Dr. Thomas Cynkin is the Vice President of External Affairs at the Daniel Morgan Graduate School of National Security and Adjunct Professor of Economics at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. Cynkin previously headed the Washington Office of Fujitsu Ltd. as Vice President and General Manager.
A former Foreign Service Officer for 24 years, he served seven years as a Japanese-speaking diplomat in Japan and was the Asian affairs advisor to two Deputy Secretaries of State and two US Ambassadors to the UN.
Dr. Cynkin received his Ph.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He was a Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and worked at the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis before entering government service.
Recent News and Articles
Thomas Cynkin IN THE NATIONAL INTEREST: Trump-Kim Summit: The Art of Walking Away March 2, 2019
“[President Trump] correctly followed the maxim that a bad deal is worse than no deal. The deal breaker in Hanoi was Kim’s insistence that the United States drop a broad swath of sanctions, thereby administering the coup de grace to the ‘maximum pressure’ policy the Trump administration successfully pursued as a means to bring Kim to the negotiating table in the first place.”
Pompeo Is Back in North Korea—This Is What He Should Do (National Interest, 5 July 2018)
As American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo travels to North Korea this week, it’s easy to be cynical about the Singapore Summit. Rather than briefly suspending judgment while we see whether Singapore was the start of a “Sadat Moment” involving a momentous geopolitical shift, most commentators have been quick to focus on what wasn’t immediately achieved….
How the U.S. Can Fight for Tokyo Too with Kim Jong Un (The Cipher Brief, 29 April 2018)
Within moments of greeting President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago in mid-April, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe clinched a key strategic objective for their meeting: a photo op. During the discussions, which were thorough albeit along familiar lines, Abe achieved another key goal for the meeting: the president promised to raise the question of Japanese abductees in his planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Otherwise, Abe didn’t walk away with much….
Don’t Over-Hype the Trump-Kim Summit (The Cipher Brief, 1 April 2018)
Tokyo Weighs Risks and Rewards of Atoms for War (The Cipher Brief, 6 October 2017)
Long Menu of Options to Contain, Punish North Korea (The Cipher Brief, 24 September 2017)
Japan Meets Buyer Resistance in Asian Arms Market (The Cipher Brief, 14 July 2017)
North Korea: Stark Limits to U.S.-Chinese Cooperation (The Cipher Brief, 20 June 2017)
Rebalancing the U.S. – Japan relationship under Trump (The Cipher Brief, 7 December 2016)
A Letter to the Next Secretary of State Re: East Asia (The Cipher Brief, 16 Oct 2016)
Chinese rivalry with the U.S. for regional dominance will be central to U.S. East Asia policy for the incoming administration. China’s aggressive use of economic leverage, its mercantilism and revanchism will continue to complicate U.S. relations with its main rival – and potential partner – in East Asia. This is the prism through which all other aspects of U.S. interests in East Asia, and policies concerning the region, must be viewed throughout the 2017-2021 term and beyond. . . .
Japan and China Drift Toward Confrontation (The Cipher Brief, 9 Aug 2016)
In an announcement on August 9th, Japan’s Foreign Minister stated that China-Japan relations were “deteriorating” in reaction to the recent incursions by Chinese vessels into waters claimed by Japan. This is but the latest in a string of events – leading some observers to comment that relations between the two Asian powers is at its worst in years. The Cipher Brief spoke with Vice President of the Daniel Morgan Graduate School Dr. Thomas Cynkin to learn more on how the relationship has soured. . . .
North Korea Hangs Up the Phone (The Cipher Brief, 20 July 2016)
North Korea informed the U.S. on July 10th that it would cut off the New York channel of communication to the U.S. Government. If American policymakers lament their own lack of leverage against North Korea, this move demonstrates the limited options Pyongyang has with which to respond to the July 6 U.S. human rights sanctions against the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, and other top officials. For the North, options on the table include words, harshness toward U.S. citizen detainees, or nuclear/missile tests. . . .
Finding Common Solutions (The Cipher Brief, 3 May 2016)
Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan have each considered the circumstances under which they would pursue active nuclear weapons programs. While all three adhere to the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), they each have the technical capability to produce nuclear weapons. Japan could probably develop and deploy a nuclear weapon within a year; South Korea and Taiwan would take a bit longer, given the state of their fissile technology. . . .
Deterring Chinese Aggression (The Cipher Brief, 2 Mar 2016)
China’s militarization of the South China Sea includes beefing up its military facilities on Woody Island in the Paracel chain – occupied by China but also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam – where the Chinese reportedly just deployed eight batteries of its advanced, long-range HQ-9 air defense system. This is the latest step by Beijing to deploy anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities designed to complicate or disrupt U.S. power projection in the Western Pacific. . . .
Only China Can Solve the North Korea Problem (The Cipher Brief, 8 Feb 2016)
North Korea’s satellite launch over the weekend, on the heels of its nuclear test last month, raises the prospects of renewed tensions on the Korean Peninsula and in East Asia. Beijing has heretofore protected Pyongyang from stricter economic sanctions. Former U.S. foreign service officer and Northeast Asia expert, Dr. Thomas Cynkin, told The Cipher Brief that China holds all the cards for imposing tough international sanctions, but it fears playing them. . .
Pyongyang Claims Hydrogen Bomb Test (The Cipher Brief, 6 Jan 2016)
North Korea tested what was initially announced by Pyongyang to be a hydrogen bomb on Wednesday, though the Obama Administration is skeptical. White House Spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters, “the initial analysis is not consistent with North Korean claims of a successful hydrogen bomb test.” Still, Pyongyang’s announcement has serious repercussions for regional and global stability. China, North Korea’s only semblance of a friend in the region, “firmly opposed” the nuclear test. How Beijing and the international community responds to the latest nuclear test, remains the key issue at hand. Thomas Cynkin, a former diplomat and former head of the Washington office of Fujitsu Ltd., discusses what the nuclear test means for East Asia. . . .
Implications for Western Firms (The Cipher Brief, 28 Oct 2015)
Thomas Cynkin spoke with The Cipher Brief about Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent economic reforms. Dr. Cynkin discussed potential sectors of the Japanese economy that may prove lucrative for western investors as well as explained the benefits in investing in Japan over other East Asian countries. Dr. Cynkin is a former Foreign Service officer and headed Fujitsu Ltd.’s Washington office. . . .