Thursday, May 18, 2006

America's Three Musketeers?: Britain, Japan, and India

I found an interesting article in “National Security Outlook December 2005”, published by the American Enterprise Institute. In the article, entitled “The Big Four Alliance: The New Bush Strategy”, Thomas Donnelly, Resident Fellow at the AEI, argues the following.

Over the past six months, the Bush administration has upgraded its budding “strategic partnerships” with Japan and India. Along with the steady “special relationship” with Great Britain, what is beginning to emerge is a global coalition system—it is too soon to call it a true alliance—for the post–Cold War world. Much work remains to be done to translate the expressions of similar political interests and values into usable military strength. Still, the prospects for expanding the number of genuine “stakeholders” in the Pax Americana are quite bright.

Certainly, the United States needs to restructure new strategic partnerships with key allies, in order to manage the post-Cold War dangers. Basically, I agree to his viewpoints, but it is necessary to examine how things are developing since then. The special relationship with Britain is likely to remain solid, but some problematic aspects must be considered when it comes to alliance with Japan and India.

First, let me review the article by Donnelly. He points out that it was not the war against Iraq but unilateralism provoked criticism to the Bush administration. In order to enhance the liberal world order in the post-Cold War era, the United States has to build new alliances of the Big 4, including the United States, Britain, Japan, and India, he says. According to Donnelly, the Big 4 share four strategic principles:

(1) Managing the dangers in the Greater Middle East, like radicalism, autocrats, and nuclear proliferation
(2) Curbing Chinese threat
(3) Promoting democracy for durable peace
(4) Recognizing the necessity of using military force (Doubtful for Japan, I think.)

In addition to common strategic objectives, three countries share geopolitical similarities as Eurasian offshore balancers: Britain to Europe, Japan to Asia, and India to the Middle East and China. Donnelly insists that the central pillar of the Big 4 be the United States. Freed from the Cold War constraints, the United States can pursue the mission to advance freedom and democracy throughout the world as stated in the Bush Doctrine. To achieve this goal, Donnelly argues that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s temporary "coalition of the willing" must be supplanted to more permanent arrangements. I agree to this policy blue print, and let me see his arguments on new strategic partnership one by one.

The most stable and reliable partner is Britain. The Anglo-American special relationship has been revitalized by the Blair administration. Prime Minister Tony Blair pressed President Bill Clinton to get involved in Balkan without UN mandate, and supports President George W. Bush in Iraq and Afghanistan.

While the special relationship is likely to remain strong after Blair, British armed forces are small albeit competent. This is the problem to sustain extensive overseas commitment. Nevertheless, Donnelly calls the Anglo-American alliance the gold standard for some countries aspiring staunch partnership with the United States, particularly Japan.

Since the “Armitage Report” was published, Japan is remodeling its alliance with the United States after the Anglo-American special relationship. The report advises that Japan reconsider its pacifist constitution. Currently, Japan faces serious threats from China and North Korea. Therefore, Japan deadly needs US presence, and develops further cooperation like the missile defense program. In addition, Japan sent troops to support US operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

However, Japan’s Self Defense Force lacks operational experiences. Moreover, Japan’s defense spending is still within 1 % of its GDP, due to constitutional and political constraints. Therefore, Donnelly comments that Japan’s current capability is far below its potential.

India has emerged as a new strategic partner to the United States since 9-11. Indian forces are well experienced to fight against Islamic terrorists in Kashmir. Also, some American policymakers expect India to counterbalance against China. However, Donnelly points out that Indian weaponry systems are still predominantly Cold War Soviet made. This is a handicap to work closely with the United States.

Donnelly regards the Big 4 alliance more potential than real. Some strategic cooperation was initiated by the Bush administration, but it remains to be seen whether their common interests and values can make this coalition more permanent basis of the Pax Americana.

Basically, I agree with Donnelly, but he does not mention some hurdles in each country in this article. Time has passed since then, and I feel it necessary to examine the Three Musketeers one by one.

First, I comment on Britain. Tony Blair’s likely successor Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer, will continue New Labour policies. However, Labour leftists may backlash, because they feel current policies deviate from Fabianism, the ideological foundation of the Labour Party. Careful observation of political process after the loss of Labour defeat in the last election is necessary.

As to Japan, there are some worrisome trends. A few years ago, a US soldier in Okinawa raped a Japanese elementary school girl. This infuriated people in Okinawa, saying that US bases are excessively concentrated there, and they have been bearing this burden for decades. Since then, some Japanese media report US bases as if they were troublemakers. Also, under the recent US-Japanese arrangement, Japan should pay for moving some Okinawa bases to Guam, US territory. These incidents provoke anti-American sentiments.

Moreover, tensions with China and Korea stimulate nationalist emotions to legitimize Japan’s wartime behavior. Apparently, this is incompatible with common values of freedom and democracy.

Regarding India, the most critical issue is the Indo-US nuclear deal. Quite a few opinion leaders warn that this arrangement will destroy current nonproliferation regime. Henry Kissinger is positive to bolster US-India strategic partnership, but he does not agree to use India a counterbalance against China, because India acts its own. Also, America must strike a balance between India and Pakistan.

Does India share common values with America? According to Freedom House index, India belongs to “free country” category, but not the top level. While the Bush administration regard India a trustworthy democracy, careful approaches to this country is necessary.

British historian Niall Ferguson, Professor at Harvard University, raised a question whether the United States has stamina for further involvement beyond regime change. I believe successful partnership with Eurasian offshore balancers is vital for this question. I would like to review these strategic partnerships individually in the forthcoming posts.