Friday, November 25, 2005

Pro or Con on American Attack against Iraq before the War

The Iraq War has been dividing America. However, American opinion leaders regarded Iraq as a serious threat. This was unanimous, and beyond party politics and ideological backgrounds. Therefore, it is unfair to accuse the Bush administration of everything bad happens in Iraq. Those who argue against this war supported when it broke out.

I would like to refer to one blog and one article. First, I quote brief story of policy making before the war from “Did Bush Lie?” on Political Yen/Yang. I often visit this blog. Furthermore, I would like to introduce you a very insightful article In Washington Post by Robert Kagan, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. If you read this blog and article, you will think that the United States would have fought against Iraq even if Albert Gore had been elected the president.

Let me review the blog post on Political Yen/Yang. As mentioned in this post, it was the Clinton administration that began to make a plan to attack Iraq. In 1998, the House of Representative approved the Iraq Liberation Act. According to this blog, President Bill Clinton prepared for striking Iraq soon after he signed the bill. Actually, the regime change in Iraq was discussed in the Clinton administration. The Iraqi National Congress lead by Ahmad Chalabi, was sponsored by the Clinton regime.

Reviewing what happened before the war, we understand that the Bush administration’s Iraq policy is just continuation of that of the Clinton administration. Then, why is the United States so divided on the Iraq War? An article by Robert Kagan would show some key to this question. He is very well known for his book, “Of Paradise and Power”, and founded the Project for the New American Century with William Kristol.

This article tells us inside stories on the Iraq problem since the Clinton era. Actually the crisis began when Saddam Hussein blocked UN inspection on suspected sites in 1997, and the war was about to break out. Though Clinton bombed dangerous facilities in Iraq, Saddam Hussein maintained ambition to rule the Gulf area, and make weapons of mass destruction. In the face of such a great danger, the Clinton team decided to oust Saddam and install democracy in Iraq. Policymakers in Washington agreed unanimously that Iraqi threat was serious. Support for removing Saddam Hussein was widespread from liberals, conservatives, to neo-conservatives.

Some defense experts were cautious of attacking Iraq. Joseph Cirincione, who is also a Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, insisted that the United States review the final UN report carefully before making a decision to fight against Iraq. So did Michael O’Hanlon, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. However, it is very important to keep it in mind that even they regarded Iraq a serious threat to global security, and this threat must be removed soon. Joseph Cirincione’s group suggested a less risky method, called a “coercive” inspection, which authorizes armed inspectors to verify every doubtful site in Iraq. As you see, regardless of ideological stance, regardless of pro or con to the war, Saddam Hussein’s attitude was a grave concern to any foreign policy experts.

Those who changed the nature of the Iraq debate were professional left-wing activists. They blamed the United States belligerent, and driven by oil interests. Also, these demagogues agitated that the United States was a ruthless killer and Saddam’s Iraq was just a victim. Their agendas were off the point. However, strangely enough, their stupid opinions inflicted a great influence on the media. As a result, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said very furiously, “They talk as if Saddam were right and Bush were wrong.” He is right. These leftists shifted the focus away from security in the Middle East.

Left-wingers distorted the real issue of Iraq debate. They changed everything from rational talk to emotional scream. Their anti-American slogan has been undermining the US led coalition, and benefiting terrorists. Someday, I would like to talk about how these leftists agitate their agenda.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Britain and Japan as America's ally: Review of Woodrow Wilson Event

US President George W. Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi met in Kyoto on November 16. They reconfirmed closer ties between the United States and Japan. However, I do not regard Koizumi a reliable strategic partner to the United States, because he still maintains “no pains, no gains” attitude just as all postwar Japanese prime ministers did. He always says that Japanese is willing to make contribution to US endeavor within its own limits. This is not so much different from old and pacifist Japan. In order to understand it well, I would like to write a review of Woodrow Wilson Center’s event on Britain’s role between America and Europe. I believe Japan can learn a lot from the Anglo-American special relationship.

When I visited Washington DC, I attended this event on November 7. Unlike the Carnegie International Non-Proliferation Conference, this was small. About 20 people attended this meeting. Some are Woodrow Wilson Center staff, and some are students probably. One attendant was a professor of European history at the George Washington University.

The guest speaker was Professor Alex Danchev of Nottingham University in the United Kingdom. Basically, he presented critical viewpoints to Tony Blair’s foreign policy. According to Professor Danchev, Blair has committed too much to the US power diplomacy. Also, he pointed out that since the German problem had been resolved at the end of the Cold War, the nature of the Anglo-American alliance would change.

Despite his criticism to Tony Blair, he told vital points on the Anglo-American special relationship. The special relationship is the key to British foreign policy, regardless of ideological background of American side. The following objectives satisfy Britain’s vital national interest.

(1) Be distinguished from other nations
The special relationship will make Britain a distinguished ally to the United States. As people often say, Britain plays a role of Greece to America’s Rome.

(2) Make use of US power
With close ties with America, Britain can strengthen its position in Europe and the globe.

(3) Influence on US policy
As an Athenian to America’s Rome, Britain should be a consultant for the United States to manage the world.

(4) Interpret between Europe and America
Britain should be a representative of Europe to the United States. Also, Britain should bridge policy gaps between Europe and America.

Therefore, British policymakers have been keeping close ties with the United States. As the Cold War is over, Professor Danchev showed skeptic viewpoints to this strategy. However, I was impressed to hear questions from American attendants to Professor Danchev. They said that Tony Blair was very popular in the United States among both liberals and conservatives. Liberals appreciate New Labour economic policies, and conservatives regard him as the most reliable ally to the United States. In addition, they pointed out that Blair was an icon of liberal democracy and market economy in New Europe.

Certainly, Britain is a distinguished ally to the United States, particularly for grassroots Americans. I see many American blogs with the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack. Also, I found an interesting website, called “Thank you” This is an American site to send a letter to Tony Blair to thank his cooperation to the United States in the Iraq War. I have sent a letter to thank Tony Blair through this site for three times. Right or wrong, Britain is an unparalleled ally to the United States. This is a special advantage for the United Kingdom.

Come to think of it, does Koizumi have clear objectives to strengthen the US-Japanese relations as I mentioned above? As far as I know, none of Japanese prime ministers, foreign ministers, and foreign policy bureaucrats have those steadfast objectives in their mind. No wonder I do not find “Thank you” at all.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Carnegie Conference: Appearance in NPR Talk of the Nation

I came home, and I can write my blog posts again. As I said in the last post, I attended the Carnegie International Non-Proliferation Conference at the International Trade Center, or Ronald Reagan Building in Washington DC on November 7 and 8. This conference is held every 18 months, and the largest event by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. As I mentioned last time, leading policymakers were invited to give lectures on non-proliferation. Audiences invited to this conference were top experts from the government, the media, Washington think tanks, embassies, and NGOs from all over the world. At the panel discussion on various topics, guest speakers and attendants discussed very seriously as experts on nuclear proliferation. In other words, both of them talk with mutual respect to their knowledge. It was terrific.

The first speaker was Mohamed El Baradei, Director General of IAEA, and winner of Nobel peace prize this year. I was impressed with his pragmatist approach to nuclear non-proliferation. He said he did not stick to NPT as long as his effort to stop nuclear proliferation was satisfied. Since the Iraq War, I had an impression that he was at odds with the Bush administration. However, he praised the Bush approach to India practical. He is not always against Bush, and I am impressed with his pragmatism.

Another big guest was Samuel Bodman, Secretary of Energy in current Bush administration. His prime focus was on US-Russian non-proliferation cooperation. In particular, he mentioned about shipping highly enriched uranium and plutonium from former Soviet countries to Russia, and converting weapons grade nuclear fuel to civilian use. He stressed how successful US-Russian cooperation is in this area. Currently, the relationship between the United States and Russia is not necessarily friendly. Despite that, both nuclear powers pursue common agenda for non-proliferation. Those who criticize Bush foreign policy unilateralist should reconsider their viewpoints.

Most surprisingly, I appeared in NPR Talk of the Nation. It was a live talk show on November 8, and Neal Conan chaired panel discussion on nuclear arsenals between guest speakers and listeners. Also, experts at the conference asked questions to guest speakers. NPR staff requested us to clap in order to create enthusiastic atmosphere. In addition, they requested us to ask easy questions, and not to ask something of expert, so that listeners can understand well. NPR delivered a piece of paper to write down a question and name on it. Then, the audience submits the question to NPR staff for selection. Those who passed this selection could ask a question to the guest.

Fortunately, my question on nuclear history was taken up by the staff, and I went up to the microphone. I asked them “Why didn’t the US use nuclear bombs in the Korean War and the Vietnam War?” As to Korea, retired General Eugene Habiger replied that it was questionable whether nuclear bomb was effective against North Korea. As to Vietnam, former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara of the Kennedy administration said that the United States worried Chinese intervention if nuclear bomb was used against North Vietnam. Also, the US wanted to avoid the reputation of genocide, he said.

I would like to mention more about the Carnegie and Woodrow Wilson events in my later posts.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Coming to Washington DC

I decided to attend international conferences held in Washington DC on November 7 and 8. One is a big event by the Nonproliferation Project of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Influential policymakers on WMD proliferation are invited as guest speakers. Nonproliferation project is the centerpiece of the Carnegie Endowment, and this is far larger than any other events held by the Endowment.

Main guest speakers are the following.

Mohamed El Baradei, Director General of International Atomic Energy Agency
Samuel W. Bodman, US Secretary of Energy
William J. Perry, Former US Secretary of Defense
Sam Nunn, Former US Senator (Democrat)
Richard Lugar, US Senator (Republican), Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Guest speakers come from both current Bush administration and former Clinton administration. Bipartisan debates will be a good opportunity to understand on US nuclear policy further. Also, there are some foreign guests, including EU Commissioner Javier Solana’s personal WMD Representative and Egyptian Ambassador to the United States. Attendants are from Washington think tanks, the media, and the government, mostly. Students and NGO activists will participate in this conference as well.

The most critical topic will be Iran and North Korea.

Currently, WMD nonproliferation is one of the key areas in US foreign policy. I have posted some articles on nuclear weapons on this blog. Therefore, I will write about this conference when I come back to Tokyo. If possible, I would like to post an article from the hotel, using a computer in the common room. Just if possible.

I will attend another conference at the Woodrow Wilson Center Professor Alex Danchev from Nottingham University in the United Kingdom will give a lecture on Britain’s role between America and Europe. The Woodrow Wilson Center was founded in 1968 with approval by the Congress. It is quite close to the White House. The Anglo-American Special Relationship and the Transatlantic Alliance is a key topic on this blog. I hope I can write a good post about it as well.