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Rundown 04/28/14

Rundown 04/28/14

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A weekly digest of news and analysis from AEI's Foreign and Defense Studies team
A weekly digest of news and analysis from AEI's Foreign and Defense Studies team

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Published by: American Enterprise Institute on Apr 28, 2014
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Last week, Obama’s reassurance to Japan over the contested Senkaku Islands wasn’t the
only news creating a stir in China. In response to overwhelming outrage from Chinese fans, singer Justin Bieber removed, and later apologized for, a photo 
he posted of himself at Tokyo’s
controversial Yasukuni Shrine with the
tagline, “Thank you for your blessings.”
 But in truth, the
troubled singer may as well have been the mascot for Obama’s Asia tour, as good feelings
about commitment to Asian allies has been overshadowed by failure on almost every other front, particularly trade. Have a good week, Your AEI Foreign and Defense Policy Studies team
Tweet of the Week
Get it while it's hot (and controversial)! Did Obama Just Draw Another Red Line in the East China Sea? http://thebea.st/1htTg2C @thedailybeast
In the
East Asia
President Obama said a 10-year agreement signed Monday to give the US military greater access to Philippine bases will help promote peace and stability in the region, and that he hopes China's dominant  power will allow its neighbors to prosper on their own terms.
 President Obama ends his trip to Asia on Tuesday, having visited an anxious region unconvinced of US commitment. With a rising Chinese military and threat of another North Korean nuclear test, the need for
answers to critical questions concerning America’s long
-term commitment was front and center. Did the president quiet concerns, or is there more trouble brewing in the Pacific? On
Tuesday's 9:45 a.m.
 conference call, AEI foreign policy scholars and experts will discuss the successes and challenges the US faces
in the region and analyze the president’s trip. RSVP for the call
-in number and conference code to lauren.duffy@aei.org. 
In Tokyo, the president made a powerful promise, assuring Japan that the disputed Senkaku Islands come under article five of the US-Japan security treaty, and thus would be protected by American forces in the case of a Sino-Japanese conflict over the islands. In a recent 
 with The Daily Beast, 
notes, “Perhaps President Obama’s threats are simply seen as no longer credible. Beijing may well decide
that the president offers little but rhetoric. In that case, it is not a question of whether the United States has the means to deter Chinese aggressio
n (we do, for now), but whether President Obama has the will.”
 See more of Auslin's Asia trip commentary in his Foreign Policy 
and on last week’s 
 and on 
President Obama’s leaving Japan without a signed trade deal keeps the Trans
-Pacific Partnership (TPP) hanging in the balance indefinitely, but it also reveals the lack of political courage in Tokyo that has long contributed to economic stagnation, and now the same thing is starting to occur in Washington. As 
 highlights in a Weekly Standard 
, “There is a case to be made to effectively suspend
Japan's participation in the TPP, try to finish the agreement, and then return to talks with Japan. There would be few real objections from other TPP countries, the increasingly protectionist US Congress would be happier, and we might actually get an actual a
greement instead of endless talk.”
 In light of the ever-
looming threat of the People’s Republic of China, 
offers a comprehensive
of Financial Times correspondent Geoff Dyer’s book “The Contest of the Century” in
The Weekly Sta
ndard. He argues that “Washington has to prepare itself for a long, protracted, and complex
competition with a sophisticated adversary. We know that China will compete vigorously for power. The big
question is whether we will.” For more of Blumenthal’s a
nalysis of Obama's Asia trip, check out his 
 with the Asia Society and his
interview with the Wall Street Journal’s 
 While President Obama is not visiting Taiwan on this particular trip, the island nation is as critical as ever. In his 
titled “Taiwanese hard power: Between a ROC and a hard
looks at the shifting balance of military power to China, Taiwan’s efforts to meet those challenges,
nd Washington’s failure to support Taiwan in maintaining an adequate defense posture. He explains, “Taiwan's government must do a better job of explaining that its policy of engaging with the mainland does
not eliminate the need to provide the island with an effective defense; indeed, only when Taiwan is secure
can it, over the long run, engage China with confidence.”  Also read Mazza's thoughts on the president’s 
 and on 
to protecting the sovereignty of the disputed Senkakus on the AEIdeas blog. Want more on the conflict over the Senkakus? 
 as a panel of experts convene to discuss the future of disputed territories in the East China Sea, if these disputes can be resolved through  judicial settlement, and what increased conflict would mean for US interests in the region.
The mayor of Ukraine's second-largest city was shot in the back Monday, and pro-Russia insurgents seized et another government building as tensions rose in Eastern Ukraine ahead of a new round of US sanctions.
 One of the first rules of sound strategy-
making is, “don’t fight for the same ground twice unless forced to.” It
is the worst sort of weakness to concede pieces of the former empire back to Vladimir Putin when the West could so easily freeze this Russian reckoning in its tracks, if only it could summon the will to do so. 
. The Russians have chosen their dreams of greatness over our hopes for reform. Until now, they have little dared to realize those
dreams, but now they see that the No Man’s lands of Eastern Europe can be had cheaply, and would
permanently fracture NATO and the Western alliance it represents. For a generation, the West has failed to do what any platoon-leading lieutenant would do after a successful engagement
 consolidate on the
objective. There is still a chance to do so, but a diminishing one.”
ce the Russian invasion of Crimea, President Barack Obama has repeatedly asserted that “this is not another Cold War.” Yet, in a front
-page story in the Sunday New York Times, Peter Baker reports that the
president and his advisers have chosen “to forge a
new long-term approach to Russia that applies an
updated version of the Cold War strategy of containment.” Their ambition, Baker says, is nothing less than to isolate Russia, “making it a pariah state.” 
 writes that it is not clear whether a president incapable of enforcing his own red lines has the fortitude necessary to execute a true policy of containment. Read A
desnik’s analysis on how a Cold War grand strategy 
 for passivity. WATCH: 
 went on 
 where he discussed recent clashes in Ukraine and responded to comments from the Russian ambassador.
 Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri has called on Muslims to kidnap Westerners, particularly Americans, who could then be exchanged for jailed jihadists including a blind Egyptian cleric convicted in 1995 of conspiring to attack the United Nations and other New York landmarks.
Current national security policy is failing to stop the advancement of al Qaeda and its affiliates throughout the Muslim-majority world. While there are many reasons for this failure, three key issues stand out: a poor definition of the enemy, an incorrect view of its objectives, and the adoption of a strategy that will not defeat the latest evolution of this adaptive organization. 
 explores the three issues in her AEI report,
Don’t have time to read the
entire paper? 
 with a few must-know facts on understanding al
Qaeda’s leadership group.
 Habeck rolled out her report before a packed house at AEI last Thursday. 
 to watch the video in full. The Obama administration has reportedly launched two drone strikes in Yemen, and news stories indicate that the principal target was Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, the al Qaeda master bomb-maker behind the failed Christmas Day 2009 airliner attack and other failed attacks. 
of the drone strikes on the AEIdeas blog: “It is still unclear if they got al
-Asiri, but if they did it would be a tragedy not a triumph. No one is weeping for a dead terrorist, mind you. If dead, al-Asiri got the  justice he deserved. But if a drone strike has indeed vaporized this ingenious terrorist intent on attacking the United States, it has also vaporized all the vital intelligence inside his brain. . . . killing al-Asiri may feel good, but it may also help al Qaeda
preserve its secrets and carry out the next attack.”
 Last week, Thiessen participated in a Council on Foreign Relations event on the costs, benefits, and risks of keeping Guantanamo Bay open. 
 and be sure to follow him on Twitter @marcthiessen. 
South Asia

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