News / USA

    Q&A with Kent Calder: ‘Asia in Washington’

    President Barack Obama, left, walks with Philippines President Benigno Aquino III at Malacanang Palace in Manila, the Philippines, Monday, April 28, 2014.
    President Barack Obama, left, walks with Philippines President Benigno Aquino III at Malacanang Palace in Manila, the Philippines, Monday, April 28, 2014.
    President Obama has returned from a four-nation Asia trip aimed at reassuring allies in the region of U.S. support in a variety of areas including economics, trade and security. In Washington itself, Asian nations have a variety of ways to connect with the United States. Those avenues of communication and cooperation have been building through the years, making Washington a unique vortex of global interaction.
     
    Kent Calder is Director of the Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. He has long been fascinated with Washington's role as a power center and tells VOA’s Jim Stevenson about his research in a new book titled Asia in Washington - A Dynamic Global City.
     
    CALDER: I think Washington itself is changing very, very fast. It is becoming a global capital far beyond simply the U.S. government.
     
    Another thing that was interesting to me [is that], there are some Asian countries that are Washington-centric and some that are New York-centric. For example [South] Korea and China are quite Washington-centric. Japan, even though there is the Cherry Blossom Festival which of course reminds a lot of people of the Japan-U.S. relationship, Japan is more New York-centric. It is interesting to see all the ways people promote their cultures in Washington.
     
    The cultural side I think is an important part in trans-Pacific understanding. Sort of the classical model we had is that lobbyists are the key people in Washington and in U.S. relations with the Pacific in particular. I found that has really changed quite a lot recently. We have moved to think tanks, the internet, the mass media. Those sorts of things are becoming more and more important.
     
    STEVENSON: You have a lot of neat graphics in your book. One of them is a map of the Washington information complex which shows the areas where the embassies are, the think tanks are, mass media, public relations firms, multilateral organizations. Describe a little about all these different ways that Washington interacts with the world, and Asia in particular.
     
    CALDER: There is so much outside the government. There is the International Monetary Fund, there is the World Bank, there is the Inter-American Bank that funds Latin America. Even the Asian Development Bank has a big office. Three of the four of the top think tanks in the world are within 300 yards (meters) of each other on Massachusetts Avenue. Then there are the big lobbying firms. Of course several universities – Johns Hopkins [University], Georgetown [University], George Washington [University]. And then the bureaus [for] a lot of the mass media, as well as the embassies [representing] well over 150 different countries. It is a tremendous variety, but it goes far, far beyond the U.S. government.
     
    STEVENSON: With the current policy of a rebalance or a pivot toward Asia, it is interesting that you write [historically] Washington was the hub of the hub-and-spoke security system that dominated international affairs in the Pacific and also Cold War policy. And here we come back to his pivot toward Asia and this military focus in the region.
     
    CALDER: I think what we sometimes do not realize is how important the United States and particularly Washington looms for Asia. In particular, the countries of Asia have been outsiders in the international system generally. But in Washington, which is so multi-faceted and has so many approach routes, it has been relatively easy for countries in Asia to become a part of the global agenda. So I think the difficulties of access they have in some places like in Europe, or in Russia, or Latin America or even parts of other Asian countries, contrast to Washington which is pretty open. If you are pretty savvy and sophisticated, then you can get access on a global agenda through Washington.
     
    STEVENSON: That would seem to be what we would want though, is a lot of open interaction back and forth and that [open] access.
     
    CALDER: I do think that is right. Sometimes we do not appreciate the value to us of the way Washington becomes such an important center. Every year we have all of the finance ministers, a lot of the top politicians gathering together for the IMF and the World Bank meetings. We had a global nuclear summit here. We had the first of the G20 meetings here. A lot of people go to school here. Or they just come through to visit and to network. Washington is a great place to meet people, to renew contacts, to gain inside information, as well as just talking to the U.S. government.

    Jim Stevenson

    For over 35 years, Jim Stevenson has been sharing stories with the world on the radio and internet. From both the field and the studio, Jim enjoys telling about specific events and uncovering the interesting periphery every story possesses. His broadcast career has been balanced between music, news, and sports, always blending the serious with the lighter side.

    You May Like

    Saudi Arabia’s New Female Politicians in the Other Room 

    Many in Saudi Arabia say elected representatives should share unsegregated spaces; according to a recent survey, more than half the Saudi population, both men and women, prefer to work in a segregated place

    Russia Not ‘Apologetic’ for Syria Airstrikes

    With Moscow criticized for targeting armed opponents of President Assad, Russia’s UN envoy says his country ‘acting in a very transparent manner’

    Pakistan Warns of Islamic State's Growing Reach

    Aftab Sultan, General Director General of Intelligence Bureau (IB), briefed Senate Committee in closed hearing, saying that IS-linked groups have been expanding in Pakistan

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.