The development of the Joint Strike Fighter F-35 has been delayed substantially due to skyrocketing research spending and contracting defense budget. Also, since this is a multinational project, it must meet diversified demands of international partners. Will F-35 be deployed at the right time? Walter Pincus, Reporter of the Washington Post, discusses some difficulties to advance the F-35 project (“F-35 production a troubling example of Pentagon spending”; Washington Post, December 27, 2011). Let me review his recent article.
At this stage, only 20% of the test of this multi role fighter has been completed. The most advanced stealth technologies are used for this plane, but it is the development of software to control the fighter that poses the most burdensome challenge to the project team. That makes the research cost considerably higher than initially expected. As a result, Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates lowered production of F-35 fighters. On December 15, Senator John McCain criticized the Department of Defense because it promoted the F-35 project to build cost-effective fifth-generation fighter without understanding technological difficulties. McCain calls such a poorly coordinated plan “a recipe for disaster”.
Along with unexpected rise of development cost, defense spending cut impose another constraint on the Joint Strike Fighter project. Initially, 3,000 F-35 fighters were planned to replace fighter bombers of three services of US armed forces and military forces of the allies. Instead of satisfying such diversified necessities of each service and country, Michael O’Hanlon, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, recommends to cut the total number of the Joint Strike Fighter and focus on the Air Force version of F-35A, while canceling the Marine Corps' V/STOL version of F-35B and the Navy version of F-35C. So does the Simpson-Bowels deficit reduction commission. O’Hanlon suggests that US forces order unmanned aircraft to replace cancelled or reduced F-35 fighters.
The problem is, whether the United States can sustain superiority in air power, in view of rapid military build up of China, and still formidable air force of Russia. Both of them are currently developing stealth fighters, and they will export those fighters to anti-Western autocracies. Walter Pincus is too optimistic to dismiss these threats simply because the Soviet Union had collapsed long before. In addition, as it is a multinational project, suggested cancels will coerce allies to change their defense plans. Italy and Spain will lose their carrier planes to replace current Harriers, if the V/STOL version is cancelled. Britain, the second largest partner in this project, will have to redesign its CVF (future aircraft carrier) plan, if F-35C is not available. Though Japan has decided to choose F-35 for its next generation fighter, it is still necessary to watch Britain’s Queen Elizabeth class carrier plan, because unbearable delay may lead British policymakers to reconsider current idea. Present mess with F-35 can jeopardize national defense of America’s top allies in the Atlantic and the Pacific.
Certainly, Pentagon made an immature plan, which pushes the price of new stealth fighter unexpectedly upward. But I would question whether the Obama administration is firmly committed to the defense of the United States and the allies. It is not the shift to Asia that serves US interests but maintaining sufficient strength to defend the world order. It is right to pay more attention to China, but its expansionism is not just in East Asia but advances westward as well. China craves for more influences in Central Asia and the Middle East. The shift to Asia simply creates a huge power vacuum in the region where Iran acts belligerently and Arab nations face unprecedented political transitions. America needs to be well equipped to manage diversified challenges. It is an issue of America’s mainstay fighter, and Republican presidential candidates must talk more about this vital policy agenda to challenge President Barack Obama in the forthcoming election.
Saturday, December 31, 2011
The development of the Joint Strike Fighter F-35 has been delayed substantially due to skyrocketing research spending and contracting defense budget. Also, since this is a multinational project, it must meet diversified demands of international partners. Will F-35 be deployed at the right time? Walter Pincus, Reporter of the Washington Post, discusses some difficulties to advance the F-35 project (“F-35 production a troubling example of Pentagon spending”; Washington Post, December 27, 2011). Let me review his recent article.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
I was invited to the year end party on December 17, hosted by a Uighur independence activist, Tur Muhhamet. Mr. Muhammet lives in exile in Japan because of repression by the Chinese Communist Party to ethnic minorities in Xingjian, i.e., East Turkistan. He received a PhD degree in agricultural engineering from Kyushu University, which is one of best colleges in Japan. Currently, he heads the Central Asia Research Institute, and contributes articles to some Japanese journals such as “Ethnic Minorities in China” (中国民族問題研究), and also to the Proud Japan Network. Mr. Muhammet frequently joins a rally with Japanese conservatives who are keenly aware of growing threat of China.
I have come to know Mr. Muhammet through Twitter and Facebook. Particularly, since I published a post about the lecture of Chinese ambassador Cheng Yonghua on my blog, he and I become closer friends each other. I mentioned his Uighur liberation activity in that blog post, and contributed this article to an online policy journal “Hyakka Saiho” of the Japan Forum on International Relations, and the Proud Japan Network. I hope those will be of some help to raise awareness on Chinese repression in East Turkistan among my fellow Japanese people.
The party itself was nothing political. It was held at a Turkish restaurant Pamukkale Shinjuku. We just enjoyed Turkish food, belly dance show, and conversations. The food and the show were marvelous, and I would recommend this restaurant for some kind of event.
Attendants were Uighur, Japanese, and Turkish. Someone took me for a Uighur at first. I was marveled to see Uighur and Turkish talk effortlessly each other, though their mother tongues not identical, strictly speaking. As I repeatedly argue, the threat of China goes beyond the Asia-Pacific, and its westward expansionism needs more attention. I really realize that security of eastern and western Eurasia is deeply interconnected.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong-il died suddenly on December 17, and his son Kim Jong-un is expected to succeed the position. Most of the experts around the globe foresee that Jong-un is too young and inexperienced to govern the country, and it takes a while to found his power base.
However, Richard Bush, Director of the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution, comments “We cannot rule out the chance, small as it may be, that the regency will assess the failures of the Kim Jong-il reign and undertake true reform” (“Kim Jong-un’s Shaky Hold on Power in North Korea”; Daily Beast; December 19, 2011). Michael Mazza, Senior Research Associate at the American Enterprise Institute, argues furthermore that the Obama administration seize this opportunity to make a big progress in denuclearization talk with North Korea (“President Obama’s ‘wait-and-see approach’ to North Korea?”; Enterprise Blog; December 19, 2011).
Currently, it is urgent to freeze uranium enrichment program of Pyongyang. North Korea has plutonium to make four to eight nuclear bombs. The second step for North Korean nuclear project must be stopped in the nuclear negotiation this week (“Exploiting Kim's death”; Chicago Tribune; December 20, 2011).
America should not “lead from behind”, and close ties with Japan and South Korea will be increasingly necessary to manage unpredictable changes in North Korea. In addition, we should not assume that China can use decisive influence on Pyongyang as political process in this country is so opaque and isolated from the global community.
Friday, December 16, 2011
Rapid expansion of Chinese naval power and access denial capability draws much attention among Western policymakers these days. Though seemingly defensive, access denial capability is more offensive than commonly thought. It is a nonverbal Monroe Doctrine to deploy missiles to destroy Western fleets. While experts speculate China, a recent article in the Diplomat Magazine notes that an increasing number of authoritarian regimes are building up access denial capabilities to defy Western naval supremacy in their neighboring sea area, and establish dominance in their self-assumed maritime sphere of influence. Therefore, Western policymakers must explore the strategy to stop proliferation of anti-ship cruise missile and nullify their access denial capabilities (“Anti-Access Goes Global”; Diplomat Magazine; December 2, 2011).
Regarding China’s access denial capability, Associate Professor Andrew Erickson at US Naval War College commented “[those missiles] put U.S. forces on the wrong side of physics” in his lecture entitled "Chinese Aerospace Power: Evolving Maritime Roles" at Naval War College Museum on September 8, 2011. See the video below.
Along with China, some autocracies, including Iran, Syria, and North Korea, are keen on deploying access denial missiles. Among them, North Korea poses little threats as their missiles are converted from old Soviet weaponry. More serious threats are Syria and Iran. Both countries import access denial missiles from Russia and China. Although Iran has been posing critical dangers to the global community by pursuing nuclear project and sponsoring terrorism, China exports advanced anti-ship cruise missiles to Iran, and even built a factory to make such missiles there (“Inside the Ring --- China-Iran Missile Sales”; Washington Times; November 2, 2011). This summer, Iran tested Tonder land to sea missile near the strategic Strait of Holmuz. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard claims that this missile flies in Mach 3 speed and its maximum range is 186 miles (“Iran Fires Anti-Ship Missiles near Key Gulf Strait”; Defense News; 6 July, 2011). It is likely that Iran used advanced technology from China to make this missile. Therefore, I argue repeatedly that the threat of China is beyond the Asia Pacific. Furthermore, Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates noted that non-state actors like Hezbollah possesses more advanced anti-ship missiles than some sovereign states in his farewell speech at the American Enterprise Institute on May 24.
As to missile technology, Harry Kazianis, Assistant Editor of the Diplomat Magazine, comments “While such technology isn’t new, the effective ranges of such weapons have increased tremendously, along with their accuracy, speed of delivery and availability. Defending against such systems is therefore a major headache for military planners.” It is estimated that China currently has anti-ship missiles with a range of 1,500 to 2,700 kilometers, which exceeds the combat radius of Western fighters on aircraft carriers. Technically speaking, Western navies may be able to learn real combat lessons from the Falkland War. The Royal Navy fought against Argentina within the striking rage of French-made Exocet anti-ship missiles. The problem not only war capability but also psychology. As naval vessels are more high tech-equipped, the cost of losing them in the combat has grown greater, which makes Western navies more cautious. Therefore, the threat of nonverbal Monroe Doctrine by autocracies is considerable.
Talking of the Monroe Doctrine Robert Kagan, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, argues repeatedly in his book “Dangerous Nation” that it is offensive than defensive as it legitimizes American expansion in the Western Hemisphere. Professor Terumasa Nakanishi of Kyoto University comments more harshly in his book “The History of the Decline and Fall of the British Empire”. Until the end of the 19th century, British elites found the doctrine too Yankeeism and unacceptably bizarre, according to Nakanishi. Only when the rise of Germany posed critical challenges to British hegemony, did Marques of Salisbury accept it. Remember, Lord Salisbury is the prime minister who founded well known Anglo-Japanese alliance to manage the change in global power balance in the post Victorian era. History suggests how costly it is to leave authoritarian regimes to claim nonverbal Monroe Doctrine as they like. Therefore, it is urgent for us to explore strategies to nullify their access denial capability, so that we can defend our sea lanes around the globe. Tomahawk attack to anti-ship missile sites from nuclear powered submarine can be one of those strategies. We should not allow China and other autocracies to “occupy the sea”.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
An American Jewish civilian group, named Act for Israel, sent an e-mail alert on December 7 to call an attention to a questionable remark by US Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman. Ambassador Gutman stated that Muslim antisemetism exists as a result of Israeli self-defense campaigns, and insisted that “old” European anti-Semitism doesn't exist any more.
In protest to this derogatory and racist comment, please copy and paste the message below on this webpage, and send it to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.
Dear Secretary Clinton,
I am writing to you today to express my dismay at Ambassador Gutman’s recent remarks legitimizing Muslim anti-Semitism and minimizing all other forms of anti-Semitism. It is wholly unbefitting of a representative of the US government to express such ill-conceived and erroneous views in an official setting.
Racism, including anti-Semitism, is never the fault of the person being discriminated against and always an indication of the immorality of those who are discriminating. It is troubling that Amb. Gutman, as an official representative of the US Government and your prestigious and good intentioned State Department, fails to understand this basic truth and uses his position to promote his misguided views.
In order to maintain the prestige of the State Department which you have successfully lead and to maintain American principles of tolerance and goodwill it is essential that you work to ensure that Amb. Gutman’s can no longer make use of the State Department’s good name to espouse hurtful messages. It is not in America’s interests to have an ambassador with such premature notions of racism and demand that you immediately remove Amb. Gutman from his post.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
The nuclear crisis on Iran poses an unanswered question of the Iraq War to us. People criticized President then George W. Bush that the US-UK coalition invaded Iraq without solid proof of its nuclear possession. However, virtually none of the experts discussed much more vital issue, whether preemptive attack is necessary to stop nuclear proliferation. Actually, Robert Kagan, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, insisted on striking North Korea to stop its nuclear project when he had an interview with a Japanese political journal SAPIO in 2003. Since then, North Korea conducted a nuclear bomb experiment in October 2006, and succeeded in causing some kind of nuclear explosion. The global community failed to stop proliferation to Pyongyang dictatorship.
Let me narrate the overview of this crisis. Tension has become increasingly intensified since Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced to install new centrifuges to acquire highly enriched uranium (“Iran's Nuclear Experiments Raise Alarm at U.N. Agency”; Wall Street Journal; September 3, 2011). While suspicion of nuclear proliferation was growing, Iran’s first nuclear plant in Bushehr started to provide electricity (“Iran’s First Nuclear Power Plant Goes into Operation”; New York Times; September 4, 2011). As the International Atomic Energy released a new report to warn that Iran’s nuclear program has proceeded almost close to develop nuclear weapons, President Ahmadinejad denounced IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano (“Iran Escalates Anti-U.S. Rhetoric over Nuclear Report”; New York Times; November 9, 2011). In view of growing threat to the Gulf area, the Obama administration proposed to supply bunker busters with the United Arab Emirates to contain Iran’s ambition for regional dominance (“U.S. prepares to send ‘bunker-busting’ bombs to U.A.E. to help contain Iran”; National Post; November 12, 2011). Despite tightening pressure on Iran, Israeli experts are skeptic to efficacy of sanctions by the global community. Ephraim Kam, Deputy Director of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, doubts whether new IAEA report promotes sufficient pressure, because "Iran wants a bomb, or at least the capacity to make a bomb, and is willing to pay the price." Kam says Israel can manage a unilateral strike on "three or four" Iranian nuclear sites, but he also admits that the United States is reluctant to support another war in the Middle East because the Obama administration is withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan (“Analysis: Israelis doubt world will stop Iran's nuclear quest”; Reuters; November 15, 2011).
Prior to discussing the impact of sanctions and preemptive attack on Iran, let me talk about the IAEA report. According to this, Iran has completed preparations for high explosive tests and procurement of equipment and materials for nuclear-weapons development. Also, Iran has designed a prototype warhead for Shahab-3 ballistic missile. Therefore, Iran has come quite close to produce a nuclear weapon (“IAEA report: death knell of Iran diplomacy?”; IISS Strategic Comments; November 2011).
In view of such an imminent crisis, we have to discuss efficacy of sanctions and preemptive attack. Currently, the United States, Britain, and Canada declared to impose sanctions to stop financial and petrochemical business activities with Iran. However, experts doubt efficacy of sanctions (“Iran Penalties Insufficient to Curb Atomic Effort: Experts”; Global Security Newswire; November 22, 2011). Former British Chancellor of the Exchequer Lord Norman Lamont warns that broad sanctions can make Iranian businesses more dependent on the Revolutionary Guards that runs nationalized energy sectors and key industries in Iran. Moreover, ex-British Ambassador to the UN Jeremy Greenstock notes that sanctions are often used as a political pressure between verbal attack and military action (“Sanctions on Iran a Failed Approach”; IISS Voices; 23 November 2011). In addition, the Obama administration is reluctant to take punitive measures against Iran’s central bank, though it is widely considered the most powerful economic pressure the United States can use. The White House worries that this will skyrocket oil price, and threaten economic recovery in the United States and Europe (“U.S. Imposes New Sanctions on Iran, but Strongest Weapon Remains Unused”; Global Security Newswire; November 22, 2011).
In addition to economic aspects, we have to consider the nature of Shiite theocracy in Iran. Michael Rubin, Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, points out that the Islamic Republic pursues to spread the revolution throughout the Islam world. The nuclear project is their jihad to achieve their own revolutionary goal (“Iran’s Nuclear Project”; National Review Online; November 8, 2011). For Iran, nuclear weapon is a source of their power and prestige on the global stage. Alireza Nader, Policy Analyst of RAND Corporation, comments that nuclear prestige is worth the price of sanctions as regime survival is the vital goal for Shiite theocracy (“Analysis - For Iran, the sanctions price may be worth paying”; Reuters; November 29, 2011). In pursuit of bargaining power against the West, Iran even conducted a secret experiment for ICBM early this November (“Iran Conducted ICBM Experiment: Report”; Global Security Newswire; November 21, 2011).
Another very important point that we must not dismiss is the policy stance of Russia and China. Michael Singh, Managing Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and Jacqueline Deal, President of the Long Term Strategy Group, mention perception gaps between the United States and China. The United States may see China as a key partner in isolating Iran, but China sees Iran as a potential partner in countering U.S. power. Moreover, they quote Chinese Major General Zhang Shiping that Iran is potentially a desirable military base for the Chinese navy in the Middle East (“China's Iranian Gambit”; Foreign Policy; October 31, 2011). In view of rapid growth of Chinese sea power, this cannot be dismissed. In addition to geopolitical rivalries with the United States, Mark Hibbs, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, pints out that both Russia and China need security and economic partnership with Iran through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Russia wants to export more conventional weapons and nuclear reactors to Iran for big business deal. In order to defend their interests in Iran, Hibbs says Russia may suggest a roadmap for Iran to limit uranium enrichment to the low level (“Waiting for Russia's Next Move on Iran”; Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Q&A; November 22, 2011). The problem is revolutionary nature of the current regime of Iran. Their obsession with national prestige is hard to deal with. While Matthew Levitt、Senior Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, insists that even if sanctions hurt the Iranian economy, it still has generous customers for oil and gas, such as China, Japan, South Korea, some European countries including Italy, Greece, and Spain. Oil price is high enough to sustain the regime. Regardless of damages by sanctions, Karim Sadjapour Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, says “The economic welfare of the Iranian people has never been a top priority of the Islamic Republic” (“Iran's Economy Can Take the Pressure—for Now”; Bloomberg Business Week; November 30, 2011). Therefore it is necessary to discuss tougher measures.
Regarding military strike, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta argues that it will pose negative impacts to world economy due to unintended consequences associated with the conflict. Instead, Panetta endorses diplomatic efforts through the six party talks to pressure Iran (“Strike on Iran could hurt world economy, US says”; Reuters; November 17, 2011). Certainly, as Panetta argues, military strike is associated with some risks. Sanctions need to be accompanied by other kinds of pressure, and diplomatic negotiation is one of them. However, Russia and China do not feel the treat of a nuclear Iran so imminent as the West and Israel do. This is why we have to consider preemptive strike against nuclear facilities in Iran. Jamie Fly, Executive Director of the Foreign Policy Initiative, argues that diplomatic efforts and sanctions failed to stop Iran’s nuclear program, and it has become increasingly necessary to take military actions. He also stresses harmful impacts of a nuclear Iran, such as insecurity in the Gulf area and Afghanistan, and possible proliferation to terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah. Apparently, some actions are required, now (“Military action increasingly appears to be the only option that will prevent a nuclear Iran”; US News and World Report's Debate Club; November 16, 2011). As to preemptive attack, William Kristol, Director of the Foreign Policy Initiative, commented “It seems to me the United States has an obligation to act and not leave it to Israel to stop this threat,” in Fox News on November 6.
The global community has not answered the vital question of the Iraq War: whether preemptive attack is necessary to stop nuclear proliferation. It is forgotten homework for policymakers. This is far more important than “misinformation” that left wingers love to trumpet. Remember that Israeli air raid to Osirak nuclear plant in 1981 delayed Saddam Hussein’s dangerous project. The United States should not “lead from behind” when preemptive attack is urgently necessary.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
I gave a presentation about the following issue on November 17, hosted by Masaaki Mezaki, an international cultural analyst. We had active discussions at the event on a broad range of topics from history to current politics.
Title: The Future of Islam and the Global Community
Basic terms on Islam, such as Sunni, Shiite, jihad, and so forth
2. Islam and Secularism: A Review of History
Attention to Islam Japanese Relations as well!: The Impact of the Meiji Restoration on Turkey and Iran
3. Democratization and Modernization in the Islamic World: Can we wipe out the roots of terrorism?
4. Problems of Modern Middle East
Is Israel over criticized?
Anti-modernization in Islam: The Iranian Revolution and the Rise of Islamic Traditionalism
5. Recent Problems
Tensions over Iran’s Nuclear Project
Pro or Con on US Withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
As if resonating the announcement by President Barack Obama to withdraw of US troops from Iraq (“U.S. Troops to Leave Iraq by Year’s End, Obama Says”; New York Times; October 21, 2011), Secretary of State Hillary Clinton contributed an article to insists that the United States expand in political and military presence in Asia (“America’s Pacific Century”; Foreign Policy; November 2011). However, this should not curtail current US involvement in the Middle East as Iran can fill the vacuum of power. Less involvement in the Middle East does not necessarily mean more involvement in Asia.
First, let me review the Foreign Policy article by Secretary Clinton. The Secretary says that the United States has allocated too much resource to Iraq and Afghanistan over the decade, and it is time to consider smart and systematic use of time and energy to sustain American leadership in the world. Clinton argues that the United States needs more focus on the Asia Pacific region, because this area has become a key to global politics. Asian nations enjoy high economic growth, and there are emerging powers like China, India, and Indonesia. In face of growing isolationism because of long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan along with domestic economy, she rebukes that America needs new markets in rapidly growing Asia. Clinton wants to restructure alliances with Asia Pacific nations, primarily with Japan, and also South Korea, Australia, and so forth, in order to manage security challenges of China. On the other hand, she explores more business opportunity in China, while maintaining American superiority against Chinese military build up. However, this article focuses extensively on market opportunities in Asia, rather than security in this region, and it insists on shifting manpower and resource from Iraq and Afghanistan. Therefore, it raises serious concern that the Obama administration’s focus on Asia would sacrifice security in the Middle East, which will ultimately scale down America’s role as the world police man.
Currently, withdrawal from Iraq is the foremost issue on US role in the Middle East. Kayvan Kaboli, leader of Iranian resistance Green Party, criticizes that Obama’s decision to withdraw US troops from Iraq is premature and obsessed with the presidential election, which will ultimately embolden expansionism of the Shiite regime in Iran (“The Future of Iraq after US Departure”; Iranian American Forum --- Washington Insight; October 24. 2011). A joint article by Frederick W. Kagan: Director of the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, Kimberly Kagan: President of the Institute for the Study of War, and Marisa Cochrane Sullivan Deputy Director of the Institute for the Study of War, argues “President Obama’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops is the mother of all disasters” (“Defeat in Iraq”; Weekly Standard; November 7, 2011). Unlike Vietnam, Iraq is related to two critical security challenges which are Iran and Al Qaeda. They say that US pullout will intensify sectarian conflicts in Iraq, which will lead Sunni Arabs to seek support from Al Qaeda. In rivalry with them, Shiites would look for help from Iran. More importantly, Iran can penetrate its influence and import illegal goods through a long border line between Iraq. Therefore, it is vital to control trans-border trade to impose sanctions on Iran’s nuclear project. Also, three authors say that current domestic politics in Iraq is dependent on delicate balance of ethno-sectarian fractions so much that US presence is necessary to guarantee stability. When the Obama administration declared the pullout from Iraq, the chairman of Iran’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Hassan Firouzabadi even said that “American soldiers had no other choice than to leave Iraq, and this is the beginning of all American forces withdrawing from the region.” As three authors argue, leaving Iraq without completing the mission will undermine what America has achieved in the War on Terror.
In view of such criticism, Secretary Clinton warned Iran not to misunderstand US intentions in the Middle East. She stressed that the United States will maintain a robust presence in Iraq, by providing support and training for the Iraqi military and security forces (“Clinton warns Iran not to ‘miscalculate’ U.S. resolve as troops leave Iraq”; Washington Post; October 24, 2011). Moreover, the Obama administration announced to increase military presence in the Gulf area after withdrawing from Iraq. Combat troops in Iraq will be repositioned in Kuwait, and military ties with the Gulf Cooperation Council will be strengthened in face of growing threat of Iran. Multilateral security partnerships in the region develop furthermore. The Iraqi military forces were invited to an anti-guerrilla and terrorist exercise called Eager Lion 12 in Jordan next year. Also, some Gulf Cooperation Council members such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates sent combat aircrafts to NATO led mission in Libya, and Bahrain and the UAE deploy forces in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Gulf nations are concerned that American withdrawal from Iraq creates a vacuum that provokes Iran’s expansionist ambition as Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheik Khalid says. At the Senate Armed Service Committee, twelve senators expressed their distress that Iran would interpret US pullout from Iraq as their strategic victory (“U.S. Planning Troop Buildup in Gulf after Exit from Iraq”; New York Times; October 29, 2011).
A resource shift from the Middle East to Asia is no assurance to block Chinese expansionism. China is keen on filling the power vacuum when US troops withdraw from Afghanistan through strengthening ties with Pakistan (“China, US Reevaluate Asian Strategies Post Bin Laden”; Eurasia Review; May 8, 2011). The Sino-Pakistani nuclear deal is an apparent posture of rivaling against the United States and India. In addition, China continues to provide advanced missiles to Iran, which violates UN sanctions. China breaks the promise to the United States in 1997 not to sell C-802 anti-ship cruise missiles to Iran. In addition, China built an entire missile plant in Iran to produce the Nasr-1 anti-ship cruise missile last year. The United States can punish foreign companies that provide advanced arms to Iran, through the Iran Freedom and Support Act of 2006 or CISADA (the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act) of 2010 (“Inside the Ring --- China Iran Missile Sales”; Washington Times; November 2, 2011). China’s strong connections with Iran and Pakistan make Middle East increasingly vulnerable.
Since the Chinese threat is global, and the Middle East nations need American presence, the United States must be well prepared to manage security challenges both in Asia and the Middle East. Therefore, it is vital that US defense expenditures meet such dual or even multiple requirements for global security. Michael Auslin, Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, discusses the impact of current defense spending cut on Asian security. His primary focus is China’s expansion of navy operations from the East and the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean. Rapid build up of the Chinese navy and its assertive behavior on the Asian sea lane, heighten tensions in the region from Japan, ASEAN nations, Australia, and India. The resulting insecurity highlights continual US role to maintain stability, and Asia-Pacific nations explore to deepen strategic partnership with the United States. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta needed to soothe anxieties of Asian nations regarding defense budget cut, on his trip to Asia this October (“Asian Anxiety”; New York Times; October 25, 2011). I would like to mention that the Asian sea lane connects both sides of Eurasia, and the security of Asia and the Middle East is strongly interconnected.
In Washington, the special bipartisan committee on the budget demanded not to cut defense spending furthermore. House Speaker John Boehner told that defense expenditure cut went beyond the requirements in the budget accord between President Obama and Republicans this summer. Meanwhile, Democrat Congressman Adam Smith of the House Armed Service Committee said that lawmakers need to show alternatives to defend defense spending, such as raising revenue or cutting spending other than defense (“Boehner speaks out against more defense cuts”; Military Times; October 27, 2011). Robert Samuelson, Economics Columnist of the Washington Post, point out that US armed forces have been downsized precipitously from late 1980s to 2010 despite long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Quite importantly, though Iraq and Afghanistan raised defense budgets from 2001 to 2011, the total war cost of these years is $1.3 trillion, which accounts for only 4.4% of the total federal budget of $29.7 trillion in the same period. Defense spending itself does not ensure effective and wise use of national power, but excessive reduction of it poses constraints to policy options. Samuelson warns that current defense expenditure reduction jeopardizes advantages in advanced technology and training quality both of which are the key to American military superiority (“The dangerous debate over cutting military spending”; Washington Post; October 31, 2011).
Remember that both Asian and Middle Eastern nations need American presence. As seen in China’s ties with Iran and Pakistan, security challenges on both sides of Eurasia are not independent but interconnected. Also, North Korea constitutes the Axis of Evil with Iran to develop nuclear weapons. Current defense cut by the Obama administration augments anxieties both in Asia and the Middle East. It is necessary to learn lessons from British Strategic Defence and Security Review by the Cameron administration. In the statement on SDSR at the House of Commons on October 19 last year, Prime Minister David Cameron said “This review is about how we project power and influence in a rapidly changing world.” The war in Libya suggests that Britain’s combat performance did not meet this objective sufficiently. The United States must invest sufficient resources on defense in order to carry out as many policy options as possible. America itself is a recipient of global public goods provided by American military preeminence.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
One of my friends on Facebook introduced me a conservative civic media, called the Proud Japan Network. This group was found quite recently to advocate a strong push for Japan’s national interests, and promote awareness of the beauty and virtue of traditional Japanese culture.
For this objective, this group publishes articles on the web, and broadcasts online videos. Some distinguished people endorse this group, such as Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Former Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu, Retired Air General Toshio Tamogami, a Uyghur independence activist Tur Muhammet, and Masaharu Isshiki the Patriotic Coast Guard in the Senkaku Island dispute.
I contributed one of my blog posts to the column of the Proud Japan Network. Unfortunately, only Japanese language pages are available at this stage. It is a pleasure that this blog has won another opportunity of recognition.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
The Japan Forum on International Relations invited Chinese ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua to give a lecture on Sino-Japanese relations on October 13. Ambassador Cheng delivered the White Paper on “The Peaceful Development of China” to all attendants at the symposium, which was released by the State Council of China on September 6 this year. Cheng told that the development of China contributes to public interest of the world, and China and Japan should strengthen the bilateral relationship starting from the economy regardless of differences in political regime and ideology. As the Sino-Japanese relationship is an issue of high public attention these days, numerous questions were asked at the symposium. I was deeply impressed with Ambassador Cheng’s attitude to answer every question, including some minor points. However, is Chinese policy so “peaceful”, “win-win”, and “without being hegemonic” as the White Paper says? Also, most of the questions at the Q & A session were too “friendly”, considering current bilateral relations between Japan and China. But for real Sino-Japanese mutual understandings, some severe questions could have been helpful. Therefore, I would like to ask the following four questions.
First, I would like to ask a question about China’s “”understanding of history” and “vision of East Asia”. An increasing number of people in China, raging from intellectuals to grassroots citizens, argue that China restore the position before the Opium War, in view of its growing national power. Prior to the Opium War, China treated its neighbors as tributary states to the emperor of the Middle Kingdom in the Ce Feng system. The war broke out between Britain and China, because the Qing dynasty did not accept equal free trade. Considering this point, I suspect that China claims aggressively hegemonic status in the world much more than Britain and America which respect the Westphalia system.
Such suspicion has grown, because Ambassador Cheng focused on “China, Japan, South Korea + ASEAN” when he talked about regional cooperation, bit did not mention Australia and New Zealand. Also, as in the case of Europe, American support is indispensible for regional cooperation in Asia. Any argument that is obsessed with regional integration by “China, Japan, South Korea + ASEAN” reminds me of creation of “the union of Mongoloid nations” and “exclusion of Caucasian nations”. If this is the case, no one can blame that people regard China’s initiative for regional cooperation as the return of old Ce feng regime. None of east Asian nations want such regional cooperation.
Second, I would like to ask which is more important for China, global public interest or great power rivalries. A specific test for this question is nuclear nonproliferation, and it is necessary to examine China’s policy to Iran, North Korea, and Pakistan in particular .With regard to Iran and North Korea, China participates in international negotiations to denuclearize both countries, but it is reluctant to impose sanctions on them. As to North Korea, it is broadly believed among Japanese people that China is much keener on maintaining the Kim regime rather than finding solutions to the nuclear problem. In addition, China helped Iran’s project to build a nuclear power plant, and along with Russia, it continually oppose the initiative to strengthen sanctions proposed by the United States, Britain, France, and Germany. It appears to me that China is more interested in preserving oil resource and geopolitical rivalries with the West than nuclear nonproliferation.
More problematic issue is Pakistan. As if matching India that has reached nuclear deals with foreign contractors, starting from the United States, other industrialized countries, and even Russia, China signed a nuclear deal with Pakistan. This does not just intensify nuclear rivalries between India and Pakistan. Pakistan is in critical trouble in view of nuclear proliferation to terrorists. In the past, there was the Khan network, and recently, bin Laden hid there, and a suspicion has emerged that ISI assisted the Haqqani network to attack the US embassy. Unlike India, Pakistan is in no position of boasting that it has never proliferated nuclear weapons. Since China signed a nuclear deal with such problematic Pakistan, we cannot but watch Beijing with suspicion that its priority lies in geopolitical rivalries with the United States and India rather than global public interest.
Japan is the only country that experienced nuclear bomb attacks. Can we dismiss this, and strengthen the Sino-Japanese relationship simply in pursuit of shortsighted commercial interests? An issue like global warming is also a vital agenda of international public interest as many questions on this problem were asked at the symposium, but the threat of it proceeds slowly. On the other hand, the threat of nuclear weapons proceeds rapidly, once a new possessor emerges. This is the reason why I am asking about China’s policy on nuclear nonproliferation to test the real meaning of “peaceful development” mentioned in the White Paper concretely.
Third, relations with the United States were hardly mentioned when the ambassador told about China’s global and East Asian policy. However, whether regional level or global level, it is impossible to tell Sino-Japanese relations without referring to America. The question I wanted to ask was how China sees the presidential election in the United States next year. Currently, the territorial dispute over Senkaku Islands is calmed down, and China refrains from provoking its neighbors in the sea around the homeland. Is this because China takes US presidential election into account? Actually, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton contributes an article to Foreign Policy November issue to insist on closer relations with Asia. US-Chinese relations will be increasingly influential in Japanese-Chinese relations.
Fourth, though Ambassador Cheng mentioned that Chinese media are diversified these days, can people assert that there are no governmental regulations to the freedom of speeches and expressions? The Nobel Prize Liu Xiaobo has drawn worldwide attentions. In Japan, an Uyghur liberation activist Tur Muhhammet lives in exile. In the China Town of Ikebukuro in Tokyo, there are some Falun Gong activists. At most, if Ambassador Cheng had said that governmental regulations to speeches and expressions were not so severe as reported by foreign media, then, we would be able to be able to believe what he said.
These are questions I wanted to ask at the symposium, but I am afraid that they are not “severe“ enough as I mentioned at the beginning, and “so sweet as a soft cream”. Above all, the focal point of my questions is which is more important for China, global public interest or great power rivalries. The second question on nuclear issues, particularly relations with Pakistan, is the critical test in my view. It is absolutely wrong to assume that Sino-Japanese relations can advance only through depending on superficial friendship and mere pursuit of economic interests. Business cycle is a universal and basic theory of economics. Therefore, high economic growth does not necessarily guarantee further development of regional cooperation in East Asia.
Finally, I would like to express my heartfelt respect to Ambassador Cheng Yonghua as he replied to every question deeply and politely. No wonder the time had run out, and some attendants and I were not endowed opportunities to ask questions. Though there are many hurdles to improve bilateral relations, I am impressed with sincere attitudes of Ambassador Cheng Yonghua, which strongly suggest that China wants to develop relations with Japan. Therefore, the last symposium was very helpful to deepen understandings on the Sino-Japanese relationship.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
A civic advocacy group called the United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) has released an urgent request to the Daelim conglomerate of South Korea to stop continuing business with Iran. Daelim undergoes oil and gas projects with the Shiite regime of Iran that sponsors terrorism and proliferates nuclear weapons.
US Government Accountability Office raised a critical concern that Daelim made profits through illegal commercial activities with Iran. Energy business with Iran is violation of the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (CISADA), whose explicit goal is “to stop businesses from helping Iran develop its natural gas and petroleum sectors given the control exercised over those sectors by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).” The IRGC is the Iranian government's branch in direct control of Iran's weapons of mass destruction programs, including its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Daelim's commercialism is an act of nullifying Western sanctions against Iran's nuclear ambition. Iran constitutes the Axis of Evil along with North Korea. Therefore, Daelim ruins national security of South Korea itself.
In order to stop Iran’s dangerous project, sign the letter of protest from this link that will be sent to Daelim executives and US government officials. Thank you very much in advance for your kind cooperation.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
These days, prime ministers step down every year in Japan. Also, depressant atmosphere prevails due to poor economic performance and nationwide concerns with Japanese decline on global stage. In such unreliable political sceneries, Former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone had an interview with NHK’s anchorman Kensuke Ogoshi in News Watch 9 which was broadcasted on September 15, and he told the guideline for Japan’s future. At the interview, Nakasone insisted that Japan rebuild a nation strong against natural disasters in view of 3/11 earthquake, and appealed importance of soft power as a liberal democracy. In addition, Nakasone told it necessary for political leaders to brush up their personality and intellect by themselves, in order to perform the duty of the prime minister. I was impressed with the interview itself, but I felt some contradictions in his comment that Japan should deepen the alliance with the United States while pursuing pacifist diplomacy. This is because it has become apparent that Japan cannot cooperate with the United States and the global community in security issues as a pacifist nation based on Article 9 of the constitution, which was typically seen in the Gulf War of 1991.
Nakasone argued that we never forget that Japan gave a great deal of trouble to Asian neighbors during World War Ⅱ. I agree with him that Japan not return to militarism during the Pacific War, but do people around the world want Japan that is continually repentant of the past? The Abe administration and the Aso administration explored to strengthen military cooperation with NATO, and European nations welcomed them because both Japan and Europe are close allies to the United States and industrialized democracies. In addition, Asian democracies facing threats of Chinese military expansion think well of growing military role of Japan. In the post Cold War era, while the global community faces threats like the War on Terror, resurgence of China and Russia, and nuclear proliferation, does only Japan have to repent the past continually as done in the postwar period?
Come to think of it, in the 1980s when Nakasone was in charge of the administration, the influence of Middle East affairs on the US-Japanese alliance grew bigger and bigger. The United States had no choice but withdraw the Nixon Doctrine, which led Japan to abandon free rider policy in national security. This is a precursor of “globalization of the US-Japanese alliance as I mentioned on this blog before. Participation in RIMPAC symbolizes such globalization and multilateralization. Though Japan had already participated in joint naval exercise of Pacific nations since preceding Suziki administration, its involvement has expanded since the Nakasone administration. Not only liberal democracies in the region, but also Britain join this exercise far away from the Asia-Pacific area. Such large scale participations were precedents to sending the Self Defense Forces to Iraq under the Koizumi administration. National defense policy in the 1980s has had such great impacts on Japan later in this century. In addition to this achievement, Nakasone endorses constitutional amendment. Despite this, he insisted that it was Japan’s fundamental position to pursue pacifist diplomacy. Therefore, Nakasone’s comment in the interview sounded like a self denial of his own achievement and creed.
It is a considerable constraint for Japan to abide by exclusively defensive defense principles as a pacifist state. In Iraq, the Self defense Forces joined the mission of reconstruction under the British command, but they were not allowed to fight along with other coalition forces. Had the Self Defense Forces been able to carry guns and shoot just one terrorist to death, it could have nurtured common sentiment of unity with British and Dutch forces as fellow soldiers. More importantly, it would have been welcomed by Iraqi people. If that had been the case, Japan could have won much more trust in the global community. Regarding the response against North Korean ballistic missile which is one the most dreadful threat to the Japanese homeland today, experts have not agreed on which stage to intercept it because of constraints under the principle of exclusively defensive defense, and things have become theological controversies.
Article 9 of the constitution had a historical implication to dismantle war time militarism. However, the pacifist clause has no longer political role, because global political sceneries of the postwar era and present days are completely different. Above all, should we define national defense policy in the constitution? Any policy of the state is defined through interactions between the incumbent administration and the legislative organization. For example, in the economy, any constitution cannot define whether to take free market policy or welfare state policy. A constitution defines the system of the government and human rights protection under the rule of law, but not policy directions of specific issues. Therefore, I think it necessary to reconsider Japan as a pacifist nation.
Finally, I would like to argue a hypothesis to discuss pacifist foreign policy. These days, the media and people often say that the quality of politicians has become poorer. I suspect this is because Japanese politicians do not think of war as a means of policy for many years. I can hardly believe that those who are not intellectual enough to think of the war can be real politicians. Eminent philosophers of all ages and cultures ―― from Aristotle, Plato, Sun Tzu, Confucius, to Clausewitz ―― discussed the war as the ultimate political agenda for the state. This is typically illustrated in the fact that monarchs around the world went to the battlefield by themselves, and commanded the war on the horseback until early 19th century military technologies were not highly specialized. War is such a critical policy agenda for the state. I shall never embrace an idea that we entrust the destiny of the state to politicians who are completely ignorant of war.
War is accompanied by tremendous destructive power, and deep insight and high ethical standards are required to use such power. In order to discuss this point, I would like to mention Japanese samurais in the Edo period. As they belonged to the ruling class, they were endowed the privilege of belting on swords. Swords were such lethal weapons that samurais hardly drew them against merchants and peasants, unless they had no other choices save their honor. This is also the case with samurais each other. They had awes with their own power. I believe that we can hardly expect such “humility and a sense of responsibility” to politicians who lay aside thinking of war as a means of policy.
Consequently, I doubt whether Japan should be a pacifist nation that continually repent the past. Instead, it is necessary to think of war as a policy measure, and show future-oriented attitudes. This will deepen the US-Japanese alliance and strengthen trust to Japan in the global community.
Wednesday, October 05, 2011
As the presidential election is coming closer, it is necessary to explore foreign policy debates. Around the 10th anniversary of 9/11, some critical issues have emerged such as Palestinian bid for UN membership, Admiral Mullen’s congressional testimony on Pakistani ISI’s connections with the Haqqani Network (“Pakistan supports Haqqani network, Adm. Mullen tells Congress”; CNN News; September 23, 2011), and Iran’s decision to deploy nuclear centrifuge machine (“Iran's Nuclear Experiments Raise Alarm at U.N. Agency”; Wall Street Journal; September 3, 2011). Can America still afford to pay little attention to foreign policy? The other day, Iran even announced to send its fleet off the Atlantic coast of the United States (“Iran planning to send ships near U.S. waters”; September 28; CNN News).
I would like to mention some commentaries about foreign policy focuses in the forthcoming election. George Friedman, Chief Executive Officer of a Texas-based think tank STRATFOR, points out inherent contradictions and weaknesses associated with the birth of the Obama administration. Those who voted for Barack Hussein Obama expected him to end the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, stop unilateralism, narrow socio-economic inequality, stop job exports, and close Guantánamo prison. However, Obama insisted that the United States focus on Afghanistan and stop fighting in Iraq. Quite ironically, Obama’s multilateralism has not filled the gap between America and Europe. As opposed to Obama’s expectation, Europeans are not necessarily willing to help the United States in managing global challenges, even though his administration shows willingness to listen to Europe. Typically, Germany even refused to “lead from behind” in Libya, and did neither join air attack nor send ground troops there.
More importantly, we should bear in mind that Barack Obama won the last election mainly because voters were upset with sudden financial crisis. His core supporters are welfare state oriented, and prefer high tax policies. On the other hand, centrists do not necessarily object to tax increase, but they are extremely sensitive to big spending accompanied by state interventionist welfare plans. George Friedman says that since Obama is preoccupied with balancing his core supporters and swing voters, his policy focus is on domestic politics, which makes US foreign policy receptive to external affair during the election. The problem is, external shocks that I mention at the beginning are too great for the United States to act receptively. (“Obama's Dilemma: U.S. Foreign Policy and Electoral Realities”; Geopolitical Weekly; September 20, 2011)
However, such little attention to is a boon to Obama, as Jimmy Carter failed in his second term election, because of Iranian students seizure of US embassy and Soviet invasion to Afghanistan, according to Tony Blankley, Visiting Senior Fellow at the Heritage Foundation. Despite this, Blankley is critically concerned that Obama foreign policy weakens America’s position in the world. Particularly, Blankley is alarmed with Russia and China. Obama was not prepared to the return of Vladimir Putin during the Medvedev presidency, and treated Putin as if he was a secondary leader. Therefore incoming Putin is not comfortable with Obama. This ruins an opportunity for the United States to pursue a Kissingerian diplomacy to balance Russia and China. In addition, the Obama administration withdrew the missile defense system from Poland and Czech, though Kremlin is turning toward more nationalist. His appeasement to China raises concerns even among liberals and neoliberals (“President's Foreign Policy Failures Increase”; Real Clear Politics; September 28, 2011). Obama is in no position to belittle foreign policy in this election, considering global balance of power and American safety.
Though election debates are extremely inward-looking, some foreign policy issues draw a nationwide attention among voters. The Israel-Palestine conflict is one of them. The influence of Iranian sponsored Hamas in the Palestine Authority raises concerns among the American public. A Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, strongly demanded that the Obama administration not endorse Palestine bid for UN membership (“Perry blasts Obama’s policies on Israel, Palestinians”; Washington Post; September 21, 2011). We should not dismiss that conservative civic advocacy groups like Move America Forward regard Israel as an indispensible ally in the War on Terror, because it is the only Western styled democracy in the Middle East. Things are beyond the Jewish lobby.
Regarding Admiral Mullen’s testimony, Sadanand Dhume, columnist of the Wall Street Journal, comments that this suggests America’s frustration with Pakistan’s ambiguous attitude in the War on Terror. Shortly before the testimony at the Senate Armed Service Committee, former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani was killed by a suicide bomber in Kabul. Dhume argues that Pakistan needs to show its commitment to fight against the Haqqani Network, so that the United States will not resort to strong actions like military attacks in Pakistani territory (“Admiral Mullen Slams Pakistan”; The Enterprise Blog; September 22, 2011). This issue can make the Af-Pak problem increasingly sensitive in the forthcoming election, in view of President Obama’s decision to scale down the troop level in Afghanistan.
In such atmosphere, China stays calm. The Chinese government held a state-sponsored concert of a Japanese pop-singer group called SMAP in Beijing this September, in order to ease bilateral tensions with Japan on the Senkaku Islands dispute ("Wen 'sincerely welcomes' SMAP's Beijing concert Fri."; Kyodo News; September 15, 2011) . I wonder whether such a smiling diplomacy is just aimed at Japan. China may be taking cautious approaches not to provoke America during the election. In any case, foreign policy debates cannot be dismissed in this election. The bipartisan super committee will announce their final conclusion on defense budget, this November. Since key policy agendas are intertwined, domestic economy cannot stand alone.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
In view of the incoming presidential election, it is time that we graded foreign policy of the Obama administration. At this stage, American voters are preoccupied with domestic economy. However, the 10th anniversary of 9/11 can wake them up. Too many people in the United States and abroad were infatuated with Barack Hussein Obama in 2008 election. However, his job performance disappoints American citizens. In the economy, only 17% of them give credit (“So who thinks Obama is helping the economy”; Washington Post; September 8, 2011). In foreign policy, his achievements are barren. Former Ambassador to UN John Bolton comments Obama’s foreign policy critically in his recent article (“The Innocents Abroad: Obama's Foreign Policy Is Characterized”; National Review; September 19, 2011). His article appears in a critical moment to think of 9/11 legacy and the forthcoming presidential election. Let me review this.
In this article, Bolton criticizes President Obama’s innocence and lack of interest in foreign policy, which helps further growth of threats to the United States and its allies. According to Bolton, Obama is apologetic to America’s hegemonic role as the provider of global public goods, and he says “Like Obama's presidency generally, his national-security flaws combine ideology, naïveté, weakness, lack of leadership, intellectual laziness, and a near-religious faith in negotiation for its own sake.” Furthermore, Bolton points out that Barack Obama is devoted to restructure domestic economy and society so much that he shows compelling interest in foreign policy only when he finds urgent necessity to do so as in the case of the surge in Afghanistan and the attack to Osama bin Laden. I would like to mention that Obama’s early day speeches show those problems, though the media praised the change from “Bush’s unilateralism” to “modest multilateral cooperation”. I have to stress that America cannot enjoy its own economic prosperity and domestic stability without getting involved with removing security threats around the world. America itself is a recipient of global public goods provided by a liberal world order of Pax Americana.
Quite interestingly, I would like to call an attention that John Bolton mentions some correlation between Obama’s viewpoint on domestic and foreign policy of America. Just as Obama is keen on changing the American society, as seen in his social security reform, he envisions a post-American world. Bolton says that Obama is no similar to any presidents since Franklin Roosevelt, because he does not believe in America’s special role in the world. Considering such lack of confidence in America itself, I wonder why the media was so infatuated with Obama to depict him a Black Kennedy during 2008 election. John Kennedy was more assertive to American leadership in the world, while Obama is so apologetic of it that Nile Gardiner, a former policy staff to Lady Margaret Thatcher, argues Obama stop such behavior (“Barack Obama should stop apologising for America”; Daily Telegraph; 2 June, 2009).
Now, let me talk of specific threats and issues to assess the impact of Obama’s foreign policy. Obama has launched an ambitious initiative toward a world without nuclear weapons. The first Nuclear Security Summit in Washington last year has drawn dramatic attention by the media. However, Bolton criticizes that Obama’s obsession with negotiation has not stopped nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea. This September, Iran has built new centrifuge facilities to obtain highly enriched uranium, which raises critical concerns among nonproliferation experts (“Iran's Nuclear Experiments Raise Alarm at U.N. Agency”; Wall Street Journal; September 3, 2011). North Korea also makes progress to make warheads small enough for their ballistic missiles, while Obama just waits for diplomatic negotiations. Both rogue states just gained time for their nuclear projects.
Obama’s appeasement to China and Russia is questionable, because this is deeply associated with present day arguments on “relative decline” of the United States. Obama decided to withdraw missile defense system from Poland and Czech. Also, he withheld the sales of F16 fighters to Taiwan. As a result, Russia and China assume their dominant positions in the former Soviet Union and East Asia respectively. Particularly, South and East China Seas are areas of grave concerns in view of natural resource disputes, and the growth of Chinese naval power and access denial capability.
Regarding Libya, Bolton asserts that Obama’s cause of “responsibilities to protect citizens”, instead of “regime change”, is utterly wrong. NATO did not oust Muammar Khadafy swiftly enough, and there is no guarantee whether the new regime will be a pro-Western stable democracy or not. The controversial strategy of “lead from behind” makes America less safe as Max Boot, Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, warns. He says, “But if it fails, and Libya devolves into anarchy or despotism, this operation will likely be remembered as a tactical triumph that didn't translate into strategic success. The outcome still hangs in the balance” (Did Libya Vindicate 'Leading From Behind?'”; Wall Street Journal; September 1, 2011). Currently, Khadafy’s loyalists have fled into Niger, and Muammar Khadafy himself is not found yet. They can plot terrorist attacks out of Libya.
The Obama administration’s approaches to the Middle East need to be reviewed furthermore, as John Bolton is critically concerned that they are completely inconsistent and contradictory. Since the inauguration, Obama has been too afraid of “offending” public opinion in the Islam world, as shown in his speeches in Prague and Cairo. In the Arab Spring, there are some problems such as the rise of Islamism in Egypt, continual dictatorship in Syria, rampant Hezbollah in Lebanon. In addition, Turkey is departing from pro-Western secularism of Kemal Ataturk. The most fatal error that Bolton points out is Obama’s misjudgment to reduce troops in Iraq and Afghanistan after successful attack to Osama bin Laden in the War on Terror. While Obama belittles these threats, he denounces Israel for building houses in the suburb of Jerusalem. Considering the above points, Bolton wonders whether Obama understands real dangers in the Middle East.
I would argue that such loss of policy balance mentioned by Bolton will lead to further problems in East Asia. As in Libya, the “lead from behind” diplomacy does not work in this region. China and North Korea poses much more dreadful threats to their neighbors than Khadafy’s Libya. Meanwhile, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan are far weaker than Britain and France. American involvement is utterly essential to regional security, even though it “offends” nationalists in China and North Korea. I strongly hope that Obama reconsider his speech at APEC Singapore summit, as he said “America welcomes a strong China”.
On defense expenditure, Obama made use of the debt ceiling debate for proposing drastic cuts. However, the Super Committee is no support of such proposal. Republicans and the Defense Department resist it as expected. Also, Democrats do not want to be seen weak on defense by agreeing to Obama’s defense spending cut. Though partisan gaps are not filled, the Super Committee’s conclusion in the November deadline can rollback pro defense arguments (“Hyper-Partisanship in Defense Budget Debate Playing in Pentagon’s Favor”; National Defense --- Blog; September 9, 2011).
The 10th anniversary 9/11 terrorist attack has passed, and America needs in depth debates on national security for 2012 election. John Bolton’s article has made an appearance on such a critical occasion, and its insightful criticism to the Obama administration’s foreign policy achievements is invaluable and extremely helpful.
Tuesday, September 06, 2011
In view of the 10th anniversary of 9-11 terrorist attack, it is necessary to assess its policy implications for the future.
To begin with, I would like to mention an interesting column by Brian Jenkins, a senior adviser to the president of the Rand Corporation (“Five myths about 9/11”; Washington Post; August 29, 2011). Jenkins examines widely spread misconceptions about the War on Terror. Although 9-11 appears a bolt from the blue, it was expected as low-tech raids by Al Qaeda were carried out before. Quite importantly, Osama bin Laden mis-assumed that America was so afraid of combat risks that it would not retaliate against Al Qaeda terrorist attack, as the Clinton administration withdrew from Somalia quickly. Also, Islam did not unite against the Western coalition as Osama envisioned when the War on Terror broke out.
The focal point of this article is US reaction. Jenkins says that the Bush administration acted right to attack Afghanistan and Iraq. When terrorist attacks happened, further raids by Al Qaeda were anticipated. Therefore, the United States had no choice but to improve intelligence, to strengthen security at home, and to use military force abroad in order to remove hostile regime and potential threat. I would argue that this point needs more attention, in order to understand US-led efforts for Middle East democratization and nuclear nonproliferation. It is America’s Middle East strategy since 9-11 that provokes the Arab Spring.
However, American citizens are somewhat fed up with long wars, and budget debates pose psychological constraints to defense spending. Karlyn Bowman, Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, conducted a poll to understand how Americans see the War on Terror now (“The War on Terror: Ten Years of Polls on American Attitudes”; AEI Political Report; September 2011). According to the report, “Public concern about terrorism is not as high as it was ten years ago, but Americans have not lost sight of the threat.” The American public gives credit to both the Bush administration and the Obama administration in tackling terrorism. However, they have ambiguous feeling to the War on Terror. While Americans want the government to take tough measures to protect themselves from terrorists, they are increasingly concerned with civil liberties by strict surveillance. The war in Afghanistan is another issue of ambiguous sentiment. Though 57% of Americans still see the initial decision to intervene in Afghanistan was right, 64% of them believe that the troop level be reduced now. We can conclude that American citizens want to lower war burdens for their own life, but they are keen to keep their country safe.
Finally, let me mention grassroots movements of 9-11 events. In such an atmosphere, conservative civic organizations like Move America Forward (MAF), launch vigorous campaigns to appeal support for US troops fighting against terrorists. MAF sent an e-mail alert on August 30 to call an attention to still ongoing wars in the Middle East as the 10th 9-11 anniversary is coming close. Since then, MAF has been sending messages to appeal grassroots support for the War on Terror, including missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their campaigns may have some impacts on presidential election debates.
Currently, both Democrats and Republicans are preoccupied with the economy. The 10th anniversary of 9-11 can provoke more talks on defense. We must keep in mind that the Tea Party does not just represent free market libertarians, but also constitutional patriots. The latter is dedicated to build a strong America to defend the nation of Founding Fathers. This anniversary can stimulate patriotic sentiments, which may activate debates on defense budget for the presidential election.
Saturday, September 03, 2011
The war in Libya ends successfully with a small number of casualties. As shown in the chart below, this war was smaller and quicker than wars in Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan. However, James Blitz, political editor of the Financial Times, points out some lessons to be learnt for policymakers in Europe and America (“Defence: Lessons from Libya”; Financial Times; August 30, 2011).
To begin with, lack of unity within NATO delayed the progress in this war, and Colonel Khadafy is not still found yet, though his regime has completely collapsed now. While Britain and France led NATO operations, other European members including Spain and Turkey refused to participate in ground attacks, and Germany and Poland rejected to join all missions. US Secretary of Defense-then Robert Gates urged more defense commitment by European allies at the Brussels meeting this June. Quite ironically, the United States decided to "lead from behind" in this war, and just supported the coalition led by Britain and France, but did not directly involved in combats. In consequence, NATO forces lacked solid and coherent leadership to defeat Muammar Khadafy. It is widely known that Republican politicians and conservative opinion leaders criticize such self-denial of America by the Obama administration.
The will of intervention is not the only problem. European nations do not have sufficient scales of armaments to defeat a weak and small enemy like Khadafy’s Libya. Due to stagnant economy, European governments are obsessed with the idea of small and efficient armed forces. However, Britain faced critical shortage of airpower because the Royal Air Force was cut drastically under the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR). While NATO fighter planes were attacking Khadafy’s army, Air Chief Marshall Sir Stephen Dalton warned that the Cameron administration’s defense plan was unsustainable to maintain British military capability on the global stage (“RAF chief Sir Stephen Dalton makes case for Britain's air power”; Guardian; 3 April 2011). France barely kept its aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle operational during the war. Apparently, current size of European military is insufficient.
We have to remember that Blitz stresses importance of ground battle. Air attack does not guarantee the victory in the end. One senior British official of the Ministry of Defence even said, “The countries that deserve most credit in this conflict are Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. They provided the rebels with the training and weapons they needed, and acted as their leaders.”
The war in Libya gives lessons for policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic. As James Blitz mentions, reluctant attitudes among some NATO members ruins the unity of the alliance. The foremost problem is the size and the quality of armed forces. Currently, both America and Europe are preoccupied with the budget. Remember. Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said “I have long believed, and I still do, that the defense budget, however large it may be, is not the cause of this country's fiscal woes” and "a smaller military, no matter how superb, will be able to go to fewer places and be able to do fewer things.” In a globalized world, more overseas intervention is required to keep free nations safe. American and European leaders and citizens must learn a lot of vital lessons from Libya.
Posted by Σ. Alexander at 7:20 PM
Monday, August 29, 2011
In view of the 10th anniversary of 9-11 terrorist attack and a horrible massacre in Norway, I ask a question on my Facebook, “Which is more dangerous, Islamic extremist or ultra rightist?” I shall appreciate it, if you answer this question.
You can leave a comment on the linked page. This is not a Gallup survey, as samples are not sufficient. Rather than statistical data, I hope to enjoy mutual interactions.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Although the Fukushima Nuclear Plant Shock has led Prime Minister Naoto Kan to declare denuclearization of energy sources, Japan needs to maintain nuclear power technology for national defense. I am not insisting that Japan possess nuclear weapons. Instead, I would argue that Japan consider having nuclear powered attack submarines deploying Tomahawk missiles with conventional warheads. Actually, the Japanese government explored to have nuclear powered submarines when making the Guideline of Defense Program in 2004, in view of growing pressure posed by the Chinese Navy. Kan’s energy policy will narrow the range of policy options for national security.
Let me talk about security in Japanese neighborhood, in order to assess advantages of Tomahawk nuclear attack submarine. Currently, the rise of two major threats in East Asia, i.e., China and North Korea, is increasingly critical to Japan’s national defense. In addition to rapid expansion of naval power, China is deploying carrier killer missiles for access denial capability and J-20 stealth fighters. North Korea brandishes Rodong and Taepodong nuclear ballistic missiles. These land based threats will be nullified with Tomahawk missiles before they are launched or take off. The Japanese Self Defense Forces explore to shot down North Korean missiles with the anti-ballistic missile system including Aegis destroyers. However, it is much easier to hit objects staying on the ground than flying fast in the air. Also, nuclear attack submarines can contain the Chinese fleet including aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines.
If Japan were to have Tomahawk nuclear submarines, it would have to import them from the United States or Britain. It is cheaper and quicker than developing its own nuclear submarines. As to ground attack, American and British navies have much battle field experience, including Kosovo, the Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. Japanese defense officials can learn tactical lessons from them, in order to explore the best way to destroy facilities of Chinese carrier killer missiles and North Korean ballistic missiles. The only sea battle experience of nuclear submarine is the Falkland War. Royal Navy’s nuclear submarine Conqueror sank Argentine cruiser General Belgrano so successfully that Argentine Navy could hardly act in the ocean during the war. This will help Japan’s naval strategy. Some nationalists like Governor Shintaro Ishihara of Tokyo Prefecture and Retired General Toshio Tamogami of the Air Defense Force insist that Japan possess nuclear weapons. However, nuclear bombs have not been used in any wars for 66 years since Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is much more realistic and rational for Japan to have Tomahawk submarines with conventional warheads.
Some media and opinion leaders say that Japan learn from Europe, as Germany and Italy decided to denuclearize their energy sources. But remember! Neither Germany nor Italy faces imminent threats in their neighborhood. Although Russia reemerges nationalist under Vladimir Putin, new NATO members in Eastern Europe are buffer to Western Europe. Also, both Germany and Italy have no ambition of becoming global military powers, unlike Britain and France. Therefore they need neither nuclear powered submarines nor nuclear weapons. Japanese people talk about Germany's and Italy's electricity import from France, but defense reasons cannot be dismissed when we discuss changes of their energy policy after the Fukushima shock.
It is not wrong that Prime Minister Kan launches clean energy initiatives after Fukushima. But we must remember that the Obama administration has not virtually even started anything of the Green New Deal, although it was one of crown jewelries in his election campaign manifesto. Green businesses are small and innovative, but not labor and capital intensive. Therefore, they are not suitable for TVA styled mega public projects. At this stage, it is a science fiction that renewable energies supplant fire and nuclear power completely. Above all, how can Tomahawk missile submarines operate with clean and renewable power sources such as solar, geothermal, tidal, and wind energies?
Current debates about nuclear energy and its alternatives focus exclusively on the economy, but national security perspectives should not be dismissed. Once we abolish nuclear power generation, it will take considerably a long time to restore technology and skills to use it again. This will narrow our policy choices for defense.