Taking a Break for Xmas – Back in Jan – Some ‘Best of 2011’ Asia Reading


It’s time for a break. Blogging is pretty time-consuming, so I need some down-time. I will be back in mid to late January, and I will be cross-posting at the academic international relations blog The Duck of Minerva. After 2.5 year of blogging, I am excited to step up to something with greater visibility next year. Academic readers especially will find that site a good one, and I want to thank the Duck’s outreach guy, Vikash Yadav, for inviting me.

So while your guzzling too much eggnog for New Year’s, I have tried to put together a list of stuff from 2011 that is worth your time. I try to avoid academic articles and stick to informed journalism that is easier to digest. Here we go:


Friedberg’s essay in the NYT on China is a big one. Friedberg is a major thinker in the ‘China threat’ school, and you should read him even if you disagree with him. Here is the book for the full argument. The jury is still out on China, and Friedberg is major pessimistic voice you need to know. (For my own thoughts, try here.)

Here is an important response to Friedberg.

Korea is finally starting to recognize that the US may be too broke to protect it the way it expects. I have been saying this for two years, but it is a breakthrough when I major Korean political scientist says this on the op-ed page of Korea’s second newspaper.

Finally, this is a breath of fresh air on a point I belabor constantly.

UCAVs are everywhere now I guess. Does anyone else find this worrisome? What are the rules for these sorts of drone strikes? Is this constitutional? Who knows…

This should sicken anyone who thinks we are fighting for liberalism in the GWoT. Yet another reason the GWoT will be regarded as a catastrophic error in 20 years.


This doesn’t say anything you don’t already know, but when the chairman of the best political science department on the planet talks on Asia, you should listen. Here is the follow-up.

Rachman nails the dilemma of Asian states dependent on exports to China for growth and the US for security. At some point, the choice will come (hint: they’ll choose China in the long run: it’s big, local, and not broke).

IS on NK.

No US Retrenchment from the Pacific: I guess any SecDef would say this, but do we have the money for it?

More and more I think trying to contain China is a mistake, but more and more I think it is likely.


Etzioni nails it on China’s (and Asia’s generally) near -obsession with sovereignty. Asia is Hegelian (today, even if it wasn’t until recently).

More on why the drone war should give everyone pause. I worried about this earlier.

Honestly, it is about time someone said this.

 Bases in Australia now too…

I want America’s globocop role to decline to find money for domestic needs too, but if this is probably too far…

Sketching Chinese hegemony to an American audience. Walt’s response.

The US deployment in Australia as incipient China containment? (Last year I argued that containment of China is pretty likely.)

A good antidote on the China hype. More and more I read about the build-up of internal problems in China (demographic, ecological, representational) that are papered over by super-growth. But one day there will be a reckoning, and an early China peak, more than any US turn-around, may save US hegemony in Asia.

The longer I live in Asia, the more I think US-led containment of China is both a mistake and inevitable.

These tragedies are far too common for a ‘benevolent hegemon,’ and should give every hawkish neocon ‘national greatness’ commentator pause.

Going dovish on China, and more and more, I agree.

A fundamental statement of American values in the Asia-Pacific from the Obama White House. Good stuff.

I probably whine too much that the US is slipping toward empire, so here is a nice reminder of why we AREN’T an empire in the traditional way. When we are told to go, we go. Americans should be proud of that respect for other states’ choices, but I am sure there are GOP presidential candidates who would say we should ram it down the Pakistanis throat anyway.


I increasingly argue on this website that the US should probably retrench, at least for awhile, because we’re so overstretched and broke. Here’s nice piece on that without all the hysteria that that means isolationism, the abandonment of allies, the breaking of US national security, etc.

This guy clearly has no idea what he’s talking about…

More on how we are over-hyping China. I am starting to buy into this stuff. For awhile on this site, I have been arguing that America is slipping and that we need to retrench a bit. But increasingly I read expert commentary that argues that China’s own rise is slow. This reminds me of Ned Lebow’s argument that the end of the Cold War was a race of who declined the least fast (ie, the USSR declined faster than the US, so the US ‘won’). If China’s rise is slowing, this bails-out US hegemony (in relative terms) by reducing the pressure of rising challenger. Maybe US hegemony will have a longer life in Asia after all…

US torture isn’t even an open secret anymore; it’s just a fact.

I lamented US citizen Awlaki’s extrajudicial killing by the US and had some sympathy for his father. Yet it turns that dad is nut-job islamist too. ugh. I find this crushing, as it will clearly justify the killing to many and makes it yet hardly to maintain rule of law in the GWoT.

Tough questions for those who want USFK to stay in Korea. Money quote: “the Roh Moo-hyun government insisted that American forces based in the ROK could not be used elsewhere in the region without its consent.” A similar rant.

How can America’s presence in Asia be less militarized?

This is most important finding to come from international relations academic discipline since the democratic peace idea of the 1990s. Read this.

My own take on Kim Jong Il’s death; vastly more important though is the Juche-Funk

Read this and this, and then tell me the GWoT hasn’t gone way too far.

And finally, a bit of humor for your break:

h/t to Jon Western at Duck of Minerva

1 thought on “Taking a Break for Xmas – Back in Jan – Some ‘Best of 2011’ Asia Reading

  1. Pingback: Going to IQMR – Some Summer Asian Security Reading – Back in August | Robert Kelly — Asian Security Blog

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