Beyond the Quagmire: The Future of Mongolia’s United States and Japan Partnerships


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When: Aug 20 2014 - 12:00pm until Aug 20 2014 - 1:30pm
Where: 1819 L St, NW, Washington, DC. Sixth Floor Conference Room

Beyond the Quagmire: The Future of Mongolia’s United States and Japan Partnerships

An Asia Pacific Seminar featuring:

Mr. Mendee Jargalsaikhan
Visiting Fellow, East-West Center in Washington
Doctoral Candidate, University of British Columbia

Beyond the Quagmire: The Future of Mongolia’s United States and Japan Partnerships from East-West Center on Vimeo.

Mendee Jargalsaikhan expresses optimism for even closer relations between the United States and Mongolia in the future.

Mongolia is considered one of the new frontiers for American and Japanese foreign policy in Asia. Over the past twenty years, the United States and Japan have developed comprehensive partnerships with this fledgling, land-locked democracy. These enhanced relations have helped Mongolia get out of the decades-long ‘geopolitical quagmire’ of being a buffer state between China and Russia, and become more engaged in Northeast Asian affairs.

 In his presentation, Mendee Jargalsaikhan discussed the evolution of the Mongolia’s soft-balancing strategy with these two distant Great Powers, and presented some possible policy options for enhancing collaboration among these like-minded democracies in the changing geopolitical landscape of Northeast Asia.

 Since establishing relations in 1987, the United States and Mongolia have enjoyed a meaningful bilateral partnership. Mongolia's location near China and Russia has aided in its usefulness as a place from which the United States can observe current goings-on in the regional powers. As the only (now formerly) communist country in the region to have not had any conflict with the United States, Mongolia has provided aid and manpower to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are currently 400 Mongolian soldiers in Afghanistan and in total Mongolia is the second-largest provider of peacekeeping forces in Northeast Asia, second only to China. People-to-people relations between the two countries are strong as well, with over 1,000 US Peace Corps volunteers being stationed in Mongolia and a growing Mongolian diaspora in the United States (around 40,000). However, Mr. Jargalsaikhan expressed the concern that the United States' strategic and economic interests in Mongolia have been declining in recent years. 

Mongolia's relations with Japan have been similarly positive. Contrary to its neighbors, Mongolia does not feel the same hatred towards Japan for past atrocities during World War II. Instead, that shared history has brought both countries closer together, with Japanese tourists, including Prime Minister Abe, making pilgrimages to memorials for Japanese POWs in Mongolia. Since 1990 Japan has been the largest donor of aid to Mongolia, contributing to economic growth in a variety of sectors including agriculture. 

On the foundations of these positive relationships, Mr. Jargalsaikhan saw new opportunities for a trilateral partnership between the United States, Japan and Mongolia. According to him the United States and Japan were the "only countries" that could help Mongolia continue to preserve and expand its democracy. Mongolia's economy needed help as well so its rich natural resources could be managed appropriately to the benefit of all without turning the country into "Mine-golia." And finally, increased partnerships in security, particularly disaster relief would provide a platform from which all three countries could improve their peacekeeping efforts in the region. 

 For more images, please visit the album for this event on the East-West Center's Flickr page. 

Mr. Mendee Jargalsaikhan is an Asia Studies Visiting Fellow at the East West Center in Washington, and a Political Science PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia. Previously he was a fellow at the Mongolian Institute for Strategic Studies, and served as the Chief of the Foreign Cooperation Department of Mongolia’s Ministry of Defense, and Defense Attaché at the Embassy of Mongolia in Washington, DC. His research focuses on security and democracy of Northeast and Central Asia. Mr. Mendee received his MAs from the US Naval Postgraduate School and the Institute of Asian Research of the University of British Columbia.

Primary Contact Info:
Name: Grace Ruch Clegg
Phone: 202-327-9762