Sunday, April 24, 2016

Obama Should Send a Warning to Trump in Hiroshima!

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.