The Asia-Pacific Region’s Flashpoints: An Update

Brad Glosserman Executive Director Pacific Forum, CSIS

Brad Glosserman
Executive Director
Pacific Forum, CSIS

Pacific Forum CSIS’s Executive Director, Brad Glosserman, reviews with David Day the key tense and potentially dangerous security Flashpoints that the Asia-Pacific Region now faces.

 

Asia Pacific Region

Asia Pacific Region

The conversation places these Flashpoints in the context of the rising economic dynamism of the Region, the re-focus of the “whole of government and business” into the Region and its need for stability and security. Potential border spillover Flashpoints are considered with (1)  the ethnic violence in Myanmar,(2) the latest developments in the South China Sea disputes (including the possibility of China now dragging Malaysia into the fray, in addition to the Philippines and Vietnam), (3) China’s dispute with Japan over the Senkakus, and (4) the current situation with the enhanced bellicose rhetoric coming out of North Korea.

 

Hosted by David Day

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Vietnam Business Update

Senior U.S. Commercial Counselor Ms. Sara Kemp from the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi joins David Day in an engaging discussion of the current business climate in Vietnam and offers both background and tips for U.S. entrepreneurs looking to get underway in that country.

Sara Kemp Senior U.S. Commercial Counselor, Hanoi

Sara Kemp
Senior U.S. Commercial Counselor, Hanoi

 

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Fall of Saigon: What Did We Accomplish and What have we learned?

April 30, marks the 38th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon and the end of the Vietnam War for the United States. This year is also the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Paris Peace Accords. This program looks at the linkage between these two momentous events and how they impacted American and Vietnamese lives, Southeast Asia, as well as the Cold War.

Gene Castagnetti USMC Col. (Ret.) Director, U.S. Memorial Cemetary of the Pacific

Gene Castagnetti
USMC Col. (Ret.)
Director, U.S. Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific

In this conversation,  former combat USMC (ret) Col. Gene Castagnetti and Stanford’s Nguyen Van Canh examine the background of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam, the impact of the Paris Peace Accords, and then the collapse of the government and country of South Vietnam on April 30, 1975. Wars, like elections, have consequences, and the discussion includes a look at the downside of the U.S. withdrawal and the losses on the South Vietnamese side, the genocide, imprisonment, executions, re-education camps and then the bloodbath in Laos and Cambodia that followed. Both guests talk about the victory in Vietnam that has gone unrecognized and unappreciated as well as a theme of betrayal of our men and women in arms by our own political leadership.

Prof. Nguyen Van Canh Stanford University

Prof. Nguyen Van Canh
Stanford University

 

 

Hosted by David Day

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The Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies: Impacting the Region from Hawaii

The Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies, that collection of buildings next to the Halekoa parking garage in Waikiki and one of Hawaii’s intellectual pillars vis.a.vis Asia.

Lt. General Dan Leaf Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies

Lt. General Dan Leaf
Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies

Hosted by David Day, our special guest is Lt General (USAF ret.) Dan Leaf, Director, Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies in Waikiki.

David Day and Lt General (USAF ret.) Dan Leaf, Director, Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies in Waikiki discuss APCSS, what goes on at this institution, its impact on the Region, and why the Center is important.

The conversation includes an overview of some of the courses and workshops that APCSS undertakes along with its increasing role in the policy of “rebalance” in the Pacific.  Looking to the future direction of APCSS, Lt. Gen. Leaf discusses the initial defense engagement with a representative of the Burmese military at APCSS and his belief that the Center will play an increasing role with the U.S. engagement with Burma. He also talks about the visit of Aung San Suu Kyi to the Center and discusses the important role of women in the field of peace & security. .

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Myanmar and Its Struggle on the Way Ahead

     The dramatic reforms currently underway in Myanmar have grabbed headlines, but it is not yet clear whether progress is real or simply imagined. Western perceptions of the leadership situation in Myanmar are clouded by vested interests and myths that may prove harmful in the long run. Ethnic strife, and religious and political tensions, have been exacerbated by a variety of internal and external forces. The result is continued—and potentially increasing–violence. Conversely, there is reason to be optimistic, and there are bridges between Hawaii and Myanmar that are being built through business, education, and non-governmental organizations.

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In this program, David Day hosts Ms. Paula Helfrich, born and raised as a child in Myanmar, and now again living in that country. Ms. Helfrich comes from a family history of expertise in Burma and Myanmar with her father having served in the country as an OSS officer during WW II and both her parents were invited back by the provisional government following the war to assist in rebuilding the country. Paula was born in Myanmar, lived there the first 17 years of her life, and then returned to live there again in 2009. 

 

Paula Helfrich

Paula Helfrich

 

     Ms. Helfrich engages in a discussion, along with Kerry Gershaneck of Pacific Forum CSIS, concerning the current conditions on the ground in Myanmar, what it is like doing business there, and the attitudes of the Myanmar people towards the United States. The discussion is very frank on the official policy of the United States, insisting on calling Myanmar, “Burma” and the impediment that policy imposes for undertaking legal contracts as well as the distaste that the people have for the use of the wrong name. Ms. Helfrich also addresses the  singular focus of the international media,  the State Department, and U.S. political leaders, on  Daw Aung Sung Suu Kyi to the exclusion of other political leaders within the country. Finally, Ms. Helfrich describes the real impetus behind the shift of the Junta to the path of reform and why it all came together when it did.

Kerry Gershaneck Pacific Forum CSIS

Kerry Gershaneck
Pacific Forum CSIS

     Ms. Helfrich comments critically upon  the “stick and carrot” approach of the United States towards the country, its successes and failures.  Mr. Gershaneck adds important depth to the discussion concerning important history of the Junta’s rise, its arms trading with North Korea, and the drug and human trafficking. Both engage in a discussion about the current U.S. sanctions, the various programs and policies of the U.S. government now  into place to assist Myanmar with the upcoming 2015 elections, the country’s upcoming leadership of ASEAN and the ethnic challenges Myanmar now faces. The conversation concludes with a view of what Myanmar will look like at the coming 5 and 10-year marks.

Hosted by David Day

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Gulf of Tonkin: The Record Set Straight…Finally

 

The Gulf of Tonkin incident in early August of 1964 is a key point in American History. It is the flash of armed conflict that formally brought the United States into the Vietnam War (or, “American War” as the Vietnamese call it) through the passage of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. The actual history of this incident got all entangled in the politics of the time and resulted in a conventional wisdom/urban myth (check out the Wikipedia version here)  which is 180 degrees from the actual facts.

 

In this program, Admiral Lloyd “Joe” Vasey, who investigated the incident contemporaneously, now sets the record straight. Interviewed by David Day, this is the very same Admiral Vasey that served as a junior officer to John McCain, Sr (Senator McCain’s father) during WW II and is the founder of the distinguished foreign policy thinktank in the Asia-Pacific Region, Pacific Forum, CSIS.

At the time this program was recorded, Admiral Vasey was 95 years old.

 

There were 2 U.S. destroyers involved in the Gulf of Tonkin incident. The first, the USS Maddox was fired upon on August 2, 1964. There was no dispute that the Maddox was engaged on August 2. There was a bullet hole in the ship to prove it. Because the Maddox carried sensitive and classified electronic equipment onboard, the USS Turner Joy was immediately dispatched to defend the Maddox and got between the Maddox and the incoming North Vietnamese patrol craft as its “shield.” It is the August 4 attacks on the Turner Joy that have been disputed by history.  Admiral Vasey corrects the twisted history here.

 

Admiral Vasey wrote an extensive article in the August, 2010 issue of Proceedings, published by the U.S. Naval Institute, Annapolis, Maryland and reprints can be ordered here.

Admiral Vasey was Chief of Staff for Commander Seventh Fleet. Subsequently, he commanded a fleet of destroyers, was Secretary to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and chief strategist for CINCPAC. He served as a submarine officer in the invasion of North Africa and then in the Pacific through World War II.

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Assisting American Business in Asia

An in-depth interview with Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Asia, Craig Allen. Hosted for Hawaii statewide television by David Day, this program explores the role of the the U.S. Department of Commerce in facilitating American business in Asian markets.

The show covers the significance of exports, initiatives for tourism, special business opportunities that are coming, the significance of the U.S. Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) and its impact upon the U.S. and Hawaii, in particular. Interestingly, the conversation also turns to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and special issues involving trade between the U.S. and China.

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“Mediating in Zones of Terror” – Part 2: Following the Cold War and 9/11, the Destabilizing Efforts of China in the Region

In Part 2 of this Hawaii television show,  David Day again interviews the successful international peace mediator between the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the U.S. Military, and both the radical and moderate Muslim groups in the Southern Islands of the Philippines, Mr. Al Santoli.

Mr. Santoli is the CEO of Asia America Initiative, a non-profit NGO headquartered in Washington D. C. but which now boasts over 1000 volunteers in the Philippines.

 

In this Episode 2 of a 2-part series, Mr. Al Santoli, describes the component pieces or building blocks of his own fascinating experiences from the Vietnam war to broader challenges in  Southeast Asia to Afghanistan–all working with tribal peoples during the Cold War. He describes the recent historical roots of terrorism over the past few decades that the United States has had to deal with. These experiences and building blocks have been integral in the development of the unique, multi-generational counter-insurgency strategy that his foundation is now successfully conducting in the radical Muslim islands of the Southern Philippines.

The conversation also includes a stunning disclosure of the destabilizing efforts of China in these southern islands, including potential economic warfare.

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