PacNet #32 – Scholarships in the Pacific Islands are an urgent US national security issue

The April 2022 China-Solomon Islands security agreement has brought the Pacific Islands back into strategic focus for the United States. But far less attention has been dedicated to an area in the Pacific with huge national security implications, and where the United States lags far behind China: scholarships.

As of 2018, China’s government had awarded 1,371 scholarships to students from China’s Pacific partners (Cook Islands, Fiji, Micronesia, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga, and Vanuatu). China allocates a total of 20-30 scholarships for each of these countries annually (conservatively, around 160 scholarships each year, pre-COVID). This is China’s largest scholarship program in the Pacific, but there’s also the China-Pacific Island Forum (PIF) scholarship, which has provided around 20 full scholarships annually since 2017 (and 10 annually before then), plus scholarships provided by Chinese companies like Huawei and China Harbor Engineering Company.

In the United States, a number of programs bring Pacific Islanders to the United States for vocational training: Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS) programs offers training to security and civilian officials, the Pacific Islands Training Initiative focuses on financial management and program performance practices, and there is also the Pacific Islands Leadership Program. However, the only fully funded government scholarship program specifically for Pacific Islanders to study in the United States is the US South Pacific Scholarship. The USSP has been running since 1995, funding 93 Pacific Island scholars total to study in the United States. This past year, there were only three USSP awardees, compared to approximately 160 yearly scholarships awarded to Pacific Islanders by China pre-COVID.

The more Pacific Islanders study at Chinese institutions, the more sympathetic they will be to China when voting in an election or making policy decisions, and at least some of those scholars will ascend to positions of leadership in their country.

How could it be otherwise, given that China will have supported their educational and professional development, and they will have spent several years living there and making personal connections? (Granted, not all Chinese scholarships facilitate this, as some separate Pacific Islander students from Chinese students.) This is how China has built an alumni network in the Pacific Islands orders of magnitude larger than the United States, and if trends continue at their current rate, this “sympathy gap” will only grow wider.

Pacific Islanders do not want to study in China more than in the United States. For the 2021 USSP scholarship, over 300 applicants—more than the yearly total of scholarships that China offers—competed for just three slots. Pacific Islanders want educational, training, and development opportunities in the United States, but there aren’t enough pathways. So, many turn to China instead.

More US scholarships for Pacific Islanders would help the United States exert soft power in the region by, in the words of Joseph Nye, “getting other countries to want what [the United States] wants.” It would also be a way for the United States to invest in the future of the Pacific Islands. If Pacific Islanders can rely on the United States for critical short-term development needs, accepting deals from China will likely be less appealing, especially given the stringent conditions Beijing often attaches to such deals. The need for development assistance, particularly when it comes to climate change, puts many Pacific Island nations in a position where they may have to accept a deal that compromises their sovereignty.

Of course, other US allies in the region, such as New Zealand and Australia, offer plenty of scholarships for Pacific Islanders to help offset the lack of opportunities in the United States. But China has begun to step up its scholarship and vocational training plans in the Pacific. A recent deal includes adding over 2,500 scholarships in the next five years. Not only that, barring COVID restrictions, China hopes to start a new training program for young Pacific Island diplomats this year as part of a capacity-building plan, including seminars on Chinese governance. This should sound alarm bells in the US government. Equally worrying, China has offered scholarships to Pacific Islands military officers too, giving, for instance, a Fijian Naval officer a four-year scholarship to a Chinese University in 2018.

The United States should increase the number of—and funding for—Pacific Islands scholarship and training programs. Whether that means scaling up existing programs or creating new pathways, doing so is in the United States’ national security interests. It is also a win-win for both the United States and the Pacific Islands. The United States can challenge China’s expansion into the Pacific Islands, and the Pacific Islands can receive more of the education and training necessary to build up their local communities. Although the sweeping trade and security deal China proposed with 10 Pacific Island nations faltered in May, providing more scholarship and training programs for the Pacific will remove any temptation for such deals in the future.

Kimery Lynch (kimeryslynch@gmail.com) is a Projects Coordinator at the East-West Center in Washington DC.

PacNet commentaries and responses represent the views of the respective authors. Alternative viewpoints are always welcomed and encouraged.

PacNet #31 – Should the United States acknowledge mutual vulnerability with China?

The United States and China have never engaged in formal in-depth discussions about nuclear weapons. They have only discussed these issues at the track-2 and track-1.5 levels, i.e., unofficially. Still, during these discussions, Chinese strategists always urged the United States to acknowledge that it is in a mutually vulnerable relationship with China.

The argument Chinese analysts make is that China has a much smaller nuclear arsenal than the United States’ and its modernization program is not intended to attain parity, so a US “vulnerability acknowledgement” would alleviate concerns that Washington aims for “absolute security,” i.e., the ability to negate Beijing’s second-strike capability. They add that such an acknowledgement would create the conditions for stability and thus facilitate an official nuclear dialogue.

Several US analysts have explained that US-China mutual vulnerability is a “fact of life,” despite the asymmetry of nuclear forces. The United States, however, has been reluctant to confirm it, fearing, in part, that doing so might lead Beijing to becoming more aggressive at the conventional and sub-conventional levels, notably in its neighborhood and against US allies.

Should the United States acknowledge mutual vulnerability with China?

The study “US China Mutual Vulnerability—Perspectives on the Debate” recently published in Pacific Forum’s Issues & Insights series addresses that question. Its goal is not to give a yes-or-no answer but to provide a comprehensive examination of the issue to understand the pros and cons of the various policy options.

Relying on contributions by analysts, including former practitioners, from the United States, US allies, and China, the study explores lessons from the Cold War, i.e., if and how the US-Soviet (and then US-Russia) experience is instructive for US-China relations today. It also unpacks the benefits, costs, and risks of the United States acknowledging mutual vulnerability with China. Moreover, it looks at the requirements for the United States to make such an acknowledgement, what Washington should try to get in exchange, and, assuming a decision has been made to do so, what that acknowledgement should say and how it should be made. The study offers the perspectives of analysts from three key US regional allies—Japan, South Korea, and Australia—as well as China.

Four findings stand out from the study:

First, at the most general level, the study confirms that mutual vulnerability is a fundamental question in strategic nuclear relations, especially between major powers. It was the foundation upon which the United States and the Soviet Union organized and managed their strategic relations during the Cold War, and it is a key foundation for US-Russia strategic relations today. So, it is not surprising that mutual vulnerability features prominently in the US-China context today. This issue is here to stay.

Second, and paradoxically, the mutual vulnerability question is often misunderstood. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, a historical review reveals that acknowledging mutual vulnerability is far from straightforward and it is no guarantee of greater stability between its parties, even though it can sometimes help set the stage for, and then facilitate, arms control agreements.

Third, the mutual vulnerability question is not settled in the US-China context, and it is unlikely to be settled soon. US analysts disagree about the value and utility of a US vulnerability acknowledgement. Analysts from allied countries see potential upsides if it strengthened US-China strategic stability, but they worry that the costs and risks might be prohibitive. Aside from “strategic” disagreements and concerns, the deterioration of US-China and US-Russia relations makes it unlikely that the United States will find the political will and capital to opt for such an acknowledgement. Opting for superiority or dominance over China, meanwhile, is unlikely as well because the costs would be astronomical (and the prospects for success bleak).

Fourth, and despite this conclusion, exploring the benefits, costs, and risks of opting for or rejecting mutual vulnerability with China is useful because it forces US analysts to reflect on the type of strategic nuclear relationship that Washington should pursue (and can have) with Beijing. Because it is so fundamental, even if analysts draw very different–and sometimes polar opposite–conclusions, asking the mutual vulnerability question compels the United States to identify, and distinguish between, the realm of the desirable and that of the possible to deal with nuclear China.

What insights can be teased out from these findings?

The first is that states reluctantly acknowledge, let alone accept, that they are mutually vulnerable. Even when they do, they often try to escape that situation either because they worry about new technological developments that will checkmate them, or because they fear that the other party (or parties) might cheat on their commitments not to seek superiority or dominance over them. There is no reason to think that it would be different in the US-China context, especially given that the relationship extends far beyond the sole “strategic nuclear” dimension.

The second insight is that while it is unlikely to be settled any time soon, the mutual vulnerability question will haunt US-China strategic relations and probably gain increasing salience because China’s military power is rising fast. Washington, then, should be clear-eyed about its options: it can embrace mutual vulnerability; reject it and do everything it can to try and escape it; or maintain its current approach, i.e., decide not to decide. Each of these options presents important benefits, costs, and risks; none provides a silver bullet.

The third insight is that the rationale for choosing or rejecting mutual vulnerability is as important as the manner it is made and conveyed. Paying attention to the ways and means, then, is critical. Either way, expectations should be low in the short term: the road after choosing or rejecting mutual vulnerability will be the start of a long process, not the end. The United States should expect questions about why and how to maintain its chosen course of action to remain active.

The fourth insight is that balancing US policy between China and its allies will be challenging regardless of whether the United States chooses or rejects mutual vulnerability. In all circumstances, however, the United States should consult with its allies before deciding its course of action to ensure there is (sufficient) agreement. Doing so will help reduce anxieties and increase the odds that allied capitals will assist when and if they are needed to implement the decision.

The fifth and final insight is that the United States should not lose sight of the bigger picture. Because US-China strategic relations are evolving in an era of nuclear multipolarity, a decision to choose or reject mutual vulnerability will have knock-on effects. At the most general level, acknowledging mutual vulnerability would signal that there is a pathway to nuclear diplomacy, whereas rejecting it (even de facto) would suggest that the focus is more squarely on nuclear deterrence. Other states, notably Russia or North Korea, will notice and possibly adapt their policy and posture.

In a recent speech at the George Washington University, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called China “the most serious long-term challenge to the international order,” adding that it is “one of the most complex and consequential relationships of any that we have in the world today.” Dealing with the mutual vulnerability question, over nuclear weapons and beyond, is at the very center of this problem.

David Santoro (david@pacforum.org) is President and CEO of the Pacific Forum. He is the editor of US-China Nuclear Relations – The Impact of Strategic Triangles (Lynne Rienner, May 2021). Follow him on Twitter @DavidSantoro1.

PacNet commentaries and responses represent the views of the respective authors. Alternative viewpoints are always welcomed and encouraged.

Issues & Insights Vol. 22, SR2 – US-China Mutual Vulnerability: Perspectives on the Debate

About

The study US-China Mutual Vulnerability: Perspectives on the Debate analyzes the mutual vulnerability question in US-China strategic nuclear relations. It asks whether the United States should acknowledge mutual vulnerability with China and, if so, how and under what conditions it should do so. The goal is not to give a yes-or-no answer but to provide a comprehensive examination of the issue to better understand the benefits, costs, and risks associated with various options. The study includes chapters by US, Japanese, South Korean, Australian, and Chinese scholars.

Download the full volume here.


Table of Contents

Introduction: The Mutual Vulnerability Question in US-China Strategic Nuclear Relations
David Santoro

Chapter 1 | Ambiguous Acknowledgement: Mutual Vulnerability during the Cold War and Options for US-China Relations
Heather Williams

Chapter 2 | Rethinking Mutual Vulnerability in an Era of US-China Strategic Competition
Brad Roberts

Chapter 3 | Questioning the Assumptions of Declaring Mutual Vulnerability with China
Matthew R. Costlow

Chapter 4 | If the United States Acknowledges Mutual Vulnerability with China, How Does it Do It–and Get Something?
Lewis A. Dunn

Chapter 5: US-China Mutual Vulnerability: A Japanese Perspective
Masashi Murano

Chapter 6: US-China Mutual Vulnerability: A South Korean Perspective
Seong-ho Sheen

Chapter 7: Actors, Orders, and Outcomes: Distilling an Australian Perspective on a US-China Acknowledgement of Mutual Vulnerability
Rod Lyon

Chapter 8: Why the United States Should Discuss Mutual Nuclear Vulnerability with China
Tong Zhao

Conclusions: The Future of Mutual Vulnerability in US-China Strategic Nuclear Relations
David Santoro

PacNet #27 – What Yoon Suk Yeol’s election means for minority rights in South Korea

Yoon Suk Yeol’s election generated two different kinds of responses: one marked by self-congratulation and another by resignation. Those who subscribed to the former saw the peaceful transfer of power, evident in Yoon’s opponent Lee Jae-myung’s swift concession, as a sign of the country’s democratic health. Those who fell in the latter category found much to be dismayed by Yoon’s victory and the Trumpian politics he symbolized.

Both views contain truths. South Korea did not suffer the kind of contentious aftermath that one saw, for instance, in the United States following the 2016 election. Yet Yoon’s campaign—though perfectly legal—capitalized on the country’s uglier impulses. If this election suggested resilience of South Korea’s democratic institutions, it also revealed the limitations of its democratic culture.

This “democratic ceiling” has important implications for how the country under Yoon’s leadership might treat its under-represented populations, including women and other social minorities. Yoon’s callousness—even if merely rhetorical at this point—is dangerous, because it can fuel a culture of neglect that undercuts the institutional maturity of South Korea’s nascent anti-discrimination regime.

A democratic ceiling

Discrimination against women in South Korea has continued in spite of institutional protections, which suggests problems of enforcement rather than provision. From the Sexual Equality Employment Act (1987), Women’s Development Act (1995), to the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Protection of Victim Act (1997), South Korea has advanced legal mechanisms to promote and protect gender equality. Yet, these laws have had limited impact in ensuring equal treatment of women at work, on which South Korea ranks the lowest among OECD countries; closing gender pay gaps, of which South Korea maintains a striking 31.5%; and curtailing gender-based violence, on which South Korean courts have remained notoriously lenient. Cultural barriers—from the victim’s stigma to the double standards of law enforcement—have undermined institutional mechanisms for addressing gender inequity.

Even so, Yoon has repeatedly stated that structural discrimination based on gender does not exist in South Korea. During the campaign, he made a controversial promise to abolish the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, tasked with tackling gendered inequities mentioned above; instead, he accused the officials of treating men as “potential sex criminals.” At the same time, Yoon blamed feminism for the country’s low birth rates, claiming that it “prevents healthy relations between men and women.” Such misogynistic narratives bode ill for a much-needed policy reappraisal on the social and economic status of women in South Korean society.

The situation is even more bleak when it comes to members of the LGBTQ community and migrant workers, for whom there are fewer institutional protections. Besides the Military Criminal Act (1962), which outlaws sexual acts among soldiers regardless of consent, Yoon’s stance on LGBTQ rights has been one of willful silence. Meanwhile, despite the provisions of the Multicultural Families Support Act (2008), migrant workers and their families have little to no concrete recourse when faced with discriminatory treatment. Migrant women—especially foreign-born brides who come to South Korea through brokered marriages—have suffered greatly as a result, with limited social networks and access to redress.

In this context, Yoon’s rhetoric may also impede efforts to further institutionalize anti-discrimination initiatives. So far, he has made only ambiguous commitments to recognizing the right to choose sexual orientation, citing the “social impact” of “denying biologically assigned genders.” Tactless comments can be also found about migrant workers; in one social media post, Yoon pledged to “resolve the issue of foreigners laying their spoon on a dinner table set by Koreans.” These queer-intolerant and ethno-nationalist narratives may exacerbate demands for more exclusive policies among his socially conservative constituents.

To be fair, Yoon has not been dismissive of all minority rights issues. He has made a welcome pledge to implement the North Korean Human Rights Act (2016), which would advance the livelihoods of North Korean refugees. The law seeks, among other things, to secure the safety of defectors and support South Korean civil society organizations working to raise awareness of human rights conditions in the North. Both courses of action could have direct and indirect impacts on the welfare of North Korean refugees in their journey to, and resettlement in, South Korea.

Yet, selective efforts to advance defector rights—disconnected from a broader anti-discrimination agenda—may generate charges of hypocrisy. The plight of North Korean refugees has been the subject of growing policy incoherence as it became increasingly politicized of late. Sadly, as long as it remains a tool of partisan politicking, progress on North Korean refugee policy will likely be superficial and transitory.

A policy reversal?

It is unclear to what extent Yoon’s narratives will bind him to exclusionary policies in practice. What appears more certain is that these narratives have awakened and mobilized previously silent forces that do support such policies and will want Yoon to keep his promises. Unless he is willing to make a dramatic policy reversal—apart from his campaign narratives—the future seems inhospitable for the advancement of minority rights in South Korea.

Eun A Jo (ej253@cornell.edu) is Non-resident Korea Foundation Fellow at Pacific Forum and a Ph.D candidate in the Government Department at Cornell University.

PacNet commentaries and responses represent the views of the respective authors. Alternative viewpoints are always welcomed and encouraged.

PacNet #26 – Why South Koreans See Little Difference in Biden’s North Korea Policy

Does the South Korean public see a difference in the American administrations when it comes to North Korea? Our survey data suggests most do not.

Each US president since Bill Clinton has tried to convince North Korea to end its nuclear weapons program, and each has failed. As such, the extent to which the South Korean public sees a difference across administrations is unclear, although previous data found that the public strongly opposed the Trump administration’s demand of a fivefold increase in payments from South Korea toward hosting US troops in the country.

We conducted a national web survey in South Korea on March 11-16, administered by Macromill Emrbain, using quota sampling for age, gender, and geographic region. We asked 1,107 respondents: “Which US administration do you think had a better North Korea policy?”

A clear majority (57.45%) believe that the Trump and Biden administrations were about the same concerning North Korea policy. This option was selected the most across supporters of the two largest parties, the progressive Democratic Party (DP) and conservative People Power Party (PPP), but also the smaller parties (the social democratic Justice Party (JP) and the center-right People’s Party (PP)), as well as those with no party preference. Across all groups, respondents were slightly more likely to have chosen the Biden administration over the Trump administration as having a “better” policy, even though Biden has not publicly said much about North Korea. There was no additional question as to why this was chosen, but respondents could be evaluating Biden’s leadership style or personality traits, or weighing Trump’s demands for South Korea to pay a substantially higher cost share, rather than responding to specific North Korea policy.

We also asked respondents to evaluate, on a five-point scale (“strongly oppose” to “strongly support”) how they feel about the presence of American military bases in South Korea. We found 55.83% of respondents supported the presence, compared to 10.84% in opposition. Views of the two administrations, broken down by opinions on the US troop presence, reveal the same pattern as before: a majority (or at least plurality) say that the Trump and Biden administrations were about the same. However, we also find that those more supportive of the US presence are more likely to pick one administration as better than the other. Why this is the case is unclear, though it may reflect greater attention to the United States or interest in security matters.

The results of our data reflect increasing ambivalence about North Korea among the South Korean public. As with previous survey research, our survey found that less than 10% of respondents thought about North Korea frequently. While missile tests and worsening relations between Seoul and Pyongyang may reengage the public temporarily, continued engagement remains a challenge.

The results potentially have implications for President-Elect Yoon Suk-yeol. Yoon’s policy proposals center around policy alignment with the United States, improving relations with Japan and Southeast Asia, bolstering defenses, and stricter enforcement of the North Korean Human Rights Act. Our data suggests that Yoon’s approach could encounter resistance domestically. The election of Yoon suggests a public that wants a departure from the engagement policies of Moon. Yet, the general lack of attention by the public to North Korea suggests that the public will only reengage on North Korea in light of a major breakthrough or if a crisis occurs, such as a resumption of nuclear tests or a military skirmish that results in South Korean deaths. If this is the case, and the public attributes such inter-Korean tensions to Yoon’s policy, a reengaged public may be less supportive of Yoon.

It is also currently unclear whether South Koreans understand the Biden administration’s policy and how it differs from his predecessor, suggesting the need for a clearer articulation of a North Korea policy by an administration focused on other areas such as Ukraine, inflation, and pandemic recovery. Rather, the public may assess the Biden administration not on policy differences, but as a return to a more predictable leadership style. With a new administration in Seoul, such positive evaluations may not continue, especially in the event of increased tensions or dramatic deterioration of security conditions on the peninsula.

Furthermore, Yoon has signaled support for pre-emptive strikes on North Korea under certain circumstances (e.g. signs that a North Korean missile launch towards South Korea is imminent), and it is unclear whether this, or other measures departing from how past Seoul administrations have handled Pyongyang, would receive support from the Biden administration. Increased public support for South Korea to procure nuclear weapons themselves may undermine efforts at a unified stance on North Korea. More broadly, a Biden administration unable to present a distinct North Korea policy, other than some middle ground between Obama and Trump, provides an opportunity for North Korea to exploit differences between the allies. This may lead to both inconsistent policies on deterrence as well as frustration in the Yoon administration as to its ability to strengthen ties with Washington, further encouraging Seoul to act independently of its alliance partner. The Biden administration should use this opportunity to signal its commitment to the US-ROK alliance via a coordinated response to North Korea, while the Yoon administration may wish to dampen expectations that the South Korean public will identify much of a change out of Washington.

Timothy S. Rich (timothy.rich@wku.edu) is an associate professor of political science at Western Kentucky University and director of the International Public Opinion Lab (IPOL).

Ian Milden (ian.milden650@topper.wku.edu) is a recent graduate from the Master’s in Public Administration program at Western Kentucky University. He previously graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and History from Western Kentucky University.

Mallory Hardesty (mallory.hardesty769@topper.wku.edu) is an honors undergraduate student researcher at Western Kentucky University majoring in History and Political Science.

PacNet commentaries and responses represent the views of the respective authors. Alternative viewpoints are always welcomed and encouraged.

PacNet #23 – May is a major opportunity for US relations with Asia—especially economically

Despite Washington’s understandable focus on the Ukraine war, the United States and key leaders of Asia meet this month and the stakes are high. With timing that now looks skillful, the White House unveiled its Indo-Pacific Strategy 13 days in advance of Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine. But the welcome strategy was missing its key economic component. A subsequent announcement of the IPEF (Indo-Pacific Economic Framework) was an improvement, but contained little detail.

The problem is that key segments of each US political party now abhor trade agreements, whether beneficial or not. This is a serious impediment for the US policy of rebuilding alliances and strengthening partnerships, especially in Southeast Asia. ASEAN members all know well China’s power and influence and each has a significant trade relationship with China. But each worries that China’s economic and military strength may become too great. Most Southeast Asian countries, then, welcome US investment and its political weight balances outlooks and that poses no threat to anyone’s sovereignty. But ASEAN and most countries must not be asked to choose. Doubts about American attitudes remain, as do questions over whether the United States will be present if times become hard. Now Russia’s invasion of Ukraine—through soaring energy and food costs alone—means that geo-politics weighs much more heavily than it did last year.

Washington will seek to prove this month—despite the day-to-day pressures of supporting Ukraine after the Russian attack—that it can concurrently work on all the important issues. In mid-May, President Biden and his foreign policy team will meet in Washington for a special summit with ASEAN leaders from 8 of the 10 ASEAN members. The two absentees are the Philippines—in the middle of its election—and Myanmar’s power grasping army; Myanmar has missed ASEAN’s own meetings and is facing what amounts to a civil war. The ASEAN leaders in Washington—including Vietnam, Indonesia, and Singapore—will meet with President Biden in person as COVID-19 fears and travel restrictions diminish. Perhaps the United States will become a “Comprehensive Strategic Partner” of ASEAN, as was the case of China last year.

Following the ASEAN summit, President Biden will fly to Japan for a Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (“Quad”) meeting, a fine chance to meet with new leaders of Japan—Prime Minister Kishida Fumio—and South Korea’s newly inaugurated President Yoon Suk-yeol. But even more attention will focus Biden’s meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India. For various reasons, India has chosen not to join with the United States and European Union in providing arms to Ukraine and sanctioning Russia.

The world is truly multi-polar now, and many countries—often privately horrified—have not joined the West in opposing Russia’s attack. This is seen in not joining US-EU sanctions and in abstaining from UN resolutions. Some are leery of irritating China, always quick to punish middle countries that displease its “wolf warrior” officials. India has long seen itself as Russia’s friend and also wants to be seen as no one’s follower. Some of this is hard to swallow for Americans. But the period of what some saw in the 1990s as the “unilateral moment” is gone. On the possible Chinese domination of all of Asia, India and America have largely common views. But US-India cooperation is never smooth and always involves what some see as contradictions. The United States has to show patience, understanding and humility around India, as well as a helpful approach with other relationships. Nostalgia among too many Americans for a kind of early Cold War world influence is futile. Dreams of isolation from the world are worse.

In Southeast Asia no country has a more difficult task than Vietnam in balancing its foreign policies and diplomacy. A leader of ASEAN, Vietnam has been at the forefront of both security and economic issues, especially the South China Sea and China’s “Nine Dashed Line” assertions. Its relatively open economy has been growing slowly but steadily. Although Japanese and Korean investments have blossomed, “next-door” geography to China requires Vietnam to have major economic involvement with its giant neighbor. For Vietnam, China’s maritime claims as well as its developing outsize influence with Laos, Cambodia, and even Thailand are cause for concern. Every Vietnamese also knows of the centuries of disputes with China. There is a great opportunity for US-Vietnam relations to further improve.

All this underscores the importance of Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, accompanied by a high level delegation, attending the US-ASEAN summit in Washington. Vietnam’s leadership role in ASEAN has grown and US-Vietnam relations have been improving since normalization in 1995. Relations are strong in many areas. Despite memories of the war, Vietnam is a prime choice for American companies concerned with interruptions in their supply chains. Vietnam has an educated workforce, youthful demographics, and an improving ability to move finished goods. High-technology producers are noticing. Tourism is a strong post-pandemic prospect for Vietnam, at several price points. It has great beaches and quality hotels. As Vietnamese cuisine becomes better known around the world, it can draw “foodie” travelers.

May offers a fine opportunity for Washington and its Asian allies and friends—none more so than Hanoi—to improve their mutual standings. This month is a chance to fill in details to Washington’s IPEF—such as digital economies. Perhaps Vietnam’s army may even wonder whether its Russian weapons supplies are still the best choice. With the world’s second-most proven reserves for rare earth metals—key to automobiles and other batteries—Vietnam also has other resources to impress the world.

Active diplomacy with Asia is on the calendar this month and the White House does not need to dominate headlines. But it can move forward in many ways—not everything, but real movement. First would be the Quad with a steady hand involving India. Could the Quad—formally or not—welcome South Korea as at least a party to discussions? As for ASEAN, the Biden administration will have reaffirmed its unshaken involvement—especially to Vietnam and Indonesia. Summer and fall will also require follow up with each ally and partner. Keeping our interests in sight—all the time—is what will bring meaningful diplomatic progress.

James A. Kelly (kellypacf@aol.com)) is chairman of the Pacific Forum Board of Directors, and the former US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

PacNet commentaries and responses represent the views of the respective authors. Alternative viewpoints are always welcomed and encouraged. Click here to request a PacNet subscription.

Issues & Insights Vol. 22, SR1 – Resilient Alliance: Moving the U.S.-Philippines Security Relations Forward

About this Volume

Authors of this volume participated in the inaugural U.S.- Philippines Next-Generation Leaders Initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, through the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines. With backgrounds from academia, public policy, civil society and industry, the cohort brings rich insights on the past, present, and future of the U.S.-Philippines bilateral security relations.

The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their respective organizations and affiliations. Pacific Forum’s publications do not necessarily reflect the positions of its staff, donors and sponsors.

Click here to download the full volume.


Table of Contents

1. Buffering: Cybersecurity in the U.S.-Philippine Alliance | Gregory Winger
2. Explaining the Divide: Legislative Positions on the U.S.- Philippine Alliance | Angelica Mangahas
3. Friendship from a Distance: The U.S.-Philippine Alliance and Allied Access in WartimeGraham Jenkins
4. Coast Guard Engagement as an Interim Alternative to Bilateral Maritime Cooperation | Jay Tristan Tarriela
5. Understanding the Role of the United States in the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) System | Rachelle Anne Miranda
6. Advancing the Philippines-U.S. Alliance for Conflict Resolution in the South China Sea: Policy Options From an Issues Approach | Edcel John Ibarra
7. Onward and Upward: The Philippines-U.S. Security Alliance | Deryk Matthew Baladjay & Florence Principe Gamboa
8. The EDCA and the Philippines’ External Defense Capability Development | Santiago Castillo


Editor’s Note

Balikatan, or shoulder-to-shoulder, the name for the annual U.S.-Philippines military exercises, describes the enduring bond of Filipinos and Americans committed to the ideals of democracy and freedom. This bond has been over a century in the making. Since the United States first occupied the Philippines in 1898, hundreds of thousands of Filipinos have fought and died alongside the U.S. armed forces and helped defeat threats—from Imperial Japan and the Cold War to terrorist movements and violent extremism.

In 1951, then-U.S. President Harry S. Truman described the U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty as a “strong step toward security and peace in the Pacific… and a formal expression of something that already exists — the firm relationship of brotherhood that binds our countries together.” Then-Philippine President Elpidio Quirino, in response, described the security pact as “a formal undertaking to assist each other and to stand together in the face of aggression, in the hope that hereafter we may be able to follow undistracted the fruitful pursuits of peace.”

Seven decades since, the bilateral security relationship has evolved considerably. It has faced a number of political changes spanning 12 Philippine presidents and 14 U.S. presidents and has withstood the test of time. Today, the alliance remains indispensable, not just for the peoples of both countries, but also for the broader Indo-Pacific in addressing emerging threats and regional challenges – from irredentist claims and blatant sidestepping of the rule of law in many of the region’s maritime spaces to natural disasters, cyber insecurity, climate change and the lingering threat of pandemics. The alliance has been consequential and will continue to survive and can help address these challenges. But it cannot be taken for granted.

While many American strategic thinkers and policy communities remain largely positive about security engagements with the Philippines, the Filipino public remains mostly ‘detached’ from their country’s foreign affairs. For instance, in Philippine elections, foreign policy and relations with major powers have never figured prominently. This is despite the importance of issues like the South China Sea to the country’s economic well-being. Moreover, there is a need to foster next-generation expertise on the Philippines in the United States. As more next-generation Filipinos and Americans assume positions of leadership in governments, public institutions, civil society organizations, academia, and the private sector, their priorities will begin to dominate discourses on the alliance. It is vital that the next generation is involved in contemporary strategic discourses relevant to U.S.-Philippine security relations and is mutually invested in the growth of their countries’ partnership.

This edited volume is an effort to provide exchange opportunities and a platform for next-generation U.S. and Philippine leaders and experts, so their voices can be heard, and creative thinking is encouraged about this vital alliance.

Gregory Winger premises his chapter with an assertion that, while the applicability of the U.S.-Philippine alliance to an armed attack has been discussed for decades, how the alliance addresses new forms of “aggression like cyberattacks remains undefined.” To fill the gap, Winger’s paper critically examines the place of cybersecurity in the alliance and traces the history of bilateral cybersecurity cooperation from the 1990s. He finds that integration of cybersecurity into alliance cooperation has lagged since 2016 and explains that elite-political discord and strategic divergence in how both governments perceive threats within the digital domain are to blame. Winger argues the different institutional preferences at the national level (i.e., U.S. prioritization of geostrategic competition pursued through military-cyber means versus the Philippines’ preoccupation with cybercrime and securing its cyberinfrastructure) limited the alliance’s role in addressing cybersecurity.

Angelica Mangahas’ chapter discusses the historically divergent attitudes on alliance issues between Malacañang Palace, where U.S. preferences are often embraced, and the Philippine Senate, where security cooperation with Washington is often re-dissected, and how President Rodrigo Duterte overturned this 65-year dynamic. On the former, Mangahas revisited the three common arguments used to explain the divergent attitudes: 1) Philippine senators’ views as a reflection of the national threat perceptions of the period that may not mirror U.S. priorities adopted by the sitting president; 2) the demand for the Philippine president to be pragmatic about security issues and the senators’ tendency to push for idealistic positions on independence; and 3) the impact of U.S. assistance flowing directly to the executive branch of government to the detriment of Congress, which otherwise holds the power the purse. On the latter, Mangahas offers a fourth explanation: electioneering. She argues that senators keen to pursue higher office often “adopt ‘maverick’-type personas on hot-button issues that galvanize public attention.” Hence, these senators tend to adopt positions that are seen as opposing the Palace.

Graham Jenkins’ chapter takes a closer look at the posture of U.S. forces in the Philippines under the existing Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and argues that any direct assistance from U.S. military “with sufficient combat power in a short enough timeframe” in the event of a contingency in the South China Sea will be a challenge. Jenkins analyzes three different access regimes (low/medium/high, in terms of relative permissiveness) to determine their operational feasibility and effectiveness should there be a need for U.S. military action to defend the Philippines in the South China Sea. The paper offers insights into “the ideal U.S. force posture that effectively defends the Philippines” against a maritime invasion and “the investments that Manila should prioritize to better defend itself.”

Jay Tristan Tarriela’s chapter argues that coast guard cooperation between the Philippines and the United States can serve as an interim approach to sustain bilateral maritime security cooperation in times when domestic political attitudes are not favorable to close alliance engagements. Tarriela’s arguments stem from his analysis of coast guard functions and how the Philippines and other regional states regard white hulls vis-à-vis their national security priorities. The chapter also posits that if domestic political conditions become favorable again to military-to-military engagement, coast guard engagement can complement and amplify naval initiatives. “In essence, coast guard cooperation between the Philippines and the United States can complement (vice substitute) future military engagements between the two allies.”

Rachel Anne Miranda’s chapter focuses on the significant role the U.S.-Philippine alliance has played in disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) in the Philippines. Miranda surveys the U.S. military’s contributions to the Philippines’ acquisition of logistics capacity for both security and disaster response operations, which, in turn, addresses the challenges posed by the intense impacts of disasters on vulnerable communities. Miranda underscores that U.S. assistance encompasses DRRM beyond mere disaster response operations, providing important insights into the disaster, human security, and conflict nexus.

Edcel John Ibarra’s chapter challenges the notion that the Philippines-U.S. alliance is detrimental to resolving the South China Sea disputes because the United States is external to the conflict. Using the ‘issues approach to international relations, ’ Ibarra examines the specific component issues of the South China Sea disputes and identifies the direct parties involved and types of conflict resolution implied in each issue. He argues that the United States is a “direct party on the issues of settling the extent to which coastal states may regulate the activities of user states and managing the risk of miscalculation associated with military operations in the South China Sea.” For Ibarra, this opens opportunities for cooperation between Manila and Washington on actual conflict resolution, conflict prevention, and conflict management.

The chapter co-authored by Deryk Matthew Baladjay and Florence Principe Gamboa explores the U.S.- Philippines alliance in three critical respects. First, it explains why the alliance is important and why it will continue to benefit the two countries. Second, it presents an analytical framework originally conceptualized by Victor Cha to show the Philippines’ disposition toward its alliance with Washington, which explains why countries like the Philippines link and delink or hedge against major powers. Finally, it explores what the Philippines and the U.S. can do moving forward. Baladjay and Gamboa argue that, while hedging has been beneficial for the Philippines in dealing with geopolitical uncertainties, the time has come for Manila to decide “whether or not it wants to be a shaper in international relations.”

The final chapter by Santiago Castillo examines how the EDCA can further improve the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) external defense capabilities and improve the defense ties of the two allies. Santiago argues that a particular area where the EDCA can advance U.S.-Philippine military partnership is improving the AFP’s ability to protect the country from external military threats and adapt or effectively respond to a dynamic geopolitical environment.

Authors of this volume participated in the inaugural U.S.-Philippine Alliance Next-Generation Leaders Initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, through the U.S. Embassy Manila. With backgrounds from academia, public policy, civil society, and industry, the cohort brings rich insights on the past, present, and future of the U.S.-Philippines bilateral security relationship.


About the Authors

Gregory Winger is an Assistant Professor of Political Science and Fellow with the Center for Cyber Strategy and Policy at the University of Cincinnati. He is also a former Fulbright Scholar to the Philippines and Fellow with the National Asia Research Program.

Gica Mangahas is a PhD candidate at the Johns Hopkins University School for Advanced International Studies. She received her MA in Security Studies from Georgetown University. She previously worked as an analyst and researcher for the Stratbase – Albert Del Rosario Institute in Manila.

Graham W. Jenkins is a senior principal analyst with the Strategic Assessment unit in Northrop Grumman’s Aeronautics Sector. He is responsible for strategic analysis, operations research, and long-range planning affecting the development of advanced technologies and aircraft design across a wide range of scenarios and capabilities. His background lies in international security and defense, nuclear weapons, and wargaming and red-teaming. Graham previously worked as an intelligence analyst focused on East Asia and influence operations as a contractor for the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence. He has also worked as a consultant at EY, strategic analyst at the Scitor Corporation, and a research assistant at the Institute for Defense Analyses, focusing on risk management, nuclear policy, and wargame design. Graham is a Pacific Forum Young Leader and adjunct fellow with the American Security Project; he was previously an Energy Security Fellow with Securing America’s Future Energy, a Penn Kemble Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy, and a Nuclear Scholar with the CSIS Project on Nuclear Issues. Graham holds an MSc in Theory and History of International Relations from the London School of Economics and a BA in history and international affairs from Sarah Lawrence College.

Jay Tristan Tarriela is a commissioned officer of the Philippine Coast Guard with the rank of Commander. He is the Director of PCG’s Leadership and Doctrine Development Center. He obtained his Ph.D. in Policy Analysis from the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) in Tokyo under the GRIPS Global Governance (G-cube) Program. At GRIPS, he was a Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) ASEAN Public Policy Leadership Scholar. Previously, he was assigned at the PCG national headquarters in Manila and performed numerous functions in different capacities, including maritime security capability development and organizational restructuring reforms. He also acted as the personal adviser to the PCG Commandant on human resource management, particularly on recruitment plans, career management, and personnel specialization. He attended numerous military and coast guard training, locally and abroad. He holds a graduate degree from the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy Graduate School and a Master of Policy Studies from GRIPS and the Japan Coast Guard Academy, where he was part of the inaugural class of the Maritime Safety and Security Program launched jointly by both institutions in 2016. He is also a Young Leader with Pacific Forum, Honolulu. Further, he has written opinion-editorial articles published by The Diplomat, The National Interest, Analyzing War, and other leading publications.

Rachelle Anne Miranda is a disaster risk reduction (DRR) practitioner and has devoted her professional life as a public servant in the Office of Civil Defense. She is currently assigned as a Training Specialist- building capacities in civil defense and DRR in the Philippines, and concurrently, the Deputy Spokesperson of OCD and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. Rachelle holds a master’s degree in Disaster Risk and Resilience from Ateneo De Manila University and currently, a master’s candidate in Master in Public Administration Major in Health Emergency and Disaster Management at Bicol University. Her research specialization and interests are in Incident Command System, risk communication, DRR localization, disaster statistics, and international and local humanitarian work.

Edcel John A. Ibarra is Foreign Affairs Research Specialist at the Philippine Foreign Service Institute working on territorial and maritime security concerns. He is pursuing a master’s degree in international studies at the Department of Political Science, University of the Philippines Diliman. He received a bachelor’s degree in political science, magna cum laude, from the same university in 2015.

Deryk Matthew N. Baladjay is a member of the Pacific Forum’s Young Leaders Program. He is also Research Manager at Amador Research Services and an Assistant Editor at the Philippine Strategic Forum, based in Manila.

Florence Principe Gamboa is a non-resident Vasey Fellow at the Pacific Forum. She is also Senior Research Associate at Amador Research Services and Managing Editor at the Philippine Strategic Forum, based in Manila.

Santiago Juditho Emmanuel L. Castillo has an MA degree in International Studies major in Asian Studies from De La Salle University and a BA degree in Philosophy from San Beda University. The focus of his graduate studies is on Japan’s defense/security policies and strategies in light of the changing security situation in the Asia-Pacific. He is also interested in military capability developments and defense diplomacy. He currently works as a Research-Analyst and Executive Assistant for the Philippine government for the past three years. His research specialization and interests are warfare and strategic studies, traditional geopolitical security issues, military technologies, as well as foreign and defense policies of Japan and Russia.


About the Editors

Jeffrey Ordaniel is non-resident Adjunct Fellow and Director for Maritime Security at the Pacific Forum. Concurrently, he is also Associate Professor of International Security Studies at Tokyo International University (TIU) in Japan. He holds a Ph.D. in International Relations and specializes in the study of offshore territorial and maritime entitlement disputes in Asia. His teaching and research revolve around maritime security and ocean governance, ASEAN regionalism, and broadly, U.S. alliances and engagements in the Indo-Pacific. From 2016 to 2019, he was based in Honolulu and was the holder of the endowed Admiral Joe Vasey Fellowship at the Pacific Forum. Since 2019, Dr. Ordaniel has been convening the Indo-Pacific Maritime Security Expert Working Group, an informal network of select experts and scholars from Japan, Southeast Asia, Australia and North America, with the aim of generating sound, pragmatic and actionable policy prescriptions for the region. His current research on maritime security in Asia is funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), 2020-2022.

Carl Baker is senior adviser at Pacific Forum in Honolulu, Hawaii. Previousy, Mr. Baker served as the Forum’s Executive Director and as coeditor of Comparative Connections. He is a member of the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific (CSCAP) and engaged in promoting security cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region as a participant in several CSCAP Study Groups. Current focus areas include preventive diplomacy, multilateral security architecture, nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and nuclear security. Previously, he was on the faculty at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies and an adjunct professor at Hawaii Pacific University. Publications include articles and book chapters on U.S. alliances and political developments in South Korea and the Philippines. A retired U.S. Air Force officer, he has extensive experience in Korea, having served as an international political-military affairs officer for the UN Military Armistice Commission and as a political and economic intelligence analyst for U.S. Forces Korea. He has also lived for extended periods and served in a variety of military staff assignments in Japan, the Philippines, and Guam.


Photo: A ceremony at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in honor of service members who perished in the line of duty, November 11, 2018. Source: U.S. Embassy Manila Facebook Page

Buffering: Cybersecurity in the U.S.-Philippine Alliance

Issues & Insights Vol. 22, SR1, pp. 1-8

Abstract

This study examines the integration of cybersecurity within the U.S.-Philippine alliance. Technological change poses distinct challenges to international alliances by presenting new security threats and vulnerabilities that alliances must adapt to address. Using a process-tracing approach, this article investigates the evolution of cybersecurity within the U.S.- Philippine alliance and whether existing defense arrangements have been effectively leveraged to meet the challenges of a cyber insecure world. It finds that despite initial momentum toward integrating cybersecurity within the alliance, cyber cooperation has largely stalled since 2016. Although the elections of Rodrigo Duterte and Donald Trump contributed to this malaise, the stagnation also reflects a larger strategic divergence in how Washington and Manila approach the digital domain. This contrasts sharply with other alliances like NATO and must be addressed to sustain alliance activities in cyberspace.

Click here to download the full volume.


About this Volume

Authors of this volume participated in the inaugural U.S.- Philippines Next-Generation Leaders Initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, through the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines. With backgrounds from academia, public policy, civil society and industry, the cohort brings rich insights on the past, present, and future of the U.S.-Philippines bilateral security relations.

The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their respective organizations and affiliations. Pacific Forum’s publications do not necessarily reflect the positions of its staff, donors and sponsors.


Gregory Winger is an Assistant Professor of Political Science and Fellow with the Center for Cyber Strategy and Policy at the University of Cincinnati. He is also a former Fulbright Scholar to the Philippines and Fellow with the National Asia Research Program.


Photo: Philippine Army-United States Army Pacific during the Cyber Security Subject Matter Expert Exchange (SMEE) in Manila, May 14 to 18, 2018. Source: Philippine Army/Public domain

Explaining the Divide: Legislative Positions on the U.S.-Philippine Alliance

Issues & Insights Vol. 22, SR1, pp. 9-14

Abstract

When the Philippine president goes one direction, the Senate goes another. What explains the inconsistent cross-branch support for the U.S.-Philippine alliance? This paper outlines four possible arguments. First, senators’ positions better reflect domestic perceptions of external threat. Second, senators are less constrained by performance legitimacy and have greater latitude to take idealistic positions. In the Philippines, this idealism entails nationalist rhetoric for self-reliance. Third, senators are protective of their constitutional mandate to approve international agreements, and distrust political strategies to circumvent receiving their approval. Fourth, senators are engaged in electioneering. The Philippine Senate is a popular starting line for higher office. To elevate their national profiles, senators may adopt maverick-type personas on hot-button issues that galvanize public attention. In the process, they tend to adopt positions that are seen as opposing the Palace. Advocates of a stronger and better institutionalized U.S.-Philippine alliance must address the gap between executive and legislative preferences. While it has not yet been possible to evaluate the relative importance of each of these hypotheses, policy approaches that reflect these realities are not costly. Part of the gap in threat perceptions may be filled with better briefing and information-sharing with legislators. Senators should have some stake in the success of the alliance, and alliance successes should emphasize mutual gain and not discount the potency of symbols. Filipino and American executive officials should resist the temptation to avoid seeking Senate approval as a matter of expediency. Finally, the oppositional impetus is greatest immediately before presidential elections—so timing will matter for new initiatives.

Click here to download the full volume.


About this Volume

Authors of this volume participated in the inaugural U.S.- Philippines Next-Generation Leaders Initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, through the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines. With backgrounds from academia, public policy, civil society and industry, the cohort brings rich insights on the past, present, and future of the U.S.-Philippines bilateral security relations.

The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their respective organizations and affiliations. Pacific Forum’s publications do not necessarily reflect the positions of its staff, donors and sponsors.


Angelica Mangahas is a PhD candidate at the Johns Hopkins University School for Advanced International Studies. She received her MA in Security Studies from Georgetown University. She previously worked as an analyst and researcher for the Stratbase – Albert Del Rosario Institute in Manila.


Photo: Joint session of the Congress of the Philippines for the 2016 State of the Nation Address (SONA) Source: Public Domain

Friendship from a Distance: The U.S.-Philippine Alliance and Allied Access in Wartime

Issues & Insights Vol. 22, SR1, pp. 15-23

Abstract

The United States and the Philippines share a long history and alliance relationship. Yet, since the closure of U.S. military bases in Subic Bay and Clark, the Philippines has been the only U.S. treaty ally in Asia not hosting permanent U.S. forces. The threat posed by China to Philippine interests in the South China Sea has grown in recent years, but should China and the Philippines become involved in a military conflict, it is unclear how effective the U.S. contribution to the alliance would be given its current posture in the region. To maximize the alliance’s deterrent capacity and operational effect, Manila and Washington should revisit this potential shortcoming and extend the work begun under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Act (EDCA) to provide a more robust U.S. presence and greater Philippine self-defense capabilities.

To strengthen the alliance, the United States and Philippines should shape U.S. force posture by:

– Developing a permanent U.S. Marine Corps presence on Palawan by rotating units through the island equipped with anti-ship weaponry and the ability to operate dispersed in austere terrain;
– Rotating advanced intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and battle management aircraft through the Philippines on a regular basis;
– Homeporting a small surface action group with advanced anti-ship and anti-air capabilities at Subic Bay;
– Ensuring U.S. and Philippine military units use a common datalink for sharing sensor data, information, and operational communications; and
– Improving access to Thitu Island by dredging the harbor and extending the runway, and upgrading its organic self-defense capabilities by installing new air defense and ISR systems.

Click here to download the full volume.


About this Volume

Authors of this volume participated in the inaugural U.S.- Philippines Next-Generation Leaders Initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, through the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines. With backgrounds from academia, public policy, civil society and industry, the cohort brings rich insights on the past, present, and future of the U.S.-Philippines bilateral security relations.

The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their respective organizations and affiliations. Pacific Forum’s publications do not necessarily reflect the positions of its staff, donors and sponsors.


Graham W. Jenkins is a senior principal analyst with the Strategic Assessment unit in Northrop Grumman’s Aeronautics Sector. He is responsible for strategic analysis, operations research, and long-range planning affecting the development of advanced technologies and aircraft design across a wide range of scenarios and capabilities. His background lies in international security and defense, nuclear weapons, and wargaming and red-teaming. Graham previously worked as an intelligence analyst focused on East Asia and influence operations as a contractor for the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence. He has also worked as a consultant at EY, strategic analyst at the Scitor Corporation, and a research assistant at the Institute for Defense Analyses, focusing on risk management, nuclear policy, and wargame design. Graham is a Pacific Forum Young Leader and adjunct fellow with the American Security Project; he was previously an Energy Security Fellow with Securing America’s Future Energy, a Penn Kemble Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy, and a Nuclear Scholar with the CSIS Project on Nuclear Issues. Graham holds an MSc in Theory and History of International Relations from the London School of Economics and a BA in history and international affairs from Sarah Lawrence College.


Photo: The amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) sits along a pier in Subic Bay during a port visit as part of Exercise Balikatan, April 1, 2019. Source: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Barker/Public Domain