Thursday, February 09, 2017

Trump Has Made America a Trouble Spot on Human Rights

The United States has been assuming herself an indispensable nation to promote democracy and freedom throughout the world. Since American values are deeply intertwined with her global strategy, hardly anyone has doubted her commitment to human rights. However, a new year report by Human Rights Watch told shockingly, that Trump’s America has now become a threat to human rights in the world.

The report entitled “The Dangerous Rise of Populism” presents an overview that the global economy has marginalized numerous people, and they are frustrated with their governments and global élites, as they feel themselves completely forgotten despite growing inequality. The problem is that demagogues abuse such populist resentment by assuming themselves to represent the grassroots majority. They impose the majority will at the expense of human rights to every domestic and foreign citizen. Deplorably, Western political leaders appear to have lost confidence in human rights values to face off bigoted and dangerous populism, except few of them like German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. But that is too weak to stand against the Trumpian mega shock. Also, British Prime Minister Theresa May is too receptive to nationalist upheavals, while Merkel faces tough challenges by the AfD in the general election this year.

In view of such trends, I would like to narrate how the Human Rights Watch report sees the impact of the Trump phenomenon. While Trump’s provocative rhetoric to scapegoat immigrants and trade partners satisfies know nothing bluecollar supporters, that will simply bring about economic stagnation, if implemented. Despite that, he signed the executive order to repeal the TPP and impose a Muslim ban, because he sees Middle Eastern refugees as security risks. In this context, Trump tightens surveillance on domestic citizens, which is beyond judicially supervised and targeted one. Trump’s Muslim ban is criticized unconstitutional (“Immigration analyst: Trump refugee ban is illegal”; Hill; January 28, 2017), and federal judges in some states block the order, meanwhile, Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates as she refused to follow his executive order (“Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration: What We Know and What We Don’t”; New York Times; January 29, 2017).

Immediately after the inauguration speech, Human Rights Watch Executive director Kenneth Roth said “Even if President Trump acts only on ten percent of the most problematic of his campaign proposals, it will cause a momentous setback for human rights at home and abroad.” He continues to say, “By trampling on the rights of millions of people in the US and abroad, Trump’s proposals if enacted would weaken everybody’s rights”. While putting American democracy into confusion, Trump does not hesitate to collaborate with autocracies, which is further a concern for human rights promotion (“US: Dawn of Dangerous New Era”; Human Rights Watch; January 20, 2017). Quite alarmingly, Trump issues the executive orders rapidly though most of them were severely criticized during the campaign, without consulting government agencies and the Hill (“White House failed to consult federal agencies on Trump's executive orders, report claims”; Aol News; January 26, 2017). Considering his egomaniac and flamboyant temperament, it is quite questionable whether Trump listens to advices by British Prime Minister Theresa May on Russia and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on refugees seriously.

Furthermore, Trump’s poor awareness of human rights is typically seen in his reckless remark that torture was effective to get information from terrorist suspects. However, when Trump asked Ex Marine General James Mattis for his Secretary of Defense, he withdrew the idea, and accepted Mattis’s idea that trust and rewarding would lead the suspect to more cooperative (“Marine General 'Mad Dog' Mattis got Trump to rethink his position on torture in under an hour”; Business Insider; November 22, 2016). However, his suggestion to bring back torture, spurred controversies at the Hill, and Senator John McCain demanded the President to act legally (“McCain to Trump: 'We're not bringing back torture'”; Hill; January 25, 2016). Though Trump mentioned that he would follow the advice by Mattis at the press conference of the US-UK summit (“Laura Kuenssberg's stern questioning of Donald Trump angers president's supporters”; Daily Telegraph; 27 January, 2017), it reveals that Trump is extremely uneducated and even desperately illiterate in human rights.

The appointment of Rex Tillerson to the Secretary of State raises additional concerns. Some people expect high job performance to him with his management and negotiation skills as a former Exxon Mobile CEO. However, public service is not so simple as profit chasing. At the hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Tillerson exhibited poor knowledge in key American foreign policy issues like ISIS (“Rex Tillerson is unqualified to be secretary of state”; Boston Globe; January 12, 2017). In addition, his questionable ties with Russia, his poor awareness of human rights is a critical disadvantage for his job. At the hearing, he failed to answer well on some critical human rights questions, such as female rights in Saudi Arabia, R2P in Syria, repressive Duterte policies in the Philippines (“Tillerson doesn’t seem to realize speaking up for human rights is part of the job” Washington Post; January 12, 2017). Donald Trump’s imprudent slanders show that he is utterly incognizant of human rights. In view of poor performance at the hearing, it is quite hard to expect that Tillerson can supplement Trump’s terrible drawbacks.

How should the global community, particularly the Western alliance, manage Trump’s America like this? We have to notice that his America First is based on the idea of survival of the fittest in a completely competitive and orderless world. Since he wants to exploit such a disorder to maximize his perceived American interest, he is weakening current global norms and multilateral framework by all means. It is nothing strange that Trump is so disdainful to human rights. Spiegel editorial argues that Western democracies be united against Trump to defend international norms and universal values (“Time for an International Front Against Trump”; Spiegel; January 20, 2017). We can reaffirm human rights in this way.

Also, the leaders of democratic nations have to explore the channel of influence in the United States. First of all, we should not equalize Trump and America. British Prime Minister May was obsessed with building strong ties with the Trump when she visited the White House. However, her weak response to the Muslim ban has led to vehement criticism in the UK, as she appears too flattery to Trump (“Theresa May has put the Queen in a 'very difficult position' over Donald Trump's UK visit”; Business Insider; January 31, 2017). I am not endorsing confrontation with Trump, but we have to remember that his credentials and legitimacy as the president is extremely poor.

He is not only the most unpopular president since the end of World War II, but also an unprecedentedly illegitimate leader as he gained 300 million popular votes fewer than Hillary Clinton. In other words, we can regard him as a president of gerrymandering. As a politician of democracy, Trump is poorly trained. His blames against the media and the judge show this. He hardly understands checks and balances, and the rule of law. Rather than flattering to Trump, democratic nations should have firewalls in America to protect themselves from his irrational pressure. For example, Senator John McCain defended Australia against Trump’s verbal abuse. Also, Secretary of Defense James Mattis joins the Trump cabinet, on behalf of the mainstream of the national security community.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Sunday, December 11, 2016

How Europe Responds to the Trump Shock?

The Trump shock is inflicting tremendous malimpacts on global security as Donald Trump launched “America First”, that he would repeal American alliance network, in order to save the cost of overseas defense. Furthermore, Trump even praises Russian President Vladimir Putin, and suggested concessions to Russia over Crimea and Syria. Therefore, European nations are seriously considering joint regional defense, in case the United States falls into terrible isolationism under the Trump regime, while Russian threats are growing.

The most critical problem of Trump’s foreign policy is an extreme obsession with costs and benefits. There is no denying that America spends disproportionately on defense, as it accounts for 70% of NATO total. Since the Cold War, any US president or presidential candidate has been demanding burden sharing to European allies. However, hardly any of them have doubted that it is America’s vital interest to maintain European security by NATO. However, Trump is overturning this, as he does not believe in American power as the global public goods. In view of his extreme zero-sum views on international politics, Europe needs to boost defense spending, and remind him how much contribution they make to American wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Balkans. Otherwise, Trump would not cooperate with European allies, as to the issues like Russia and the Iran nuclear deal, and just pursue his own perceived interests of the United States. Also, European nations must show strong unity to save the Trans-Atlantic alliance from Trump’s dire pressure (“Does 'America First' mean EU defence at last”;Centre for European Reform Bulletin; 22 November, 2016).

At the NATO military official meeting in Berlin on November 30, European allies concluded that they increase defense spending (“Defense spending boost best answer to Trump: EU, NATO officials”;Reuters News; November 30, 2016). For this objective, the EU announced a plan to found a common defense fund for regional defense cooperation, particularly in research and innovation. It is expected to lower the unit cost of newly developed aircrafts, and assist the local defense industry. Despite Brexit, Britain considers collaborating with the EU on defense research and procurement (“Spurred by Trump and Brexit, EU plans five-billion-euro defense fund”; Reuters News; November 30, 2016). This is vital to boost joint efforts, since Britain is a leading military power in Europe. Contrary to Eurosceptic reputation, Britain has led major joint defense projects like Tornado and Eurofighter Typhoon, while supposedly more Europhile France has joined neither of them. From this point, Anglo-German cooperation is the key to the regional defense initiative. A British engagement with EU defense efforts would facilitate non-European democracies such as Japan, Australia, and India to make some contribution to it. Japan joins the UK led Meteor air-to-air missile project, and Australia provided a test site for BAE Systems’ Taranis stealth drone. Non-European participation in some projects, would help common European defense to overcome the Trump shock.

Also, I would suggest that Europe keep in mind that mainstream defense officials in the United States do not share pro-Russian views of Trump and his National Security Advisor nominee Michael Flynn. To the contrary, American military leaders are critically concerned with increasingly aggressive Putin, and regard Russia as the primary threat. Meanwhile, Europe worries that Russia would act boldly in Ukraine and Syria, before Trump is inaugurated (“The US military now sees Russia as its biggest threat”; Business Insider; December 5, 2016). Also, Robert Kagan at the Brookings Institution testified that Russia was shaking confidence in Western political heritage, like sponsoring the far right, and plotting for more refugee flows from Syria to Europe, while people are growing skeptical American power and devotion to the stability in conflicted areas, at the Senate Armed Services Committee on December 6.

As mentioned above, American foreign and defense policy circles do not share Trunpian views of the world. The transition team may be appointing former military senior officials, but it is too simplistic to make a sweeping generalization simply by professional backgrounds. Notably, Flynn was a complete heresy in the military and intelligence community when he was in the Army. This is a tip of iceberg to show the erratic nature of the foreign policy lineup of the Next President. Trump has neither diplomatic philosophy, nor sufficient number of reliable advisors. He will have to rely on established national security communities in the end, if he is seriously dedicated to the presidency. Europe can work with bipartisan foreign policy establishments in the United States. American allies in the rest of the world share common interests with European nations to manage the Trump shock. Everything after January 20 presidential inauguration looks dismal, but there are some ways to manage the crisis.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Question to Japan’s Defense Self-Reliance to Manage the Trump Shock

Donald Trump’s unexpected and unwanted victory in the presidential election is horrifying American allies around the world. Since Trump suggested repealing the alliance network worldwide, and even demanded some allies like Japan, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia to nuclear arm by themselves, people fear New Global Disorder resulting from unilateral abandonment American hegemony. Some people in Japan and Europe argue that that the Trump shock is an opportunity to rethink the postwar security framework, and explore self-reliant foreign and defense policies.

While foreign policy pundits are critically concerned with unpredictable insecurity under the Trump presidency, Japanese nationalists are overjoyed with his suggestion to pull out US troops from Japan, as they want to seize an opportunity to wipe out “postwar political submission to the United States” (“Japanese Nationalists Increasingly Welcome Trump’s Ascendency”; Yahoo News Japan; March 27, 2016). More rational and somber voices emerge from Europeans. Matteo Garavoglia, an Italian and German dual citizen fellow at the Brookings Institution argues that Europe develop independent defense capability, deepen mutual security cooperation within the region, and explore partnerships for global stability with major democracies beyond Europe, like Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, and India (“Never waste a crisis: Trump is Europe’s opportunity”; Brookings Institution; November 10, 2016).

The problem is, Japan does not join any multilateral regional security organizations, because Asia is still too diversified in terms of culture, history, and political economic development. Also, Japan still has territorial disagreements with some potential security partners such as South Korea and Taiwan. Therefore, Japan’s so-called self-reliant national security policy, would simply result in isolation from the world. While nationalists are overjoyed to imagine their long awaited dream of the resurgence of the Imperial Japan, it takes quite a long time to build up truly self-reliant military power, even if Japan is willing to increase defense spending rapidly. Weapons are made to order, and they do not arrive to the customer as soon as payments are made. Also, soldiers need training to use these weapons. Remember how Iraq felt uneasy with the Obama administration, as they delayed to deliver F-16 fighters and train Iraqi pilots, when ISIS was almost taking over Baghdad (“From Iraq to Syria, splinter groups now larger worry than al-Qaeda”; Washington Post; June 10, 2014). From this point of view, an independent nuclear deterrence against North Korea that Trump once suggested is ridiculous.

The problem is not just defending the Japanese a territory including Senkaku Island from China. Without associating with the United States, it is hard for Japan to edge out Chinese influence from Asia, both in terms of geopolitics and business. While Japan appeals universal value of rule based international relations, Asian nations more or less embrace China as an irresistible rising power. In the economy, high quality of Japanese goods and services does not necessarily charm Asian customers over inexpensive and aggressively marketed Chinese ones. A self-reliant Japan would be so vulnerable in Asia, even though it could barely defend its own territory from China. Asian neighbors are not unanimous, regarding the threat of China. Some like Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar are pro-Chinese. Even supposedly pro-Western and pro-Japanese countries can appease China. It is vital for small powers to pursue national survival among competing great powers, rather than to uphold lofty ideals. Thus, they sometimes embrace “irresistible” rise of China as seen in AIIB membership and Indonesian super express railway. Nationalists' dream of a Japanese-led Greater Asia Co-prosperity Sphere is simply absurd and dangerous.

Despite Trump’s isolationist election promise, Asia is historically a natural sphere of American influence even before the disappearance of the frontier in 1890. This is the vital reason why Matthew Perry’s fleet was sent to Japan in 1853 and 1854. That is starkly in contrast with America’s engagement in the Middle East, which was inherited from British imperial legacy. If Trump were to be a realist in foreign policy, he must understand such deeply embedded US presence in Asia, rather than to adhere to myopic profit and loss mindset of a typical businessman. However, Robert Kaplan at the Center for a New American Security criticizes that Trump does not understand realism. He says that Trump has no accurate vision of America’s role and position in the world, and he is hardly dedicated to defending allies and harness American power for global stability (“On foreign policy, Donald Trump is no realist”; Washington Post; November 11, 2016). During the election, what Trump remarked, were utterly contrary to Kaplan, and extremely obsessed with predatory zero sum ideas like racketeers. That has spurred worries among foreign policy pundits both in the United States and abroad.

The Trump shock is by no means an opportunity for Japan to end “servile” relations with the United States, and adopt “independent” and “proud” foreign policy. Then, how should we manage the crisis? Above all, we have to understand Trump’s fundamental thinking pattern. According to Professor Emeritus Gerald Curtis of Columbia University, Trump’s making a deal obsession comes from negotiation techniques of a real estate developer, that is, to show maximum demands at first in order to explore how much the counterpart can make compromises.

Bearing this in mind, we need to think of domestic channels to manage uncertainties of the Trump presidency. Curtis comments that checks and balances through the Congress, the media, think tanks, and the bureaucracy at the State Department and the Pentagon shall not approve of annulling the alliance with Japan. Also, he argues that fundamental national interest will not change whoever the President is (“Trump couldn't change Asian policy even if elected, Columbia professor says”; Nikkei Asian Review; November 8, 2016). In addition, we must work with like-minded Western democracies, and find common resolutions with Washington élites. Fortunately, poorly educated Trump supporters in the election can hardly have influences on policy interactions at this level. Also, a complete beginner in politics, Trump will need help from renowned experts when he finds himself incompetent to fix the problem. Nothing can control an erratic president perfectly, but we must explore every means.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Rebuild Western Democracy to Overcome a World of Uncertainties

People talk about a multipolar world of uncertainties, as the rise of isolationism in the United States is leading the public less willing to support the role of the world policeman. There is no denying that Russia and China are increasingly self-assertive, as they see that America and its Western allies are less interested in engaging with the liberal world order, and Western hard power is in relative decline. But it seems to me that people focus too much on raw power aspects, and dismiss much more worrisome trends, which is the decline of Western democracy. When people lose confidence in democracy, autocratic nations and demagogues are emboldened. This makes the world increasingly unstable and unpredictable.

Let me talk about the general background of democracy in crisis today. The rise of populism in an age of uncertainties is found everywhere in the world. Professor Niall Ferguson of Harvard University presented an overview of this at the Barclays Asia Forum in Singapore on October 20. As seen in Brexit and the Trump phenomenon, antipathy to immigration, free trade, and “corrupt establishment has become more virulent in developed economies, as a result of the financial crisis. On the other hand, people in emerging economies crave for strongman leadership to satisfy their nationalist sentiment, which weakens checks and balances, and also transparency in those countries. See the video below.




How populism deteriorates democracy? A Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt warned about “terrible simplifier” in a letter to his friend Friedrich von Preen in 1889 that “ruffian” leaders would assume their omnipotence to resolve complicated national issues, which would ultimately deny the rule of law. Today, bills and treaties have become extremely lengthy and complicated, compared with those in the past. While historical documents like the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence were just a few sheets of papers, the draft of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) totals 5,554 pages and the Obama care does 961 pages (“Simplifiers v. complicators”; Boston Globe; October 3, 2016). In a circumstance like this, politicians are liable to debate trivial details each other, without sufficiently understanding the overview of the issue. As élites are confused like this, people are increasingly defiant to their “preaches”, and driven by ugly emotion (“It’s Time for Elites to Rise up against Ignorant Masses”; Foreign Policy; June 28, 2016). People today are more susceptible to “ruffian leaders” than those in the Burckhardt days.

Donald Trump is the most notable “terrible simplifier" today, who could discredit Western democracy and destabilize the world. Nevertheless, he is a savior for anti-establishment working class. Not only does Trump disdain economic freedom of choice in his support of protectionism and government controls, but also belittle democratic procedure as shown in his remark “I alone can fix the problem”. Referring to Max Weber’s analysis on charismatic authority, Washington Post columnist George Will argues that popular crave for Trump’s charisma implies that Americans are unprecedentedly receptive and credulous to a magical savior. It is such changes in social norms and national character that helps the rise of a demagogue (“If Trump wins, the Republican party will no longer be the party of conservativism.”; National Review; September 28, 2016). Furthermore, I would argue that Trump’s lifetime career as a family business owner does not match well with checks and balance requirements of governmental administrator. Like employed management professionals, presidents and prime ministers are hired by the state. Trump’s “business acumen” is more adaptable to dictatorship rather than democracy.

Democracy decline in the West emboldens autocratic great powers. This is typically seen in the US presidential election this year, which has fallen into vulgar blame games between the Democrats and the Republican candidates, rather than serious exchanges of policies. The global public is disillusioned with American democracy, which was an exemplar of good governance. Nevertheless, Hillary Clinton showed her superiority in policy common sense to Donald Trump in all presidential debates. Her victory would lessen deleterious impacts of “ruffian” populism that nurtures nativism, racism, misogynism, and isolationism. No wonder Russian President Vladimir Putin meddles into the election to boost Trump. The global public already knows vulgar and anti-intellectual nature of populism in Trumpism, Brexit, and far right surges in Continental Europe. Ironically, NIMBY xenophobia among those self-assumed patriots simply harms the reputation and international standings of major Western powers.

How should policy élites reinvigorate liberal, open and rational democracy? There is no simple answer to this question, but at least, I would argue that they should not compromise with popular nativism. For example, the Obama administration cut democracy promotion budget through the USAID during their terms, as the American public loses interest in it. According to the Pew survey in 2013, only 18% of Americans regard democracy promotion as a foreign policy priority, and 80% of them say the government focus more on nation building at home rather than overseas intervention. However, such disengagement trend puts critical dangers to US national security. They should remember Western indifference to Afghanistan after Soviet withdrawal was so fatal as to cause 9-11 attacks. The rise of far right movements like Trumpism and Brexit is the consequence of élites’ failure to educate the nation to the right direction.

But not everything is pessimistic to Western democracy. Larry Diamond, Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institution maintains that slowing economic growth is eroding the legitimacy of autocracy in China and Russia. Democracy is not perfect, but it is less violent, more respectful to human rights, and more likely to develop the market economy, as he says. Alt-right ideals are not so open and liberal, and completely the opposite. They are more like those of national socialism. Regarding implication of democracy in global security, we have to recall a comment by Former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, “Not every democracy in the world was or is a close ally of the United States, but no democracy in the world has been or is an American enemy. And all of America’s most enduring allies have been and remain democracies” (“Democracy in Decline”; Foreign Affairs; July/August 2016). Ironically, malfunctioned democracy at home poses threats to the free world as dreadful as external threats. Therefore, it is necessary to rebuild our domestic democracy and revitalize our effort for democracy promotion, to restore the stable world order that we rest on.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Japan Should Leave the Job to India to Split the Russo-Chinese Axis

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin early this December in Yamaguchi prefecture, Abe’s home constituency(“Abe to Meet Putin in December”; Sankei Shimbun; September 1, 2016). Both leaders will talk about the bilateral peace treaty of World War II, the Kuril Island territorial dispute, and bilateral economic cooperation in the Russian Far East. Some people in Japan argue that Abe seize this opportunity to split the Russo-Chinese axis, in order to manage the world of uncertainties. However, I would insist that Japan not run such a risk to jeopardize the Western alliance, and leave the job to India instead. Let me explain it below.

First, it is necessary to mention the Russo-Chinese axis. Superficially, both great powers are allies against the West, notably the American world order. However, the Russian Far East is sparsely inhabited, thus, hugely populated China across the border is a potential national security threat. There are only 4.3 million people in the Russian Far East border area, including the Amur oblast, Primorsky Krai, the Jewish Autonomous Oblast, and Khabarovsk Krai. On the other hand, the Chinese Northeast overwhelms the neighbor with the population of 109 million (“Russia, China and the Far East Question”; Diplomat; January 20, 2016). In addition to such a state-to-state level threat, Snakehead criminal gangs and illegal loggers from China pose threats to civil and environmental security. In view of Russia’s hidden distrust to China, it is understandable that some Japanese talk of developing a strategic partnership with the Kremlin in order to split both countries to check the threat of the PLA.

However, I would argue that the forthcoming summit should focus on bilateral issues such as the peace treaty and the Kuril dispute. Japan is at the heart of the Western alliance, and therefore, it is not in a good position to get involved in the Russo-Chinese power game. Rather, Americans and Europeans would simply see it suspiciously whether Japan wanted to “Make Russia Great Again”, when tensions over the Baltic and Crimea continue. Just as Japan feels uncomfortable with European appeasement for China, Europe does so with Japanese appeasement for Russia. The notable case of European appeasement is the Anglo-Chinese nuclear deal led by Chancellor of the Exchequer-then George Osborne, which raised critical concerns with Chinese espionage on Britain among the British national security community. Also, Japan and the United States were severely dismayed with such a controversial agreement.

However, current Prime Minister Theresa May said that she would reconsider the deal, in order to weaken Chinese influence on nuclear plants at Hinkley Point and Bradwell (“UK's Theresa May to review security risks of Chinese-funded nuclear deal”; Reuters; September 4, 2016). As the Home Secretary in the Cameron cabinet, May raised national security concerns with the nuclear deal, along with Downing Street Chief of Staff Nick Timothy and MI5 (“Hinkley Point: Theresa May's China calculus”; BBC News; 31 July 2016). May’s action will deter penetration of PLA influence in Europe through China General Nuclear. Japan should act accordingly on Russia.

Meanwhile, India is in a very good position to intervene in the Russo-Chinese power game. None of Western nations raise eyebrows at close Russo-Indian defense cooperation to check China, like the FGFA stealth fighter project for India. Historically, India had close ties with the Soviet Union to rival against pro-Chinese Pakistan. India imported numerous Soviet weapons, such as MiG-21, MiG-23, MiG-27, and MiG-29 fighters. After the Cold War, India still deploys Russian weapons, as typically seen in Su-30MKI, which is built by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited under the license from Russia. Despite such strong and enduring relations with Russia since the Soviet era, India had kept nonalignment foreign policy, and never joined the Soviet bloc in history.

On the other hand, India had deepened military ties with the West during the Cold War era, and those relations are still developing in this century. India bought Mirage 2000 from France in the past, and during the Indo-Pakistani War in 1971, the Indian Navy deployed the Vikrant, which was a second hand aircraft carrier from Britain. After 9-11 terrorist attacks, India’s strategic partnership with the United States develops rapidly, as typically seen in the nuclear deal between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President George W. Bush. Under the Obama administration, this security cooperation has developed furthermore to invite Japan to the Malabar joint naval exercise (“US, Japan, and India Kick off 2016 Malabar Exercise”; Diplomat; June 12, 2016), in order to deter Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea (“India, Japan Call on China not to Use Force in South China Sea Disputes”; Diplomat; June 15, 2016).

India has been an independent actor in the great power rivalries, and its close relationship with Russia will not change geopolitical balances dramatically. For the West, India is a friendly nation and prospective market. Also, the West balances this country and Pakistan in the War on Terror in Afghanistan, since the latter is frequently unreliable. In view of such close relations with both Russia and the West, India is more fit to the role of splitting the Russo-Chinese axis. For this objective, both Japan and the United States must deepen foreign policy partnership with India, and explore common understandings in Asian security with them. Also, Abe should focus on bilateral issues when he meets Putin this December, in order to avoid unnecessary frictions with America and Europe.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

The Fatal Implications of Trump’s Russian Scandal

The American national security circle was outraged to hear Donald Trump’s provocative utterance to urge Russia to hack the Hillary Clinton side’s e-mail, because it was a criminal treason the nation. Trump supporters defend him that he was just joking, but we must remember that his foreign policy “suggestion” was serious as he stressed his America First vision upon accepting the formal nomination from the Republican Party, which was utterly incompatible with party values. It is quite appalling to demand a foreign government, particularly strategic rival to spy on an American official (“'Treason'? Critics savage Trump over Russia hack comments”; Politico; July 27, 2016).

Former CIA Director Leon Panetta questions his loyalty to the United States, because he asked the Russian intervention into American politics (“Former CIA director questions Trump's loyalty to the US: report”; Hill; July 27, 2016). Democrat Senator Harry Reid says more harshly that the CIA give fake information to Trump at the intelligence briefing (“Reid: Intelligence community should 'fake it' on Trump’s briefings”; Hill; July 27, 2016). More critically, Retired Rear Admiral John Hutson comments as a security law expert that Trump’s invitation for Russia to hack America is an act of criminal intent (“Retired admiral: Trump hacking comments ‘criminal intent’”; Politico; July 27, 2016).

In fact, Russia does not necessarily want to help Trump win the election. The vital point is that the Kremlin wants to split the United States as much as possible, in order to impose constraints on American leadership in the world (“Why Putin’s DNC hack will Backfire”; Foreign Policy; July 26, 2016). Trump is so pro-Russian as to remark that he would recognize the Russian annexation of Crimea and lift sanctions (“Trump to look at recognizing Crimea as Russian territory, lifting sanctions”; Politico; July 27, 2016). Actually Trump is scornful of Mitt Romney's warning in the 2012 election that Russia was the greatest adversary (“Donald Trump just called on Vladimir Putin to cyberattack the U.S. and help him win the election”; New Republic – Minuets; July 28, 2016).

What really matters is beyond Trump’s poor awareness in national security. It is his business ties with Russia that could inflict catastrophic impacts on American national security. Trump’s foreign policy advisors George Papadopoulos and Carter Page are deeply involved in the energy business with Russia. Tied with Gazprom, Page criticized American democracy promotion, and asserted that Russia would not invade Ukraine. Also, Trump’s favorite retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn is a regular commentator of Russia Today. In view of their close contacts with these Kremlin-associated companies, Max Boot argues that Trump change his campaign slogan to “Make Russia Great Again” (“Trump's opposition research firm: Russia's intelligence agencies”; Los Angels Times; July 25, 2016).

In addition, Trump himself is suspected to have any financial interests in Russia. He sold his mansion in Florida to a Russian stock broker Dmitry Rybolovlev, with special price. Mentally, Trump and Russian oligarchs are so much in common. Both are overconfident, and in pursuit of hedonistic greed of wealth, lavishness, and sex (“Trump and the Oligarch”; Politico; July 28, 2016). There is no wonder that Trump is so deeply engaged with Russia. His unreleased tax returns makes the public increasingly suspicious of dubious connections with Russia.

The problem of Trump’s pro-Russian remarks is more serious. Appallingly, he said that he would remove the clause of the Republican Party Platform that requires the US government to provide weapons for Ukraine, because he was “not involved” in drafting it (“George Stephanopolous awkwardly corrects Donald Trump when he says Putin is going into Ukraine”; Business Insider; July 31, 2016). Also, he said the mutual defense obligation of NATO was a lopsided burden to America, though European nations join the war in Afghanistan, based on Article V (“Trump’s Loose NATO Talk Already Has Endangered Us”; Defense One; July 24, 2016).

Apparently, everything he says and does is out of rule. There is no wonder why none of renowned foreign policy experts are willing to join the Trump team (“Role Reversal: The Dems Become the Security Party”; Politico; July 28, 2016). If Donald Trump were elected, American foreign policy would be completely paralyzed. The implication of his Russian scandal is fatally deep.