US Opinion and Commentary

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New Policy Toward North Korea Urgently Needed

Posted February 21st, 2017 at 10:51 am (UTC-4)
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By Barbara Slavin While the Trump administration has focused on perceived threats from Muslim and Latin American immigrants, a more serious challenge for United States policymakers is North Korea’s advancing missile and nuclear programs. On February 12, the North Koreans fired what experts said was an intermediate-range ballistic missile known as the Musudan.  It flew […]

Some Not-Worse-Case Scenarios for 2017

Posted December 27th, 2016 at 10:14 am (UTC-4)
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By Barbara Slavin At long last, 2016 is almost behind us. For the majority of Americans who voted for Hillary Clinton and for millions beyond our borders, 2017 is filled with apprehension. But in the spirit of a new year, this analyst hopes that Donald Trump will exceed expectations and that those who opposed him […]

Making China Great Again

Posted December 5th, 2016 at 11:05 am (UTC-4)
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By Barbara Slavin Even before he held a provocative phone call with the president of Taiwan on Friday, President-elect Donald Trump espoused policies that, if implemented, will likely strengthen China’s regional and global influence at the expense of the United States. Trump’s apparent insistence on negotiating individual trade treaties as a substitute for the Trans-Pacific […]

Japan’s Shinzo Abe First to Call on Donald Trump

Posted November 17th, 2016 at 4:38 pm (UTC-4)
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Donald Trump’s first meeting as president-elect with a head of state will be closely scrutinized for both style and substance.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took the initiative to be the first to meet with Trump for practical reasons. During the election campaign, Trump criticized Japan for its trade practices and for how much it was paying the U.S. for its defense. Abe wants to understand the level of Trump’s commitment to defend Japan. He wants to, in his words, “build trust” with incoming U.S. president and highlight the importance of strong relations between the countries.

Trump needs to get used to seeing Abe. New rules will allow Abe to run for a third term, which means he will likely lead Japan throughout Trump’s first term. How the two leaders get along will speak volumes about how Trump deals with fellow world leaders — and how they might deal with him.

U.S. Foreign Policy Under Donald Trump

Posted November 16th, 2016 at 4:10 pm (UTC-4)
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Before handing the keys to the White House to Donald Trump, Barack Obama is taking a final, presidential lap around the world.

Obama started his three country trip in the birthplace of democracy, Greece. Then it’s on to Berlin to thank Chancellor Angela Merkel for her support during his term. The pair will also meet with the leaders of Great Britain, France, Italy and Spain. Afterward, Obama flies to Peru for the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

In each stop, American allies, and perhaps some foes, will seek reassurance from Obama about the future under a Trump presidency.

With names like former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, former U.N. ambassador John Bolton, Senate Foreign Relations chairman Bob Corker and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley floated as possible choices for Trump’s Secretary of State, there is no shortage of foreign policy speculation and suggestions.

A Leap into the Void with Trump

Posted November 9th, 2016 at 3:23 pm (UTC-4)
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By Barbara Slavin President Donald Trump. The words, I must admit, stick in my throat and prospect of him as commander in chief for the next four years is frightening. The people of the United States have narrowly voted for a man who campaigned on a platform of xenophobia and isolationism, who says he will […]

The Coming Clash with China over North Korea

Posted November 7th, 2016 at 9:42 am (UTC-4)
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Top Clinton foreign policy advisers have been open about their intention to apply to North Korea a version of the playbook the Obama administration used with Iran….drastically increase sanctions on Pyongyang…considering secondary sanctions on foreign firms…punishing Chinese companies keeping Kim’s nuclear and missile industries afloat.

Is the Philippines Triggering a ‘Duterte Effect’ in ASEAN?

Posted November 3rd, 2016 at 11:13 am (UTC-4)
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[S]uggesting that Duterte’s embrace of China and snubbing of the United States might trigger some sort of domino effect in the region not only fundamentally misunderstands what drives alignments in Southeast Asia, but grossly exaggerates the Philippines’ status within the region and overestimates Duterte’s foreign policy.

Diplomacy’s Aversion to Power: Consequences of Retreat

Posted October 26th, 2016 at 4:03 pm (UTC-4)
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In practice, aversion to the use of power undercuts the effectiveness of diplomacy. It has been said that power without diplomacy is blind, but it is equally true that diplomacy not backed by power is impotent.

Duterte’s Flip-Flop into Bed with China Is a Disaster for the United States

Posted October 21st, 2016 at 2:26 pm (UTC-4)
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The Philippines has seen a vertigo-inducing change in its foreign-policy orientation since Rodrigo Duterte became president this summer. This crude populist is now transforming the Philippines’ relationship with the United States in a fundamental and worrying manner.

The Philippines Is About to Give Up the South China Sea to China

Posted October 17th, 2016 at 12:42 pm (UTC-4)
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Were Aquino’s anointed successor Mar Roxas currently president of the Philippines, it’s likely the nation would now be rallying international diplomatic pressure against China…Instead Duterte, after years of the Philippines building its legal argument and winning, appears set to essentially reverse course and give China Scarborough Shoal after all.

Who Will Remember My Father, Gui Minhai?

Posted October 17th, 2016 at 9:45 am (UTC-4)
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It’s a strange thing to mourn someone who has disappeared. You talk about the person and catch yourself saying that he was, instead of he is….You send email upon email just to say hi but never receive a response….But really, mourning is neither enough, nor allowed, when the Chinese state decides to have a person disappear.

Preparing for North Korea’s Inevitable Collapse

Posted September 21st, 2016 at 10:49 am (UTC-4)
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Crimes against humanity generally cost a regime its legitimacy, if not its sovereignty. And yet most national security professionals would regard the collapse of the North Korean slave state as a calamity. The reason for this is simple: all the nuclear weapons and material.

The Coming Confrontation with North Korea

Posted September 20th, 2016 at 1:52 pm (UTC-4)
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Absent a major intervention, it is only a matter of time before North Korea increases its nuclear arsenal (now estimated at 8-12 devices) and figures out how to miniaturize its weapons for delivery by missiles of increasing range and accuracy.

Can North Korea’s Nuclear Ambitions Be Contained?

Posted September 13th, 2016 at 5:30 pm (UTC-4)
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North Korea’s test of a nuclear bomb last week is again testing the resolve of the United States and the rest of the world.
Despite economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations (approved by China and Russia) in for its nuclear test in January, North Korea has doubled down since then, conducting 20 missile tests and last week’s nuclear test. And it says it now has the capability to mount a nuclear bomb on one of those missiles.
President Barack Obama condemned North Korea’s action and dispatched U.S. bombers to fly over South Korea, near the Demilitarized Zone as a show of force. But White House statements military maneuvers and calls for China to exercise its influence on Pyongyang have been tried before, to no avail.
What more can Obama — and his successor — do to stop what so far has been unstoppable?