Iran in Latin America: Threat or Axis of Annoyance?

Senior Fellow Douglas Farah's analysis of the debate over the level of threat posed by Iran's expanding diplomatic, trade and military presence in Latin America, and its stated ambition to continue to broaden these ties.read more

Chinese Naval Modernization: Altering the Balance of Power

Richard Fisher details China's naval modernization program and the potential impacts on U.S. interests in the Western Pacific.read more

Looking Forward

"Looking Forward" is an informal department of our website, usually written by
our Vice President Arthur Waldron, but to which colleagues and friends contribute as well, that seeks to tag, comment on or speculate about important developments before they hit the front pages, or to provide new points of view on existing issues. We call it "informal" because it is speculative, whereas for most of our work, the number one requirement is to find the facts and let the political chips fall where they may.

Thus we may look at rumors about proliferation or at new weapons, unconventional threats to our national security, environmental issues, energy, diseases, or give our thoughts about a well known issue. Our researchers travel, and often the column will reflect that. Thus Professor Waldron is spending a lot of time in Europe this semester, reading the European press (including the European Chinese-language press) and talking to European scholars and experts, and can be expected to send periodic sketches of what he has found.

Professor Waldron learned the rigorous techniques of simulation and gaming during his seven years at the Naval War College, but the tendency to try to look into the future--which seems strange, for he is after all a historian--may also be in the blood. His great uncle was, for many years, the anonymous author of "The Trader" column in Barron's Magazine, celebrated in his own time as the only Wall Street pundit who had called the great crash of 1929, the market bottom and the post-war recovery. Unfortunately, speculating on world affairs is far less remunerative.

As always, we invite serious comments from our readers about this column as well as our other offerings.

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Looking Forward: Call for war in the South China Sea

Published on September 30th, 2011
A few weeks ago I wrote about the scare I had when the Chinese navy intercepted an Indian vessel leaving Vietnam on the high seas, claiming it was violating Chinese territorial waters. Now we all have much more cause for concern. An important article calling for war with Vietnam and the Philippines was published 27 September in the Global Times, a tabloid format Party newspaper owned by the highest official Chinese government mouthpiece, the People’s Daily. It remained the lead story at the newspaper’s website for almost two days and is still posted as I write (29 September). Yet the Washington Times appears to be the only Western newspaper to have picked it up.read more
Looking Forward: Illusions About China Come Home To Roost
by Arthur Waldron, Ph.D

Published on September 5th, 2011
The news that the Chinese had confronted an Indian naval vessel on the high seas as it left Vietnam shook and alarmed me more than any other incident has in the four decades since I started study of Chinese. China would appear suddenly to be in a hurry to become the dominant power in Asia. She has laid claim as territorial waters to the whole of what in Chinese is called “nanhai” the “South Sea” and in English the “South China Sea”—some 648,000 square miles. Now she seems to have set her course to enforce this—despite the fact that the claim has no historical merit, violates established international law, and puts China at odds with nearly all of her neighbors.read more
Looking Forward: The End of NATO?
by Arthur Waldron, Ph.D

Published on October 1st, 2009
Institutionally NATO remains intact but whether it would actually function in a conflict is a question that has long been becoming more and more puzzling.read more
Taiwan’s New China Policy
by Arthur Waldron, Ph.D

Published on March 30th, 2009
For a year now Taiwan’s president Ma Yingjeou 馬英九 (b. 1950) has been implementing what might be called a “sunshine policy” toward China. He and his colleagues have high hopes that these policies will elicit Chinese reciprocation, bring a reduction of tension between the two countries, leading eventually to a reduction in the military confrontation over the Taiwan Strait. For a Taiwanese leader, however, this is uncharted diplomatic territory, filled with risks and land mines. The question is: will Ma succeed?read more
Terrorism Reaches China
by Arthur Waldron, Ph.D

Published on March 29th, 2009
Last week the overseas Chinese newspapers were full of violent stories, mostly about the killing of officials in several localities by angry people. Simple content analysis of the media makes clear that the level of reported violence is rising, which in turn almost certainly reflects a real increase in incidence. All forms of violence worry the regime, but none perhaps more than terrorism, particularly that by oppressed non-Chinese groups such as the Tibetans. Now that nightmare may be in the process of becoming real.read more
Asian Waters II
by Arthur Waldron, Ph.D

Published on March 21st, 2009
Tension in the South China Sea area has been rising for decades as disputes increase among littoral states about who exactly owns the hundreds of reefs, shoals, and islets that dot the 142,000 square mile expanse of water. The tensions are now flaring again. The Philippines have finally determined a base line or low tide mark, as required by the Law of the Sea, from which their various zones of sovereignty, economic exclusivity, etc, have been calculated. On the basis of these zones some but not all of the Spratly islands would come legally under Manila’s control. This seems to have set alarm bells ringing in China, which considers the entire sea to be its own internal waters. read more
Asian Waters
by Arthur Waldron, Ph.D

Published on March 16th, 2009
News of the past ten days raised questions about China’s long term naval strategy. This has long been to reach the blue waters that lie frustratingly close to China’s coast, but access to which is blocked entirely from north to south by neighboring countries and the islands they control, from Korea and Cheju island; Japan’s home islands plus Okinawa and the Sakashima chain which ends just sixty miles short of Taiwan; to Taiwan herself and then the Philippines, all of which form a north south barrier closed by the west to east barrier of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. A look at the map shows that in order to reach blue water, Chinese ships would have to pass through one or another potential choke-point--the La Pérouse Strait between Russia and Hokkaido, the Tsugaru Strait between Honshu and Hokkaido, the Basho channel between Taiwan and the Philippines, or one of the exits from the South China Sea, either the Sunda or Malacca Strait.read more
Looking Forward Korea
by Arthur Waldron, Ph.D

Published on March 10th, 2009
North Korea has said that she will test fire a new long range missile sometime very soon. Here are four questions we should be considering...read more
Post Olympic Prospects
by Arthur Waldron, Ph.D

Published on August 25th, 2008
Cleaning up after the party often reveals a lot, and the world situation post Beijing Olympics is no exception. Let’s start with China, not forgetting, however, that the unexpected Georgia crisis effectively drove the Olympic events out of the headlines.  The story-board before the games began was essentially this: long humiliated and poor, China is announcing her return to the world stage in style, with the most lavish Olympics ever staged, featuring venues of the purest ultra-modern architecture, a multi media opening that will outshine anything seen before, the deployment for the first time of superb Chinese athletic talent garnering more gold medals than anyone, foreign heads of state making the trip who conspicuously had scheduling conflicts when it came to Athens--and lest anyone see it all as orchestrated or regimented, the whole package done up in the finest human rights rhetoric, with promises of full internet access and even an officially recognized right to protest.read more
Nuclear Proliferation: The Next Wave
by Arthur Waldron, Ph.D

Published on August 17th, 2008
On May 11, 1998 India tested a thermonuclear bomb. A short while later I found myself in India discussing this and other events with the then Minister of Defense George Fernandes. The talking point from Washington was that India had done this to warn Pakistan. Fernandes was careful to refute this specifically telling me that the bomb was intended to deter China and that suitable delivery systems would follow. To drive the point home he stated that the Prime Minister had specifically authorized him to state that the Chinese threat and not Pakistan was driving the Indian nuclear and defense program, then just entering its current phase of impressive modernization.read more
Total Records: 33
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