In the wake of yesterday's failed ballistic missile shot by North Korea, I was reminded of the value of the East-West Center. The EWC provided a timely analysis of the domestic political context in the hermit communist state, written by North Korea specialist Marcus Noland, who blogs about that country at http://www.piie.com/blogs.nk, and posted his thoughts yesterday.
Who or what is the East-West Center? Glad you asked.
The EWC was founded in 1960 by the United States Congress, with the aim of promoting mutual understanding among the countries of the vast Asia-Pacific region through exchange visits, sharing of information and ongoing conversations. These days, it is a thriving, non-profit think tank and academic institution with a 21-acre campus bordering the University of Hawaii, Honolulu, and an office in Washington, D.C. I turn to the EWC (www.eastwestcenter.org) often to gain context and insight that informs my travel journalism.
The center is independent and non-partisan, funded by a combination of private and public sources. Among them: The U.S. Congress, corporations, non-profit foundations and private individuals. It is not a branch of the U.S. government in case you're wondering, but does have excellent contacts with Uncle Sam, as it does with dozens of governments, academics, politicians and media people. I spent a month under EWC auspices a decade ago as a Jefferson Fellow; the Jefferson Fellowships bring professional journalists from around the region together for seminars, classes, and trips. I visited Japan, China and Vietnam with my Jefferson group at the EWC.
So, consider this a plug. For me, the EWC is an information one-stop. It's definitely worth checking out the Web site (see above), to see the latest and greatest about this dynamic, fast-growing and volatile part of the world.