Thursday, 15 December 2016

Park’s Stunning Fall May Open the Door for Opposition Victory


Following weeks of massive street protests, Park Geun-hye, South Korea’s first female president, has been impeached by a vote in the country’s national assembly over accusations of extortion, bribery, abuses of power, leaking confidential government documents and violating the constitution.

Park has governed high-handedly with a secretive style of leadership that has stoked public curiosity in her closely guarded personal life. She campaigned on reducing income inequality and expanding welfare but emerged adrift as a bland center-right defender of the status quo.

She came to power in early 2013, supported at the ballot box by mainly senior citizens who saw her as channeling the legacy of her late father, the military dictator Park Chung-hee, often associated with modernization, rapid growth and authoritarianism.

The scandal that precipitated Park’s spectacular downfall is rooted in allegations that her longtime personal friend and confidant, Choi Soon-sil, exerted an inordinate amount of influence over government policies, edited the president’s speeches and even influenced government appointments.

Read the full story on New Eastern Outlook

Nile Bowie is a Singapore-based political commentator and columnist for the Malaysian Reserve newspaper. He can be reached at nilebowie@gmail.com.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Trump’s administration won’t benefit from hawkish stance on China

President-elect Donald Trump’s phone call with the president of Taiwan was initially reported as a protocol-shattering blunder initiated by the Taiwanese government rather than Trump himself, a move that provoked Beijing's ire.

American presidents, long sensitive to the China-Taiwan impasse, have not directly communicated with Taiwan’s leadership since 1979 when the Nixon-era shift in policy established formal direct ties between Washington and Beijing.

Though many were skeptical of the administration’s explanation of the exchange as a routine congratulatory call, it has since been established that the conversation had been quietly planned months in advance by Trump’s advisors.

Former Senator Bob Dole also played a key role coordinating between Taiwanese officials and the Trump campaign, reportedly lobbying as a foreign agent for the government of Taiwan behind the scenes. This was a calculated signal that the incoming administration, which has associated itself with several prominent Taiwan proponents, is planning to break with the past in pursuit of a tougher recalibration of relations with China.

Read the full story on RT

Nile Bowie is a Singapore-based political commentator and columnist for the Malaysian Reserve newspaper. He can be reached at nilebowie@gmail.com.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

‘Lock Her Up’: What’s next for S. Korea as scandal-ridden presidency dithers?

South Korea’s Park Geun-hye is at the center of a political firestorm and under attack on multiple fronts over a devastating corruption scandal. The country’s first female president faces impeachment and mass street protests calling for her arrest.

The bizarre scandal engulfing Park’s government is rooted in allegations that her longtime personal friend and confidant, Choi Soon-sil, exerted an inordinate amount of influence on government policies, edited the president’s speeches, and even influenced government appointments.

Choi, a civilian with no security clearance, was found to illegally possess confidential government documents. Park is also accused of personally lobbying corporations like Samsung and Hyundai to make massive financial contributions to charitable organizations controlled by Choi.

To add to the salaciousness, Korean media reports claim that Choi’s father was a spiritual mentor to Park after the death of her parents because of his alleged ability to channel the spirit of her assassinated mother and induce trance-like experiences in the future president.

Read the full story on RT

Nile Bowie is a Singapore-based political commentator and columnist for the Malaysian Reserve newspaper. He can be reached at nilebowie@gmail.com.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Trump says Trans-Pacific Partnership is dead – but will he backpedal?

President-elect Donald Trump has recently caught flak from supporters for distancing himself from his most contentious campaign promises, but he has stayed committed to pulling the plug on the TPP. In the two weeks since Donald Trump’s surprise election victory, the billionaire developer has adopted a noticeably softer demeanor from that of his insurgent campaign personality.

While vetting a team of mostly right-wing Republicans for his incoming transition team, he has cautiously walked back from several contentious campaign talking points while attempting to shed the most controversial elements of his base.

Trump has publicly disavowed prominent white-nationalist organizations and is making concessions on his most divisive goals. Areas of his odious border wall with Mexico may be dialed back to simple fencing, while some aspects of Obamacare might not be totally repealed. He has decided against appointing a special prosecutor to investigate Hilliary Clinton and has signaled a slightly more malleable position on climate protection.

Read the full story on RT

Nile Bowie is a Singapore-based political commentator and columnist for the Malaysian Reserve newspaper. He can be reached at nilebowie@gmail.com.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Election 2016: A Political System In Crisis


The outcome of strangest and most consequential election cycle in recent American history will soon be upon us. Regardless of who becomes the next president, this election will forever be synonymous with the rogue candidacy of Donald Trump and the demographic shifts that have emboldened the right.

Though it may be a close election, it is widely presumed that public antipathy towards Trump – the first major party candidate who is near-universally opposed by both major parties – will tilt the odds in Hillary Clinton’s favour. Nonetheless, Trump’s support base of primarily white, blue-collar Americans will be a major factor for the political establishment to contend with in the years ahead.

These voters are frustrated by their economic marginalisation wrought by neoliberal trade deals and economic policies, and are contemptuous of traditional political elite, their internationalism and liberal identity politics. For these voters, fear of immigration is entwined with the precarity of being working class, their troubling prejudices notwithstanding.

Read the full story on New Eastern Outlook

Nile Bowie is a Singapore-based political commentator and columnist for the Malaysian Reserve newspaper. He can be reached at nilebowie@gmail.com.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Failure to Accept Russia’s Position in Syria Inching US Closer to War


In recent weeks, officials of Western governments have engaged in a dramatic escalation of rhetoric condemning the Syrian and Russian governments for alleged war crimes that have occurred since the collapse of a UN-backed ceasefire in late September.

The escalating charges aimed at Russia and Syria, reinforced by well-orchestrated media campaigns propagating official talking points, are familiar in the sense that such attempts to mould public opinion have traditionally been a precursor to Western military interventions.

Western and Gulf states have been unequivocal about their intention to topple the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, presumably to replace it with a client regime that would maintain an adversarial relationship with Russia, Iran and various political forces associated with Shia Islam.

On the ground, the Syrian military, supported by Russian, Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah allies are on the path to military victory over the rebel-held east of Aleppo, which would mark the restoration of government control in all of Syria’s largest population centres.

Insurgents that have been armed and supported by the United States are now besieged in eastern Aleppo fighting Syrian government forces in coordination with jihadist militants, including the al-Nusra Front, the former Syrian wing of al Qaeda that Washington itself classifies as a terrorist organisation.

Read the full story on New Eastern Outlook

Nile Bowie is a Singapore-based political commentator and columnist for the Malaysian Reserve newspaper. He can be reached at nilebowie@gmail.com.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

As Syrian Forces Make Gains in Aleppo, the US Intends to Escalate


Events in northern Syria have taken a dramatic turn in recent days, beginning with an unprecedented US airstrike on Syrian army positions in Deir ez-Zor. US officials have said they were aiming for ISIS targets but struck Syrian army positions accidentally, killing 62 soldiers and exposing the remaining survivors to an Islamic State offensive.

In the days prior, the New York Times reported on a public disagreement between Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter over the terms of the proposed ceasefire being negotiated with Russia.

Carter was said to have ‘deep reservations’ over plans for American and Russian forces to share information and jointly target terrorist organisations as made conditional in the ceasefire proposal. Defense Department officials publically refused to affirm whether they would implement the agreement.

The subsequent attacks on a UN relief convoy saw US officials strongly imply responsibility on Moscow. Reuters and others carried claims by anonymous US officials identifying Russia as the perpetrator, while mention of the recent US strike in Deir ez-Zor was omitted from most dispatches.

Read the full story on New Eastern Outlook

Nile Bowie is a Singapore-based political commentator and columnist for the Malaysian Reserve newspaper. He can be reached at nilebowie@gmail.com.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Will the DPRK be Recognised as a Nuclear State?

Inter-Korean relations have reached their nadir. Following the North’s fourth nuclear test in January and subsequent long-range rocket launch that placed a satellite in orbit, Seoul has closed the Kaesong Industrial Complex. Pyongyang has cut military communication lines with the South and shut down the liaison office at Panmunjeom.

This means that all inter-Korean cooperation and exchange, as well as the channels for emergency communication between North and South Korea have been suspended. Meanwhile, the Security Council has passed Resolution 2270, noted for the introduction of severe sectoral sanctions against Pyongyang.

US and South Korean soldiers are currently taking part in annual large-scale military exercises, which reportedly feature training and simulations of preemptive strikes on Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile sites, amphibious landings on North Korean shores, and a”beheading operation” aimed at assassinating Kim Jong-un and toppling his government in the event of war.

Read the full story on New Eastern Outlook

Nile Bowie is a Singapore-based political commentator and columnist for the Malaysian Reserve newspaper. He can be reached at nilebowie@gmail.com.

Monday, 25 January 2016

As Myanmar Enters a New Era, Washington and Beijing Vie for Influence

Myanmar is a country rapidly moving toward uncharted political terrain. By March 2016, the National League for Democracy (NLD) will take power for the first time in history, bringing an end to five decades of rule by the military establishment. Once suppressed by the military junta, the NLD – led by longtime dissident and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi – has secured an indisputable victory during the country’s November 2015 elections, winning a majority in both houses of Parliament.

The ascent of the NLD comes at a time when Myanmar finds itself at a new strategic crossroads, pulled toward the geopolitical orbit of major powers: the United States and China, as well as India. Since the outgoing military-backed government opened the country to Western investment in 2011, the US has prioritised its relationship with Myanmar as part of its strategy to reassert influence in the Asia-Pacific region. The country has received numerous visits by US high-ranking leaders, including President Obama on two occasions.

China, the country’s neighbour and largest trading partner, has long suspected Washington of seeking to influence Myanmar’s opening to nurture a regime with an antagonistic position toward Beijing. While the NLD positions itself to form a new government, the rise of this political force with a thoroughly pro-Western orientation, which has long anchored itself as a pro-democracy movement lauded throughout the West, begs the question of Myanmar’s place in the current geopolitical scenario.

Read the full story on New Eastern Outlook

Nile Bowie is a Singapore-based political commentator and columnist for the Malaysian Reserve newspaper. He can be reached at nilebowie@gmail.com.