Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Invitation to an American Blog Community

I have received an e-mail from a recently established blog community, called National Security Blogggers. The mission of this online community is mentioned as the following.

Across the Internet, there are tens of millions of bloggers from every corner of the world. Many are dedicated to their craft, much like an author or a journalist. Unfortunately, many of these bloggers toil away in obscurity, with few people knowing of their natural talents.

National Security Bloggers is part of a larger network, attempting to give these bloggers a megaphone to their voice.

I saw some articles from the member on the top page. Various issues, from FBI, CIA, Iran, Iraq, and so forth, are discussed.

It is a good opportunity for Global American Discourse to join National Security Blogggers, and become more broadly known to bloggers throughout the world. This online community has just started, and it is expected to grow furthermore. Global American Discourse will join this community. I may mention some interesting posts in the future.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Understanding the Rogue Tiger: Blog of Interest on North Korea

North Korea is notorious for its reputation as a member of the Axis of Evil. We hear negative information, from nuclear proliferation, dictatorship, poverty, famine, to abduction. This country has been isolated from the global community for many years, and people understand too little about the Rogue Tiger in North East Asia.

Today, I would like to introduce an interesting blog, entitled “North Korea Zone”, which is published by nine authors from the United States, Britain, and Australia. They have various ideological backgrounds, but share common interests in Far Eastern politics. You can understand this ruthless villain from various perspectives.

Recent posts argue inside story of the North Korean government and the Sunshine policy of South Korea. In the former post, the author analyzes domestic political struggle for post Kim Jong Il leadership. In the latter post, the author reviews an article “Concerted Front” by Brian Myers in the Wall Street Journal on December 24, 2006. The author criticizes that Myers focus too much on South Korean nationalism to help North Korea. Instead, he claims that the Sunshine policy is motivated by practical incentives of South Koreans.

“North Korea Zone” has numerous links to news sources, the government, NGOs, and blogs. More importantly, this blog is linked to North Korean sources, including those of defectors. Some of them are written in Korean. Those who understand this language can learn further information and viewpoints by North Koreans. Unfortunately, I do not understand Korean at all. I will read English links only.

I hope you will find this link helpful. If you want to join intellectual and depth in analysis discussion on North Korea, I recommend “North Korea Zone” without hesitation. I believe we must not compromise with the Rogue Tiger. However, we must watch and analyze the demon very carefully. This evil is extremely vulpine, and he is dexterous in imposing humiliation on the United States and Japan, unless they are well prepared.

Picture: Japanese daimyo, Kato Kiyomasa (late 16th century) struggles with a Korean tiger on his military mission in Korea. He is really a Japanese Hercules.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Defeating Demons in Iraq

President Bush announced to send more troops to Iraq on January 10, in order to deal with violent uprisings there. This idea itself is nothing new, and I am not surprised to hear this decision. From the early stage of post Saddam occupation, opinion leaders like Robert Kagan and William Kristol, and Senator John McCain have been urging the President to dispatch additional army around Baghdad and critically dangerous areas in Iraq. In an article entitled “Why Iraq Needs More U.S. Troops” in the Washington Post on September 1, 2003, Robert Kagan argued that more US forces were necessary in order to secure environment for post Baathist reconstruction. He pointed out that it was necessary to mobilize reserve forces, but the current administration was reluctant to tale this option.

What makes more US forces necessary? For this question, it is essential to understand current situations in the whole Middle East and Iraq.

Barry Rubin, Director at the Global Research in International Affairs of the Interdisciplinary Center in Israel, insists that the Middle East faces the most dramatic shift in alignments since the 1950s (“The New Mideast Alignment” in the Jerusalem Post, January 14). He says that the Middle East is divided into two groups: one is the HISH (Hezbollah, Iran, Syria, and Hamas) and the other is moderate Arab. Currently, Iraq has become a frontline of the clash between the HISH and moderate Arabs. More importantly, the Bush administration regards Iraq a central front in the Global War on Terror, and the victory as vital to the United States, the Middle East region, and US allies, according to “Highlights of the Iraq Strategy Review” by National Security Council in January 2007. Among the HISH powers, the White House regards Iran’s negative influence the most critical in Iraq.

For further analysis, I would like to focus on Iraq specifically. Right after the midterm election, the Iraq Study Group suggested that the United States withdraw from Iraq as early as possible, and explore some cooperation with Iran and Syria. In a joint essay “Bush Must Call for Reinforcements in Iraq” contributed to the Financial Times on November 13, William Kristol and Robert Kagan refuted this idea. They are ague this sort of face-saving way to lose is not helpful. As to engagement with Iran and Syria, they are skeptical. However, they agree with James Baker and Lee Hamilton who chair the Iraq Study Group that President Bush should seek bipartisan support for his policy. They point out that “The Republican loss was largely due to lack of confidence that Mr. Bush had a victory strategy for Iraq, not a belief that he was not exiting fast enough. If the president makes clear he has such a strategy, he will have the support to do what is necessary.”

As mentioned previously, “Highlights of the Iraq Strategy Review” analyzes current situation in Iraq. According to this report, the Coalition has achieved the following objectives.

–Saddam Hussein’s regime is no longer an organized threat to Iraq, its neighbors, or the United States.
–Iraq is governed by a freely elected government under a permanent constitution.
–Democratic institutions have been established and are enabling Iraqis to shape their own state.
–Per capita incomes have increased ($743 to $1593 according to the World Bank, although inflation also has risen) and Iraq has performed under its IMF agreement. (Global American Discourse mentioned this in a previous post, ”Reconstruction in Iraq: Making Progress Even from A Liberal Viewpoint.”)

However, US led forces face the following challenges.

–Al-Qaida terrorism and a vicious insurgency are now combined with sectarian violence.
–The national government is eager to take lead responsibility, but it is hampered by a lack of governmental capability and widening sectarian divisions.
–Power centers are devolving, with events outside the international zone becoming more relevant to national trends.

This report points out that situation around Baghdad has not improved, and Iraqi support for the Coalition has declined to rely on “self-help” by local communities. It is important to notice that key assumptions have changed in many ways (p.7). Primary challenge has become multiple sectarianism uprisings from Sunni-based riots. Dialogues with insurgents were supposed to help reduce violence before, but they have turned out to be ineffective to improve security now.

Growing threat of Iran poses further challenges. The Bush administration thought Iran shared common interests with the United States to pursue political stability in Iraq. Now, it was revealed that Iran assists Shiite insurgents to expand its influence there (“Vindicating Larry Franklin” in the New York Sun, January 16).

Under such critical conditions, Frederick Kagan, Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, presents victory strategies against insurgents in his policy paper, “Choosing a Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq.” Having analyzed enemies, from Al Qaeda, Baathists, Sunni and Shiite vigilantes, and Iran, he suggests strategies for military operation, reconstruction, and armed forces expansion in Iraq. Prior to talking of his Iraq strategy, Frederick Kagan points out fundamental premise.

[T]he United States between 2001 and 2006 has committed only a small proportion of its total national strength to this struggle. There are more than 1 million soldiers in the active and reserve ground forces, and only 140,000 of them are in Iraq at the moment.

For the first step, he insists on concentrating more forces in Baghdad area. Clearing successfully, then, move on to Sunni and Shiite areas one by one. He insists that the United States and Iraqi government must show determination to suppress Sunni insurgents and to protect both Sunnis and Shiites. In his analysis, this will make the subsequent operations against Shiite militias politically easier (P.33 ~ 34).

Furthermore, Frederick Kagan articulates why the United States must be firmly involved in Iraq. He rules out commonly argued idea of train and transfer to the Iraqi Security Forces, because sectarian violence is growing faster than steady increase in the capability of the Iraqi Army. American presence is necessary to defeat these insurgents, and withdrawal from Iraq would lead to Iranian penetration to Shiite areas. He advocates that the United States can achieve initial goal of toppling Saddam Hussein, only through expanding commitments to Iraq (p.40 ~ 44).

Finally, I quote a commentary by Marc Ruel Gerecht, Resident Fellow at AEI.

For the Americans to give up now is a betrayal of those in Iraq who’ve bled far more than we have. (“Should We Surge?”, The New Republic Online, January 11)

People often confuse Iraq with Vietnam. But as Gerecht mentions, democracy is in progress in Iraq, and the United States is not helping corrupt dictators as it did in Vietnam. The media must never miss this point!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A Nuclear Free World?: By Kissinger et al

An impressive article appeared on January 4. Former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger and George P. Schultz, Former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, and Former Chairman of Senate Armed Services Committee Sam Nunn contributed an essay, entitled “A World Free of Nuclear Weapons” to the Wall Street Journal. Authors insist that the United States take leadership to eliminate nuclear weapons from allover the world.

It may sound odd that leading policymakers tell such an airy fairly vision. Why do they propose this? Let me review the article.

Authors explain changes in security environment from the Cold War era to present. During the Cold War, nuclear weapons were necessary to maintain mutually assured destruction (MAD) between the United States and the Soviet Union. However, authors point out that reliance on nuclear weapons for deterrence is becoming increasingly hazardous and decreasingly effective. Rogue states like North Korea and Iran pose serious challenges to global security. More dangerously, non-state terrorist groups can acquire nuclear weapons, which is beyond the concept of deterrence strategy. New nuclear actors do not have reliable safeguards to prevent accidental firing of nuclear weapons, which poses further threat to the global community.

Thanks to arms control efforts by the United States and the Soviet Union, no nuclear weapons were used by intention or by accident. Today, the world stands at crossroads, whether we will continue to be fortunate to avoid nuclear catastrophes as we were during the Cold War era.

Authors point out that US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev mentioned their hope for total elimination of nuclear weapons at the meeting in Reykjavik in 1987. It was right at the end of the Cold War. It is remarkable that leaders of largest nuclear powers envisioned such a bold world 20 years ago.

In order to achieve this long cherished goal in this critically dangerous age, authors recommend the following processes.

• Changing the Cold War posture of deployed nuclear weapons to increase warning time and thereby reduce the danger of an accidental or unauthorized use of a nuclear weapon.

• Continuing to reduce substantially the size of nuclear forces in all states that possess them.

• Eliminating short-range nuclear weapons designed to be forward-deployed.

• Initiating a bipartisan process with the Senate, including understandings to increase confidence and provide for periodic review, to achieve ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, taking advantage of recent technical advances, and working to secure ratification by other key states.

• Providing the highest possible standards of security for all stocks of weapons, weapons-usable plutonium, and highly enriched uranium everywhere in the world.

• Getting control of the uranium enrichment process, combined with the guarantee that uranium for nuclear power reactors could be obtained at a reasonable price, first from the Nuclear Suppliers Group and then from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) or other controlled international reserves. It will also be necessary to deal with proliferation issues presented by spent fuel from reactors producing electricity.

• Halting the production of fissile material for weapons globally; phasing out the use of highly enriched uranium in civil commerce and removing weapons-usable uranium from research facilities around the world and rendering the materials safe.

• Redoubling our efforts to resolve regional confrontations and conflicts that give rise to new nuclear powers.

Finally, authors advocate that a brave initiative for practical measures toward achieving a nuclear free world is consistent with America’s moral heritage. It is noteworthy that this is a bipartisan policy recommendation. As mentioned in the article, global security is in a critical stage now. Even a diehard realist like Henry Kissinger advocates an idealist vision of nuclear free world.

Right or wrong, the Bush administration has taken a step toward the future on one hand, which is prevailing democracy in the Middle East to prevent terrorism. Making a nuclear free world is another important agenda for America and the world. Will President Bush take a vital step toward this goal before his term completes?

Friday, January 05, 2007

New Year Question 2: The Legacy of Queen Victoria in East Asian History

The most significant landmark in modern history of East Asia is the Opium War. When Queen Victoria’s fleet defeated the Chinese Empire, the Chinese world order had been destroyed. The Middle Kingdom was dragged into the British world order of free trade and the Lockean liberalism. Most Asian nations failed to understand the real meaning of the Western impact. Only the Japanese took it seriously. Why didn’t Asians understand, or even didn’t try to understand the Western civilization?

This is the fundamental question in Modern East Asia. The Japanese concluded that the Chinese Empire could no longer sustain peace and stability in East Asia, and they had to adapt themselves to the Victorian world order. Therefore, Japanese people had made a Copernican decision, called “Datsu-a Nyuu-oh”, which literally means getting out of Asia and going into the West. A xenophobia nation off the East Coast of Asia has suddenly changed into a xenophile nation, and absorbed Western ways of thinking with unprecedently great passion. Finally, Japan itself succeeded in joining Western Great Powers Club. Through this way, Japanese people disentangled themselves from the Dark Age. Before Meiji modernization, Japan was a distinct nation in East Asia ―― a nation of unique and sophisticated civilization ―― but not a distinguished nation. Precisely evaluating the Western impact on Asia, could Japan evolve into a distinguished nation.

On the other hand, the Chinese and their Asian neighbors were still dormant, and believed in the Confucius vision of the world that Chinese Emperor would continue to rule the earth on behalf of the heaven. Under the Ce-feng system, the Chinese Emperor reins over kings allover the world. Therefore, China had never recognized equal partnership with any nations. Tributary trade was a proof of loyalty to China. Neighbor kings submitted products in their realms to Chinese Emperor, and they received benevolence gifts from the Emperor in return.

This Chinese world order is incompatible with modern system of political economy. The guardian of free trade, British Empire was the most qualified actor to destroy this sort of Dark Age system in East Asia. The Royal Navy had blown away outdated Confucian system with gunfire. Chinese and Asians did not understand it. No wonder they were conquered by Great Powers. It was the age of colonialism.

To my regret, Japanese leaders during the wartime forgot the lessons from the Opium War, and wasted huge energy to build the Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Zone.

The Opium War offers many implications to present days. Currently, the West is trying to incorporate the Middle Kingdom to the global economy. American policymakers have much to learn from British experiences. The Western impact still has some influence on Japanese-Asian relations. Therefore, it is quite important to think of this question again and again.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Year Question 1: Open NATO and Closed EU

As if celebrating New Year, Romania and Bulgaria joined the European Union on January 1. Further eastward expansion of the EU is a vital agenda for security of Europe in the post-Cold War era. But I have to mention one nation, which has been on the waiting list for decades. That is Turkey. The issue of Turkish membership symbolizes closed nature of the EU and open nature of NATO. Why one is so accommodating, while the other is so exclusive?

Embracing Turkey to the European Union will bring considerable advantages to the Western alliance. As a bridge between Islam and the West, Turkey will be a keystone to advance Western ideal of liberal democracy further into the Middle East and Central Eurasia. This country may not be sufficiently liberal and democratic as major nations in Western Europe. However, it is very important to keep it in mind that Turkey has been pursuing the goal of secularization, Westernization, and modernization since the revolution by Kemal Ataturk. This is still in progress. Once accepted, Turkey will be a primary base for US-led initiative to prevail democracy throughout the Islamic world. This is the first step toward a positive domino in this region. In addition, Turkish membership will enable the West to curb Russian and Chinese influence in the vast area along the Silk Road, abundant of energy resource. Moreover, the West can pressure Iran through this positive domino.

Historically, Turkey has kith and kin relations throughout vast areas of the Turkic-Persian civilization from Anatolia to Xinjian. Brave horse riders, Turks founded kingdoms in Central Asia, Iran, Afghanistan, Northern India, and Anatolia. This is a great advantage to be a bridge between the East and the West, and a key base for a positive domino for liberal democracy and enlightenment.

Yet, a substantial number of Europeans insist that Europe should be a homogeneous Christian world. But is Europe really a single Christendom? Certainly, it was during the age of crusade. The Christendom has already been divided in to two spheres: one is Christendom of the pope, and the other is Christendom of citizens. It is already a multi-cultural and multi-religious world. Instead of rejecting Turkey, simply because of Islam, Europeans should focus on common bonds with this country.

Turkey is the only Islamic nation successfully pursuing the goal of Kemalist enlightenment. Turkey shares common values with Europeans. More importantly, it inherits civilization and the territory of the Byzantine Empire. In addition, the Ottoman Empire hired assimilated Europeans, called jeni sarries.

Continually rejected, Turkish people feel resented that Europeans do not admit their effort to satisfy the qualification for EU membership. I am seriously concerned that this would give rise to Islamic radicalism.

Come to think of it, the EU has been too cautious to accept new members. It is too well known that Britain spent almost a decade to join the European Community. On the other hand, NATO accommodated West Germany shortly after the allied forces completed their missions for occupation rule. Today, NATO is discussing future membership for Japan, Australia, and even for South Korea. On the other hand, the EU has never considered membership for the United States and Canada.

What makes such a tremendous difference? In any case, an EU as open as NATO will bring considerable gifts and advantages to Western strategy of prevailing liberal democracy throughout the world. This is the reason why I am asking this question in this post.

Congratulation and happy New Year, our fellow Romanians and Bulgarians! Also, Happy New Year, our fellow Turkish!