The String of Pearls concept informs a general viewpoint about the strategic end of Chinese investments, but it seems to lack the explanatory power to flesh out the dynamics involved to alter the balance of power in the region. To add some heft to the analysis, I utilize Dr. Jeremy Garlick’s concept of geopositional balancing to supplement our understanding of the String of Pearls beyond merely that of another buzzword. This article deepens the knowledge of China’s activities in the Indian Ocean by also utilizing an understudied variant of balancing. I examine China’s engagement with Sri Lanka as a case study.
That the West could build a state and military in its own image, from the outside-in and from the top-down, without an adequate—much less a deep—understanding of Afghan society and culture was a dangerous assumption. One might say this notion represents our most fundamental error, generative of many missteps. Perhaps the earliest strategic failure in Afghanistan was the distracting invasion of Iraq in 2003, a campaign that also suffered from a similar set of fundamental, faulty assumptions. Iraq was yet another intervention with no real planning it seems for the aftermath—for all the social and political variables that must be considered to mitigate chaos and prevent prolonged conflict. Just design the exquisite air and ground campaigns, shock and awe, and rebuild the infrastructure, re-engineer the society itself with our models as templates. There seems to be a pattern, a way of thinking, so deeply embedded one might call it cultural, upon which we need to reflect.
After two decades, the Taliban returned to power through brute force. Chaos and fear engulfed the city of Kabul and surrounding areas, with tens of thousands of people stuck and trying to escape harm’s way. The collapse of Afghanistan left the Afghan people in distress and servitude under the Taliban's rule. The Afghanistan crisis threatens to embroil the entire region with chaos and mayhem. The question then arises: how will the Taliban’s return to power impact the rest of South Asia?
The current state of Afghanistan is an illusion of Western diplomacy, a conflagration of religious and ethnic groups unwillingly forced together in formation of a “nation” as the United Nations and the predominant powers within prefer to establish a world on a rules-based order. As a country, in its current form, it is not the end of 20 years at war but instead the continuation of a century of conflict with the West, first colonized by the British and then falling under the incompetent tutelage of Soviet meddlers. This latest episode of conflict comes at the tail-end of a millennium of invasion, conquest, subjugation, and submission to foreign powers and ambitious leaders beginning with the likes of Darius I of Persia and Alexander the Great of Macedonia. In short, Afghanistan possesses a history of conflict the United States cannot even imagine, and yet, for Afghans today, the current state is nothing new in their history.
Many Canadians see the plethora of problems in the Indo-Pacific region through the NIMBY lens—Not in My Back Yard so it is not our problem. In reality though, what happens in the Indo-Pacific matters for Canada. This is especially the case if China is successful in creating and shaping “an ideological environment conducive to its rise and counter Western values.” If successful, Canada will be less secure, less prosperous, and more vulnerable to a might-is-right approach to regional and international affairs.
The time has now arrived to recalibrate India’s rise as a geopolitical and strategic power for the liberal international order. How can India’s policy choices fit in President Joe Biden’s “America Is Back” foreign policy?
China defines its national defense policy as strategically defensive, proclaiming “we will not attack unless we are attacked, but we will surely counterattack if attacked.” To prepare for a potential “counterattack,” China is building an increasingly formidable set of offensive capabilities for use at the operational and tactical levels of war to counter United States and allied forces in the western Pacific (hereafter WestPac).
This introduction applies the “Hindsight 20/20” theme to the history of the symposium as an event, while making the argument for continued language, regional expertise, and culture (LREC) education across the force. It begins by reviewing the history of the symposium, followed by a reflection on lessons learned from the 2020 event, before concluding with a summary of the enclosed papers that collectively suggest the need for greater LREC research and teaching on the themes discussed herein.
Washington must develop a wider, more comprehensive vision of the North Korea problem now, the North Korea problem then, and the best direction in which to take the North Korea problem moving forward. This key first step that Washington must take before establishing a promising North Korea policy is best accomplished by, in essence, thinking like a North Korean—or carefully considering the issues from the North Korean perspective to better gauge and understand their scope and value within negotiations. Understanding how North Koreans think regarding economic, social, military, and other critical issues will better equip negotiators to avoid the diplomatic errors of the past and better understand—for better or for worse—the validity of negotiations with North Korea moving forward.
While national and regional leadership shifts, strategic competition between the United States and the PRC will remain the defining feature of the global geopolitical environment for decades to come.
Serious competition requires serious planning and identification of how one intends to change minds and then the follow up to honestly assess how we are doing. We should have done this work years ago, but the second-best time is now.
The Quad can be seen as a new kind of twenty-first-century security alliance. What adds to the complexity of the grouping is the increasing polarization caused by the US–China rift, with both nations calling for others to “join” its side. The growing contingencies are pushing the Quad to take a greater role in fighting against nontraditional and traditional security risks. Here, the key queries remain: Has the Quad adopted a “fire-fighting” mode? If so, does that make China anxious? What is the role of India in the Indo-Pacific?
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