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

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora