Snowden's revelations have dramatically undercut Washington's effort to corner Beijing on the issue. They allow Xi to counter Obama's complaints by saying that the rest of the world, including China, is a potential victim of this massive and formerly secret American cyber-surveillance program.
If it's not one thing for President Barack Obama, it's another. Already struggling in trying to get ahead of three controversies threatening to engulf his administration, he now has heightened geopolitical crises to manage.
The challenge for the United States is the management of China's rise. Precisely because of the major roles both economies play in the global economic system, the U.S. cannot simply "contain" China in the way that America and its allies were able to contain the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
Perhaps Obama should be more careful about what he calls a "red line." Dictators are not impressed by empty threats. Would there be support for a multi-national effort to secure chemical weapons stores?
Don't look now, but a country with actual nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, as well as one of the world's largest militaries, is threatening not only one of America's closest allies but the U.S. itself. And it's not named Iran.
It's amusing to imagine what Alexis de Tocqueville would make of China recommending his 'Revolution' to its people. What China's leadership seems to have failed to notice is that the French Revolution is generally considered to have been a good thing by its people.
Can a state remain a party to a treaty or convention without being bound by its rules? Can contracting states adhere to an international legal regime and simultaneously opt out of any binding force required or to be required by that regime?
With its soft-power overtures, China has tried to expand its influence without disquieting its neighbors and trade partners. But through its hard-power posturing, China has achieved the exact opposite.
Hillary Clinton might be unbeatable in the 2016 primaries. Add to that the former president, and perhaps even Obama himself, grateful for her work in the cabinet and eager to see the geopolitical pivot project proceed through its next phases, and it could be lights out.
The situation is really difficult, but don't expect the Philippines -- defined by an undying sense of resilience -- to just roll over anytime soon. It even managed to rename the South China Sea to West Philippine Sea, despite Beijing's repeated condemnations.
Now that the somnambulant debater of Denver has awakened, if Obama supporters want something else to fear, billionaires who want a Wall Street engineer in office, or advocates of the old energy economy of fossil fuels, are definitely that.
On Iran, Romney's tough talk of war has disappeared with his old business colleague and friend Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu's seeming to back away from strikes, at least this year, in his UN speech last month in New York. So what does he want to do differently from the "disastrous" Obama?
Despite the tininess of East Asia's contested islets, the ways in which the disputes over them play out between Japan and China will serve as a bellwether for how peaceful the region will be as this century progresses.