Jason Tower joined USIP in late 2019 as the country director for the Burma program based in Yangon. 
 
Prior to USIP, Tower served in senior positions with several other peacebuilding organizations in China and Southeast Asia. From 2009 to 2017, he worked to establish the Beijing office of the American Friends Service Committee and initiated programming across north and southeast Asia on the impacts of cross-border investments on conflict dynamics. He also led a series of research initiatives relevant to China’s role in peacekeeping operations in East Africa and on China’s evolving role in international conflict dynamics. During this time, Tower also worked extensively in Burma on peace and security issues. From 2018 to 2019, he served as Southeast Asia program manager for the PeaceNexus Foundation, managing a portfolio of grants and partnerships in China, Burma, and Cambodia.    

Tower completed his undergraduate work in economics and international studies at St. Louis University, and his graduate studies in political science and Asian studies at the University of Michigan. He later earned a graduate certificate in company-community mediation from the Graduate School of Business at Cape Town University. He has been named a Fulbright research student, a Fulbright-Hays scholar, and a Harvard-Yenching fellow.

Tower is fluent in Mandarin and has published widely on China’s involvement in peace and security issues, with recent publications on the Belt and Road Initiative and a report based on years of experience working with Chinese corporate stakeholders.

Publications By Jason

Three Priorities for U.S.-Thailand Cooperation in Myanmar

Three Priorities for U.S.-Thailand Cooperation in Myanmar

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

By: Brian Harding;  Jason Tower

Secretary of State Antony Blinken was forced to cut short his first trip to Southeast Asia this week, scrapping plans to meet with Thai officials due to COVID-19 concerns. That talks with Thailand, specifically, were put on hold is an unfortunate development. Because while Blinken’s agenda for the trip was wide-ranging, the crisis in Myanmar was at the top of his list. And with a nearly 1500-mile border and close ties with Myanmar’s military junta, Thailand has the greatest stake in Myanmar’s future among ASEAN countries. As the world discusses a strategy for addressing the crisis in Myanmar, Thailand’s potential influence — especially with respect to humanitarian access — could prove consequential. 

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Fragility & ResilienceGlobal Health

Myanmar Struggles to Reverse a Coup; Democracies Can Help

Myanmar Struggles to Reverse a Coup; Democracies Can Help

Thursday, December 9, 2021

By: Billy Ford;  Jason Tower

Few countries this year dramatize more powerfully the need for a global focus on strengthening democracy than Myanmar, now 10 months into a new chapter of military dictatorship and violence following its February 1 coup. Myanmar is a testament to the vulnerability of democracy when armed forces expect no repercussions for brutality and can rely on support from authoritarian governments which will arm, legitimize and finance them. As the United States and partners seek ways to boost democracy in this week’s White House summit, experts on Myanmar offered recommendations for policy.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Civilian-Military RelationsDemocracy & Governance

Myanmar’s Unity Government Meets with NSA Sullivan, Gains Further Traction

Myanmar’s Unity Government Meets with NSA Sullivan, Gains Further Traction

Thursday, October 28, 2021

By: Jason Tower

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan recently met with representatives of Myanmar’s National Unity Government (NUG) — a shadow government representing the lawmakers elected by the people in the November 2020 election. The meeting boosted the NUG’s regional and international profile as an alternative to the brutal violence of the Burmese military, which has failed to gain control over the country since last February’s coup. But questions remain about whether the NUG and the disparate ethnic armed groups, political parties and civil society leaders that reject military rule can find common ground beyond a shared enemy. 

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & PreventionDemocracy & Governance

Myanmar Regional Crime Webs Enjoy Post-Coup Resurgence: The Kokang Story

Myanmar Regional Crime Webs Enjoy Post-Coup Resurgence: The Kokang Story

Friday, August 27, 2021

By: Priscilla A. Clapp;  Jason Tower

Following the coup by the Myanmar army on February 1, 2021, fighting exploded immediately in the China-Myanmar border area along a strategic trade route between the two countries. But the outbreak wasn’t about the coup — instead it was a battle between two Chinese-speaking militias over control of the Kokang Special Administrative Zone, a lucrative center for illegal business. The story behind this episode provides a small window on the rise of regional criminal networks under the army’s patronage and how they are enjoying a new lease on life under the junta.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & PreventionEconomics & Environment

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