Saturday, September 30, 2006

Transatlantic Relations at the Crossroads: US-German Blog Carnival

As I have mentioned in America and Old Europe: A Review of 9/11+5, it is 5 years since 9/11. This is an important period to see how the transatlantic alliance evolves. Despite sore disagreements when the Iraq War broke out, America and Europe work closely together on Afghanistan and Mitteleuropa. NATO summit will be held this November to discuss the role of transatlantic alliance on a global scale at Riga, Latvia.

The Carnival on US-German Relations hosts bloggers who have keen interests on this key partnership to lead the free world. Two German bloggers present good summaries about this carnival. One is Karsten of Liberale Stimme. This is originally written in German, and the link is translated into English by Google. The other is David of Dialog International.

The relationship with Europe is the key to US foreign policy. Also, as an executive member of industrialized democracies, Japanese bloggers must not dismiss transatlantic relations. My fellow bloggers, don’t miss this carnival!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Japan to Acquire Nuclear Bombs?

Today, Shinzo Abe was elected as new Japanese prime minister. As I mentioned briefly in the previous post, he is quite popular among Japanese people. However, foreign media are somewhat alert to his nationalist policy visions.

In this post, I would like to mention an interesting article on his nationalism. This is more critical than conflicts against China and Korea, or official visit to the Yasukuni Shrine.

According to “Anxiety Chipping away at Japan's Nuclear Taboo” (September 18, 2006) in the Mercury News, one of the leading newspapers in the Silicon Valley, Japan may acquire nuclear weapon. If this were true, it would be a serious challenge to the United States. Currently, nuclear non-proliferation is one of top agendas in US foreign policy. In the post Cold War era, international non-proliferation regime is becoming unreliable. Some NPT members like Iran and North Korea are suspected to develop nuclear bombs. Moreover, the Axis of Evil and other terrorist sponsors are disloyal to international inspection to their nuclear facilities.

If Japan were to possess nuclear weapons, it would be a trouble for the United States. This would undermine the US-Japanese alliance, a keystone of America’s global strategy from Suez to Pearl Harbor. From orthodox understandings, it is unlikely that Japan develop its own nuclear bombs. Then, why does the Mercury News talk about it?

According the article, it was former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone who insisted that Japan consider whether to acquire nuclear weapons. Japan faces serious threats in its neighborhood, notably, North Korean nuclear missiles and Chinese military pressure. Also, Japan is moving toward a “normal country” by shedding postwar pacifism.

New prime minister, Shinzo Abe insists on reviving traditional Japanese values and changing the pacifist constitution. This could strain Japan’s relations with China and South Korea. Furthermore, he advocates preemptive attacks against North Korea before it fires nuclear missiles.

How likely is it for Japan to have nuclear bombs? "Japan has a virtual nuclear deterrent. Every country in the region knows it can produce a nuclear device, a rather sophisticated one, probably in six months," said Richard Tanter, a Japan scholar at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia.

According to Frank Barnaby, a British nuclear physicist and nonproliferation advocate who's studied Japan's nuclear energy industry, "They have stocks of plutonium. They have the know-how. All that is lacking is the political decision."

Pacifist sentiments can hinder Japan from possessing nuclear arsenals. However, "To tell you the truth, the anti-nuclear campaign in Japan is not so strong," said Hideyuki Ban, the co-director of the Citizens' Nuclear Information Center, an anti-nuclear group.

If Japan decides to have deadly bombs, this will lead to severe nuclear rivalry in East Asia. It would provoke South Korea to develop nuclear weapons. Then, North Korea and China would make more Weapons of Mass Destruction. Unlike India, Japan is an NPT member. Japan must withdraw from NPT to have nuclear bombs. I can hardly imagine that the United States admit this sort of real hollowing of non-proliferation regime. This will make all US efforts foe non-proliferation in vain. The special deal with India is a rare, exceptional, and unusual case.

Of course, I am not so naïve as to believe this news blindly. Even though reported a hawkish nationalist, Abe is pro-American, and explores much more staunch alliance with the United States to make it the anchor of stability in the Asia-Pacific region. In the foreseeable future, it is quite unlikely that Japan have nuclear weapons. But remember! The Far East is becoming increasingly dangerous region. In order to stop nuclear proliferation, the United States must be firmly involved with Japan’s national security. This is a vital interest in US foreign policy.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

At Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office

As I mentioned in previous posts, “Establishing a Formal NPO” and “Japan-US Fund Raising Forum”, I am exploring to develop current blogging activity into establishing an officially accredited NPO. In late August, I visited NPO/NGO activity consulting organization, called Minsai Center Japan. However, I thought it necessary to talk to the authority, which offers official permission to establish NPOs. For this objective, I visited Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office on Friday September 22. I met a Metropolitan official of Life and Culture Bureau, who is in charge of NPO affairs.

As I have not brought any documents this time, it was without reservation and I had a short consultation (10 to 15 minuets). For regular consultation with a Metropolitan official before submitting application documents, I have to make an appointment, and bring most of documents filled in. I am overwhelmed with a huge volume of documents to fill in. At the regular consultation, NPO applicants can talk with the staff for 45 minuets. Therefore, I booked the regular consultation on November 2. It is quite a long time to wait for this reserved date, but I have to lots of documents to fill out by the regular consultation with a Metropolitan staff. According to the Tokyo government official, there are many organizations applying for official NPO recognition, and this is why it takes a long time to wait for reservation.

I have lots of things to do until I fill out the form and submit them to apply for official NPO recognition. It takes 4 month to wait for official permission from the Metropolitan government since application. I have to consume much time and energy to get through bureaucratic procedure, but official recognition makes non-profit activities much easier.

Blog Carnival on US-German Relations

The Blog Carnival on US-German Relations will be held on September 24, which is co-sponsored by Atlantic Review, a blog published by Fulbright alumni in Germany, and GM Roper, a conservative blog in the United States. Global American Discourse submit 2 posts: “NATO More Active on Global Security: From Brussels to Riga” and “America and Old Europe: A Review of 9/11+5.”

This blog has participated in the carnival for a couple of times. The objective of this carnival is to promote policy dialogues and mutual understandings between the United Sates and Germany, or more broadly the United States and Europe. Most of the posts are written in English, and some are in German.

As it is September, you will find many posts on 9/11 (I understand English, but not German. If you have confidence in both languages, see this link. Not all of them are policy oriented. Some are on entertainment like the movie “United 93.”

As it is always the case, I am the only participant outside the Atlantic area. The US-European relationship is the anchor of global stability and liberal democracy. You can see blogs of good quality at the carnival. See this link.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Shinzo Abe Won LDP Nomination for Next Japanese PM

See the photo. Good looking? Yes, certainly he is. The person in the photo is Shinzo Abe (pronounced “a-bé”, not Abe of Abraham.), currently Chief Cabinet Secretary.

He won Liberal Democratic Party’s nomination for next prime minister on September 20. To become the prime minister, he must compete with opposition candidates at the Diet on September 26. People expect him to succeed Koizumi policies, like deregulation and stronger defense.

He won trust from the Japanese public in his sincere attitude to tackle the problem of abduction by North Korea. He is a pro-American nationalist. While advocating a stronger US-Japanese alliance, Abe emphasizes that Japanese regain patriotism and pride in their history.

Ever since the postwar regime change, patriotism has been a taboo word in Japan. The allied forces regarded wartime chauvinism a dangerous ideology.

His book, entitled “Toward a Beautiful Japan” is a bestseller now. Can he lead Japan to a real beautiful country? Anyway, don’t miss the 26th Japanese Diet. The world second largest economy will be more self-assertive in global politics under new prime minister.

I will write a more detailed post on him later.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

America and Old Europe: A Review of 9/11+5

It is 5 years since 9/11. No other atrocities have inflicted so much psychological impact on the global community in the post Cold War era. This is not simply because the scale of murder and demolition is much greater than those in 3/11 of Madrid and 7/7 of London. Americans have become more alert on new type of threat posed by terrorists. As a result, perception gaps between America and the rest of the world have grown wider. This leads to a serious discord between America and its old allies in Europe, particularly on Iraq, and to some extent on Afghanistan, Iran, and Lebanon.

Whereas Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld called France and Germany “Old Europe” contemptuously, this word means that both countries are America’s long-time friends as well. As the power duo of liberal democracy, successful alliance between America and Europe is an anchor of global enlightenment and prosperity. Therefore, it is necessary to fill transatlantic gaps and reinvigorate this vital partnership.

Contrary to widely believed understanding, Professor Juan Cole of the University of Michigan and Managing Editor William Dobson of Foreign Policy argue that 9/11 has not changed fundamental structure of global affairs in their articles contributed to Foreign Policy September/October 2006. In “The Day Nothing Much Changed”, Dobson says the number of travelers increase, skyscrapers are built, and the global economy prospers, despite 9/11. The terrorist attack has not changed the balance of power, but it only aggravated the imbalance between America and the rest. In “Think Again: 9/11”, Cole says the terrorist attack has not changed American foreign policy significantly, but removed political constraints temporarily. The Bush administration would have employed a limited bombing or a coup attempt in Iraq, had there not been for 9/11.

In order to understand policy gaps between America and Europe, I recommend “Of Paradise and Power” by Robert Kagan, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He says “One of the things that clearly divides Europeans and Americans today is a psychological, even metaphysical disagreement over where exactly mankind stands on the continuum between the laws of the jungle and the laws of the reason” (p.91). Americans believe in a Hobbesian world, while Europeans believe in a Kantian world.

He goes on to assess the impact of 9/11 as follows.

“The September 11 attacks shifted and accelerated but did not fundamentally alter a course the United States was already on. They certainly did not alter but only reinforced American attitudes toward power” (p.91).

Although both the United States and Old Europe recognize that radical Muslims are serious threats, their approaches are different. Power gap, mentioned by Robert Kagan, is not the only reason for Americans and Europeans are bickering each other. Research Director Jeremy Shapiro and Senior Fellow Daniel Byman, both at the Brookings Institution, contributes an article “Bridging the Transatlantic Counterterrorism Gap” to the Washington Quarterly Autumn 2006. Let me talk of their policy viewpoints.

They argue that Arab and Muslim population in both regions is the key to this transatlantic discord. The United States has small and scattered Arab and Muslim population, while Europe has more concentrated Arab and Muslim communities. Therefore, Europeans worry about domestic upheaval like the riot in Paris, bombings in London and Madrid, and so forth. On the other hand, Americans worry terrorists coming from aboard plotting catastrophic destruction, and even possible use of WMDs.

They also point out that while the United States is a single sovereign state, the European Union is a supra national organization of independent states. The EU treaties mandate common borders within the Union, except Britain, Ireland, and new members. Therefore, terrorists can move from one country to another in the EU, which is not the case with the United States.

Due to demography, political unity, and power gap, the United States and Old Europe take different strategies to defeat terrorism. The United States adopts an externalization strategy: keep terrorists out of country and fight them aboard, in Iraq, Afghanistan, or wherever. For Old Europe, fight begins at home. Therefore, Americans and Europeans use different rhetoric against terrorists. American leaders prefer to say anti-terrorism operations “war”, while European leaders downplay it. Unlike Americans after 9-11, Europeans do not appeal to patriotic emotion when terrorists attack them.

Given these different backgrounds, it is understandable why Germany and France are at odds with the United States in dealing with terrorism. Even in Britain, America’s best ally, Labour leftists rebel vehemently against Tony Blair. Despite many gaps in perception and strategy, Jeremy Shapiro and Daniel Byman insist that it is America’s interest to work closely with Europe. For this objective, they recommend that US policymakers endorse European allies focusing on internal enemies. On the other hand, Europeans should be supportive of American anti-terrorism endeavor overseas, they say. Also, both authors propose US-European joint efforts for Middle East democratization.

European opinion leaders take initiatives to fill the transatlantic gap on terrorism. Regarding joint efforts for Middle East democracy, Richard Youngs, Senior Researcher at a Madrid think tank FRIDE and Lecturer at the University of Warwick, suggests “With both the US and EU declaring a new conviction of the need to engage with moderate Islamists, a joint forum would help shed light on this difficult area, in which all donors acknowledge a relative paucity of information.” Mark Leonard, Director of the Centre for European Reform, warns that long war in Iraq and inefficient multilateralism on Iran and North Korea may lead the United States to shift from Wilsonian idealism to isolationism. Even if Europeans hate American unilateralism in Iraq, they need US intervention in a case like Kosovo. Leonard emphasizes this vital point in his article “The US heads home: Will Europe Regret It?” in Financial Times, 26 January 2004.

Five years have passed since then, and it is anticipated that America and Old Europe recover their images each other. Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy could improve American’s impression to Old Europe. Gordon Brown calms down leftists’ pressure against Tony Blair. Both Americans and Europeans must reconfirm that the transatlantic alliance is the central pillar to cope with global challenges.

"Submitted to Carnival of German-American Relations"

Monday, September 11, 2006

My 9-11

These days, Japanese bloggers talk about 9-6, when Princess Kiko gave birth to a new baby. On the other hand, American bloggers talk about 9-11. I had something special on both days. Neither babies nor terrorists came up to me.

I attended the fundraising forum on 9-6, and on 9-11 today, I met Mr. Hidemi Nagao, the author of “Eternal Japan-US Alliance.” I have mentioned the author before in Book Review: Eternal Japan-US Alliance. We talked at an Izakaya, a Japanese styled pub.

Mr. Nagao emphasized that we must not trust established opinion leaders blindly. Also, he said that we need to take initiatives to set new agendas. It was very nice to talk with him. He mentioned interesting stories about US and its allies' forces.

I hope I can make this 9-6 and 9-11 an important step.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Japan-US Fund Raising Forum

As I have posted previously, I am exploring to look for financial sources and to found an officially accredited NPO. The agenda is to make Japan more actively involved in global affairs as a key US ally and a leading Western democracy. This is stated on the homepage and this blog.

For this purpose, I attended the US-Japanese Fund Raising Forum on September 6. This is the day when Princess Kiko gave birth to new prince. It was a very good day for a special event to pursue further step toward brighter future.

This forum is held at Tokyo American Center in Shiba Koen. The Council of Law Making to Support Civil Activities (C’s) chaired this event. Co-sponsors are US Embassy, Japanese funding organizations, and University of Indiana.

The agenda of this forum is strategic method of fund raising. Lecturers are invited from Philanthropy Center at the University of Indiana: Dr. Dwight Burlingame, Dr. Lilya Wagner, and Ms. Tamaki Onishi. They emphasized the basic concept of fund raising as follows.

The right person asking, the right prospect, for the right gift, for the right program, at the right time, in the right way.

They discussed this principle from various aspects.

Dr. Burlingame and Dr. Wagner explained American style systematic fund raising in detail. Despite cultural differences, fundamental ideas can be applied to anywhere in the world, they argue.

Ms. Onishi mentioned some differences over philanthropy between Japan and the United States. Also, she gave some advice on better communication to potential funders.

Their lectures were very helpful to have basic ideas of fund raising. Probably, advanced learners could find the forum useful. How should I adjust basic principles to my own program? At this stage, I do not feel cultural gaps between Japan and the United States. Adapt general theories to specific cases. That is a question.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Grading America’s Best Friends: British PMs from Churchill, Thatcher, and Blair

I would like to show you the following chart by BBC History Magazine, grading British prime ministers in the 20th century. Margaret Thatcher and Clement Attlee are graded top, while Winston Churchill barely missed this rank. Tony Blair is evaluated just average. What makes Thatcher and Blair so different, though both leaders are America’s best allies in their days? Let me review this grade in detail.

20th Century Prime Ministers[Rated 0 (worst) – 5 (best)]
5 Margaret Thatcher
5 Clement Richard Attlee
4 Edward Heath
4 Winston Churchill
4 Harold Macmillan
4 Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman
3 Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil [later Lord Salisbury]
3 Herbert Henry Asquith
3 David Lloyd George
3 Stanley Baldwin
3 James Harold Wilson
3 Tony Blair
2 James Callaghan
2 Arthur James Balfour
1 Andrew Bonar Law
1 James Ramsay MacDonald
1 Sir Alec Douglas-Home
1 John Major
0 Robert Anthony Eden
0 Neville Chamberlain

In terms of ideology, Thatcher and Attlee are the opposite, but they are common in changing British society for new era. Attlee transformed Britain from a colonial empire to a welfare state. The Beveridge Plan had become a textbook of social policy. British forces withdrew from India with dignity. However, the editor grades him too high, in my view. He nationalized Britain’s leading businesses, which is one of the reasons for stagnant economy throughout the postwar era.

Margaret Thatcher deserves top grade. The editor says as follows.

“Margaret Thatcher took one sort of society, and turned it into another sort of society. She broke the Attlee settlement, which had lasted more than 30 years, largely by force of will. Today few people under 40 remember a time when trade unions were a real force in the land; when the public sector controlled large swathes of the economy; when local councils controlled education and other local services; when benefits were considered rights of citizenship. The defeat and destruction of the once-powerful National Union of Mineworkers was a key moment in the history of the last half decade.”

I agree with him. It is her steadfast attitude that led Britain to strong economy today. Also, a best partner to Ronald Reagan, she played a leading role in Cold War victory, and defeated dictators such as Saddam Hussein of Iraq, Muammar Khadafi of Libya, and Leopold Galtieri of Argentina.

Though very popular among the public, Churchill failed to mark the top grade. Certainly, he is charismatic, and one of the best US allies in history. However, some historians cast slight doubt on his competence to manage the government. He focused on defeating Germany too much, without sufficient consideration to the British economy after the War. Grade 4 seems to be adequate.

On the other hand, Tony Blair is evaluated too low. The editor says as follows, according to The Times.

Mr. Blair had brought about a “relatively permanent change” in terms of the private sector’s involvement in public services. But he added: “The unpopularity of the Iraq war, and the fact that the reasons given afterwards for going to war were not those given at the time, have undermined Mr. Blair’s ability to implement his vision, probably permanently.”

But think again. Had Blair rejected to join the attack against Iraq, the transatlantic alliance would have been damaged fatally. Despite the rift on Iraq, NATO forces are engaged in counter terrorism operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan. I have to say that the timing of evaluation is bad for Blair. Currently, he is under pressure to hand his power to the next prime minister. Blair should be rated higher when graded in usual days.

British prime ministers, notably, Churchill, Thatcher, and Blair are best allies to the United States. Their commitment to prevailing liberal democracy and bringing global stability is invaluable. Regardless of the grade in this magazine, their roles in the transatlantic relationship deserve high credit.

Foreign policy and security are not the only area of the Anglo-American partnrtship. Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan are evangelists of conservatism. Their ideas of small government have crucial effects on world leaders. Welfare states are reconsidered in Scandinavia. Japan is inspired by their conservatism to pursue the Koizumi Reform.

Margaret Thatcher was not loved in her days. History evaluates leaders properly. Do what you have to do, even if severely criticized. This is the vital lesson to be a real statesman.