In advance of President Obama’s summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last week, Scott Parven was working round the clock to pave the way for an announcement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed free-trade agreement that would include a dozen countries around the Pacific Rim.
“These two countries need each other,” said Parven, a lawyer with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld who represents the Embassy of Japan. “With the ascendance of China in the region, the U.S.-Japan relationship is critical not just economically but geopolitically. There’s much at stake beyond economics in these talks. The [Trans-Pacific Partnership] has implications for the relationship generally.”
To Parven’s chagrin, Obama left Tokyo without having persuaded Japan to join the TPP. Nonetheless, Parven is hopeful that a deal is forthcoming, especially as trade negotiators exert more pressure on recalcitrant stakeholders like Japanese rice-growers and the U.S. auto industry.
“Because of the importance of the deal, and the importance of the relationship, both governments are asking their core constituencies to stretch a little bit for the benefit of all,” he said.
Parven — who has made a living explaining U.S. domestic politics to Japan, Korea, Panama, Peru, and other foreign governments — noted the irony of Obama’s zeal for the TPP. During the 2008 presidential campaign, then-Sen. Obama lambasted another free-trade deal, the North American Free Trade Agreement, which he blamed for high unemployment in the industrial Midwest.
A native of Hartford, Conn., Parven attended Vassar College and later earned a law degree from the University of Virginia. “At the time, all I really wanted to do was work for Major League Baseball and run a club,” he said. “And I might have done it had I not been turned down for an internship” with then-Commissioner Fay Vincent.
Instead, Parven returned to Hartford and was hired by Aetna, helping the insurance giant establish public-private partnerships around the world and expand its operations in Asia and Latin America. Parven’s crowning achievement was helping Aetna secure a life-insurance license in China.
Before coming to Akin Gump, he was the founder and president of Parven Pomper Strategies.
Parven, 49, is bullish on the prospect of a stronger U.S.-Japanese relationship, which he said was reinforced by Obama’s decision last year to appoint Caroline Kennedy as U.S. ambassador to Japan. He believes that the TPP has the potential to be a template for 21st-century trade agreements.
“We all want the TPP to be the gold standard,” he said, adding, “The real prize would be the inclusion of Japan.”
What We're Following See More »
Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."