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2015: A World Confused

 

Norms and even basic tenets of international behavior have been scattered left and right in recent years: the annexation of Crimea by Vladimir Putin’s little green men and his stealth invasion of Ukraine by Russian soldiers “on vacation” with their tanks; the Islamic State’s combination of medieval mores and modern capabilities to govern as well as fight; China’s on-again, off-again provocations in the East and South China Seas; and, in Syria, the ruin of a recently functional state with the world unable to stop the human and physical destruction.

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Land Reclamation: A South China Sea Game Changer

 

It is widely reported that China is conducting land reclamation on six of its seven occupied features in the Spratlys in the South China Sea, transforming the submerged reefs and rocks into full-pledged islands with airstrips, harbors and other military and civilian structures. Once reclamation works are completed, Fiery Cross Reef alone will be at least two square kilometres in size – as large as all other islands in the Spratlys are combined.

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The Defense Authorization Act And China’s Maritime Moves

 

In a sign of growing congressional concern about China’s increased assertiveness in the South and East China seas, Congress has included a provision in the draft fiscal year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act requiring the Department of Defense to report to key congressional committees an assessment of China’s moves to affect the current state of affairs in these disputed seas.

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Leaders in Glass Countries Shouldn’t Throw Stones

 

Many people probably think the explosive events in Ferguson, Missouri, are a purely domestic issue and have nothing to do with American foreign policy or the U.S. position in the world. That position is understandable, insofar as these events are first and foremost about race relations inside the United States itself, which are largely a product of America’s particular history.

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Trade Agreement Showdown at the APEC Meeting in Beijing: What Can We Expect?

 

The race is on between the United States and China to dominate the rules-setting game for trade by being the first to be able to announce plans for a free trade area in the Pacific Rim. China hopes to use its position as this year’s chair of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum to propose a feasibility study on a Free Trade Agreement for the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), first mooted in 2006. In other words, negotiations towards an FTAAP would commence, for all practical purposes.

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