Category Archives: Interview

America’s Rush Back to Nuclear Weapons” (Foreign Policy in Focus)

Foreign Policy in Focus

Interview with Lawrence Wilkerson

“America’s Rush Back to Nuclear Weapons”

September 5, 2019

Emanuel Pastreich

Interview with Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell and current Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Government and Public Policy in the Government Department of the College of William and Mary.

Emanuel Pastreich: What is the current status of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty on nuclear weapons?

Lawrence Wilkerson: As you know, the United States pulled out of the INF medium-range nuclear weapons treaty with Russia in August and it plans a substantial buildup of these destabilizing weapons, above all in East Asia. This move is dangerous.

The INF Treaty was far from perfect, but it had a broad appeal, including an appeal to many in the military, because it simply made sense.

That treaty between the United States and Russia encompassed all missiles, nuclear or conventional, ballistic or cruise, that had a range of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. When the INF Treaty was signed in 1987, it helped to slow down a dangerous arms race. For the first time since the Cold War started, an entire class of nuclear weapons was eliminated.

Pastreich: Why do you think the United States withdrew?

Wilkerson: We no longer live in a rational world  in which policy makers take a scientific approach to risk.  Rather, policy making is dominated by irrational figures like John Bolton, the president’s national security advisor, a man who hates arms control with a passion, who spends his days trying to find ways to undo the few restrictions that remain, and who would plunge the world into a completely new nuclear arms race.

This time, however, the competition won’t be bilateral, just between the United States and the USSR. This time the race will be global, and we will see a nightmare world of instability, with a renewed risk of a nuclear holocaust as a result.

Pastreich: What’s the background behind this drastic shift in American policy?

Wilkerson: Right now there are a huge number of intermediate range missiles stationed in Fujian Province, and elsewhere in southern China, which are aimed at Taiwan. We’re talking about a missile for just about every square meter of every viable target in Taiwan. China was never a signatory to the INF Treaty because at the time its missile capacity was minimal and its nuclear weapons policy, which was set by Mao Zedong, was one of sufficiency to deter.

If there was a valid reason for the United States to withdraw from the current INF Treaty, it was this change in China’s missile arsenal. China is most likely contemplating a new doctrine with regard to the use of nuclear weapons. That change has little to do with Russia and everything to do with the pressing need for a new nuclear weapons arms control regime.

Pastreich: You mean that China’s actions were a reason for the United States to withdraw?

Wilkerson: In part, the changes in China were a factor. And Russia has been “cheating” with respect to the INF Treaty. Even more dangerous is Russia’s publication of a military doctrine calling for blunting NATO’s advantage in PGMs [precision guided munitions] by using short-range nuclear strikes. Russia has been building a missile inventory necessary to accomplish this doctrine.

There are of course other aspects of the problem. We find a mutual abuse of the INF Treaty, such as the United States putting ABM defenses and troops in former Warsaw Pact countries, thus moving the borders of NATO so that they are smack up against Russia’s “near abroad.” And now the United States refuses to talk about almost anything with Russia.

We see the proliferation of medium-range missiles among non-signatory countries (China, DPRK, Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc.) and also violations of the INF Treaty by both the original treaty signatories, who also happen to be the owners of the vast preponderance of nuclear weapons.

Pastreich: What do you think that should the United States have done then?

Wilkerson: Sadly, the United States kept complaining about what was imperfect about the treaty, but it made no effort to create something better, to fashion and gain support for an entirely new and more comprehensive nuclear arms control regime.

Instead, what the United States is accomplishing is the launch of a far more virulent arms race, one that could lead, some would argue inevitably, to the use of nuclear weapons in war.

It would have made better sense to maintain the treaty, or to declare it obsolete, in a bipartisan manner, and, in either case, to open negotiations to expand the treaty so as to include all nations that possess extensive stockpiles of intermediate range missiles—particularly those that also possessing nuclear weapon capability. From the point of view of smart arms control, of our children’s future, and of the security of the United States and of the world, such an expanded and modernized, treaty would make perfect sense.

But Trump’s national security advisor, John Bolton, doesn’t do arms control.  Moreover, Trump himself seems to disdain multilateral arrangements, sensible negotiations, and the type of astute diplomacy required to accomplish either. He seems to more-or-less follow Bolton and his desire for “a little nuclear war.” While campaigning, Trump even suggested he believed the world would be better off if there were more, not fewer, nuclear weapons, and states that possessed them.

Pastreich: What can be done now to correct this mistake?

Wilkerson: I think you mean, given these clear realities what can be done to modify the behavior of an administration that has been opposed to arms control from the very start and that has done more and will do more to damage arms control efforts than any previous administration? How will we convince John Bolton and Mike Pompeo, who made their careers by opposing rational arms control treaties, that they don’t need to abandon treaties but should rather expand them, multi-lateralize them, and seek new ones that do even more than the old ones did?

If we are talking about these individuals alone, the task is hopeless. They are beyond redemption. But democratic politics is not simply about individuals, whether it be presidents, national security advisors, or otherwise. There are cases in American history where extremist politicians have been brought into line by a shift in the mood and in the culture and by a weigh-in by the demos in accordance with such shifts.

What we need is to create again in Washington DC a nuclear arms control environment, a culture in which responsibility and strict regulation of nuclear weapons—and other weapons, as in the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty—is accepted as a necessity. We need to ensure that such a development is a natural occurrence, that it is something that is not disdained, but rather anticipated.

At the end of the day, we need to negotiate a series of treaties that form a global overlapping system that includes all classes of nuclear weapons. We need to bring into this process pariah states like Israel and North Korea. Achieving that goal requires us to be tough at times. We must be ready to take a strong stand to insist that all nuclear weapon states must join the regime that will be established.

Pastreich: What is the thinking about nonproliferation and disarmament in the U.S. military?

Wilkerson: The military makes the challenge even greater because there are large factions in the military who are hankering for a new nuclear arms race. Those generals and admirals want more money, and they want to build more missiles. Doing so will allow them to get their hands on some of the trillion-plus dollars allotted for new nuclear weapons by former President Obama.

Those officers want all sorts of nuclear and non-nuclear missiles, but the diversity in their demands does not mean that they are strategically imaginative. They are not.

All they want is more, more, and a little more. But we should also remember that there are some clear thinkers and some brave people devoted to the common good mixed in with them. They see the handwriting on the wall and they wish to avert nuclear war.

President Trump is highly susceptible to the military’s siren call. The president has painted himself into multiple corners, and he seems to feel that he desperately needs the military to be president of the United States. Since he now faces opposition at almost every level of government and increasingly within the country, loyalty has become his first priority. He perceives the military to be overwhelmingly loyal to him and he wants to reward them.

This relationship between Trump and the military is dangerous because Trump is so ignorant about diplomacy and security, and at the same time he is increasingly desperate in his search for support. He does not care about global warming or nuclear war, but he is obsessed with his political standing. He desires above all to have people who will gather around him and listen to him speak. He is ultimately concerned with holding on to power.

Moreover, nuclear missiles, in particular, offer big juicy contracts that are not subject to much external review, and they empower the president—who is the one who can decide on his own whether or not to use them. So these weapons also feed Trump’s ego.

But anyone with any understanding of nuclear weapons knows how close we have come to nuclear war in the past—even with treaties in place. Sadly, most educated citizens have no idea how different a world we will be living in once the nuclear weapon genie escapes from its bottle, especially as there is a whole new group of nations like Germany, Turkey, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, and so on, that have either in the past shown a desire for nuclear weapons or who could join in a future nuclear arms race.

Pastreich: The decision to withdraw from the INF treaty, and other agreements like the ABM Treaty, while simultaneously increasing the number of short-range nuclear missiles, seems as if it was made in meetings among Bolton, Pompeo and Trump, with some input from the military. There were few, if any, congressional committees who debated the new policies, or summoned experts on nonproliferation for testimony.  

Wilkerson: This unhealthy policy-making process seems to be intrinsic to the Trump administration. But the shift has been taking place for some time. The cause is not necessarily Trump.

H.L. Mencken wrote back in 1920 that one day, “…the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” Although that prediction was uncanny, it was not a matter of chance.

The current crescendo of incompetence is the product of a long-term structural and statutory shift that has encouraged a dysfunctional decision-making process.

We can see Trump’s arbitrary use of power as the logical conclusion of the centralization of national security decision-making in the White House that dates back to the 1947 National Security Act. This concentration of power in the White House, and the decline of the power of the president’s cabinet, as well as of the powerful congressional committees run by highly educated and focused political leaders like Jacob Javits or James Fulbright, have profoundly altered the process by which policy is formulated and decisions are made.

The next step came after Ronald Reagan both consolidated power in the executive and stripped other parts of the federal government of budgets and authority. He created a new policy landscape that was readily made use of by H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, with some slight variations. So, the original balance of powers among Congress, the judiciary, and the executive described in the constitution existed only by dint of institutional inertia. That balance was ready to be torn down—and was torn down like a rotten tree—by Trump’s people.  

Pastreich: How does this institutional shift relate to the seemingly endless wars the United States is involved in?

Wilkerson: Many members of Congress—and particularly powerful committee chairmen—are backed to the hilt by Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing, BAE, Grumman, General Dynamics, and other military contractors who are pursuing big-budget contracts with the government. This trend is true for both parties, but the Republicans practice it with greater abandonment. The coffers of these Congress members are essentially filled up by lobbyists who represent these merchants of war.

Pastreich: Although it seems irrelevant to lobbyists and influence peddlers, the constitution is supposed to be the manual that determines how the Federal government is run.

Wilkerson: The three branches of government are co-equal, but the legislative branch was clearly meant to be primus inter pares, and James Madison was quite adamant on that point.

The executive has become the overwhelmingly dominant branch. And now you have a specially selected Supreme Court and a court system that basically approves all of the executive branch’s actions, domestic and foreign. The Congress, especially the Republican-dominated Senate, is incapable of overriding the president. At this very moment, the Republicans in the Senate and the White House are conspiring to keep the House of Representatives from reclaiming the war powers that the constitution grants to Congress.

That battle is but the small end of the sword, if you will. The big end is that if we do go to war with Iran, for example, it will be without any congressional input, whatsoever. The latest disaster for the United States will be perpetrated by the executive branch alone, without any accountability. That is the degree to which the decision-making process with regard to war has been usurped by the president.

Of course, saying that decision-making is centralized in the White House is not the entire story. That White House we see today was created by, and takes its marching orders from, a predatory and transnational capitalist state where defense contractors, investment bankers, and hedge fund billionaires call the shots. Then there is big oil, big food, and big energy. Needless to say, having the decision-making so centralized makes it much easier for the big money from these groups to have impact than would be the case if decision-making were spread across the cabinet or across the government. Also, there is no moment in the process when anyone asks what the national interest is, what the long-term implications are.

Pastreich: Let’s come back to China for a moment. What are the risks for America here?

Wilkerson: First, let’s consider what the role of the United States should be—and, not just about juicy military budgets resulting from the China threat.

These days the United States is just a disruptor in Asia, and an unintelligent disruptor at that. We swing from cooing “I love you, Kim Jong Un” to imposing vicious tariffs on Chinese goods to creating a major embarrassment for Japanese Prime Minister Abe when he tried to help out with Iran.

And most of us were shocked to see Trump mocking how Japanese speak and how Koreans speak. That was the president of the United States! He was not speaking to Prime Minister Abe or to President Moon, but to a racist audience at home and for strictly domestic political purposes.

But to a certain degree the future role of the United States in East Asia will be determined by power dynamics in the region as much as by U.S. policy. Some Americans might want to stay, to be a hegemon in Northeast Asia forever. But that is not a sustainable policy. There is a desperate need for the United States to find a middle ground, a course that preserves some essential American influence within a cooperative framework. The competition with China, and other powers, is going to be substantial at all levels, and simply painting China as a bogeyman is not going to do the trick.

First, we need to go back to good old-fashioned diplomacy. That is more important than any fighter plane or missile. No state is going to fare well in a hot war, or even in a new cold war. We need to use our creativity to shape a culture that supports arms treaties, disarmament, and peace in general—peaceful competition, if you will. And we must build an off-ramp that allows America to dismount the imperial train and steer away from global hegemony and towards global cooperation.

Oddly enough, I think Trump is – very inexpertly, imperfectly, and probably unknowingly – digging out the foundations for such a new collaborative order through his destructive fits. He calls into question the value of NATO, and the so-called deep state is immediately up in arms. So, although Trump may be doing many destructive things, he is also drawing attention to the anachronism that NATO has become post-Cold War. The alliance no longer has any purpose except to seek out trouble “out of area” to justify itself.

We need to have the courage to discuss how we will bring back U.S. troops from the Korean Peninsula, and under what circumstances. We cannot consider that discussion a taboo topic. We also need to use our imagination, and our commitment, to create a regional order that assures the continued security of the Korean Peninsula without that U.S. troop presence.

Let’s be honest with ourselves. If the United States wants to maintain its influence in East Asia, its needs plans to bring its troops back from other parts of East Asia, including Japan and particularly Okinawa. We will be much better off if we take the initiative than if we are pushed out by some disaster or another.

And in terms of policy change, I am not just talking about security issues. The United States today is flat-out bankrupt, with a $22 trillion debt. Annual interest payments on that debt added to the annual military budget will zero-out all other discretionary federal spending in less than a decade. We just did something unprecedented: we printed billions of dollars under the Quantitative Easing program with absolutely nothing behind those dollars except the paper and ink on which they were printed. We have no earthly idea what such profligacy will produce in the future. We have new security challenges like a changing climate and we had better start saving money, and learning to respond to new security challenges, in a manner that does not require such an expensive military instrument.

Pastreich: How can the United States fashion a different strategy for engaging with the world?

Wilkerson: Ambassador Richard Haass threw out the concept of “integration” back in 2001 in his discussions with his Policy Planning staff. He thought that “integration” was the best one-word substitution for “containment.” For Haass, integration was a concept that offered an alternative to globalization and its demand for unending expansion and extraction. Haass did not like the concept of globalization, and I think he was right.

Globalization has happened before, in the 1890s, for example. But globalization brings contradictions and tensions that are dangerous. What is going on today goes beyond globalization. What we see happening today is integration: integration of trade, integration of society, integration of culture. That integration is at times mean, disruptive, hateful, and dangerous, but it’s happening.

Trade is where we observe the most profound integration. For example, the United States cannot make a sophisticated piece of military equipment any longer without employing foreign components.

But Trump is heading in the opposite direction. He wants to take apart trade agreements and institutions, to disintegrate, not to integrate, trade. And he thinks that somehow the destruction of global institutions will save “white America.”

「エ マ ニ ュ エ ル ・ パ ス ト リ ッ チ さ ん   民 間 シ ン ク タ ン ク 所 長   米 国 と 東 ア ジ ア を つ な げ る 」Daily NNA (共同通信グループ)

Daily NNA (共同通信グループ)


2019年 7月 22日

エ マ ニ ュ エ ル パ ス ト リ ッ チ さ ん   民 間 シ ン ク タ ン ク 所 長   米 と 東 ア ジ ア を つ な げ る

2 6 1

えまにゅえる・ぱすとりっち 1964 年米国テネシー 州生まれ。民間シンクタンク、アジアインスティテュ ート所長。東京大学で修士号、ハーバード大学で博士 号をそれぞれ取得。専門は東アジアの古典文学など。 韓国在住 12 年。著書に「韓国人だけが知らない別の大 韓民国:ハーバード大学の博士が見た韓国の可能性)」 (21 世紀ブックス)などがある。このほど、初の日本語 書籍となる 「武器よさらば:地球温暖化の危機と憲法 九条」(東方出版社)を上梓した。

日本語と韓国語、中国語に堪能なパストリッチさん。南部ナ ッシュビルで生まれ、中部ミズーリ州セントルイスで幼少を過 ごした。中学卒業後、サンフランシスコにある高校に通った。 そこでのアジア系学生との出会いがパストリッチさんの人生を 方向付けた。 中国文学を専攻したイエール時代  83年に入学したイエール大学では中国文学を専攻。明・清時 代に書かれた「水滸伝」「三国志演義」などの白話小説の勉強 に打ち込んだ。  

日本語は4年生になって本格的に学習始めたという。「アジ アの2言語をマスターすれば、将来活躍できる場が一層広がる と思った」と同時を振り返る。ところが「本業」の中国語より も相性が良かったのか、卒業後、日本留学を決意。東京大学の 修士課程に進み、江戸時代後期の南画家として知られる田能村 竹田などが書いた漢詩や漢文を研究した。  

修士取得後は東大博士課程に進むも、「母国で活躍したい」 と米ハーバード大学の博士課程に方向転換。98年に博士号取得。 イリノイ大学で日本文学の助教授として教鞭を執り始めた。


パストリッチさんは05年、ジョージワシントン大学で教授の 職を得る。大学で教鞭を執る傍ら、近くにある在米韓国大使館 で韓国の外交官や学者、記者を相手に米国政治に関してブリー フィングする仕事も始めた。当時、韓国は盧武鉉(ノ・ムヒョン)政権で、ブッシュ政権との関係は決して良好とは言えない 状況だった。ワシントンにはアジアの専門家と呼べる人材が少 ない。ハーバード時代に1年間、ソウル大学に留学した経験が 買われた。  

韓国大使館では、政治経済や社会などを学ぶゼミ「Koru s House」も月2~3回のペースで主催した。大学での 仕事よりも魅力を感じたのか、パストリッチさんは、水を得た 魚のように活動した。しかし、活動場所は韓国大使館内だった ため、次第に限界を感じるようになる。  そこでパストリッチさんの人生に転機が訪れる。知人を通じ て出会った李完九(イ・ワング)忠清南道知事(当時)から補 佐官として招請を受けたのだ。パストリッチさんは悩んだ末、 「大使館での仕事より面白そう」と韓国行きを決意。ジョージ タウン大学を辞し、07年から南部大田市で生活を始めた。

アジアインスティテュート設立  大田市は韓国を代表する科学技術都市。パストリッチさんは、 名門韓国科学技術院(KAIST)などさまざまな研究機関で 行われる共同研究といった各種プロジェクトに参加。筑波大学 の研究機関にも訪問したという。環境問題に目覚めたのもその 頃だ。知事を補佐する傍ら、「Korus House」を発 展させる形で、民間シンクタンク、アジアインスティテュート を設立。自ら所長に就任した。自由な発言の空間を得たパスト リッチさんはこれまで、米政治学者フランシス・フクヤマ氏や ジョセフ・ナイ氏など世界の碩学たちと対話を重ねてきた。  

2011年からソウル市に活動の拠点を移し、慶熙大学で教鞭を執 り始める。執筆活動にも力が入った。これまで韓国語で5冊の 本を上梓。うち3冊がベストセラー。中でも、「韓国人だけが 知らない別の大韓民国」は朴槿恵(パク・クネ)元大統領が高 く評価し、講演やテレビ出演も多くこなした。  今年7月には、待望の日本語書籍「武器よさらば:地球温暖 化の危機と憲法九条」を上梓した。

ニュースサイト「ハフィン トンポスト」に寄稿した文章などをまとめた上で加筆したもの で、これまでの執筆活動の集大成という位置付けだ。パストリ ッチさんは本の中で、今後の日本の安全保障について「環境問 題の解決なしにあり得ない」と指摘。大田市時代に日本の科学 技術力を知った経験を基に、「日本は『新安全保障』でイニシ アチブを取る能力と資格が十分にある」と訴える。

東アジアと米国をつなげる  パストリッチさんは来月、12年間の韓国生活を整理し、母国 に戻る予定だ。拠点は政治の中心ワシントン。「韓国と米国だ けでなく、東アジア全体と米国をつなげる役割を果たしたかっ た」と話す。その基盤となるのがアジアインスティテュートだ。 ワシントンとソウルの他に、日本にも法人を設立。ベトナム・ ハノイにはオフィスを開設した。  

「米国では海外生活を通じて大きく成長した姿を見せたい」 と話すパストリッチさん。活動の舞台は整った。アジアインス ティテュートを世界的なシンクタンクとして育成すべく、一歩 を大きく踏み出そうとしている。


Emanuel on Xi’s speech at CPC

Interview with Emanuel Pastreich

Director of the Asia Institute

October 18, 2017

CGNT (China Global Network Television)

Asia Today


On the 19th Communist Party Congress and President Xi Jinping’s Speech



Mang Mang:

“Of course, Xi Jinping elaborated on Chinese foreign policy towards Asian neighbors. Which issues stood out most to you and do you have any fresh insights?”

Emanuel Pastreich:

“I can tell you what was most striking. President Xi did not criticize any other nations. He did not speak about wars, or even competition. He gave hope and an opportunity for cooperation. He suggested a new vision for the world, for Asia, starting from the One Belt; One Belt Initiative. His proposal was that the ultimate focus was on each nation’s potential

He said that China offered potential models in its past and in its present, but that each country had its unique qualities that also should be respected.


And I was most impressed when he said, “the political advancement of mankind,” which suggested an idealism that in many countries has been lost over the last few decades and it is very, very far from “America first.”

Finally I was impressed by his emphasis on science and on scientific inquiry, on addressing poverty and addressing climate change, and on global collaboration which was the original purpose of the World Bank and the United Nations, but we have sometimes lost our way.


Host Mang Mang:

“So in order to enhance collaboration there needs to be a decent level of integration. What more can you tell us about Chinese efforts to facilitate greater regional integration in Asia?


Emanuel Pastreich:

“Well, of course, China is active all over the place, and increasingly playing a vital role. But we have to see this in context. As an American, myself, originally, the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from UNESCO, to reduce its participation in the United Nations, in diplomacy and in global governance, in poverty reduction, makes China now the major donor. We are going to see major shifts around the world. And it is inspiring to me, of course I am not a fortune teller and I do not know how things will play out, but this potential for a cooperative world not based on the threat of force or economic domination, in which the needs of poor people and developing countries are properly addressed, that this offers a real potential to us that can be inspiring and I think many people were hoping that he would make some statement like this to give us some sense that there is some potential in what is a very critical and critical and dangerous moment in human history.

Interview with 938 Live on Korean Election

Interview with Chew Wui Lynn of 938LIVE, Mediacorp Radio in Singapore about the Korean elections today.


Can the next Korean president address the issues? 


“The Greatest asset of Korea is our people” Speaker Chung Sye-kyun (January 3, 2017 Huffington Post)

Huffington Post

“ ‘The Greatest asset of Korea is our people’ Speaker Chung Sye-kyun on Impeachment and Korea’s future”

January 3, 2017


Emanuel Pastreich

Chung Sye-kyun became speaker of the National Assembly when his Democratic Party of Korea swept to victory in the June elections last year. The conservative Saenuri Party had taken a tremendous fall because of the fading appeal of its neo-liberal policies.

A senior figure in Korean politics with a balanced personality, Chung is not quick to make emotional judgments, but rather focused on creating harmonious relations within the political sphere. He has a passion for institution building. He has emerged as a central political figure in Korea during the impeachment proceedings of President Park Geun-hye.

I had a chance to talk to him briefly about Korea’s current political crisis and his perspective on the challenges, and possibilities, that lie ahead. As a man in the eye of the storm, he is perhaps best positioned to give an accurate assessment.

Read more of this post

“Interview with Harvard’s Legendary Dean Henry Rosovsky” (Huffington Post, January 9, 2016)

Huffington Post


“Interview with Harvard’s Legendary Dean Henry Rosovsky:

The Secret of excellence and the prospects for Asian Higher Learning”


January 9, 2016


Emanuel Pastreich



Harvard University had obtained a remarkable global role since the end of the Second World War. Of course it has been a strong institution for a long time, but if we think back, in 1900, or even in 1930, it was not considered to be on the same level as some universities in England, Germany or France. What exactly was it that allowed Harvard to reach the status that it enjoys today?

The task of building a great university is never simple.

Let me stress one point because it’s so often misunderstood, and we see this in Asia today: To become a world-class university takes a lot of time. There are simply no shortcuts. People tend to assume, and I have encountered this sort of thinking all over the world, that if they just sink enough money into a university, it will emerge in a few years as a first-class institution. But such rapid growth never happens. It takes time; it takes generations.

That said, there are a few clear factors that determine the potential of a university to reach the highest levels of excellence. In the case of Harvard University, it was true that by the time of its tercentenary (300th anniversary of its founding) in 1936, Harvard had already achieved a reputation as a world-class institution. Harvard did not have the stature that it does today.

So what specifically happened between the nineteen-thirties and now? Well the United States became more economically powerful and attracted more resources and faculty from around the world after the Second World War. But one very important development were the innovations introduced by President James Bryant Conant who served as president from 1933 to1953.

What were the specific steps that President Conant took as president to transform Harvard? Read more of this post

Interview with Dr. Bark Taoho, former minister of finance (ROK) Arirang G-Lounge

January 4, 2016

Emanuel Pastreich
The Asia Institute
Arirang TV




Interview with Dr. Bark Taeho (former minister of finance)
Seoul National University
Graduate School of International Studies
Review of the global economy in 2015 and prospects for 2016.


arirang bark tae ho

Part 1

Part 2


Part 3


Part 4

“Chinese meritocracy and the limits of democracy” (Interview: Daniel Bell in The Diplomat)

The Diplomat

Interview: Daniel Bell

“Chinese meritocracy and the limits of democracy”

December 17, 2015


Emanuel Pastreich




China as a society, a government, an economy and a culture is quite difficult for us to comprehend today. The changes are so rapid in cities like Beijing and Shanghai and the culture remarkably fluid. What do you see as the defining characteristics of China’s culture today and what do you anticipate in terms of China’s future role in the international community?

The most striking cultural shifts in China over the last two decades or so has been the revival, both orchestrated and spontaneous, of tradition. The main trope for culture in the twentieth century, especially since 1949, has been anti-traditionalism. As far back as the May 4th movement in 1919, and before, whether it was the financial elite, the liberals, the Marxists, or anarchists they all agreed that China was poor and that one of the causes of that state of affairs was the backward traditional culture.

We have witnessed a dramatic reevaluation of tradition in China, and also in other East Asian countries with a Confucian heritage such as Korea. This part of the world has witnessed rapid growth over the last three decades that has sharply reduced poverty and the region has remained at peace. So when people look around and ask what do all these countries have in common, one answer is their Confucian heritage. So whereas the previous narrative was that Confucianism undermined modernization and economic growth, now many argue that it actually helps.

We are witnessing the return of a more historical and humanistic perspective on the world, an emphasis on education, a concern for family across several generations, and a new assessment of the value of China’s tradition of political meritocracy. Chinese have long held that the key to a political system is the selection and promotion of leaders with superior abilities, ethical qualities and social and cultural skills who can best lead the nation forward. The perspective has Confucian roots, but it has been modernized and has been the core of the strategy for economic development in China and other East Asian countries such as Korea and Japan. Although Confucian ideology was denounced during the Cultural Revolution, it is taking on a new centrality today. And the promotion of core Confucian values is not limited to the government. We see similar efforts in business and in the non-profit sector. Read more of this post

Interview: Benjamin Elman The Diplomat, December 10, 2015


The Diplomat

Interview: Benjamin Elman

“The ‘rise of China’ narrative can be read in different ways, and for Japan it is a challenge.”

December 10, 2015

Emanuel Pastreich



When people talk about the future of East Asia, and the potential for integration, they say,“Well, Europe has been integrated from Roman times but East Asia has no such precedent. In fact Japan has never really been part of a unified architecture in Asia.” Is there something in the way East Asia has evolved in the 2,000 years that limits future integration, or is that not an assumption we should make?

In order to understand global issues, one needs to understand the regional issues that undergird them. China, Japan, Korea, and to some degree Vietnam and other portions of South Asia have become a very viable regional group. China is increasingly influenced by the nations around it in economics and politics. To understand the region’s potential, we need to consider the historical development of the Chinese empire, the economic impact of the Tokugawa government (17th-19th centuries), and, ultimately, how Korea was a part of economic and scientific change influencing both sides.

Korea often served as a conduit for medical knowledge, for Buddhist and Confucian metaphysics, and for technological innovations. Korea has been caught in the middle historically as China continued to surpass Korea in terms of its military and economic power and influence in East Asia during the Ming and Qing dynasties. I think that when Japan’s Toyotomi Hideyoshi led invasions (1592 and 1597) of Korea that fundamentally altered the geopolitical landscape and reduced Korea’s role in the economic and political order of the region.

We tend to underestimate just how big Japan was in the global economy in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Tokugawa reunification of Japan after the battle of Sekigahara (1600) brought together a population of 25-27 million under a highly disciplined military. That meant that Japan was not just an island, but a powerful state capable not only of invading Korea and marching all the way to the Yalu River, but also capable of challenging the Ming Dynasty. Innovations in naval warfare and the decision of the Ming to throw their full weight into the campaign against Japan meant that Hideyoshi was forced to give up the campaign against the Ming, but the consequences of that campaign were that Korea was devastated and is only now starting to recover its self-confidence. The Gyeongbok Palace remained in ruins until the middle of the 19th century. Japan took advantage of Korea’s decline. Read more of this post

Interview with Ambassador Thomas Lehmann of Denmark @ G Lounge (Arirang TV)

G Lounge
Arirang TV

November 30, 2015
Interview with Ambassador Thomas Lehmann
Danish Embassy in Seoul

interview with thomas lehmann

Hosted by Emanuel Pastreich

Green Growth in Korea and Denmark


A wide-ranging discussion of the “Green Alliance” between Denmark and Korea and prospects for new approaches to growth post Paris 2015 COP 21.


Part 1



Part 2



Part 3