Monday Briefing | March 12


Reuters journalist Wa Lone gives a “thumbs up” as he is escorted by Myanmar police upon arrival at the court for their trial Thursday, Feb 1, 2018, outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar. (AP/Thein Zaw)

Stories to Follow

Trump Accepts Invitation to Meet Kim Jong-un: This week, President Trump accepted an invitation to meet with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. White House Press Secretary Sanders walked back this announcement to include a series of “concrete and verifiable” preconditions that North Korea would be required to meet prior to any summit. Secretary of State Tillerson, who is currently conducting a diplomatic tour through Africa, is reported as being “relatively removed from the situation.” Former nominee to the still-vacant position of U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, Victor Cha, identified two paths that a potential summit might take: granting economic aid and lifting sanctions in exchange for a freeze in, and eventual dismantlement of, North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs; or, diplomatic normalization and an official peace treaty to end the Korean War in exchange for denuclearization. 

Unbalanced U.S. Security and Economic Interests in the Asia-Pacific: The USS Carl Vinson strike group made a weeklong port call to the city of Da Nang, Vietnam—the first air craft carrier to do so since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. The visit is illustrative of growing U.S-Vietnam security ties in the face of a more assertive China, especially regarding Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea. It is important to note, however, that Vietnam pursues a “multi-directional” foreign policy based on three no’s: “no foreign troops on Vietnamese soil, no allying with one country to counter another, and no military alliances with foreign powers.” This visit comes as a revived Trans-Pacific Partnership—rechristened the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)—and signed by 11 nations and without the U.S. Instead, the Trump administration has taken aim at global free-trade frameworks by imposing new tariffs on steel and aluminum and criticized deals such as NAFTA and the U.S.-Korea FTA.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo Still Imprisoned: On December 12, 2017, Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested in Yangon, Myanmar during a meeting with police. They were charged under a colonial-era statute, the Official Secrets Act. While the Myanmar Ministry of Information states the reporters “illegally acquired information with the intention to share it with foreign media,” the truth is that the two were arrested for uncovering and reporting on the massacre of 10 Rohingya men in Rakhine State by government troops. For this story they face up to 14 years in prison. While being transported to court, Wa Lone stated to the media, “We journalists will find the truth, even though they’re sending us to prison.” Since August, nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar to neighboring Bangladesh to escape what Secretary of State Tillerson has described as a campaign of  “ethnic cleansing.”

Happening This Week

We hope everyone has a relaxing Spring Break! Here are some upcoming events for next week and for when you return:

The Return of Marco Polo’s World: War Strategy and American Interests in the Twenty-first Century | Wednesday, Mar 14, 8 AM-9:15 AM, Merrill House, 170 East 64th Street
In the late thirteenth century, Marco Polo began a decades-long trek from Venice to China. Now, in the early twenty-first century, the Chinese regime has proposed a land-and-maritime Silk Road that duplicates exactly the route Marco Polo traveled and is changing America’s ability to influence the power balance in the region. What are the principles that should shape America’s role in a turbulent world? RSVP information may be found here.

Diplomacy: A Gendered Institution? | Monday, Mar 19, 12:30 PM-3 PM, GCASL, Room 375, New York University
Helena Mølgaard Hansen manages Denmark’s relations with the multilateral institutions in Washington, DC as Development Policy Advisor in the Department for Foreign Security and Development Policy at the Royal Danish Embassy. In addition to foreign aid and foreign policy matters, she also engages with the US administration on matters pertaining to gender equality and women’s empowerment as the gender focal point at the Embassy. Please note that space is limited for this event and is open to MA in IR students only. RSVP information may be found here.

Rohingya Crisis: Human Rights and the International Community | Wednesday, Mar 28, 5 PM-8 PM, CUNY School of Law, 2 Court Square Long Island City, Queens
The Rohingya have been called the “world’s most persecuted minority”. Officially, Myanmar’s government does not recognize the Rohingya as lawful citizens. Since August 25, 2017 over half a million Rohingya have fled to neighboring Bangladesh to escape killings, arson, and other mass atrocities. Human Rights Watch has accused the Burmese security forces of carrying out a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State. The conference will feature several speakers who will discuss the plight of Rohingya, international community’s responsibility and the application of international law to address the crisis. RSVP information may be found here.

In Your Free Time

David Bowie is presents approximately 400 objects drawn primarily from the David Bowie Archive, including the artist’s original costumes, handwritten lyric sheets from famous songs, original album art, photographs, and videos, all tracing Bowie’s creative process from his teenage years in England through his last twenty years, when he resided in New York City. The archive is presented within an immersive, multimedia installation that includes continuous audio along with projected animation and video. More information about this exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum may be found here.

This week’s Monday Briefing is brought to you by Andrew Keough.


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