What might Trump mean for the Korean Peninsula?

Post by Rebecca Story, Research Intern at ICSA

Whilst President-elect Donald Trump’s plans for East Asia are still largely unknown, his lack of foreign-policy experience and  intentions to renegotiate trade and defence deals have led some to suggest that his presidency may contribute to destabilisation across the region, and particularly on the Korean Peninsula. Negative consequences for the Republic of Korea’s (ROK) economy, uncertainty over defence and heightened tensions with regards to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) are all possible features of the ROK’s post-Trump future.

During his election campaign, Trump asserted that he would decrease US defence spending in the ROK and demand a greater ROK contribution to the shared costs of defence against the DPRK threat. With the cost-sharing agreement between the ROK and the US up for renegotiation in 2017, these remarks raise concerns that a Trump presidency will lead to a weakening of the alliance between the two countries and exacerbate instability on the Korean Peninsula. Continue reading

Japan Shows off its Diplomatic Muscle

Post by David Cosolo, Research Intern at ICSA

With a rapidly changing regional context and increasing tension from neighbouring states, Japan’s foreign affairs plate is very full. In the last seven months, North Korean nuclear tests, incursions into territorial water by Chinese vessels, and planned construction of Russian military bases in the disputed Northern Territories, are just a sample of the activities undertaken by regional actors in East Asia. Japan has approached these arguably aggressive activities, and subsequent perceived rise in tension, by showing off its muscle. Not the traditional military kind, but rather an unprecedented display, in Japanese terms, of diplomatic soft power. Continue reading

The Great Game, still: Russia matters to the US, and its presence in Pyongyang reminds Washington just how much

Post by Matthew Conway, Research Intern

Russia and North Korea made headlines earlier this year when they declared 2015 a ‘year of friendship’. With Western sanctions over the Ukraine conflict biting in Moscow, Russia is increasingly isolated from Europe and the OECD. Hermetic North Korea for its part is increasingly eschewed by China, hitherto its only ally. Given their isolation, both are seeking to diversify their international relationships for political and economic reasons.

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A New Form of Warfare? Implications of the Cyber Attack on Sony

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‘I fear I’ve let you all down. Not my intention. I apologize,’ lamented George Clooney in an email released to the public as part of a massive cyber-attack on Sony. ‘I’ve just lost touch. Who knew?’

While the attack caused a stir in the entertainment industry, it also has significant implications for the cyber-security landscape. Groups such as Anonymous have long been hacking government agencies, media companies and other targets of their choosing, but the Sony attack is notable for having reportedly been carried out by a state. This poses questions about the capacities of various states to launch attacks over cyberspace, as well as regarding issues of retaliation, proportionality and the absence of rules of engagement. Continue reading