Sunday, December 31, 2006

Goodbye 2006 Question: What happens without attacking Iraq?

The year 2006 ends today, and new year is coming soon. As if it were a landmark toward the next year, Saddam Hussein was executed. Today, I would like to question whether it is right to criticize US decision to fight against Iraq.

Certainly, there are some unexpected troubles after toppling Saddam. However, can anyone guarantee that terrorists will not attack US forces and local police, if the coalition continues to stay in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in order to bomb suspected sites occasionally?

Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein may not have direct ties each other. But think of terrorists’ objectives. Their target is anything associated with American power and Western superiority against their value of Islamic radicalism. There is no doubt that Al Qaeda and its affiliates attacked allied bases around Iraq. Moreover, they could have agitated riots in Arab moderates, such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, and Gulf states.

Saddam Hussein would have continued to ridicule allied forces and international inspectors. Things could have been worse than it is today. He was megalomania, and always posing threat to his neighbors. Don’t forget that he used chemical weapons against the Iranian army and Kurdish citizens in Iraq. There is every reason that US-UK led allies had been concerned with his possible use of other weapons of mass destructions, including biological and nuclear weapons. In addition, Iraqi citizens, regardless of religion and ethnic backgrounds, would be still under tyrant rule, had the coalition hesitated to fight against Iraq.

The cost of endless containment could have been tremendous.

It is not appropriate to blame the initial decision to overthrow a dangerous dictator, simply because of predicaments. In any case, Iraq is Iraq, and Vietnam is Vietnam. It is important to talk with influential neighbors, but never appease!

According to oriental zodiac, 2007 is a year of wild boar. I hope the war on terror and Middle East democratization will make rapid progress like a dash of energetic boar.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Key Person: Understanding Chinese Foreign Policy

Yan Xuetong (閻学通)
Professor/Director, Institute of International Affairs, Tsinghua University, China

Global American Discourse has launched a new corner, entitled “Key Person.” This corner talks about specific person who advocates important agendas in international affairs, regardless of fame, power, popularity, and social status. In the first post of “Key Person”, I am talking of Yan Xuetong.

It is quite difficult to understand Chinese way of thinking in global power games. Particularly, China’s hard-nosed attitude to the United States and Japan is unpleasant for me. But it is no use to see things simply through emotional perspectives. In order to understand China rationally, it is the best to read some commentaries written by Chinese opinion leaders.

Professor Yan received his BA from Heilongiang University in 1982, MA from the Institute of International Relations in 1986, and PhD from University of California, Berkeley in 1992. Since then, he has been writing numerous books and articles on Chinese foreign policy, US-Chinese relations, and Asia-Pacific security. He advises the Chinese government, and contributes essays to Chinese and foreign journals.

I would like to mention two articles to understand Yan Xuetong’s viewpoint on Chinese policy to the United States, Japan, and the Asia-Pacific region.

The first one is “The Rise of China in Chinese Eyes” in the Journal of Contemporary China in October 2001. In this article, Professor Yan points out that the rise of China is a long cherished desire among Chinese people to restore a great power status before the Opium War. Furthermore, he insists that the rise of China will benefit the world as a counter balance to American hegemony and a market with huge potential.

He points out that China had been the leading world power before the Opium War. For the Chinese, the rise of their nation is regaining lost international status. On the other hand, Chinese leaders never dream of catching up with the Unites States, and they are well aware of miserable failure in the Great Leap Forward. Yan insists that China is aiming at becoming the leader of the Third World, and its rise is peaceful. He criticizes US foreign policy belligerent, and advocates China’s role to constrain US-led unipolar world. Moreover, he argues that China will make the world more civilized through prevailing Confucian values as opposed to Western values. Finally, Yan mentions positive impacts of the Chinese market on the world economy.

In an article, entitled “Sino-US Relations in the Eyes of Chinese” (People’s Daily, March 4, 2005), Yan analyses survey results of public opinion poll on US-Chinese relations. Although Chinese people saw American people and society favorably, they were concerned with US foreign policy with regard to war in Iraq (37.6%), selling weapons to Taiwan (31.7%), and strengthening military ties with Japan (7.9%). Professor Yan commented as below.

All the Chinese public's dissatisfaction with the US is almost concentrated solely on the US's foreign policies, particularly the policy on China. Among other issues the Taiwan question is the core. Above 60 percent believe it to be the main question affecting the Sino-US relations in the future while about 32 percent Americans think the greatest issue in the Sino-US relations is that of human rights.

The media has an influence on people's opinion of the Sino-US relations, which cannot be underestimated. It is not so hard to see that as far as international affairs are concerned the Chinese public generally accepts what the media says.

It was also for this reason that Yan Xuetong pointed out the fact that among the reasons Chinese felt dissatisfied with the US the option of "selling weapons to Taiwan" and that of "waging the war in Iraq" were chosen by roughly the same number of people while people who chose the option of "strengthening military ties with Japan" were few - a phenomenon which greatly surprised Yan. "One of the things happened far away from us, another is a big thing which happened just outside our door and the other happened right inside our home. How could it be this result?" Yan Xuetong warned: "Think about the coverage our media devoted to Iraq, which was who knows how many times more than that of the US' arms sales to Taiwan!" Regarding "the US and Japan strengthening military ties" Ding Gang believes judging from the statistics many people were not aware of that at all or did not know much.

Professor Yan Xuetong articulates Chinese viewpoint and ambitions on the global stage. However, he is too unconscious of the threat posed by China to the global society. As to “The Rise of China in Chinese Eyes”, Ted Osius, Deputy Director of the Office of Korean Affairs at the U.S. State Department, questions Yan’s opinion that China as a peaceful power.

China lives in an uncertain neighborhood. While Russia and India hold potential for cooperation, they are not natural allies. Events in South Asia, the Korean peninsula, or the Taiwan Strait, could lead China to use force to safeguard its own interests. Recent history does not support Mr. Yan’s claim that China has a benign track record. In 1979, China attacked Vietnam; recent actions in the South China Sea are seen as provocative, especially by ASEAN; and only three years ago China tested its missiles in the Taiwan Strait. Today it is rattling the same saber. Indeed, China’s leaders have pointedly not ruled out the use of force to settle the Taiwan question.

Mr. Yan acknowledges that some in China would like to challenge America’s role in the world. Indeed, two of China’s senior colonels recently published “Unrestricted War,” examining methods a weak China might use when standing up to a strong U.S.

Discussing dangers the U.S. and Japan might pose to North Korea, Mr. Yan again
reminds us that China’s perspective is shaped by history. While it was only 68 years ago that Japan invaded and occupied Manchuria, today China has no reason to fear Japan militarily. Still, China has not dropped its quest for Japanese apologies and does not treat Japan as a normal country, one with a right to assume responsibility for its own defense. It is now time to ask if Japan, which also has a rich and remarkable history, should indefinitely limit its role in the world. Should China have a veto over Japan’s security policies? My answer is no.

In addition to Osius’s comment, I would like to mention the following. Throughout the history, Chinese emperors had been treating foreign kings as their junior partners. Only since the defeat in the Opium War, the Chinese accepted the Westphalian norms of international relations. Until blown up with Queen Victoria’s big gun, the Chinese looked down on foreigners as barbarians. Professor Yan misses this point when he advocates the Chinese world order. However, his articles are helpful to understand the underlying logic of Chinese foreign policy. Yan Xuetong is really a key person to the world.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Review of Transatlantic Relations from the US-German Blog Carnival

The US-German blog carnival, sponsored by the Atlantic Review and GM’s Corner, was held on December 11. As I mention previously, this is a quarterly event to promote dialogues and understanding between the United States and Europe. Around 20 bloggers from both sides of the Atlantic, and Pacific (which is me), participate in this event. Carnival attendants discuss not only politics and economics, but also popular culture and citizens’ life.

I received an e-mail from Atlantic Review yesterday, saying that Time Magazine has chosen as the “Person of the Year”, because its editors "control the Information Age." It is delightful that bloggers can promote intellectual talks and exchange ideas across the nations. The carnival focus on US-German and transatlantic relations, and I recommend ardent students of international relations to see this link.

This autumn, NATO summit was held in Riga, Latvia, and the Euro-American partnership will play increasingly important role to prevail liberal democracy and advance global stability. Not everything is optimistic. I would like to mention some submitted posts related to the agenda of this blog.

Atlantic Review, the host of this carnival, submits “Germany and the United States Failed to Train Afghanistan’s Police” to discuss critical problems to accomplish stability in Afghanistan. The United States and Germany do not provide sufficient training staff and equipments with Afghan police and military forces. The editor points out that the United States makes the same mistakes there as it does in Iraq. More seriously, this blog quotes Christian Science Monitor to mention negative effects of drug problem o Afghan police. The split between the United States and Germany is another critical issue, as Germany refused to transfer its troops to hard battle regions.

Some bloggers, such as Observing Herman … and the Assistant Village Idiot compare the leadership of current administrations in the United States and Germany in their posts, “Lame duck” and “The German American Economic Collapse.”

The issue of Mitteleuropa and energy is another focus. The International Affairs Forum points out that increasing cooperation on energy development between Germany and Russia stimulates anxiety in Poland. According to its post, “Merkerl’s Geopolitical Menage Trois”, Poland is concerned with close Russo-German partnership and ultimate marginalization of Poland itself.

As expected, threat of Islamic radicals is discussed at the carnival by Chicago Boyz in “The Future Doesn’t Belong to Islam, Thank You Very Much.” The author criticizes a comment by a conservative columnist Mark Styne that while Muslim population is too young and rapidly increasing, Western population is too old and decreasing. According to this blog, his arguments are based on completely wrong demographic data.

I submitted a post “NATO Summit at Riga, Latvia” to discuss globalization of NATO. I focus on future expansion of NATO to Japan, Australia, and so forth. Also, I talk about NATO’s commitment to tackle common threats to the global community, like non-proliferation, terrorism, and rogue regimes.

More blogs participate in this carnival, and it is a pity that I cannot mention all of them in this post. I have no doubt that it very helpful to visit the carnival site to understand what issues are crucial today in US-German and US-European relations. Some of them are vital, but drawing little attention by the media.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Can We Talk with Iran?

Iran is one of the trouble spots in the Middle East. The theocratic administration sponsors terrorism, violates the non-proliferation regime, and tries to export radical ideology. Despite these problems, the Iraq Study Group, Chaired by former Secretary of State James Baker, suggested that the United States talk with Iran and Syria in order to placate current turmoil in Iraq. Some media quote this to criticize the Bush administration on the Iraq policy. But we have to think again. The Study Group recommendation is not an oracle. It is essential to review carefully whether we can talk with Iran or not, regarding Iraq, nuclear bomb, and terrorism throughout the Middle East.

Iran is expanding its influence in the Shiite area in Iraq, since the collapse of the Saddam Hussein regime. Diplomats and experts comment that Iran’s clout in Iraq is much stronger than that of Syria’s. Then, should we make some kind of concessions with Iran in order to settle disputes in Iraq? Things are not so simple. Iran is developing nuclear bombs. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insists on wiping out Israel. Dovish policy to Iran would make things worse.

To talk about this issue further, let me mention comments by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates at the confirmation hearing on December 5. Regarding the expected consequences of US attack against Iran, Secretary Gates said they might not be able to retaliate directly, but they could provide terrorists with weapons of mass destruction, such as biological and chemical weapons. As for Iran’s leverage on Iraq, he mentioned “They are certainly not being helpful in Iraq and are doing us -- I think doing damage to our interests there, but I think they could do a lot more to hurt our effort in Iraq.” In addition, according to Gates, Ahmadinejad thinks seriously of terminating Israel. Judging from what Secretary Gates said at the hearing, it is not easy to talk with Iran, though he recognize it necessary.

George Perkovich, Vice President at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, insists that the West talk with Iran in his article “Washington’s Dilemma: Why Engaging with Iran Is a Good Idea” to Yale Global Online on December12. In conclusion, Perkovich says “Iran does have weaknesses, and a dialogue can expose them, perhaps intensifying the country’s internal fissures. Refusal to talk cedes the high ground to Iran without any benefit to Washington.” However, leading policymakers, including members of the Iraq Study Group and Henry Kissinger, do not show specific ways to scare or entice Iranian theocrats into accepting America’s vital interest.

Some concerns must be considered to talk with Iran. The Los Angels Times presents interesting analysis in “Iran Looks Like the Winner of the Iraq War” on December 10. According to this article, the Iraq Study Group observes the rise of Iranian influence in the Middle East since the US-led war in Iraq, and insists that the United States needs to seek some help from Iran for resolution. However, Mustafa Alani, Director at the Gulf Research Center in Dubai points out that though Iran’s leverage is growing and the Bush administration has no effective solutions to stop Iran’s nuclear ambition, the price of cooperation is high. Mark Fitzpatrick, Senior Analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, says that Iran would demand recognition of uranium enrichment and lifting sanctions in return. This will ruin non-proliferation efforts by the United States and EU3. Also, Israel and moderate Arabs, like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt, are dismayed to think of possible deal between Iran and the United States.

Ex-Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi argues that a dialogue will benefit extremist Ahmadinejad without improving current challenges on Iraq, non-proliferation, and terrorism. But should we simply refuse to talk with Iran, and assist political protest in Iran?

Senior Fellows Patrick Clawson and Michael Eisenstadt at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, show concrete ideas to deal with Iran in a policy brief, entitled “Forcing Hard Choices on Tehran.” In this essay, both authors point out that economic and diplomatic sanctions by themselves do not inflict sufficiently on theocrats, because they are used to international isolation. These measures must be coupled with other means. Fortunately, unlike North Korea, democracy movements are strong in Iran, and overseas activists provide substantial support for them. Domestic pressure will upset mullahs. In addition authors propose to “Dissuade and deter by checking Iran’s Military potential.” For this objective, the United States must establish security architecture with European and Middle East allies to contain Iran. America and its allies must have sufficient naval power to counter Iranian naval blockade to stop oil route in the Gulf. Also, authors suggest the United States offer air defense system to shoot down Iranian missiles. Authors insist on using offensive ways as well, that is, to threaten conventional military strike to target senior leaders and economic infrastructure. Furthermore, they maintain to “Dissuade and disrupt by preventative military action.” If Iranian theocrats regard the United States as weak and reluctant to fight, they will quest further gains in this power game. Soft policies are nonetheless important. Clawson and Eisenstadt urge the United States to offer inducements to Iran, like assuring no attack if they abandon their nuclear project. Simultaneously, authors claim the West should promote reforms in Iran regardless of nuclear problem.

Consequently, we must not confuse dialogue with appeasement. The West must show strength and unyieldingness against Iran. Just leaving Iraq would make things worse. All the problems associated with Iran --- nuclear weapon, Iraq, and terrorism --- are strongly interconnected. America and EU3 must be united firmly, and help Iranian people’s quest for political reform.

Finally I would like to mention another stakeholder, which is Japan. Current regime in Iran is an ideological enemy to Japan. Westernizing modernization policies under the Pahlavi monarchy were modeled after those of Japan and Turkey. As a result of the Iranian revolution, clerical oppressors took place of enlightened despot. It is a pity that Japanese leaders think light of this fact, and I will mention this further on another occasion.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

US-Indian Nuclear Deal after the Senate Approval

Right after the midterm election, political commentators argued that the Bush administration would have difficulty in dealing with the Congress under Democratic majority. However, a controversial bill has passed the Senate on November 16. As I mentioned several times on this blog, the Bush administration decided to offer technological assistance for civilian nuclear use in India, which spurred fierce pro-con debates among American policymakers. Proponents insist the following reasons for the US-Indian nuclear deal: strategic partnership in the war on terror, balance of power in Asia and the Middle East, and access to a prospective market. However, opponents argue that the nuclear deal with a non-NPT member would undermine the current non-proliferation regime, and tougher verifications should be required. Even some Republicans raised these concerns as I mentioned “Kissinger Talks on India.” Despite these hurdles, the Senate approved the nuclear deal with India.

I would like to explore why such a controversial deal has passed the Senate under Democrat majority. The following reasons are important: terrorism, market, China, and the Middle East. US businesses are keen to expand their market in India. According to “US Nuclear Firms Eye on Indian Market” in the Washington Post on December 1, leading American companies like General Electric, Westinghouse Electric, and Bechtel sent delegates for nuclear power plant projects in India. In addition, tougher safeguards were installed at the Senate to assure non-proliferation. The nuclear deal would enable the United States to pursue these objectives. Regarding non-proliferation, Under Secretary of State R. Nicholas Burns commented as below at the Senate testimony.

Without such an agreement, India, with its large and sophisticated nuclear capabilities, would continue to remain outside the international export control regimes governing commerce in sensitive nuclear and nuclear-related technologies. With this agreement, given India’s solid record in stemming and preventing the proliferation of its nuclear technology over the past 30 years, the U.S. and the international community will benefit by asking India to open up its system, to separate its civil and military nuclear facilities, and to submit to international inspections and safeguards on its civil facilities, thus allowing it to bring its civil nuclear program into effective conformity with international standards.

Although supportive of the deal with India, leading members of foreign policy panels in both houses --- including Senator Richard Lugar, Senator Joseph Biden, Congressman Henry Hyde, and Congressman Tom Lantos --- raised concerns about nuclear proliferation and India’s relation with Iran (Lawmakers Concerned about US-India Nuclear Deal, Washington Post, November 15). In order to deal with such problems, tougher clauses were installed. The Senate bill bans the transfer to India of technology related to enrichment, reprocessing or heavy water production -- weapons-related technologies the United States says it has no plans to provide -- but Rice wants this out. With regard to the Iran issue, Burns said, “We appreciate India’s belief that Iran should not acquire a nuclear weapons capability, and India’s continuing cooperation with the U.S. and Europe is essential to convince Iran to return to negotiations.” The Senate bill requires that India be "fully and actively participating in U.S. and international efforts to dissuade, sanction and contain Iran for its nuclear program."

For the final legislation, both the Senate and the House must fill the gap in their vote. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice insists on softening the bill. In her open letter to the Senate, she says, "It is not appropriate to single out India, which has been a responsible steward of its nuclear technology." Also, she points out “India twice joined Washington in voting against Iran in the International Atomic Energy Agency and is expected to continue cooperating” (“Democrats: White House seeks to weaken India bill”, Washington Post, December 4).

Among the reasons for the nuclear deal, the most questionable one is to use India as a strategic card against China. Actually, energy hungry India is exploring a similar deal with China. In the economy, both countries agreed to expand mutual trade. The Economist questions the Indo-Chinese relationship as below.

The appealing notion here is that India and China have complementary economies. China, through its burgeoning factories, is the world’s workshop. India, with its fast-growing IT and outsourcing firms, is becoming the world's back office. With Chinese hardware providing the orchestra and Indian software writing the score, surely they can make beautiful music together? (The Myth of Chindia, November 22)

The Boston Globe quotes by policymakers in both countries. Sun Shihai, Deputy director of the Institute for Asia Pacific Studies at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, comments "China feels it needs to engage India more [and] develop some kind of Russia-China-India cooperation" that can balance US hegemony. "So there is some kind of competition happening." Also, an Indian official says "Traditionally, India's always been nonaligned and had an independent foreign policy," and "Recently, India had been moving very close to the US and with this deal India will become equidistant between the US and China." (China and India on Verge of Nuclear Deal, November 20)

As mentioned in “Anatomy of Partnership” in the International Herald Tribune on March 10, Henry Kissinger is right to insist that the United States should not expect India as a diplomatic card against China. The Sino-Indian relationship will not develop rapidly. According to “Still Treading on India’s Toes” in the Economist on November 16, China’ military ties with Pakistan and South East Asian neighbors, and border dispute with India are still hurdles. In any case, India acts on its own as to the relationship with China.

Though Democrats occupy the majority seats in both houses, the Bush administration is winning this landmark deal. It is not adequate to see the current administration lame duck. As to the nuclear deal with India, US policymakers should focus on strengthening non- proliferation and counter-terrorism efforts, and expanding business. Never think of using India in the power game against China. Is this really a practical deal as Mohammed El Baradei says? Under Secretary R. Nicholas Burns is right to say that the United States incorporate India into the international export regime of nuclear technologies. The agreement must be sufficiently binding.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Disappointing Japanese Media: Why Little Attention to NATO Summit?

The Riga summit has finished, and President Bush flew to Jordan to talk with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of Iraq. I will write a post on the consequence of NATO summit later on.

To my regret, Japanese politicians and the media pay little attention to this summit. As I mentioned in “NATO summit at Riga, Latvia”, this is an important conference for Japan, because NATO is exploring strategic partnership with liberal democracies out of the Atlantic region. Currently, Japan is assuming global role as witnessed in its quest for the permanent membership at the UN Security Council. NATO is globalizing rapidly. Both Japan and NATO share vital interests.

However, it seems to me that Japanese leaders do not care about this summit. Are Japanese politicians ready to share more burden as a leading member of the Western democracy? Those who read this post will understand why I am disappointed with politicians and opinion leaders in Tokyo.

Despite that, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit NATO next January on his trip to Europe. To make Japan really a beautiful country as he says, active involvement in NATO is crucial. Politically speaking, Japan has two core foundations: Meiji westernization and postwar regime change. I hope the whole Japanese nation consider developing relations with Atlantic allies more seriously when Abe visits Europe.

A Pause in NPO Procedure

As I mentioned previously in the post ”At Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office”, I have been trying to establish an officially accredited NPO. However, I had something private in October and November. Therefore, I had to cancel formal consultation with a Metropolitan official in charge of NPO affairs on November 2.

In order to found an accredited NPO, the general assembly for foundation must be held. Currently, many signatories live out of Tokyo. Some are too busy to attend the first general assembly. We shall appreciate contacts from Tokyo residents who are interested in our activities and values.

Thank you.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

NATO Summit at Riga, Latvia

As I mentioned in a previous post, “NATO More Active on Global Security: From Brussels to Riga”, NATO summit will be held at Riga, the capital of Latvia on November 28th and 29th. This is a landmark of history from the following aspects. At this summit, leaders of Western democracies meet and talk vital issues on global security at the capital of a former Soviet republic. More importantly, NATO is expanding global commitment to tackle dreadful challenges in the 21st century, such as WMD proliferation, terrorism, and so forth. Despite the rift over the Iraq War, America and Europe are developing further cooperation for world peace and stability. The media talk so much about the impact of US midterm election on transatlantic relations, but it is meaningless.

At the Riga summit, leaders discuss the following issues: Afghanistan, Iraq, Darfur, terrorism, global activities, partnership with non-NATO members, and membership expansion. Nonetheless importantly, missile defense system will be an important agenda at this summit. This system is vital for some non-member states like Japan, as it faces increasing threat by North Korea. Also, NATO assumes increasingly global role. Therefore, NATO summit at Riga is beyond transatlantic security conference.

In order to talk of positive changes of NATO, I mention two articles in Foreign Affairs. One is “From Prague to Baghdad: NATO at Risk” in November/December 2002, by Strobe Talbott, Deputy Secretary of State under the Clinton administration and President at the Brookings Institution. The other is “Global NATO” in September/October 2006, by Ivo Daadler, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, and James Goldgeier, Professor at George Washington University and Adjunct Senor Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. While Talbott saw the alliance pessimistically, Daadler and Goldgeiger see it more positively and assertively. Let me discuss changes, which reinvigorate the transatlantic alliance.

It was just before the Prague summit and the Iraq War when Talbott contributed his article. He was concerned with antipathy to the United States among European allies. The Cold War was over, and the Iraq War was about to start in a few months. Talbott commented the transatlantic rift in the following way.

But Prague will also highlight a paradox: NATO's long-term potential is virtually limitless, but its cohesion is at imminent risk. That is largely due to another paradox. The strength of the alliance has always derived from American power, which has never been greater, and from American leadership, which has never been more assertive. Yet these days many allies are feeling not so much led by the United States as bossed around; for them, the exercise of American power has become less a source of protection and more a cause of resentment and a problem to be managed.

Also, unlike leading Western policymakers today, he was skeptic to the idea of global NATO. In those days, NATO was expanding partnership with Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. It was beginning to act outside Europe. However, he said “That is largely because of the absence in those other areas of a militarily capable and politically respected defense pact that can create an environment conducive to cooperation and integration.” Furthermore, he said “However, that does not mean there will ever be, or should be, a global NATO that brings together representatives from the nearly 200 countries on earth, ranging from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, arrayed around a table far larger than that in Brussels or anywhere else. If that happened, the alliance might as well merge with the UN General Assembly.”

Things have changed now. NATO has overcome bitter discord between both sides of the Atlantic on the Iraq War, and exploring further global commitment. In “Global NATO”, Daadler and Goldgeiger points out the following changes. In the war on terror, NATO has recognized that it is necessary to defeat remote enemy at their homelands. In addition, as US forces stretch thin in Iraq, European allies are beginning to fill the gap for global commitments. In August 2003, NATO decided to send the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to Afghanistan. Since then, NATO has been operating out of Europe, from Kashmir, Indonesia, to Louisiana. As NATO is evolving global, the alliance has begun to consider strategic partnership with nations sharing common liberal democratic values, like Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. Unlike Strobe Talbott, both authors welcome Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer’s suggestion that NATO become an alliance with global partners. Daadler and Goldgeoger insist, “Broadening membership is preferable to creating ad hoc coalitions.” Because “For one thing, European militaries are stretched thin by the many new missions they are called on to perform in Afghanistan and in Sudan, Congo, and other parts of Africa”, and “For another, formal membership would strengthen the ability of countries to work together in joint military operations.”

Finally, I would like to mention an interview with John Colston, Assistant Secretary General for Defence Policy and Planning of NATO. As briefly introduced on the web, he received degrees from Bristol and Oxford University, and worked for British Ministry of Defence for a many years. In the interview, he comments on critical issues for the future of NATO. As to NATO’s partnership beyond the transatlantic region, the following comments are noteworthy.

One of the key aspects of our working together with those countries is cooperation in defense reform. Partner countries are facing exactly the same challenges as NATO allies in terms of the threats of terrorism, the threats of proliferation, the threats of the 21st Century. And they face exactly the same challenges in adapting and modernizing their armed forces to meet those threats.

And as I've said, defense cooperation plays a very key part in that process. We are working with all these countries in terms of how best we can develop the ability of NATO nations and our partner nations to work together to confront terrorism, to confront the challenges of the 21st Century.

Those who are keenly aware of international politics cannot miss the Riga summit on 28th and 29th. Finally, I recommend readers to see Latvia Online Guide. This is a Latvian site, and onsite information will be available.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Help Arrested Bloggers in Bahrain and Egypt

I received the e-mail from Rosemary of “My News’n Ideas” on November 8th. Her blog is linked to this blog. According to her message, HAMSA (Hands Across the Mideast Support Alliance) requests support for their activities to free arrested bloggers in Bahrain and Egypt. Please read the following message.

The freedom to say what you believe is a universal human right. But, as two prominent Middle Eastern bloggers discovered in the last week, freedom of expression is not always guaranteed. One blogger had his site blocked for text he posted. The other is currently in jail – and needs you help.
Mahmood Al-Yousif is known as the godfather of the blogging scene in Bahrain. A Bahraini entrepreneur, he runs a popular blog called Mahmood’s Den and serves as a judge for HAMSA’s Dream Deferred Essay Contest.
Last week, Bahrain’s Ministry of Information issued an order blocking Mahmood’s Den. They objected to his blogging about a recent scandal in Bahraini politics, and so suddenly readers in Bahrain could no longer access Mahmood’s blog. Along with a group of local activists, HAMSA launched a campaign to unblock Mahmood’s blog. Over 200 people sent emails to Bahraini officials.

A few days later – after negotiations with Mahmood – the site was unblocked.
One of the Middle Eastern bloggers who supported the campaign was Abdelkareem Soliman. Kareem, as he is also known, received international attention last year when he was kicked out of Al Azhar University in Egypt for criticizing the school on his blog.

Yesterday, Kareem was called into the prosecutor’s office in Alexandria, Egypt, where he lives. A lawyer from the Arabic Human Rights Network went with him. The Egyptian officials began interrogating Kareem about his blog, as well as his religious beliefs (“Do you fast on Ramadan? Do you pray? What do you think of things in Darfur?”).

Kareem stood firm. He would not retract anything he wrote on his blog. So the prosecutors threw Kareem in jail, where he remains as you read this. He faces several charges including "defaming the President of Egypt" and "highlighting inappropriate aspects that harm the reputation of Egypt." His case is currently on the front page of The Daily Star, one of Egypt’s largest independent English papers.

Kareem is a soft-spoken young man. He entered the HAMSA essay contest and joined a recent human rights seminar we recently organized in Cairo. We will not abandon him. And we hope you will take a moment to speak out on his behalf.

To stay updated on the campaign, read the Free Kareem blog started by his friends. And please take one minute to sign an email/petition to Egyptian and America authorities urging Kareem’s immediate release. In less than 24 hours, over 130 people have signed. Please add your voice. Thank you for your attention and support.

In Freedom,

Jesse SageHAMSA Project Director

You can participate in the campaign. Send them the link to this site:

I shall appreciate your support to this campaign.

Shah Alex

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Midterm Election and US Foreign Policy

In the midterm election on November 7, Democrats have won majority in both the Senate and the House. Just before this election, experts commented prospective impacts of election results on US foreign policy. For two years from now, the Bush administration will have some difficulty in dealing with the Congress. Iraq was the key issue in the election. Will President George W. Bush change his course in Iraq and foreign policy over all? Also, I would like to mention the impact on 2008 presidential election.

At the public forum sponsored by the Department of State on November 1, Thomas Mann, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, said This election is being driven primarily by a very unpopular war in Iraq and secondarily by public perceptions of incompetence in the Bush administration and corruption in the Republican Congress. However, it is noteworthy that he said Given the angry public and narrow majorities in Congress, a failure by the Democrats to gain a majority in at least the House would raise troubling questions about the capacity of the American electoral system for democratic accountability. It would also be deeply dispiriting to congressional Democrats and probably lead to a raft of retirements. But it would not necessarily say much about the 2008 presidential election. There is no relationship between midterm gains and losses and the subsequent presidential election. That will depend on the broad political environment shaped by Iraq and the economy and the candidates nominated by each party. In other words, Democrats must show persuasive alternatives in both foreign and domestic policies. America faces numerous foreign policy issues, like terrorism, nuclear proliferation, Afghanistan, and so forth. Iraq is one of them, and none of other critical issues were discussed seriously in the election. Republican achievents are not necessarily bad.

For better or worse, Republicans must take responsibility for what the federal government has achieved during this period. And despite a buoyant economy, low unemployment and no significant terrorist attacks on American soil since September 11th 2001, most Americans think little has been done. (“Goodbye to the permanent majority?”, Economist, November 2)

Regarding post election foreign policy, Michael O’Hanlon, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, talks of hard power Democrats, in his article “What is a Hard Power Progressive?” in the Daily Yomiuri on November 1. It must be more than someone who is a moderate on domestic policy and nothing but a conservative Republican clone on foreign affairs. Like Bush Senior and Bill Clinton, they will be more realist, and less inclined to trumpet American values than the current administration. It does not mean radical changes in US foreign policy. Hard power Democrats and similarly minded moderate Republicans should follow conservative and neoconservative focus on national security. Currently, the United States faces critical issues from Iraq to Iran to North Korea--not to mention a host of other key issues such as energy policy and the rise of China. Also, he argues as follows.

While being willing to criticize Bush for major mistakes in Iraq, such a hard-power Democrat or moderate should--unless absolutely convinced that we have already lost in Iraq--work hard to develop new ideas that give us some hope of salvaging a passable outcome in Iraq.

In conclusion, O’Hanlon insists that hard power Democrats will have a clear sense of how to blend hard and soft power into an effective mix that adds up to smart power for the new era and new challenges that so threaten the United States today.

Finally, I would like to refer to conservative viewpoints on this election and American foreign policy by three policy analysts at the American Enterprise Institute. Resident Scholar Joshua Muravchik criticizes Democrat leaders, Senator Harry Reid and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, as they do not show alternative ideas to the current administration. Another Resident Scholar Norman Ornstein foresees two changes after the election. One is through investigation on Iraq, torture, and intelligence failures. The other is congressional backlash against expansion of executive power. In addition to both comments, Vice President Danielle Pletka warns that rogue states and terrorists may be encouraged if they see America weak and divided. In any case, as long as Republicans hold executive power, they do not expect fundamental changes.

Real foreign policy debates start from now on. The media focus too much on “failure” in Iraq. But immediate withdrawal without sufficient consideration will not be of any help to stabilize Iraq. Moreover, America faces diversified global challenges. Which party can present true resolutions to manage these problems? The test for 2008 election has just begun.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Robert Kagan vs. Thomas Freedman on the American Empire

A leading neoconservative Robert Kagan, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, has published a book on the history of American foreign policy this month. He came back to Washington DC from Brussels to attend a panel discussion moderated by Thomas Freedman, editor of the New York Times, on October 18th at the Carnegie Endowment.

In his latest book “Dangerous Nation: America's Place in the World from Its Earliest Days to the Dawn of the 20th Century”, Kagan refutes the myth of America's isolationist tradition and insists that American foreign policy has been expansionist since its earliest days of the history. Currently, he is on leave for Brussels under a project of the German Marshall Fund. He sees America from Europeans’ viewpoint, and explores perception gaps on American between the United States and the rest of the world. Let me review the discussion. (See the video on Windows Media and Real Player.)

At the beginning of the panel, Kagan said that the nature of the government and the society define foreign policy of a country even more than external factors. American foreign policy is based on the Declaration of Independence, which advocates universal rights of all mankind. The key point of this is promotion of humanitarian liberal ideals. From its earliest days, American leaders have been pursuing this objective, from John Adams, Theodore Roosevelt, to Woodrow Wilson.

While American people regard their foreign policy altruistic, and driven by the noblest conceivable motives, the rest of the world sees it a dangerous, threatening, and destabilizing factor. Kagan mentions the US-Spanish Was in 1898 as a typical example. Though Europeans condemned American intervention to Cuba, Americans insisted this war a humanitarian and moralistic mission to liberate Cubans from Spanish colonial tyranny. The underlying nature of American foreign policy is expansionist and belligerent attitude, based on revolutionary character. However, Americans are not conscious of it, and they do not regard themselves as an empire. They do not admit their ambition and belligerence. This is a perception gap between America and the rest of the world.

Thomas Freedman asked whether there were other dangerous nations. Kagan said no nations were as revolutionary as the United States. China does not claim universal values. The British Empire was very close to the United States today, but it was based on ethnic nationalism. On the other hand, American nationalism is ideological one, which is based on the Declaration of Independence. Kagan argues that religion does not bind the United States, and it is utterly wrong to call it a Protestant nation or Christian nation.

An interesting example to illustrate the chasm between America and the rest of the world is the Monroe Doctrine. This is widely believed to be the symbol of isolationist foreign policy. In fact, the doctrine is an assertion of US foreign policy. It declares American dominance in the Western hemisphere and ideological superiority in the world.

In addition to ideological nationalism and altruistic expansionism, Kagan sheds light on the impact of the Civil War on US foreign policy. Before the Civil War, the United States made every effort to prevent slave uprising. The South feared another Haiti; a slave leader took place of white plantation owners. In terms of ideology, freedom and slavery are ambiguous. The result of the Civil War defines America’s ideological identity that liberal democracy prevails all over the world.

According to Robert Kagan, the Bush administration articulates basic values of US foreign policy that America is the special place in the world, and its power must be used for global progress. This trend has become more noticeable since 9/11. From normal America’s viewpoint, enemies like 9/11 terrorists, Japan, and the Soviet Union, attacked the United States because they were undemocratic. Therefore, American policymakers believe it necessary to change them, as they do not understand the ultimate truth that liberal democracy is universal.

The United States does not assume itself an empire, and US forces do not behave as occupiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unlike Lord Palmerstone in 19th century Britain, none of the American leaders admit their ambition for dominance. British historian Niall Ferguson, professor at Harvard University, criticize this attitude, and insists that the United States behave as the super power just as Britain did in the 19th century. However, Americans are unconscious of implicit meaning of their altruism: telling other nations to “become like us.” The rest of the world rejects such an idea.

Kagan points out vital aspects of American foreign policy. People in the rest of the world see America’s moralistic expansionism dangerous. This is important to understand anti-Americanism abroad as well. Both Britain and America prevail liberal ideals throughout the world. While Britain had no trouble in imposing their ways of thinking to its sphere of influence, the United States do not assume cultural superiority to others. Whether Republican or Democrat, we must always take it into account that fundamental chasm between America and the world will be inevitable. Can people of other civilizations live peacefully with the noblest mission based on the Declaration of Independence? This is one of the key issues in global security in this century.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Managing North Korean Nuclrear Threat

(Source: The Nightmare Comes to Pass, The Economist, October 12)

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited the Far East to talk on North Korea’s nuclear bomb test. Prior to this trip, Marcus Noland, Senior Fellow at the Institute for International Economics answered seven questions in an interview with Foreign Policy this autumn. Let’s review the following questions and answers.

Question 1: What do you think the North Koreans hope to accomplish with this week’s test?

Noland says North Korean leaders believe nuclear possession guarantees the survival of their regime. The test is a step toward a nuclear weapons program.

Question 2: What is the significance of the timing?

The followings can be considered: Celebration of 10th anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s elevation to General Secretary of Korean Worker’s Party, Trying to upstage South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon’s selection as UN Secretary General, or Messing up Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to China.

Question 3: Is this an invitation for other countries to develop their nuclear programs?

Noland warns that this test could provoke further nuclear proliferation to the Far East, including Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. In the same autumn issue, Foreign Policy evaluates the potential of nuclear proliferation to them in “The List: The Next Nuclear States.” The article analyses nuclear capability and motive of three countries.

Capability: Twenty-three tons of weapons-usable plutonium and the ability to produce weapons-grade uranium without much trouble. Japan has one of the world’s largest and most advanced civilian nuclear programs.
Motive: North Korea’s great leap may tip Japanese public opinion, and some politicians are calling for the country to debate openly whether it should have nukes.

South Korea
Capability: South Korea probably can’t produce weapons-grade nuclear fuel, despite having an advanced civilian nuclear sector. However, it secretly pursued nukes from the 1970s to as late as 2000. And it could always import technology from elsewhere.
Motive: North Korean military threat is growing seriously. With heightened U.S.-South Korea tension, Seoul has shown increasing interest in developing a defense capability independent of the United States. On the other hand, it may just wait to see whether it can inherit North Korea’s nukes through eventual reunification.

Capability: Until the late 1980s, Taiwan was within a few years of becoming a nuclear-armed state. Due to pressure from the United States and others, Taiwan now has no uranium enrichment capability, and plutonium handling facility. Its weapons-grade remnants are tiny. But its scientific know-how has probably survived.
Motive: Facing increasing military threat posed by China, Taiwan could decide that it needs nukes. Like North Korea, Taiwan can claim an existential threat from a superpower.

Leaders in East Asia must be cautious enough. American policy makers are beginning to see Far Eastern nations critically as they do against Iran and Syria. Readers would understand comments by Japanese foreign minister Taro Aso and Liberal Democratic Party’s policy chief Shoichi Nakagawa are imprudent. They talk of Japan’s nuclear option in public. Nuclear non-proliferation is a global agenda, and it is beyond narrowly scoped national interests. The Economist says as follows.

The spread of weapons of mass destruction is a clear threat to international peace and security. It remains to be seen whether tackling proliferation is something the world's big powers are ready to put ahead of their own rivalries. (See “Going Critical, Defying the World”, October 19)

Question 4: Is it more likely that fissile material would end up in the hands of a state or some organization like al Qaeda?

Noland says this is unlikely. It is difficult to transfer nuclear technology to non-state actors. Fixed location and fixed facilities are necessary, he says. But he does not rule out possible proliferation to terrorist groups.

Question 5: Will China follow through with meaningful sanctions?

Noland points out that China’s position to this issue is ambivalent, because it can use North Korea on the rivalry against the United States and India.

According to “The Nightmare Comes to Pass” in the Economist on October 19th, Professor Yan Xuetong at Tsinghua University says China is reluctant to escalate sanctions. Harder sanctions would lead North Korea to conduct more tests, he argues. Also, he says that China needs North Korea to assure its influence on the Korean Peninsula, and divert America’s attention from the Taiwan Strait. In Professor Yan's view, China's outrage at North Korea's test is similar to that of France and Germany over America's invasion of Iraq in 2003.

It is uncertain whether China impose meanigful sanctions against North Korea. In the same issue, the Economist argues critical points in “Sanctions: History Lessons.”

To be effective, it must be imposed by as many countries as possible. Particularly, China is the key actor. It must be smart, without hurting innocent people. Kim Jong Il does not care bad reputations abroad, and surrounded by yes-men. Therefore, “Increasing their isolation may be dangerous.”

True. Isolation from the world, this makes the North Korean issue more perplexing.

Question 6: If sanctions aren’t the appropriate approach, what should the international community’s response be?

Noland insists on using a “sanction card” to dissuade North Korea from testing another bomb. However, he worries that the North Koreans will eventually miscalculate and cross a red line where the United States acts militarily, whether South Korea likes it or not. Noland warns that appeasement can provoke North Korean adventurism.

Question 7: What’s next for North Korea?

China and South Korea are more concerned with turmoil in North Korea than nuclear threat. However, Noland says North Korea’s goal is to maintain the status quo, while accepted nuclear power status. Are China and South Korea united in dealing with the North?

“The Nightmare Comes to Pass” in the Economist on October 19th presents interesting analysis on Sino-Korean relations. China worries that a united Korea would stimulate nationalism and anti-Chinese sentiment throughout the peninsula. Many Koreans suspect China’s ambition to dominate Korea as a buffer against Japan. Historically, Korea subjected to China. This chasm between China and South Korea needs to be noticed.

Now, I have reviewed seven questions. Since then, North Korea promised to stop further nuclear test. But it is not certain how long the autocrat keeps silent. In any case, he has tested a nuclear weapon. Its impact on Iran cannot be dismissed. Eventually, current regime in North Korea must be thrown away through assisting domestic uprising, I believe.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Islam and Democracy

I received an interesting e-mail update from Regime Change Iran, entitled “Iranian Clerics' Angling Stirs Worry on Absolute Rule” on September 25. According to the New York Times, Muhammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi, a senior fundamentalist cleric and mentor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, says that democracy is incompatible with Islam. This is a challenge to American foreign policy. His theory on Islamic politics is mentioned below.

“Democracy means if the people want something that is against God’s will, then they should forget about God and religion,” he said in July 1998. “Be careful not to be deceived. Accepting Islam is not compatible with democracy.”

And in November 2002, the daily Aftab-e-Yazd quoted him as saying: “Who are the majority of people who vote: a bunch of hooligans who drink vodka and are paid to vote. Whatever they say cannot become the law of the country and Islam.”

He has criticized democracy more cautiously since the election of Mr. Ahmadinejad, but his disdain for the election process to fill the Assembly of Experts was evident in a speech in Mashhad this month, in which the news agency ISNA quoted him as saying it was like the vote of the “ignorant for the learned.”

Currently, Ayatollah Khamenei and Mesbah Yazdi try to expand the authority of the supreme leader, and they are at odds with moderates like former President Mohammad Khatami and Ali Rafsanjani.

Historically, Iran had been under dual politics between the shah and the imam from the Safavi (1501 ~ 1722) to Qajar (1795 ~ 1925) dynasty. The relationship between the shah and the imam is something like that between the emperor and the pope. Shahs needed recognition by imams to assume political legitimacy. In the Sunni Arab world, Wahhabism has been deterring modernization in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf area. In both cases, religious authorities had restrained political leadership. Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iran has been receding into the Middle Age. Fundamentalists push this trend furthermore.

In fact, majority of Islamic countries are undemocratic. An Israeli advocacy group, called Middle East Info says Israel is surrounded by 23 Arab and Iranian police regimes, theocracies, and tyrannies. As they insist, none of the states in the Arab world and Iran are democratic. For further understanding, let’s see the Freedom House Index. As readers know, Freedom House is a bipartisan NGO, founded by Eleanor Roosevelt. Its mission is to prevail freedom under American leadership. It is too well known that Freedom House played a key role to mobilize student movements for democracy in Ukraine.

Is Islam really incompatible with democracy? A careful observation does not substantiate such a viewpoint. According to Freedom House Index for 2006, Mali scores 2,0, which is better than India’s 2.5. I have talked about the scoring methods of this index in a previous post “Grading Freedom: Review of Freedom House Index.” Please see this page for detail. The Bush administration recognizes India a strategic partner to the United States, because they regard India free and democratic enough. This fact is a vital proof that Islamic nations can pursue freedom and democracy without destroying their cultural traditions. From this perspective, Middle East democratization, which is a key agenda in American foreign policy, is right. There is no wonder the project for Iraqi freedom is bipartisan. It was initiated by the Clinton administration, and succeeded by the Bush administration.

In order to bring democracy and modernization, let me review an interesting article by Ruel Marc Gerecht, Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. In the essay, entitled “Selling Out Moderate Islam” in Weekly Standard on February 20, he insists on cultural reforms in the Islamic world. Gerecht expects moderate Muslims with Western educational backgrounds will play a substantial role in revivifying Islamic civilization. On the other hand, he says “If Westerners appease Muslims who countenance violent intimidation, we are doing a terrible injustice to the liberal and progressive Muslims among us, who really would like to live in lands where people can say about the Prophet Muhammad what they have said about Jesus, Mary, and Moses.” Furthermore, he comments “Islamic civilization may yet produce its Edward Gibbon, a sincere religious voyager who ends up scrutinizing the foundations of his civilization with a skeptical, cynical, and, at times, profoundly unfair irreligious eye.”

Gerecht maintains precisely “If our standards collapse and give way to fear, theirs in the long-term have no chance whatsoever. The psychology of victimization--surely one of the worst gifts the Western anti-imperialist left has given the Muslim world--can only be made worse by Westerners who treat Muslims like children unable to compete and to defend their religion.”

Mentioning medieval Christian world, Ruel Marc Gerecht concludes as follows.

Like Christendom before it, the Muslim Middle East will have to work out its relation to modernity. The faster democracy arrives, the sooner the debates about God and man can begin in earnest. It will probably be for both Muslims and Westerners a nerve-racking experience. But we have no choice, since continuing autocracy will only make the militants' message stronger and judgment day, as in Iran, a possibly bloody revolutionary event. The electoral victory of Hamas should not give us pause. It should give us hope and encourage us to push for real elections where our national interest stands to gain the most--in Egypt and Iran. We should also not neglect to defend vigorously Christian, Muslim, or Jewish satirists, be they clever, banal, or ugly, wherever they may be found. Both elections and satire are basic to the evolution of the Muslim world.

Successful modernization and democracy in the Middle East will lead to real victory of American, or more broadly, Western foreign policy. A Chamberlainian attitude against radicals will never resolve the problem. Of course, soft policies to stimulate an Islamic enlightenment must be combined with Churchillian policies.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

North Korea’s Bomb Test and US Leadership: Don’t Forget Iran!

Today, Global American Discourse has changed its blog schedule, and post urgent article on North Korean Nuclear Crisis. I am referring to an article by George Perkovich, Vice President at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Perkovich insists on prompt action by the United States to stop nuclear arms race in the Far East, and prevent Iran’s nuclear ambition. For this purpose, he argues that the United States take leadership to involve Japan, South Korea, and China in intensive diplomacy to prevent nuclear arms race in this region. It is understandable that he is somewhat concerned with Japan’s potential quest for nuclear weapon, in face of North Korean threat. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe suggested it in the past. I agree with him that it is vitally important that the United States lead an intense and sustained effort with Japan, South Korea and China to clarify each other's intentions and policies in ways that avoid any nuclear competition.

China is a key actor, and the United States will have to work together to identify a common bottom line with this country, he says. True. There is no doubt that China is also concerned with nuclear non-proliferation. The problem is whether China gets involved in diplomacy as an honest partner. This country is always considering winning strategic advantages in power games in the Asia-Pacific region.

It is worth to notice that Perkovich insists on UN actions to prevent further test by North Korea even if the last test turned out to be failure. Probably, Kim Jong Il wants something from the United States. China and South Korea lost face with this bomb test. In my eyes, North Korea thinks light of both patrons, and wants to talk with America through embarrassing the world. All right, but its habitual deceit must be seriously considered at the UN Security Council. China and Russia must stand tough against North Korea to make it understand that such deceit will not work for further talks.

In addition, we must not forget the test’s impact on Iran. George Perkovich says that Iranian hardliners watch interactions among permanent members of UN Security Council. Furthermore, I would like to call an attention that Iranian officials were invited to the missile test launching site this July. The Axis of Evil poses increasing danger to the global community.

Whether the test was a success or a failure, I strongly believe it necessary to reconsider Clinton diplomacy on North Korean nuclear negotiations. North Korea deceived Jimmy Carter, Special Envoy of the Clinton administration. Those treacherous leaders acquired nuclear plant fuels and facilities without keeping promises. The other day, Fox News questioned Bill Clinton on terrorism. I believe that Fox News invite the former president, and talk about North Korea again. Otherwise, the devilish dictator will continue to befool us.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Link of Interest: Straight Talk America by John McCain

Today, I talk about an interesting web link, “Straight Talk America” by Senator John McCain. As everyone knows, he is one of the leading candidates of Republican nomination for 2008 presidential election. Therefore, this site will be helpful to understand 2006 and 2008 elections.

John McCain is well known for his popularity among neocons. William Kristol and Robert Kagan often comment that the best duo for the United States is President John McCain and Vice President Joseph Lieberman. He has close ties with leading conservative think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute and the Project for the New American Century.

Despite such good reputations among conservative intellectuals, grassroots and ultra conservatives are reluctant to support him, and call him a RINO (Republican In Name Only). Though he is an ardent advocate for the Iraq War, he is not a conservative “fundamentalist” on domestic issues. He has submitted a legislation bill on global warming with his Democrat partner Joseph Lieberman. Democrat Senator Edward Kennedy is also a good friend to him. Therefore, Republican rightists doubt McCain’s sincerity to conservatism values. For them, John McCain is a candidate, just “better than Democrats, particularly Hilary Clinton.”

Let’s have a look at “Straight Talk America”. The title sounds very attractive. It creates positive and forward-looking image. There is lots of interesting information. I mention some of them. McCain is expanding his campaign. He made a speech at Gorge H. W. Bush Library and shook hands with the former president, as if he were making an impression that he would be the next president. See the video. According to the news on this site, “Thirteen Legislators Join Straight Talk America.”

Besides political issues, McCain has written a book “Character Is Destiny”, a series of morality tales for American youths. I hereby quote a review by the Washington Post.

In summarizing for his readers the lessons they might take from these tales "for the important choices in your own life," McCain offers this view of the human condition: "We are born with one nature. We want what we want, and we want it now. But as we grow, we develop our second nature, our character. These stories are about that second nature." Call me corny, but I wouldn't mind if my kids learned to see life this way.

McCain's book is built around the lives of 34 people whose stories exemplify 34 virtues. Many of the virtues are obvious: honesty, courage, loyalty, responsibility, faith, tolerance, generosity and humility. Some are less obvious choices for a book of this sort: humor, curiosity, resilience, enthusiasm and authenticity.

That McCain really wants to run for president again is clear from his careful selection of heroes. He won't get into any trouble for the politicians he picks: Winston Churchill (for diligence), George Washington (for self-control), Abraham Lincoln (for resilience), Nelson Mandela (for forgiveness), Dwight D. Eisenhower (for humility) and Theodore Roosevelt (for enthusiasm).

McCain's book is built around the lives of 34 people whose stories exemplify 34 virtues. Many of the virtues are obvious: honesty, courage, loyalty, responsibility, faith, tolerance, generosity and humility. Some are less obvious choices for a book of this sort: humor, curiosity, resilience, enthusiasm and authenticity.

That McCain really wants to run for president again is clear from his careful selection of heroes. He won't get into any trouble for the politicians he picks: Winston Churchill (for diligence), George Washington (for self-control), Abraham Lincoln (for resilience), Nelson Mandela (for forgiveness), Dwight D. Eisenhower (for humility) and Theodore Roosevelt (for enthusiasm).」

In order to gain support from Republican rightists, McCain stresses his loyalty to conservative values. A blog linked to this site, entitled “Political Yen/Yang” quotes an article of the Boston Globe. This blog is critical to the Boston Globe article, saying “Not only does McCain need the religious right, they need him too.” Just review Boston Globe article, “Analysts say McCain wooing religious right” on May 13.

The article says that McCain delivered a commencement speech at religious rightist leader Jerry Falwell’s evangelical Christian college, Liberty University. In 2000, McCain criticized Christian right wings, and lost in GOP primary. He needs to repair relations with them, in order to win Republican nomination in 2008. On the other hand religious rightists need McCain as well, says the Boston Globe. Why? Because they have to improve the relationship with the Republican front-runner for the 2008 nomination. However, the Boston Globe analyses this as follows.

Still, McCain's new strategy has risks. By seeming to genuflect to a man he once denounced by name, analysts said, McCain could damage perhaps his biggest political asset: the image that he's a straight shooter who refuses to pander to his audience like a stereotypical politician.

''This tells us that John McCain is a living, breathing politician who has looked in the mirror and said 'I should be president of the United States,' " said Stephen Hess, a political analyst at the Brookings Institution. ''The media built McCain into something more than [a politician] when he last ran for president. They made him into an icon -- the maverick."

In some respects, McCain's reputation as an independent Republican is even stronger now than in 2000. Since then, he has pushed bills limiting political campaign donations, banning the torture of suspected terrorists, and allowing illegal immigrants to become legalized guest workers -- positions that put him at odds with some conservative Republicans.

In addition to a kow-tow to religious rights, McCain made a speech at British Conservative Party Conference on October 1 to confirm common values between British and American conservatives. He may be trying to impress that he is no less conservative than President George W. Bush by cheering up Tory leader David Cameron. This is understandable. However, the timing of this speech is questionable. In the past, British Prime Minister John Major said that he hoped Geroge H. W. Bush to win the election in order to maintain the Reagan-Thatcher conservatism axis. Unfortunately, Bill Clinton defeated the Republican, and Anglo-American relations cooled down until Tony Blair came to power. Japan’s Democrat leader Katsuya Okada made a similar mistake to visit John F. Kerry during the presidential election.

On “Straight Talk America”, you can learn more than policy debates. Grassroots activism plays an important role in American politics. Its influence is much larger than those in Europe and Japan. In “The Right Nation” by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge point out that there are no strong conservative talk radio and citizens groups in Britain, unlike America. In Europe and Japan, civic activism is regarded as somewhat New Left. But in the United States, conservative grassroots movements are strong through various channels. In America, the world of Alexis de Tocqville still prevails.

This civic activism will grow furthermore through the Internet. One of the reasons why British Labour won the election in 1997 is their successful use of the Internet. Currently, the Tory is developing cyber grassroots communities to defeat the Labour, and take office again.

You don’t have to be a Republican nor a McCain supporter. E-mail updates from Straight Talk America are helpful to foresee political trends for the midterm and presidential elections. Also, you can learn a lot about grassroots activism and cyberspace democracy. Therefore, I recommend readers of this blog to visit Straight Talk America.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Transatlantic Relations at the Crossroads: US-German Blog Carnival

As I have mentioned in America and Old Europe: A Review of 9/11+5, it is 5 years since 9/11. This is an important period to see how the transatlantic alliance evolves. Despite sore disagreements when the Iraq War broke out, America and Europe work closely together on Afghanistan and Mitteleuropa. NATO summit will be held this November to discuss the role of transatlantic alliance on a global scale at Riga, Latvia.

The Carnival on US-German Relations hosts bloggers who have keen interests on this key partnership to lead the free world. Two German bloggers present good summaries about this carnival. One is Karsten of Liberale Stimme. This is originally written in German, and the link is translated into English by Google. The other is David of Dialog International.

The relationship with Europe is the key to US foreign policy. Also, as an executive member of industrialized democracies, Japanese bloggers must not dismiss transatlantic relations. My fellow bloggers, don’t miss this carnival!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Japan to Acquire Nuclear Bombs?

Today, Shinzo Abe was elected as new Japanese prime minister. As I mentioned briefly in the previous post, he is quite popular among Japanese people. However, foreign media are somewhat alert to his nationalist policy visions.

In this post, I would like to mention an interesting article on his nationalism. This is more critical than conflicts against China and Korea, or official visit to the Yasukuni Shrine.

According to “Anxiety Chipping away at Japan's Nuclear Taboo” (September 18, 2006) in the Mercury News, one of the leading newspapers in the Silicon Valley, Japan may acquire nuclear weapon. If this were true, it would be a serious challenge to the United States. Currently, nuclear non-proliferation is one of top agendas in US foreign policy. In the post Cold War era, international non-proliferation regime is becoming unreliable. Some NPT members like Iran and North Korea are suspected to develop nuclear bombs. Moreover, the Axis of Evil and other terrorist sponsors are disloyal to international inspection to their nuclear facilities.

If Japan were to possess nuclear weapons, it would be a trouble for the United States. This would undermine the US-Japanese alliance, a keystone of America’s global strategy from Suez to Pearl Harbor. From orthodox understandings, it is unlikely that Japan develop its own nuclear bombs. Then, why does the Mercury News talk about it?

According the article, it was former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone who insisted that Japan consider whether to acquire nuclear weapons. Japan faces serious threats in its neighborhood, notably, North Korean nuclear missiles and Chinese military pressure. Also, Japan is moving toward a “normal country” by shedding postwar pacifism.

New prime minister, Shinzo Abe insists on reviving traditional Japanese values and changing the pacifist constitution. This could strain Japan’s relations with China and South Korea. Furthermore, he advocates preemptive attacks against North Korea before it fires nuclear missiles.

How likely is it for Japan to have nuclear bombs? "Japan has a virtual nuclear deterrent. Every country in the region knows it can produce a nuclear device, a rather sophisticated one, probably in six months," said Richard Tanter, a Japan scholar at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia.

According to Frank Barnaby, a British nuclear physicist and nonproliferation advocate who's studied Japan's nuclear energy industry, "They have stocks of plutonium. They have the know-how. All that is lacking is the political decision."

Pacifist sentiments can hinder Japan from possessing nuclear arsenals. However, "To tell you the truth, the anti-nuclear campaign in Japan is not so strong," said Hideyuki Ban, the co-director of the Citizens' Nuclear Information Center, an anti-nuclear group.

If Japan decides to have deadly bombs, this will lead to severe nuclear rivalry in East Asia. It would provoke South Korea to develop nuclear weapons. Then, North Korea and China would make more Weapons of Mass Destruction. Unlike India, Japan is an NPT member. Japan must withdraw from NPT to have nuclear bombs. I can hardly imagine that the United States admit this sort of real hollowing of non-proliferation regime. This will make all US efforts foe non-proliferation in vain. The special deal with India is a rare, exceptional, and unusual case.

Of course, I am not so naïve as to believe this news blindly. Even though reported a hawkish nationalist, Abe is pro-American, and explores much more staunch alliance with the United States to make it the anchor of stability in the Asia-Pacific region. In the foreseeable future, it is quite unlikely that Japan have nuclear weapons. But remember! The Far East is becoming increasingly dangerous region. In order to stop nuclear proliferation, the United States must be firmly involved with Japan’s national security. This is a vital interest in US foreign policy.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

At Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office

As I mentioned in previous posts, “Establishing a Formal NPO” and “Japan-US Fund Raising Forum”, I am exploring to develop current blogging activity into establishing an officially accredited NPO. In late August, I visited NPO/NGO activity consulting organization, called Minsai Center Japan. However, I thought it necessary to talk to the authority, which offers official permission to establish NPOs. For this objective, I visited Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office on Friday September 22. I met a Metropolitan official of Life and Culture Bureau, who is in charge of NPO affairs.

As I have not brought any documents this time, it was without reservation and I had a short consultation (10 to 15 minuets). For regular consultation with a Metropolitan official before submitting application documents, I have to make an appointment, and bring most of documents filled in. I am overwhelmed with a huge volume of documents to fill in. At the regular consultation, NPO applicants can talk with the staff for 45 minuets. Therefore, I booked the regular consultation on November 2. It is quite a long time to wait for this reserved date, but I have to lots of documents to fill out by the regular consultation with a Metropolitan staff. According to the Tokyo government official, there are many organizations applying for official NPO recognition, and this is why it takes a long time to wait for reservation.

I have lots of things to do until I fill out the form and submit them to apply for official NPO recognition. It takes 4 month to wait for official permission from the Metropolitan government since application. I have to consume much time and energy to get through bureaucratic procedure, but official recognition makes non-profit activities much easier.

Blog Carnival on US-German Relations

The Blog Carnival on US-German Relations will be held on September 24, which is co-sponsored by Atlantic Review, a blog published by Fulbright alumni in Germany, and GM Roper, a conservative blog in the United States. Global American Discourse submit 2 posts: “NATO More Active on Global Security: From Brussels to Riga” and “America and Old Europe: A Review of 9/11+5.”

This blog has participated in the carnival for a couple of times. The objective of this carnival is to promote policy dialogues and mutual understandings between the United Sates and Germany, or more broadly the United States and Europe. Most of the posts are written in English, and some are in German.

As it is September, you will find many posts on 9/11 (I understand English, but not German. If you have confidence in both languages, see this link. Not all of them are policy oriented. Some are on entertainment like the movie “United 93.”

As it is always the case, I am the only participant outside the Atlantic area. The US-European relationship is the anchor of global stability and liberal democracy. You can see blogs of good quality at the carnival. See this link.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Shinzo Abe Won LDP Nomination for Next Japanese PM

See the photo. Good looking? Yes, certainly he is. The person in the photo is Shinzo Abe (pronounced “a-bé”, not Abe of Abraham.), currently Chief Cabinet Secretary.

He won Liberal Democratic Party’s nomination for next prime minister on September 20. To become the prime minister, he must compete with opposition candidates at the Diet on September 26. People expect him to succeed Koizumi policies, like deregulation and stronger defense.

He won trust from the Japanese public in his sincere attitude to tackle the problem of abduction by North Korea. He is a pro-American nationalist. While advocating a stronger US-Japanese alliance, Abe emphasizes that Japanese regain patriotism and pride in their history.

Ever since the postwar regime change, patriotism has been a taboo word in Japan. The allied forces regarded wartime chauvinism a dangerous ideology.

His book, entitled “Toward a Beautiful Japan” is a bestseller now. Can he lead Japan to a real beautiful country? Anyway, don’t miss the 26th Japanese Diet. The world second largest economy will be more self-assertive in global politics under new prime minister.

I will write a more detailed post on him later.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

America and Old Europe: A Review of 9/11+5

It is 5 years since 9/11. No other atrocities have inflicted so much psychological impact on the global community in the post Cold War era. This is not simply because the scale of murder and demolition is much greater than those in 3/11 of Madrid and 7/7 of London. Americans have become more alert on new type of threat posed by terrorists. As a result, perception gaps between America and the rest of the world have grown wider. This leads to a serious discord between America and its old allies in Europe, particularly on Iraq, and to some extent on Afghanistan, Iran, and Lebanon.

Whereas Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld called France and Germany “Old Europe” contemptuously, this word means that both countries are America’s long-time friends as well. As the power duo of liberal democracy, successful alliance between America and Europe is an anchor of global enlightenment and prosperity. Therefore, it is necessary to fill transatlantic gaps and reinvigorate this vital partnership.

Contrary to widely believed understanding, Professor Juan Cole of the University of Michigan and Managing Editor William Dobson of Foreign Policy argue that 9/11 has not changed fundamental structure of global affairs in their articles contributed to Foreign Policy September/October 2006. In “The Day Nothing Much Changed”, Dobson says the number of travelers increase, skyscrapers are built, and the global economy prospers, despite 9/11. The terrorist attack has not changed the balance of power, but it only aggravated the imbalance between America and the rest. In “Think Again: 9/11”, Cole says the terrorist attack has not changed American foreign policy significantly, but removed political constraints temporarily. The Bush administration would have employed a limited bombing or a coup attempt in Iraq, had there not been for 9/11.

In order to understand policy gaps between America and Europe, I recommend “Of Paradise and Power” by Robert Kagan, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He says “One of the things that clearly divides Europeans and Americans today is a psychological, even metaphysical disagreement over where exactly mankind stands on the continuum between the laws of the jungle and the laws of the reason” (p.91). Americans believe in a Hobbesian world, while Europeans believe in a Kantian world.

He goes on to assess the impact of 9/11 as follows.

“The September 11 attacks shifted and accelerated but did not fundamentally alter a course the United States was already on. They certainly did not alter but only reinforced American attitudes toward power” (p.91).

Although both the United States and Old Europe recognize that radical Muslims are serious threats, their approaches are different. Power gap, mentioned by Robert Kagan, is not the only reason for Americans and Europeans are bickering each other. Research Director Jeremy Shapiro and Senior Fellow Daniel Byman, both at the Brookings Institution, contributes an article “Bridging the Transatlantic Counterterrorism Gap” to the Washington Quarterly Autumn 2006. Let me talk of their policy viewpoints.

They argue that Arab and Muslim population in both regions is the key to this transatlantic discord. The United States has small and scattered Arab and Muslim population, while Europe has more concentrated Arab and Muslim communities. Therefore, Europeans worry about domestic upheaval like the riot in Paris, bombings in London and Madrid, and so forth. On the other hand, Americans worry terrorists coming from aboard plotting catastrophic destruction, and even possible use of WMDs.

They also point out that while the United States is a single sovereign state, the European Union is a supra national organization of independent states. The EU treaties mandate common borders within the Union, except Britain, Ireland, and new members. Therefore, terrorists can move from one country to another in the EU, which is not the case with the United States.

Due to demography, political unity, and power gap, the United States and Old Europe take different strategies to defeat terrorism. The United States adopts an externalization strategy: keep terrorists out of country and fight them aboard, in Iraq, Afghanistan, or wherever. For Old Europe, fight begins at home. Therefore, Americans and Europeans use different rhetoric against terrorists. American leaders prefer to say anti-terrorism operations “war”, while European leaders downplay it. Unlike Americans after 9-11, Europeans do not appeal to patriotic emotion when terrorists attack them.

Given these different backgrounds, it is understandable why Germany and France are at odds with the United States in dealing with terrorism. Even in Britain, America’s best ally, Labour leftists rebel vehemently against Tony Blair. Despite many gaps in perception and strategy, Jeremy Shapiro and Daniel Byman insist that it is America’s interest to work closely with Europe. For this objective, they recommend that US policymakers endorse European allies focusing on internal enemies. On the other hand, Europeans should be supportive of American anti-terrorism endeavor overseas, they say. Also, both authors propose US-European joint efforts for Middle East democratization.

European opinion leaders take initiatives to fill the transatlantic gap on terrorism. Regarding joint efforts for Middle East democracy, Richard Youngs, Senior Researcher at a Madrid think tank FRIDE and Lecturer at the University of Warwick, suggests “With both the US and EU declaring a new conviction of the need to engage with moderate Islamists, a joint forum would help shed light on this difficult area, in which all donors acknowledge a relative paucity of information.” Mark Leonard, Director of the Centre for European Reform, warns that long war in Iraq and inefficient multilateralism on Iran and North Korea may lead the United States to shift from Wilsonian idealism to isolationism. Even if Europeans hate American unilateralism in Iraq, they need US intervention in a case like Kosovo. Leonard emphasizes this vital point in his article “The US heads home: Will Europe Regret It?” in Financial Times, 26 January 2004.

Five years have passed since then, and it is anticipated that America and Old Europe recover their images each other. Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy could improve American’s impression to Old Europe. Gordon Brown calms down leftists’ pressure against Tony Blair. Both Americans and Europeans must reconfirm that the transatlantic alliance is the central pillar to cope with global challenges.

"Submitted to Carnival of German-American Relations"

Monday, September 11, 2006

My 9-11

These days, Japanese bloggers talk about 9-6, when Princess Kiko gave birth to a new baby. On the other hand, American bloggers talk about 9-11. I had something special on both days. Neither babies nor terrorists came up to me.

I attended the fundraising forum on 9-6, and on 9-11 today, I met Mr. Hidemi Nagao, the author of “Eternal Japan-US Alliance.” I have mentioned the author before in Book Review: Eternal Japan-US Alliance. We talked at an Izakaya, a Japanese styled pub.

Mr. Nagao emphasized that we must not trust established opinion leaders blindly. Also, he said that we need to take initiatives to set new agendas. It was very nice to talk with him. He mentioned interesting stories about US and its allies' forces.

I hope I can make this 9-6 and 9-11 an important step.