Washington Hilton Hotel
The first Panel on the US- China- Japan Trilateral Competition or Corporation moderated by John Berry, Ambassador, President of the Australian Association which had panelist from Dr. Oriana Skylar Mastro, Assistant professor of Security Studies at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, Richard Fontaine President of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), Dr. Joshua Walker Head of Global Strategic Initiatives at Office of the President, Eurasia Group , discussed about the bases of international relations, peace, and stability and the way forward for the three nations.
The three countries have generally shared interests in Asia but the shared interests, corporation and contest between the United States and China have been the major topic of discussion with little or no dialogue on the policies and activities going on in Asia. To build a good common understanding, there is need for the three countries to collaborate for the good course. During the first session the panelists shared their viewpoints on the political and economic developments in Asia and strategies for cooperation. Ambassador John Berry highlighted “the U.S., China and Japan are the most important powers in Asia, and the relationships among them are the foundation of international relations, peace and stability in East Asia. However, it may also become the major source of strategic conflict in the region.” “What Asia is now and will become in future decades, depends very much on the three countries and their relationships” Ambassador Berry said.
Dr. Mastro said “corporation is not good for its own sake. It has to be a means of accomplishing a stated policy goals and if China’s role does not help us in accomplishing this role, then, China should not be included.” She added that there should also be a double of benefits the both countries share if It is true that cooperation will be beneficial. Mastro said that “in some cases, Chinese, they don’t have the capabilities to contribute and anything could lead to negative outcome.” Mastro suggested that “the best tactics to improve relationship is through the process of working together for some greater benefits.
Dr. Joshua Walker, Head of global Strategic Initiatives at the President, Eurasia Group, highlighted the need for other countries soft power to be recognized. “In China, we don’t have that. We don’t have the basic fundamental understanding (that will allow us to kind of) when it gets to a very difficult place, where tensions have risen to the point of emotions getting the best of our leaders, what do we back down on? Right now, we have seen it play out in a very significant way in North Korea. Most of us are actually scared about what North Korea can do to us, what we are worried about is how that can easily escalate far beyond missiles strikes.” said Walker. He added that “Japan cannot reach a consensus with China on its own, but we take the US Japan Alliance, when we begin to add other capabilities together.”
Richard Fontaine President of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) highlighted on: there is an appetite for American engagement in Asia that is matched by a high degree of uncertainty about what the shape of that engagement will look like. Fontaine said the U.S. is in a fundamentally competitive relationship with China and Russia. One of the interesting things about China is the increasingly broad definition of its national interests and its ability to project power in a way that it wasn’t able to do before. “It’s not solely competitive. It’s about aspects of cooperation as well,” Fontaine said.
The second Panel of the conference lays out the daily challenges facing Europe, Eurasia and the Middle East: Waiting Good News. The panelists discussion expanded on security problems starting with the debt and financial crisis and continuing with crises over Syria and refugees. The speakers included Dr. Karen Donfriend, President of the German Marshall Fund of the USA, Wendy Chamberlin, Ambassador, President of the Middle East Institute, Luke Coffey, Director of Foreign Policy Center at Heritage Foundation, and Alex Vatanka, Senior Fellow at the Middle East Institute.
Dr. Walker opened the discussion and highlighted “Europe, Eurasia and the Middle East have been facing new challenges on a daily basis. Today’s environment is characterized by security problems with a series of sequential crises, starting with the debt and financial crisis and continuing with crises over Syria and refugees.”
President of the Middle East Institute Amb. Wendy Chamberlin said, “Despite the enemies to war, Syria remains the most dangerous place on the planet, the powers that are operating in Syria is very real and, regrettably, possible.” From the migration crisis to non-state actors to slow growth, Chamberlin said a whole host of problems are helping populist parties and authoritarians shrinking the ground for reasonable consensus.
Chamberlin also spoke about the defeat of ISIS, in particular Iran’s militia allies threatening violence against American troops in Iraq and calling for U.S. withdrawal from the country. In addition to making violent threats, she said opposing forces in Iraq are now focusing on undermining U.S. interests and trying to speed up the withdrawal process now that the Islamic State is defeated.
Luke Coffey stated that “in terms of the conflicts itself, the goal of any counter insurgency campaign is to give those who have legitimate political grievances the ability to address this grievances through a political process and not through violence.” Coffey added that “at the end of this counter insurgency if we are to be successful, we will be negotiating the settlements”, that is what counter insurgency is. If we are not comfortable with that, if we don’t like that, then we need to fight another type of war then.” But we are in counter insurgency and this is how counter insurgencies end.” Coffey further explained that the goal in Afghanistan is to create a stable enough Afghanistan to make them manage their own internal security by tens of thousands of western troops on the ground National security nothing more, nothing less.
Amidst concerns and disagreements Coffey applauded the 7 decades of relationship between Turkey and the US and added “ I am incredibly skeptical, I am in supportive of the US deciding to use the YPG as our forces on the guard in Syria, yes they are courageous, yes they are brave but this is an organization that has its ideological roost in Neo Marxism, and is a Syrian branch of the PKK which is a protractors organization not only in the United States but most of our NATO allies” Coffey said.
Dr. Karen Donfriend President of the German Marshall Fund of the USA examined the role the United States played in the past in building relationship with foreign allies and the changes with the current situation of the United States to withdraw from its allies especially in Syria and Europe. “There is a deeper question here about what role we as Americans want to be involved in as we go forward,” Donfriend said.
I feel very concerned about our security in the united states the questions everybody is raising is what the US is going to do on Iran, (Iran deal), what is going to do with Israel, what is it going to do with Middle East Allies, in Eurasia, Afghanistan. In some ways we have very clear-cut feeling that somehow the election of Donald Trump regardless of the toll has weakened the United States”, Alex Vatanka said.
Participants had the opportunity to ask questions during the sessions and the panelists equally responded to their questions. Both panels ended with presentation of gifts to the speakers.