Monday, July 31, 2006

America Continues to Be “The Right Nation”?

This is a year of the mid-term election, and people talk about the approval rate of the Bush administration. While the media sensationalize the decline of the rate, conservative foundation in America is still strong. I would like to review trends of conservatives and liberals toward 2006 and 2008 elections.

Conservative movements are still strong. In a bestseller book “The Right Nation” by John Micklethwait and Adrian Woodridge, both British authors illustrate evolution of conservative theories, spread of conservative grassroots movements, and also, rise of conservative public sentiments since 9-11. In the past, conservatism was political thoughts of affluent WASP. However, as described in “The Right Nation”, it is no longer ideology of big business and independent farmers. Antipathy to a big government has grown as “the Great Society” policy collapsed. Meanwhile, conservatives have succeeded in brain build-up, like adopting cutting-the-edge theories by Milton Friedman and Friedrich von Hayek, establishing conservative think tanks and foundations, and so forth. In addition, both authors present through anatomy as to how conservatives organize grassroots circles to prevail their ideology. At this stage, conservatives remain superior to liberals in both aspects.

Another change for conservatives is the rise of black conservatism. This is not mentioned in “The Right Nation.” In this decade, I see some newspaper articles, saying that some successful minorities raise the case against affirmative actions. For those who can compete with white rivals, affirmative actions do not provide any advantages. It is their disadvantage when people see their success to racial quotas rather than their talent. One of my Japanese blog friends called Mike has written a post to introduce Vernon Robinson. Robinson is a typical example to show that conservatism is no longer ideology for WASP. The era of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King has gone. Racial equality is no longer an agenda for liberals.

Conservatism in America still enjoys widespread support. One of my partner blogs “My Newz’n Ideas” takes up a conservative book, drawing much attention from the public, which is entitled “Conservative Comebacks to Liberal Lies” by Gregg Jackson, a popular conservative radio commentator. In this book, Jackson articulates conservative viewpoints from A to Z, and refutes elitist liberal ideas. Right or wrong, this book receives widespread support among grassroots conservatives, as shown in comments on Amazon’s site. It is incredible, as this book was just released in mid-July.

In foreign policy, conservative opinion leaders urge the Bush administration to take tougher stances. As reported in the article “Conservative Anger Grows over Bush’s Foreign Policy” (Washington Post, July 19), “conservative opinion leaders perceive timidity and confusion about long-standing problems including Iran and North Korea, as well as urgent new ones such as the latest crisis between Israel and Hezbollah.” Quite often, People say President Bush has changed toward soft liner in his 2nd term. However, the president cannot ignore their voice as the mid-term election is coming.

Can Liberals roll back? They have played an important role in history, like employing Keynesian economic policy, expanding welfare, establishing the Alliance for Progress, and promoting for racial equality. However, they depend on legacies of Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King. Three leaders are great, but politics is evolving. They should set agendas for new era, instead of appealing FDR-JFK-MLK ideals.

As I mentioned previously Democrats are divided on Iraq. They have not suggested feasible ideas, but simply criticizing the Bush administration’s policy. Antiwar is not an agenda for winning the election, because unilateral withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan leaves the whole are of the Middle East in turmoil, without terminating the roots of terrorism.

There are some new agendas, which would invigorate liberals. One of them is the Environmental Crusade by Albert Gore. Currently, liberals do not have sufficient appeals. Despite pro-con debates on global warming, there is no doubt that this issue has undermined US leadership. Actually, “A Compact between the United States and Europe” by the Brookings Institution, requires the United States to reduce CO2 emission, in order to improve transatlantic rifts since the Iraq War. However, no political parties took office simply appealing green agendas. Only in Germany, did the Green Party join the Schröder cabinet. Unless they set stronger agendas, liberals will end up just Ralph Nader.

Another agenda, like energy security is more directly related to governing the United States. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said, “We are addicted to oil, and the oil is coming from the most dangerous places in the world” at the panel of the Center for American Progress, and insisted on lowering dependence on energy imported from these places. It remains to be seen whether liberals can capture the heart of voters with this agenda.

Consequently, even if the approval rate for the current administration drops, it does not guarantee Democrats rolling back. Conservatives are still advantageous over liberals. Toward 2006 election, how will things develop? 2006 and 2008 will be vital years in the early 21st century.

Endnote: Mike is an American born and brought up in Kobe. Though he is a devoted American conservative, he acquired a Japanese passport a few years ago, because he lives in Japan for many years. His blog is written in Japanese, and it is a great idea that he prevails American conservatism to Japanese bloggers through his blog.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Real Victim by Hezbollah's Attack

The real enemy to the Middle East Peace Process is not Israel, but Hezbollah. They destroy Lebanon.

By Chappatte in NZZ am Sonntag (Zurich) on July 24

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Russia and the West at St. Petersburg

In one of the previous post, I took up an article by Anders Åslund, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. As a former diplomat of Sweden, he insisted that the St. Petersburg Summit was a good opportunity for the West to demand more democratic changes in Russia, because it chairs the meeting of top Western democracies. Things are evolving as he says? A key player on Iranian and North Korean issues, the West needs to understand political ad economic changes in Russia.

Since then, Åslund has moved to the Institute for International Economics as a senior Fellow, and published a policy brief to question Russia’ s qualification for the Summit membership. Last year, Republican Senator John McCain and Democrat Senator Joseph Lieberman requested President George W. Bush to suspend Russia’s membership to the Summit until the Kremlin accepted "the norms and standards of free, democratic societ­ies as generally practiced by every other member nation of the Group of 8 nations." Åslund worries that G8 chairmanship would legitimize Putin’s authoritarian rule. In addition, Russian economy is almost the same size as Brazil and Mexico. Judging from these, Russia’s qualification for the member of the club of prestigious democracy is questionable. Moreover, he warns that Russian membership would lead to further expansion of the Summit. If China, India, Brazil, and South Africa are admitted, the meeting of top industrialized democracy will be diluted.

How should the West deal with Russia? The International Herald Tribune presents completely opposite viewpoints in the editorial on July 13.

Former US Vice Presidential Candidates, John Edwards of Democratic Party, and Jack Kemp of Republican Party, insists that the West be tough with Russia. They recognize that the West needs a strong relationship with Russia to handle global challenges including terrorism, WMD proliferation, climate change, infectious disease and so forth. However, they are concerned with substantial disagreements between Russia and the West. An authoritarian Russia balks American security policy in the Middle East and Central Asia. They argue the West lead Russia towards more democratic, open, and transparent society.

On the other hand, former British ambassador to Russia Sir Roderic Lyne insists that the West be patient with Russia. He mentions that current Russia is in transition in the post-imperial era. In security, Russia is trying to prevent further erosion of influence in the former Soviet republics, but it is not looking for confrontation with the West. Just recently, Russia has attempted to change Ukrainian policy towards pro-Russian by cutting gas supply. However, Lyne says that “energy superpower” is a slogan and bluff, and Russian leaders understand their growth depends on foreign capital and partners.

I agree that Russia is still in transition. However, I wonder why the Kremlin shows czarist attitude. In foreign policy, Russia develops further strategic cooperation with China, as if it were trying to counter the West. Resurgence of KGB authoritarianism is an obstacle to improve Russo-Western relations. These are not the case with nations in New Europe. The global community understands how pro-Western and democratic they are.

The St. Petersburg Summit is a landmark in post Cold War international politics. This is the first time for Russia to chair G8. Unfortunately, crisis in Palestine and North Korea have put issues like further reform in Russia and security in the Former Soviet Union, aside. These points are vital to define the relationship between Russia and the West. As witnessed in the North Korean crisis, Russia allies itself with authoritarian China. Will the Northern Giant be a partner or adversary to the Western democracies? This summit failed to illustrate this point.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Stop North Korean Missile Diplomacy and Nuclear Proliferation to The Axis of Evil

Finally, North Korea has fired ballistic missiles on the 4th of July. The vital issue is to stop North Korean missile diplomacy, and prevent nuclear proliferation to “the axis of evil”, such as Iran and terrorist organizations. The Resolution has been approved at UN Security Council on July 15, but it remains to be seen whether the global community can act unanimously or not.

Experts on Korean Peninsula have been critical that the Bush administration has not committed sufficiently. A dovish opinion leader like Wonhyuk Lim, Nonresident Fellow at the Brookings Institution advocates bilateral talks with North Korea, instead of “malign neglect” and hostile attitude against this country. This idea is widespread among liberals such as Senator Christopher Dodd and Senator Barbara Boxer. Another criticism comes from hawkish side. Nicholas Eberstadt, Henry Wendt Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute says that the Bush administration has been using empty rhetoric, without trying to resolve crisis in the Peninsula.

While doves insist on bilateral talks, this approach is dangerous for the United States. North Korea can cheat the agreement. Nicholas Eberstadt explains Kim Jong Il’s predatory security strategy as follows.

North Korea's rulers have concluded that it is safest to finance the survival of their state through the international export of strategic insecurity and military menace. Consequently, the leadership, as a matter of course, strives to generate sufficiently grave international tensions, and present sufficiently credible security threats, to wrest a flow of essentially coerced transfers from neighbors and other international targets sufficient in volume to assure the continuation of what Pyongyang describes as "our own style of socialism."

In order to prevent defrauding, any agreement must bind China and Russia as Henry Kissinger mentions in his article contributed to the Washington Post. The UN resolution will be a pressure for North Korea to come back to the Six-Party talk. Unlike bilateral agreements with the United States, the dictator cannot cheat easily, because Big 2 sponsors, China and Russia, are involved.

In multilateral negotiations, perception gap is a problem. Though China and Russia want to denuclearize Korean Peninsula, they do not worry North Korean missile test so much as the United States and Japan. Daniel Pinkston and Andrew F. Diamond, both at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, explain this as the following.

While China certainly wants to see a denuclearized Korean Peninsula, it will not risk causing the collapse of Kim Jong Il's regime by cutting off shipments of oil or food. Such a collapse, while a desired outcome for many in the U.S., is undesirable to the Chinese and South Koreans. A North Korean collapse would almost certainly cause a massive influx of North Korean refugees and potentially disrupt China's economic growth, which is a primary goal of the leadership in Beijing.

Furthermore, they say

Collapse or instability would also introduce uncertainty over the control of North Korea's weapons of mass destruction (WMD), which could be transferred through China or to non-state actors that could use the weapons against China or others in the region. A U.S. military strike against North Korean WMD facilities could be equally disastrous for China, while South Korea's capital Seoul, within range of North Korea's artillery, would be devastated if Pyongyang were to retaliate.

While South Korea still continues appeasement policy to the North, the Korea Times criticize President Roh Moo-hyung’s sunshine policy. This is a good trend.

In dealing with China and Russia, Republican Senator John McCain suggests as follows.

Beijing's handling of North Korea would be a "defining issue in our relations with China." … If China continues to "vacillate" in the United Nations, "there are consequences in our relationship."

North Korea can be allied with rogues like Iran and Al Qaeda, which poses serious threat to the whole globe. A well-known blog, called “Regime Change Iran” reports that Iran and North Korea have close ties in missile diplomacy.

UN resolution was adopted. However, what Kim Jong Il does is unpredictable. The United States and the global community must give them hard lessons that missile diplomacy shall never pay. This lesson is not only for North Korea but all proliferators and rogues.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Rising Sun

Contributed By: Albion Hargrave

The status quo in Asia is shifting. This is most evidenced by the rise of China and an increasingly antagonistic North Korea. At no other time in recent history has Japan been so isolated from fellow Asian states. With the exception of Taiwan, Japan’s state-to-state relations with its North Asian neighbors are at all time lows. Indeed, over the last twenty years, strong anti-Japanese sentiment was mostly limited to China and North Korea. However, given Japan’s recent revision of history South Korea has also begun to demonstrate a more assertive stance, promoting pro-Korean policies and denouncing Japanese historical revisions of its imperialistic past.

To Asia watchers, it seems as if Japan is adrift at sea and lacks any definitive foreign policy direction. While this may appear to be the case, it is also true that Tokyo seeks an increased international presence as evidenced by Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s dispatch of Japan’s SDF (Self-Defense Forces) in support of US and UN military action in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Koizumi’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has served Japan’s nationalists well. Under Koizumi’s leadership, the LDP has subtly altered Japan’s constitution by assisting in US military action, joining the US missile defense system, and in 2005, for the first time signaling political and economic support for Taiwan as a ‘strategic interest’. This flies in the face of Chinese officials who view issues with the rogue state as an internal matter. Since 9/11, Japan has thrust itself into the international arena like never before. As Tokyo seeks to expand its military abilities vis-à-vis Article 9 provisional constraints, there is an underlying blueprint for Japan’s future. It is here where the issue of whether Japan should be awarded a veto-yielding UN Security Council seat begins.

As China and India’s economic growth have boosted Asia, Japan is perhaps the country that has benefited the most. Japan is experiencing change on all fronts; economic, political and military. With power comes responsibility and with the political climate as it is in Asia, it comes as no surprise that Japan seeks full UN admission. Japan faces a precarious situation with a militarily aggressive North Korea and a nuclear powered China. In both 1998 and 2006, Pyongyang launched missiles into the Sea of Japan, generating international condemnation and calls for sanctions. However, any United Nations legislated economic sanctions against the DPRK have been impeded by both Russia and China’s veto power on the UN Security Council. This is where a security seat for Japan comes in. As a strong US ally, should Japan be suscessulful in acquiring a veto seat, Russia and China would be much harder pressed to obstruct both US and international actions in the future. However, for Tokyo to be ultimately successful in gaining a seat, it must formulate a coherent foreign policy and support UN reforms. So far, it seems Japanese leaders are preoccupied with the status that a UN seat brings, not the reforms mandated by US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton.

Tokyo is Washington’s strongest Asian ally. It should serve that Washington’s support for a Japanese seat is assumed. However, in contrast, there are hawks in Washington that do not feel Japan is ready and are generally not supportive of UN expansion. In fact, Washington was not nearly as supportive as Tokyo wanted when the so-called Group of Four (Germany, Brazil, India and Japan) attempted to gain veto seats. This is where US foreign policy is murky. On the one hand, the US seeks to promote Japan and is incurably engaged in Japanese political and military affairs. On the other, some US leaders remain hawkish against supporting Japan openly for a UN seat. In truth, Washington would like nothing less than seeing a robust Japan as a fellow Security Council member. It may well be a bit early in Japan’s quest. As Tokyo embraces a more assertive international stance and political leaders move to amend its pacifist constitution, Washington is keen to encourage relations as a way to both stabilize the region and constrain China.

So far, Japan’s ability to directly articulate its own foreign policy objectives remains out of grasp for LDP leaders. This is likely to change however as Japan sheds its pacifist ideals. For LDP nationalists, there is a push to catapult Japan back into the world of international affairs and to reassert itself as a global power. As Japan seeks to ‘normalize’ its military capacities and pull equal to that of other world powers, Washington must promote, guide and facilitate Tokyo’s evolving nature. Can a UN seat be far behind?

For Japan to have a chance at becoming a full, veto-yielding member of the UN Security Council, several key obstacles must be overcome. (1) Tokyo’s leaders must form clear foreign policy initiatives, (2) Tokyo must successfully legislate an amendment to the Article 9 provision, (3) official Japanese government visits to the Yasukuni Shrine must be curtailed, (4) Washington must support Tokyo against Chinese opposition while encouraging political dialogue, and (5) As Japan continues down the road towards increased international involvement, Japan must embrace international responsibility and encourage UN reforms as an affirmative step towards veto-yielding membership.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

On “Time”: Listed Related Blogs

One of the posts on this blog, North Korean Missile Crisis was listed as a related blog to an article “North Korea's Missile Test: Diplomatic Arm-Twisting” in Time online. It is a great pleasure, and I hope this is an important step for further development of this blog.

Shah Alex

Sunday, July 02, 2006

NATO More Active on Global Security: From Brussels to Riga

NATO had a defense ministers meeting on June 7 and 8 in Brussels. This was a preparatory meeting for the summit meeting in Riga, Latvia on November 28 and 29. At the meeting, defense ministers discussed present dangers and realignment. NATO is expanding its operations worldwide. More nations in Eastern and Central Europe are joining. Troops for urgent response are necessary to intervene regional conflicts. For these purposes, NATO defense ministers came to talk of the following issues at the headquarter in Brussels.

Regarding present dangers to the world, big issues at the defense ministers meeting was Afghanistan and Ukraine. Currently, both countries are not NATO members, but they are important for NATO’s mission in the post-Cold War era. In Afghanistan, NATO forces will make further commitment for stability. Ukraine is applying for NATO membership, despite pressure by Russia. Therefore, Defense Ministers, Abdul Rahim Wardak of Afghanistan, and Anatoliy Grytsenko of Ukraine, were invited to Brussels.

As to Afghanistan, NATO reconfirmed to increase the number of security forces. According to the Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Afghan issue is “not just a security story”, and “NATO will help provide security for reconstruction and development.” At this stage, NATO forces operate in Kabul, northern and western regions. NATO will take additional tasks in southern area.

German Defense Minister Franz-Josef Jung advocated NATO’s mission to stabilize Afghanistan. For Germany, Afghan operation is the first time to send troops out of Europe, since the end of World War Ⅱ.

Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak thanked NATO decision for further operation in his country, and concluded the press conference as follows.

I'm quite confident that what will happen, it is so simple, that as the Secretary General put it, I mean, the number of the international forces and also the Afghan forces, is going to be so many times more than what was there before.

The NATO-Ukraine Commission was another important session at the defense ministers meeting. Currently, Ukraine is applying for NATO membership. NATO will help modernization of Ukrainian forces. Also, NATO provides special trust funds for Ukraine to destroy surplus weapons since the Soviet era. This is a great help for global arms control as well.

In addition to the above issues, Darfur and Kosovo were discussed at the meeting.

Realignment is also discussed. NATO has established a rapid action force, called the NATO Responsive Force (NRF) at the Prague summit on November 22, 2002. This is a joint force, rapidly deployable over long distances. British Defense Secretary Des Browne announced further commitment to NRF. A staff of US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said that the United States was encouraged to see this progress.

Also, it is noteworthy that NATO is exploring global partnership with non-member states like Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. As NATO is evolving toward a world police force from a regional security organization, this is essential. Australia and New Zealand have already joined the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. NATO-Japan partnership in the future will enhance world peace and stability.

The Riga summit in this November at the capital of Latvia will be a landmark in history. NATO is evolving to step toward new era, and discuss vital agendas in a capital of “New Europe.” The outcome of this summit will have significant effects on global security in this century. Don’t miss the Riga summit, and keep alert to preparation processes. Presidents, Prime Ministers, and the Chancellor, make important decisions for the post 9-11 world.

NATO E-generation: Recommended from beginners to advanced levels. Also, useful to learn “native speakers” English and French.

"Submitted to Carnival of German-American Relations"