Sunday, January 01, 2017
Sunday, December 11, 2016
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.
Posted by Σ. Alexander at 9:52 PM
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
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
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
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 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.
Monday, July 11, 2016
In the American presidential election this year, Republican candidate Donald Trump draws extensive attention with his inflammatory and offensive utterance. The world is imperiled with vehement backlashes to globalization by angry mobs, and furthermore, his isolationism. Foreign leaders and media are scared of a Trump presidency so much that it seems that they are wholeheartedly happy with Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton. There is no doubt that Clinton is far better than incoherent and ignorant Trump. However, we do not want the third term of Barack Obama. We need the candidate to overturn his abstention from American leadership in the world. Obama was obsessed with ending Bush’s war in Iraq and Afghanistan, without helping them rebuild their security forces. As a result, Iraq has become the home of terrorism, and it prevails around the world from there (“Iraq: The World Capital of Terrorism”; Atlantic; July 5, 2016). Also, people have become fatigued with long wars in the Middle East, which leads America less willing to promote democracy, and consequently, adversaries are emboldened (“Democracy in Decline”; Foreign Affairs; July/August 2016). Trump’s America First would make Obama’s failure worse furthermore. Therefore, we must watch Hillary Clinton carefully whether she would reverse Obama’s apologetic and appeasing foreign policy.
Clinton’s foreign policy advisors and campaign funds reflect her liberal hawk visions. From the early stage, neoconservative leaders like Robert Kagan expressed to endorse Clinton (“Trump is the GOP’s Frankenstein monster. Now he’s strong enough to destroy the party.”; Washington Post; February 25. 2016), and he has launched a fundraising campaign for her this June (“Report: Prominent neoconservative to fundraise for Clinton”; Hill; June 23, 2016). Also, Clinton draws by far the most donations from the defense industry during the primary (“The Defense Industry’s Surprising 2016 Favorites: Bernie & Hillary”; Politico; April 1, 2016). Since Republican internationalists such as Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio have gone out of the race, Clinton is the last hope for American allies that face critical threats in their neighborhood.
Actually, Clinton is more Republican than Trump in some points. According to a survey by Fortune magazine, 58% of big business executives prefer Clinton, because Trump’s economic policy is still unclear and fear his isolationism ruins their global operations (“Survey: More than half of corporate CEOs prefer Clinton over Trump”; Hill; June 1, 2016). Moreover, eminent Republicans from former senior officials to policy experts express their support for Clinton. They are not just neoconservative pundits like Robert Kagan and Max Boot, but also ex both Bush administration officials, including former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, and former Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson (“Here’s the growing list of big-name Republicans supporting Hillary Clinton”; Washington Post; June 30, 2016). From these points, we can expect Clinton to be the candidate of strong and responsible America.
On the other hand, Clinton’s electoral base can move her leftward. Clinton needs Obama’s backing to boost the support by minorities like blacks and Hispanics. Quite strangely, Obama’s approval rate is rising towards the end of his term (“Don’t look now, but Barack Obama is suddenly popular”; Washington Post; May 21, 2016), and that helps Clinton in the election. In addition, she needs to win support from white working class who back Bernie Sanders. This is the key to Clinton’s choice of her running mate. It does not matter so much, if she aligns with Obama or makes some compromise with Sanders liberals in domestic policy, in order to win this election. The real problem is their influence on her foreign policy. That is likely to drive her administration into Obama III.
From the above points of view, let me mention Clinton’s foreign policy speech on June 2 in San Diego. See the video below.
Her speech was almost a template of US foreign policy to deny Trump’s America First visions and irresponsible remark about nuclear nonproliferation. Also, Clinton stressed American exceptionalism for the leadership role in the world. What she said in the speech resonates the Senate testimony by former Secretary of State James Baker on May 12 at the Foreign Relations Committee, regarding US global leadership (“Rubio enlists James Baker to knock Trump”; Politico; May 12, 2016). See the video below.
On the other hand, Clinton stated that she would succeed Obama’s foreign policy approach, typically the Iran nuclear deal. However, this deal was criticized by even Democrats, notably Senator Chuck Schumer, as Iran gets a huge amount of frozen assets overseas to sponsor terrorists through sanction lift. Also, regional tension will grow as Saudi Arabia fears the rising threat of Iran, and distrusts America for a lukewarm compromise with the Shiite theocracy (“One Year On: Iran and the World”; Foreign Policy Association Blog; July 5, 2016). Above all, it is quite difficult to judge whether Clinton’s foreign policy is Wilsonian idealist or realist from this speech. Just as Professor Daniel Drezner of Tufts University comments, everything Clinton said in the speech is right to denounce Trump, but it is quite difficult to categorize her position into right or left, and hawk or dove (“Why Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy speech is almost impossible to analyze”; Washington Post; June 3, 2016). I would say, she is cautious so as not to provoke both Republican exoduses and Sanders liberals.
For further understanding of Clinton’s foreign policy, we need to review the draft of the Democrat Party’s platform on July 1. Wall Street businessmen worry that the party platform is strongly influenced by Sanders, particularly in regulation and taxes to sustain minimum wages. Regarding foreign policy, big businesses are critically concerned with the draft, which says there are “a diversity of views” among Democrats about the TPP. They understand that such an ambiguity suggests that Clinton is not enthusiastic about free trade (“Wall Street Takes a Hit in Democratic Party’s Platform Draft”; Bloomberg News; July 3, 2016). But Trump denounces the TPP more harshly.
Therefore, I would like to talk about some critical issues to see whether Clinton is more proactive in global leadership than Obama or not. The first one is American values in foreign policy. Despite the “smart power” slogan, democracy aid has declined during the Obama era. In the “Protect Our Values” section, the draft mentions various human rights agendas like gender and minority issues, but hardly states about democracy promotion. Middle East terrorism is one of the key matters in the “Confronting Global Threats” section. The draft mentions extensively on the current war in Syria, but not so much on Iraq, though global terrorism is prevailing from there due to Obama’s premature withdrawal. Also, we must not dismiss Iranian proxy influence in both countries, but the draft states Obama’s nuclear deal proudly, while sparing only a few lines to mention growing Iranian threats to Saudi Arabia and Israel in particular. Quite strangely, the draft does not mention China in the “Confronting Global Threats” section, though it was Clinton who led the pivot to Asia, as the Secretary of State.
Above all, Clinton denies Trump’s foreign policy “suggestions” very lucidly and compellingly, both in her San Diego speech and the draft of the Democratic Party platform. Clearly, Clinton’s global policy views are mature and orthodox. Trump’s mishmash ideas are utterly in no comparison. Therefore, I am definitely for Hillary Clinton in this election. Still, we have to be watchful. For fear of flamboyant Donald Trump, people assume that everything is all right if Clinton beats him. But I would call more attention to her. The vital point is the balance of power in the Clinton camp. If the influences of Bernie Sanders and other liberals do not go beyond domestic inequality, things are not so serious. Hopefully, Democrat right wings, neoconservatives, the defense industry, and Republican exoduses have larger voices in foreign policy and national security. Then, America will be much stronger on the global stage.