Pope Francis: Four Years On

(image by Eusebiu Balauca) With the sudden resignation of Pope Benedict XVI in 2013, scores of international observers remarked that the once venerable, geopolitically-prominent Roman Catholic Church had seen its heyday. Dwindling congregation numbers across Europe, the continued exclusion of women from all church affairs, and an infamous slew of sexual assault cases have beleaguered the esteemed institution in recent years and put its standing … Continue reading Pope Francis: Four Years On

A Clouded Future Ahead?: An Unpopular King and Constitution in Thailand

(image by manhhai)  The Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, one of the most revered and longest-reigning monarchs in the world, succeeded the Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn on December 1, 2016. The government has declared a one-year official mourning period for King Bhumibol, which delayed the Prince’s succession. A unifying figure and a near-deity in a country torn by deep division and ruled currently by a military … Continue reading A Clouded Future Ahead?: An Unpopular King and Constitution in Thailand

Asia Presses on With Free Trade, Without Trump

(image by Michael Vadon) Throughout the 2016 election campaign, Donald Trump never missed an opportunity to rail against U.S. participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. The proposed trade pact, the result of negotiations during the Obama administration between the United States and 11 other Pacific nations, was slammed by Trump and others for perceived weakening of U.S. regulatory standards and fears that it would accelerate … Continue reading Asia Presses on With Free Trade, Without Trump

From Triumph To Tragedy: Understanding Conflict in South Sudan

(image by European External Action Service) In a recent report published by the United Nations, experts concluded that war-torn South Sudan’s sectarian violence has reached “catastrophic proportions”, noting the deteriorating security situation is nothing less than a descent into chaos. Newly-elected U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres depicted a stark reality in which paramilitary killings, sexual warfare and widespread displacement have become common occurrences, leaving tens of … Continue reading From Triumph To Tragedy: Understanding Conflict in South Sudan

Russian Reset: Trump Style, part 2

(Image by Global Panorama)  This article is part-2 of a two-part series; find yesterday’s post here While much will depend on how Trump handles his transition into European affairs, his true litmus test on how he will respond to Russian influence begins and ends with Syria.Trump’s departure from the outgoing administration’s policy regarding Syria has been viewed as an olive branch to the Kremlin. With … Continue reading Russian Reset: Trump Style, part 2

Russian Reset: Trump Style, part 1

(Image by Michael Vadon) The triumph of Republican Donald J. Trump over Democratic Russia hawk Hillary Clinton not only rattled Washington’s consensus on how to wrangle our longtime adversary, but also sent a message to Moscow that a diplomatic breakthrough could be on the horizon. Trump’s promise of detente and reconciliation has struck an unlikely chord with the Kremlin, drastically changing years of contentious rhetoric … Continue reading Russian Reset: Trump Style, part 1

The Philippines’ Pivot to China, Part 2

Note: This piece is the second of a two-part series. The first may be viewed here. (Image by Vin Crosbie) There remain some optimistic predictions about the state of U.S.-Philippines affairs. After Duterte’s wild remarks, his office clarified that the treaty alliance with the US would remain intact for the foreseeable future. His top economic policymakers also stated that while the Asian economic integration is … Continue reading The Philippines’ Pivot to China, Part 2