Friday, February 29, 2008

Japanese Prefer Republicans?

In Japan, there is an online message board community, called the 2 Channel on which anonymous net surfers leave their comments to specific issues. Today, I would like to mention one of such a 2 Channel board, entitled “US Republicans are Real Friends to Japan”. Although I do not believe everything they say, it is true that some Japanese are worried about possible negative changes in the US-Japanese relationship, should the Democrat win in 2008 election.

There is every reason why Japanese, particularly conservatives (whether pro-American or nationalist), prefer Republicans to Democrats. At the Iraq War, the Koizumi administration did not hesitate to declare to support US and British attack against Saddam Hussein, although its actual commitment to the war was not so much impressive. Contrary to the Bush-Koizumi friendship, Japan’s relation with the Clinton administration was bleak. This is noticeable in Hillary Rodham Clinton’s article in Foreign Affairs, saying that “Our relationship with China will be the most important bilateral relationship in this century”, which distressed the Japanese public. Most of the Japanese people take pride in the fact that Japan is the only industrialized democracy in East Asia, and a member of executive board in global political economy along with major Western nations. Therefore, quite a few Japanese feel it an insult if the United States treats Japan less important than China. I agree with their concerns. However, I would argue that Japanese people not speculate party politics in the United States to discuss the trans-Pacific alliance.

Nevertheless, let me review “US Republicans are Real Friends to Japan”. I would like to mention some comments on this board.

Comment 1:
Democrats are dependent on labor unions and ethnic minorities. They are pro-Chinese and anti-Japanese, and tolerant to communism. On the other hand, Republicans are supported by traditional conservatives and Christian fundamentalists. They are pro-Japanese and anti-Chinese. Most importantly, they are strongly anti-communist.

Just before World War Ⅱ, 90% of Republican Representatives were against the US-Japanese War, and also, Republicans were against dropping atomic bombs to Japan. On the other hand, the Democrats provoked Japan to fight against America with the Hull Note.

This is an online community for Japanese people who support a Republican America. Anti-Republicans and anti-Americanists, please do not leave comments on this message board

Also, following blogs are listed for reference. They are written in Japanese.

Comment 8:
From the News Studio, by Yoshihisa Komori (Columnist of Sankei Shimbun, a conservative newspaper)
Blog Diary of Military Commentator, Mamoru Sato
Meine Sache
Japan’s Direction
(nationalist, but endorses the US-Japanese alliance)
Global American Seiron (Japanese version of this blog)
Conservatism (by an American acquired Japanese citizenship, strongly Republican)
Strawberry Field (by a Japanese in California, strongly Republican)
Black Ship’s Viewpoint on Foreign Policy and National Security
My Dear Mother Nation, Japan!

I am pleased that this blog is included on this list.

Furthermore, the administrator of this board talks about rifts between pro-Americans and anti-Americans among Japanese conservatives. According to this message board, both groups had common enemies during the Cold War, and they allied to defeat communism. However, both conservatives are completely at odds in fundamental philosophy since the prewar era.

Comment 9:
Greater Asian School (anti-American Conservatives today): Communitarian and Land Power-oriented
They believe in Japanese leadership in Asia, strong bureaucracy, Confucianism, and the rule of authority.

Anglo- American School (pro-American Conservatives today): Liberalist and Marine Power-oriented
They believe in internationalism under Pax Americana, free market capitalism, Buddhism, and the rule of law.

These contrasts are quite interesting. Although I do not agree to everything they say, I agree that Republicans are more preferable than Democrats for Japan. This is not because Republicans are more pro-Japanese than Democrats. I would focus more on America’s global strategy rather than its Asia-Pacific policy and pro Japanese emotion.

Currently the United States the following challenges: the War on Terror, nuclear non-proliferation, emergence of authoritarian capitalists such as Russia and China, and threat of rogue states. Considering US global strategy, I have come to the same conclusion as this online community that Republicans are more preferable.

Just reviewing Foreign Affairs articles, I found John McCain is the most welcome, not because he is more “pro-Japanese” than other candidates, but because he is keen on restructuring the alliance of free nations in order to manage the above challenges. Both Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton are Chaimberlaininan to terrorists, rogue states, and Russo-Chinese defiance to our world order.

It is no use to for Japanese people to speculate the Sino-Japanese rivalry when talking about the US-Japanese relationship. Rather, I would argue that Japan is a global power, and its policy focus should be beyond the Asia-Pacific region. Ever since the Opium War, Japan has been an exceptional nation in East Asia: the only member of Western Great Powers in the prewar era, and the only industrialized Western democracy in the postwar era. Politically speaking, Japan has more common standpoints with Europe and Australia than its Asian neighbors.

Therefore, excessive speculation to the Japan hand or the Asian lobbies is unproductive for Japan. Just before the Iraq War, Ryuichi Teshima, who was the Chief Correspondent at Washington Bureau of NHK, pointed out that Japanese diplomats relied on the Japan hand for information, instead of neoconservatives. He insists that this speculation prevented the Japanese government from accessing the most useful information source to the Bush administration.

Teshima sounds right. Mainstream foreign policymakers in Washington political corridor are experts on Russia, NATO, and the Middle East. Despite the Chinese challenge, Asian experts are still outsiders. This is notable that US envoy on North Korean denuclearization is Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, who is an expert on Eastern Europe.

Japanese officials and citizens can learn a lot from British diplomacy with the United States. Throughout the generation, Britain has not relied on “enigmatic” British hand as Japan has on the “Japan hand”. Also, Britain has been in close contact with American foreign policymakers, not only on bilateral or European issues but also on Russian, Middle Eastern, Eurasian, and even Asia-Pacific issues. Regardless of party and ideological politics in the United States, Britain has been keen on maintaining the special relationship.

I agree that Republicans are much more preferable for Japan, regarding 2008 election. However, the Japanese public should see the US-Japanese relationship from global point of view, rather than merely from bilateral and Asia-Pacific perspectives.

Monday, February 18, 2008

John McCain, the President for American Victory

In the post on October 6 in 2006, Global American Discourse talked about Senator John McCain’s election campaign website, entitled “Straight Talk America”. McCain has been a vocal advocate for the Iraq War and the Global War on Terror. He has been the top candidate for Republican nomination to the presidential election since the Second term of the Bush administration started. Actually, neoconservative leaders such as William Kristol and Robert Kagan had been endorsing McCain, until George W. Bush won Republican nomination for 2000 election.

Though McCain was in a financial trouble to continue his campaign around late autumn last year, he came back to the top in the Republican race. Just as his campaign site is titled, John McCain is straightforward to talk his policy. He is nicknamed Maverick. In 2005, McCain pressed President Bush to resolve the prisoner torture problem, in order to improve US image in the global community. Therefore, his contributions to recent success in the Iraq War are no less important than policy recommendations for surge by Frederick Kagan, Resident Scholar of the American Enterprise Institute, and Retired General Jack Kean of the US Army.

To begin with, I would like to mention his article “An Enduring Peace Built on Freedom” in Foreign Affairs November/December 2007. In a previous post, I mentioned Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. Hillary Rodham Clinton contributes her article, “Security and Opportunity for the Twenty-first Century” in the same edition of Foreign Affairs. None of them are as articulate as John McCain on the War on Terror and rebuilding alliance of leading democracies. McCain argues lucidly why the US-led coalition has to continue fighting in Iraq. He explains interrelations between the war in Iraq and operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan. As McCain mentions, premature withdrawal encourages terrorists to attack targets related to America across the globe. Niall Ferguson comments similarly in “Colossus”. In addition, McCain is well aware of potential Chinese thereat over the Taiwan Strait. Regarding China, I have to remind you that Hillary Clinton is too reckless to infuriate Japanese opinion leaders to say “Our relationship with China will be the most important bilateral relationship in the world in this century.”

While Obama argues responsible end to Iraq before US forces withdrawal, Hillary Clinton does not mention how to manage Iraq but simply insists on early retreat. The more you read, the further you understand that McCain argues more persuasive foreign policy visions than any other presidential candidates. Read each article, and compare them.

In addition, I would like to mention his address at the American Enterprise Institute, entitled “Winning the War in Iraq”, on November 10 in 2005 when the global public talked about the Iraqi quagmire. In this event, McCain criticized the Bush administration’s mishandling of Iraq, particularly the prisoner torture problem. For detail of this event, you can see the video and his article in AEI Newsletter (November 18, 2005). I recommend you to watch Q & A session in this video. Senator McCain talks lucidly, politely, and confidently about his Iraq policy ideas with the media coming from all over the world. Just after this event, Slate Magazine praised McCain’s candor and positive criticism on the Iraq policy (“Take the Blame, Mr. President”; November 11, 2005). He is not a malcontent to the President. McCain gave a positive advice to improve the Iraq policy.

It is noteworthy that Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Gulf War Commander General Norman Schwartzkopf expressed their support for McCain (“Norman Schwartzkopf Endorses McCain”; FOX News; January 23, 2008). Both leaders are top strategists and among those who understand the nature of this war and what is necessary for American victory. More importantly, they are pro-victory. At war, those who are reluctant to win are of no use, however brilliant they may be. Therefore, endorsement by Kissinger and Schwartzkopf boosts McCain’s candidacy for the next president.

Brains are not the only point that helps John McCain. According to Der Spiegel of Germany, Henry Kissinger can attract substantial money from fundraisers when he hosts them(“With Enemies like McCain’s, Who Needs Friends?”; February 12, 2008). McCain ran short of money to continue the campaign towards the end of last year, but it is overflowing now.

Further support to Senator McCain comes from Former Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton and other neoconservatives, according to “LobeLog” (“Neo-Cons and Bolton Flock to McCain Standard”; February 10, 2008). LobeLog is published by Jim Lobe, Chief of Washington Bureau of IPS News Agency. Lobe focuses on US foreign policy, particularly neoconservative influence in Washington political corridor. He says that hawk foreign policy experts including John Bolton and Robert McFarlane lauded McCain at Conservative Political Action Conference on February 9. Furthermore, Jim Lobe quotes William Kristol, saying that the media exaggerates anti-McCain sentiments among Republican conservatives.

Actually conservatives in GOP have been critical to McCain’s attitude to tax cut, social values, and climate change. Even after Mitt Romney stepped down the race, some of them are still reluctant to unite under McCain. In view of this, President Bush asserted McCain a true conservative in an interview with FOX news (“McCain a ‘True Conservative’”;; February 10, 2008).

McCain is very strong on national defense. He is tough fiscally. He believes the tax cuts ought to be permanent. He is pro-life. His principles are sound and solid as far as I'm concerned.

Regarding criticism to McCain by conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, Bush said "I think that if John is the nominee, he has got some convincing to do to convince people that he is a solid conservative and I'll be glad to help him if he is the nominee."

In order to assure victory in the election, choice of vice president will be a vital question. Senator Joseph Lieberman, formerly Democrat and currently Independent, has been an ally to McCain’s legislative activities for a long time. He will attract centrists, which would otherwise vote for the Democrat. Robert Kagan and William Kristol, leading advocates of American interventionism, have been insisting that the McCain-Lieberman duo is the best administration for America. However, McCain may consider conservative a running mate, in order to placate Republican right wings. Former Senator Fred Thompson, who also ran for GOP nomination this year, is one of possible conservative running mates. In 2000 Republican race, he supported McCain shortly after he stepped down from it.

Like it or not, America needs a president who can win this war. The world needs American victory. Senator John McCain is the man in need. It is regretful that Japanese media pay disproportionately much attention to Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, simply because of their “star” personality.

America is at war. No one wants a TV star, but the most competent commander in chief for the President of the United States. With regard to this election, Global American Discourse will focus on John McCain. This is a protest against stupid Japanese media.

Monday, February 11, 2008

American Mars and European Venus over Eastern Europe

Souce: "Pipe Dreams: Eastern Europe, America, and Russia";The Economist; January 24, 2008

Does Hobbesian America really care Eastern Europe more than Kantian European Union? The Economist has published a controversial article on January 24 (Pipe Dreams: Eastern Europe, America, and Russia). According to this, while the United States is concerned with geopolitical rivalry against Russia with regard to Eastern Europe, the European Union cares more about institutional reform and carbon emission targets.

Last year, the European Union has expanded to Romania and Bulgaria. The EU is exploring further expansion and common policy framework. Although the common constitution was rejected at national referendums in France (“France and the Referendum on the EU Constitution” by Markus Wagner; European Policy Brief by The Federal Trust; March 2005) and the Netherland (“EU Referendum Tests the Dutch Political Establishment” by Ben Crum; Centre for European Policy Studies; 19 February 2007) in 2005, the EU is trying to ratify the Lisbon Treaty (See BBC and the Economist) as an alternative. Taking this into account, I would argue that Brussels should assume much more responsibility in Eastern Europe than Washington does.

The Economist begins the article as the following.

Europeans may not always like it, but America still matters most for their security. As Kosovo edges towards independence, NATO ponders further expansion and Russia rips Europe's threadbare energy policy to rags, every debate involves America. And the mood is gloomy.

In Kosovo, the United States is encouraging independence of ethnic Albanians, while Europe remains cautious of it in order to avoid conflicts with Russia. Currently, the West and Russia are competing to expand influences in “swing states” across Eastern Europe, including EU member states such as Latvia and Bulgaria. NATO expansion is the key to counter Russian penetration in this area. Expansionist America and cautious Europe will discuss this issue at NATO summit in Bucharest this April.

Regarding oil and gas pipelines, the United States worries Western vulnerabilities to Russian energy supply, and endorses the energy route build across the Caucasus and the Balkan Peninsula. This line can bring oil and gas from Central Asia and the Caspian area to Western Europe, without passing Russian territory. See Nabucco and the Trans-Caspian lines in the map.

Ronald Asmus, Executive Director of the German Marshall Fund and Former Assistant Secretary of State under the Clinton administration, raises a concern about the EU’s silence on security in Eastern Europe and erosion of Western influence there.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made a similar comment when he spoke about NATO mission in Afghanistan at the 44th Munich Conference on Security Policy (“US Presses Allies More Afghan Troops”; Washington Post; February 11, 2008). He urged more European commitment to this operation.

When it comes to US foreign policy, the media and bloggers have been talking so much about the War on Terror in the Middle East and challenges by authoritarian capitalist economies such as China and Russia. However, I would argue that the most critical foreign policy issue during the Bush era is the transition of the trans-Atlantic alliance. Will President Bush succeed in arranging a partnership for the future at Bucharest in April? In order to find some clue to this question, I would like to discuss political changes in Europe on another occasion.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Last State of the Union Address by President Bush: A Baton to the Next President

Media reports on American politics are predominantly related to the election these days, and it seems that people have already forgotten about the current administration. However, whoever wins this election, the next president will succeed unfinished jobs of President George W. Bush. The State of the Union Address on January 28 is a baton to be handed from President Bush to his successor. The economy and Middle East issues are the key in this message. It is quite strange that the Union Address this year draws such little attention, even though it is an election year.

Prior to the Union Address, the Economist questioned whether President Bush can achieve anything before he leaves office (“George Bush’s Last Year”; January 28). Despite successful surge in Iraq last year, the Economist says that things are not likely to go easily for Bush this year. Foreign policy agendas, such as Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine, will dominate the final year. Also, George W. Bush will have NATO Summit in Romania and APEC Summit in Peru. However, as I quoted Strobe Talbott’s comment in a previous post, the President will hand his half done job his successor.

The focus of the Union Address is the economy and the War on Terror. Just before the President’s speech, Michael Abramowitz, Staff Writer of the Washington Post, analyzed political trends this year (“Economy, War to Dominate State of Union”; January 28). Abramowitz says that the public is shifting their attention from Iraq to the economy due to the Subprime Lending problem, and the President cannot afford to talk about domestic reforms on immigration and Social Security sufficiently. White House Spokeswoman Dana Perino said "It is unrealistic to expect that this Congress is going to take on such big problems this year." While admitting some tactical progress in Iraq, Democrats argue that overall strategic conditions in the War on Terror have not radically improved.

Let me review the speech, and comment briefly. As to the economy, the Subprime lending was not a big issue in this speech, and the President just mentioned the following.

Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, modernize the Federal Housing Administration, and allow state housing agencies to issue tax-free bonds to help homeowners refinance their mortgages.

On the other hand, George W. Bush spent the latter half of the speech on the War on Terror. Among related issues, the President spoke overwhelmingly on Iraq. The President spent much time to emphasize vital role of the US forces to bring peace and stability in Iraq. George W. Bush illustrated the meaning of the Iraq War as the following.

The mission in Iraq has been difficult and trying for our nation. But it is in the vital interest of the United States that we succeed. A free Iraq will deny al Qaeda a safe haven. A free Iraq will show millions across the Middle East that a future of liberty is possible. A free Iraq will be a friend of America, a partner in fighting terror, and a source of stability in a dangerous part of the world.

By contrast, a failed Iraq would embolden the extremists, strengthen Iran, and give terrorists a base from which to launch new attacks on our friends, our allies, and our homeland. The enemy has made its intentions clear. At a time when the momentum seemed to favor them, al Qaeda’s top commander in Iraq declared that they will not rest until they have attacked us here in Washington. My fellow Americans: We will not rest either. We will not rest until this enemy has been defeated.

I agree to this.

But quite strangely, the President did not mention Pakistan, another critical frontline of the War on Terror and nuclear non-proliferation, so much. Considering security in Iraq is improving, and the border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan is turning increasingly dangerous, I feel this odd. I wonder whether it means that the current administration is not in a position to take a big action in Pakistan. In any case, I hope that the President shows some measure to prevent Pakistan from falling into another Iran.

Just after the Union Address, the Economist analyzed political atmosphere in America (“Lexington: George Bush’s Last Grandstand”; January 31). Though the President advocated economic stimulus and continual surge in Iraq, the former is already in work through bipartisan stimulus package and the latter’s result depends on the successor. Since his jobs in foreign and domestic policy are likely to be unfinished, Bush will not achieve historical landmark in his final year. Both Republicans and Democrats are exploring post Bush politics.

According to this article, Democrat candidates Barack Obama and Hilary Rodham Clinton agree on policy, but disagree about methods. While Clinton thinks of using existing political channels in Washington to pursue her policy objectives, Obama disposes this. Republicans debate fundamental philosophy: whether to return to Reaganism or not; how to deal with climate change; and what role conservative faith should play. No longer need to defend George W. Bush from political enemies, Republicans can talk such philosophical agendas.

The Washington Post argues similarly (“Final Year’s Realities Push Big Ideas into Background”; January 29). However, Peter Baker, Staff Writer of the Post, points out that Bush has more freedom to focus on his agenda, as neither he nor the vice president is running for election. The great dreams of remaking Social Security, immigration law, and tax code have gone, and the only agenda he can concentrate on is the War on Terror.

It is true that importance of the current administration has diminished drastically, as both parties are exploring post-Bush domestic politics and world order. Still, the War on Terror is in progress. Things in Iraq have improved, but the coalition has not completed its mission to stabilize this country. Pakistan and Afghanistan are in critical atmospheres. Also, the President will attend NATO Summit at Bucharest, Romania in April, which is the key to arrange relations between the United States and its allies for the global strategic partnership. The next president will receive the baton from President Bush. The Bush legacy will determine his or her policy. Therefore, more attention to the final State of the Union Address is necessary.