Thursday, June 11, 2009

“America Has Chosen a Misfortune: the Tragedy of the Obama World” by a Japanese De Tocqueville

A Japanese journalist Yoshiki Hidaka, who is a senior advisor to the Chairman of the American Chambers of Commerce and a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, has published a book on the dark side of the Obama administration. This book is written in Japanese, but I believe it is worthy of introducing it to worldwide.

Hidaka is an ultimate insider of political corridors in Washington. Having graduated from Tokyo University with a bachelor’s degree in American literature, he joined NHK (Nihon Hoso Kyokai, or Japan Broadcasting Cooperation) to report inside stories of the US government, armed forces, and business. He has been a good friend to eminent American leaders from Republican Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger to Democrat Jimmy Carter.

On the other hand, he is an outsider, because he is not an American. But this is an advantage to tell American politics objectively, and even boldly. Remember, British writers John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge have won enormous reputation with their book “The Right Nation”. Actually, Hidaka worries that it is quite likely that Obama will be assassinated if he continues the Wall Street bashing. Due to close ties among financial, industrial, and military élites, Obama’s populism could provoke anger of the establishment. Hidaka warns that far right racists may align themselves with establishments to assassinate Barack Obama. Since this book is written in Japanese language for Japanese readers, Hidaka speaks such a taboo so boldly.

At the beginning of the book, Yoshiki Hidaka questions whether President Obama will become a Franklin Roosevelt or not. His conclusion is “No”. Whether in national security, the economy, or whatever, Hidaka criticizes that Obama has no grand design. In addition, since Obama had no experience to train himself as the leader, he is incapable of dealing with more experienced and skilled his cabinet members.

Pro-Obama Americans say that they trust him because he is a genius. Certainly, Barack Obama is extremely gifted to capture the heart of innumerable people, as seen in the Prague speech on nuclear weapons and the Cairo speech on the Middle East. But as Hidaka comments, being gifted is not sufficient to assume presidency of the sole superpower in the world. Despite favorable media response, I am critically concerned with his sweet speeches at Prague and Cairo, because Obama is in self-denial of America’s hegemonic role in the liberal world order. Such dangerous populism without solid vision can undermine US foreign policy and global security.

Let me review the book from the following points: background of the Obama presidency, foreign and security policy, economic policy, and US-Japanese relations and East Asian security.

Hidaka argues that the vital reason for Obama’s victory in the election is widespread distrust the state among voters. American people are fed up with anti-terrorist surveillance under the Bush administration such as wire tapping. In such an atmosphere, Obama succeeded in agitating the peril of economic crisis, which led American voters to turn their policy focus away from national security. Through consummate election tactics, Hope of the Change Barack Obama defeated Country First John McCain. However, Hidaka points out that Obama distracts public attention to his dubious personal contacts with far left activists and local mafias in his constituent Chicago area. Hidaka wonders why American media are so generous for Obama as to avoid charging dirty personal contacts which makes his leadership qualification questionable.

In foreign and security policy, President Obama is so naïve as to believe that talking with any actors will bring peaceful relations around the world. Hidaka criticizes that Obama’s law-oriented approach in a Hobbesian savanna of international politics. More importantly, most of the members in Obama’s foreign policy team are amateurs, and they do not know about the war, he says. While the Bush administration succeeded in screening terrorists out of US territory, Hidaka warns that looser surveillance to dangerous radicals under the Obama administration will undermine American security.

In the economy, Obama has no grand design other than Keynesian public investment. However, it is heavily dependent on financial inflow from China. As China is moving toward increasingly nationalist and more domestic demand oriented economy, financial inflow from China to the United States will decrease, which will be a critical hurdle to pursue a big spending policy.

Hidaka is critically concerned with Obama’s lukewarm attitude to China. While the Bush administration strengthened economic ties with China, they curtailed Chinese expansionism in global and regional security. President Obama has no clear vision to deal with China. Hidaka warns poorly designed Asia Pacific policy under the Obama administration will damage US-Japanese relations substantially.

Strangely enough, both global and American public opinions are infatuated with empty sweetness of words and phrases by the Savior, Barack Obama. It is necessary to wake them up to see Obama as he really is. Even you do not understand Japanese to read this book, it is invaluable to know that a Japanese De Tocqueville presents such a bitterly critical and eloquent analysis on the Obama administration. Therefore, I introduce this book to understand Barack Carter Obama.