Sunday, December 31, 2006

Goodbye 2006 Question: What happens without attacking Iraq?

The year 2006 ends today, and new year is coming soon. As if it were a landmark toward the next year, Saddam Hussein was executed. Today, I would like to question whether it is right to criticize US decision to fight against Iraq.

Certainly, there are some unexpected troubles after toppling Saddam. However, can anyone guarantee that terrorists will not attack US forces and local police, if the coalition continues to stay in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in order to bomb suspected sites occasionally?

Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein may not have direct ties each other. But think of terrorists’ objectives. Their target is anything associated with American power and Western superiority against their value of Islamic radicalism. There is no doubt that Al Qaeda and its affiliates attacked allied bases around Iraq. Moreover, they could have agitated riots in Arab moderates, such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, and Gulf states.

Saddam Hussein would have continued to ridicule allied forces and international inspectors. Things could have been worse than it is today. He was megalomania, and always posing threat to his neighbors. Don’t forget that he used chemical weapons against the Iranian army and Kurdish citizens in Iraq. There is every reason that US-UK led allies had been concerned with his possible use of other weapons of mass destructions, including biological and nuclear weapons. In addition, Iraqi citizens, regardless of religion and ethnic backgrounds, would be still under tyrant rule, had the coalition hesitated to fight against Iraq.

The cost of endless containment could have been tremendous.

It is not appropriate to blame the initial decision to overthrow a dangerous dictator, simply because of predicaments. In any case, Iraq is Iraq, and Vietnam is Vietnam. It is important to talk with influential neighbors, but never appease!

According to oriental zodiac, 2007 is a year of wild boar. I hope the war on terror and Middle East democratization will make rapid progress like a dash of energetic boar.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Key Person: Understanding Chinese Foreign Policy

Yan Xuetong (閻学通)
Professor/Director, Institute of International Affairs, Tsinghua University, China

Global American Discourse has launched a new corner, entitled “Key Person.” This corner talks about specific person who advocates important agendas in international affairs, regardless of fame, power, popularity, and social status. In the first post of “Key Person”, I am talking of Yan Xuetong.

It is quite difficult to understand Chinese way of thinking in global power games. Particularly, China’s hard-nosed attitude to the United States and Japan is unpleasant for me. But it is no use to see things simply through emotional perspectives. In order to understand China rationally, it is the best to read some commentaries written by Chinese opinion leaders.

Professor Yan received his BA from Heilongiang University in 1982, MA from the Institute of International Relations in 1986, and PhD from University of California, Berkeley in 1992. Since then, he has been writing numerous books and articles on Chinese foreign policy, US-Chinese relations, and Asia-Pacific security. He advises the Chinese government, and contributes essays to Chinese and foreign journals.

I would like to mention two articles to understand Yan Xuetong’s viewpoint on Chinese policy to the United States, Japan, and the Asia-Pacific region.

The first one is “The Rise of China in Chinese Eyes” in the Journal of Contemporary China in October 2001. In this article, Professor Yan points out that the rise of China is a long cherished desire among Chinese people to restore a great power status before the Opium War. Furthermore, he insists that the rise of China will benefit the world as a counter balance to American hegemony and a market with huge potential.

He points out that China had been the leading world power before the Opium War. For the Chinese, the rise of their nation is regaining lost international status. On the other hand, Chinese leaders never dream of catching up with the Unites States, and they are well aware of miserable failure in the Great Leap Forward. Yan insists that China is aiming at becoming the leader of the Third World, and its rise is peaceful. He criticizes US foreign policy belligerent, and advocates China’s role to constrain US-led unipolar world. Moreover, he argues that China will make the world more civilized through prevailing Confucian values as opposed to Western values. Finally, Yan mentions positive impacts of the Chinese market on the world economy.

In an article, entitled “Sino-US Relations in the Eyes of Chinese” (People’s Daily, March 4, 2005), Yan analyses survey results of public opinion poll on US-Chinese relations. Although Chinese people saw American people and society favorably, they were concerned with US foreign policy with regard to war in Iraq (37.6%), selling weapons to Taiwan (31.7%), and strengthening military ties with Japan (7.9%). Professor Yan commented as below.

All the Chinese public's dissatisfaction with the US is almost concentrated solely on the US's foreign policies, particularly the policy on China. Among other issues the Taiwan question is the core. Above 60 percent believe it to be the main question affecting the Sino-US relations in the future while about 32 percent Americans think the greatest issue in the Sino-US relations is that of human rights.

The media has an influence on people's opinion of the Sino-US relations, which cannot be underestimated. It is not so hard to see that as far as international affairs are concerned the Chinese public generally accepts what the media says.

It was also for this reason that Yan Xuetong pointed out the fact that among the reasons Chinese felt dissatisfied with the US the option of "selling weapons to Taiwan" and that of "waging the war in Iraq" were chosen by roughly the same number of people while people who chose the option of "strengthening military ties with Japan" were few - a phenomenon which greatly surprised Yan. "One of the things happened far away from us, another is a big thing which happened just outside our door and the other happened right inside our home. How could it be this result?" Yan Xuetong warned: "Think about the coverage our media devoted to Iraq, which was who knows how many times more than that of the US' arms sales to Taiwan!" Regarding "the US and Japan strengthening military ties" Ding Gang believes judging from the statistics many people were not aware of that at all or did not know much.

Professor Yan Xuetong articulates Chinese viewpoint and ambitions on the global stage. However, he is too unconscious of the threat posed by China to the global society. As to “The Rise of China in Chinese Eyes”, Ted Osius, Deputy Director of the Office of Korean Affairs at the U.S. State Department, questions Yan’s opinion that China as a peaceful power.

China lives in an uncertain neighborhood. While Russia and India hold potential for cooperation, they are not natural allies. Events in South Asia, the Korean peninsula, or the Taiwan Strait, could lead China to use force to safeguard its own interests. Recent history does not support Mr. Yan’s claim that China has a benign track record. In 1979, China attacked Vietnam; recent actions in the South China Sea are seen as provocative, especially by ASEAN; and only three years ago China tested its missiles in the Taiwan Strait. Today it is rattling the same saber. Indeed, China’s leaders have pointedly not ruled out the use of force to settle the Taiwan question.

Mr. Yan acknowledges that some in China would like to challenge America’s role in the world. Indeed, two of China’s senior colonels recently published “Unrestricted War,” examining methods a weak China might use when standing up to a strong U.S.

Discussing dangers the U.S. and Japan might pose to North Korea, Mr. Yan again
reminds us that China’s perspective is shaped by history. While it was only 68 years ago that Japan invaded and occupied Manchuria, today China has no reason to fear Japan militarily. Still, China has not dropped its quest for Japanese apologies and does not treat Japan as a normal country, one with a right to assume responsibility for its own defense. It is now time to ask if Japan, which also has a rich and remarkable history, should indefinitely limit its role in the world. Should China have a veto over Japan’s security policies? My answer is no.

In addition to Osius’s comment, I would like to mention the following. Throughout the history, Chinese emperors had been treating foreign kings as their junior partners. Only since the defeat in the Opium War, the Chinese accepted the Westphalian norms of international relations. Until blown up with Queen Victoria’s big gun, the Chinese looked down on foreigners as barbarians. Professor Yan misses this point when he advocates the Chinese world order. However, his articles are helpful to understand the underlying logic of Chinese foreign policy. Yan Xuetong is really a key person to the world.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Review of Transatlantic Relations from the US-German Blog Carnival

The US-German blog carnival, sponsored by the Atlantic Review and GM’s Corner, was held on December 11. As I mention previously, this is a quarterly event to promote dialogues and understanding between the United States and Europe. Around 20 bloggers from both sides of the Atlantic, and Pacific (which is me), participate in this event. Carnival attendants discuss not only politics and economics, but also popular culture and citizens’ life.

I received an e-mail from Atlantic Review yesterday, saying that Time Magazine has chosen as the “Person of the Year”, because its editors "control the Information Age." It is delightful that bloggers can promote intellectual talks and exchange ideas across the nations. The carnival focus on US-German and transatlantic relations, and I recommend ardent students of international relations to see this link.

This autumn, NATO summit was held in Riga, Latvia, and the Euro-American partnership will play increasingly important role to prevail liberal democracy and advance global stability. Not everything is optimistic. I would like to mention some submitted posts related to the agenda of this blog.

Atlantic Review, the host of this carnival, submits “Germany and the United States Failed to Train Afghanistan’s Police” to discuss critical problems to accomplish stability in Afghanistan. The United States and Germany do not provide sufficient training staff and equipments with Afghan police and military forces. The editor points out that the United States makes the same mistakes there as it does in Iraq. More seriously, this blog quotes Christian Science Monitor to mention negative effects of drug problem o Afghan police. The split between the United States and Germany is another critical issue, as Germany refused to transfer its troops to hard battle regions.

Some bloggers, such as Observing Herman … and the Assistant Village Idiot compare the leadership of current administrations in the United States and Germany in their posts, “Lame duck” and “The German American Economic Collapse.”

The issue of Mitteleuropa and energy is another focus. The International Affairs Forum points out that increasing cooperation on energy development between Germany and Russia stimulates anxiety in Poland. According to its post, “Merkerl’s Geopolitical Menage Trois”, Poland is concerned with close Russo-German partnership and ultimate marginalization of Poland itself.

As expected, threat of Islamic radicals is discussed at the carnival by Chicago Boyz in “The Future Doesn’t Belong to Islam, Thank You Very Much.” The author criticizes a comment by a conservative columnist Mark Styne that while Muslim population is too young and rapidly increasing, Western population is too old and decreasing. According to this blog, his arguments are based on completely wrong demographic data.

I submitted a post “NATO Summit at Riga, Latvia” to discuss globalization of NATO. I focus on future expansion of NATO to Japan, Australia, and so forth. Also, I talk about NATO’s commitment to tackle common threats to the global community, like non-proliferation, terrorism, and rogue regimes.

More blogs participate in this carnival, and it is a pity that I cannot mention all of them in this post. I have no doubt that it very helpful to visit the carnival site to understand what issues are crucial today in US-German and US-European relations. Some of them are vital, but drawing little attention by the media.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Can We Talk with Iran?

Iran is one of the trouble spots in the Middle East. The theocratic administration sponsors terrorism, violates the non-proliferation regime, and tries to export radical ideology. Despite these problems, the Iraq Study Group, Chaired by former Secretary of State James Baker, suggested that the United States talk with Iran and Syria in order to placate current turmoil in Iraq. Some media quote this to criticize the Bush administration on the Iraq policy. But we have to think again. The Study Group recommendation is not an oracle. It is essential to review carefully whether we can talk with Iran or not, regarding Iraq, nuclear bomb, and terrorism throughout the Middle East.

Iran is expanding its influence in the Shiite area in Iraq, since the collapse of the Saddam Hussein regime. Diplomats and experts comment that Iran’s clout in Iraq is much stronger than that of Syria’s. Then, should we make some kind of concessions with Iran in order to settle disputes in Iraq? Things are not so simple. Iran is developing nuclear bombs. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insists on wiping out Israel. Dovish policy to Iran would make things worse.

To talk about this issue further, let me mention comments by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates at the confirmation hearing on December 5. Regarding the expected consequences of US attack against Iran, Secretary Gates said they might not be able to retaliate directly, but they could provide terrorists with weapons of mass destruction, such as biological and chemical weapons. As for Iran’s leverage on Iraq, he mentioned “They are certainly not being helpful in Iraq and are doing us -- I think doing damage to our interests there, but I think they could do a lot more to hurt our effort in Iraq.” In addition, according to Gates, Ahmadinejad thinks seriously of terminating Israel. Judging from what Secretary Gates said at the hearing, it is not easy to talk with Iran, though he recognize it necessary.

George Perkovich, Vice President at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, insists that the West talk with Iran in his article “Washington’s Dilemma: Why Engaging with Iran Is a Good Idea” to Yale Global Online on December12. In conclusion, Perkovich says “Iran does have weaknesses, and a dialogue can expose them, perhaps intensifying the country’s internal fissures. Refusal to talk cedes the high ground to Iran without any benefit to Washington.” However, leading policymakers, including members of the Iraq Study Group and Henry Kissinger, do not show specific ways to scare or entice Iranian theocrats into accepting America’s vital interest.

Some concerns must be considered to talk with Iran. The Los Angels Times presents interesting analysis in “Iran Looks Like the Winner of the Iraq War” on December 10. According to this article, the Iraq Study Group observes the rise of Iranian influence in the Middle East since the US-led war in Iraq, and insists that the United States needs to seek some help from Iran for resolution. However, Mustafa Alani, Director at the Gulf Research Center in Dubai points out that though Iran’s leverage is growing and the Bush administration has no effective solutions to stop Iran’s nuclear ambition, the price of cooperation is high. Mark Fitzpatrick, Senior Analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, says that Iran would demand recognition of uranium enrichment and lifting sanctions in return. This will ruin non-proliferation efforts by the United States and EU3. Also, Israel and moderate Arabs, like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt, are dismayed to think of possible deal between Iran and the United States.

Ex-Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi argues that a dialogue will benefit extremist Ahmadinejad without improving current challenges on Iraq, non-proliferation, and terrorism. But should we simply refuse to talk with Iran, and assist political protest in Iran?

Senior Fellows Patrick Clawson and Michael Eisenstadt at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, show concrete ideas to deal with Iran in a policy brief, entitled “Forcing Hard Choices on Tehran.” In this essay, both authors point out that economic and diplomatic sanctions by themselves do not inflict sufficiently on theocrats, because they are used to international isolation. These measures must be coupled with other means. Fortunately, unlike North Korea, democracy movements are strong in Iran, and overseas activists provide substantial support for them. Domestic pressure will upset mullahs. In addition authors propose to “Dissuade and deter by checking Iran’s Military potential.” For this objective, the United States must establish security architecture with European and Middle East allies to contain Iran. America and its allies must have sufficient naval power to counter Iranian naval blockade to stop oil route in the Gulf. Also, authors suggest the United States offer air defense system to shoot down Iranian missiles. Authors insist on using offensive ways as well, that is, to threaten conventional military strike to target senior leaders and economic infrastructure. Furthermore, they maintain to “Dissuade and disrupt by preventative military action.” If Iranian theocrats regard the United States as weak and reluctant to fight, they will quest further gains in this power game. Soft policies are nonetheless important. Clawson and Eisenstadt urge the United States to offer inducements to Iran, like assuring no attack if they abandon their nuclear project. Simultaneously, authors claim the West should promote reforms in Iran regardless of nuclear problem.

Consequently, we must not confuse dialogue with appeasement. The West must show strength and unyieldingness against Iran. Just leaving Iraq would make things worse. All the problems associated with Iran --- nuclear weapon, Iraq, and terrorism --- are strongly interconnected. America and EU3 must be united firmly, and help Iranian people’s quest for political reform.

Finally I would like to mention another stakeholder, which is Japan. Current regime in Iran is an ideological enemy to Japan. Westernizing modernization policies under the Pahlavi monarchy were modeled after those of Japan and Turkey. As a result of the Iranian revolution, clerical oppressors took place of enlightened despot. It is a pity that Japanese leaders think light of this fact, and I will mention this further on another occasion.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

US-Indian Nuclear Deal after the Senate Approval

Right after the midterm election, political commentators argued that the Bush administration would have difficulty in dealing with the Congress under Democratic majority. However, a controversial bill has passed the Senate on November 16. As I mentioned several times on this blog, the Bush administration decided to offer technological assistance for civilian nuclear use in India, which spurred fierce pro-con debates among American policymakers. Proponents insist the following reasons for the US-Indian nuclear deal: strategic partnership in the war on terror, balance of power in Asia and the Middle East, and access to a prospective market. However, opponents argue that the nuclear deal with a non-NPT member would undermine the current non-proliferation regime, and tougher verifications should be required. Even some Republicans raised these concerns as I mentioned “Kissinger Talks on India.” Despite these hurdles, the Senate approved the nuclear deal with India.

I would like to explore why such a controversial deal has passed the Senate under Democrat majority. The following reasons are important: terrorism, market, China, and the Middle East. US businesses are keen to expand their market in India. According to “US Nuclear Firms Eye on Indian Market” in the Washington Post on December 1, leading American companies like General Electric, Westinghouse Electric, and Bechtel sent delegates for nuclear power plant projects in India. In addition, tougher safeguards were installed at the Senate to assure non-proliferation. The nuclear deal would enable the United States to pursue these objectives. Regarding non-proliferation, Under Secretary of State R. Nicholas Burns commented as below at the Senate testimony.

Without such an agreement, India, with its large and sophisticated nuclear capabilities, would continue to remain outside the international export control regimes governing commerce in sensitive nuclear and nuclear-related technologies. With this agreement, given India’s solid record in stemming and preventing the proliferation of its nuclear technology over the past 30 years, the U.S. and the international community will benefit by asking India to open up its system, to separate its civil and military nuclear facilities, and to submit to international inspections and safeguards on its civil facilities, thus allowing it to bring its civil nuclear program into effective conformity with international standards.

Although supportive of the deal with India, leading members of foreign policy panels in both houses --- including Senator Richard Lugar, Senator Joseph Biden, Congressman Henry Hyde, and Congressman Tom Lantos --- raised concerns about nuclear proliferation and India’s relation with Iran (Lawmakers Concerned about US-India Nuclear Deal, Washington Post, November 15). In order to deal with such problems, tougher clauses were installed. The Senate bill bans the transfer to India of technology related to enrichment, reprocessing or heavy water production -- weapons-related technologies the United States says it has no plans to provide -- but Rice wants this out. With regard to the Iran issue, Burns said, “We appreciate India’s belief that Iran should not acquire a nuclear weapons capability, and India’s continuing cooperation with the U.S. and Europe is essential to convince Iran to return to negotiations.” The Senate bill requires that India be "fully and actively participating in U.S. and international efforts to dissuade, sanction and contain Iran for its nuclear program."

For the final legislation, both the Senate and the House must fill the gap in their vote. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice insists on softening the bill. In her open letter to the Senate, she says, "It is not appropriate to single out India, which has been a responsible steward of its nuclear technology." Also, she points out “India twice joined Washington in voting against Iran in the International Atomic Energy Agency and is expected to continue cooperating” (“Democrats: White House seeks to weaken India bill”, Washington Post, December 4).

Among the reasons for the nuclear deal, the most questionable one is to use India as a strategic card against China. Actually, energy hungry India is exploring a similar deal with China. In the economy, both countries agreed to expand mutual trade. The Economist questions the Indo-Chinese relationship as below.

The appealing notion here is that India and China have complementary economies. China, through its burgeoning factories, is the world’s workshop. India, with its fast-growing IT and outsourcing firms, is becoming the world's back office. With Chinese hardware providing the orchestra and Indian software writing the score, surely they can make beautiful music together? (The Myth of Chindia, November 22)

The Boston Globe quotes by policymakers in both countries. Sun Shihai, Deputy director of the Institute for Asia Pacific Studies at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, comments "China feels it needs to engage India more [and] develop some kind of Russia-China-India cooperation" that can balance US hegemony. "So there is some kind of competition happening." Also, an Indian official says "Traditionally, India's always been nonaligned and had an independent foreign policy," and "Recently, India had been moving very close to the US and with this deal India will become equidistant between the US and China." (China and India on Verge of Nuclear Deal, November 20)

As mentioned in “Anatomy of Partnership” in the International Herald Tribune on March 10, Henry Kissinger is right to insist that the United States should not expect India as a diplomatic card against China. The Sino-Indian relationship will not develop rapidly. According to “Still Treading on India’s Toes” in the Economist on November 16, China’ military ties with Pakistan and South East Asian neighbors, and border dispute with India are still hurdles. In any case, India acts on its own as to the relationship with China.

Though Democrats occupy the majority seats in both houses, the Bush administration is winning this landmark deal. It is not adequate to see the current administration lame duck. As to the nuclear deal with India, US policymakers should focus on strengthening non- proliferation and counter-terrorism efforts, and expanding business. Never think of using India in the power game against China. Is this really a practical deal as Mohammed El Baradei says? Under Secretary R. Nicholas Burns is right to say that the United States incorporate India into the international export regime of nuclear technologies. The agreement must be sufficiently binding.