The Guardian view on Trump at the UN: Bluster and Belligerence


September 21, 2017

The Guardian view on Trump at the UN:  Bluster and Belligerence

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The US President is wrong to think that nations acting in their own self-interest would on their own create a more stable world. Countries need to work together under rules to which they agree to adhere.

Whatever its difficulties, the United Nations must surely be cherished. Founded in 1945 under US leadership after the defeat of Nazism and imperial Japan, the UN remains the central pillar of the global order.

At its core has stood the ambition that peace, international security and human rights would be better protected than they were by the 1930s League of Nations (whose founding treaty the US Senate refused to ratify). The UN is the only existing forum where the representatives of all nation states can be brought together to try to address crises and common challenges.

Donald Trump’s first address to the organisation’s annual general assembly was anticipated with dread by many – and rightly so. This US president is after all the first in history to have made heaping scorn on the UN something of a pastime. His views on the subject have ranged from crude hostility to abject ignorance. The speech he delivered was scripted – not the ramblings of a maverick whose taste for rash tweets and cheap provocations have become an almost daily routine. It was deeply worrying all the same. Unlike his eloquent predecessor, President Trump trades in crass belligerence. His speech will be remembered for its ominous language.

Threats and grandstanding are just bluster, not policy. Crises require a deftness the Trump Administration has failed to demonstrate. He wants allies to back him, but seems oblivious that his lack of personal credibility is an obstacle to international cooperation. An “America First” approach runs counter to the UN’s multilateralism.-The Guardian

On North Korea he mocked its young leader Kim Jong-un, saying that “rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime”. He threatened that “if [the US] is forced to defend itself and its allies, it will have no other choice but to destroy North Korea”.

Iran, he said, was “a corrupt dictatorship” whose “chief export is violence, bloodshed and chaos”. Trump called the 2015 nuclear deal “the worse transaction ever” – a sign perhaps he may be getting ready to pull out of it, or ensuring Iran is provoked enough to do so itself. What the White House could have done is appeal to the Iranian people directly, offering a “new beginning” in the relationship between the two nations. But the US President has not displayed the slightest interest in fundamental democratic values. His speech carried enough of a whiff of “regime change” to make Tehran think hard over nuclear compliance.

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As last week’s UN Security Council vote on sanctioning North Korea has shown, there is an international consensus on the dangers presented by Pyongyang’s behaviour. But on Iran, President Trump risks finding himself in stark isolation, with European allies already making clear they want to preserve the 2015 agreement, not tear it up. The US President no doubt speaks to his base as much as he does to an international audience. But the nationalist ideology he espouses was yet again made clear, not least with the emphasis he put on “strong, sovereign, independent nations”, rather than on the body of universal values that the UN is meant to uphold.

President Trump wants the UN to put pressure on North Korea and Iran, but he’s brought little clarity as to the wider strategy he contemplates. Threats and grandstanding are just bluster, not policy. Crises require a deftness the Trump Administration has failed to demonstrate. He wants allies to back him, but seems oblivious that his lack of personal credibility is an obstacle to international cooperation. An “America First” approach runs counter to the UN’s multilateralism.

His credo could be summed up by his claim that nations acting in their own self-interest create a more stable world. The question is what rules would states operate under? Not the UN’s, Trump’s response appeared to suggest. The president may want to speak of “principled realism”, but he is a reckless and dangerous leader, sitting, alas, in a most powerful position.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/19/the-guardian-view-on-trump-at-the-un-bluster-and-belligerence

Myanmar’s Rohingya: A Far Wider Tragedy


September 20, 2017

Myanmar’s Rohingya: A Far Wider Tragedy

http://www.asiasentinel.com

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The first layer is the most obvious. These are Muslims in an overwhelmingly Buddhist nation, in which Buddhist monks have had a nationalist political role dating back to British rule, if not before. If viewed as an exclusively Muslim issue, it has the potential to enlarge the cracks already apparent in the edifice of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

It is noteworthy both that Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Najib Razak, currently pursued by allegations of billions of dollars of fraud, attempted to burnish his Islamic credentials by sharply criticizing Myanmar. Indonesia typically tried to calm troubled waters by sending its Foreign Minister, Retno Marsudi, to Naypiydaw. Soothing words but little action followed.

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Making use of the Rohingya Issue for domestic politics

Anti-Muslim sentiment in Myanmar has a long history, though the Rohingya issue is different in origin and character from those against Muslims, many of them small traders, in the cities

So far both the Muslim Indonesians and the Buddhist Thais have kept their cool.  But there is no guarantee that Indonesia’s approach can last if atrocities continue. The Buddhist Thais may have little sympathy for their Burmese neighbors given a long history of rivalry. Nonetheless with their own Muslim minority problems in southern Thailand, and lack of interest in the issues of Chinese maritime expansion which trouble Indonesia, make ASEAN solidarity increasingly difficult.

The next two layers are related. First, the Rohingya are Bengali speakers and thus readily identified not only with Bangladesh but with a Bengali world – which at 250 million, including Indian West Bengal, is much more populous than Myanmar’s 60 million, let alone its Burmese core. This demographic issue lies behind the Myanmar obsession with Rohingya immigration into Rakhine state and the government’ s refusal to grant citizenship to them, however long their families have resided there.

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The third and related one is that these people are mostly dark-skinned people with features common to the Indian subcontinent. Myanmar officials of course do not admit to blatant racism based on skin color and facial characteristics. But in 2009 the Myanmar consul-general in Hong Kong was unwise enough to speak his mind, one which is probably silently shared by a significant proportion of his countrymen.

Addressing his fellow diplomats on the Rohingya issue soon after it came to foreign attention as boatloads of refugees arrived on the shores of Thailand and Malaysia, Ye Mint Aung said the Rohingya were not actually Myanmese and were not accepted as one of the ethnic groups of his country, or indeed as citizens.

“You will see in the photos that their complexion is ‘dark brown’” in contrast to the complexion of Myanmar people, he wote, which was “fair and soft, good looking as well.”

He claimed that his own complexion was typical of a Myanmar gentleman and fellow diplomats could contrast their “handsome colleague” with the “ugly as ogres” Rohingya whose pictures were in the newspapers.

The fourth layer may be least obvious but perhaps most dangerous. Even Aung San Suu Kyi, let alone the monks and generals, see the Rohingya as immigrants into Rakhine state.  They are mostly descendants of people who arrived there under British rule, when Burma was administered as part of India. This lasted 114 years until it ended with the Japanese occupation 75 years ago. If Asian nations are now to get into the business of reversing population movements which occurred in colonial times, be prepared for bloodbaths on a horrendous scale.

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One of the great achievements of independent Asia so far is to have accepted almost all colonial-era boundaries and demographic changes, however illogical or disadvantageous they may have been to this or that ethnic or religious group. There is hell to pay if reversing history is the silent goal of the Myanmar government. The short term will be agony for the Rohingya, the long term possibly a calamity for Burmese in the face of Bengali numbers. Horrendous bloodshed would also be in store – especially for communities of Chinese origin – should the notion of post-colonial ethnic cleansing take hold elsewhere in Asia.

Asian neighbors in particular need to wake up to the Rohingya crisis being more than a “little local difficulty.” This is not Marawi in the Philippines nor Patani in Thailand, where small insurgencies have been ongoing for decades. The ethnic collision in Rakhine is a threat of altogether different proportions, as well as an ongoing tragedy.

Philip Bowring is one of the founders of Asia Sentinel. A version of this appeared originally in The Globalist.

North Korea: Dealing with the “Rocket Man” via Negotiation, not Threats


September 20, 2017

North Korea: Dealing with the “Rocket Man”via Negotiation, not Threats

by Editorial Board, East Asia Forum

http://www.eastasiaforum.org

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War? “Look at the Map”, says French President Emmanuel Macron in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour at United Nations, New York

The North Korean nuclear threat has ratcheted up in recent months, following new rounds of missile and nuclear weapons tests by Pyongyang. In July, North Korea undertook two tests of an intercontinental-range ballistic missile (ICBM). Then on 3 September, it undertook its sixth nuclear test of a new thermonuclear bomb designed to be used with its ICBMs. US President Donald Trump responded to the ICBM tests by promising to deliver ‘fire and fury’ if North Korea again threatened the United States, to which North Korea responded in turn by threatening to deploy missiles into the seas near US military bases in Guam. And in the midst of all this, Pyongyang continued to unnerve the Japanese government and population by launching two ballistic missiles into the seas beyond the island of Hokkaido.

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The “Rocket Man” says to President Donald Trump: “Show me some respect. I am the leader of North Korea,an independent and sovereign nation. My duty is to protect my people from warmongers like you and to act in the best interest of my country. Aren’t you doing the same for your people when you say to the world, “America First”?

North Korea’s most recent tests and launches are significant. Like it or not, they demonstrate that the regime has crossed the technical threshold of being able to target the continental United States — as well as US allies in Asia — potentially with a nuclear warhead.

Throughout the growing crisis, the Trump administration — along with most of the international community — has viewed China as the key player in bringing North Korea to heel. This perception of China’s special leverage stems from China’s decades-old treaty of friendship and mutual assistance with the North Korean regime and, even more importantly, the fact that around 90 per cent of North Korean trade now takes place with or through China. Given North Korea’s near total dependence on China for its international economic ties, the United States and others have consistently called for China to tighten economic sanctions.

China had resisted tightening sanctions on North Korea for fear that economic pressure could prompt massive inflows of refugees into China’s Northeast, or even the collapse of the North Korean regime. Although North Korea remains China’s most troublesome and unpredictable neighbour, it also serves as a strategic ‘buffer’ between China and US forces stationed in Japan and South Korea.

Yet a combination of growing international pressure, and Beijing’s own frustration with Pyongyang over its unwelcome nuclear program, has made China more willing to apply sanctions and other economic measures. In February, in the wake of North Korea’s test of a short-range missile into the Sea of Japan, and the assassination in Malaysia of Kim Jong-un’s half-brother, China announced it was suspending coal imports from North Korea for the remainder of 2017. More significantly, on 11 September China (and Russia) agreed to a new round of UN Security Council sanctions which will ban North Korean textile exports, freeze its imports of crude oil at current levels and introduce a cap on its imports of refined petroleum. These are the most far-reaching sanctions that have so far been applied to North Korea. In addition, Chinese state-run banks have begun to ban North Koreans from opening new accounts and to suspend transactions on accounts already held by North Koreans.

Yet the key problem in all of this is that there is little evidence that sanctions applied in the past have worked in checking North Korea’s nuclear program. Most regional analysts are fairly pessimistic that even this latest round of sanctions will have much effect on the regime’s nuclear development plans.

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In our two lead pieces this week, Chen Dongxiao of the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, and Jia Qingguo of Peking University, underscore the urgent need for new thinking in managing the North Korean nuclear issue. Both highlight diplomatic engagement, with Pyongyang and among other key states in the region, as the only way forward.

Chen suggests that it is futile to hope that increased Chinese pressure will somehow encourage North Korea to relinquish its nuclear weapons. He underlines Pyongyang’s lack of regard for China’s interests to date, suggesting that, ‘Pyongyang will never shy away from pressing for more concessions by leveraging its nuclear weapons program, even at the expense of China’s national security interests and overall regional stability’.

Instead, the region must find new diplomatic and economic incentives to encourage Pyongyang to come back to the negotiating table. As a first step, both authors nominate China’s ‘two suspensions’ proposal as a way to reduce the dangerous tensions between Pyongyang and Washington. This proposal would see ‘North Korea…suspend nuclear and missile tests in exchange for suspension of joint US-South Korea military exercises’, explains Jia.

As a second step, Jia calls on Beijing to begin active ‘contingency planning’ talks with Washington and Seoul. In the past, Beijing has been hesitant to take part in such talks, out of concern for the signals that this would send to Pyongyang. Jia and Chen carry clear messages for Pyongyang and Washington. Given the gravity of the situation and the risk that North Korea may continue to ignore Beijing’s diplomatic efforts, it is now time for China to put aside its hesitation and engage in serious talks with Washington and Seoul, Jia argues.

Contingency planning talks should cover a range of critical issues including: who would control North Korea’s nuclear weapons arsenal in the event of a collapse of the regime; how to deal with the North Korean refugee problem; who would be responsible for restoring domestic order in North Korea in the event of a crisis; post-crisis political arrangements on the Korean Peninsula; and removal of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system when and if North Korea’s nuclear program has ended.

Each of these issues is a source of considerable anxiety in Beijing, and so far they’ve stymied closer regional cooperation on the North Korean nuclear issue. Indeed, these issues have, in Chen Dongxiao’s words, showcased the ‘deeply entrenched strategic suspicion’ between the US and China. Dialogue and negotiation on these questions may therefore help to alter the current impasse between China and the United States, and lessen Pyongyang’s ability to exploit the lack of unity among its neighbours.

As is now widely understood, both in Pyongyang and around the region, there are no good military options for resolving the North Korean nuclear issue. That will crucially require countries to get much better at talking to their adversaries and negotiating on fundamental, long-term political and security questions.

The EAF Editorial Board is comprised of Peter Drysdale, Shiro Armstrong, Ben Ascione, Amy King, Liam Gammon, Jillian Mowbray-Tsutsumi and Ben Hillman, and is located in the Crawford School of Public Policy in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific.

Remarks by President Donald Trump to the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly


September 20, 2017

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Remarks by President  Donald Trump to the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly

United Nations
New York, New York

10:04 A.M. EDT, September 19, 2017

 

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/09/19/remarks-president-trump-72nd-session-united-nations-general-assembly

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President Donald Trump delivers a tough message to North Korea’s Rocket Man, Iran, Cuba and Venezuela  at The United Nations General Assembly

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Mr. Secretary General, Mr. President, world leaders, and distinguished delegates: Welcome to New York. It is a profound honor to stand here in my home city, as a representative of the American people, to address the people of the world.

As millions of our citizens continue to suffer the effects of the devastating hurricanes that have struck our country, I want to begin by expressing my appreciation to every leader in this room who has offered assistance and aid. The American people are strong and resilient, and they will emerge from these hardships more determined than ever before.

“…we meet at a time of both of immense promise and great peril. It is entirely up to us whether we lift the world to new heights, or let it fall into a valley of disrepair.

Fortunately, the United States has done very well since Election Day last November 8th. The stock market is at an all-time high — a record. Unemployment is at its lowest level in 16 years, and because of our regulatory and other reforms, we have more people working in the United States today than ever before. Companies are moving back, creating job growth the likes of which our country has not seen in a very long time. And it has just been announced that we will be spending almost $700 billion on our military and defense.

Our military will soon be the strongest it has ever been. For more than 70 years, in times of war and peace, the leaders of nations, movements, and religions have stood before this assembly. Like them, I intend to address some of the very serious threats before us today but also the enormous potential waiting to be unleashed.

We live in a time of extraordinary opportunity. Breakthroughs in science, technology, and medicine are curing illnesses and solving problems that prior generations thought impossible to solve.

But each day also brings news of growing dangers that threaten everything we cherish and value. Terrorists and extremists have gathered strength and spread to every region of the planet. Rogue regimes represented in this body not only support terrorists but threaten other nations and their own people with the most destructive weapons known to humanity.

Authority and authoritarian powers seek to collapse the values, the systems, and alliances that prevented conflict and tilted the world toward freedom since World War II.

International criminal networks traffic drugs, weapons, people; force dislocation and mass migration; threaten our borders; and new forms of aggression exploit technology to menace our citizens.

To put it simply, we meet at a time of both of immense promise and great peril. It is entirely up to us whether we lift the world to new heights, or let it fall into a valley of disrepair.

We have it in our power, should we so choose, to lift millions from poverty, to help our citizens realize their dreams, and to ensure that new generations of children are raised free from violence, hatred, and fear.

This institution was founded in the aftermath of two world wars to help shape this better future. It was based on the vision that diverse nations could cooperate to protect their sovereignty, preserve their security, and promote their prosperity.

It was in the same period, exactly 70 years ago, that the United States developed the Marshall Plan to help restore Europe. Those three beautiful pillars — they’re pillars of peace, sovereignty, security, and prosperity.

The Marshall Plan was built on the noble idea that the whole world is safer when nations are strong, independent, and free. As President Truman said in his message to Congress at that time, “Our support of European recovery is in full accord with our support of the United Nations. The success of the United Nations depends upon the independent strength of its members.”

To overcome the perils of the present and to achieve the promise of the future, we must begin with the wisdom of the past. Our success depends on a coalition of strong and independent nations that embrace their sovereignty to promote security, prosperity, and peace for themselves and for the world.

We do not expect diverse countries to share the same cultures, traditions, or even systems of government. But we do expect all nations to uphold these two core sovereign duties: to respect the interests of their own people and the rights of every other sovereign nation. This is the beautiful vision of this institution, and this is foundation for cooperation and success.

Strong, sovereign nations let diverse countries with different values, different cultures, and different dreams not just coexist, but work side by side on the basis of mutual respect.

Strong, sovereign nations let their people take ownership of the future and control their own destiny. And strong, sovereign nations allow individuals to flourish in the fullness of the life intended by God.

In America, we do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to watch. This week gives our country a special reason to take pride in that example. We are celebrating the 230th anniversary of our beloved Constitution — the oldest constitution still in use in the world today.

This timeless document has been the foundation of peace, prosperity, and freedom for the Americans and for countless millions around the globe whose own countries have found inspiration in its respect for human nature, human dignity, and the rule of law.

The greatest in the United States Constitution is its first three beautiful words. They are: “We the people.”

Generations of Americans have sacrificed to maintain the promise of those words, the promise of our country, and of our great history. In America, the people govern, the people rule, and the people are sovereign. I was elected not to take power, but to give power to the American people, where it belongs.

In foreign affairs, we are renewing this founding principle of sovereignty. Our government’s first duty is to its people, to our citizens — to serve their needs, to ensure their safety, to preserve their rights, and to defend their values.

As President of the United States, I will always put America first, just like you, as the leaders of your countries will always, and should always, put your countries first. (Applause.)

All responsible leaders have an obligation to serve their own citizens, and the nation-state remains the best vehicle for elevating the human condition.

But making a better life for our people also requires us to work together in close harmony and unity to create a more safe and peaceful future for all people.

The United States will forever be a great friend to the world, and especially to its allies. But we can no longer be taken advantage of, or enter into a one-sided deal where the United States gets nothing in return. As long as I hold this office, I will defend America’s interests above all else.

But in fulfilling our obligations to our own nations, we also realize that it’s in everyone’s interest to seek a future where all nations can be sovereign, prosperous, and secure.

America does more than speak for the values expressed in the United Nations Charter. Our citizens have paid the ultimate price to defend our freedom and the freedom of many nations represented in this great hall. America’s devotion is measured on the battlefields where our young men and women have fought and sacrificed alongside of our allies, from the beaches of Europe to the deserts of the Middle East to the jungles of Asia.

It is an eternal credit to the American character that even after we and our allies emerged victorious from the bloodiest war in history, we did not seek territorial expansion, or attempt to oppose and impose our way of life on others. Instead, we helped build institutions such as this one to defend the sovereignty, security, and prosperity for all.

For the diverse nations of the world, this is our hope. We want harmony and friendship, not conflict and strife. We are guided by outcomes, not ideology. We have a policy of principled realism, rooted in shared goals, interests, and values.

That realism forces us to confront a question facing every leader and nation in this room. It is a question we cannot escape or avoid. We will slide down the path of complacency, numb to the challenges, threats, and even wars that we face. Or do we have enough strength and pride to confront those dangers today, so that our citizens can enjoy peace and prosperity tomorrow?

If we desire to lift up our citizens, if we aspire to the approval of history, then we must fulfill our sovereign duties to the people we faithfully represent. We must protect our nations, their interests, and their futures. We must reject threats to sovereignty, from the Ukraine to the South China Sea. We must uphold respect for law, respect for borders, and respect for culture, and the peaceful engagement these allow. And just as the founders of this body intended, we must work together and confront together those who threaten us with chaos, turmoil, and terror.

The scourge of our planet today is a small group of rogue regimes that violate every principle on which the United Nations is based. They respect neither their own citizens nor the sovereign rights of their countries.

If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph. When decent people and nations become bystanders to history, the forces of destruction only gather power and strength.

No one has shown more contempt for other nations and for the well being of their own people than the depraved regime in North Korea. It is responsible for the starvation deaths of millions of North Koreans, and for the imprisonment, torture, killing, and oppression of countless more.

We were all witness to the regime’s deadly abuse when an innocent American college student, Otto Warmbier, was returned to America only to die a few days later. We saw it in the assassination of the dictator’s brother using banned nerve agents in an international airport. We know it kidnapped a sweet 13-year-old Japanese girl from a beach in her own country to enslave her as a language tutor for North Korea’s spies.

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If this is not twisted enough, now North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life.

It is an outrage that some nations would not only trade with such a regime, but would arm, supply, and financially support a country that imperils the world with nuclear conflict. No nation on earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arm itself with nuclear weapons and missiles.

The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime. The United States is ready, willing and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary. That’s what the United Nations is all about; that’s what the United Nations is for. Let’s see how they do.

It is time for North Korea to realize that the denuclearization is its only acceptable future. The United Nations Security Council recently held two unanimous 15-0 votes adopting hard-hitting resolutions against North Korea, and I want to thank China and Russia for joining the vote to impose sanctions, along with all of the other members of the Security Council. Thank you to all involved.

The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime. The United States is ready, willing and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary.

But we must do much more. It is time for all nations to work together to isolate the Kim regime until it ceases its hostile behavior.

We face this decision not only in North Korea. It is far past time for the nations of the world to confront another reckless regime — one that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing death to America, destruction to Israel, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.

The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy. It has turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos. The longest-suffering victims of Iran’s leaders are, in fact, its own people.

Rather than use its resources to improve Iranian lives, its oil profits go to fund Hezbollah and other terrorists that kill innocent Muslims and attack their peaceful Arab and Israeli neighbors. This wealth, which rightly belongs to Iran’s people, also goes to shore up Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship, fuel Yemen’s civil war, and undermine peace throughout the entire Middle East.

We cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilizing activities while building dangerous missiles, and we cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program. (Applause.) The Iran Deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it — believe me.

It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran’s government end its pursuit of death and destruction. It is time for the regime to free all Americans and citizens of other nations that they have unjustly detained. And above all, Iran’s government must stop supporting terrorists, begin serving its own people, and respect the sovereign rights of its neighbors.

We cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilizing activities while building dangerous missiles, and we cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program. (Applause.) The Iran Deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it — believe me.

The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran’s people are what their leaders fear the most. This is what causes the regime to restrict Internet access, tear down satellite dishes, shoot unarmed student protestors, and imprison political reformers.

Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the Iranian people will face a choice. Will they continue down the path of poverty, bloodshed, and terror? Or will the Iranian people return to the nation’s proud roots as a center of civilization, culture, and wealth where their people can be happy and prosperous once again?

The Iranian regime’s support for terror is in stark contrast to the recent commitments of many of its neighbors to fight terrorism and halt its financing.

In Saudi Arabia early last year, I was greatly honored to address the leaders of more than 50 Arab and Muslim nations. We agreed that all responsible nations must work together to confront terrorists and the Islamist extremism that inspires them.

We will stop radical Islamic terrorism because we cannot allow it to tear up our nation, and indeed to tear up the entire world.

We must deny the terrorists safe haven, transit, funding, and any form of support for their vile and sinister ideology. We must drive them out of our nations. It is time to expose and hold responsible those countries who support and finance terror groups like al Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Taliban and others that slaughter innocent people.

The United States and our allies are working together throughout the Middle East to crush the loser terrorists and stop the reemergence of safe havens they use to launch attacks on all of our people.

Last month, I announced a new strategy for victory in the fight against this evil in Afghanistan. From now on, our security interests will dictate the length and scope of military operations, not arbitrary benchmarks and timetables set up by politicians.

I have also totally changed the rules of engagement in our fight against the Taliban and other terrorist groups. In Syria and Iraq, we have made big gains toward lasting defeat of ISIS. In fact, our country has achieved more against ISIS in the last eight months than it has in many, many years combined.

We seek the de-escalation of the Syrian conflict, and a political solution that honors the will of the Syrian people. The actions of the criminal regime of Bashar al-Assad, including the use of chemical weapons against his own citizens — even innocent children — shock the conscience of every decent person. No society can be safe if banned chemical weapons are allowed to spread. That is why the United States carried out a missile strike on the airbase that launched the attack.

We appreciate the efforts of United Nations agencies that are providing vital humanitarian assistance in areas liberated from ISIS, and we especially thank Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon for their role in hosting refugees from the Syrian conflict.

The United States is a compassionate nation and has spent billions and billions of dollars in helping to support this effort. We seek an approach to refugee resettlement that is designed to help these horribly treated people, and which enables their eventual return to their home countries, to be part of the rebuilding process.

For the cost of resettling one refugee in the United States, we can assist more than 10 in their home region. Out of the goodness of our hearts, we offer financial assistance to hosting countries in the region, and we support recent agreements of the G20 nations that will seek to host refugees as close to their home countries as possible. This is the safe, responsible, and humanitarian approach.

For decades, the United States has dealt with migration challenges here in the Western Hemisphere. We have learned that, over the long term, uncontrolled migration is deeply unfair to both the sending and the receiving countries.

For the sending countries, it reduces domestic pressure to pursue needed political and economic reform, and drains them of the human capital necessary to motivate and implement those reforms.

For the receiving countries, the substantial costs of uncontrolled migration are borne overwhelmingly by low-income citizens whose concerns are often ignored by both media and government.

I want to salute the work of the United Nations in seeking to address the problems that cause people to flee from their homes. The United Nations and African Union led peacekeeping missions to have invaluable contributions in stabilizing conflicts in Africa. The United States continues to lead the world in humanitarian assistance, including famine prevention and relief in South Sudan, Somalia, and northern Nigeria and Yemen.

We have invested in better health and opportunity all over the world through programs like PEPFAR, which funds AIDS relief; the President’s Malaria Initiative; the Global Health Security Agenda; the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery; and the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, part of our commitment to empowering women all across the globe.

We also thank — (applause) — we also thank the Secretary General for recognizing that the United Nations must reform if it is to be an effective partner in confronting threats to sovereignty, security, and prosperity. Too often the focus of this organization has not been on results, but on bureaucracy and process.

In some cases, states that seek to subvert this institution’s noble aims have hijacked the very systems that are supposed to advance them. For example, it is a massive source of embarrassment to the United Nations that some governments with egregious human rights records sit on the U.N. Human Rights Council.

The United States is one out of 193 countries in the United Nations, and yet we pay 22 percent of the entire budget and more. In fact, we pay far more than anybody realizes. The United States bears an unfair cost burden, but, to be fair, if it could actually accomplish all of its stated goals, especially the goal of peace, this investment would easily be well worth it.

Major portions of the world are in conflict and some, in fact, are going to hell. But the powerful people in this room, under the guidance and auspices of the United Nations, can solve many of these vicious and complex problems.

The American people hope that one day soon the United Nations can be a much more accountable and effective advocate for human dignity and freedom around the world. In the meantime, we believe that no nation should have to bear a disproportionate share of the burden, militarily or financially. Nations of the world must take a greater role in promoting secure and prosperous societies in their own regions.

The socialist dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro has inflicted terrible pain and suffering on the good people of that country. This corrupt regime destroyed a prosperous nation by imposing a failed ideology that has produced poverty and misery everywhere it has been tried. To make matters worse, Maduro has defied his own people, stealing power from their elected representatives to preserve his disastrous rule.

That is why in the Western Hemisphere, the United States has stood against the corrupt and destabilizing regime in Cuba and embraced the enduring dream of the Cuban people to live in freedom. My administration recently announced that we will not lift sanctions on the Cuban government until it makes fundamental reforms.

We have also imposed tough, calibrated sanctions on the socialist Maduro regime in Venezuela, which has brought a once thriving nation to the brink of total collapse.

The socialist dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro has inflicted terrible pain and suffering on the good people of that country. This corrupt regime destroyed a prosperous nation by imposing a failed ideology that has produced poverty and misery everywhere it has been tried. To make matters worse, Maduro has defied his own people, stealing power from their elected representatives to preserve his disastrous rule.

The Venezuelan people are starving and their country is collapsing. Their democratic institutions are being destroyed. This situation is completely unacceptable and we cannot stand by and watch.

As a responsible neighbor and friend, we and all others have a goal. That goal is to help them regain their freedom, recover their country, and restore their democracy. I would like to thank leaders in this room for condemning the regime and providing vital support to the Venezuelan people.

The United States has taken important steps to hold the regime accountable. We are prepared to take further action if the government of Venezuela persists on its path to impose authoritarian rule on the Venezuelan people.

We are fortunate to have incredibly strong and healthy trade relationships with many of the Latin American countries gathered here today. Our economic bond forms a critical foundation for advancing peace and prosperity for all of our people and all of our neighbors.

I ask every country represented here today to be prepared to do more to address this very real crisis. We call for the full restoration of democracy and political freedoms in Venezuela. (Applause.)

The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented. (Applause.) From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure. Those who preach the tenets of these discredited ideologies only contribute to the continued suffering of the people who live under these cruel systems.

America stands with every person living under a brutal regime. Our respect for sovereignty is also a call for action. All people deserve a government that cares for their safety, their interests, and their wellbeing, including their prosperity.

In America, we seek stronger ties of business and trade with all nations of good will, but this trade must be fair and it must be reciprocal.

For too long, the American people were told that mammoth multinational trade deals, unaccountable international tribunals, and powerful global bureaucracies were the best way to promote their success. But as those promises flowed, millions of jobs vanished and thousands of factories disappeared. Others gamed the system and broke the rules. And our great middle class, once the bedrock of American prosperity, was forgotten and left behind, but they are forgotten no more and they will never be forgotten again.

While America will pursue cooperation and commerce with other nations, we are renewing our commitment to the first duty of every government: the duty of our citizens. This bond is the source of America’s strength and that of every responsible nation represented here today.

If this organization is to have any hope of successfully confronting the challenges before us, it will depend, as President Truman said some 70 years ago, on the “independent strength of its members.” If we are to embrace the opportunities of the future and overcome the present dangers together, there can be no substitute for strong, sovereign, and independent nations — nations that are rooted in their histories and invested in their destinies; nations that seek allies to befriend, not enemies to conquer; and most important of all, nations that are home to patriots, to men and women who are willing to sacrifice for their countries, their fellow citizens, and for all that is best in the human spirit.

In remembering the great victory that led to this body’s founding, we must never forget that those heroes who fought against evil also fought for the nations that they loved.

Patriotism led the Poles to die to save Poland, the French to fight for a free France, and the Brits to stand strong for Britain.

Today, if we do not invest ourselves, our hearts, and our minds in our nations, if we will not build strong families, safe communities, and healthy societies for ourselves, no one can do it for us.

We cannot wait for someone else, for faraway countries or far-off bureaucrats — we can’t do it. We must solve our problems, to build our prosperity, to secure our futures, or we will be vulnerable to decay, domination, and defeat.

The true question for the United Nations today, for people all over the world who hope for better lives for themselves and their children, is a basic one: Are we still patriots? Do we love our nations enough to protect their sovereignty and to take ownership of their futures? Do we revere them enough to defend their interests, preserve their cultures, and ensure a peaceful world for their citizens?

One of the greatest American patriots, John Adams, wrote that the American Revolution was “effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people.”

That was the moment when America awoke, when we looked around and understood that we were a nation. We realized who we were, what we valued, and what we would give our lives to defend. From its very first moments, the American story is the story of what is possible when people take ownership of their future.

History is asking us whether we are up to the task. Our answer will be a renewal of will, a rediscovery of resolve, and a rebirth of devotion. We need to defeat the enemies of humanity and unlock the potential of life itself.

The United States of America has been among the greatest forces for good in the history of the world, and the greatest defenders of sovereignty, security, and prosperity for all.

Now we are calling for a great reawakening of nations, for the revival of their spirits, their pride, their people, and their patriotism.

History is asking us whether we are up to the task. Our answer will be a renewal of will, a rediscovery of resolve, and a rebirth of devotion. We need to defeat the enemies of humanity and unlock the potential of life itself.

Our hope is a word and — world of proud, independent nations that embrace their duties, seek friendship, respect others, and make common cause in the greatest shared interest of all: a future of dignity and peace for the people of this wonderful Earth.

This is the true vision of the United Nations, the ancient wish of every people, and the deepest yearning that lives inside every sacred soul.

So let this be our mission, and let this be our message to the world: We will fight together, sacrifice together, and stand together for peace, for freedom, for justice, for family, for humanity, and for the almighty God who made us all.

Thank you. God bless you. God bless the nations of the world. And God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

 

Why China won’t push North Korea into a corner of isolation


September 20, 2017

Why China won’t push North Korea into a corner  of isolation–It’s a Question of Trust

by Evan Osnos

http://www.newyorker.com

It is a question of trust–Chinese Leaders trust Trump less than the Rocket Man of North Korea.

At the center of the North Korean nuclear crisis is a pivotal question: How much is China really willing to pressure and punish its longtime ally in Pyongyang? Recent conversations in Beijing and Washington suggest that Chinese leaders have decided to increase pressure substantially but are not—and probably never will be—willing to help President Trump strangle North Korea into submission. China doesn’t trust Kim Jong Un—but it trusts Trump even less.

For decades, China backed North Korea in hostilities with the United States. The fellow Communist armies had fought alongside one another in the Korean War, and North Korea still relies on China for as much as ninety per cent of its overseas trade. In Chairman Mao’s analogy, the two nations were as close as “lips and teeth.” But that is no longer true; since taking power, in 2011, Kim Jong Un, who is suspicious of China’s efforts to control North Korea or spur it to follow its model of economic reform, has openly antagonized the government in Beijing, including launching rockets that would embarrass the Chinese leadership. (Earlier this month, Kim fired a rocket just as Xi Jinping, the Chinese President, was opening an annual summit of developing countries in the Chinese city of Xiamen.)

By several measures, Chinese leaders have become more willing to get tough with Kim. Until recently, Chinese intellectuals rarely questioned China’s commitment to North Korea. But, in March, Shen Zhihua, one of China’s best-known experts on the Korean War, said, in a speech, “We must see clearly that China and North Korea are no longer brothers-in-arms, and in the short term there’s no possibility of an improvement in Chinese-North Korean relations.” The speech circulated widely, without much in the way of official censorship—a sign, to many Chinese analysts, that some of the country’s leaders agree.

When I met Shen last month, in Beijing, he told me, “I think more and more leaders share this view. At a minimum, they think that multiple views should exist.” Shen is a calm, silver-haired scholar who works in a research center at East China Normal University, in Shanghai. As a historian, he believes that long-standing tensions between Beijing and Pyongyang are becoming irreparable. “Officially, they tried to paper over the cracks, but the differences were inevitable,” he said.

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“Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”–President Donald Trump at The United Nations

Shen does not speak for the leadership or advise powerful officials. Rather, his views should be understood as a reflection of the change that is under way in the Chinese establishment. Of North Korea, he said, “I think China doesn’t care who is running the country. Xi and Kim have not met. It used to be a tradition if there is a new leader, to meet him. But not now.” Fundamentally, he said, some have come to believe what was once anathema—that North Korea could one day turn its aggression on China: “Many in China don’t want North Korea to have nuclear weapons because nuclear weapons are, first, threatening to China.”

I wondered if Shen was expressing a minority view. When I met Zhao Tong, who specializes in nuclear issues as a fellow at the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, I asked him about Shen’s speech. “I think most people would broadly agree,” Zhao said. “It’s not a warm relationship of ‘brothers.’ ” Given that North Korea has continued to test nuclear weapons in the face of Chinese protests, he said, China would not feel automatically compelled to defend North Korea under their mutual-assistance treaty. “Most Chinese would laugh at the proposal that China should provide security guarantees,” he said.

Zhao ticked off examples of China’s new pressures on Pyongyang: “China has stopped coal imports. That’s a big step. It’s stopped supplying diesel and gas. That’s a big step. It has tightened regulations on companies and financial institutions, and the big ones have stopped doing business with North Korea. It’s the smaller ones that are motivated by narrow interests and are still doing business. China has enhanced inspections of goods at the border. They made efforts to help private-sector companies strengthen their export-control practices.”

But, importantly, Zhao added that it would be a mistake to misread those steps as China signing on, wholesale, to American efforts to force North Korea to the edge of collapse—a tactic, favored in Washington, known as “strategic strangulation.” “No, it’s just balancing Trump and Kim Jong Un,” Zhao said. “The reason China agreed to much tougher sanctions is to calm Trump down.” China has strategic tensions of its own with the U.S., so it is keeping both countries off balance. “It’s basically, ‘Who is the bigger evil?’ For China, the U.S. is always the top geostrategic concern, the top threat.”

Zhao notes that the U.N. sanctions against North Korea that were passed on August 5th, which China supported, stopped short of seeking to undermine trade and humanitarian activities. “They are trying to draw a line between North Korea’s military program and civilian trade. To put more pressure on North Korea, without undermining it. China has been taking the incremental approach,” he said. In Zhao’s view, even though China has agreed to limit oil exports to North Korea, it is unlikely to cut them off entirely, which the Trump Administration believes is a vital step to change Kim’s behavior. “If China remains the sole supplier, meaning Russia won’t step in, I think China would find it very hard to do that,” Zhao said.

There are hard limits to China’s willingness to advance American interests in Asia, because the two powers have deep disagreements—about trade, contested territory in the South China Sea, and Taiwan. As the North Korea crisis has escalated, China has urged the U.S. to consider offering North Korea a deal known as “freeze for freeze,” in which the North would halt further tests if the U.S. halts or reduces joint military exercises with South Korea and Japan—exercises that China resents as well. “I think some Chinese are secretly hoping the North Korean position can actually help drive the U.S. forces away from the Korean Peninsula,” Zhao said. “It is in China’s interest if, in the mid-to-long term, the North Koreans can have a deal with the United States where the U.S. reduces troops or reduces its exercises.”

In recent years, overly hopeful U.S. politicians and commentators have repeatedly misunderstood China’s views of North Korea and assumed that Beijing was, at last, turning against its irksome ally. In private meetings with President Obama, and later with President Trump, Xi has repeated a bottom-line principle about North Korea: “No war. No chaos. No nukes.” A former U.S. official, who was at several of those meetings, told me, “Every American senior official that I know hears, ‘Blah, blah, blah—no nuclear weapons.’ And thinks, ‘Oh, we agree! Excellent!’ So the Chinese ought to be willing to limbo under this bar for us. But, no, that’s third in the list of three strategic priorities. The first two are avoiding war on the Korean Peninsula, and avoiding chaos and collapse.” In that spirit, China has sought to limit the scope of U.S.-backed sanctions in the U.N. Security Council. In the latest round, earlier this month, China succeeded in forcing the U.S. to drop its pursuit of a full oil blockade, which China fears would drive North Korea to collapse.

Nothing worries Chinese officials more than the following scenario: the U.S. uses harsh sanctions and covert action—and possibly military strikes—to drive North Korea close to the point of regime collapse. In turn, Pyongyang lashes out with violence against America or its allies, sparking a full-blown war on China’s border, just as China is trying to maintain delicate economic growth and social stability. Xi, in separate sessions, has offered Obama and Trump the same Chinese adage in reference to North Korea: “When a man is barefoot, he doesn’t fear a man with shoes.” In other words, even if attacking America would be suicide for North Korea, if it sees nothing left to lose, it just might do the unthinkable. For that reason, China, above all, wants the U.S. to avoid backing Kim into a corner from which he has no exit.

Trump is fervently seeking China’s coöperation, but, ironically, his rhetoric and aggression may be putting that further out of reach. On Sunday, Trump mocked Kim as the “Rocket Man.” Members of his Administration have repeated their openness to “military options,” despite projections that air strikes, or other attempts at targeted attacks, could spark a wider war. Chinese intellectuals have taken to joking that “Telangpu”—which is one of the Chinese pronunciations of Trump’s name—sounds like “te meipu,” which means clueless or lacking a plan. In recent months, Trump has alternately praised China and threatened it with a trade war. “I don’t understand Trump,” Shen, the historian, told me. “One day he is saying something good about Xi Jinping and the next he is criticizing him. Trump is becoming more and more of a problem. China is becoming more and more stable.”

Conflict in Myanmar: War, Politics, Religion


September 18, 2017

Book Review:

Conflict in Myanmar: War, Politics, Religion

Nick Cheesman and Nicholas Farrelly (editors) (ISEAS Publishing)

by Jonathan Liljeblad*

Jonathan Liljeblad is a senior lecturer at the Swinburne Law School, Swinburn University of Technology.

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Conflict in Myanmar: War, Politics, Religion (Nick Cheesman and Nicholas Farrelly, eds.) is the most recent output of the continuing Myanmar Update (formerly Burma Update) conference series run by Australian National University. The volume offers seventeen chapters written by native Myanmar and non-Myanmar scholars selected from the participants at Myanmar Update 2015. Centered around the nature of conflict in Myanmar, the book organizes its chapters into three themes of “War and Order” dealing with ethnic tensions in the country, “Elections and After” highlighting institutional politics, and “Us and Them” centering around communal and religious divisions.

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Conflict in Myanmar: War, Politics, Religion joins a array of edited volumes that have appeared in the past few years. Within the Myanmar Update series, it is preceded by Debating Democratisation in Myanmar (Nick Cheeseman, Nicholas Farrelly, and Trevor Wilson, eds.) tied to Myanmar Update 2013 and the earlier Ruling Myanmar: From Cyclone Nargis to National Elections (Nick Cheesman, Monica Skidmore, and Trevor Wilson, eds.) resulting from the Myanmar Update 2011. Beyond the Myanmar Update series, however, there are also other recent edited volumes, including titles such as Constitutionalism and Legal Change in Myanmar (Andrew Harding and Khin Khin Oo, eds.) from 2017; Islam and the State in Myanmar (Melissa Crouch, ed.) from 2016; Metamorphosis: Studies in Social and Political Change in Myanmar (Renee Egreteau and Francois Robinne, eds.) from 2015; and Myanmar: The Dynamics of an Evolving Polity (David Steinberg, ed.) and Burma/Myanmar: Where Now? (Mikaela Gravers and Flemming Ytzen, eds.), both from 2014. Such a supply of edited works reflects a burgeoning academic literature on Myanmar that has grown in the wake of the country’s re-engagement with the larger international community that arguably began with the country’s democratic general election in 2010 and accelerated with the lifting of economic sanctions in 2012-2013.

Edited volumes are useful in terms of providing readers a survey of perspectives on a topic that exemplify the state of scholarship at a particular moment in time. In addition, they allow audiences to note issues deemed to be significant by experts in the field. Conflict in Myanmar: War, Politics, Religion fulfils both these functions, with the chapters serving as a representation of empirical research on major Myanmar conflicts. As a result, it offers appeal to Myanmar scholars intent on staying abreast of events in the country as well as broader audiences seeking to learn more about the forces affecting Myanmar government and society.

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Edited volumes are not without challenges. Projects involving multiple authors are vulnerable to two major issues: 1) in hosting multiple perspectives they risk presenting an array of views that can appear incoherent, and 2) in recruiting multiple contributions they are dependent upon authors to write with scholarly quality. In responding to the issue of incoherence, Conflict in Myanmar: War, Politics, Religion follows the approach of other edited volumes by applying a thematic focus that ties its chapters to a common concern. This provides a framework that places the chapters as differing perspectives on the topic of conflict in Myanmar.

It is with respect to the issue of quality, however, that Conflict in Myanmar: War, Politics, Religion is perhaps distinguished from other edited works covering Myanmar. As an outcome of Myanmar Update, the book ties to an ongoing series of conferences that follow an underlying strategy of nurturing scholarship, both for Myanmar as an academic field of inquiry and for Myanmar academics as scholars of standing in global academia. As a consequence, since its origin in 1999 Myanmar Update has accumulated a body of work spanning scholars inside and outside the country able to conduct research of increasing rigor and insight. Conflict in Myanmar: War, Politics, Religion carries the Myanmar Update tradition, with its assembly of contributions constituting a body of empirical studies informed by field work, such that the chapters display an in-depth understanding arising from the immersive experiences of their authors in Myanmar. Most notable in this regard are Ricky Yue’s chapter on the Pa’O Self-Administered Zone and Gerard McCarthy’s chapter on provincial politics in Taungoo, both of which denote immersion into areas not generally frequented or understood by foreigners.

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There are possible areas of improvement that should be observed for similar compilations on Myanmar in the future. First, there is a question of internal consistency, in that Myanmar Update ostensibly has a goal of encouraging native Myanmar scholars as a means of capacity-building for an endemic scholarly community seeking to connect to international academia. Conflict in Myanmar: War, Politics, Religion contains four chapters that were authored or co-authored by native Myanmar scholars. This compares with six chapters involving Myanmar scholars in the 2014 Myanmar Update volume, Debating Democratisation in Myanmar, and two in the 2012 Ruling Myanmar: From Cyclone Nargis to National Elections. While author numbers are perhaps only partial indicators of capacity-building, they do provide a continuing reminder of the need to maintain diligence for Myanmar Update’s ulterior goal of promoting native Myanmar research. The insights, for example, by Su Mon Thazin Aung on the ethnic peace process, Chaw Chaw Sein on the 2015 general elections, Than Tun on Buddhist nationalism in Rakhine’s 2015 election results, and Chit Win on the Hluttaw all indicate an intimate knowledge that is made possible by their positions as Myanmar natives residing in the country. These degrees of familiarity offer a nuanced understanding that deserve to be publicized, and signal the value of Myanmar Update’s efforts to support native Myanmar scholarship.

Second, empirical studies by their nature are tied to observations and interpretations of real-world phenomenon. This is useful for identifying and understanding what is happening in a place like Myanmar, but it risks placement of Myanmar scholarship within the confines of descriptive studies. The growth of research on Myanmar into a dedicated field of Myanmar Studies calls for an enrichment in perspectives that can be facilitated by greater engagement with theory. More connection with theory would provide greater integration for Myanmar scholarship into concurrent work in international and comparative studies being done in the law and social sciences, both in terms of potentially deepening analysis of the country as well as offering opportunities for interventions into existing theoretical literature in law and social sciences. The integration of empirical and theoretical approaches require lengthier exposition than possible within the confines of a chapter in Conflict in Myanmar: War, Politics, Religion, but there are chapters—most notably Jenny Hedström’s feminist political economy study of Kachin State and Tamas Wells’ exploration of narratives in communal violence—that present ways to further this in the future.

In sum, Conflict in Myanmar: War, Politics, Religion is a useful ensemble of works that can inform readers and enrich other studies of Myanmar. It serves as a model for other edited volumes on Myanmar in terms of empirical research, thematic organization, and scholarly quality. As such, it should be seen as a necessary addition in any library seeking to promote Myanmar Studies as a field, and as a valuable addition to anyone seeking to improve their understanding of a country still in the process of re-engaging with the world.