Sunday, August 28, 2005

Link of Interest: British American Security Information Council

The Anglo-American special relationship has been the most important alliance to advance liberal democracy, and prevail peace and stability throughout the world. We can name glorious duos, notably FDR-Churchill, Kennedy-Macmillan, Reagan-Thatcher, and Bush-Blair. Those who crave for global democracy understand it very well. It will continue to be the core of the transatlantic alliance.

I found an interesting site on the Anglo-American strategic partnership. BASIC or the British American Security Information Council was established in 1987 as an independent research organization. BASIC “assists in the development of global security policies, policy-making and the assessment of policy priorities, and promotes public awareness and understanding of these policies and of policy-making in Europe and the US.” Key research areas are nuclear policies, military strategies, armaments and disarmaments. In order to promote well-informed debate on both sides of the Atlantic, BASIC has offices in London and Washington, and maintains solid contact with NATO nations.

Currently, BASIC has the following projects.

(1) Nuclear and WMD
This project aims at elimination of nuclear and WMD throughout the world. For this purpose, this project tries to draw public attention to this issue, and push for transparency in arms control.
Recent hot topics are Iran, NPT, and missile defense. Also, possible replacement of Trident missile in Britain is a critical subject. On this issue, policy experts discuss whether nuclear deterrent is effective in the war on terror.

(2) Transatlantic Security
This project keeps close contacts with the United Nations, EU, OSCE, and NATO, in order to pursue better conflict management system in Europe. NATO expansion is an important issue as well.

(3) Weapons Trade
Many conflicts in the developing world are fought with small arms and light weapons. The United States and Europe are leading exporters in this area. BASIC explores to establish codes of conducts to control global arms trade.

Successful transatlantic partnership is the key to global security. The Anglo-American special relationship is the core of the transatlantic alliance. BASIC maintains close ties with governmental and private organizations. This site is worth stopping by. See the blog as well.

Monday, August 22, 2005

A Review of VJ Day: Has Japan Really Been Born Again?


This August 15 was the 60th VJ day (end of war memorial day for Japanese). The media took up numerous debates on Japan from the postwar era to the future. Having seen these debates, I insist that Japanese leaders and citizens have a universal and absolute value in their foreign and domestic policies. People must keep it in mind that Japan in the post-Cold War era is the model of regime change. This is the only way in which Japan would play a leading role in the world as one of the key allies to the United States. All the Japanese foreign and domestic policy goals must be compatible with this premise. Otherwise, everything should be scrapped away.

Throughout the postwar period, Japanese people had been exploring how to prevent the rise of fascism again and win trust from the global community. People tend to talk about specific issues, like monarchy, national flag, anthem, Yasukuni shrine, pacifist constitution, wartime history, and relations with Asia. However, no one tried to show a grand design for postwar Japan. As a result, people wasted their energy on stupid debates.

Left-wingers blame monarchy, national flag, anthem, and Yasukuni shrine, for symbols of wartime fascism. They advocate pacifist constitution. Regarding wartime history and relations with Asia, leftists demand continual apology to Asian neighbors. On the other hand, ultra-rightists and neo-nationalists argue traditional values must be maintained whether they are related to wartime fascism or not.

In my opinion, these debates miss the fundamental point: whether Japan has really been born again after the war. More precisely, everything must be judged whether it is compatible with regime changes, currently on going throughout the world, and still in process in Japan. From this point of view, Japanese leaders and citizens can cut off the Gordian knot of all the foreign and domestic policy issues.

A born-again nation and the model of regime change, Japanese people must reconsider what the US-Japanese alliance is. No Japanese leaders doubt how important it is for Japan’s national security. However, most of them, particularly neo-nationalists and neo-realists, see the alliance just a strategic deal to defeat common threats in the Asia-Pacific region.

In my understanding, this is beyond military alliance. It is a manifestation of Japan’s wholehearted commitment to global democracy. Japan must play this vital role just as Britain does under Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair. From this point of view, I would suggest the followings to Japan.

(1) Full scale involvement in confronting terrorists and rogues
Japan has sent troops to Iraq. But this is just the first step toward further involvement. The alliance is evolving global. Japanese commitment must be beyond Asia-Pacific. Europe and the Middle East are also important for the US-Japanese strategic partnership.

(2) Membership of “Greater Europe”
At the end of Cold War, a conference for “Greater Europe, from Van Couver to Vladivostock”, was held. This should be extended to Tokyo. Japan shares global executive seat of liberal democracy with Europe and America, because, it is a vital ally to the United States. This makes Japan distinct from its Asian neighbors, like China and Korea.

(3) Eliminate all the domestic hurdles for the model of regime change
The postwar period was Phase I of regime change. Some sort of appeasement to ex-fascists had been necessary, because it was urgent to stabilize Japan during the Cold War. It is Phase II in the post-Cold War era. No one needs to hesitate to throw away some fascistic leaders. They simply damage Japan’s reputation in the world. Asians, particularly Chinese and Koreans, pursue psychological superiority over Japan, and try to split the US-Japanese alliance by blaming Japan’s wartime misconduct. This is their power politics.
Also, legal confinement of pacifist constitution must be swept away.

A forward-looking Japan like this, will be helpful a lot to world citizens. Keep it in mind that Japan is the model of regime change. All the policies must be based on this premise.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Question: Is American Intervention Right or Wrong?

This is a vital question to discuss US foreign policy, world order, and ultimately, regime change. In my view, people all over the world cherish ambivalent feeling to American intervention. A mere glance at world affairs, it seems that the United States is always at odds with the global civil society. This is not true. A careful review on US foreign policy will show this fact to you. During the Iraq War, numerous self-called “grassroots” groups condemned US attack on Saddam Hussein. However, strangely enough, these groups and activists requested US intervention in Liberia. Moreover, they petitioned the United States to pressure Burma to stop human rights violation. Usually, they blame American intervention for arrogance, belligerence, and megalomania. What happened with them?

The key to this problem lies in the nature of the USA itself. America is a republic, and an empire as well. As a republic, America is a land of civil liberty, and abstains from dirty power politics in the Old World. On the other hand, as an empire, America imposes stability and a liberal world order throughout the globe. No one doubts that the American Empire today is the successor to the British Empire under Queen Victoria. The United States assumes a mission to prevail liberal values and stable world order with coercive power. Global citizens have mixed feelings to this mission.

So, what’s your viewpoint? Is American intervention right, or wrong? I look forward to your answer.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Policy Implications

This 8-6 and 8-9 were 60th anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki days. People discuss whether nuclear attacks to both cities were right or wrong. Regarding this pro-con debate, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists takes up a special edition in July/August 2005 issue. Essays by Pervez Hoodbhoy, Thomas Donnelly, and Robert L. Gallucci, are available on the web. Was it necessary to drop atomic bombs to end the war earlier? This debate is never-ending. However, it is important to learn lessons for the future.

When should the policymaker make the final decision to use nuclear weapons? Are there any ways to avoid nuclear attacks during the war? I am asking these questions because Hiroshima-Nagasaki bombing might have been unnecessary. More importantly, nuclear deterrence is getting less reliable in the post Cold War era. During the Cold War, nuclear diplomacy had been Russo-American bipolar, and the Big 5 oligopolized nuclear weapons. However, these weapons have been proliferating today. Even non-state actors like terrorist organizations may acquire nuclear bombs. In order to face these threats, the United States is developing smaller and more practical nuclear weapons. In a situation like this, American and other Big 5 policymakers may be more tempted to preliminary nuclear attacks against rogue states and terrorist bases. Speaking of the final decision for nuclear attack, let’s think again Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

People in the latter days can analyze critically on Harry Truman’s decision to use atomic bombs to end the war earlier. But wait. Did the president have enough information about Japan? It was not a TV war these days. No one got real time information as we do today. Also, Japanese leaders in those days did not hold press conferences with the Western media. In fact, Japanese government was exploring to make a deal with the allied forces to end the war. The entire Japanese nation was completely damaged and exhausted. But there was no ways for US leaders to know about it. In addition, I have to mention wartime psychology. Japanese soldiers seemed so fearless that the war appeared something endless to the allied forces. In such a circumstance, Truman had no choice but use atomic bombs. It was not a TV war today.

On the other hand, people overestimate the effect of atomic bomb to end the war quickly. It is one of the reasons why Japan decided to surrender. But don’t miss the following points. First, under the fascist regime, the government controls the information. They can hide the facts. Also, so many Japanese people believed that the divine and sacred emperor was invincible. In a case like this, the “shock and awe” strategy doesn’t work.

Remember. Japanese leaders were exploring to end the war. It was 8-15 when Hirohito declared ceasefire, just a week from 8-6 and 8-9. It is too quick.
There is no denying that nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki played some role to end the war. But don’t overestimate its effect. Through further analysis of Hiroshima-Nagasaki, we can learn more lessons for the future.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Iran, 25 years on

I saw an advertisement, entitled “In Memory of My Brother, MOHAMMAD REZA PAHLAVI, The Late Shahanshah of Iran” in the International Herald Tribune on July 27. It was the 25th anniversary of the passing away of the Shahanshah. Achraf Pahlavi, the sister of the late king of Iran, placed this advertisement.
She lauds rapid modernization in the White Revolution during the Pahlavi regime, and presents critical viewpoints to current theocracy.

Think again. The most detrimental factor in the Middle East is not the Palestine conflict but the Iranian Revolution. While the former is an ethnic clash between Jewish and Palestinians, the latter has lead to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism allover the Middle East.
The result? First, it is Iranian people themselves who suffer from repressive regime, dominated by archaic-brained mullahs. Some people may say the Pahlavi monarchy was repressive as well. But remember! Pahlavi shahs were Kemalists. The fundamental value of this ideology is modernization and enlightenment by throwing away outmoded Islamism, destroying mediaeval systems of exploitation, providing good education to the people, and so forth. Kemal Ataturk of Turkey and Pahlavi shahs of Iran may have taken some oppressive policies. But these approaches are necessary evils for the process of rapid modernization. This is completely different from theocratic oppression. In the Islamic regime, people expect little modernization and enlightenment.
In addition, the Islamic autocracy causes negative impacts throughout the Middle East. Islamic fundamentalism has become invigorated since then, anti-Western and anti-Jewish feeling has become intensified. In other words, no Iranian revolution means no Al Qaeda.
Judging from the balance of power in this region, it is evident. Saddam Hussein became increasingly megalomaniac, after the fall of shah. Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan to fill the power vacuum. Consequence? I can list up too many clashes, including the Iran-Iraq War, the Gulf War, 9-11, the Afghan War, and the Iraq War.

Why people blame too much on the Israeli-Palestine conflict, while paying little attention to negative consequences of the Iranian Revolution. In Palestine, there are easy target to accuse. Just name them. US-Israeli relations, Jewish lobbies, and anything related to Jewish are blamed.

We need to understand what the real cause of Middle East instability is. People overestimate Palestine, and underestimate Iran.