President-Elect Barack Obama has virtually completed top officials for his cabinet. This is an extraordinarily rapid pace. It is noteworthy that one of the most leftist Democrats at the Senate is changing into the President of a centrist administration. Why has Obama changed so drastically?
Apparently, conservatives were infuriated with newly elected Obama just after the election. See the video below at John McCain’s concession speech. McCain is soothing his supporters’ utmost anger toward Obama, a radical liberal President-Elect.
Their outrage could have some influence on Obama. The President-Elect takes ideological and racial balance into account as he selects his cabinet members. As show in the table below, Obama’s transition is unprecedentedly rapid.
Also, I would like to show a list of cabinet candidates in the Obama administration through this link.
The Wall Street Journal points out some characteristics of the Obama administration. While the Bush team included top corporate executives from aluminum, railroad, and financial industries, the Obama team is largely devoid of business experience. Also, Obama has given key cabinet posts to those who are unfamiliar to him.
This is noticeable among his appointees to national security posts. His Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was the archrival for Democrats’ presidential nomination. Secretary of Defense Appointee Robert Gates is a member of the Bush cabinet. He has served a couple of Republican presidents, including George W. Bush. National Security Advisor James Jones worked for John McCain for in the past, and he still has close ties with the Republican candidate in the last presidential election. In other words, this is something like appointing John McCain to one position in Obama’s cabinet.
On the other hand, Obama’s liberal loyalists were appointed to lesser positions. Homosexual rights, labor, and environmental activists failed to obtain key positions, such as Secretary of Interior, Secretary of Labor, and Secretary of Environment.
Democrat activists do not complain Obama’s personnel choice in public. However, it is apparent that those who bowed and praised their savior Obama have been betrayed (“Obama Sets Fast Pace for Transition”; Wall Street Journal; December 22, 2008).
The Economist comments positively about balanced selection of cabinet members by Barack Obama. However, it raises concerns, “The trouble is that pulling in so many big names may, in time, produce rivalries that Mr. Obama will have difficulty reconciling.” (“Barack Obama: A well-stocked cabinet”; Economist; December 22, 2008)
Shortly after the election, Former Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton left a similar comment in his article. Bolton advises Obama as the following (“Letter to the President-Elect”; AEI Online; November 13, 2008 & also, in Daily Telegraph; November 5, 2008).
Although President George W. Bush tried to make this his mantra, his administration was plagued in its first term by incoherence in national security decision-making. Crisp decisions were not made, strong differences of opinion among cabinet secretaries were not resolved, and policy too often oscillated between conflicting options with no consistency or direction.
Ironically, the Bush administration's second term erred in the opposite direction, almost eliminating differences in advice to the president until there was only one voice in his ear at critical points. You must avoid both pitfalls, and you must make that immediately clear. You must resolve disagreements among your advisers, not allow drift, and insist on discipline once you make a decision.
Yoshihisa Komori, Chief of Washington Bureau at Sankei Shimbun, points out that Barack Obama was judged the most radical liberal as a Senator by AFL-CIO (“Barack Obama’s Bright Side and Dark Side #7”; Stage-kaze Hastu; December 20, 2008).
How could he convert himself into centrist? Despite longtime experience in Washington, Komori has not found the clue to this question (“The Prospect of the Obama Administration”; December 11, 2008). I understand his puzzlement. Obama’s primary agenda is the economy, and in this area, his selection is heavily dependent on Clintonites. Komori wonders why Obama included Clintonites and Republicans in his team. Is Obama confident in addressing his own agenda of radical leftism even though he needs help by Republicans and Clintonites? Partly, it is true. But I think Obama needs help beyond his creed because he has only 3 year experience at the Senate. This implies that Obama does not have strong personal contacts to manage Washington politics.
Seemingly smooth, Obama’s transition faces difficulties in appointment of some positions. The CIA Director is a key post in the War on Terror. However, due to clashes between CIA officials and liberals who denounce Bush policies on Guantánamo prisoners (“Obama Faces CIA Appointment Dilemma”; Washington Independent; December 12, 2008), Obama has not appointed anyone to the CIA Director yet (“No One Wants to Be CIA Director Thanks To Bush”; Washington Independent; December 30, 2008).
It is Obama, not America, that has really changed. John McCain was right to soothe his supporters during the campaign that there was nothing to worry if Obama was elected. Now, the 3 year boy is leaning what the President of the United States is. This is an OJT. Will the world test Obama in 6 month as Vice President-Elect Joseph Biden said? In such a case, it is Biden himself who tutors the Boy Obama.
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
President-Elect Barack Obama has virtually completed top officials for his cabinet. This is an extraordinarily rapid pace. It is noteworthy that one of the most leftist Democrats at the Senate is changing into the President of a centrist administration. Why has Obama changed so drastically?
Saturday, December 20, 2008
It is very important to understand the history of the country when people discuss foreign policy. National anthems can tell about the country more than hundreds of books. As Bruce Lee said, “don’t think but just feel” the country. Few nations have experienced regime changes so drastic as those of Russia, from czarist, communist, to capitalist. Even current capitalist Russia is in the process of drastic change as commented by Professor Andrei Zorin, Oxford University.
In order to feel Russia, let me review the anthem chronologically.
First, I hereby would like to introduce the anthem of czarist Russia, composed in 1830. Just watch the following video and feel it.
This is a very beautiful song. It hardly sounds national anthem. I feel this more like a hymn of Christian church. The title of czarist anthem is “God Save the Czar”, which is quite similar to that of British anthem, “God Save the Queen (or King)”. However, British anthem does not sound so religious. Apparently, it is an anthem of a modern and secular nation state of constitutional monarchy. But czarist Russian anthem sounds strongly religious.
There is nothing strange about religious tone with this anthem. Historically, Russia has a strong tie with the Byzantine Orthodox Church since Grand Duke Vladimir Ⅰ of Kiev converted to Christianity in 988. After the collapse of the Byzantine Empire, Moscow Grand Duke Ivan Ⅲ married Prince Sophia, niece of the last Byzantine Emperor Constantine Ⅺ. Since then, Russian emperor inherited the chief of the Orthodox Church.
Although I am deeply moved to hear this beautiful music, I feel feudalistic backwardness of czarist Russia on the other hand. History proves it right. Alexander Ⅱ emancipated serfs so late in 1861. Russia was defeated by rapidly modernizing Japan in 1905. Czar’s army was no rival to Kaiser’s Germany in World War Ⅰ.
The second video below is the communist anthem with English subtitles. This is a mighty and impressive song. Numerous Soviet athletes stood proudly on the stage with this Leninist anthem at medal reception ceremonies in the Olympic Games.
When you read the lyric of this anthem, you will understand that it is propaganda of the Communist Party in Moscow. I am surprised to find a phrase, “Sing to the Motherland, home of the free”. Is communism free? No! Never!
However, peoples of 15 republics believed in the ideal declared in this song during the Soviet era. Also, it is important to keep it in mind that patriotism and devotion to communism were identical in the Soviet regime.
Another version of Soviet anthem in English was sung by an American singer Paul Robeson, in order to commemorate the victory against the Nazi Germany. See the video below.
This is nothing but a flattery to Josef Stalin. “Long live our people, united and free”? Stalin was one of the most dreadful autocrats in history. Even Soviet citizens felt scared to hear his name.
The Soviet Union has collapsed finally in 1991, and the anthem changed accordingly.
This anthem lacks beauty of the Romanov song and might of the Soviet song. It sounds like just a banal music, as if symbolizing shrinking power of Russia during the Yeltsin era.
When Vladimir Putin was inaugurated to the president in 2000, he restored the Soviet anthem, but changed the lyric. In the video below, you can read the lyric in English and Russian.
As you understand, communist propaganda has been eliminated. Russia has become a capitalist nation, but people yearn superpower might of the Soviet era. Strangely enough, the Russian public takes pride in both Czarist tradition and Soviet power.
The above video is the concert at the Red Square in Moscow on the Russia Day, June 12 in 2005. President-then Putin sings the anthem with Russian pop stars. In the film, you will find the Romanov emblem of double-headed eagle around the top of the arch covering the stage. In terms of ideology, the Soviet melody and the Romanov emblem are at odds each other. This is unlikely set symbolizes Russian nationalism today.
I hope videos in this post will be helpful to feel nationalism in Russia under the leadership of Vladimir Putin. Also, I hope them helpful to feel Russian history. Don’t think, just feel!
Friday, December 12, 2008
The Free World may have defeated communism, but have we really won the Cold War? These days, people talk about resurgence of Russia, but come to think of it, this country is still a gigantic nuclear power, roughly tying with the United States. Also, Russia has been the 2nd largest arms exporter after the United States.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, American and British economists may have preached capitalism and market economy to Russians. However, none of Western forces occupied the Russian territory to disarm the Red Army. In other words, post Soviet Russia is neither Japan nor Germany defeated in World War Ⅱ. Actually, I missed this point until quite recently, just as most of the people in the Free World.
The Economist has released a special report on Russia. This report written by Arkady Ostrovsky, Moscow Correspondent of the Economist, presents very helpful insights on a broad range of Russian foreign and domestic politics under the Putin and Medvedev administrations. Quite interestingly, Ostrovsky points out that anti-Americanism in Russia is virulent, not among unreformed communists but among successful and westernized businessmen. Let me review the special report.
Ostrovsky summarizes the current state as the following (“RUSSIA: Enigma variations”; Economist; November 27, 2008). Russia has not become free and democratic as insisted by its government. Also, Vladimir Putin and Dmitri Medvedev take belligerent stances against the West: invading Georgia, and threatening to deploy short-range missiles in Kalingrad against US missile defense system in Eastern Europe. In addition, Kremlin decided to produce new submarine launched missile, named Bulava (“Russia starts production of new ballistic missiles”; Reuters; December 1, 2008). Previously, Global American Discourse quoted a comment by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates that the United States has stopped producing new nuclear arsenals for a long time. It is a serious challenge to the United States.
Though post-Soviet business élites in Russia have strong ties with the West, this does not deter Putin’s nationalist policy. He portrays himself a symbol of Russian patriotism rising from humiliation in the post-Soviet confusion.
Quite interestingly, Ostrovsky points out Russia’s love-hate relationship with America. He says that anti-Americanism among Westernized Russian élites is based on conviction that Russia is not different from America, both in terms of political and economic structure. They take Western preach of liberal democracy as a hypocrisy. However, new Russian élites are no less hypocritical than Western preachers. Quoting Lilia Shevtsova, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Moscow Center, Ostrovsky argues that Russian élites reject democratic governance of the West while they enjoy a Western lifestyle. According to Shevtsova, “hostility towards America and the West sustains the authoritarian and corrupt rule of the rent-seeking elite which portrays its narrow corporate interests as the interests of the nation.” Ostrovsky articulates “By imitating and repelling America at the same time, Russia tries to ward off a hostile value system that includes democracy and the rule of law.”
Professor Andrei Zorin of Oxford University comments “Russia may yet emerge as a nation state, but in the process it could also turn ugly and nationalistic.” Ostrovsky introduces viewpoints among Russian liberals that American triumphalism after the Cold War provokes nationalism in Russia, as Germans felt resented with the Allied Powers after the World War Ⅰ(“RUSSIA: Handle with care”; Economist; November 27, 2008). He argues that missile defense system in Eastern Europe and NATO expansion to Ukraine and Georgia invigorate hawks in Russia. The latter was a key issue at the last NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels from December 2 to 3.
Simultaneously, he points out that it is domestic politics that leads to the rise of Russian nationalism. America is a catalyst. Ostrovsky insists that current Russia is more dangerous than the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
This special report presents invaluable psychological analyses of Russia’s new élites and the public. British and American authors will not narrate so much in depth as Ostrovsky does. However, some of his commentaries sound too Russian. From missile defense to NATO expansion, inclusion of New Europe into the West is a vital agenda to restructure the security of the Euro-Atlantic region. It is necessary to be careful to read this article.
Ostrovsky explores furthermore on domestic politics and the economy of Russia in this report. Finally, I would like to introduce his audio comments through this link. Overall, this report is well-balanced to understand Russia from both Western and Russian perspectives. Therefore, I recommend this special report.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
In view of Mumbai terrorist attack on November 26, the Washington Independent has published “Obama’s First Test?: The Terrorist Attacks in Mumbai Highlight a Simmering Crisis in South Asia” on November 28. Since the attack, the relationship between India and Pakistan is turning worse. This is a critical challenge to the War on Terror in Afghanistan and nuclear non-proliferation in the Indian subcontinent.
Ever since the United States started negotiations on a nuclear deal with India, Global American Discourse has been paying attention to the Subcontinent. This blog quoted commentaries by Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Former Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns, and mentioned a broad range of bilateral issues from nuclear weapons, terrorism, regional security, and the economy. Stable relations between India and Pakistan are essential for further US-Indian partnership. However, as there were Pakistanis among the terrorist attackers, India suspects some involvement of Pakistan.
The Mumbai attack reminds me of a controversial remark by Vice President-elect Joseph Biden, “It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy.” It seems to me that the world is testing President-elect Obama before he is inaugurated. Both India and Pakistan are frontlines against Al Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan. Political tensions between both nuclear powers in this region undermines strategic blueprint of the United States.
At this stage, real backgrounds of this attack need to be investigated completely. Ties between the attackers and terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda and Taliban are suspected.
According to Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent, the Mumbai terrorist attack poses significant challenges to US and NATO mission in Afghanistan. Currently, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has begun to demand withdrawal of Western forces while talking with Taliban leaders (“Karzai — Whoa! — Calls for a Timetable to End the Afghanistan War”; Washington Independent; November 25, 2008).
Furthermore, the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank in Washington DC, has released a new report to recommend that the Obama administration renew military-oriented approaches in US-Pakistani relations by the Bush administration (“Partnership for Progress: Advancing a New Strategy for Prosperity and Stability in Pakistan and the Region”; November 17, 2008). The report says “U.S. policy must recognize that the military component alone is insufficient to build stability and security in Pakistan,” and calls for “a diverse approach, including strengthening governance and rule of law, creating economic opportunities and exploring political negotiations” with insurgents.
The terrorist attack inflicted dreadful impacts on US strategy in this region. Thorough investigation will reveal critical network of terrorists in this region. The Bush administration has created a strategic framework in the Indian subcontinent and Afghanistan. Will the Obama administration succeed in developing the framework made by current administration? Yes, Mumbai attackers test incoming administration in Washington, DC.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
In my view, quite a few of those who publish a blog on politics are interested in launching some kind of public interest and advocacy activities by themselves. Activities they think of may not be hardcore political ones as I do. Some of them want to be involved with politically neutral and humanitarian activities. If I were to get involved in such activities seriously, I need capital such as infrastructure and money. Is it enough for you just to publish an anonymous blog? (Some bloggers use their real names with their photos on their blog, and others show their real names and photos on regular styled websites linked to their blogs just as I do.)
The Society of Endorsing Activities by Citizens (SEAs) in Tokyo holds fundraising seminars to support those who are ardent in their pursuit for public interest activities. In my case, though I have found an intermediate incorporation (an organization between social incorporation and NPO incorporation), it has no capital at this stage. If someone wants to advocate some social issues, information of better quality is indispensible. Also, travel fee to attend international conferences is necessary.
The final seminar of this year was held at the Japan Foundation on November 26. I have attended the 4th and the 5th seminar. I am a complete layman on fundraising, but I am beginning to understand some basic concept of it.
A reception party was held along with this seminar, and I had some opportunities to talk with guest speakers. I hope I can start something concrete for fundraising of my own advocacy.
Those who are really interested in starting public interest activities, and political bloggers who want to do something beyond anonymous blogging, listen to me! Find an agenda of your focus, and then, contact SEAs.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Secretary of State Robert Gates gave a lecture, entitled “Nuclear Weapons and Deterrence in the 21st Century” at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, on October 28. Though Gates serves the Bush administration currently, he is one of the candidates for the Secretary of Defense in the next administration of President-Elect Barack Obama (“Who's in the running for Obama administration jobs”; AP; November 20, 2008). Whether appointed or not, his viewpoints on nuclear non-proliferation represent vital bipartisan agendas for the United States. Therefore, it is worth watching the video of this event (see this link).
Secretary Gates talked on intertwined domestic and international challenges to US nuclear policy. Also, the Secretary spelled out the relationship between aging US nuclear infrastructure and credibility of deterrence.
To begin with, Secretary Gates outlined post Cold War nuclear strategy of the United States. Having cut outdated arsenals like B1 bombers and stopped nuclear tests unilaterally during the Clinton era, the United States reviewed strategic posture under the Bush administration. Gates says that it is necessary to reduce reliance on nuclear deterrence, and increase capability for non-nuclear deterrence and responses to potential threats. The reviewed posture consists of the following triad.
(1) Strike capabilities, both nuclear deterrence and conventional attack capabilities
(2) Defense capabilities including ballistic missile defense
(3) Infrastructures to support (1) and (2)
Though security environment has changed in view of 9-11, grave nuclear threats are posed by resurgent powers like Russia and China, and rogue states like Iran and North Korea.
Though Gates is concerned with nuclear modernization by Russia and China, and its implications to security of the Free World, he does not regard them as adversaries to us. To my regret, he has not articulated why Russia and China are not adversaries. Certainly, the United States needs to cooperate with Russia in order to cut a massive stockpile of nuclear weapons in both countries. Economic ties with China are growing important. Still, both Russia and China are challenging our liberal democracy, and such ambitious powers are strengthening nuclear capabilities. I feel his attitude to both powers somewhat soft.
Quite importantly, Secretary Gates pointed out the problem of aging nuclear weapon systems of US forces. The media rarely mention such a critically dismissible issue. He says, “No one has designed a new nuclear weapon in the United States since the 1980s, and no one has built a new one since the early 1990s.” This is a serious issue to keep US nuclear deterrence trustworthy. Nuclear weapon engineers are retiring and current stockpile of nuclear arsenals need to extend their life span. The Secretary says that the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy work together to “reduce aging stockpiles by balancing the risk between a smaller number of warheads and an industrial complex that could produce new weapons if the need arose.”
At the Q & A session, Secretary Gates stressed vital interest of defending US allies in Europe and the Pacific region.
The most focused issue at the Q & A session was the missile defense issue. Secretary Gates said anti-ballistic missiles in Europe were against Iran, not Russia. He explained American efforts to form credibility and security building measures with Russia. Though Gates did not mention missile defense in Asia at this event, we can infer that what he has in his mind is North Korea, not Russia and China. However, I wonder what Secretary Gates thinks of possible conflict over the Taiwan Strait. Any intimidation by China on the Strait will endanger sea lane security to Japan and South Korea, vital allies to the United States in the Far East.
I do not agree everything with Secretary Gates regarding Russia and China. Also, it is a pity that Gates did not talk sufficiently on North Korea. However, I am pleased to hear Secretary of Defense Robert Gates quote Theodore Roosevelt, and said “It would be a fatal thing to leave ourselves unarmed against the despotisms and barbarisms of the world.” This lecture is very helpful to understand America’s agenda on global non-proliferation. I hope President-Elect Barack Obama, the very icon of global leftists, understand the quotation very well, whether he appoints Robert Gates to the Secretary of Defense or not.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
I have been criticizing President-Elect Barack Obama for his incompetence as the Commander in Chief. In any case, he was elected, and it is essential to discuss his qualification.
I found an interesting link in a blog post on the Middle East, published by the Los Angels Times (“IRAQ: U.S. troops weigh in on Obama versus McCain”; Babylon & Beyond; November 5, 2008). According to a link to this post, about 2/3 to 3/4 of US Armed Forces personnel preferred Senator John McCain to Senator Barack Obama in a poll before the election (“If the presidential election were held today, for whom would you vote?”; Military Times; October 3, 2008).
Among military personnel, the most important issue to decide the candidate to vote was leadership character. In this poll, it is John McCain who wins overwhelming trust over Barack Obama. McCain endured POW experience in Vietnam, while Obama has no military experience. Moreover, Obama has been critical to America’s vital mission in Iraq. Warriors feel common bonds with leaders who share battle filed experience or national defense values. This is why Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar were charismatic. This is why Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan are applauded today. Barack Obama has none of such personality advantages. To the contrary, he has dubious ties with enemies of our free world, notably, William Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, and Rashid Khalidi. I can hardly understand why some undereducated voters worship Obama as their savior.
When Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California said “I only play an action hero in my movies, but John McCain is a real action hero” at the rally in Ohio, I was moved to hear his speech. No other speech in this election was so impressive as this. It brings us home that President-Elect Obama has no characteristic image as the Commander in Chief of the Superpower.
In addition to personality, I am concerned with kith and kin preference given to Barack Obama. In the military, even minorities, including Hispanics, Asians, and so forth, chose McCain over Obama. However, an overwhelming majority of Blacks supports Obama. It is a great advantage to have a solid voters group to win the election. But this advantage can turn into a disadvantage to command armed forces and govern the state. It is quite tough to lead the Superpower. When Obama faces difficulty in managing national and global problems, such a stark racial split will undermine his leadership.
America is at war, and whether to stay or withdraw from the Middle East, the decision made by the Commander in Chief needs to be trusted by officers and soldiers. Can Obama really govern the state and command global military operations to defend our free world?
The media says the advent of the first black president historical, but I do not think so. Anyone gets dark-skinned when suntanned. How many presidents, prime ministers, kings, and emperors have we forgotten! A leader can make history by what he or she does, not by the status or the position he or she assumes.
This is the last post on the election 2008. There are so many critical issues throughout the world. It is time that Global American Discourse got back to the normalcy. In any case, this blog will keep on watching President-Elect Barack Obama.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
It shows a stark racial division in the United States. Contrary to media report, Barack Obama’s bid for presidency brings us home to this critical fact, rather than healing it.
While about 55% of white voters chose McCain and 40~45% chose Obama, nearly 95% of black voters chose Obama and less than 5% chose McCain. The figure of black voters is quite unrealistic, if the candidate was selected entirely by policy and personality. America is a pluralistic democracy of various thoughts and interests, and so is the black society. A 95% approval reminds me of the election in Iraq to “select” Saddam Hussein just before the Iraq War. Apparently, the media brainwashed minority voters.
Just a simple glance of the figure tells us that Barack Obama cannot heal racial division. He is neither the messiah nor the savior. When the honeymoon between newly-elected president and the media is over, the tension among ethnic groups will turn worse.
The media must tell us the truth, not lies.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Senator Barack Obama has achieved an impressive victory in the presidential election, supported by youngsters who have been uninterested in politics so seriously until recently. In other words, it is those who were not politically oriented that is changing the world today. This is not the only phenomenon in the United States but worldwide.
In Japan, Prime Minister-then Junichiro Koizumi marked a landslide victory in September 2005, thanks to enthusiastic support by those who were moved with TV show politics. In Russia, people chose Dmitri Medvedev for the president in March 2008, because they applauded Vladimir Putin’s image as a strong leader. In both cases, politics was driven by young voters who are poorly aware of their national agendas.
Should we call this sort of new populism as real democracy or barbaric idiocracy? In the context of history, it is necessary to observe whether this populism evolve into a new age democracy like the rise of civil society in the 17th and the 18th century, or into a turmoil of idiocracy.
The rise of civic power became noticeable at the Rio Summit on global warming in 1994. ICBL was awarded Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 thanks to cooperation by the web of global citizens of willing.
It is the Afghan War in response to 9-11 terrorist attack when left wingers across the world mobilized “ordinary citizens” to anti-war rallies for the first time. Those “ordinary citizens” are not the sort of people keenly aware of politics. Having enjoyed some success in mobilizing laymen to the rally, leftists organized enormous scale protest movements against the Iraq War. Global democracy has turned into global idiocracy.
We have to bear in mind that it is continual blow to the Bush administration by the global “civic”, or more precisely, “idiotic” society that has influenced the attitude of the media in the United States and abroad. This had led to the rise of Barack Obama.
In the Financial Times, Clive Crook points out that biased attitude of the media has brought substantial advantages to Obama (“How McCain lost the centrist vote”; Financial Times; October 26, 2008). But even Crook is biased. He says that the Obama side did not make fatal mistakes while the McCain side made some errors. Actually, Barack Obama’s ineptness was revealed when he met with General David Petraeus in Iraq. The Media did not question Obama’s competence as the Commander in Chief on this critical occasion. Japanese journalist Yoshihisa Komori casts doubt on strange attitude of the media (“Major media discuss this election from completely Democrat-biased viewpoints”; Stage-kaze Hatsu; November 4, 2008).
In the US presidential election, Senator John McCain won support by top national security experts such as Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Retired General Norman Schwarzkopf, and Carnegie Endowment Senior Associate Robert Kagan. Also, a good citizen like Joe the Plumber was with McCain. On the other hand, Senator Barack Obama was boosted by voters whose political judgement is questionable, like Lindsay Lohan (This Hollywood star is notorious for wanton behavior.) and youngsters of marijuana junkies. In other words, Obama won the election, thanks to bête noire of the American public.
As Former US Vice President Albert Gore argues, the rise of civic power, from the Rio Summit to the Obama phenomenon could not have happened without the web (“Gore sees transformative power of Web in politics”; Computer World; November 7, 2008). Internet politics can pose both positive and negative impacts. Will the Obama phenomenon trigger another rise of civil power, or another rise of idiocracy? This must be understood from global context.
Friday, October 31, 2008
As I have mentioned in the last post, Iraq War veterans are seriously concerned with Senator Barack Obama’s defeatist policy in the Middle East. For the victory of US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, a new advocacy group called Vets for Freedom (VFF) was established by retired Captain Pete Hegseth who served for the 101st Airborne Division.
Captain Hegseth joined the US Army upon graduation from Princeton University. He was awarded the Combat Infantryman's Badge and Bronze Star Medal for his mission in Iraq. He will enroll the master’s course at the Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.
Hegseth founded VFF on November 11, 2007, Veterans Day, with the help of veterans fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, to explain American strategy in Iraq. In the Mission Statement, VFF declares the following.
Our mission is to educate the American public about the importance of achieving success in these conflicts by applying our first-hand knowledge to issues of American strategy and tactics in Iraq.
More importantly, the Statement emphasizes bipartisan nature of VFF.
We support policymakers from both sides of the aisle who have stood behind our great generation of American warriors on the battlefield, and who have put long-term national security before short-term partisan political gain.”
This part of the Statement matches the agenda of Global American Discourse. Originally, this blog is trans-partisan. I have been criticizing Senator Barack Obama, because he does not assume imperialist mission of America. Also, Obama does not believe in the world led by the Best and the Brightest Nations of top industrialized democracies
Then, why is Captain Hegseth critical to Barack Obama? In the last post, I have mentioned his article to National Review Online (“Right You Are, Joe: America's enemies will see Obama as weak.”; October 21), arguing that Obama’s foreign policy is too naïve to America’s enemy and adversaries.
In another article, referring to Amir Taheri, an Iranian-born neoconservative journalist (“Obama Tried to Stall GIs' Iraq Withdrawal”; New York Post; September 15, 2008), Pete Hegseth criticizes Senator Obama because he jeopardizes the negotiation for the US-Iraqi Security Pact (“Barack, Revealed”; Troop Blog; September 16, 2008). Though Obama recognizes progress of security in Iraq, he still argues that the Iraq War is a quagmire the surge has not made sufficient success. Hegseth condemns Obama as the following.
In Obama’s world, foreign-policy contorts to meet domestic politics, and commanding generals accommodate arbitrary political timelines. From his perspective, facts on a foreign battlefield exist to the extent they comport with his judgment, rather than his judgment comporting to facts on a foreign battlefield.
It is not only poor understanding of strategic value of Iraq that erodes Obama’s credibility as the Commander in Chief. According to FOX News, Los Angels Times refuses to release a videotape of Barack Obama’s dangerous ties with a pro-Palestine activist Rashid Khalidi (“LA Times Refuses to Release Tape of Obama Praising Controversial Activist”; Fox News; October 28, 2008).
Amil Imani, Iranian-born American and pro-democracy activist, compares current Obama boom with the Carter bubble after the Watergate Scandal (“Can America Afford Another Jimmy Carter?”; New Media Journal; October 10, 2008). When America is on the verge of repeating the same mistake, leftish global public opinion applauses the man who is completely unqualified for the Commander in Chief.
In an environment like this, it is noteworthy that brave veterans stand up. Whether the next president is John McCain or Barack Obama, it is private citizens of willing who can lead the public toward a better direction. The world needs dedicated commitment by the Best and the Brightest Nations consisted of the United States, Europe, and Japan. Therefore, I recommend readers to pay attention to VFF.
Friday, October 24, 2008
It is regretful that the presidential debate had been predominated by the economy, and both candidates did not manage to discuss foreign and security issues in this critical period. Currently, the United States and Iraq is negotiating on bilateral security pact. In addition to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, nuclear threat by Iran and North Korea has not been eliminated. Russia and China are challenging the liberal world order guarded by America, Europe, and Japan.
A warrior who served in Iraq has raised a serious concern to Senator Barack Obama’s defeatist foreign policy, through quoting his running mate Senator Joseph Biden. An article by this brave soldier brings a vital fact home to the public, that is, current debates and commentaries on election are off the point to determine the quality of presidential candidates.
First of all, TV debates on the economy were no help for voters because Barack Obama simply criticized the Bush administration. Shortly after the final TV debate, Democratic consultant Chris Lehane said, "The debate was like a Rorschach test. If you like McCain, you probably thought he won, and if you like Obama, you probably thought he won. And since there are more Obama supporters than McCain supporters, then it is a good night for Obama" (“McCain deals no lethal blows in final debate with Obama”; Los Angels Times; October 16, 2008). This implies that Senator Obama’s “victory” over Senator McCain in the poll after the debate is a skewed result. Just think again. If Barack Obama showed a successful blueprint on the economy, why was he defeated by Joe the Plumber a.k.a. Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher?
The three time debates on the economy were not meaningful. More importantly, foreign and security issues are marginalized, while US leadership on the global stage stands at crossroads now.
According to a BBC report, it is the success of the surge in Iraq that has made foreign and security policy less of a priority (“US campaign bypasses foreign policy”; BBC News; 17 October, 2008). Sojourner, a journal of a Christian evangelist organization, warns that the coalition has not exterminated insurgents completely in Iraq, and careful attention is still required (“The Sad Truth about the Surge”; God’s Politics; October 17, 2008).
However, Senator Joseph Biden, Democratic candidate for Vice President, remarked the following controversial comment that spurred foreign policy debates.
Mark my words: It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We’re about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Watch, we’re going to have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy. He’s going to have to make some really tough - I don’t know what the decision’s going to be, but I promise you it will occur. As a student of history and having served with seven presidents, I guarantee you it’s going to happen. (“Biden predicts international crisis if elected - McCain reacts”; The Vote Blog, Christian Science Monitor; October 21, 2008)
Senator John McCain jumped on this comment (“The Trail: A RETORT TO BIDEN McCain Jumps on Talk of Early Test for Obama”; Washington Post; October 21, 2008). Governor Sarah Palin followed McCain (“Palin agrees with Biden that Obama presidency will create crisis”; The Vote Blog, Christian Science Monitor; October 21, 2008).
In view of rising doubts to Senator Obama, Captain Pete Hegseth, Chairman of Vets for Freedom, has contributed an article to criticize his foreign policy (“Right You Are, Joe: America's enemies will see Obama as weak”; National Review Online; October 21, 2008). Captain Hegseth says that Joseph Biden understands Obama’s fatal weakness as the Commander in Chief as this presidential candidate believes in “peace through engagement” so naively that his policy will invite attacks to the Free World, rather than deter them. Also, Hegseth mentioned that Biden shows no concern that America’s enemies will test John McCain, if he is elected.
Hegseth argues lucidly and strongly. I agree with him. Obama is too innocent to believe that dictators like Mahmud Ahmadinejad, Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, and Kim Jong Il, will turn friendly to our Free World. Also, Obama is too innocent to believe that the United States listen to demands of radicals and enemies to improve relations with them.
I guess Senator Biden think of succeeding the presidential job. Judging from his comment, Biden scorns the inexperienced and unqualified presidential candidate deep in his heart. But it is all right for him. Barack Obama is more likely to be assassinated than any other president, if he is elected. Then, it is Joe the 6-term Senator who enjoys the great chance to become the President of the United States. How smart he is!
Other Links of Interest:
“After Debate, Glare Of Media Hits Joe: Plumbers Union, Tax Collectors Notice”; Washington Post: October 17, 2008
“Where McCain, Obama stand on the issues”; International Herald Tribune; October 20, 2008
“About Joe the Plumber, ‘average’ guy”; Patchwork Nation Blog, Christian Science Monitor; October 22, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
The most serious concern in the forthcoming US presidential election is that American voters are extremely upset with recent economic crisis. Once the public become cool headed, Obama’s incompetence and inaptitude for president will be apparent. Though Senator Obama criticizes Bush economic policy, he is no expert on the economy. His personal ties with William Ayers and Reverend Jeremiah Wright are serious defect as the Commander in Chief. This is beyond moral issue. America is at war against terrorists.
Allies worry Obama’s possible presidency. It is the third time to mention that Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, hopes to sign a bilateral security agreement with the United States before the election. Apparently, Foreign Minister Zebari does not trust Barack Obama.
Iraq is not the only ally that is seriously concerned with Barack Obama. Japanese policymakers and opinion leaders are critically dismayed with the rise of Obama. Despite political hurdles of pacifist constitution and isolationist public opinion, Japan has made unprecedented contribution to America’s war in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, Japanese leaders worry that Democrats see China more important than Japan.
Former Chief of National Security Chamber Atsuyuki Sassa insists that Senator John McCain is much more preferable for Japan, in view of threats posed by North Korea and China (“Seiron: Hopefully, McCain Win the Election”; Sankei shimbun; March 28, 2008). Also, Yoshihisa Komori, a leading pro-American conservative, says that he was impressed with John McCain’s sincere expectation to Japan as a key US ally. While McCain demands Japan’s active involvement in global security, he defends Japan in trade and economic negotiations. Komori says McCain is the man whom Japan can trust (“Republican McCain’s sincere viewpoints to Japan”; Nikkei Bizinesu; February 12, 2008).
Actually, it is John McCain who defends Japanese position on North Korea. The Bush administration removed this rogue regime from the terrorist list. While Senator Barack Obama approved this deal, Senator John McCain criticized it because of insufficient consideration to the Japanese abductee issue. McCain warns that this agreement with North Korea will ruin the US-Japanese alliance which is the keystone of Asia-Pacific security.
Foreign policy is not the only weakness of Obama. In the economy, two Japanese economists named Masashi Murakami and Reiko Osawa argue that Obama will not hesitate to devalue dollar, which will curb export to US market from Japan and Asian economies (“What is the CHANGE: Analyzing the Obama Risk”; Nikkei Bizinesu; August 18, 2008). Judging from what they say, Barak Obama is not the right leader to manage international policy coordination to overcome this economic crisis.
Barack Obama received an F grade in foreign policy and national security when he talked with General David Petraeus. He is not strong in the economy. Some people may say OJT will make Obama a good president. At least, he is an excellent communicator. A blog roll site of Global American Discourse, Always on Watch quotes a comedian Jackie Manson.
Barack Obama is popular because of the way he looks, the way he talks, and the way he presents himself – but remember that’s his field of expertise. His primary accomplishments include looking good, lying with a straight face, and associating himself with powerful radical activists. When you think about it, he is exactly who un-American liberals want living in the White House.
Yes, it is his association with radical activists that makes his fundamental creed questionable for the presidential job. William Kristol, neoconservative columnist of the New York Times, says that Obama’s relationship with William Ayers and Reverend Jeremiah Wright must be questioned seriously (“The Wright Stuff”; New York Times; October 5, 2008). John McCain criticizes that Obama is not honest about his connections with those domestic terrorists (“McCain: Ayers ‘Still Wants to Destroy America’”; Weekly Standard Blog; October 13, 2008). If Obama is willing to destroy America, and devastate a liberal world order, it is no use to offer any kind of OJT to him.
The most serious problem is that quite a few supporters of Barack Obama, both in the United States and abroad, are cultic. Currently I conduct some opinion polls on the website of a Japanese information survey company, called Yoron Chosa.net. When I say something satirical to Obama on this site, Obamanias in Japan called me a racist. It is quite Orwellian. Once you criticize Obama, his supporters label you a racist. Can people in America and the world wake up from cult memorization by Barack Hussein Obama, a friend of terrorist?
Saturday, October 04, 2008
In view of continual Obama bubble, William Kristol, Founder and Editor of the Weekly Standard, has written a noteworthy article to suggest a victory strategy for Senator John McCain (“How McCain Wins”; International Herald Tribune; September 29, 2008). Quite unexpectedly, this is the first time to mention Kristol’s publication in Global American Discourse. As widely known, William Kristol is a co-founder of the Project for a New American Century with Robert Kagan, and both Kristol and Kagan have been supporting John McCain presidency since the election in 2000.
It is the latest financial crisis that gives Senator Barack Obama an advantage over McCain. In view of this, Kristol argues that McCain needs to take unconventional measures. A candidate of ruling party tends to minimize the risk of current problem, but the financial crisis is so serious that it cannot be resolved with a single legislation, he says. Therefore, Kristol insists that McCain emphasize that America needs a strong leader to make tough decisions in this emergency. Also, William Kristol argues that McCain free Palin from Bush influence.
The Economist expressed a similar viewpoint in late August. It insists “The Republican candidate is fighting hard, but he needs to do more to separate himself from George Bush” (“Bring back the real McCain”; Economist; August 28, 2008).
As I said in the last post, it was John McCain who won the debate on points, despite public image. Remember, it is leftish BBC that argues this! Barack Obama cannot show persuasive alternatives, but simply blame economic crisis and provoke anti-Bush sentiments. There is no wonder. A former Japanese journalist, Yoshiki Hidaka, points out that the Democrat is not prepared for policymaking to lead the nation, in his Japanese language book “America Kyoran”.
In the TV debate with Senator Joseph Biden on Thursday October 2, Governor Palin did a good job. The Washington Post reports that Palin’s performance enables McCain to focus on forthcoming debates with Obama, as he will be no longer distracted with questions about competence of the Republican vice presidential candidate (“Attention -- and Scrutiny -- Shifts Back to McCain”; The Trail; October 3, 2008). David Brooks, Columnist of the New York Times, comments “When nervous, Palin has a tendency to over-enunciate her words like a graduate of the George W. Bush School of Oratory, but Thursday night she spoke like a normal person. It took her about 15 seconds to define her persona - the straight-talking mom from regular America - and it was immediately clear that the night would be filled with tales of soccer moms, hockey moms, Joe Sixpacks, Main Streeters, 'you betchas' and 'darn rights'” (“The Palin rebound”; International Herald Tribune; October 3, 2008).
Barack Obama may try to seize the opportunity of economic crisis, but can he really lead America? Can he really lead the world? If so, Hoshyar Zebari, Foreign Minister of Iraq, shall never say that he hopes to sign a bilateral security agreement before US presidential election.
Well done, Sarah Palin! Now, it is John McCain’s turn. It remains to be seen how much Kristol’s advice works in the forthcoming debates and the campaign itself.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
The first debate for presidential election 2008 was held at the University of Mississippi on September 26, which was sponsored by CNN and moderated by Jim Lehrer (see the transcript and the video). Prior to the debate, the Washington Post reported that economic fears due to recent financial crisis give advantages to Senator Barack Obama over Senator John McCain (“Economic Fears Give Obama Clear Lead over McCain in Poll”; Washington Post; September 24, 2008). As I mentioned in a previous post “Strength and Weakness of McCain and Obama”, voters prefer Obama when the issue is on the economy, and they prefer McCain when it is on foreign policy. According to polls just after the debate, Obama leads McCain. Despite the impression on TV, has Barack Obama succeeded in convincing voters that he is ready to govern the nation?
It is critical that substantial percentages of voters are still undecided. BBC reports intensified rivalry between both candidates. According to this report, “CBS News found that 39% gave Mr. Obama victory, 25% thought John McCain had won, and 36% thought it was a draw.” Just before the day of TV debate, AP says that both candidates are competing to appeal for would-be Clinton voters, and 18% of voters are still undecided. Neither enjoys definite advantage over rival. The report says that swing voters see “McCain leads on Iraq, terrorism, taxes, corruption, immigration and gun rights, while Obama has an edge on health care, gay marriage, the environment, stem-cell research, racial equality and education” (“Poll finds 18 percent of voters undecided”; AP; September 25, 2008).
The first TV debate does not seem to change the trend so much. Senator Barack Obama may have impressed slightly better impression on voters, but BBC says neither he nor Senator John McCain succeeded in showing persuasive ideas on the economy. To the contrary, BBC comments “McCain wins on points.” This is quite noteworthy, because BBC is too well-known for its center left stances, as witnessed in the Falkland War, the Gulf War, and the Iraq War.
BBC reporter Kevin Connolly asserts “But in the foreign policy section of the debate, it seemed to me John McCain emerged a clear winner, although there were individual issues like Iraq on which the Democratic contender more or less held his own.” On Iran, John McCain suggested a new idea that the League of Democracies should contain the threat of the rogue regime, and asserted resolute attitude to defend Israel. Barack Obama did not impress such a clear attitude to Iranian threat. Also, Obama failed to address his own policy to curb Russian threat, and McCain argued him too naïve to manage a Russia increasingly moving toward czarist authoritarianism.
Only on Iraq, could Obama show difference from McCain’s policy. However, remember that Barack Obama modified his viewpoint of early withdrawal after he talked with General David Petraeus in Iraq. Actually, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari visited the United Nations, and requested US led coalition not to withdraw precipitously simply because of economic crisis. In addition, Foreign Minister Zebari said that the Iraqi government hopes to sign a security agreement with the United States before the presidential election on November 4. This implies that Iraqi leaders are gravely concerned with Barack Obama’s approach to Iraq (“Iraq hopes economic crisis won't affect US troops”; International Herald Tribune; September 27, 2008). As I have mentioned in a previous post, “The State of Iraq: By Gen. Jack Keane, Frederick Kagan, et al”, General Jack Keane and Frederick Kagan at the American Enterprise Institute have been insisting this.
At the first TV debate, neither candidate knocked out their opponent. Barack Obama may capture the heart of those who are annoyed with the Bush administration. But his weakness on foreign policy was reconfirmed. He is not ready to become the Commander in Chief. Remember! It is center left BBC that pointed this out.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Peace and stability on the Indo-Pakistani border is vital to nuclear non-proliferation and the War on Terror. The Indo-US nuclear deal has been activated, and Asif Zardari won presidential election in Pakistan this September.
In view of recent political progress in the Subcontinent, a stable Indo-Pakistani relationship is one of the keys to US led War on Terror, because the United States needs further commitment to both Iraq and Afghanistan. In an interview with BBC on September 12, General David Petraeus stressed that Western operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are interconnected. It is an interest for both Pakistan and India to defeat extremists and promote democracy in Afghanistan, as well as it is for the United States and Western allies.
A recently founded professional cricket league will be able to nurture friendship between India and Pakistan, which will contribute to the development of Indo-Pakistani relations.
In India, there are two professional cricket leagues: the Indian Cricket League (ICL) and the Indian Premier League (IPL). Just as US Major League Baseball has an outpost in Canada, so does ICL in Pakistan (and also in Bangladesh).
ICL was found in 2007 to bolster the level of Indian cricket to succeed in the World Cup. Currently, there are nine teams as the following:
Kolkata Bengal Tigers
There are some Anglo-Irish names in the rooster of each ICL team. This is just like Japanese professional baseball. Indian cricket teams employ players from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Britain, and Ireland; just as Japanese baseball teams sign contracts with American players. Therefore, I feel some sort of common bonds with Indians.
Among ICL teams, the Lahore Badshahs is quite unique as it is solely composed of Pakistani players who have previously played for their National team. This is quite like one Japanese baseball team. During its heyday from mid 1960s to early 1970s, the Yomiuri Giants of Tokyo boasted that they did not need to rely on the Anglo-Irish, because their line-up was consisted of the crème de la crème of Japanese players.
Will cricket contribute to peace between India and Pakistan? International media tend to focus on nuclear bombs and terrorism, but grassroots interactions are no less important. Stability between both nations is critical to success of the war in Afghanistan. As long as Pakistan is well-governed enough for people to enjoy ICL cricket games, US-led coalition can maintain sufficient level of forces in Iraq.
Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are becoming increasingly interconnected. Therefore, stability in the Indian subcontinent has grown more important than ever. It is worthy of talking about the Indo-Pakistani relationship from completely different perspectives from those of major international media.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
This is the link to the page of my questions. As mentioned there, you will find various questionnaires, from expert issues to soft questions. Of course, you need to understand Japanese to answer these questionnaires.
You can also join the discussion forum through leaving a comment to each questionnaire. Come and join the forum, and express your ideas that you have in your mind in your daily life. If you understand Japanese, as it is a Japanese Language website.
The light of liberty and civilization, burning bright! In the forest of night!
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
I have written a post on turmoil in Pakistan shortly after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. It is very important to review how things have gone through since then. Despite severe criticism to President Pervez Musharraf, the United States has a dilemma in dealing with him as he is a key ally in the War on Terror. Peter Beinart, Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations warned that failure to deal with the turmoil would make this county another Iran. Robert Kagan, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, commented that the United States not stick to Musharraf because there were pro-American alternatives to him in Pakistan.
Since then, Musharraf is compelled step down, though he barely managed to stay in power for more than half a year. Just after the assassination turmoil, the United States and Britain urged opposition leaders such as Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif to work with Pevez Musharraf, for political stability in Pakistan (“Coming to Terms”; Economist; February 28, 2008).
However, Musharraf’s authoritarian rule led Zardari and Sharif to impeach him. Musharraf sacked Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry who invalidated his October reelection as the President in uniform. Zardari and Sharif blamed this extra-constitutional behavior, and demanded him to resign.
The Economist argues “Pervez Musharraf’s exit should be seen as an opportunity for his Western allies, not a setback” (“Another Bushman down”; Economist; August 21, 2008). Musharraf is neither liberal nor secular, as he sponsored Taliban until 9-11. More importantly, Musharraf’s unelected presidency undermines democratic legitimacy, which is a handicap to fight against extremists in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Actually, right after the assassination of Bhutto, the International Crisis Group recommended that Musharraf resign and Pakistan restore constitutional rule (“After Bhutto's Murder: A Way Forward for Pakistan”; Asia Briefing; 2 Jamuary, 2008).
The post-Musharraf election will be held on September 6, and competed primarily between Asif Zardari, widower of late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, and Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister before Musharraf’s coup d’état in 1999. Are they ready to save a terrorist roaming country?
Prior to talking of the election, let me mention briefly about political parties in Pakistan. An article by Jayshree Bajoria, Staff Writer at the Council on Foreign Relations, will be helpful for basic understanding (“Pakistan's Institutions and Civil Society”; Backgrounder; August 25, 2008).
Pakistani People’s Party (PPP):
Led by Asif Zardari. A center-left party founded by Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, father of Benazir Bhutto, in 1967. Member of Socialist International.
Pakistan's Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N):
Led by Nawaz Sharif. Originates from the Muslim League founded under the British Raj, by Mohammad Ali Jinnah who is the father of Pakistani independence. In 1999 when Prime Minister then Nawaz Sharif was ousted, PML was divided into PML-Nawaz and pro-Musharraf PML- Quaid-e-Azam or PML-Q.
For the prospect of the post-Musharraf Pakistan, I would like to mention a blog by a Pakistani political scientist, entitled Watandost, which means “friend of the country” in Urdu and Farsi. This blog is published by Hassan Abbas, Research Fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Harvard University, who worked for both democratic leader Benazir Bhutto and military dictator Pervez Musharraf.
In his contribution to the International Herald Tribune, Abbas says that Pakistan will overcome the chaos after Musharraf, despite recent beak up of the Zardari-Sharif coalition. Democratic institutions in Pakistan will manage the country better than dictatorship, and Abbas insists that the West support them with patience.
Come to think of it, America had been tolerant to authoritarian or corrupt dictatorship during the Cold War. In the War on Terror, promotion of American ideal is a critical agenda. Pakistan is a typical case of such a policy change.
On the other hand, Pakistanis must remember: it was incompetence of parliamentary politicians that triggered military coup d’ état so frequently in the past. This was also the case with the collapse of the Weimar Democracy in Germany and the Taisho Democracy in Japan. Post Musharraf leaders should not repeat the same mistake again. Otherwise, Pakistan will fall into the hands of extremists such as Al Qaeda and Taliban.
The next administration in Pakistan must work closely with the West, regarding counter terrorism strategy and empowerment.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Things in Georgia change rapidly day by day. A recently founded think tank in Washington DC, called the Institute for the Study of War, has launched a special report on the Russo-Georgian conflict on the web. This report, entitled “Situation Report, Russo-Georgian Conflict”, is a daily update of analysis and overview on political and military interactions among Russia, Georgia, the United States, NATO allies, and neighbor nations.
In addition to the Russo-Western contests in the former Soviet Union, the special report has published an update on Poland over the Missile Defense. The deployment of US anti-ballistic missiles in Eastern Europe makes the Russo-Western interactions furthermore complicated.
This report is written by Frederick Kagan, Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He is too well-known for drafting the surge in Iraq with General Jack Keane. As mentioned in his personal history, Frederick Kagan received his degrees, from BA to PhD, in Russian and East European Studies from Yale University. His elder brother Robert Kagan evaluates highly of his competence as a military strategist. There is no wonder why his surge in Iraq has succeeded. There is no doubt that he will present critical insights in this report.
In the reference list, Frederick Kagan includes numerous sources in Russian. This is an invaluable help for those who understand the language. Even those who don’t (including myself), they can learn a lot about Russian viewpoints.
Therefore, I recommend this site.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Figure 1 (Source: "Situation Report, Russo-Georgian Conflict", Institute for the Study of War)
The Russo-Georgian conflict will impose further impact across Eurasia. This is not just a skirmish over South Ossetia, but strategic contests between Russia and the West over geopolitics, democracy promotion, and energy.
The Economist argues that the West make it clear not to accommodate Russian expansionism and authoritarianism (“The War in Georgia: Russia Resurgent”; Economist; August 14, 2008). Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt denounced Russian claim to save its citizens as Hitler’s justification of Nazi invasions. The Economist says it is Russia that triggered the South Ossetian dispute. Unlike Iraq, President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia has never been regarded a threat the region.
In response to such an intolerable act, the West must impose pressure on Russia, through restricting Russian access to international clubs such as OECD, WTO, and G8. More importantly, the Economist insists that the West not delay NATO membership of Georgia and Ukraine. I would argue that this is a vital point in post Cold War democracy promotion in Eastern Europe.
From this perspective, Leon Aron, Director of Russian Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, comments about the peril of Russian czarism (“What Russia's War Reveals”; USA Today; August 13, 2008). Aron points out that Russia has been restrained enough not to punish pro-Western regimes in the Baltic, Ukraine, and Georgia, until quite recently, despite increasingly authoritarian trend under Putin. But Kremlin has crossed the line, and assault on Georgia inflicts substantial impact on former Soviet states.
Aron warns that Ukraine would be the next target for Russian assault. He mentions Putin’s remark at the NATO summit in Bucharest this April, “George (US President Bush), Ukraine is not even a real state!” This implies that Prime Minister Putin does not respect Ukrainian sovereignty at all. This is a critical challenge to the United States and NATO allies as Georgian Rose Revolution and Ukrainian Orange Revolution are successful case of democratization through Western influence. Therefore, Leon Aron urges that the next US president be ready against Russian ambition in former Soviet republics.
Figure 2 (Source: “The Dangers of the Safe Route: Caucasian Pipelines”; Economist; August 14, 2008)
Martha Brill Olcott, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, points out that Russian aggression will have implications to elsewhere in the Trans-Caspian region ("Beyond Georgia: The Ripple Effects of Russia's Attack"; Plank; August 11, 2008) . Azerbaijan will need to seek Russian support regarding territorial dispute with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh. Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan may explore closer relations with a pro-Russian regime if Mikheil Saakashvili were ousted. This will have a vital impact on power contests in oil abundant Central Asia.
Furthermore, the Economist points out that Georgia offers pipeline to the West bypassing Russia and Iran (“The Dangers of the Safe Route: Caucasian Pipelines”; Economist; August 14, 2008). Figure 2 illustrates this.
Russian ambition is beyond Georgia. Also, problems are beyond geopolitics, energy, and democracy. Russia intimidates a small democracy which is no threat to the region including Russia itself. America and Europe should not tolerate Putin’s czarist adventure, even though Russia is an indispensable partner in non-proliferation talks with Iran and North Korea.
More dreadfully, increasingly self-assertive Russo-Chinese alliance will challenge our liberal world order. Is the Russian assault on Georgia a dawn of conflict between liberal democracy and authoritarian capitalism? The Georgian conflict has so many implications to global security.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
I posted some notices regarding incorporation of an advocacy organization, and the procedure has been completed on August 7 at Tanashi Office of the Tokyo Legal Affairs Bureau. The formal name of this group is “Unlimited Responsibility Intermediate Incorporation New Global America” (New GEAR).
At first, I thought of applying for establishing an NPO, but the official who met me at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said that political advocacy is not suitable for the standard of Tokyo Prefecture to found an NPO, even though that is related to public interest. Therefore, I decided to apply for intermediate incorporation.
Though the procedure has been completed, the new incorporation does not have enough capital and manpower. It is critical how to upgrade this advocacy activity furthermore. Also, as intermediate incorporation system will expire next year, it is necessary to step up this organization into a social incorporation during the transition period. In any case, I would like to make use of this official launch of intermediate incorporation for the future.
Finally, I would like to mention that Global American Discourse is published without anonymity, as the name, personal history, and a portrait of the blog administrator are shown on the regular styled website which is linked to this blog. I use blog display name and avatar, simply in accordance with widespread custom among bloggers. Therefore, this blog is posting political commentaries without hiding identification of blog authors.
I sincerely hope that judicial incorporation will facilitate arranging sufficient capital and manpower, which will improve the quality of advocacy activities.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
While Senator Barack Obama was on his controversial trip to the Middle East and Europe, a panel discussion attended by distinguished experts on Iraq was held at the American Enterprise Institute on July 24 (The 2008 Iraq Debate: An Assessment from the Ground). Particularly, General Jack Keane and Frederick Kagan are very familiar to frequent visitor to Global American Discourse. They drafted the surge plan, and even a vocal critic to the Iraq War like Barack Obama admits its success. His presidential race rival, Senator John McCain points this out frequently.
Therefore, I would like to review this event. The panel was moderated by Danielle Pletka, President of the AEI, and three panelists presented their analysis from their own expertise. I recommend watching the event video on this site, not because of their distinguished reputation, but their clear and logical counterarguments to irresponsible remarks by Barack Obama and other war critics. The three panelists visited Iraq, and travelled around the country. They met US officials from Ambassador Ryan Crocker, General David Petraeus, to local commanders. Also, they talked with Iraqi leaders with regard to the future of Iraq and US role in this region.
Actually, Senator John McCain criticized Senator Obama that he listen to General Petraeus and local commanders when Obama carelessly mentioned early withdrawal from Iraq. This panel is important to understand how successful US operations since the surge is and how poorly founded Barack Obama’s terror strategy is.
First, Retired General Jack Keane of the US Army has made it clear that US-led coalition was winning in Iraq, and achieving war objectives. The United States intends to establish a democratic and independent Iraq, no threat to its neighbors and a long term partner for American security. Most importantly, Kean stressed the vital goal of not to make Iraq a terrorist heaven.
General Keane said there were no longer civil wars in Iraq. The number of casualties among Iraqi civilians and US soldiers has declined. Sporadic attacks may persist, but terrorists in Iraq no longer sustain the level of violence to threaten the regime.
Quite importantly, General Keane points out expansion of mutual cooperation between US forces and Iraqi citizens, because people are fed up with violence by insurgents. Sunnis are fighting against Al Qaeda, and Shiites are expelling Iranian influence. Also, the Iraqi Security Forces have been improved qualitatively and quantitatively, and they are evolving from internal defense forces to external defense forces. This is a vital point to talk about the future of US-Iraqi relations.
Finally, Jack Keane explained why the surge has made success. Prior to the surge, the Bush administration focused on training of Iraqi forces, but they were not ready to defeat insurgents. Therefore, the Unites States decided to send additional counter offensive troops, and changed leadership structure under General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker.
After General Keane outlined strategic success in Iraq, Kimberly Kagan, President of the Institute for the Study of War, presented her analysis on the progress of political process there. As Keane mentioned in this lecture, former ethnic and sectarian insurgents are turning toward political participation, in order to appeal their interests. Kimberly Kagan criticizes a widespread understanding that the surge has defeated insurgents, but it has not brought political progress. Contrary to such viewpoints, she argues that the surge has led to political progress.
Although Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki desired to execute leadership in a British styled parliamentary cabinet system, continual violence deterred constitutional political process. Since the surge, influence of Muqtada al-Sadr, a Shiite radical leader, has diminished. Also, Al Qaeda can no longer afford to threaten the Iraqi government and obstruct political process.
Kimberly Kagan summarizes the above mentioned success and stresses positive impacts of the surge. As a result, legislative procedures moved forward. Currently, Iraqis are making their country into a real parliamentary democracy, based on diversified interests and ideologies. Despite some progress, the upcoming provincial election may provoke political competition among ethno-sectarian groups, which may develop into conflicts as parliamentary democracy is not firmly rooted yet. Therefore, Kimberly Kagan insists on maintaining current level of US troops in Iraq.
Finally, Frederick Kagan commented US operation in Iraq in the context of global security and the War on Terror. He points out that the Iraq debates often dismiss regional and global context of this war. Frederick Kagan stressed that the purpose of the Iraq War is not just creating an isolated show case of democracy in the Middle East, but advancing American interests there.
It is critically important that Frederick Kagan articulated American interests of this war, because the media and the public often forget this vital premise, and easily fall into emotional pacifism that the United States stop this “immoral” (of course, this is their view.) war. In reply to widespread criticism among liberals that fighting in Iraq was a distraction of the War on Terror, he compared the current war with Franklin Roosevelt’s decision on World War Ⅱ, attack Nazi Germany first despite the Pear Harbor. Frederick Kagan asserts that Senator John McCain is right to argue that US forces stay in Iraq, and Obama is wrong to say that American troops withdraw from Iraq and focus on Afghanistan.
In a big picture of regional strategy, Kagan insists on making Iraq a bulwark against Iranian expansionism. He lists up Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism to Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Palestine, Syria, Shiite militias in Iraq, and Taliban in Afghanistan. Regarding current nuclear negotiation with Iran, Frederick Kagan says it is extremely dangerous to start talking while surrendering at first. Without US forces, Iran faces no hurdles to increase its influence in Iraq, which will simply strengthen Iran’s position in the nuclear negotiation.
Frederick Kagan added that both Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and National Security Advisor Mowaffaq al-Rubaie are exploring strategic agreements with the United States, while US Democrats oppose the deal. He criticizes Democrats short-sighted behavior as Iraq sits at the heart of the Middle East geo-strategically, and Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri regard Iraq a primary frontline against the West. Judging from history, I think Frederick Kagan mentions the right point, because this geo-strategic consideration is the vital reason why the Abbasid dynasty of the Islamic Empire moved its capital from Damascus to Baghdad in the 8th century.
The media misreported that Maliki agreed with Obama. Frederick Kagan point out that neither Maliki nor Rubaie agreed with Barack Obama to set a fixed timetable for US withdrawal. This is an essential point to discuss the future of Iraq.
I strongly recommend watching this event video, because the three experts tell lucidly how broadly believed understandings on Iraq are poorly founded. The United States is winning, and further strategic cooperation with new Iraq is making progress.