation. Striking parallels between modern China's rise and the heady days of the United States' "Gilded Age" are best glimpsed not through thick history books, but in the personal accounts of young Yankees that witnessed the US's birth as a global industrial power. - Barbara Rendall (Feb 28, '12)

The genius of propaganda
North Korea's propaganda machine machine cranks out images of the country's poster child, new leader Kim Jong-eun, carefully targeted for the elite and the masses. While there is genius in the unrelenting massaging of the media, propaganda is not enough on its own to make North Koreans forget their hunger. - Ben Kolisnyk (Feb 27, '12)

US must drop the donkey policy
National pride is a driving force of Iran's nuclear program, yet the United States' "carrot and stick" approach to the issue is based on a profound misunderstanding of that fact. More suitable for a donkey than a proud people, American policy has carelessly scattered more seeds of mistrust. Showing respect rather than the stick may reap better results. - Hooshang Amirahmadi and Shahir Shahidsaless (Feb 24, '12)

Saudis embrace China in new polygamy
Saudi Arabia has been tethered to the United States since its foundation as a modern state in the 1930s. The "Catholic marriage", as the relationship was described in its heyday, has broken, replaced in the view of the exasperated Saudis as an "Islamic marriage" that increasing elevates China and will likely define the power dynamic in the Middle East over the next decade. - Joshua Jacobs (Feb 24, '12)

Terror and nuclear confrontation
Recent bomb incidents laid at the door of Iran easily qualify as works of terror, while the bombings of Iranian facilities and targeted assassinations including collateral civilian damage as a response to Iran's defiance over its nuclear program may not transcend that semantic either. - A Vinod Kumar (Feb 23, '12)

Do the Iran shuffle
It is little surprise that as tensions between the West and Iran reach crisis level, scarcely a story in the corporate media on the Iranian nuclear program appears without referencing the "existential threat" to Israel. Iran poses no such threat, and the card is merely played to shroud the joint US-Israeli imperial project. - Ben Schreiner (Feb 22, '12)

The sinicization of EU-Indian ties
In cash-strapped Europe, human rights seems to come one step behind economy and trade, never more so as the European Union prepares to seal the biggest trade deal in the world. That is why the EU is treating India as if it were China, with aggressions against Christians in Indian states absent from the agenda. - Emanuele Scimia (Feb 21, '12)

Indian press buries truth at the border
The shame of a lost war half has left a long tradition of anti-Chinese slant in Indian newspapers, to the extent that some give the impression that the war never quite ended. Brace yourself for more malignant stuff this year, which marks the 50th anniversary of the conflict. - Debasish Roy Chowdhury (Feb 17, '12)

Reason in a new age of regime change
With China and Russia throwing a spanner in the works of international machinations to bring regime change to Syria, it is high time to consider how Western power play hijacks the rights of people to seek change and peaceful solutions to problems in their own countries. - Shahnaz Durrani (Feb 16, '12)

The oil road through Damascus
Middle East oil transit routes are at risk from Islamist revolutions and Iranian threats. Instability all along the oil road is at its highest point in decades, and Syria's location as a potential energy path cannot have been missed. - Ronnie Blewer (Feb 14, '12)

Nepal: law and order denied
Nepal witnessed very grave human rights violations during a decade of conflict, and even after five years of peacemaking no attention has been paid to innocent victims and their families. Cheap political compromises that block the route to justice and a culture of impunity must give way to truth and reparation to end a vicious cycle of lawlessness. - Gyan Basnet (Feb 10, '12)

Syria: another US stepping stone
United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shies from Bush-era talk of a "coalition of the willing", but the rallying call promote a political transition in Syria cannot be clearer. The fates of Libya and Syria could not be more similar. Deep in economic crisis, the US and Europe are looking to regenerate capitalism through widespread war with the developing countries before being ready for war with Russia and China. - Ardeshir Ommani (Feb 9, '12)

NATO's not so smart initiative
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has launched a trust fund project to secure or destroy hidden weapons and munitions in Tajikistan. The first initiative in a move to low-cost support , it should mark a breakthrough in multilateral cooperation, but budgetary constraints and commitments in Afghanistan are making the "smart defense" initiative anything but a reality. - Emanuele Scimia (Feb 8, '12)

Playful lessons for North Korea's young leader
The Lily: Evolution, Play, and the Power of a Free Societyby Daniel Cloud
Princeton University political philosopher Daniel Cloud's gift to North Korea's new leader Kim Jong-eun could not have come at a better time. The book explains to the Young General, that by grasping evolutionary forces, free societies - as the Dao De Jing puts it - "accomplish everything by doing nothing." Something for Kim to ponder among his ambitious plans to join the "elite club of nations" this year. - Mark A DeWaever (Feb 6, '12)

Lest we forget in Myanmar
Optimistic reports of positive change flow freely from Myanmar, as the president portrays himself as a leader who sincerely wants to improve citizens' livelihoods, alleviate poverty and include the oppressed opposition in the political process. But the West blindly supports the shallow democratic transition, and increasingly runs the rising risk of being on the wrong side of history. - Nancy Hudson-Rodd (Feb 3, '12)

Time for Japanese opposition to stand tall
Japan is mired in a deep socioeconomic malaise and is still struggling to recover from the tsunami and nuclear disaster of last year. This makes it hardly the right time for the opposition party to engage in the petty politicking it seems to prefer.- Brad Williams (Jan 31, '12)

Moscow populism and the Great Game
As the scale of rallies against Vladimir Putin suggests that Russia's political life is on the cusp of change - and with it, the emergence of alternative visions of power projection in Central Asia. Any rollback would give the American leadership more room to hatch favorable deals in the region, and allow China to expand its horzons too. - Uran Bolush (Jan 30'12)

Oil embargo on Iran a conundrum for Europe
Maybe for the first time in its history, the European Union is playing a tough geopolitical game, but it must weigh up the sustainability of its move to ban Iranian oil. Some Iranian officials have already threatened to stop exporting crude to Europe promptly to provoke a surge in prices and prevent European countries from finding other supplies at similar costs in the short term. - Emanuele Scimia (Jan 25, '12)

Refugees blur Bhutan's image
Bhutan has a carefully cultivated image of mountain vistas and peaceful Buddhist temples with a content people whose state of mind is measured by a Gross National Happiness. This fine picture makes no account of the forced expulsion of a significant portion of the population. - David Koppers (Jan 24, '12)

US meets resistance to Iranian sanctions
The ongoing United States presidential and congressional campaign to pressure the European Union, Turkey, Japan, China and India to stop halt importing Iranian oil and related financial transactions is facing resistance by the importing companies and countries. - Ardeshir Ommani (Jan 19, '12)

The progress flows in Myanmar
What large-scale protests as seen in the Arab Spring could not achieve in Myanmar, now may take place sheerly through the weight of history. Perhaps not wanting to be a surrogate of China or another North Korea, Myanmar sees reforms as a chance for new economic opportunities with the West. - David Koppers (Jan 18, '12)

Afghanistan: What is truly deplorable
The circumstances surrounding the desecration of bodies in Afghanistan by US soldiers has gained world attention. The truth is that the act is hardly illustrative of a few bad apples. Rather, the incident is illustrative of a system of US imperial militarism that is rotten to its very core. - Ben Schreiner (Jan 17, '12)

Europe is the missing link
Recent announcements by the United States indicate that it will seek to solidify its influence in the Asia-Pacific and thus, inevitably, North Africa. It is a strategy that could have far-reaching effects, both positive and ominous. Without proper support from its allies, this complex game of chess could become one of dominos. - Emanuele Scimia (Jan 13, '12)

The war is with China, the battleground Africa
The obvious intent of the United States' stated focus on the Asia-Pacific is to remind the rising China that America is still the big dog; the glaze at the Asia-Pacific is not that region at all, it is Africa. - Dieter Neumann (Jan 12, '12)

The cost of our habits
Smoke it, chew it or just second-hand inhale it - tobacco and production have become the target of both health and political advocates seeking a better place for all of us. Rights seem to dictate that people be allowed to smoke themselves to death, while the same rights seek to protect non-smokers. All the while, the tobacco industry lines itself to the tune of billions. - Ardeshir Ommani (Jan 9, '12)

Afghanistan: US press withdraws
Lost amid the attention paid to the United States withdrawal from Iraq is the fact that nearly 100,000 US troops (and a near equal number of private contractors) remain entrenched in Afghanistan. Yet the American media have largely packed up and withdrawn from Afghanistan, possibly moving away from a situation that reeks of US imperialism. - Ben Schreiner (Jan 5, '12)

Policy and politics of democracy in Tunisia
The first Arab democracies have their work cut out for them as they attempt to leave behind an era of corruption and human-rights abuses. In this environment, a successful coming of age for the Tunisian government may act as an example to the rest of the Arab world. - Ahmed E Souaiaia (Jan 4, '12)

Finding justice in Guantanamo
The events of 9/11 and the "war on terror" changed the global outlook and the way governments function. An unfortunate example of this is the decision by the supposed bastion of justice and human rights, the United States, to create a detention facility at Guantanamo as part of the war. - Gyan Basnet (Jan 3, '12)

A journey through Inner Mongolia
Spending time in Inner Mongolia is an interesting experience, especially when in some places Mongolian culture is overshadowed by Chinese culture. - David Koppers (Dec 20, '11)

Kashmiri people should decide
Multiple wars, isolation, human-rights issues and ongoing angst between two nuclear-armed neighbors should be enough for all parties to agree that a solution is necessary in the territorial question of Kashmir. Give the people of Kashmir a choice or the players, including the world community, could see devastating results. - Gyan Basnet (Dec 19, '11)

The false monolith of political Islam
Willful ignorance of one's supposed enemies is not even the most damaging effect of America's continued rhetoric about the monolithic face of political Islam. Describing these various groups and regimes as a unified threat is a self-fulfilling prophecy. - Brendan P O'Reilly (Dec 16, '11)

Self-immolation tests China
Contrary to most observations, self-immolation does not suggest growing frustration among the Tibetans. Rather, it indicates newer kinds of protest in the face of newer kinds of repressive measures from Beijing. - Abanti Bhattacharya (Dec 15, '11)

Apathy in the face of cruelty
The harsh conditions and lack of opportunity that Africans are forced to live with are met with another wave of injustice and discrimination in northern Africa and Europe as they try to emigrate north to find a better life. - Ahmed E Souaiaia (Dec 14, '11)

Derivatives and free trade
The United States depends on "free trade" for continued expansion - whether in the shape of opium pushed on China or as no less destructive derivatives forced on the rest of the world. The US Congress will not support protectionism when there is still "free trade" in banking to secure. - Zhuubaajie (Dec 13, '11)

Winning and losing in Afghanistan
The war in Afghanistan has been a quagmire from the beginning that was driven by the 9/11 tragedy. Western powers got their man, but the toils of war remain. The US and its partners have recently announced a 2014 pull-out. The benefits and the losses are many, just as the players are after the withdrawal. - Gaurav Agrawal (Dec 13, '11)

The East-West dichotomy revisited
How do cultures of the East versus the West deduce or induce the world and reality around them? This affects the world of a society and an individual and the interpretation of the many religious beliefs they hold. - Thorsten Pattberg (Dec 12, '11)

India puts the Indo in 'Indo-Pacific'
Indian ambitions to become a linchpin for the United States as it challenges China's aggressive posturing revolve around US pledges that the "Indo-Pacific" bilateral relationship is a "defining partnership" of the 21st century. That the "Indo" in "Indo-Pacific" can be taken as referring to India and not the "common values and interests" the US shares with Indonesia, tends to muddy expansive waters. - Rukmani Gupta (Dec 7, '11)

A new beginning for the United Nations
The United Nations' structure still reflects conditions at the time of its founding in 1945, but fundamental questions need to be asked about how well it is equipped to fulfill its goals and maintain peace in today's world order. Reform within the UN itself will not suffice in new political circumstances and the troubled times more than half a century after its creation. Fundamental change is essential. - Gyan Basnet (Dec 5, '11)

Making sense of self-immolation
An opinion piece in the China Daily added insult to the injury of Tibetan persecution with an attack on the Dalai Lama over the recent spate of self-immolation by Buddhist monks and nuns. While it is a violent act, it can also be an inherently individualistic act of self-sacrifice that exacts no apparent cost for others. - Dhundup Gyalpo (Dec 1, '11)

India and the Asia-Pacific chessboard
India's place within changing Sino-United States political and security equations needs to be reckoned with. Common sense would dictate that 'hedging' and 'balancing' is perhaps the best safety net, but foreign policy fundamentals need to be revisited, especially in regard to the most pressing issues with China. Engagement rather than balancing and containment should be India's policy brand. - Medha Bisht (Nov 30, '11)

Asia and the sea powers, 1911 and 2011
There are fascinating comparisons between Britain's naval dominance in around Asia early in the 20th century and that of the US a hundred years later. There are also stark - even bizarre - differences, including America's indebtedness to its greatest Asian "rival", China. - Alan G Jamieson (Nov 29, '11)

The capitalist myth
Conventional wisdom decrees that the private sector is good, and the public sector bad. That all regulation of the private, capitalist, sector stifles innovation. Yet it is unregulated capitalism that lies at the root of the current economic crisis. - Dafydd Taylor (Nov 15, '11)

Japan and Europe toward the exit from history
Up until 1991, the Land of the Rising Sun and the Old Continent were the United States' bulwarks at the eastern and western rims of Eurasiaís landmass: the first line of containment against the Soviet Union along the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Now, despite the diplomatic acrobatics staged by US officials, the status of Japan and Europe as cornerstones - in their respective regions - of the American security system is questioned. - Emanuele Scimia (Nov 14, '11)

West's Spring lacks focus
While the Arab protester could cry out for democracy, those in the West are left with less inspiring rhetoric. Perhaps the Western protesters need a form of inspiration more familiar to their Arab counterparts. If the authorities seek to make an example of some individuals to end the protests, they will create martyrs. That could be the factor that transforms the discontent into something more focussed and urgent. - Dafydd Taylor (Oct 31, '11)

China-US trade ties too important to fear
Discord over the Sino-America trade imbalance and its causes is potentially dangerous. The trade relationship is one of mutual dependence. The two economies are so integrated there's only one sensible way forward - deepening that integration. Misleading currency chatter does not help. - Nick Ottens (Oct 28, '11)

Cambodia's unrealized peace promise
Twenty years after the Paris Peace Agreements that ended Cambodia's civil war with the Khmer Rouge, the country has seen a fair degree of prosperity and development. However, Prime Minister Hun Sen's scant regard for the rule of law has allowed a corrupt elite to ruthlessly pursue wealth at the expense of the impoverished, with little progress seen towards the democratic future that long-suffering Cambodians were promised. - Ou Virak (Oct 27, '11)

Indonesia's 'war' against the people
The threats from a number of lawmakers in the Indonesian House of Representative calling for the dismissal of the Corruption Eradication Commission need to be stopped. Dismissing the commission - which is waging a successful battle - would be like fighting a "war" against the civilized Indonesian people. - Yasmi Adriansyah (Oct 26, '11)

What happens to liberal values in hard times?
Millions of Asians have made the West their home. What are the likely social and psychological consequences for us "others" in these hard times? With no end to bad economic news, how many Europeans and Americans will retain or abandon liberal values? If more of the latter, which members of society are likely to become victims of growing intolerance and injustice? - Pushkar (Oct 25, '11)

China's grand strategy
After a 200-year hiatus China's Grand Strategy has been reinstated and looks to be as successful as ever. It is inexpensive and delivers sustainable, tangible benefits to the Chinese people. Expect to see elements of it emulated, first by Asian countries and later - who knows? - by us. - Godfree Roberts (Oct 24, '11)

A European future
For Europe, the future really should be bright. Yet there is one vital ingredient missing - a sense of self-confidence. The sort of self-confidence for which the United States is renowned, and China seems, in the past few years, to have rediscovered. - Dafydd Taylor (Oct 20, '11)

Indonesia: Among the happiest people
Indonesian people often refer to themselves as being open-minded, at the same time some of them are afraid of trying new things. It is a country of diversity and tolerance. At the same time it is a country of covert intolerance and internal fear of new things that seem alien to its culture. Indonesia is a developing country, but the Indonesian people are perhaps among the happiest people in the world. - Zeyneb Temnenko (Oct 18, '11)

Language imperialism - 'democracy' in China
Since European languages have their own histories and traditions, they cannot sufficiently render Chinese concepts, such as shengren and minzhu, which are erroneously translated as "philosophers" and "democracy. The solution would be to not translate the most important foreign concepts at all, but adopt them.
- Thorsten Pattberg (Oct 17, '11)

North Korea tied to China
While North Korea may wish to not be as reliant on China as it presently is, the visit by North Korean Prime Minister Choe Yong-rim to China shows that its domestic policies and global isolation have left it with little choice but to look to that country to once again ensure it stays afloat. - Bruno de Paiva (Oct 14, '11)

South China Sea: A new geopolitical node
The South China Sea occupies a special position in the world as the place where the interests of major powers - the United States, Japan and those rising giants, China and India - intersect. A whole set of challenges and threats in a region of growing economic power and potential conflict make the turbulent waters a flashpoint that will have a huge influence on the course of world politics in coming decades. - Prokhor Tebin (Oct 13, '11)

Verify, don't trust
Just a few weeks before the US$3.6 billion Chinese-backed dam was suspended, the government saw popular opposition as no obstacle to work already underway on the mega-project. Predicting the next twist in the saga is difficult in a country of limited transparency, when the decision to suspend might yet be reversed again with a new government take on "the will of the people". - Curtis S Chin (Oct 12, '11)

Why is USA targeting Pakistan?
The only way out of the quagmire of accusations, counter-accusations, lies and deceit between the United States and Pakistan is an early withdrawal of American and North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces and an end to this war. Cooler, smarter heads in Washington must rule and drive home the point, as the problem is the occupying forces, not Pakistan. - Yasmeen Ali (Oct 6, '11)

The importance of Camp David
If the first historic act the new Egyptian government achieved in regard to its neighbors was to repudiate the Camp David agreements, then, by defining a common external enemy and entering into a war-time mentality, the reinsertion of emergency laws would be justified, the power of the military establishment over civilian officials would be effectively reinstated and overall democratic possibilities would be crushed. - Riccardo Dugulin (Oct 5, '11)

The South China Sea is not Chinaís Sea
It would be absurd if England were to try to claim sovereignty over most of the English Channel, Iran the Persian Gulf, Thailand the Gulf of Thailand, Vietnam the Gulf of Tonkin, Japan the Sea of Japan, or Mexico the Gulf of Mexico. For their own sake, the major powers must not abandon the South China Sea to be turned into a Chinese lake and Southeast Asian nations to fall into China's orbit. - Huy Duong (Oct 4, '11)

Is Asia the light of the future?
Communist-cum-free market China, democratic but caste-ridden India, nuclear-stricken Japan, opium-ridden Afghanistan, and the vast oil and gas reserves of central Asia and the Middle East crescent, form a landscape full of opportunities and existing or potential conflicts. What the appropriation of the paradigm of science achieved was globalization that is building a common destiny for all. - Nicholas A Biniaris (Oct 3, '11)

India: fighting corruption or adapting to it?
The fight against corruption may be the fashionable thing going well in India. But there exist some forms of corruption still to be recognized as such. A startling example of a double murder to obliterate a scam speaks a lot about the issue. - Ton Lenssen (Sep 28, '11)

Crisis thinkers or thinkers in crisis?
A recently released report on Myanmar by the International Crisis Group (ICG), the world's best known think tank on crises, brims with hope. But once past the optimistic title, Myanmar: Major Reform Underway, multiple shortcomings and intellectual sins that undermine its credibility make the report grim reading. - Maung Zarni (Sep 27, '11)

Palestine's bid: An open letter to Obama
Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims will see a veto of Palestine's application for statehood by United States President Barack Obama as conclusive proof he is pandering to the Jewish vote for self-serving, short-term political reasons, says a Palestinian refugee. Obama's expected veto at the United Nations will be devastating to America's national interests and relations with the rest of the world.
- Zakariya A Jalamani (Sep 20, '11)

Questioning Indonesia's place in the world
Indonesia's lack of influence in the global political-economic arena belies its size and abundant natural and human resources. Numerous internal challenges that typically face developing nations are to blame, but by tackling the most daunting - corruption, rule of law and poverty - Jakarta can prove that the country is headed towards greater power status - Yasmi Adriansyah (Sep 19, '11)

The Development Deception
There is a dangerous lie that permeates the media, government and general discourse of nearly every single nation on Earth. That lie is the Development Deception; it is grossly misleading for the nations who over-consume the world's finite resources to be considered developed. - Brendan P O'Reilly (Sep 15, '11)

Normality trumps rhetoric in Yeonpyeong
A stroll through the quiet streets of South Korea's Yeonpyeong Island some nine months after North Korean shelling killed four people suggests life has reverted to the slow pace of the past. However, howitzers, bunkers, tanks and barbed wire fences are constant reminders to stoic residents that the island's proximity to the North makes it a significant political bargaining chip. - Matthew Clayton (Sep 14, '11)

Clausewitz and Sun Tzu after the neo-cons
Battles and even campaigns can be won following Sun Tzu, but it is difficult to win a war by applying his Art of War principles which, unlike Carl von Clausewitz's theories, didn't consider the post-war political-social landscape. Military prowess, neo-conservative desires and the application of some Sun Tze principles have been factors in the United States Army's military successes and likewise in its obvious failures. - Andreas Herberg-Rothe (Sep 13, '11)

Inward look at Chinese outward investment
Fear of being displaced by China tops off many claims that its companies' overseas investments bring wanton damage to the environment, the abuse of local workers, and disregard for traditional customs. Such anxieties are based on an ignorance of the facts or context amid China's dramatically changing profile as an outward investor. - Jean-Marc F Blanchard (Sep 12, '11)

A democracy only in name
Myanmar is celebrating the United Nations' International Day of Democracy, urging its citizens to be "true patriots" and "honest with good attitude for the motherland" during the country's still uncertain political transition. Yet the sober reality of life under both the old and new governments, particularly for rural farmers, is the antithesis of the regime's declarations. - Nancy Hudson-Rodd (Sep 8, '11)

Grand bargaining reloaded?
Hyun In-taek, South Korea's hardline unification minister, has been replaced by Yu Woo-ik, a close confidant of President Lee Myung-Bak and a former ambassador to China. It can be hoped the move does not result in a complete policy reversal, in a kind of desperate, short-term attempt to cater to voter sentiment ahead of presidential elections in 2012. - Bernhard Seliger (Aug 31, '11)

North Korea seeks rice deal
Myanmar may be about to supply North Korea with rice, following a meeting in Yangon between officials from the two countries. With a barter deal the most likely arrangement, the question is what can impoverished North Korea bring to the table. Nuclear expertise is one possibility. - Bruno de Paiva (Aug 18, '11)

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