The Trump shock is inflicting tremendous malimpacts
on global security as Donald Trump launched “America First”, that he would
repeal American alliance network, in order to save the cost of overseas
defense. Furthermore, Trump even praises Russian President Vladimir Putin, and
suggested concessions to Russia over Crimea and Syria. Therefore, European
nations are seriously considering joint regional defense, in case the United
States falls into terrible isolationism under the Trump regime, while Russian
threats are growing.
The most critical problem of Trump’s foreign policy is an extreme obsession with costs and benefits. There is no denying that America spends disproportionately on defense, as it accounts for 70% of NATO total. Since the Cold War, any US president or presidential candidate has been demanding burden sharing to European allies. However, hardly any of them have doubted that it is America’s vital interest to maintain European security by NATO. However, Trump is overturning this, as he does not believe in American power as the global public goods. In view of his extreme zero-sum views on international politics, Europe needs to boost defense spending, and remind him how much contribution they make to American wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Balkans. Otherwise, Trump would not cooperate with European allies, as to the issues like Russia and the Iran nuclear deal, and just pursue his own perceived interests of the United States. Also, European nations must show strong unity to save the Trans-Atlantic alliance from Trump’s dire pressure (“Does 'America First' mean EU defence at last”;Centre for European Reform Bulletin; 22 November, 2016).
At the NATO military official meeting in Berlin on November 30, European allies concluded that they increase defense spending (“Defense spending boost best answer to Trump: EU, NATO officials”;Reuters News; November 30, 2016). For this objective, the EU announced a plan to found a common defense fund for regional defense cooperation, particularly in research and innovation. It is expected to lower the unit cost of newly developed aircrafts, and assist the local defense industry. Despite Brexit, Britain considers collaborating with the EU on defense research and procurement (“Spurred by Trump and Brexit, EU plans five-billion-euro defense fund”; Reuters News; November 30, 2016). This is vital to boost joint efforts, since Britain is a leading military power in Europe. Contrary to Eurosceptic reputation, Britain has led major joint defense projects like Tornado and Eurofighter Typhoon, while supposedly more Europhile France has joined neither of them. From this point, Anglo-German cooperation is the key to the regional defense initiative. A British engagement with EU defense efforts would facilitate non-European democracies such as Japan, Australia, and India to make some contribution to it. Japan joins the UK led Meteor air-to-air missile project, and Australia provided a test site for BAE Systems’ Taranis stealth drone. Non-European participation in some projects, would help common European defense to overcome the Trump shock.
Also, I would suggest that Europe keep in mind that mainstream defense officials in the United States do not share pro-Russian views of Trump and his National Security Advisor nominee Michael Flynn. To the contrary, American military leaders are critically concerned with increasingly aggressive Putin, and regard Russia as the primary threat. Meanwhile, Europe worries that Russia would act boldly in Ukraine and Syria, before Trump is inaugurated (“The US military now sees Russia as its biggest threat”; Business Insider; December 5, 2016). Also, Robert Kagan at the Brookings Institution testified that Russia was shaking confidence in Western political heritage, like sponsoring the far right, and plotting for more refugee flows from Syria to Europe, while people are growing skeptical American power and devotion to the stability in conflicted areas, at the Senate Armed Services Committee on December 6.
As mentioned above, American foreign and defense policy circles do not share Trunpian views of the world. The transition team may be appointing former military senior officials, but it is too simplistic to make a sweeping generalization simply by professional backgrounds. Notably, Flynn was a complete heresy in the military and intelligence community when he was in the Army. This is a tip of iceberg to show the erratic nature of the foreign policy lineup of the Next President. Trump has neither diplomatic philosophy, nor sufficient number of reliable advisors. He will have to rely on established national security communities in the end, if he is seriously dedicated to the presidency. Europe can work with bipartisan foreign policy establishments in the United States. American allies in the rest of the world share common interests with European nations to manage the Trump shock. Everything after January 20 presidential inauguration looks dismal, but there are some ways to manage the crisis.
Sunday, December 11, 2016
The Trump shock is inflicting tremendous malimpacts
on global security as Donald Trump launched “America First”, that he would
repeal American alliance network, in order to save the cost of overseas
defense. Furthermore, Trump even praises Russian President Vladimir Putin, and
suggested concessions to Russia over Crimea and Syria. Therefore, European
nations are seriously considering joint regional defense, in case the United
States falls into terrible isolationism under the Trump regime, while Russian
threats are growing.
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Donald Trump’s unexpected and unwanted victory in the presidential election is horrifying American allies around the world. Since Trump suggested repealing the alliance network worldwide, and even demanded some allies like Japan, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia to nuclear arm by themselves, people fear New Global Disorder resulting from unilateral abandonment American hegemony. Some people in Japan and Europe argue that that the Trump shock is an opportunity to rethink the postwar security framework, and explore self-reliant foreign and defense policies. While foreign policy pundits are critically concerned with unpredictable insecurity under the Trump presidency, Japanese nationalists are overjoyed with his suggestion to pull out US troops from Japan, as they want to seize an opportunity to wipe out “postwar political submission to the United States” (“Japanese Nationalists Increasingly Welcome Trump’s Ascendency”; Yahoo News Japan; March 27, 2016). More rational and somber voices emerge from Europeans. Matteo Garavoglia, an Italian and German dual citizen fellow at the Brookings Institution argues that Europe develop independent defense capability, deepen mutual security cooperation within the region, and explore partnerships for global stability with major democracies beyond Europe, like Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, and India (“Never waste a crisis: Trump is Europe’s opportunity”; Brookings Institution; November 10, 2016). The problem is, Japan does not join any multilateral regional security organizations, because Asia is still too diversified in terms of culture, history, and political economic development. Also, Japan still has territorial disagreements with some potential security partners such as South Korea and Taiwan. Therefore, Japan’s so-called self-reliant national security policy, would simply result in isolation from the world. While nationalists are overjoyed to imagine their long awaited dream of the resurgence of the Imperial Japan, it takes quite a long time to build up truly self-reliant military power, even if Japan is willing to increase defense spending rapidly. Weapons are made to order, and they do not arrive to the customer as soon as payments are made. Also, soldiers need training to use these weapons. Remember how Iraq felt uneasy with the Obama administration, as they delayed to deliver F-16 fighters and train Iraqi pilots, when ISIS was almost taking over Baghdad (“From Iraq to Syria, splinter groups now larger worry than al-Qaeda”; Washington Post; June 10, 2014). From this point of view, an independent nuclear deterrence against North Korea that Trump once suggested is ridiculous. The problem is not just defending the Japanese a territory including Senkaku Island from China. Without associating with the United States, it is hard for Japan to edge out Chinese influence from Asia, both in terms of geopolitics and business. While Japan appeals universal value of rule based international relations, Asian nations more or less embrace China as an irresistible rising power. In the economy, high quality of Japanese goods and services does not necessarily charm Asian customers over inexpensive and aggressively marketed Chinese ones. A self-reliant Japan would be so vulnerable in Asia, even though it could barely defend its own territory from China. Asian neighbors are not unanimous, regarding the threat of China. Some like Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar are pro-Chinese. Even supposedly pro-Western and pro-Japanese countries can appease China. It is vital for small powers to pursue national survival among competing great powers, rather than to uphold lofty ideals. Thus, they sometimes embrace “irresistible” rise of China as seen in AIIB membership and Indonesian super express railway. Nationalists' dream of a Japanese-led Greater Asia Co-prosperity Sphere is simply absurd and dangerous. Despite Trump’s isolationist election promise, Asia is historically a natural sphere of American influence even before the disappearance of the frontier in 1890. This is the vital reason why Matthew Perry’s fleet was sent to Japan in 1853 and 1854. That is starkly in contrast with America’s engagement in the Middle East, which was inherited from British imperial legacy. If Trump were to be a realist in foreign policy, he must understand such deeply embedded US presence in Asia, rather than to adhere to myopic profit and loss mindset of a typical businessman. However, Robert Kaplan at the Center for a New American Security criticizes that Trump does not understand realism. He says that Trump has no accurate vision of America’s role and position in the world, and he is hardly dedicated to defending allies and harness American power for global stability (“On foreign policy, Donald Trump is no realist”; Washington Post; November 11, 2016). During the election, what Trump remarked, were utterly contrary to Kaplan, and extremely obsessed with predatory zero sum ideas like racketeers. That has spurred worries among foreign policy pundits both in the United States and abroad. The Trump shock is by no means an opportunity for Japan to end “servile” relations with the United States, and adopt “independent” and “proud” foreign policy. Then, how should we manage the crisis? Above all, we have to understand Trump’s fundamental thinking pattern. According to Professor Emeritus Gerald Curtis of Columbia University, Trump’s making a deal obsession comes from negotiation techniques of a real estate developer, that is, to show maximum demands at first in order to explore how much the counterpart can make compromises. Bearing this in mind, we need to think of domestic channels to manage uncertainties of the Trump presidency. Curtis comments that checks and balances through the Congress, the media, think tanks, and the bureaucracy at the State Department and the Pentagon shall not approve of annulling the alliance with Japan. Also, he argues that fundamental national interest will not change whoever the President is (“Trump couldn't change Asian policy even if elected, Columbia professor says”; Nikkei Asian Review; November 8, 2016). In addition, we must work with like-minded Western democracies, and find common resolutions with Washington élites. Fortunately, poorly educated Trump supporters in the election can hardly have influences on policy interactions at this level. Also, a complete beginner in politics, Trump will need help from renowned experts when he finds himself incompetent to fix the problem. Nothing can control an erratic president perfectly, but we must explore every means.
Wednesday, November 02, 2016
People talk about a multipolar world of uncertainties, as the rise of isolationism in the United States is leading the public less willing to support the role of the world policeman. There is no denying that Russia and China are increasingly self-assertive, as they see that America and its Western allies are less interested in engaging with the liberal world order, and Western hard power is in relative decline. But it seems to me that people focus too much on raw power aspects, and dismiss much more worrisome trends, which is the decline of Western democracy. When people lose confidence in democracy, autocratic nations and demagogues are emboldened. This makes the world increasingly unstable and unpredictable.
Let me talk about the general background of democracy in crisis today. The rise of populism in an age of uncertainties is found everywhere in the world. Professor Niall Ferguson of Harvard University presented an overview of this at the Barclays Asia Forum in Singapore on October 20. As seen in Brexit and the Trump phenomenon, antipathy to immigration, free trade, and “corrupt establishment has become more virulent in developed economies, as a result of the financial crisis. On the other hand, people in emerging economies crave for strongman leadership to satisfy their nationalist sentiment, which weakens checks and balances, and also transparency in those countries. See the video below.
How populism deteriorates democracy? A Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt warned about “terrible simplifier” in a letter to his friend Friedrich von Preen in 1889 that “ruffian” leaders would assume their omnipotence to resolve complicated national issues, which would ultimately deny the rule of law. Today, bills and treaties have become extremely lengthy and complicated, compared with those in the past. While historical documents like the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence were just a few sheets of papers, the draft of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) totals 5,554 pages and the Obama care does 961 pages (“Simplifiers v. complicators”; Boston Globe; October 3, 2016). In a circumstance like this, politicians are liable to debate trivial details each other, without sufficiently understanding the overview of the issue. As élites are confused like this, people are increasingly defiant to their “preaches”, and driven by ugly emotion (“It’s Time for Elites to Rise up against Ignorant Masses”; Foreign Policy; June 28, 2016). People today are more susceptible to “ruffian leaders” than those in the Burckhardt days.
Donald Trump is the most notable “terrible simplifier" today, who could discredit Western democracy and destabilize the world. Nevertheless, he is a savior for anti-establishment working class. Not only does Trump disdain economic freedom of choice in his support of protectionism and government controls, but also belittle democratic procedure as shown in his remark “I alone can fix the problem”. Referring to Max Weber’s analysis on charismatic authority, Washington Post columnist George Will argues that popular crave for Trump’s charisma implies that Americans are unprecedentedly receptive and credulous to a magical savior. It is such changes in social norms and national character that helps the rise of a demagogue (“If Trump wins, the Republican party will no longer be the party of conservativism.”; National Review; September 28, 2016). Furthermore, I would argue that Trump’s lifetime career as a family business owner does not match well with checks and balance requirements of governmental administrator. Like employed management professionals, presidents and prime ministers are hired by the state. Trump’s “business acumen” is more adaptable to dictatorship rather than democracy.
Democracy decline in the West emboldens autocratic great powers. This is typically seen in the US presidential election this year, which has fallen into vulgar blame games between the Democrats and the Republican candidates, rather than serious exchanges of policies. The global public is disillusioned with American democracy, which was an exemplar of good governance. Nevertheless, Hillary Clinton showed her superiority in policy common sense to Donald Trump in all presidential debates. Her victory would lessen deleterious impacts of “ruffian” populism that nurtures nativism, racism, misogynism, and isolationism. No wonder Russian President Vladimir Putin meddles into the election to boost Trump. The global public already knows vulgar and anti-intellectual nature of populism in Trumpism, Brexit, and far right surges in Continental Europe. Ironically, NIMBY xenophobia among those self-assumed patriots simply harms the reputation and international standings of major Western powers.
How should policy élites reinvigorate liberal, open and rational democracy? There is no simple answer to this question, but at least, I would argue that they should not compromise with popular nativism. For example, the Obama administration cut democracy promotion budget through the USAID during their terms, as the American public loses interest in it. According to the Pew survey in 2013, only 18% of Americans regard democracy promotion as a foreign policy priority, and 80% of them say the government focus more on nation building at home rather than overseas intervention. However, such disengagement trend puts critical dangers to US national security. They should remember Western indifference to Afghanistan after Soviet withdrawal was so fatal as to cause 9-11 attacks. The rise of far right movements like Trumpism and Brexit is the consequence of élites’ failure to educate the nation to the right direction.
But not everything is pessimistic to Western democracy. Larry Diamond, Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institution maintains that slowing economic growth is eroding the legitimacy of autocracy in China and Russia. Democracy is not perfect, but it is less violent, more respectful to human rights, and more likely to develop the market economy, as he says. Alt-right ideals are not so open and liberal, and completely the opposite. They are more like those of national socialism. Regarding implication of democracy in global security, we have to recall a comment by Former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, “Not every democracy in the world was or is a close ally of the United States, but no democracy in the world has been or is an American enemy. And all of America’s most enduring allies have been and remain democracies” (“Democracy in Decline”; Foreign Affairs; July/August 2016). Ironically, malfunctioned democracy at home poses threats to the free world as dreadful as external threats. Therefore, it is necessary to rebuild our domestic democracy and revitalize our effort for democracy promotion, to restore the stable world order that we rest on.
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin early this December in Yamaguchi prefecture, Abe’s home constituency(“Abe to Meet Putin in December”; Sankei Shimbun; September 1, 2016). Both leaders will talk about the bilateral peace treaty of World War II, the Kuril Island territorial dispute, and bilateral economic cooperation in the Russian Far East. Some people in Japan argue that Abe seize this opportunity to split the Russo-Chinese axis, in order to manage the world of uncertainties. However, I would insist that Japan not run such a risk to jeopardize the Western alliance, and leave the job to India instead. Let me explain it below.
First, it is necessary to mention the Russo-Chinese axis. Superficially, both great powers are allies against the West, notably the American world order. However, the Russian Far East is sparsely inhabited, thus, hugely populated China across the border is a potential national security threat. There are only 4.3 million people in the Russian Far East border area, including the Amur oblast, Primorsky Krai, the Jewish Autonomous Oblast, and Khabarovsk Krai. On the other hand, the Chinese Northeast overwhelms the neighbor with the population of 109 million (“Russia, China and the Far East Question”; Diplomat; January 20, 2016). In addition to such a state-to-state level threat, Snakehead criminal gangs and illegal loggers from China pose threats to civil and environmental security. In view of Russia’s hidden distrust to China, it is understandable that some Japanese talk of developing a strategic partnership with the Kremlin in order to split both countries to check the threat of the PLA.
However, I would argue that the forthcoming summit should focus on bilateral issues such as the peace treaty and the Kuril dispute. Japan is at the heart of the Western alliance, and therefore, it is not in a good position to get involved in the Russo-Chinese power game. Rather, Americans and Europeans would simply see it suspiciously whether Japan wanted to “Make Russia Great Again”, when tensions over the Baltic and Crimea continue. Just as Japan feels uncomfortable with European appeasement for China, Europe does so with Japanese appeasement for Russia. The notable case of European appeasement is the Anglo-Chinese nuclear deal led by Chancellor of the Exchequer-then George Osborne, which raised critical concerns with Chinese espionage on Britain among the British national security community. Also, Japan and the United States were severely dismayed with such a controversial agreement.
However, current Prime Minister Theresa May said that she would reconsider the deal, in order to weaken Chinese influence on nuclear plants at Hinkley Point and Bradwell (“UK's Theresa May to review security risks of Chinese-funded nuclear deal”; Reuters; September 4, 2016). As the Home Secretary in the Cameron cabinet, May raised national security concerns with the nuclear deal, along with Downing Street Chief of Staff Nick Timothy and MI5 (“Hinkley Point: Theresa May's China calculus”; BBC News; 31 July 2016). May’s action will deter penetration of PLA influence in Europe through China General Nuclear. Japan should act accordingly on Russia.
Meanwhile, India is in a very good position to intervene in the Russo-Chinese power game. None of Western nations raise eyebrows at close Russo-Indian defense cooperation to check China, like the FGFA stealth fighter project for India. Historically, India had close ties with the Soviet Union to rival against pro-Chinese Pakistan. India imported numerous Soviet weapons, such as MiG-21, MiG-23, MiG-27, and MiG-29 fighters. After the Cold War, India still deploys Russian weapons, as typically seen in Su-30MKI, which is built by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited under the license from Russia. Despite such strong and enduring relations with Russia since the Soviet era, India had kept nonalignment foreign policy, and never joined the Soviet bloc in history.
On the other hand, India had deepened military ties with the West during the Cold War era, and those relations are still developing in this century. India bought Mirage 2000 from France in the past, and during the Indo-Pakistani War in 1971, the Indian Navy deployed the Vikrant, which was a second hand aircraft carrier from Britain. After 9-11 terrorist attacks, India’s strategic partnership with the United States develops rapidly, as typically seen in the nuclear deal between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President George W. Bush. Under the Obama administration, this security cooperation has developed furthermore to invite Japan to the Malabar joint naval exercise (“US, Japan, and India Kick off 2016 Malabar Exercise”; Diplomat; June 12, 2016), in order to deter Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea (“India, Japan Call on China not to Use Force in South China Sea Disputes”; Diplomat; June 15, 2016).
India has been an independent actor in the great power rivalries, and its close relationship with Russia will not change geopolitical balances dramatically. For the West, India is a friendly nation and prospective market. Also, the West balances this country and Pakistan in the War on Terror in Afghanistan, since the latter is frequently unreliable. In view of such close relations with both Russia and the West, India is more fit to the role of splitting the Russo-Chinese axis. For this objective, both Japan and the United States must deepen foreign policy partnership with India, and explore common understandings in Asian security with them. Also, Abe should focus on bilateral issues when he meets Putin this December, in order to avoid unnecessary frictions with America and Europe.
Wednesday, August 03, 2016
The American national security circle was outraged to hear Donald Trump’s provocative utterance to urge Russia to hack the Hillary Clinton side’s e-mail, because it was a criminal treason the nation. Trump supporters defend him that he was just joking, but we must remember that his foreign policy “suggestion” was serious as he stressed his America First vision upon accepting the formal nomination from the Republican Party, which was utterly incompatible with party values. It is quite appalling to demand a foreign government, particularly strategic rival to spy on an American official (“'Treason'? Critics savage Trump over Russia hack comments”; Politico; July 27, 2016).
Former CIA Director Leon Panetta questions his loyalty to the United States, because he asked the Russian intervention into American politics (“Former CIA director questions Trump's loyalty to the US: report”; Hill; July 27, 2016). Democrat Senator Harry Reid says more harshly that the CIA give fake information to Trump at the intelligence briefing (“Reid: Intelligence community should 'fake it' on Trump’s briefings”; Hill; July 27, 2016). More critically, Retired Rear Admiral John Hutson comments as a security law expert that Trump’s invitation for Russia to hack America is an act of criminal intent (“Retired admiral: Trump hacking comments ‘criminal intent’”; Politico; July 27, 2016).
In fact, Russia does not necessarily want to help Trump win the election. The vital point is that the Kremlin wants to split the United States as much as possible, in order to impose constraints on American leadership in the world (“Why Putin’s DNC hack will Backfire”; Foreign Policy; July 26, 2016). Trump is so pro-Russian as to remark that he would recognize the Russian annexation of Crimea and lift sanctions (“Trump to look at recognizing Crimea as Russian territory, lifting sanctions”; Politico; July 27, 2016). Actually Trump is scornful of Mitt Romney's warning in the 2012 election that Russia was the greatest adversary (“Donald Trump just called on Vladimir Putin to cyberattack the U.S. and help him win the election”; New Republic – Minuets; July 28, 2016).
What really matters is beyond Trump’s poor awareness in national security. It is his business ties with Russia that could inflict catastrophic impacts on American national security. Trump’s foreign policy advisors George Papadopoulos and Carter Page are deeply involved in the energy business with Russia. Tied with Gazprom, Page criticized American democracy promotion, and asserted that Russia would not invade Ukraine. Also, Trump’s favorite retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn is a regular commentator of Russia Today. In view of their close contacts with these Kremlin-associated companies, Max Boot argues that Trump change his campaign slogan to “Make Russia Great Again” (“Trump's opposition research firm: Russia's intelligence agencies”; Los Angels Times; July 25, 2016).
In addition, Trump himself is suspected to have any financial interests in Russia. He sold his mansion in Florida to a Russian stock broker Dmitry Rybolovlev, with special price. Mentally, Trump and Russian oligarchs are so much in common. Both are overconfident, and in pursuit of hedonistic greed of wealth, lavishness, and sex (“Trump and the Oligarch”; Politico; July 28, 2016). There is no wonder that Trump is so deeply engaged with Russia. His unreleased tax returns makes the public increasingly suspicious of dubious connections with Russia.
The problem of Trump’s pro-Russian remarks is more serious. Appallingly, he said that he would remove the clause of the Republican Party Platform that requires the US government to provide weapons for Ukraine, because he was “not involved” in drafting it (“George Stephanopolous awkwardly corrects Donald Trump when he says Putin is going into Ukraine”; Business Insider; July 31, 2016). Also, he said the mutual defense obligation of NATO was a lopsided burden to America, though European nations join the war in Afghanistan, based on Article V (“Trump’s Loose NATO Talk Already Has Endangered Us”; Defense One; July 24, 2016).
Apparently, everything he says and does is out of rule. There is no wonder why none of renowned foreign policy experts are willing to join the Trump team (“Role Reversal: The Dems Become the Security Party”; Politico; July 28, 2016). If Donald Trump were elected, American foreign policy would be completely paralyzed. The implication of his Russian scandal is fatally deep.
Monday, July 11, 2016
In the American presidential election this year, Republican candidate Donald Trump draws extensive attention with his inflammatory and offensive utterance. The world is imperiled with vehement backlashes to globalization by angry mobs, and furthermore, his isolationism. Foreign leaders and media are scared of a Trump presidency so much that it seems that they are wholeheartedly happy with Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton. There is no doubt that Clinton is far better than incoherent and ignorant Trump. However, we do not want the third term of Barack Obama. We need the candidate to overturn his abstention from American leadership in the world. Obama was obsessed with ending Bush’s war in Iraq and Afghanistan, without helping them rebuild their security forces. As a result, Iraq has become the home of terrorism, and it prevails around the world from there (“Iraq: The World Capital of Terrorism”; Atlantic; July 5, 2016). Also, people have become fatigued with long wars in the Middle East, which leads America less willing to promote democracy, and consequently, adversaries are emboldened (“Democracy in Decline”; Foreign Affairs; July/August 2016). Trump’s America First would make Obama’s failure worse furthermore. Therefore, we must watch Hillary Clinton carefully whether she would reverse Obama’s apologetic and appeasing foreign policy.
Clinton’s foreign policy advisors and campaign funds reflect her liberal hawk visions. From the early stage, neoconservative leaders like Robert Kagan expressed to endorse Clinton (“Trump is the GOP’s Frankenstein monster. Now he’s strong enough to destroy the party.”; Washington Post; February 25. 2016), and he has launched a fundraising campaign for her this June (“Report: Prominent neoconservative to fundraise for Clinton”; Hill; June 23, 2016). Also, Clinton draws by far the most donations from the defense industry during the primary (“The Defense Industry’s Surprising 2016 Favorites: Bernie & Hillary”; Politico; April 1, 2016). Since Republican internationalists such as Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio have gone out of the race, Clinton is the last hope for American allies that face critical threats in their neighborhood.
Actually, Clinton is more Republican than Trump in some points. According to a survey by Fortune magazine, 58% of big business executives prefer Clinton, because Trump’s economic policy is still unclear and fear his isolationism ruins their global operations (“Survey: More than half of corporate CEOs prefer Clinton over Trump”; Hill; June 1, 2016). Moreover, eminent Republicans from former senior officials to policy experts express their support for Clinton. They are not just neoconservative pundits like Robert Kagan and Max Boot, but also ex both Bush administration officials, including former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, and former Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson (“Here’s the growing list of big-name Republicans supporting Hillary Clinton”; Washington Post; June 30, 2016). From these points, we can expect Clinton to be the candidate of strong and responsible America.
On the other hand, Clinton’s electoral base can move her leftward. Clinton needs Obama’s backing to boost the support by minorities like blacks and Hispanics. Quite strangely, Obama’s approval rate is rising towards the end of his term (“Don’t look now, but Barack Obama is suddenly popular”; Washington Post; May 21, 2016), and that helps Clinton in the election. In addition, she needs to win support from white working class who back Bernie Sanders. This is the key to Clinton’s choice of her running mate. It does not matter so much, if she aligns with Obama or makes some compromise with Sanders liberals in domestic policy, in order to win this election. The real problem is their influence on her foreign policy. That is likely to drive her administration into Obama III.
From the above points of view, let me mention Clinton’s foreign policy speech on June 2 in San Diego. See the video below.
Her speech was almost a template of US foreign policy to deny Trump’s America First visions and irresponsible remark about nuclear nonproliferation. Also, Clinton stressed American exceptionalism for the leadership role in the world. What she said in the speech resonates the Senate testimony by former Secretary of State James Baker on May 12 at the Foreign Relations Committee, regarding US global leadership (“Rubio enlists James Baker to knock Trump”; Politico; May 12, 2016). See the video below.
On the other hand, Clinton stated that she would succeed Obama’s foreign policy approach, typically the Iran nuclear deal. However, this deal was criticized by even Democrats, notably Senator Chuck Schumer, as Iran gets a huge amount of frozen assets overseas to sponsor terrorists through sanction lift. Also, regional tension will grow as Saudi Arabia fears the rising threat of Iran, and distrusts America for a lukewarm compromise with the Shiite theocracy (“One Year On: Iran and the World”; Foreign Policy Association Blog; July 5, 2016). Above all, it is quite difficult to judge whether Clinton’s foreign policy is Wilsonian idealist or realist from this speech. Just as Professor Daniel Drezner of Tufts University comments, everything Clinton said in the speech is right to denounce Trump, but it is quite difficult to categorize her position into right or left, and hawk or dove (“Why Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy speech is almost impossible to analyze”; Washington Post; June 3, 2016). I would say, she is cautious so as not to provoke both Republican exoduses and Sanders liberals.
For further understanding of Clinton’s foreign policy, we need to review the draft of the Democrat Party’s platform on July 1. Wall Street businessmen worry that the party platform is strongly influenced by Sanders, particularly in regulation and taxes to sustain minimum wages. Regarding foreign policy, big businesses are critically concerned with the draft, which says there are “a diversity of views” among Democrats about the TPP. They understand that such an ambiguity suggests that Clinton is not enthusiastic about free trade (“Wall Street Takes a Hit in Democratic Party’s Platform Draft”; Bloomberg News; July 3, 2016). But Trump denounces the TPP more harshly.
Therefore, I would like to talk about some critical issues to see whether Clinton is more proactive in global leadership than Obama or not. The first one is American values in foreign policy. Despite the “smart power” slogan, democracy aid has declined during the Obama era. In the “Protect Our Values” section, the draft mentions various human rights agendas like gender and minority issues, but hardly states about democracy promotion. Middle East terrorism is one of the key matters in the “Confronting Global Threats” section. The draft mentions extensively on the current war in Syria, but not so much on Iraq, though global terrorism is prevailing from there due to Obama’s premature withdrawal. Also, we must not dismiss Iranian proxy influence in both countries, but the draft states Obama’s nuclear deal proudly, while sparing only a few lines to mention growing Iranian threats to Saudi Arabia and Israel in particular. Quite strangely, the draft does not mention China in the “Confronting Global Threats” section, though it was Clinton who led the pivot to Asia, as the Secretary of State.
Above all, Clinton denies Trump’s foreign policy “suggestions” very lucidly and compellingly, both in her San Diego speech and the draft of the Democratic Party platform. Clearly, Clinton’s global policy views are mature and orthodox. Trump’s mishmash ideas are utterly in no comparison. Therefore, I am definitely for Hillary Clinton in this election. Still, we have to be watchful. For fear of flamboyant Donald Trump, people assume that everything is all right if Clinton beats him. But I would call more attention to her. The vital point is the balance of power in the Clinton camp. If the influences of Bernie Sanders and other liberals do not go beyond domestic inequality, things are not so serious. Hopefully, Democrat right wings, neoconservatives, the defense industry, and Republican exoduses have larger voices in foreign policy and national security. Then, America will be much stronger on the global stage.
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Historically, Britain has been Euorsceptic, but that was based on the Anglo Saxon exceptionalism and imperial instinct in the past. After World War II, British foreign policy has been founded on the three circles of influence, the United States, Europe, and the Commonwealth and the rest of the world. Past Eurosceptics placed more emphasis on the Anglo-American special relationship and imperial legacies in the Commonwealth. But today, Brexiters hardly shares such grand strategy visions. They simply fear an immigration influx from the Continent and the impacts of the borderless economy. Such an inward-looking attitude is utterly incompatible with that of Margaret Thatcher who stood firmly against “German dominance” in Europe. Professor Niall Ferguson of Harvard University commented that both the Trump phenomenon and Brexit movements were populist backlashes against globalization after the 2008 financial crisis, in an interview with Australian ABC TV on May 18.
Certainly, Britain has a Common Law tradition, which is expected from those of Roman Law Continental Europe. However, Britain has not been isolated from Europe in history, and even the Splendid Isolation during the Victorian era is a sheer myth. Queen Victoria founded family blood networks with European monarchs and aristocrats through marriages of her children and grandchildren. Among them, Emperor “Kaiser” Wilhelm II of Germany and Empress consort Alexandra of Russia, are very well known. Typically, such sanguine ties helped a peaceful settlement of the Anglo-German colonial rivalry in East Africa, as Queen Victoria gave Mt. Kilimanjaro to Kaiser, while retaining Mt. Kenya under the British sovereignty in 1886. In a more globalized world today, Britain’s position as the bridgehead in Europe to the outside world has become increasingly important.
The negative impact of Brexit ranges from the economy to security. Economic losses are mentioned so much. As a consequence of a withdrawal from the common market, UK GDP would be 6.2% lower than it should be by 2030, according to JP Morgan (“Brexit could cost each Briton 45,000 pounds in lost wealth – JPMorgan”; Reuters; April 29, 2016). Also, consumer confidence would grow weaker. The Bank of England said that business was slowing because of the referendum uncertainty (“Brexit vote uncertainty erodes UK consumer, business confidence”; Reuters; April 29, 2016). But more fundamental and enduring damage to the British economy is a drastic cut of science research funds. Britain is the second largest recipient of EU science budget after Germany, which accounts for a quarter of its research spending (“UK will be ‘poor cousin’ of European science, Brexit study warns”; Financial Times; May 18, 2016). Since more populous emerging economies, such as China, India, Brazil, Nigeria, and Indonesia are rising, advantages in science is critical for Britain to compete in the global market. Brexit could ruin Britain’s economic base for the future.
Security implication of Brexit is no less significant. Britain is the only major European power that exceeds NATO requirement of 2% of GDP on defense. Also, Germany’s Basic Law precludes its proactive military role. Therefore, Europe’s self defense capability will be downgraded, if Britain leaves the EU. And it is not just fire power that matters. The more critical issue is intelligence. Britain shares information with the Anglo Saxon Five Eyes, including the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Continental Europe may not join this group, but Britain can provide security analyses for them, as long as it stays in the EU (“The Security Implications of Brexit”; Foregin Policy Association Blog; June 13, 2016).
Vice versa, EU membership helps British intelligence. At the parliamentary testimony this May, Former Chief of MI6 John Sawyer and former Director General of MI5 Jonathan Evans told that Brexit would weaken information sharing with Europe, and ultimately, the teamwork of counterterrorism with Continental partners (“Former British spy bosses say nation's exit from EU would pose threat”; Reuters; May 8, 2016). Retired US Army General David Petraeus shares their views as stated in his article to the Daily Telegraph (“Brexit would weaken the West’s war in terror”; Daily Telegraph; 26 March, 2016). Some British experts worry that common European defense would erode British sovereignty, and lead to German dominance (“It is an EU army that could ring about war”; Daily Telegraph; 27 May, 2016). However, Robin Niblett, Director of Chatham House argues that Britain uses EU venue to achieve national goals (“Britain, the EU and the Sovereignty Myth”; Chatham House; May 2016).
Hardly any Britain’s international partners want Brexit. The United States worry that Europe’s self defense capability will decline if Britain leaves the EU. If it happens, America has to assume more defense burden against Russia (“The US Has the Right to Argue for Remain”; Chatham House Expert Comment; 20 May, 2016). Also, Britain’s continual engagement with Europe helps America's military and intelligence partnership with the Trans-Atlantic and the Middle East regions (“Brexit Would Be a Further Blow to the Special Relationship”; Chatham House Expert Comment; 20 May, 2016). Germany also wants Britain to stay, because it needs a counterbalance against France (“Germany and Brexit: Berlin Has Everything To Lose if Britain Leaves”; Spiegel; June 11, 2016). British voters are too alert to Japanese-styled pacifist Germany today. Other major partners such as India, Japan, and even “anti-Western” China, want Britain to stay in the EU. It is only Putin’s Russia that wants Brexit to weaken the Trans-Atlantic alliance (“Putin Silently Hopes for Brexit to Hobble NATO”; News Week; June 10, 2016).
Brexiters say that Britain can negotiate the terms to win a more favorable deal with Europe, once leaving the EU. But former Prime Minister Tony Blair commented that new trade and labor movement deals with Europe would require lengthy and laborious negotiations, in an interview with CNN on April 25. See the video below.
Actually, if Britain were to negotiate the deal with Europe to set new relations after Brexit, everything must be done quickly. According to Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union, which was signed in Maastricht in 1992, only a two year negotiation period is guaranteed for a leaver to reset the relationship with the EU. Therefore, it is quite unlikely that Britain could win more favorable deals with Europe in such a constrained condition (“The seven blunders: Why Brexit would be harder than Brexiters think”; Centre for European Reform Insight; 28 April, 2016).
Anglo Saxon élites have led globalization, but ironically, the most formidable defiers to this world order are the working class on both sides of the Atlantic. Like Trump supporters in America, a Brexiter resorted to violence to kill Jo Cox MP (“Jo Cox MP dead after shooting attack”; BBC News; 16 June, 2016). Edmund Burke would have deplored as current Britain has fallen into a turmoil like revolutionary France in those days. But remainers are also to be criticized, as they fail to appeal positive aspects of EU membership, and just argue for status quo to deny Brexit. Therefore, Britain’s Gladstonian open and internationalist ideals are in danger (“E.U. Referendum Exposes Britain’s Political Decay”; Washington Post; June 10, 2016).That has made the referendum on June 23 increasingly confused.
Posted by Σ. Alexander at 2:06 PM
Wednesday, June 08, 2016
President Barack Obama visited the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima to deliver a historic speech for a world without nuclear weapons on May 27. The address itself was a critical reflection of human history and civilization to dominate the nature. It was well-balanced, as he expressed heartfelt condolences to Atomic bomb victims of Japanese, Koreans, and American POWs, without giving an apology. In East Asia, Japan faces the continual quagmire of apology to China and Korea. The US-Japanese relations must avoid such an enduring emotional impasse. In the face of the Trump phenomenon, it is quite noteworthy that Obama stressed that America and Japan had overcome wartime hostility to make the alliance real friendship and strategic linchpin in the Asia Pacific region. That helped Prime Minister Shinzo Abe address hopeful and future oriented messages, following Obama.
However, I would like to mention some problems that would ruin Obama’s Hiroshima legacy. The first one is, whether the next president of the United States takes nuclear nonproliferation seriously. The conscience that Obama expressed at Hiroshima needs to be inherited by his successor, regardless of partisanship, ideology, and understanding of wartime history. Particularly, Republican candidate Donald Trump shows extremely insincere attitude on this issue, as seen in his urging of nuclear proliferation to Japan, South Korea, and even Saudi Arabia. Therefore, he is the greatest nuclear threat to the world, now. In view of this, my attention was drawn to the sentence, “When the choice is made by leaders, reflect this simple wisdom, then the lesson of Hiroshima is done” in Obama’s speech. Though Obama did not mention the presidential election itself in Hiroshima, he blamed Trump on the final day of the G7 Ise-Shima summit (“In a rare occurrence, Obama speaks his mind about Trump for the world to hear”; Washington Post; May 26, 2016). But the problem is not just Trump. Leaders around the world must be well-aware of nuclear security. Otherwise, the legacy would expire soon.
The second problem is Obama's nonproliferation policy. As shown in the Prague speech, Obama behaved as if he were an apostle of nuclear disarmament. Though the Hiroshima speech was taken favorably among world media and Japanese people, it seemed that he has been obsessed with his lofty ideal at the expense of realpolitik, throughout his presidential terms. This was typically seen in his reset with Russia to start New START negotiations, shortly after his inauguration. However, security environment had changed dramatically, since President-then Ronald Reagan proposed the START with the Soviet Union. Nuclear power balance had turned from bipolar to multipolar, as proliferators like Iran and North Korea emerged. Due to this, America and Russia did not overcome disagreements on the Missile Defense system (“Debating the New START Treaty”; Council on Foreign Relations; July 22. 2010). Also, Vladimir Putin had less incentive to improve relations with the West than the Soviet Chairman Michael Gorbachev did. There is no wonder Obama has not made a spectacular achievement in nuclear disarmament with Russia as Reagan did. In addition, Obama failed to take effective measures to stop the progress of North Korea’s nuclear program. To the contrary, Kim Jong-un has stepped up to test hydrogen bomb and more advanced ballistic missile. But it is not fair to criticize Obama only for this, because his predecessor George W. Bush also failed to stop North Korea.
But above all, the most critical test for Obama’s Hiroshima legacy is the Iran nuclear deal, as he is proud of this “accomplishment”. Opponents criticize the deal, because it will expire 10 years later. Sanction lift releases over 100 billion dollars of restricted assets of Iran, which could enable the Revolutionary Guard to finance terrorists (“Debating the Iran Nuclear Deal”; Brookings Institution; August 2015). Actually, Secretary of State John Kerry admitted that Iran uses some of that money to help terrorists (“US State Department: Iran world’s top sponsor of terrorism”; Y net News; June 3, 2016). The deal may work for the time being, but I would argue that this would not eliminate Iran’s nuclear threats completely. So far as Iran sponsors terrorists continually, they can acquire radioactive materials to make dirty bombs. More seriously, this deal could help Iran develop a plutonium bomb, since the United States purchases 32 tons of heavy water from them for 8.6 million dollars. Under the agreement with P5+1, Iran must restrict its stockpile of heavy water, but it is still allowed to keep a limited heavy water industry for export. This would lead to “external subsidization of Iran’s nuclear program”, according to Tzvi Kahn at the Foreign Policy Initiative (“U.S. Bankrolls Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions”; FPI Bulletin; May 4, 2016).
Obama’s nuclear deal is so fragile, and neither Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei nor President Hassan Rouhani is a Gorbachev. Iran continually denounces America and Britain as evils. Furthermore, they still brandish ballistic missiles to wipe out Israel (“Iranian commander: We can destroy Israel ‘in under 8 minutes’”; Times of Israel; May 22, 2016). It is quite hard to contain their enduring hostility to Anglo Saxons and Zionists with such a lukewarm agreement. The Iran nuclear deal can kill the beautiful legacy that Obama made in Hiroshima. Therefore, we have to see his accomplishments with watchful and critical eyes.
Monday, May 09, 2016
Some people in the world believe that nuclear possession would boost independent deterrence of their countries. In reality, nuclear arms are no guarantee of deterrence, but simply intensify tensions among regional powers. In order to make nuclear deterrence reliable, sufficient second strike capability and effective systems like hotlines are necessary. However, except nuclear superpowers like the United States and Russia, most of the regional powers cannot afford to possess a huge amount of nuclear weapons, and thus, they are vulnerable to the first attack by the enemy. How these regional powers, including potential nuclear possessors, pursue reliable deterrence against the rival, with limited capability? I would like to mention some cases below.
Currently, the Indian subcontinent is the only place where antagonistic nuclear powers, India and Pakistan, are located side by side along the border. Tensions can arise anytime. Particularly, terrorists’ acquisition of nuclear materials from Pakistan is a critical concern, for fear of a dirty bomb attack in India. In the 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament by Laskar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, India failed to react quickly to deploy troops against Pakistan, which was supposed to sponsor these terrorists. In order to manage such fragile nuclear security environment, the Indian government contrived the Cold Start doctrine, which is a massive and quick response with conventional forces to prevent nuclear attack by Pakistan. In response, Pakistan developed tactical nuclear weapons to stop Indian aggression. The problem is, this mutual deterrence is quite feeble, compared with the US-Soviet or Russian MAD, despite the hotline between two countries. If terrorists plotted to attack India from Pakistani territory, this would trigger India’s Cold Start attack and Pakistan’s response with tactical nuclear weapons, in theory (“Are Pakistan's Nuclear Assets Under Threat?”; Diplomat; April 28, 2016). As shown in the tension after the Mumbai terrorist attacks in 2008, mutual distrust between India and Pakistan is still deep. Only an external power, notably the United States, is the last intermediary to prevent a nuclear war between both nations.
Likewise, possible nuclear arms build up of Japan and South Korea would not be helpful deterrence against North Korea, as their second strike capability would be limited. More importantly, both Japan and South Korea would have to rely on American satellite for surveillance against North Korea. In addition to deterrence capability of Japan and South Korea, their bilateral relation is a serious problem. The Japanese-South Korean relationship is not the Anglo-French relationship. No one expects nuclear tension across the Dover Strait, but diplomacy across the Tsushima Strait is extremely sensitive. As commonly known, both countries frequently bicker over colonial history, and seemingly trivial gaffes could easily intensify bilateral tensions. Moreover, South Korea still sees Japan a kind of threat. In other words, Japanese-South Korean relations are more like Indo-Pakistani relations. American security umbrella has made a significant contribution to prevent the conflict across the Tsushima Strait from growing too serious. Therefore, if both countries were to have independent nuclear arms, they might target each other, rather than deter North Korea. Donald Trump is extremely incognisant of such sensitive Far Eastern affairs.
As I mention some cases here, it would not help boost deterrence, if the global community permitted regional powers to possess nuclear weapons. They pursue nuclear arms, because the security environment in their neighborhood is unstable. If not, they do not have to spend on these arsenals. This is typically seen in South Africa’s denuclearization after the fall of apartheid. But regional nuclear rivalries simply make their own security worse. This is particularly true in the Middle East, where ethno-sectarian conflicts are intertwined with terrorism. As India invented an indigenous strategic theory of deterrence, others would do. However, I can hardly imagine that their strategies will be reliable deterrence as those of established nuclear powers like the Big Five, notably the US-Russian MAD. Therefore, it is our imperative to sustain and strengthen the NPT regime, and America should revitalize its role as the world policeman.
Sunday, April 24, 2016
Ever since the inauguration of President Barack Obama, I have been firmly opposed to his aspiration to visit Hiroshima, because it would appear apologetic and post-American. I have been critically concerned that it would invigorate rising enemies to the Western alliance in the post Cold War era. But a more dreadful threat has emerged in the presidential race in the US homeland, and a strong message must be delivered against ignorant and irresponsible remarks on nuclear security, to express that the conscience of the global community shall not permit any kind of such words and behavior, regardless of the partisanship and the state. Now, from the perspective of “Never Trump!”, I believe that the priority must be changed, and thus, I would welcome Obama’s visit to Hiroshima.
The majority of the Japanese public, and even atomic bomb victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, do not expect any leader of the United States to apologize to wartime deeds. I have to remind people around the world that Hiroshima is no Auschwitz, and none of the exhibitions in the Peace Memorial park, including the Atomic Bomb Dome, blame the United States and the Allied forces. Therefore, Obama has no obligation to apologize, but to send a confident message of American leadership to make the world safe from nuclear threats. Nonproliferation of the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) has been one of the top agendas in American foreign policy. Among them, the nuclear issue is a primary focus of renowned foreign policy think tanks, whether conservative or liberal. This implies that it is America’s bipartisan and vital interest to stop nuclear proliferation. We have to bear in mind that even Russia and China have accepted American proposals in nuclear nonproliferation, as seen in Iran and North Korea. Typically, the NPT (Nonproliferation Treaty) regime symbolizes American leadership in the global public interest. Furthermore, it has become an imperative to stop nuclear terrorism, in the aftermath of 9-11 attacks.
Quite deplorably, Donald Trump is utterly unlearned in fundamental approaches of American nuclear diplomacy. Tactical nuclear weapons are too destructive to use in the War on Terror in the Middle East. More astoundingly, he urged Japan and South Korea to have their own nuclear weapons against North Korea, without relying on the American nuclear umbrella. That would definitely lead to the collapse of the NPT regime, and ultimately, harm America’s own national security. Then, the ripple effect of it would expand globally. In the Middle East, regional powers like Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey would be tempted to strengthen or to have their nuclear arms, as Iran still conducts ballistic missile tests, though the nuclear deal has taken into effect. Also, the Indo-Pakistani nuclear rivalry might be intensified. That would make terrorist acquisition of nuclear bombs more likely. Trump’s argument is based on the “balance sheet”, but hardly any economists say that America withdraw troops from overseas to cut the budget. Foreign policy and national security experts are bewildered to hear such a businessman viewpoint.
The fatal error that Trump has made is an assumption that nuclear possession leads to nuclear deterrence unconditionally. But the history of US-Soviet rivalries tell us it is utterly wrong. In the early days, Americans were so scared of Soviet nuclear attacks that they repeated emergency evacuation drills. It was probably the same across the Iron Curtain. The pinnacle of nuclear brinkmanship was the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. It took a long time to establish a credible deterrence system. Until mutual assured destruction (MAD) had become solid with second strike capability and the hotline, nuclear deterrence between the United States and the Soviet Union was unreliable. We have to bear in mind that none of these systems worked in 1998 when India and Pakistan resorted to nuclear test each other, and their nuclear rivalries simply heightened regional tension. More critically, nuclear deterrence shall never work against Jihadists. They have no fear of being destroyed by the enemy, and there is no way of mutual communication with them to prevent unexpected risks like the Moscow-Washington hotline. The core value of Jihadism is to fight against “Western crusaders” for its own sake. Consequently, unstoppable nuclear proliferation shall not strengthen deterrence, but hollow it instead.
From these perspectives, we must question whether Japan can build deterrence against North Korea with its own independent nuclear arms. Japanese military journalist Shunji Taoka argues that North Korea would take the risk of war, even if Japan went nuclear armed. Only a massive retaliation by the United States could prevent adventurist Kim regime from stepping toward a nuclear warfare, he says (“Japanese Nuclear Possession is Neither Practical nor Advantageous”; Diamond Online; April 14, 2016). Taoka’s analysis is plausible, as North Korea’s foremost focus of their nuclear saber rattling is to draw the United States into the negotiation so that their regime survival is secured. Also, the fact that former Japanese diplomat Yukiya Amano is the Director General of the IAEA implies deeply embedded ties between Japan and the NPT regime. That is America’s vital national interest, but Trump is completely incognizant of it. From North Korea to ISIS, his nuclear strategy utterly does not make sense. The vast majority of Trump supporters has never thought of anything about nuclear security, and he entertains those people just for demagogy. This is very dangerous. Therefore, Obama should send a strong message against any insincere politicians around the world, notably Trump. This is not for his legacy, but for global public interest.
I understand Americans worry that a presidential speech at Hiroshima would have unfavorable effects on US diplomacy. I shared such a view until the emergence of Trump the Monster. Certainly, unilateral remorse from the American side would perplex American citizens and Asian nations, without any corresponding actions from the Japanese side (“So Long, Harry: Will Obama’s Apology Tour End in Hiroshima?”; Weekly Standard; September 2, 2015). Obama’s speech in Hiroshima would provoke painful memories of the Pearl Harbor attack and the Bataan Death March, which would lead to reveal some disagreements on wartime history between Americans and Japanese (“Kerry's Premature Visit to Hiroshima”; Weekly Standard; April 11, 2016). But Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would seriously consider visiting there to pay tribute to war victims of the Allied forces in return, for better mutual understandings in the future. What we need is neither an apology, nor a legacy, but a message of commitment to nonproliferation for the future (“At Hiroshima, Obama should make a pledge, not an apology”; New York Post; April 13, 2016). Among liberal opinion leaders, Joseph Cirincione who is the President of the Ploughshares Fund argues that nuclear terrorism has become more likely after the Brussels attacks, and Obama must show dedicated leadership to stop it in Hiroshima (“Obama Still Has Time to Leave a Legacy of Nuclear Security”; Huffinton Post; March 31, 2016).
It is no longer time to repent the past. What we desperately need is to promote awareness of nuclear security, and to raise voices against any leader of insincere attitude to nuclear nonproliferation. Particularly, Donald Trump is the greatest nuclear threat to the world today. I can hardly believe that he will be seriously engaged in the duty of the president, in view of his lackadaisical remarks on nuclear issues. Hopefully, Barack Obama will deliver a strong message to conduct people to remove such a shameless politician throughout the world when he visits Hiroshima.
Wednesday, April 06, 2016
In view of a shocking remark by Donald Trump (“In Japan and South Korea, bewilderment at Trump's suggestion they build nukes”; Washington Post; March 28, 2016), Japanese people are increasingly worried about national security, and gradually talking about having independent nuclear deterrence. However, we have to reconsider whether to act so hastily. That is because it takes several years and costs a huge amount of money to develop and deploy nuclear weapons. Once the project has started, it would be too big to waste that. Japanese national security must be firmly based on standard and long term strategic views of foreign policy circles in Washington, rather than on an erratic term of a bigoted and unpredictable would-be president.
Let me explain it clearly. Suppose Trump were inaugurated. But he would have only a 4 year secured term. Japan would have to make and deploy nuclear weapons very quickly. But if he were not successful, someone else would replace him in the next term, and the successor would return American foreign policy to the normalcy. In that case, he or she would not tolerate Japanese nuclear deterrence, since WMD nonproliferation is a key agenda of American national security. Therefore, Japan would waste a huge amount of time, labor, and money, if we reacted to Trump’s ignorant and commercialistically skinflinty ideas so imprudently. I have to emphasize that people in Japan and the global community have never regarded Trump supporting mobs who are fatally problematic in intellect and temperament as Americans.
Also, the mind and the behavior of Trump himself is precarious. As stated in the well known open letter by Eliot Cohen, along with over 100 signatories, “He swings from isolationism to military adventurism within the space of one sentence.” He may admit Japanese nuclear deterrence at this stage. But his foreign policy views are so unpredictable as he always boasts that he could suddenly change his mind within a possible 4 year term. In that case Trump could treat Japan like Iran and North Korea. Actually, people all over the world know he is notorious for short temper. Why should Japan run such a risk to be regarded as an enemy to the United States?
More questionably, I would like to express my heartfelt skepticism whether Trump could withdraw all the forces in Japan within his term. The scale of US military services in Japan is huge, and the US Forces in Japan are deeply embedded in Japanese societies, as typically seen in rescue operations of 3-11 tsunami and earthquake. Withdrawal procedure would involve an incredible amount of red tape bureaucracy that Trump had never encountered throughout his life as a real estate businessman. Land property rights associated with military bases are far more complicated than those he managed in his business. Moreover, it is Yokota US Air Force base that assumes the control of the Japanese airspace for regional security and civil aviation. The transition of this authority to the Japanese side would require considerably laborious negotiations. If bilateral talks were bottlenecked, it would be American airline industries that would suffer a great loss. Trump should be well aware of it, as he boats his business acumen.
In addition, the withdrawal schedule is not clear, whether Trump would wait until Japan builds nuclear deterrence against China and North Korea, or start negotiations to pull out troops promptly without giving any consideration to the danger of the power vacuum. In any case, jobs are laborious. I can hardly imagine Trump could appoint competent senior officials of his own to do this mission, as the quality of his foreign policy team was commented sarcastically by Michael O’Hanlon (“D.C.'s Foreign-Policy Establishment Spooked by `Bizzaro’ Trump Team”; National Review Online; March 24, 2016). It seems that Trump has two term presidency in his mind (“Trump’s nonsensical claim he can eliminate $19 trillion in debt in eight years”; Washington Post; April 2, 2016), but this is not an OJT job. Poor performance in the first term means the end. Considering his notorious impatience, why does he expect the people so patient? His whimsical remarks, particularly on foreign policy, reveal his sheer lack of reverence for the duty and responsibility of the president.
Trump’s way of thinking is a Copernican turn of nuclear security and the US-Japanese alliance. But it seems that he hardly understands this, since he is extremely ill-prepared to carry out what he said in public. Among American allies worldwide, Japan is the first target of his blame. If he regards the reshuffle of the relationship with Japan so important, I wonder why none of the advisors in his foreign policy team are well versed with Japanese affairs. More seriously, his knowledge in nuclear security is extraordinarily poor. Trump did not even know nuclear triad. In addition, he insisted on using tactical nuclear weapons against Islamic terrorists in the Middle East (“Donald Trump Won't Rule Out Using Nukes Against ISIS”; Fortune; March 23, 2016). That exposes he is utterly uninformed of the destructive capacity of nuclear arms. Tactical nuclear weapons today are more powerful than those used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Also, the use of tactical nuclear bomb can escalate the war. Trump should know that collateral damages by US drone attacks were bitterly criticized in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even if tactical, nuclear weapons kill innumerable civilians. Apparently, he has learned nothing about these issues, and therefore, he remarks anything so shamelessly.
It is no longer time just to analyze and deplore. We should take action to bust him. For this objective, I would suggest that Japanese opinion leaders write an open letter of protest to him to question every point I mention in this post, and express our anger. I understand that Trump is extremely sensitive to anger as he exploits popular outrage. The Japanese government may not be in a position to behave so provocatively, but the track II level can do so. There is no doubt that American and global policy circles, and people of conscience in the United States, are definitely on our side. Our bilateral relations will last far longer than Trump, as I state at the beginning of this essay. It is Japan’s vital interest to act in accordance with common understandings among American foreign policy circles, not with Trump’s bigoted ideas.
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
The quality and the quantity of the foreign policy team indicates each candidate’s view and dedication to the US role in the world. Also, the selection of policy advisors shows policy focuses of current contestants. The advisor team is a barometer for us to see which candidate is well prepared for the presidential job. From this point of view, Republican candidate Donald Trump was stupidly overconfident to say “I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain” when he was asked about his foreign policy (“Trump: I consult myself on foreign policy”; Politico; March 16, 2016). But when his rival, Senator Ted Cruz announced his foreign policy team, Trump followed suit a few days later (“Trump begins to peel back curtain on foreign policy team”; Hill; March 21, 2016). In view of the above mentioned aspects, I would like to talk about each candidate’s advisory team.
Both in terms of quality and quantity, Hillary Clinton’s advisory team overwhelms those of other candidates. She delivered a keynote speech at the foundation ceremony of the Center for New American Security in 2007. The CNAS has provided foreign policy staffs for the Obama administration, notably its co-founders Michèle Flournoy and Kurt Campbell. Also, Clinton has an extensive personal contact among foreign policy and national security communities from her experience as the First Lady, Senator, and the Secretary of State. Her foreign policy team is in huge advantage, not just in the sheer size, but the coverage of policy areas. The team is headed by Jake Sullivan and Laura Rosenberger, both were Department of State staffs when Clinton was the Secretary. In addition, high profile figures like former CIA Director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, former National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and former Under Secretary of Defense Michèle Flournoy, are in contact with the team as outside advisors. Even though Senator Bernie Sanders have met some renowned Middle East experts to fill his weakness in foreign policy, such as Lawrence Korb, Ray Takeyh, and Tamara Coffman Writtes, they are associated with Clinton (“Inside Hillary Clinton’s Massive Foreign-Policy Brain Trust”; Foreign Policy; February 10, 2016).
Furthermore, Clinton has deep ties with Republican foreign policy leaders, as typically shown in Henry Kissinger’s endorsement upon her inauguration to the Secretary of State. Ever since the Gulf War, Democrats had shared common policy objective with Republicans to remove Saddam Hussein. The Clinton administration even embraced the idea of regime change in Iraq, which was proposed by the Project for the New American Century. The Bush administration acted in line with this. As if reflecting this point, Republican national security élites strongly disagree with Trump’s non-interventionism on the Iraq war, Libya, the Israel-Palestine conflict, and Russia. So far as foreign policy is concerned, both parties share common understandings, and favor an orthodox candidate of the rival party, rather than a bigoted and unorthodox candidate of their own party. Even a non-mainstream Republican like Senator Rand Paul prefers Clinton, as Trump’s remark about water boarding and the wall against Mexico are utterly at odds with his libertarian values (“Hillary Clinton Has Long History of Collaboration With GOP on Foreign Policy; Intercept; March 13, 2016). There is every reason that Clinton is far more preferable to Trump for numerous Republicans.
Actually, some conservatives notably Bryan McGrath of the Hudson Institute say that they trust Clinton on foreign and defense policy (“Vocal Trump critics in GOP open to supporting Clinton”; Hill; March 24, 2016). Particularly, neoconservatives such as Robert Kagan and Max Boot openly state that they prefer Clinton to Trump. Also, former Bush administration officials from Dick Cheney to Condoleeza Rice expressed favorable views to Clinton as the Secretary of State and potential rival to Barack Obama (“Neocon War Hawks Want Hillary Clinton Over Donald Trump. No Surprise—They’ve Always Backed Her”; In These Times; March 23, 2016). Commonly regarded as a liberal hawk, Clinton monopolizes the brain trust of both parties in Washington political corridors.
In contrast, rival candidates’ advisory teams are far more insufficient, both in terms of the quality and the quantity. Sanders hardly founded something deserves to be called a foreign policy team. On the Republican side, their teams cater to popular fears against Islamic terrorism, but hardly capable of showing the vision of American role in the world. First, let me talk about Ted Cruz’s team. He announced his advisory staffs ahead of Trump. The team is led by former Senator Jim Talent and Elliot Abrahams who was a deputy national security advisor of the Bush administration (“Cruz unveils national security team before Trump”; Washington Examiner; March 17, 2016). Both neocons worked for Senator Marco Rubio’s team until he dropped out of the race (“Marco Announces Support of Top National Security Experts”; MarcoRubio.com; March 7, 2016). On the other hand, anti-Islam conspiracy theorists like Frank Gaffney argues that a quarter of Muslims in the United States plot anti-American jihad, and their Sharia law poses a critical threat within the country (“Cruz Assembles an Unlikely Team of Foreign-Policy Rivals”; Bloomberg View; March 17, 2016).
Cruz’s recent comment to tighten security checks around Muslim residents (Ted Cruz: Police need to 'patrol and secure' Muslim neighborhoods; CNN; March 23, 2016) may reflect such views, but Republican mainstream does not accept those ideas. The Cruz team covers a broad range of ideological stands within the party, but the chasm between universalist neocons and nationalist conspiracy theorists can break out when their disagreements on specific issues are serious. Also, the selection of advisors of this group is disproportionately concentrated on Middle East and Islamic terrorism experts. That is far from meeting requirements to manage global challenges that America faces today.
Finally, I would like to mention Trump’s foreign policy team. Like Cruz, Trump’s team places disproportionate emphasis on Islamic terrorism. As if rivaling Cruz, Trump unveiled his foreign policy led by Senator Jim Sessions, a few days later. He has chosen neither high profile figures, nor former senior government officials for his advisors. Remarkably, his team is extremely commercialist, as if indicative of his businessman backgrounds. Carter Page and George Papadopoulos have an important position in the team, both of whom are oil and energy consultants (“Trump begins to peel back curtain on foreign policy team”; Hill; March 21, 2016). Some of them are with quite dubious and outlaw backgrounds. To begin with, Joseph Schmitz quit his job at the Pentagon in 2005 due to continuous corruption. Another member Walid Phares murdered Palestinian refugees when he fought for a Christian militia in Lebanon, and such a man of criminal conduct joins the team as a counterterrorism advisor. More startlingly, Retired Lieutenant General Keith Kellogg has no employment record in the army, despite his claim of working for the occupation forces in Iraq from 2003 to 2004 (“Top Experts Confounded by Advisers to Donald Trump”; New York Times; March 22, 2016).
In view of an appalling lineup like this, Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution, comments, “Either [Trump] doesn’t care about experience. . . or no one wants to taint his reputation by working for a guy whose views are often so harsh and unthinking” (“D.C.’s Foreign-Policy Establishment Spooked by ‘Bizzaro’ Trump Team”; National Review Online; March 24, 2016). There is no wonder why Trump’s foreign policy viewpoints are totally at odds with bipartisan and trans-ideological common understanding of foreign policy and national security communities in Washington, DC. He is completely scornful of the value of a global network of American alliance. Typically, Trump’s suggestion that Japan and South Korea be armed with nuclear weapons by themselves, is a complete defiance to America’s critical security agenda to stop nuclear proliferation throughout the world. (“In Japan and South Korea, bewilderment at Trump’s suggestion they build nukes”; Washington Post; March 28, 2016). The problem is no longer racketeering, bilateral alliance, and burden sharing. His remark is a sheer insult to bipartisan foreign policy experts who are dedicated to nuclear nonproliferation. Trump must know more nuclear armed powers in the world imply more likelihood of terrorist acquisition of nuclear weapons.
As to the appointment of policy advisors, a leader must be much more farsighted than the public. A candidate needs to meet people’s demand. But that is not enough. A good leader must drive people to pay more attention to unnoticed, but important issues, but not pander on populist outrage. In view of this, Clinton’s advisors are the best, and Trump’s are the worst. It is possible that the Cruz team will expand and upgrade, as more advisors can join from the Bush and the Rubio team.
Monday, March 14, 2016
President Barack Obama’s remark that America is no longer the world policeman, has perplexed the global public. But the more important question is whether America is dedicated to democracy promotion in the world. It is popularly believed that the United States still assumes it a foreign policy imperative to prevail democracy. However, during the Obama presidency, Thomas Carothers of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, points out that American budget to support democracy assistance has declined by 28%. The US Agency for International Development is the most severely hit victim, as its projects in the Middle East and Africa are drastically curtailed. This is because American citizens and policymakers are increasingly skeptical of democracy aid (“Why Is the United States Shortchanging Its Commitment to Democracy?”; Washington Post; December 22, 2014).
There is no doubt that vehement criticism to the Iraq War on the global stage drove the American public to isolationism, because defensive reactions to 9-11 attacks were blamed so bitterly. The failure of the Arab Spring has made America reluctant to make a commitment to democracy promotion furthermore. Arab opinion leaders blame the West and Zionist for corruption and instability in the region, but most of them are rooted in their societies. In addition to socioeconomic inequality and ethno-sectarian conflicts, Arab nations are hardly united despite pan-Arabism slogans. The rule of law and political participation are insufficient (“The Arab Winter”; Economist; January 9, 2016). Such global and Arab reactions have led to Obama’s withdrawal from the world policeman. It has given a bad impression to the global public that Obama has given away America’s special role to maintain the liberal world order.
American allies achingly desired that this election will elect the president who can overturn Obama’s superpower suicide. But things are rather developing to the contrary. Isolationism is rising on both the Democrat and the Republican sides. That is discouraging to America’s long term allies. Remember that democracy promotion and alliance network are deeply intertwined centerpieces of postwar American foreign policy. Robert Kagan of the Brookings Institution tells how both pieces work reciprocally in “The World America Made”. The United States has always fought a war with allies, while both the Soviet Union and China have virtually alone. Shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, former Warsaw Pact nations joined NATO. Even former Soviet republics like Ukraine and Georgia want to follow this. On the Pacific side, South East Asians like the Phillippines and even former foe Vietnam hope American presence to remove the Chinese threat. Though actually, none of the nations in the region want American or Chinese dominance, but their own independence.
It is widely understood that they embrace American hegemony, because the United States has neither territorial greed nor intention to infringe national sovereignty of others. Also, democratic values solidify American leadership on the global stage. Former senators Joseph Lieberman and Jon Kyl tell it in detail, “For America to lead, security and prosperity—guided by the principles of freedom—must be pursued in tandem” (“Why American leadership still matters”; AEI American Internationalism Project Report; December 3, 2015). Furthermore, both authors argue the relation between promoting American values and pursuing the national interest, “[But] supporting human rights and democratic ideals isn’t just about altruism. Democracies will not go to war with the United States, nor will they support terrorism against it, nor will they produce refugees to flee to it. Democracies do, however, ally with the United States and make for better economic partners” (“The case for American internationalism”; Catalyst; January 20, 2016).
However, not all candidates understand the importance of foreign policy assets. Typically, a Republican candidate Donald Trump argues for a fortress America against Mexicans and Muslims, and disengagement from Syria and North Korea, while a Democrat candidate Bernie Sanders almost entirely focus on domestic socioeconomic inequality. Let me talk about foreign policy of each candidate in this election (“Campaign 2016 --- Candidates & the World”; Council on Foreign Relations). Among current contestants, Marco Rubio is the most dedicated advocate for prevailing American values throughout the world. The fundamental idea of Rubio’s foreign policy is American exceptionalism to assume the special role in the global community, and he laments that the Obama administration wants to make America like the rest of the world (“Rubio: ‘Obama Wants America to Be Like the Rest of the World’”; MRC TV; January 28, 2016). As a result, he argues “Our allies don’t trust us. Our enemies don’t fear us. And the world doesn’t know where America stands” (“Rubio’s ad: “Our enemies don’t fear us’”; Hill; December 30, 2015). He endorses civil empowerment against autocratic regimes from China to Cuba. On the other hand, he voted against the Freedom Act in order to keep tough surveillance on terrorists in the homeland.
To the contrary, a Democrat Bernie Sanders and a Republican Donald Trump are unenthusiastic, and even at odds with democracy and human rights promotion, as they are extremely inward looking isolationists. Sanders is almost entirely dedicated to domestic inequality and labor issues, though he values multilateral cooperation with allies and friendly partners. As to domestic civil liberty, Sanders objects to strict surveillance for the sake of security against terrorism, as conservative libertarians do. The most problematic candidate is Donald Trump, because he is not just an isolationist. His devotion to American values is questionable from his inflammatory remarks about Muslims and Mexicans. As typically seen in his utterance about nuclear triad and wartime international law, his knowledge in foreign policy is extremely poor. His disrespect to human rights is revealed in the view on waterboarding, which distressed former CIA Director Michael Hayden so much as to say there is a legitimate possibility that the U.S. military would refuse to follow his orders (“Former CIA director: Military may refuse to follow Trump’s orders if he becomes president”; Washington Post; February 28, 2016). His foreign policy views are based on blue collar distrust to the global economy and liberal world order. He does not believe in “The World America Made”. Therefore, he does not trust democratic allies, nor is he interested in democracy promotion (“Trump’s 19th Century Foreign Policy”; Politico; January 20, 2016). He is an exceptional Republican to see diplomatic normalization with Cuba a business opportunity.
Other candidates from Republican Ted Cruz and John Kasich to Democrat Hillary Clinton stand between internationalism and isolationism. They are more or less realist, and not necessarily stanch advocates for democracy promotion. Clinton denounced China’s one-child policy as the first lady in 1995, but as the Secretary of State, her pivot to Asia was more trade oriented. Domestically, she insists on “humane” treatment of immigrants, and supports the Freedom Act for the same reason as Tea Party libertarians do. On the other hand, Cruz is in a delicate position. While he argues for hardline policies to advance human rights in geopolitically adversary regimes, notably China and Iran, he does not believe in “regime change” for fear of long and extensive troop deployments like the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. On the domestic front, Cruz worked with a prominent libertarian Rand Paul to replace the Patriot Act with the Freedom Act to loosen terrorist surveillance. This is partly due to his supporter bases, consisted of Tea Party libertarians who believe in a limited government and evangelicals who believe in moralism. But that is not the only reason for his antipathy to neocons and deep skepticism to Arab democratization.
Cruz depends his foreign policy heavily on Jeane Kirkpatrick to assume himself a Reaganite. Based on Kirkpatrick’s article (“Dictatorship and Double Standards”; Commentary; November 1, 1979), Cruz is willing to live with unpleasant autocrats like President Bashar al Assad of Syria, in order to avoid risks of unknown confusion resulting from moralistic interventionism (“Ted Cruz’s un-American ‘America First’ Strategy”; Foreign policy; December 16, 2015). Kirkpatrick’s double standard was taken to rival against the Soviet Union. Unlike neoconservatives and progressive internationalists, Kirkpatrick was skeptical of universal progress of civilization, and she was more realist than idealist. However, Cruz dismisses that Reagan did not always follow her advice, as typically seen in his response when pro-American and anti-communist Ferdinando Marcos was overthrown in the Phillipines (“Ted Cruz's New Foreign Policy Isn't Conservative”; National Interest; August 1, 2014). Cruz’s double standard between America’s strategic rivals like China and Iran, and unfavorable Arab autocracies like Syria and Egypt, can undermine America’s global stand as the bearer of freedom and human rights.
Democracy promotion in foreign policy is also correlated to domestic policy. From this point, Donald Trump is the worst candidate. He is notorious for arrogance to the media; inflammatory remarks to provoke mob violence; and insults to minorities, women, and handicapped people. Even if he launches human rights agenda, the world shall not listen to him. Pursuit of universal value and its achievements are foreign policy assets of the United States. I hope that the open letter by national security leaders to denounce Trump’s arrogant and ignorant isolationism will be the real start of counterblow of American internationalism.