Weaponizing the Past, or, How to Get a Book Contract in Trump’s America

It seems a bit too easy these days to begin any essay with a nod to how disturbed one is by the latest muddy geyser of Presidential discourse. As most sentient beings on the planet today could tell you, the president himself is a kind of endless mine of shocking (and therefore clickable) material when it comes to race in America, immigration, conceptions of borders … Continue reading Weaponizing the Past, or, How to Get a Book Contract in Trump’s America

Questioned Liberators: Guerrilla, Mobile, and Base Warfare in Communist Military Operations in Manchuria, 1945-1947

The years from 1945-1947 were a complex transitional period in the development of Chinese Communist military, political, and diplomatic strategy. While not yet facing the dilemmas of transforming wholesale an insurgent movement into a governing state, the Party was still beset on every side with new dilemmas, contingencies, and existential threats. It feels obvious to state but it bears repeating that during the early stages … Continue reading Questioned Liberators: Guerrilla, Mobile, and Base Warfare in Communist Military Operations in Manchuria, 1945-1947

Sticky post

Notes on the Sino-North Korean War of Words

Just because the US President has thrown up a number of smokescreens and signs of real mania of late does not mean writers must “resist” by reflexively taking an analytical approach toward US-North Korean relations that would have prevailed in the counterfactual event of his opponent having won the 2016 election. Imagine a world in which the arms control specialists and IR-types who have seized … Continue reading Notes on the Sino-North Korean War of Words

Right of Reply: Kim Jong-un’s Rejoinder to American Threats at the UN General Assembly

I imagine that most people did not expect Kim Jong-un to make a direct statement to President Trump — I certainly didn’t. But the North Korean leader has done so, adding yet another layer of surprise to an evolving confrontation with the Trump administration, and showing that in spite of living within layer after layer of carefully cultivated legacy politics, he is capable of learning … Continue reading Right of Reply: Kim Jong-un’s Rejoinder to American Threats at the UN General Assembly

North Korea as Cinematic Enemy: Donald Trump and ‘Olympus has Fallen’

I’m a historian of contemporary Northeast Asia, which means that narratives having to do with the Cold War or with peace and war in the region today interest me, even when they’re awful. In 2013, I made the ultimate sacrifice for an academic and went to see Olympus has Fallen, a mass-marketed Hollywood movie that, nominally, intersects with the subject matter I have dedicated myself to study. … Continue reading North Korea as Cinematic Enemy: Donald Trump and ‘Olympus has Fallen’

Joshua’s Map: Beijing’s Coverage of North Korean Defector Issues and Human Rights

In January/February 2015, the Huanqiu Shibao (the foreign affairs tabloid under Beijing People’s Daily, massive readership etc.) used one of Joshua Stanton’s maps to indicate the locations of North Korea’s largest gulags. Given the combination of Stanton’s personal hostility toward the Chinese Communist Party and Beijing’s own reluctance to throw North Korean human rights up to public introspection, I found this method rather surprising. Yet more … Continue reading Joshua’s Map: Beijing’s Coverage of North Korean Defector Issues and Human Rights

Hillary Clinton and the Taxing Friendship: China and North Korea

This essay, previously unpublished, was written in Seattle on 27 May 2010. Hillary Clinton arrived in Beijing last weekend to send an urgent message to China: put pressure on North Korea.  Tensions on the Korean Peninsula are peaking, provoked by the North Korean sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan and the consequent death of 46 soldiers allied to the United States.  Secretary Clinton, like … Continue reading Hillary Clinton and the Taxing Friendship: China and North Korea