Saturday, November 19, 2005

Britain and Japan as America's ally: Review of Woodrow Wilson Event

US President George W. Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi met in Kyoto on November 16. They reconfirmed closer ties between the United States and Japan. However, I do not regard Koizumi a reliable strategic partner to the United States, because he still maintains “no pains, no gains” attitude just as all postwar Japanese prime ministers did. He always says that Japanese is willing to make contribution to US endeavor within its own limits. This is not so much different from old and pacifist Japan. In order to understand it well, I would like to write a review of Woodrow Wilson Center’s event on Britain’s role between America and Europe. I believe Japan can learn a lot from the Anglo-American special relationship.

When I visited Washington DC, I attended this event on November 7. Unlike the Carnegie International Non-Proliferation Conference, this was small. About 20 people attended this meeting. Some are Woodrow Wilson Center staff, and some are students probably. One attendant was a professor of European history at the George Washington University.

The guest speaker was Professor Alex Danchev of Nottingham University in the United Kingdom. Basically, he presented critical viewpoints to Tony Blair’s foreign policy. According to Professor Danchev, Blair has committed too much to the US power diplomacy. Also, he pointed out that since the German problem had been resolved at the end of the Cold War, the nature of the Anglo-American alliance would change.

Despite his criticism to Tony Blair, he told vital points on the Anglo-American special relationship. The special relationship is the key to British foreign policy, regardless of ideological background of American side. The following objectives satisfy Britain’s vital national interest.

(1) Be distinguished from other nations
The special relationship will make Britain a distinguished ally to the United States. As people often say, Britain plays a role of Greece to America’s Rome.

(2) Make use of US power
With close ties with America, Britain can strengthen its position in Europe and the globe.

(3) Influence on US policy
As an Athenian to America’s Rome, Britain should be a consultant for the United States to manage the world.

(4) Interpret between Europe and America
Britain should be a representative of Europe to the United States. Also, Britain should bridge policy gaps between Europe and America.

Therefore, British policymakers have been keeping close ties with the United States. As the Cold War is over, Professor Danchev showed skeptic viewpoints to this strategy. However, I was impressed to hear questions from American attendants to Professor Danchev. They said that Tony Blair was very popular in the United States among both liberals and conservatives. Liberals appreciate New Labour economic policies, and conservatives regard him as the most reliable ally to the United States. In addition, they pointed out that Blair was an icon of liberal democracy and market economy in New Europe.

Certainly, Britain is a distinguished ally to the United States, particularly for grassroots Americans. I see many American blogs with the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack. Also, I found an interesting website, called “Thank you Tony.com.” This is an American site to send a letter to Tony Blair to thank his cooperation to the United States in the Iraq War. I have sent a letter to thank Tony Blair through this site for three times. Right or wrong, Britain is an unparalleled ally to the United States. This is a special advantage for the United Kingdom.

Come to think of it, does Koizumi have clear objectives to strengthen the US-Japanese relations as I mentioned above? As far as I know, none of Japanese prime ministers, foreign ministers, and foreign policy bureaucrats have those steadfast objectives in their mind. No wonder I do not find “Thank you Jun.com” at all.