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North Korea: Dissent or Wishful Thinking?

FT: China reveals its weakness in a dispute with Japan. TIME: Animosities in Asia may hamper growth. WSJ: China sends the US a message through poultry.

China reveals its weakness in dispute with Japan

Jonathan Holslag, a research fellow at the Brussels Institute of Contemporary Studies, writes in the Financial Times that China’s assertiveness regarding Japan is an expression of weakness and shows that economic needs cause territorial clashes.

QUOTE: We have seen outbursts of assertiveness before, but this episode is the product of a bottleneck in China’s domestic transition, which, if not managed well, could lead to a return of destabilizing patriotism.

North Koreans want a new start

Author Bradley K. Martin writes in GlobalPost that Kim Jong Il’s son will have the difficult task of convincing North Koreans to embrace another generation of his family. Martin argues that North Koreans want a new start and perhaps even a change to a market economy.

QUOTE: What has not appeared to date is any evidence that the young man would turn the regime around, taking the Deng Xiaoping role of reforming and opening the economy.

Animosities in Asia may hamper growth

Correspondent Michael Schuman writes in TIME that the biggest threat to Asian nations’ upward climb may be their historic animosities and simmering tensions. Countries often view their neighbors as competitors rather than opportunities.

QUOTE: Lurking just beneath the surface in Asia is mutual distrust, fostered by both recent and historical events, which can potentially temper the economic cooperation necessary to Asia's future.

China sends the US a message through poultry

An editorial in the Wall Street Journal argues that China is using a dispute over US poultry to send the Obama administration a message that it will not accept its protectionist trade policies without responding. The editorial argues that all parties will lose if a full-blown trade war transpires.

QUOTE: In the face of mounting American protectionism, Beijing simply couldn't say no to its own domestic lobby anymore.

After decades of war, tension persists in Sri Lanka

Ross Tuttle, a freelance journalist and documentary producer based in New York City, writes in Foreign Policy that despite the end of civil war in Sri Lanka, the lack of a political resolution leaves much of the country in a constant state of tension.

QUOTE: Most Tamils were never party to the armed conflict against the Sri Lankan state, but many are still dissatisfied by the post-bellum political status quo; they nurse longstanding grievances against the government in Colombo for its lack of respect and recognition of their language and culture.

China and India are on the brink of an arms race

Tim Sullivan, a research fellow and program manager at the American Enterprise Institute's Center for Defense Studies, and Michael Mazza, a senior research associate at AEI, write in the Wall Street Journal that despite conventional wisdom nuclear competition is more likely to intensify between India and China than India and Pakistan.

QUOTE: While each profits from the other's economic growth, it is that very growth—which finances military modernization and which is so dependent on potentially vulnerable overseas trade—that creates the conditions for heightened insecurity.

Congressional Democrats lack courage and conviction

An editorial in the New York Times argues that Congressional Democrats have shown a lack of courage and conviction in how they have handled the Bush tax cuts. It argues that they have shown they care more about getting reelected and protecting the nation’s richest than doing their job and helping vulnerable Americans.

QUOTE: This was about Democrats failing to seize an opportunity to do the right thing and at the same time draw a sharp distinction between themselves and the Republicans.

Israel could not comply with Obama’s settlement demand

Columnist Richard Cohen writes in the Washington Post that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had no choice but to end a moratorium on settlement construction. Had he continued it, Cohen argues, his government would have collapsed. He writes that President Obama was wrong to insist on this as a requirement for peace talks.

QUOTE: Given the highly emotional nature of the settlement issue, it made no sense for the administration -- actually, President Obama himself -- to promote an absolute moratorium on construction as the prerequisite for peace talks.

Dissent in North Korea or wishful thinking?

Journalist Sunny Lee writes in the Asia Times that there is a high chance that North Korea will see a struggle as it transitions leaders. In addition to the possibility of a power struggle between members of the Kim family, local media have reported on dissent among North Koreans with continuing the Kim family dynasty.

QUOTE: Analysts believe the raft of pessimistic media reports of a power struggle and instability reflect the upsurge of interest on the world's most reclusive country on the eve of its rare event and also importantly a reflection of their wishful thinking.

Miliband may be stuck in the corner of permanent opposition

Columnist Philip Stephens writes in the Financial Times that the new leader of the British Labour Party, Ed Miliband, is better poised to be an opposition leader than a future prime minister. For example, he can attack the government’s spending cuts but does not have the courage to make his own tough decisions.

QUOTE: Mr Miliband is an intelligent politician. Doubtless his first conference speech on Tuesday will be peppered with pledges to reclaim the centre ground and to produce a sensible plan to cut the deficit. He carries, though, the burden of a campaign that painted him into the corner of permanent opposition. Capitalism may yet claim another political victim.