Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Brexit Will Turn Great Britain into Little England

Historically, Britain has been Euorsceptic, but that was based on the Anglo Saxon exceptionalism and imperial instinct in the past. After World War II, British foreign policy has been founded on the three circles of influence, the United States, Europe, and the Commonwealth and the rest of the world. Past Eurosceptics placed more emphasis on the Anglo-American special relationship and imperial legacies in the Commonwealth. But today, Brexiters hardly shares such grand strategy visions. They simply fear an immigration influx from the Continent and the impacts of the borderless economy. Such an inward-looking attitude is utterly incompatible with that of Margaret Thatcher who stood firmly against “German dominance” in Europe. Professor Niall Ferguson of Harvard University commented that both the Trump phenomenon and Brexit movements were populist backlashes against globalization after the 2008 financial crisis, in an interview with Australian ABC TV on May 18.

Certainly, Britain has a Common Law tradition, which is expected from those of Roman Law Continental Europe. However, Britain has not been isolated from Europe in history, and even the Splendid Isolation during the Victorian era is a sheer myth. Queen Victoria founded family blood networks with European monarchs and aristocrats through marriages of her children and grandchildren. Among them, Emperor “Kaiser” Wilhelm II of Germany and Empress consort Alexandra of Russia, are very well known. Typically, such sanguine ties helped a peaceful settlement of the Anglo-German colonial rivalry in East Africa, as Queen Victoria gave Mt. Kilimanjaro to Kaiser, while retaining Mt. Kenya under the British sovereignty in 1886. In a more globalized world today, Britain’s position as the bridgehead in Europe to the outside world has become increasingly important.

The negative impact of Brexit ranges from the economy to security. Economic losses are mentioned so much. As a consequence of a withdrawal from the common market, UK GDP would be 6.2% lower than it should be by 2030, according to JP Morgan (“Brexit could cost each Briton 45,000 pounds in lost wealth – JPMorgan”; Reuters; April 29, 2016). Also, consumer confidence would grow weaker. The Bank of England said that business was slowing because of the referendum uncertainty (“Brexit vote uncertainty erodes UK consumer, business confidence”; Reuters; April 29, 2016). But more fundamental and enduring damage to the British economy is a drastic cut of science research funds. Britain is the second largest recipient of EU science budget after Germany, which accounts for a quarter of its research spending (“UK will be ‘poor cousin’ of European science, Brexit study warns”; Financial Times; May 18, 2016). Since more populous emerging economies, such as China, India, Brazil, Nigeria, and Indonesia are rising, advantages in science is critical for Britain to compete in the global market. Brexit could ruin Britain’s economic base for the future.

Security implication of Brexit is no less significant. Britain is the only major European power that exceeds NATO requirement of 2% of GDP on defense. Also, Germany’s Basic Law precludes its proactive military role. Therefore, Europe’s self defense capability will be downgraded, if Britain leaves the EU. And it is not just fire power that matters. The more critical issue is intelligence. Britain shares information with the Anglo Saxon Five Eyes, including the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Continental Europe may not join this group, but Britain can provide security analyses for them, as long as it stays in the EU (“The Security Implications of Brexit”; Foregin Policy Association Blog; June 13, 2016).

Vice versa, EU membership helps British intelligence. At the parliamentary testimony this May, Former Chief of MI6 John Sawyer and former Director General of MI5 Jonathan Evans told that Brexit would weaken information sharing with Europe, and ultimately, the teamwork of counterterrorism with Continental partners (“Former British spy bosses say nation's exit from EU would pose threat”; Reuters; May 8, 2016). Retired US Army General David Petraeus shares their views as stated in his article to the Daily Telegraph (“Brexit would weaken the West’s war in terror”; Daily Telegraph; 26 March, 2016). Some British experts worry that common European defense would erode British sovereignty, and lead to German dominance (“It is an EU army that could ring about war”; Daily Telegraph; 27 May, 2016). However, Robin Niblett, Director of Chatham House argues that Britain uses EU venue to achieve national goals (“Britain, the EU and the Sovereignty Myth”; Chatham House; May 2016).

Hardly any Britain’s international partners want Brexit. The United States worry that Europe’s self defense capability will decline if Britain leaves the EU. If it happens, America has to assume more defense burden against Russia (“The US Has the Right to Argue for Remain”; Chatham House Expert Comment; 20 May, 2016). Also, Britain’s continual engagement with Europe helps America's military and intelligence partnership with the Trans-Atlantic and the Middle East regions (“Brexit Would Be a Further Blow to the Special Relationship”; Chatham House Expert Comment; 20 May, 2016). Germany also wants Britain to stay, because it needs a counterbalance against France (“Germany and Brexit: Berlin Has Everything To Lose if Britain Leaves”; Spiegel; June 11, 2016). British voters are too alert to Japanese-styled pacifist Germany today. Other major partners such as India, Japan, and even “anti-Western” China, want Britain to stay in the EU. It is only Putin’s Russia that wants Brexit to weaken the Trans-Atlantic alliance (“Putin Silently Hopes for Brexit to Hobble NATO”; News Week; June 10, 2016).

Brexiters say that Britain can negotiate the terms to win a more favorable deal with Europe, once leaving the EU. But former Prime Minister Tony Blair commented that new trade and labor movement deals with Europe would require lengthy and laborious negotiations, in an interview with CNN on April 25. See the video below.




Actually, if Britain were to negotiate the deal with Europe to set new relations after Brexit, everything must be done quickly. According to Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union, which was signed in Maastricht in 1992, only a two year negotiation period is guaranteed for a leaver to reset the relationship with the EU. Therefore, it is quite unlikely that Britain could win more favorable deals with Europe in such a constrained condition (“The seven blunders: Why Brexit would be harder than Brexiters think”; Centre for European Reform Insight; 28 April, 2016).

Anglo Saxon élites have led globalization, but ironically, the most formidable defiers to this world order are the working class on both sides of the Atlantic. Like Trump supporters in America, a Brexiter resorted to violence to kill Jo Cox MP (“Jo Cox MP dead after shooting attack”; BBC News; 16 June, 2016). Edmund Burke would have deplored as current Britain has fallen into a turmoil like revolutionary France in those days. But remainers are also to be criticized, as they fail to appeal positive aspects of EU membership, and just argue for status quo to deny Brexit. Therefore, Britain’s Gladstonian open and internationalist ideals are in danger (“E.U. Referendum Exposes Britain’s Political Decay”; Washington Post; June 10, 2016).That has made the referendum on June 23 increasingly confused.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

How Should We Assess Obama’s Hiroshima Legacy?



President Barack Obama visited the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima to deliver a historic speech for a world without nuclear weapons on May 27. The address itself was a critical reflection of human history and civilization to dominate the nature. It was well-balanced, as he expressed heartfelt condolences to Atomic bomb victims of Japanese, Koreans, and American POWs, without giving an apology. In East Asia, Japan faces the continual quagmire of apology to China and Korea. The US-Japanese relations must avoid such an enduring emotional impasse. In the face of the Trump phenomenon, it is quite noteworthy that Obama stressed that America and Japan had overcome wartime hostility to make the alliance real friendship and strategic linchpin in the Asia Pacific region. That helped Prime Minister Shinzo Abe address hopeful and future oriented messages, following Obama.

However, I would like to mention some problems that would ruin Obama’s Hiroshima legacy. The first one is, whether the next president of the United States takes nuclear nonproliferation seriously. The conscience that Obama expressed at Hiroshima needs to be inherited by his successor, regardless of partisanship, ideology, and understanding of wartime history. Particularly, Republican candidate Donald Trump shows extremely insincere attitude on this issue, as seen in his urging of nuclear proliferation to Japan, South Korea, and even Saudi Arabia. Therefore, he is the greatest nuclear threat to the world, now. In view of this, my attention was drawn to the sentence, “When the choice is made by ‪leaders‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬, reflect this simple wisdom, then the lesson of ‪‎Hiroshima‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ is done” in Obama’s speech. Though Obama did not mention the presidential election itself in Hiroshima, he blamed Trump on the final day of the G7 Ise-Shima summit (“In a rare occurrence, Obama speaks his mind about Trump for the world to hear”; Washington Post; May 26, 2016). But the problem is not just Trump. Leaders around the world must be well-aware of nuclear security. Otherwise, the legacy would expire soon.

The second problem is Obama's nonproliferation policy. As shown in the Prague speech, Obama behaved as if he were an apostle of nuclear disarmament. Though the Hiroshima speech was taken favorably among world media and Japanese people, it seemed that he has been obsessed with his lofty ideal at the expense of realpolitik, throughout his presidential terms. This was typically seen in his reset with Russia to start New START negotiations, shortly after his inauguration. However, security environment had changed dramatically, since President-then Ronald Reagan proposed the START with the Soviet Union. Nuclear power balance had turned from bipolar to multipolar, as proliferators like Iran and North Korea emerged. Due to this, America and Russia did not overcome disagreements on the Missile Defense system (“Debating the New START Treaty”; Council on Foreign Relations; July 22. 2010). Also, Vladimir Putin had less incentive to improve relations with the West than the Soviet Chairman Michael Gorbachev did. There is no wonder Obama has not made a spectacular achievement in nuclear disarmament with Russia as Reagan did. In addition, Obama failed to take effective measures to stop the progress of North Korea’s nuclear program. To the contrary, Kim Jong-un has stepped up to test hydrogen bomb and more advanced ballistic missile. But it is not fair to criticize Obama only for this, because his predecessor George W. Bush also failed to stop North Korea.

But above all, the most critical test for Obama’s Hiroshima legacy is the Iran nuclear deal, as he is proud of this “accomplishment”. Opponents criticize the deal, because it will expire 10 years later. Sanction lift releases over 100 billion dollars of restricted assets of Iran, which could enable the Revolutionary Guard to finance terrorists (“Debating the Iran Nuclear Deal”; Brookings Institution; August 2015). Actually, Secretary of State John Kerry admitted that Iran uses some of that money to help terrorists (“US State Department: Iran world’s top sponsor of terrorism”; Y net News; June 3, 2016). The deal may work for the time being, but I would argue that this would not eliminate Iran’s nuclear threats completely. So far as Iran sponsors terrorists continually, they can acquire radioactive materials to make dirty bombs. More seriously, this deal could help Iran develop a plutonium bomb, since the United States purchases 32 tons of heavy water from them for 8.6 million dollars. Under the agreement with P5+1, Iran must restrict its stockpile of heavy water, but it is still allowed to keep a limited heavy water industry for export. This would lead to “external subsidization of Iran’s nuclear program”, according to Tzvi Kahn at the Foreign Policy Initiative (“U.S. Bankrolls Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions”; FPI Bulletin; May 4, 2016).

Obama’s nuclear deal is so fragile, and neither Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei nor President Hassan Rouhani is a Gorbachev. Iran continually denounces America and Britain as evils. Furthermore, they still brandish ballistic missiles to wipe out Israel (“Iranian commander: We can destroy Israel ‘in under 8 minutes’”; Times of Israel; May 22, 2016). It is quite hard to contain their enduring hostility to Anglo Saxons and Zionists with such a lukewarm agreement. The Iran nuclear deal can kill the beautiful legacy that Obama made in Hiroshima. Therefore, we have to see his accomplishments with watchful and critical eyes.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Nuclear Proliferation among Regional Powers Shall Never Work as Deterrence

Some people in the world believe that nuclear possession would boost independent deterrence of their countries. In reality, nuclear arms are no guarantee of deterrence, but simply intensify tensions among regional powers. In order to make nuclear deterrence reliable, sufficient second strike capability and effective systems like hotlines are necessary. However, except nuclear superpowers like the United States and Russia, most of the regional powers cannot afford to possess a huge amount of nuclear weapons, and thus, they are vulnerable to the first attack by the enemy. How these regional powers, including potential nuclear possessors, pursue reliable deterrence against the rival, with limited capability? I would like to mention some cases below.

Currently, the Indian subcontinent is the only place where antagonistic nuclear powers, India and Pakistan, are located side by side along the border. Tensions can arise anytime. Particularly, terrorists’ acquisition of nuclear materials from Pakistan is a critical concern, for fear of a dirty bomb attack in India. In the 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament by Laskar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, India failed to react quickly to deploy troops against Pakistan, which was supposed to sponsor these terrorists. In order to manage such fragile nuclear security environment, the Indian government contrived the Cold Start doctrine, which is a massive and quick response with conventional forces to prevent nuclear attack by Pakistan. In response, Pakistan developed tactical nuclear weapons to stop Indian aggression. The problem is, this mutual deterrence is quite feeble, compared with the US-Soviet or Russian MAD, despite the hotline between two countries. If terrorists plotted to attack India from Pakistani territory, this would trigger India’s Cold Start attack and Pakistan’s response with tactical nuclear weapons, in theory (“Are Pakistan's Nuclear Assets Under Threat?”; Diplomat; April 28, 2016). As shown in the tension after the Mumbai terrorist attacks in 2008, mutual distrust between India and Pakistan is still deep. Only an external power, notably the United States, is the last intermediary to prevent a nuclear war between both nations.

Likewise, possible nuclear arms build up of Japan and South Korea would not be helpful deterrence against North Korea, as their second strike capability would be limited. More importantly, both Japan and South Korea would have to rely on American satellite for surveillance against North Korea. In addition to deterrence capability of Japan and South Korea, their bilateral relation is a serious problem. The Japanese-South Korean relationship is not the Anglo-French relationship. No one expects nuclear tension across the Dover Strait, but diplomacy across the Tsushima Strait is extremely sensitive. As commonly known, both countries frequently bicker over colonial history, and seemingly trivial gaffes could easily intensify bilateral tensions. Moreover, South Korea still sees Japan a kind of threat. In other words, Japanese-South Korean relations are more like Indo-Pakistani relations. American security umbrella has made a significant contribution to prevent the conflict across the Tsushima Strait from growing too serious. Therefore, if both countries were to have independent nuclear arms, they might target each other, rather than deter North Korea. Donald Trump is extremely incognisant of such sensitive Far Eastern affairs.

As I mention some cases here, it would not help boost deterrence, if the global community permitted regional powers to possess nuclear weapons. They pursue nuclear arms, because the security environment in their neighborhood is unstable. If not, they do not have to spend on these arsenals. This is typically seen in South Africa’s denuclearization after the fall of apartheid. But regional nuclear rivalries simply make their own security worse. This is particularly true in the Middle East, where ethno-sectarian conflicts are intertwined with terrorism. As India invented an indigenous strategic theory of deterrence, others would do. However, I can hardly imagine that their strategies will be reliable deterrence as those of established nuclear powers like the Big Five, notably the US-Russian MAD. Therefore, it is our imperative to sustain and strengthen the NPT regime, and America should revitalize its role as the world policeman.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Obama Should Send a Warning to Trump in Hiroshima!

Ever since the inauguration of President Barack Obama, I have been firmly opposed to his aspiration to visit Hiroshima, because it would appear apologetic and post-American. I have been critically concerned that it would invigorate rising enemies to the Western alliance in the post Cold War era. But a more dreadful threat has emerged in the presidential race in the US homeland, and a strong message must be delivered against ignorant and irresponsible remarks on nuclear security, to express that the conscience of the global community shall not permit any kind of such words and behavior, regardless of the partisanship and the state. Now, from the perspective of “Never Trump!”, I believe that the priority must be changed, and thus, I would welcome Obama’s visit to Hiroshima.

The majority of the Japanese public, and even atomic bomb victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, do not expect any leader of the United States to apologize to wartime deeds. I have to remind people around the world that Hiroshima is no Auschwitz, and none of the exhibitions in the Peace Memorial park, including the Atomic Bomb Dome, blame the United States and the Allied forces. Therefore, Obama has no obligation to apologize, but to send a confident message of American leadership to make the world safe from nuclear threats. Nonproliferation of the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) has been one of the top agendas in American foreign policy. Among them, the nuclear issue is a primary focus of renowned foreign policy think tanks, whether conservative or liberal. This implies that it is America’s bipartisan and vital interest to stop nuclear proliferation. We have to bear in mind that even Russia and China have accepted American proposals in nuclear nonproliferation, as seen in Iran and North Korea. Typically, the NPT (Nonproliferation Treaty) regime symbolizes American leadership in the global public interest. Furthermore, it has become an imperative to stop nuclear terrorism, in the aftermath of 9-11 attacks.

Quite deplorably, Donald Trump is utterly unlearned in fundamental approaches of American nuclear diplomacy. Tactical nuclear weapons are too destructive to use in the War on Terror in the Middle East. More astoundingly, he urged Japan and South Korea to have their own nuclear weapons against North Korea, without relying on the American nuclear umbrella. That would definitely lead to the collapse of the NPT regime, and ultimately, harm America’s own national security. Then, the ripple effect of it would expand globally. In the Middle East, regional powers like Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey would be tempted to strengthen or to have their nuclear arms, as Iran still conducts ballistic missile tests, though the nuclear deal has taken into effect. Also, the Indo-Pakistani nuclear rivalry might be intensified. That would make terrorist acquisition of nuclear bombs more likely. Trump’s argument is based on the “balance sheet”, but hardly any economists say that America withdraw troops from overseas to cut the budget. Foreign policy and national security experts are bewildered to hear such a businessman viewpoint.

The fatal error that Trump has made is an assumption that nuclear possession leads to nuclear deterrence unconditionally. But the history of US-Soviet rivalries tell us it is utterly wrong. In the early days, Americans were so scared of Soviet nuclear attacks that they repeated emergency evacuation drills. It was probably the same across the Iron Curtain. The pinnacle of nuclear brinkmanship was the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. It took a long time to establish a credible deterrence system. Until mutual assured destruction (MAD) had become solid with second strike capability and the hotline, nuclear deterrence between the United States and the Soviet Union was unreliable. We have to bear in mind that none of these systems worked in 1998 when India and Pakistan resorted to nuclear test each other, and their nuclear rivalries simply heightened regional tension. More critically, nuclear deterrence shall never work against Jihadists. They have no fear of being destroyed by the enemy, and there is no way of mutual communication with them to prevent unexpected risks like the Moscow-Washington hotline. The core value of Jihadism is to fight against “Western crusaders” for its own sake. Consequently, unstoppable nuclear proliferation shall not strengthen deterrence, but hollow it instead.

From these perspectives, we must question whether Japan can build deterrence against North Korea with its own independent nuclear arms. Japanese military journalist Shunji Taoka argues that North Korea would take the risk of war, even if Japan went nuclear armed. Only a massive retaliation by the United States could prevent adventurist Kim regime from stepping toward a nuclear warfare, he says (“Japanese Nuclear Possession is Neither Practical nor Advantageous”; Diamond Online; April 14, 2016). Taoka’s analysis is plausible, as North Korea’s foremost focus of their nuclear saber rattling is to draw the United States into the negotiation so that their regime survival is secured. Also, the fact that former Japanese diplomat Yukiya Amano is the Director General of the IAEA implies deeply embedded ties between Japan and the NPT regime. That is America’s vital national interest, but Trump is completely incognizant of it. From North Korea to ISIS, his nuclear strategy utterly does not make sense. The vast majority of Trump supporters has never thought of anything about nuclear security, and he entertains those people just for demagogy. This is very dangerous. Therefore, Obama should send a strong message against any insincere politicians around the world, notably Trump. This is not for his legacy, but for global public interest.

I understand Americans worry that a presidential speech at Hiroshima would have unfavorable effects on US diplomacy. I shared such a view until the emergence of Trump the Monster. Certainly, unilateral remorse from the American side would perplex American citizens and Asian nations, without any corresponding actions from the Japanese side (“So Long, Harry: Will Obama’s Apology Tour End in Hiroshima?”; Weekly Standard; September 2, 2015). Obama’s speech in Hiroshima would provoke painful memories of the Pearl Harbor attack and the Bataan Death March, which would lead to reveal some disagreements on wartime history between Americans and Japanese (“Kerry's Premature Visit to Hiroshima”; Weekly Standard; April 11, 2016). But Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would seriously consider visiting there to pay tribute to war victims of the Allied forces in return, for better mutual understandings in the future. What we need is neither an apology, nor a legacy, but a message of commitment to nonproliferation for the future (“At Hiroshima, Obama should make a pledge, not an apology”; New York Post; April 13, 2016). Among liberal opinion leaders, Joseph Cirincione who is the President of the Ploughshares Fund argues that nuclear terrorism has become more likely after the Brussels attacks, and Obama must show dedicated leadership to stop it in Hiroshima (“Obama Still Has Time to Leave a Legacy of Nuclear Security”; Huffinton Post; March 31, 2016).

It is no longer time to repent the past. What we desperately need is to promote awareness of nuclear security, and to raise voices against any leader of insincere attitude to nuclear nonproliferation. Particularly, Donald Trump is the greatest nuclear threat to the world today. I can hardly believe that he will be seriously engaged in the duty of the president, in view of his lackadaisical remarks on nuclear issues. Hopefully, Barack Obama will deliver a strong message to conduct people to remove such a shameless politician throughout the world when he visits Hiroshima.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Should Japan Possess Nuclear Weapons?

In view of a shocking remark by Donald Trump (“In Japan and South Korea, bewilderment at Trump's suggestion they build nukes”; Washington Post; March 28, 2016), Japanese people are increasingly worried about national security, and gradually talking about having independent nuclear deterrence. However, we have to reconsider whether to act so hastily. That is because it takes several years and costs a huge amount of money to develop and deploy nuclear weapons. Once the project has started, it would be too big to waste that. Japanese national security must be firmly based on standard and long term strategic views of foreign policy circles in Washington, rather than on an erratic term of a bigoted and unpredictable would-be president.

Let me explain it clearly. Suppose Trump were inaugurated. But he would have only a 4 year secured term. Japan would have to make and deploy nuclear weapons very quickly. But if he were not successful, someone else would replace him in the next term, and the successor would return American foreign policy to the normalcy. In that case, he or she would not tolerate Japanese nuclear deterrence, since WMD nonproliferation is a key agenda of American national security. Therefore, Japan would waste a huge amount of time, labor, and money, if we reacted to Trump’s ignorant and commercialistically skinflinty ideas so imprudently. I have to emphasize that people in Japan and the global community have never regarded Trump supporting mobs who are fatally problematic in intellect and temperament as Americans.

Also, the mind and the behavior of Trump himself is precarious. As stated in the well known open letter by Eliot Cohen, along with over 100 signatories, “He swings from isolationism to military adventurism within the space of one sentence.” He may admit Japanese nuclear deterrence at this stage. But his foreign policy views are so unpredictable as he always boasts that he could suddenly change his mind within a possible 4 year term. In that case Trump could treat Japan like Iran and North Korea. Actually, people all over the world know he is notorious for short temper. Why should Japan run such a risk to be regarded as an enemy to the United States?

More questionably, I would like to express my heartfelt skepticism whether Trump could withdraw all the forces in Japan within his term. The scale of US military services in Japan is huge, and the US Forces in Japan are deeply embedded in Japanese societies, as typically seen in rescue operations of 3-11 tsunami and earthquake. Withdrawal procedure would involve an incredible amount of red tape bureaucracy that Trump had never encountered throughout his life as a real estate businessman. Land property rights associated with military bases are far more complicated than those he managed in his business. Moreover, it is Yokota US Air Force base that assumes the control of the Japanese airspace for regional security and civil aviation. The transition of this authority to the Japanese side would require considerably laborious negotiations. If bilateral talks were bottlenecked, it would be American airline industries that would suffer a great loss. Trump should be well aware of it, as he boats his business acumen.

In addition, the withdrawal schedule is not clear, whether Trump would wait until Japan builds nuclear deterrence against China and North Korea, or start negotiations to pull out troops promptly without giving any consideration to the danger of the power vacuum. In any case, jobs are laborious. I can hardly imagine Trump could appoint competent senior officials of his own to do this mission, as the quality of his foreign policy team was commented sarcastically by Michael O’Hanlon (“D.C.'s Foreign-Policy Establishment Spooked by `Bizzaro’ Trump Team”; National Review Online; March 24, 2016). It seems that Trump has two term presidency in his mind (“Trump’s nonsensical claim he can eliminate $19 trillion in debt in eight years”; Washington Post; April 2, 2016), but this is not an OJT job. Poor performance in the first term means the end. Considering his notorious impatience, why does he expect the people so patient? His whimsical remarks, particularly on foreign policy, reveal his sheer lack of reverence for the duty and responsibility of the president.

Trump’s way of thinking is a Copernican turn of nuclear security and the US-Japanese alliance. But it seems that he hardly understands this, since he is extremely ill-prepared to carry out what he said in public. Among American allies worldwide, Japan is the first target of his blame. If he regards the reshuffle of the relationship with Japan so important, I wonder why none of the advisors in his foreign policy team are well versed with Japanese affairs. More seriously, his knowledge in nuclear security is extraordinarily poor. Trump did not even know nuclear triad. In addition, he insisted on using tactical nuclear weapons against Islamic terrorists in the Middle East (“Donald Trump Won't Rule Out Using Nukes Against ISIS”; Fortune; March 23, 2016). That exposes he is utterly uninformed of the destructive capacity of nuclear arms. Tactical nuclear weapons today are more powerful than those used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Also, the use of tactical nuclear bomb can escalate the war. Trump should know that collateral damages by US drone attacks were bitterly criticized in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even if tactical, nuclear weapons kill innumerable civilians. Apparently, he has learned nothing about these issues, and therefore, he remarks anything so shamelessly.

It is no longer time just to analyze and deplore. We should take action to bust him. For this objective, I would suggest that Japanese opinion leaders write an open letter of protest to him to question every point I mention in this post, and express our anger. I understand that Trump is extremely sensitive to anger as he exploits popular outrage. The Japanese government may not be in a position to behave so provocatively, but the track II level can do so. There is no doubt that American and global policy circles, and people of conscience in the United States, are definitely on our side. Our bilateral relations will last far longer than Trump, as I state at the beginning of this essay. It is Japan’s vital interest to act in accordance with common understandings among American foreign policy circles, not with Trump’s bigoted ideas.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Foreign Policy Teams in the US Presidential Election

The quality and the quantity of the foreign policy team indicates each candidate’s view and dedication to the US role in the world. Also, the selection of policy advisors shows policy focuses of current contestants. The advisor team is a barometer for us to see which candidate is well prepared for the presidential job. From this point of view, Republican candidate Donald Trump was stupidly overconfident to say “I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain” when he was asked about his foreign policy (“Trump: I consult myself on foreign policy”; Politico; March 16, 2016). But when his rival, Senator Ted Cruz announced his foreign policy team, Trump followed suit a few days later (“Trump begins to peel back curtain on foreign policy team”; Hill; March 21, 2016). In view of the above mentioned aspects, I would like to talk about each candidate’s advisory team.

Both in terms of quality and quantity, Hillary Clinton’s advisory team overwhelms those of other candidates. She delivered a keynote speech at the foundation ceremony of the Center for New American Security in 2007. The CNAS has provided foreign policy staffs for the Obama administration, notably its co-founders Michèle Flournoy and Kurt Campbell. Also, Clinton has an extensive personal contact among foreign policy and national security communities from her experience as the First Lady, Senator, and the Secretary of State. Her foreign policy team is in huge advantage, not just in the sheer size, but the coverage of policy areas. The team is headed by Jake Sullivan and Laura Rosenberger, both were Department of State staffs when Clinton was the Secretary. In addition, high profile figures like former CIA Director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, former National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and former Under Secretary of Defense Michèle Flournoy, are in contact with the team as outside advisors. Even though Senator Bernie Sanders have met some renowned Middle East experts to fill his weakness in foreign policy, such as Lawrence Korb, Ray Takeyh, and Tamara Coffman Writtes, they are associated with Clinton (“Inside Hillary Clinton’s Massive Foreign-Policy Brain Trust”; Foreign Policy; February 10, 2016).

Furthermore, Clinton has deep ties with Republican foreign policy leaders, as typically shown in Henry Kissinger’s endorsement upon her inauguration to the Secretary of State. Ever since the Gulf War, Democrats had shared common policy objective with Republicans to remove Saddam Hussein. The Clinton administration even embraced the idea of regime change in Iraq, which was proposed by the Project for the New American Century. The Bush administration acted in line with this. As if reflecting this point, Republican national security élites strongly disagree with Trump’s non-interventionism on the Iraq war, Libya, the Israel-Palestine conflict, and Russia. So far as foreign policy is concerned, both parties share common understandings, and favor an orthodox candidate of the rival party, rather than a bigoted and unorthodox candidate of their own party. Even a non-mainstream Republican like Senator Rand Paul prefers Clinton, as Trump’s remark about water boarding and the wall against Mexico are utterly at odds with his libertarian values (“Hillary Clinton Has Long History of Collaboration With GOP on Foreign Policy; Intercept; March 13, 2016). There is every reason that Clinton is far more preferable to Trump for numerous Republicans.

Actually, some conservatives notably Bryan McGrath of the Hudson Institute say that they trust Clinton on foreign and defense policy (“Vocal Trump critics in GOP open to supporting Clinton”; Hill; March 24, 2016). Particularly, neoconservatives such as Robert Kagan and Max Boot openly state that they prefer Clinton to Trump. Also, former Bush administration officials from Dick Cheney to Condoleeza Rice expressed favorable views to Clinton as the Secretary of State and potential rival to Barack Obama (“Neocon War Hawks Want Hillary Clinton Over Donald Trump. No Surprise—They’ve Always Backed Her”; In These Times; March 23, 2016). Commonly regarded as a liberal hawk, Clinton monopolizes the brain trust of both parties in Washington political corridors.

In contrast, rival candidates’ advisory teams are far more insufficient, both in terms of the quality and the quantity. Sanders hardly founded something deserves to be called a foreign policy team. On the Republican side, their teams cater to popular fears against Islamic terrorism, but hardly capable of showing the vision of American role in the world. First, let me talk about Ted Cruz’s team. He announced his advisory staffs ahead of Trump. The team is led by former Senator Jim Talent and Elliot Abrahams who was a deputy national security advisor of the Bush administration (“Cruz unveils national security team before Trump”; Washington Examiner; March 17, 2016). Both neocons worked for Senator Marco Rubio’s team until he dropped out of the race (“Marco Announces Support of Top National Security Experts”; MarcoRubio.com; March 7, 2016). On the other hand, anti-Islam conspiracy theorists like Frank Gaffney argues that a quarter of Muslims in the United States plot anti-American jihad, and their Sharia law poses a critical threat within the country (“Cruz Assembles an Unlikely Team of Foreign-Policy Rivals”; Bloomberg View; March 17, 2016).

Cruz’s recent comment to tighten security checks around Muslim residents (Ted Cruz: Police need to 'patrol and secure' Muslim neighborhoods; CNN; March 23, 2016) may reflect such views, but Republican mainstream does not accept those ideas. The Cruz team covers a broad range of ideological stands within the party, but the chasm between universalist neocons and nationalist conspiracy theorists can break out when their disagreements on specific issues are serious. Also, the selection of advisors of this group is disproportionately concentrated on Middle East and Islamic terrorism experts. That is far from meeting requirements to manage global challenges that America faces today.

Finally, I would like to mention Trump’s foreign policy team. Like Cruz, Trump’s team places disproportionate emphasis on Islamic terrorism. As if rivaling Cruz, Trump unveiled his foreign policy led by Senator Jim Sessions, a few days later. He has chosen neither high profile figures, nor former senior government officials for his advisors. Remarkably, his team is extremely commercialist, as if indicative of his businessman backgrounds. Carter Page and George Papadopoulos have an important position in the team, both of whom are oil and energy consultants (“Trump begins to peel back curtain on foreign policy team”; Hill; March 21, 2016). Some of them are with quite dubious and outlaw backgrounds. To begin with, Joseph Schmitz quit his job at the Pentagon in 2005 due to continuous corruption. Another member Walid Phares murdered Palestinian refugees when he fought for a Christian militia in Lebanon, and such a man of criminal conduct joins the team as a counterterrorism advisor. More startlingly, Retired Lieutenant General Keith Kellogg has no employment record in the army, despite his claim of working for the occupation forces in Iraq from 2003 to 2004 (“Top Experts Confounded by Advisers to Donald Trump”; New York Times; March 22, 2016).

In view of an appalling lineup like this, Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution, comments, “Either [Trump] doesn’t care about experience. . . or no one wants to taint his reputation by working for a guy whose views are often so harsh and unthinking” (“D.C.’s Foreign-Policy Establishment Spooked by ‘Bizzaro’ Trump Team”; National Review Online; March 24, 2016). There is no wonder why Trump’s foreign policy viewpoints are totally at odds with bipartisan and trans-ideological common understanding of foreign policy and national security communities in Washington, DC. He is completely scornful of the value of a global network of American alliance. Typically, Trump’s suggestion that Japan and South Korea be armed with nuclear weapons by themselves, is a complete defiance to America’s critical security agenda to stop nuclear proliferation throughout the world. (“In Japan and South Korea, bewilderment at Trump’s suggestion they build nukes”; Washington Post; March 28, 2016). The problem is no longer racketeering, bilateral alliance, and burden sharing. His remark is a sheer ‪insult‬ to ‬‪‎bipartisan foreign policy‬ experts who are dedicated to ‪‎nuclear‬ ‪‎nonproliferation‬. Trump must know more nuclear armed powers in the world imply more likelihood of terrorist acquisition of nuclear weapons.

As to the appointment of policy advisors, a leader must be much more farsighted than the public. A candidate needs to meet people’s demand. But that is not enough. A good leader must drive people to pay more attention to unnoticed, but important issues, but not pander on populist outrage. In view of this, Clinton’s advisors are the best, and Trump’s are the worst. It is possible that the Cruz team will expand and upgrade, as more advisors can join from the Bush and the Rubio team.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Democracy and Human Rights Promotion in the US Presidential Election

President Barack Obama’s remark that America is no longer the world policeman, has perplexed the global public. But the more important question is whether America is dedicated to democracy promotion in the world. It is popularly believed that the United States still assumes it a foreign policy imperative to prevail democracy. However, during the Obama presidency, Thomas Carothers of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, points out that American budget to support democracy assistance has declined by 28%. The US Agency for International Development is the most severely hit victim, as its projects in the Middle East and Africa are drastically curtailed. This is because American citizens and policymakers are increasingly skeptical of democracy aid (“Why Is the United States Shortchanging Its Commitment to Democracy?”; Washington Post; December 22, 2014).

There is no doubt that vehement criticism to the Iraq War on the global stage drove the American public to isolationism, because defensive reactions to 9-11 attacks were blamed so bitterly. The failure of the Arab Spring has made America reluctant to make a commitment to democracy promotion furthermore. Arab opinion leaders blame the West and Zionist for corruption and instability in the region, but most of them are rooted in their societies. In addition to socioeconomic inequality and ethno-sectarian conflicts, Arab nations are hardly united despite pan-Arabism slogans. The rule of law and political participation are insufficient (“The Arab Winter”; Economist; January 9, 2016). Such global and Arab reactions have led to Obama’s withdrawal from the world policeman. It has given a bad impression to the global public that Obama has given away America’s special role to maintain the liberal world order.

American allies achingly desired that this election will elect the president who can overturn Obama’s superpower suicide. But things are rather developing to the contrary. Isolationism is rising on both the Democrat and the Republican sides. That is discouraging to America’s long term allies. Remember that democracy promotion and alliance network are deeply intertwined centerpieces of postwar American foreign policy. Robert Kagan of the Brookings Institution tells how both pieces work reciprocally in “The World America Made”. The United States has always fought a war with allies, while both the Soviet Union and China have virtually alone. Shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, former Warsaw Pact nations joined NATO. Even former Soviet republics like Ukraine and Georgia want to follow this. On the Pacific side, South East Asians like the Phillippines and even former foe Vietnam hope American presence to remove the Chinese threat. Though actually, none of the nations in the region want American or Chinese dominance, but their own independence.

It is widely understood that they embrace American hegemony, because the United States has neither territorial greed nor intention to infringe national sovereignty of others. Also, democratic values solidify American leadership on the global stage. Former senators Joseph Lieberman and Jon Kyl tell it in detail, “For America to lead, security and prosperity—guided by the principles of freedom—must be pursued in tandem” (“Why American leadership still matters”; AEI American Internationalism Project Report; December 3, 2015). Furthermore, both authors argue the relation between promoting American values and pursuing the national interest, “[But] supporting human rights and democratic ideals isn’t just about altruism. Democracies will not go to war with the United States, nor will they support terrorism against it, nor will they produce refugees to flee to it. Democracies do, however, ally with the United States and make for better economic partners” (“The case for American internationalism”; Catalyst; January 20, 2016).

However, not all candidates understand the importance of foreign policy assets. Typically, a Republican candidate Donald Trump argues for a fortress America against Mexicans and Muslims, and disengagement from Syria and North Korea, while a Democrat candidate Bernie Sanders almost entirely focus on domestic socioeconomic inequality. Let me talk about foreign policy of each candidate in this election (“Campaign 2016 --- Candidates & the World”; Council on Foreign Relations). Among current contestants, Marco Rubio is the most dedicated advocate for prevailing American values throughout the world. The fundamental idea of Rubio’s foreign policy is American exceptionalism to assume the special role in the global community, and he laments that the Obama administration wants to make America like the rest of the world (“Rubio: ‘Obama Wants America to Be Like the Rest of the World’”; MRC TV; January 28, 2016). As a result, he argues “Our allies don’t trust us. Our enemies don’t fear us. And the world doesn’t know where America stands” (“Rubio’s ad: “Our enemies don’t fear us’”; Hill; December 30, 2015). He endorses civil empowerment against autocratic regimes from China to Cuba. On the other hand, he voted against the Freedom Act in order to keep tough surveillance on terrorists in the homeland.

To the contrary, a Democrat Bernie Sanders and a Republican Donald Trump are unenthusiastic, and even at odds with democracy and human rights promotion, as they are extremely inward looking isolationists. Sanders is almost entirely dedicated to domestic inequality and labor issues, though he values multilateral cooperation with allies and friendly partners. As to domestic civil liberty, Sanders objects to strict surveillance for the sake of security against terrorism, as conservative libertarians do. The most problematic candidate is Donald Trump, because he is not just an isolationist. His devotion to American values is questionable from his inflammatory remarks about Muslims and Mexicans. As typically seen in his utterance about nuclear triad and wartime international law, his knowledge in foreign policy is extremely poor. His disrespect to human rights is revealed in the view on waterboarding, which distressed former CIA Director Michael Hayden so much as to say there is a legitimate possibility that the U.S. military would refuse to follow his orders (“Former CIA director: Military may refuse to follow Trump’s orders if he becomes president”; Washington Post; February 28, 2016). His foreign policy views are based on blue collar distrust to the global economy and liberal world order. He does not believe in “The World America Made”. Therefore, he does not trust democratic allies, nor is he interested in democracy promotion (“Trump’s 19th Century Foreign Policy”; Politico; January 20, 2016). He is an exceptional Republican to see diplomatic normalization with Cuba a business opportunity.

Other candidates from Republican Ted Cruz and John Kasich to Democrat Hillary Clinton stand between internationalism and isolationism. They are more or less realist, and not necessarily stanch advocates for democracy promotion. Clinton denounced China’s one-child policy as the first lady in 1995, but as the Secretary of State, her pivot to Asia was more trade oriented. Domestically, she insists on “humane” treatment of immigrants, and supports the Freedom Act for the same reason as Tea Party libertarians do. On the other hand, Cruz is in a delicate position. While he argues for hardline policies to advance human rights in geopolitically adversary regimes, notably China and Iran, he does not believe in “regime change” for fear of long and extensive troop deployments like the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. On the domestic front, Cruz worked with a prominent libertarian Rand Paul to replace the Patriot Act with the Freedom Act to loosen terrorist surveillance. This is partly due to his supporter bases, consisted of Tea Party libertarians who believe in a limited government and evangelicals who believe in moralism. But that is not the only reason for his antipathy to neocons and deep skepticism to Arab democratization.

Cruz depends his foreign policy heavily on Jeane Kirkpatrick to assume himself a Reaganite. Based on Kirkpatrick’s article (“Dictatorship and Double Standards”; Commentary; November 1, 1979), Cruz is willing to live with unpleasant autocrats like President Bashar al Assad of Syria, in order to avoid risks of unknown confusion resulting from moralistic interventionism (“Ted Cruz’s un-American ‘America First’ Strategy”; Foreign policy; December 16, 2015). Kirkpatrick’s double standard was taken to rival against the Soviet Union. Unlike neoconservatives and progressive internationalists, Kirkpatrick was skeptical of universal progress of civilization, and she was more realist than idealist. However, Cruz dismisses that Reagan did not always follow her advice, as typically seen in his response when pro-American and anti-communist Ferdinando Marcos was overthrown in the Phillipines (“Ted Cruz's New Foreign Policy Isn't Conservative”; National Interest; August 1, 2014). Cruz’s double standard between America’s strategic rivals like China and Iran, and unfavorable Arab autocracies like Syria and Egypt, can undermine America’s global stand as the bearer of freedom and human rights.

Democracy promotion in foreign policy is also correlated to domestic policy. From this point, Donald Trump is the worst candidate. He is notorious for arrogance to the media; inflammatory remarks to provoke mob violence; and insults to minorities, women, and handicapped people. Even if he launches human rights agenda, the world shall not listen to him. Pursuit of universal value and its achievements are foreign policy assets of the United States. I hope that the open letter by national security leaders to denounce Trump’s arrogant and ignorant isolationism will be the real start of counterblow of American internationalism.