East Asia Policy

China Eyes Role in Afghan Peace Process

110705-S-1034V-632By Farhad Peikar

(Re-Published from Afghanistan Today, Oct. 28, 2014) The new Afghan government, led by President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, is seeking new avenues to bring peace to the war-rattled country. This time, Kabul turns to Beijing to help it bring Taliban insurgents to the negotiating table and put an end to the 13-year-war.

President Ghani arrived in China for a four-day visit, his first official trip since taking office in late September. (Last week, he visited Saudi Arabia for a religious pilgrimage.) While the president will attend a regional conference and meet with Chinese investors during his visit, Ghani’s core objective is to win Beijing’s support in coaxing Taliban leaders to jump-start peace talks with his government.

The Afghan government’s resort to a China-led mediation comes on the heels of failure by other countries, which also tried to broker peace deals and find political solutions with the Taliban. A US-led negotiation process with the Taliban in Qatar failed last year after former President Hamid Karzai withdrew from the talks. Karzai reacted in fury after the Taliban presented their newly opened political office as an embassy in televised coverage.

[pullquoteright]Achieving peace in Afghanistan has become urgent.”[/pullquoteright]During the past six years Kabul has also tried to reach out to the Saudi Arabian king, Turkey, and other Islamic countries to use their influence and bring the Taliban, who have repeatedly refused to recognize the Afghan government, to peace talks.

The leadership councils for all three main insurgent groups (Taliban, Haqqani network, Hezbi Islami) are believed to be based in Pakistan, and any credible peace process would require wholehearted support from Islamabad—something Kabul has failed to obtain in past attempts.

“In the past ten years we focused more on the trilateral of the United States, Afghanistan and Pakistan. It didn’t work,” Afghan Interior Minister Umer Daudzai told NDTV last week. “We focused on the Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey trilateral, it worked in some respects, but it did not work in reconciliation.”

“We all know the nature of Pakistan-China relationship and the amount of investment China is doing in Pakistan, so that gives us a new hope that trilateral [talks] may lead us to a comprehensive solution of our regional problem- a comprehensive solution for the so-called insurgency and terrorism. A solution that is sustainable and a solution that is indigenous, that is regional and one we can embrace by heart.”

Achieving peace in Afghanistan has become urgent. U.S. and international troops are set to end their combat mission against Afghan insurgents in the next two months, and the Taliban remains a strong force. Many powers, particularly China, fear that victorious insurgency in Afghanistan could impede economic ambitions and destabilize the region …

Read the complete article here.

Farhad Peikar (MPA/MAIR ’13)—a graduate of INSCT’s CAS in Security Studies program— is a Dari and Pashtu editor at Afghanistan Today and a United Nations correspondent at Deutsche Presse Agentur.

Public Service & Policy Analysis

Syracuse University Institute for Security Policy and Law’s national and international security experts have extensive practical experience engaging complex and evolving security issues.

They have worked at the highest levels of government, law enforcement, and the military. They are regularly called upon to testify before Congress, the UN, and world governments; to appear in local, national, and international news forums; and to write reports for think tanks, law organizations, federal agencies, private sector firms, and non-profits.

SPL Projects

US Department of State’ Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships “Understanding Global Opportunity” Evaluation

“Understanding Global Opportunity” is the result of a 2014 grant to evaluate whether the US Department of State’s (DOS) Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships (S/GP) achievement in establishing public-private partnerships—most notably the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (GACC)—can serve as a model for other DOS international aid and development initiatives.

The Prevention Project: Organizing Against Violent Extremism

In May 2016, continuing its collaboration with the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, SPL was invited to join The Prevention Project, directed by former US Department of State counterterrorism official Eric Rosand through the Global Center on Cooperative Security.

Student Projects

SPL guides graduate student capstone and similar projects that are developed for real-world clients, including federal committees, non-profit organizations, and private contractors.

May 2019: Maxwell School MPA students working on a Capstone Project for the Institute for Defense Analyses pose with IDA’s Paul Lowell and Ned Snead. Professor Murrett is also supervising a Capstone Project for RAND Corp.
RAND and IDA MPA Workshop Groups
RAND Corp. and Institute for Defense Analyses MPA Capstone students together in Washington, DC, June 2019.

Under the guidance of Professor Robert Murrett, SPL supported two capstone projects for clients the Institute for Defense Analyses and RAND Corporation. The student teams are pictured below, outside the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, in June 2018.

MPA Workshop 2018


Under the guidance of SPL Director William C. Banks and Director of Research Corri Zoli, students in the National Security and Counterterrorism Research Center, a working laboratory for law and other graduate students interested in contemporary security issues, worked on the following Countering Violent Extremist (CVE) projects:

  1. A multi-institutional partnership with Emory University, George Washington University, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to create recommendations for the DHS Secretary for Strategic Partnerships with Colleges and Universities and the K-12 Community with relation to CVE-related academic programs and research.
  2. A continuation of the collaboration with the UN Counterterrorism Executive Directorate (UN CTED) examining member states’ implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2178 (2014) to examine the domestic implementation of UNSCR 2178 and challenges among member states; to explore and compare emerging CVE laws and policies; and to track Foreign Terrorist Fighter (FTF) flows and returnees.

On April 28, 2017, students in SPL Director of Research Corri Zoli’s National Security and Counterterrorism Research Center presented research findings in the workshop “Understanding Interdisciplinary Responses to International Terrorism & Violent Extremisms” at SU College of Law. The students’ work was the culmination of a semester-long partnership with Emory University, George Washington University, and the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Strategic Partnerships with Colleges and Universities.

Workshop topics included the role of the UN in crafting international counterterrorism policy; women’s leadership roles in terrorist organizations; the importance of anti-extremist K-12 educational programs; cross-cultural perspectives on CVE programs that work in other countries; the experience of vulnerable communities with CVE in the US; the challenge of implementing counterterrorist and counter-extremist laws and statutes; and the role of “hard” and “soft” power CVE mechanisms, including drones.

Under the guidance of Professor Robert Murrett, SPL supported three PAI 752 capstone projects for the Institute for Defense Analyses and RAND Corporation, as well as for the Syracuse Veterans Affairs Medical Center’s Spinal Cord Injury/Disorder Center (report prepared by students Chris Davis, Jason Mehta, Kristiana Nelsen, Kevin O’Brien, and Devon Seymour). The photo below shows students in Washington, DC, preparing to visit clients IDA and RAND.


Below, SPL alumna Jane Yoona Chung (MPA/MAIR ’16) leads a presentation by students in SPL’s National Security and Counterterrorism Research Center to their clients, representatives of the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED)—including David Scharia, Senior Legal Officer, CTED (seated at right)—on May 2, 2016.

The students presented research on how UN member states from various regions are complying with UN Security Council Resolution 2178 (2014), which calls on member states to prevent the “recruiting, organizing, transporting, or equipping of individuals who travel to a State other than their States of residence or nationality for the purpose of the perpetration, planning of, or participation in terrorist acts.”


Below, under the guidance of Professor Robert Murrett, SPL supported three capstone projects for clients the Institute for Defense Analyses, RAND Corporation, and Syracuse Veterans Affairs Medical Center.


Under the guidance of Professor William C. Banks, students in the National Security and Counterterrorism Research Center, a working laboratory for law and other graduate students interested in contemporary security issues, created three interrelated reports that addressed criminal, administrative, and prosecutorial strategies to halt the international flow of terrorism, as well as countries’ compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 2178 (2014). The client was the UN CounterTerrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED). In March 2015, 18 students representing SU Maxwell School and the College of Law presented their reports to the CTED at the UN headquarters in New York City.


Under the guidance of Professor Robert Murrett, SPL supported three capstone projects for clients the Institute for Defense Analyses, RAND Corporation, and Syracuse Veterans Affairs Medical Center.


Under the guidance of SPL Faculty Member Ines Mergel, Maxwell School MPA students Alys Alley, Mariko Mori, Amanda Vitullo, and Janelle Wallace worked with the New York State Office of Emergency Management to produce a report called Social Media Monitoring for Emergency Managersconducting interviews with emergency management professionals throughout the US to extract current SM monitoring practices. In Spring 2015, students presented their findings to a meeting of emergency managers at the SU College of Law.



Under the guidance of Assistant Director Keli Perrin, SPL supported two projects:

  • Managing Cybersecurity Threats to the Smart Grid” for Iberdrola USA.
  • “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: The Regulatory Landscape (A State-by-State Comparison)” for the New York State Senate Standing Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security, and Military Affairs.

Under the guidance of Professor Robert Murrett, SPL supported three projects:

  • A report and briefing on the impact of 2012 and 2013 defense budget decisions (for the Institute for Defense Analysis).
  • A report and briefing on non-military support for security operations (for the RAND Corporation).
  • Data collection and analysis of Central New York veterans’ medical needs (in partnership with the Syracuse Veterans Affairs Medical Center).

Under the guidance of Professor Robert Murrett, SPL supported three projects:

  • A report and briefing on the impact of 2012 and 2013 defense budget decisions (for the Institute for Defense Analysis).
  • A report and briefing on non-military support for security operations (for the RAND Corporation).
  • Data collection and analysis of Central New York veterans’ medical needs (in partnership with the Syracuse Veterans Affairs Medical Center).

Building Police Capacity in Indonesia & The Philippines: An Analysis of Military and Civilian Models

Six MPA students (Amy Bonilla, Chris DeMure, Marineth Riano-Domingo, Pat Manley, Cesar Sevilla, and Quinn Warner)—advised by Professor William C. Banks, in collaboration with Dana Abro at the International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICTAP), US Department of Justice, and the US Army Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute (PKSOI)—analyzed military and civilian policing models, developed a gap analysis for current police assistance programs in Indonesia and the Philippines, and drew from police reform efforts in both countries to recommend a list of best practices.


Assessing the Terrorist Threat

In this report of the New America Foundation’s National Security Preparedness Group by Peter Bergen of CNN and Bruce Hoffman, the authors note that although the threat of another attack by al-Qaeda is less severe than the catastrophic proportions of a 9/11-like attack, it is more complex and more diverse than at any time over the past nine years. Maxwell School M.P.A. students contributed to the research in this report.

“Post-9/11 Jihadist Terrorism Cases Involving US Citizens & Residents.”

Students worked with the New America Foundation and Peter Bergen of CNN to prepare this report and database.


Integrating USAID and DOS: The Future of Development and Diplomacy

A report for the Project on National Security Reform Issue Team examining how the foreign assistance function can be consolidated within the US Department of State, making it more effective.


Securing America’s Passenger Rails: Analyzing Current Challenges and Future Solutions

This report is included in the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security’s Homeland Security Digital Library, which is a targeted collection of documents that are expected to influence homeland security policy and strategy development.


Chemical Security in New Jersey: An Overview of Planning, Information Sharing, and Response.”

This study was submitted to the US House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security to provide its members with an overview of New Jersey’s current state of preparedness for responding to a chemical catastrophe.

  • Appendices
  • The US House of Representatives passed HR1680 on Oct. 23, 2007, regulating sales of ammonium nitrate. The SPL/MPA Workshop “Legal Controls on Explosive Materials” (see below) also contributed to this effort.

Are We Ready: A Practical Examination of the Strategic National Stockpile in Response to Public Health Crises“Report prepared for US House of Representatives House Committee on Homeland Security, used in the drafting H.R. 3197, the Secure Handling of Ammonium Nitrate Act of 2006.

Other Projects

  • “National Security Leaks”
  • “Whistleblower Protection Act”
  • “Triage During Mass Casualty Events”
  • “Amending the HIPAA to Mandate Disclosure For the Creation of a National Health Alert Network

Legal Controls on Explosive Materials“A report prepared for US House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security Democratic Staff.

Other Projects:

  • “Northern Border Security”
  • “US National Security Strategy”
  • “Terrorist Financing”
  • “Outsourcing War”
  • “National Security, Technology, and Expectations of Privacy”
  • “Responding to Disasters in the Homeland: The Role of the Military and Federal, State, and Local Government Actors”
  • “The USA PATRIOT Act: How Can We Prevent Terrorism and Protect Civil Liberties”
  • “Securing the US Homeland”
  • “Securing the US Border”
  • “The Treatment of Detainees in the War on Terrorism”
  • “Background Papers on the Information Sharing and Homeland Security Conference”
  • “Commentary on Enemy Combatant Cases”
  • “Commentary on Enemy Combatant Cases”
  • Conflict Behavior in Muslim States” (2013). By Carolyn Abdenour, Emily Schneider, and Courtney Schuster (all LAW ’13), with the assistance of SPL Research Assistant Professor Corri Zoli.
  • Libya in Conflict: Mapping the Libyan Conflict” (2012). By René Moya (LAW ’12) and Mikala Steenholdt (LAW ’12), with the assistance of professors David M. Crane and Corri Zoli.

David M. Crane Appointed to Sri Lankan War Crimes Panel

Sri Lanka to Investigate War Crimes; Appoints Foreign Experts

(Re-Published from Reuters, July 17, 2014) Sri Lanka’s president has extended the terms of a commission investigating missing people and possible war crimes in the country’s 26-year civil war, bringing in foreign experts for the first time to advise on the inquiry, the government said on Thursday.

Mahinda Rajapaksa’s move, contained in a document issued this week and obtained by Reuters on Thursday, comes as international pressure intensifies on Sri Lanka to investigate the final stages of the war in 2009 to crush ethnic minority Tamil separatists.

Three legal experts – two Britons and a U.S. national – were appointed as part of an international advisory panel linked to the presidential commission set up last year to conduct the inquiry …

… The three foreign experts named to the panel are Sir Desmond de Silva, a British lawyer and former U.N. war crimes prosecutor in Sierra Leone, Sir Geoffrey Nice, who was part of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and [INSCT Affiliated Faculty Member] David Crane, chief prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone from 2002 to 2005.

To read the full article, click here.

Nawaz Sharif & Narendra Modi: Are We Witnessing a New Dawn in South Asia?

Sharif_ModiBy Isaac Kfir

On May 25, 2014, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif accepted Narendra Modi’s invitation to attend his swearing-in as prime minister of India, to be followed by a meeting between the two men on May 27. Modi’s invitation and Sharif’s acceptance has been touted as a masterstroke for both men, as they recognize that their respective countries and the region face enormous challenges that demand cooperation between Delhi and Islamabad.

At first glance one would not expect the two to cooperate. After all, although both are on the centre-right of the political spectrum, Sharif is regarded as a conservative when it comes to Islam and Modi is regarded as a staunch Hindu nationalist, associated with the infamous 2002 Gujarat riots during which 1,000 people, mostly Indian Muslims, died. Yet if history is any indicator, Sharif’s and Modi’s orientation should not prevent the two from developing a successful relationship, as Sharif had a good relationship with Atai Bihari Vajpayee, India’s last prime minister with the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). What could help the two men in developing relations is that they both enjoy a strong political mandate and need not worry so much about coalition governments, which often tend to torpedo relations between the two countries.

The first issue of interest to the two men is how to address their countries’ economic woes. India, which a few years ago was touted as the next China, has experienced an economic slowdown and an evolving crisis with its public spending. Modi has inherited a stagflating economy, with growth oscillating between 4% and 5% and with inflation at 9% and rising. Investment and growth is undermined by a large informal economy made worse by rampant corruption (between US$4 and US$12 billion has gone to corrupt politicians over the past five years).[1] For Modi, India’s economic revival depends on shrinking the size of the government, reducing public sector spending, and improving governance. To achieve these goals, Modi needs to address international and regional concerns that he is an Indian (Hindu) nationalist, whose critics accuse of authoritarian tendencies and sectarian bias, which may discourage foreign investment should they suspect that India is on the precipice of further sectarian riots. This perception is one reason why the BJP’s election campaign centered on Modi’s management of Gujarat State, where as chief minister he implemented several pro-business policies that helped the state buck the Indian economic trend and experience consistent growth.

Sharif’s decision to attend the inauguration is a little clearer as he has been a long-time advocate for improved relations, leading his brother Shahbaz Sharif, the chief minister of Punjab, Pakistan’s key state, to accuse the military of blocking attempts to improve relations between the two countries.[2] Undoubtedly, the past two years have been tough for Sharif, as he tries to fulfill his various campaign promises. However, when it comes to the economy, his government has won some accolades—although maybe not from ordinary Pakistanis who continue to toil under an iniquitous system—for reducing inflation and improving the country’s foreign currency reserves, leading the International Monetary Fund to continue with its US$6.7 billion bailout.[3] Nonetheless, Sharif’s recognizes that Pakistan’s economic development would benefit enormously by having more access to India’s vast economy, which is why he supports granting India “most favored nation” status in the hope of encouraging more trade between two countries that have so much in common.

A second issue of prime importance to both India and Pakistan is Afghanistan, especially once the US completes its withdrawal. A nightmare scenario that all would like to avoid is seeing Afghanistan turn into a key battlefield between the Indian and Pakistani security services, which would greatly threaten international peace and security. Clearly, Indian presence and involvement in Afghan affairs has steadily increased, culminating with an announcement that India would buy Russian arms for the Afghan National Army. This type of activity, which concerns Pakistan, is all part of India’s strategy of maintaining influence in Afghanistan to prevent the return of the Taliban, while India recognizes that it cannot send ground forces into the country. For Islamabad, Indian presence and influence is an obvious concern, especially due to the acerbic relations between Kabul and Islamabad, which has led to not only a sharp exchange of words but also casualties. Nonetheless, Modi and Sharif recognize that they must come to some sort of an understanding in respect to Afghanistan, as once the US completes its withdrawal, an unstable Afghanistan poses a threat to both countries—neither wants to see a return of a Taliban-led regime or a resurgent Al-Qaeda. The challenge is how to control the security services of both countries, whose agendas may not necessarily be in accordance with what the civilian polity seeks or wants.

A third issue likely to be central to Modi and Sharif is the US, with whom both have a turbulent relationship, Modi because in 2005 the US Department of State not only refused him a diplomatic visa but revoked his existing tourist/business visa because of the 2002 Gujarat riots, a ban that has remained in force. On the other hand, Sharif, like other Pakistani leaders, has endured chastisements coupled with incessant demands to do more to “fix” Pakistan’s problem. These demands have made him weary of the US and its condescending manner, which explains how unpopular the US is in Pakistan. This is not to say that these men do not see the value of having good relations with America. They do, whether for defense purposes or simple economic reasons, and neither can afford to alienate the world’s largest economy. Nevertheless, it is possible that both men have recognized that improved relations between India and Pakistan will permit them to be more assertive in their interaction with the US, while remaining somewhat mistrustful of it.

In terms of Indian politics, Modi’s rise and the BJP’s success in the 2014 election has been described a game changer. The BJP is the first party in three decades to have a clear majority in India’s lower house. Modi’s victory, however, also may change South Asia, because with Sharif at Pakistan’s helm, India may find a willing partner to help enhance relations between two old foes, heralding a new dawn for South Asia.

[1] “Modi’s Mission,” The Economist, May 24, 2014. http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21602709-new-prime-minister-has-good-chance-resuscitating-countrys-underperforming

[2] Jon Boone and Jason Burke, “Military blocking Pakistan-India trade deal, says Shahbaz Sharif,” The Guardian, Feb. 14, 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/13/military-block-pakistan-india-trade-deal-sharif

[3] “Pakistan economy improving reform on track: IMF,” Dawn.com, Feb 9, 2014. http://www.dawn.com/news/1085925

Don’t Be a Menace to South (China Sea)

South_China_SeaBy James B. Steinberg & Mike O’Hanlon

(Re-Published from Foreign Affairs, April 21, 2014) As President Barack Obama prepares for his trip to Asia this week, he will face questions not just about the administration’s signature rebalance, or “pivot” toward that region, but also about the crisis in Ukraine. The leaders Obama will meet in South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, and the Philippines will be preoccupied with what appears to them as a potential Asian parallel to the challenge Europe faces: How can the United States and its friends and allies deal with an increasingly assertive regional power? Put more bluntly — as the leaders will surely do in their private talks with Obama — how would the United States respond if China should resort to unilateral territorial intervention in their own backyard?

The administration’s strategic shift to East Asia in 2011 was built on two pillars. First, the United States would pursue its long-term interest in peace and stability in East Asia through sustained commitment to its traditional allies; second, it would build a cooperative, constructive relationship with a rising China, while also managing differences.

In theory, this strategy is intended to take account of the inevitable growth of China’s influence while reducing the danger that the relationship will lead to instability or even conflict. But in recent months, as China has pressed its territorial claims in the East and South China seas, the viability of this strategy has been increasingly put to the test. China’s unilateral acts — including its November declaration of an air defense identification zone in the East China Sea that included the disputed Senkaku Islands administered by Japan (which Beijing claims and calls the Diaoyu) and its efforts to block the resupply of Philippine Marines on the disputed Second Thomas shoal — have frightened China’s neighbors and led to questions of what the rebalance means in the context of these troubling moves.

The Obama administration has repeated its long-standing position that it takes no position on the merits of the sovereignty disputes, but opposes the use of force or coercion to resolve them. And it has asserted that it stands by its treaty commitments to Japan and the Philippines. But that has not led to significant progress. The risk of conflict remains high …

To read the full article, click here.

James B. Steinberg is Dean of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and a Senior Policy Advisor at INSCT. Michael O’Hanlon is a Senior Fellow with the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence and Director of Research for the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution.

Iran-Pakistan Border a Major Concern in Bilateral Relationship

pakistan_iranWorld Politics Review interview with Isaac Kfir, Visiting Professor of Law and International Relations, Syracuse University

This month, four Iranian border guards were freed two months after being kidnapped and allegedly taken into Pakistan by an Iran-based Sunni militant group. In an email interview, Isaac Kfir, a senior researcher at Syracuse University’s Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism and a visiting assistant professor of law and international relations, explained the state of Iran-Pakistan relations.

WPR: What has been the recent trajectory of the Iran-Pakistan security relationship, particularly regarding their shared border?

Isaac Kfir: Iran and Pakistan work together on some issues and compete on others. The two countries have good cooperation on drug interdiction, as both seek to stem drug smuggling and consumption, which have a disastrous impact on both of them. Iran alone has 2 million heroin addicts, the highest in the world. Pakistan has become a key transit country for drugs; between 1996 and 2011, Pakistani authorities seized an average of 7,200 kilograms of opium per year, making Pakistan one of the top countries for drug interception in the world, along with Iran.

Tension in the bilateral relationship, on the other hand, comes from the inability of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government to reverse the sectarian violence in Pakistan, which affects Shiites disproportionatey, causing many to leave. Another issue complicating Iran-Pakistan relations is Afghanistan, where both countries compete for influence, with the Iranians financially supporting the Karzai government while the Pakistanis are seen—particularly by the Americans—as key actors in addressing the Taliban threat, a movement they helped create …

To read the full interview, click here.

Robert B. Murrett Interviewed on CNN’s The Situation Room

Maxwell School Professor of Practice Robert B. Murrett, Deputy Director of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism, was interviewed by Wolf Blitzer on CNN’s The Situation Room on March 21, 2014, regarding the missing Malaysia Airlines plane.


MALVEAUX: So, Wolf, we’re talking from satellite to visual to sonobuoys to robotic submersibles. This is all about narrowing that search field to find this missing plane and of course we’re talking about time that is quickly running ou.

Wolf BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, Suzanne, for that.

Joining us now retired Vice Admiral Robert Murrett. He’s the former director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency along with the former Joint Chiefs chairman, retired General Richard Myers.

Gentlemen, thanks very much for coming in.

General Myers, first to you. How extraordinary is this search right now? You’re a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Have you ever seen anything like this before?

GEN. RICHARD MYERS, FORMER JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: You know, yes, probably we’ve had searches of this magnitude before and what is encouraging here is the number of nations that are participating and it sounds like Malaysia has put out the calls and my guess is there will be more because given the size of the area they’re searching, they’re going to need a lot of eyes on that area. And maybe — I mean, we don’t even know if this is the right area.

BLITZER: But a lot of those nations, they don’t like each other. So here’s the question. Will they all contribute their best? Will everyone give them their best high-tech equipment or will they hold back?

MYERS: In my experience, for something like this, which is along the scale of a humanitarian issue, they’ll give their best equipment and their best people for this. They want — they want to do well.

BLITZER: Admiral, you’re an expert on radar and satellites. You understand this stuff a lot better than I do and our viewers do. Why is it so difficult, given the technology out there, to find a 777?

VICE ADM. ROBERT MURRETT, FORMER DIR., NATIONAL GEOSPATIAL- INTELLIGENCE AGENCY: I think there’s a couple of factors at work there, Wolf. The first is the delay, so to speak, that we had between we didn’t know which area needed to be searched most carefully, and it wasn’t really until, I guess, about last Saturday, about a week into the disappearance of the aircraft that people really knew that we needed to focus on the southeastern Indian Ocean off the west coast of Australia.

I think the second factor is the challenges, a tenet with an open ocean search over a vast area of ocean, especially given the currents and so on over the week or so before we knew with any precision at all where to look for the missing aircraft based upon the delay that we talked about earlier. And I think the third factor is the — just the challenges for any kind of technical sensor or for the surveillance flights that we’ve talked about here tonight, when surveying the high seas because of wind states, the darkness, fog, just the —

BLITZER: You saw those satellite images that were released.


BLITZER: Showing a large chunk of something, smaller chunk of something from a commercial satellite, you’ve spent your career looking at those kinds of images. Did that look like a 777 to you?

MURRETT: We don’t know, Wolf. I mean, it was a piece of, you know, lots of (INAUDIBLE) in the ocean. There are a lot of things out there. There wasn’t enough — and you need to go to an imagery analyst to look at it in detail but there wasn’t enough precision in that and (INAUDIBLE) wherever it was.

BLITZER: The first — the first week or so everyone wasted time apparently looking totally in the wrong direction, General. How big of a problem was it?

MYERS: Well, it’s always a problem and there are still some question now and as time goes on, if this is really where the plane went down —

BLITZER: In the southern Indian Ocean.

MYERS: Southern ocean. The bigger pieces likely could have sunk, then you have smaller pieces that are going to be dispersed by the currents and by the wind down there and so it becomes more difficult. It’s not going to be as concentrated I think it might have been the first few days.

BLITZER: Do commercial satellites have the same capability as a U.S. government satellite? Because — I mean, you’ve studied these and I don’t want you to give away any sensitive or classified information. But how good is the resolution from way up there to look down atop of the water and see something on your — the government satellites as opposed to commercial satellites?

MURRETT: Wolf, I can’t comment on the capabilities that we have (INAUDIBLE) for our government compared to the commercial ones. I can only say that I’m very confident if we had any data at all that was actionable on the government side, it’s like General Myers would (INAUDIBLE), we’d be providing it.

BLITZER: Even if it would compromise national — if compromised sources and methods, you’d still show those messages?

MURRETT: I don’t know if we need to go there, Wolf. There are ways of releasing data. You know, we’ve had a lot of experience, the gulf oil spill, for example, Hurricane Katrina, we’ve gotten fairly proficient, I think, in the organizations like over the past several years in releasing data that needs to be released without compromising where it came from.

MYERS: And I know there’s some government agencies in particular Air Force Space Command that on their own has been using some of their resources to help look and nobody has asked them to do that. They did that early on.

BLITZER: They just volunteered. Have they found anything?


BLITZER: Have you — from all your indications, your sources, have you heard if they’re making any progress in really locating where this airliner is?

MYERS: No, I have not heard anything.

BLITZER: Have you?


BLITZER: So is it your sense — and both of you are experts in this area — that — and I’ll ask General Myers first that this was a mechanical failure or an individual or individuals were responsible for the disappearance of this aircraft?

MYERS: First, you don’t know. Nobody knows and I don’t think anybody that opines is — knows. They are all guessing. Probability, when an aircraft mishap happens, probability is, it’s pilot error. That’s been historically true since Oroville and Wilbur flew, so you’d have to go there first. Mechanical is down that list. And then misconduct by somebody — an aircrew member or somebody — some passengers, somebody — terrorism or something like that I think would have to be considered.

BLITZER: As far as your concerned all of those options —

MYERS: They ought to be all on the table and people that are investigating ought to keep their intellectual aperture wide open to address all of these.

BLITZER: Do you agree with all of that?

MURRETT: Absolutely.

BLITZER: Is — do you have confidence that the Malaysians know what they are doing when it comes to this — or do they need an international consortium to come to their aid?

MURRETT: I would say, and as General Myers mentioned earlier, I think the international consortium coming together is important. Perhaps they could have come together earlier. I don’t want to pass on judgment but certainly the fact that so many people are participating is just (INAUDIBLE) and I think a good sign.

BLITZER: Do you have any indication of when we’re going to find this plane?

MURRETT: We don’t. You know, the — just one thing I’d mention, Wolf, I mean, the part of the world assuming that the search should be focused on the Southern Indian Ocean, I mean, it’s very, very challenging. Just when — compare and contrast, for example, this aircraft had, say, gone down to the Mediterranean, it would be a simple task to find debris and locate it but in this part of the world, it’s just several orders of magnitude.

BLITZER: One final question. If it had gone north over land, towards India or Pakistan or Kazakhstan, you think there would have been some indication of that? MYERS: It’s possible. All of those countries have radars. They might have picked something up. Again if the transponder is off, they’re looking for what we would call a skin painting on the aircraft. It would be a lot more problematic but yes, I think it’d be a lot easier search even if it went down over land in a general area, an easier search than the ocean search. A sea state makes such a difference.

BLITZER: General, Admiral, thanks very much for coming in …

INSCT Welcomes Morgan Courtney as Research & Practice Associate

MorganCourtneyConflict/reconciliation and postconflict stabilization specialist Morgan Courtney has joined INSCT’s team of 17 Research & Practice Associates who bring additional academic and practical subject matter expertise to the Institute by engaging in collaborative projects, teaching, and sharing their original research and practitioner perspectives. Courtney visited INSCT in November 2013 to present “Making Stability Operations Smarter: Innovations for Fragile Environments” (see video below).

Courtney is the Burma (Myanmar) Engagement Lead at the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations at the US Department of State (DOS), where she manages a team of conflict specialists in the field and in Washington, DC who focus on peace, conflict, and reconciliation in Burma.  Before this appointment, she served as the Special Assistant to the Special Representative and Policy Coordinator for Burma at DOS, where she handled a broad array of security, political, economic, and conflict/reconciliation issues at a critical point in Burma’s democratic transition. Before that, she served as a Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Chairman’s Action Group at the US Department of Defense, where she helped to provide guidance on a range of issues, including Syria, the Asia-Pacific re-balance, women in combat, and security assistance reform.

A conflict specialist with extensive experience in development, Courtney has worked on Darfur policy at DOS for the Office of the US Special Envoy to Sudan and worked at a Congolese refugee camp near the Rwanda/Democratic Republic of Congo border for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. She also has worked as an Afghanistan research analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where she co-authored “In the Balance: Measuring Progress in Afghanistan,” with US Ambassador Rick Barton. In addition, she served as the Special Assistant to the Deputy Director of the Peace Corps, and helped to re-establish Peace Corps’ operations in Rwanda.

Other of Courtney’s appointments include work on health and environment issues at the US Embassy and US Agency for International Development in Indonesia; on reconstruction priorities following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti for the United Nations Special Envoy for Haiti; and on HIV/AIDS for the Clinton Foundation in Burundi.

Courtney speaks French fluently and is conversant in Kinyarwanda, Kirundi, and Bahasa Indonesia. She received her B.A. with honors in International Relations and French from Wellesley College and an M.P.A. from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

Making Stability Operations Smarter: Innovations for Fragile Environments

Morgan_CourtneyBy Morgan Courtney

(Remarks delivered at Syracuse University, Nov. 12, 2013) Right now, somewhere over an expansive African plain dotted with acacia trees, is a helicopter. This is no ordinary helicopter. Attached to this helicopter are enormous speakers blaring messages that are helping to bring an end to Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army. This is part of the future of stability operations. Targeted, agile, and innovative.

But before I tell you a bit more about that, I want to tell you about how far we’ve come.

We, the international community, have fumbled our way through stability operations for years.

I’m not just talking about the big two—Iraq and Afghanistan. The international community has undertaken stability operations in Haiti, Kosovo, Rwanda, East Timor, Somalia, and many others, with various levels of success, and in some places, with very little success at all.

I won’t revisit the challenges of Iraq and Afghanistan in particular, but I just want to highlight that these two war and post-war environments were certainly the US’s largest stability operations over the past four decades, and therefore helped to spur new ways of thinking about this work. Necessity is the mother of invention, and the recognition that we needed to do this work cheaper, more efficiently, more effectively, and with the right people drove the US government to think about new and better ways to tackle this mission.

First, they started with a diagnostic. What was necessary to make a country stable and get it back on its feet? The State Department determined that there were essentially 5 categories: this was drawn from work by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the US Institute for Peace, AUSA, an educational organization of the Army, and PKSOI, the Army’s peacekeeping and stability operations think tank. The five categories, roughly, are:

  • Safety and Security
  • Governance and Participation
  • Rule of Law, Justice, and Accountability
  • Economic Development
  • Social Well-Being (health, education)

There were several problems. One was that, since there was no organized way of deploying civilians to do this work—most of which is civilian, as you probably noticed—the military ended up doing much of it. After all, they not only had the money, but they already had people on the ground.

Another major issue was that, until then, most experts were siloed—into what people ironically refer to as “cylinders of excellence.” That is, the security people thought everything came down to security. The rule of law people thought you had to tackle justice first. Health and education people said you had to win the hearts and minds of the people through services. Others said good governance, civil society participation, and anti-corruption measures were key to getting people to trust their government. As a result, you had myriad players in the same space, but they weren’t coordinated, duplicated efforts, and left huge gaps.

You’ve heard the anecdotes: Beautiful schools built too close to each other, by different international actors, where one school would have served the entire population in the area. No books, desks, or teachers. New roads, but they don’t connect the schools to population centers. And children don’t feel safe walking to school. So we may have nice new schools, but in the end, the kids aren’t being educated.

The thing is, all of these five sectors are critical, but not all of them are critical at the same time. You need sequencing. You need people who have experience in multiple “cylinders of excellence” and can think across them, prioritizing what should be done, and when.

By late 2002, after a year in Afghanistan, the US government realized this, and that it needed to cultivate talent that could think strategically across all five sectors. In particular, the State Department realized that it needed to establish a way to bring civilians with diverse experience across the US government to work together in the stability operations arena.

And so, in 2004, Secretary of State Colin Powell established the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization, which intended to remedy these gaps. With time, and with the support of the Defense Department, especially Secretary Gates, S/CRS, as the State office came to be known, grew in size and capability. A Civilian Response Corps was created, comprised of civilians from a number of government agencies, from the Department of Justice, to Homeland Security, to Commerce, Treasury, HHS, Agriculture, USAID, and, of course, the State Department. It was essentially a deployable group of experts from across the government who applied their expertise in fragile states.

S/CRS was to conduct analyses of conflict dynamics, plan missions, coordinate the civilian side of stability operations with the military, surge people with the right talents quickly (and with the right support, including flak jackets, deep field communications equipment, and other things), coordinate with international partners to eliminate redundancy, and to learn from their experiences—analyzing what worked, what didn’t, and how the US government could do this work better the next time.

I think you all can appreciate how ambitious this was, and especially so, for a small office in the State Department.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that S/CRS ran into a number of problems. Like any new organization, it struggled to establish and prove itself in a field of already-established (and sometimes skeptical) actors, and to carve itself a respected niche. As an office whose place in the State bureaucracy was different from quote “normal” bureaus of State, as well as a number of other reasons, S/CRS was not as connected to the rest of the State Department as it could or should have been…and for a long time, wasn’t resourced to do the tasks it was envisioned to do.

In 2009, the Obama Administration came in, wanting to right-size the balance between hard power and soft power. It recognized the need to strengthen the civilian role in complex crises.

As a result, during Secretary Clinton’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review in 2010, S/CRS was transformed into a new bureau, structured like other bureaus, and firmly planted in the State Department under the Undersecretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights—what we at the Department refer to as “J.” The new office was called the Bureau for Conflict and Stabilization Operations, or CSO, for short.

For now, neither the Administration, nor the general American public, is interested in undertaking another mega-stability operation like Iraq or Afghanistan that requires a lot of money and people. Similarly, CSO’s thinking has evolved. Now, rather than trying to coordinate everything that comes under the umbrella of civilian operations, we’re focused on being targeted, agile, and innovative.

These don’t tend to be the first words one thinks of when they think of the US government, but we aim to ensure that all of our work in different countries—what we call “engagements”—has these characteristics. Targeted, agile, and innovative.

Let me tell you about how we target our efforts. Before we commit to an engagement, we conduct in-depth conflict analysis of the situation in a country. We bring together experts from across the government, including the Embassy, as well as subject matter experts and practitioners from academia, NGOs, think tanks, and other places to discuss the dynamics of the conflict. Who are the key players? What drives them? How does history influence the current conflict? Who are the spoilers? Who are the thought influencers? How can we get them to play a useful role in preventing or mitigating conflict? Who or what are the conflict mitigators—the people or dynamics that can be amplified to mitigate conflict? What are the resiliencies?

We conducted this kind of analysis during the S/CRS days, but the result is a bit different. Following the analysis, S/CRS helped to plan and then tried to coordinate all civilian activities. CSO approaches this differently—we take that information and then think strategically—again, with interagency partners and the Embassy—to determine what the key vectors of the conflict are. Going back to the five major sectors we talked about earlier—safety and security, governance and participation, rule of law, justice and accountability; economic development; and social well-being—we agree that all of them matter. But what are the 2 to 3 most critical areas that must be targeted NOW in order to set the course of the conflict on a path toward resolution? That is, what activities can we undertake in these critical areas that can have a positive multiplier effect over time?

When we consider possible interventions, we think about what we, CSO, can do in a relatively short timeframe—in general, around 12 to 18 months. The way we think about it, more traditional civilian actors tend to work in a country for a longer period of time. We, by contrast, want to be in a space just long enough to be catalytic—helping others who will be working over the longer term, especially local actors, by influencing key conflict dynamics and setting local actors up for success.

We also aim to be agile. We deploy conflict experts to these countries quickly, experts who are able to adjust their work depending on the local context and shifting dynamics. We monitor changes and try to identify emerging opportunities to influence these dynamics, both on the ground and from our headquarters.

Once we’ve identified these emergent opportunities, we try to be innovative in addressing them. This means thinking beyond “business as usual,” and coming up with creative approaches to challenges.

One example is in Kenya, where election violence in 2007 ravaged the country, particularly the coast. The next general elections were slated for 2013, and we (and others) assessed that violence could break out again. So we prepared differently. USAID, the US government’s aid agency, launched or strengthened a number of peace-related programs in population centers along Kenya’s coast. CSO, wanting to complement and not duplicate efforts, assessed that it could target two areas for focused intervention—Mombasa and Kwale—and coordinated with USAID to plus-up their projects in those areas.

CSO deployed two seasoned personnel—one Justice Department official, a former police officer and member of the Civilian Response Corps—and one of its own staff, a former Army officer with NGO experience, to run its projects on the coast. One of those was a project that recruited and trained peace monitors to serve as “eyes and ears” for the official peace committees. CSO provided phones, transport, phone credit, and a monthly stipend that enabled these peace monitors to move around communities, monitor for possible outbreaks of violence, and contribute information to an Ushahidi-supported crowd mapping early warning system. CSO also funded the sending of peace text messages to approximately 300,000 people in the region.

At the same time, CSO recognized that conflict monitoring and response went hand-in-hand. Our officers reached out to the local police in those areas, and asked if they were willing to work with local organizations in their efforts to monitor and respond to violence. The police thought the local organizations didn’t trust them—and they were right, these organizations thought that many in the police were corrupt. After some discussion, CSO helped the groups to overcome some of their doubts and explore cooperation.

The result? The police were able to respond to possible outbreaks of violence based on the local reporting, and organizations were reassured that their reporting would result in a response by authorities. This, and other initiatives to mitigate election violence, resulted in a significant drop in casualties—election-related deaths in 2013 amounted to 1.5% of the election-related deaths in 2007, down from 1,300 to 20.

This was the first time that Kenyan civil society had successfully created a platform for the public, peace groups, the provincial administration, and security agencies to work together on mitigating conflict. And now that the dust has settled from the elections, there is increased trust between civil society and the security agencies.

Let’s turn to Burma for a moment—a place where a remarkable democratic transition is underway. For decades, a military regime closed off the country. Then, in 2008, seeds of change appeared to be sprouting with the development of a new Constitution. By 2010, a quasi-civilian government came to power. In 2011, Secretary Clinton visited the country, the highest-level visit by an American official in five decades. By 2012, democracy advocate and Nobel prizewinner Aung San Suu Kyi had been released from house arrest and was elected to parliament. The Burmese government has eased a number of restrictions on speech, assembly, and the press, and has released hundreds of political prisoners.

And yet, despite these rapid changes put into motion by the Burmese government, many of Burma’s ethnic groups are cautious about the reforms. For years, they suffered under the military regime, leading them to form armed wings to fight the government. Now, they don’t know if they can trust the new government or its military. But if we want to help Burma become stable, democratic, and unified, we know that these ethnic groups and the government must put their guns down, begin to trust each other, and reconcile their past.

CSO, recognizing how sensitive reconciliation efforts can be, launched a pilot project in one of Burma’s ethnic minority states. The approach? Using an issue of mutual interest to bring together groups that would not normally talk to each other. And by talking about this issue, we thought that they would build some connective tissue that would enable them to work cooperatively on other, potentially tougher issues. This is the first step toward reconciliation.

In this case, we wanted to bring together local civil society, ethnic armed groups, Burmese government officials, and Burmese security forces. Through our analysis, we found that landmines were a common scourge of both the ethnic groups and the government—both were guilty of laying them, and both were victims of them.

So we brought them together to begin discussions on the dangers of landmines and how they affect everyone. It was the first time these groups had all found themselves in the same room, talking about their problems. It was so simple, and yet so remarkable. Communication was opened. And several months later, on their own, the ethnic armed group the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) and the Burmese military entered into talks, and agreed that they would work together on the issue of landmines.

This model, which approaches reconciliation in an indirect way, is being explored for use in other areas of Burma and in other CSO engagements.

Moving back to Africa, let’s come back to the Lord’s Resistance Army. Many of you are aware of the rightly maligned target of Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 initiative—Joseph Kony. Over the past several years, the United States has dedicated millions of dollars training militaries in East Africa to capture Joseph Kony and end his operations. In addition to the US military personnel who are deployed for this mission, CSO deploys a stability operations officer.

Joseph Kony and his group of an estimated 200 fighters, known as the Lord’s Resistance Army, have moved between several countries—the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and South Sudan, and the Central African Republic since 2008. They operate with rudimentary technology, making them difficult to track. It seemed as if we, and the African militaries with which we were working, were always just a couple steps behind him … until we looked at the problem a little differently.

What if we didn’t try to capture or kill the LRA, but rather tried to encourage them to defect from the group? Many of the LRA’s fighters were coerced into fighting since they were children. Presumably, they would prefer to go home.

The US government got the fighters’ families on radios, encouraging them to return home. Radio programs were broadcast, encouraging people to return to their villages and not to fear retribution if they turned in their guns. Flyers were distributed. And—we entered into a public-private partnership. Invisible Children gave millions of dollars to help with this strategic messaging campaign. And, as I mentioned earlier, as part of a unified effort with US Africa Command and the United Nations, we equipped helicopters with massive speakers that broadcast messages in the bush…because while you can’t see them, there could be fighters listening under the triple-canopied trees.

What was the result? Incredible success. An estimated 60 fighters (of the estimated 200) defected. And we’re not just talking about the most junior fighters, but also some of Joseph Kony’s top advisors, who have been able to provide key information that gets us closer to him.

Before I close, I want to mention a couple of new technologies that the US government is using to plus-up peace and stability efforts. I mentioned Ushahidi in the Kenya example as a crowd-sourcing mechanism that can map possible flare-ups and speed up conflict response. At CSO, our Analytics Unit uses a couple of computer programs that help us in our analysis and can help with negotiations. One is called iSENT, a program that collects large amounts of media—including social media—and categorizes it based on whether it expresses positive or negative sentiments. It can be used to get a sense of how locals in a country, or its Diaspora, feel about a particular institution, individual, or policy.

Another technology is called Senturion. This advanced program uses inputs from experts and employs game theory and repeated trials to play out institutions’ and individuals’ positions over time…and is able to note a confidence interval for the results. This is particularly helpful for peace negotiations—this kind of system can help to determine how solid negotiating positions are, and what negotiation points would be more successful than others. In other words, we might be able to get to peace agreements faster and better with the use of this new technology.

These are just a handful of examples of how the State Department and the US government are changing their approach to stability operations. Hopefully, it gives you a sense of how we’re trying to conduct these missions smarter and more innovatively. We’re trying to think differently, and are always looking for the greatest next idea.

Morgan Courtney is the Burma (Myanmar) Engagement Lead at the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations at the US Department of State (DOS), where she manages a team of conflict specialists in the field and in Washington who focus on peace, conflict, and reconciliation in Burma.

This talk is part of INSCT’s David F. Everett Postconflict Reconstruction Speaker Series.

Japan, East Asia, & Regional Security


Many of us have been distracted this month by ongoing federal budget discussions in Washington, DC. However, while all this has been unfolding, the US and Japan took a significant, strategic step forward on Oct. 3, 2013, signing an updated security agreement in Tokyo. Both US Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel traveled to Japan for the event, meeting with their counterparts and attending a signing ceremony held under the aegis of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The agreement was important for several reasons, ranging from overall strategic posture to a series of specific, technical areas of cooperation. Some of the key points follow:

Japan is the Strategic Lynchpin in Northeast Asia

This position was clearly articulated in the agreement, and it has growing significance as we “rebalance” to the Asia-Pacific region. This position also bears restating in light of our bilateral efforts to deal with “coercive and destabilizing behaviors,” across a range of security and non- security related missions in Asia.

Other US allies are part of the equation. The talks in Tokyo, and the resulting strategic agreement, stressed multilateral work with key partners, particularly Australia and the Republic of Korea. These are the most important players, but there are significant roles for the Philippines, New Zealand, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, and Vietnam, among others.  he role of Taiwan and these nations is becoming more universally accepted in Japan as time goes on.

It’s About the Region

Our strategic linkage with Japan is often characterized in the context of China. However, the view from Tokyo also reflects high concern with North Korea and Russia. In addition, with the steady focus on territorial disputes between Japan and China, it’s worth noting that the dispute with between Tokyo and Moscow on the Kurile islands is still very real.

The Alliance Extends Well Beyond East Asia

The agreement emphasizes the “global nature of the US-Japan Alliance,” and addresses transnational issues such as counterterrorism, counter-piracy, peacekeeping, and humanitarian assistance/disaster relief.  Deployments of Japanese forces have reflected this expanded role over the past decade, including military operations off the Horn of Africa, and even in Iraq.

Japan—& Other Asian Nations—Want Sustained US Engagement

President Barack Obama’s (understandable) last-minute cancellation of his visit to this week’s Asia-Pacific economic summit gave Asian leaders a first-hand taste of reduced high-level influence. The clear message from nearly all of them was that they didn’t like it (although John Kerry did very well as a stand-in). In short, the demand signal for an active US role in balancing expanding Chinese influence, and as an honest broker across regional disputes, remains as strong as ever.

As the US and Japan continue to work out additional details of the strategic agreement (due out by the end of next year), there is additional opportunity to advance security cooperation between the two nations, with positive effect throughout East Asia. The agreement reiterated that “the US-Japan Alliance is the cornerstone of peace and security in the region.”  This statement will provide a strong basis, as we work closely with Tokyo, to advance the largely peaceful and prosperous Asian strategic environment well into the future.