The DailyBrief

Monday July 31, 2017

Trump’s Iran contradiction: Russian military technology is reaching Tehran more freely than ever and with China viewing Iran as the regional hub in its Belt and Road Initiative, Tehran is doing a good enough job to resist Donald Trump’s attempts to isolate it. M.K. Bhadrakumar writes that there are also big contradictions in the Trump administration’s approach to Iran, because it is legislating sanctions while also certifying that Iran’s compliance with the important 15 July 2015 nuclear deal is satisfactory.

Tracks to Thailand: Despite the various Southeast Asian schemes underway to upgrade decrepit railways to high-speed routes, few are designed with a vision towards improving regional connectivity. Peter Janssen reports that some observers blame Thailand for failing to ensure that domestic railway projects in the Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar-Vietnam region don’t all follow the same Thai-centric pattern.

Reprieve for Abe: The Japanese premier had a dismal week last week but it paled in comparison with the disarray in opposition ranks, writes William Pesek. Opposition leader Renho Murata, often touted as a future prime minister and one of the only women in Japanese history to run a major party, resigned to take responsibility for her party’s defeat in recent local elections and in doing so significantly shortened the odds on Abe living to fight on.

Still America first? The “free trade” wing of the Republican Party has taken the United States into a trade war that it can only lose, argues David Goldman. New sanctions against Russia passed by the House and Senate last week have forced Europe into a de facto alliance with Russia against the United States, and by extension with China as well.

What Western values? Nowadays, the West can be described as decadent because it is increasingly reluctant to allow its own vision of civil liberties and human rights shape its foreign policies owing to the potential commercial costs, writes Chris Patten. Such foreign-policy decadence threatens to undermine the EU’s claim to more than just a glorified customs union and the lessons from the 1920s and 1930s should show us all that such decadence can only make the world an increasingly dangerous and unstable place.

Asia Times app: The Asia Times has launched an app for both iOS- and Android-based devices that will deliver the publication’s regular daily news, commentary, blogs and live coverage while also bringing readers added functionality. Asia Times Staff report that the app, launched on July 25, includes content notification, share and save functions and is free to download from both the Apple Store and Google Play.