Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Review of British PM Gordon Brown’s Visit to America

The special relationship between the United States and Britain is a crucial issue in Global American Discourse. This April, leaders from overseas visited President George W. Bush, including the Pope Benedict ⅩⅥ of Vatican and President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea. Among them, no one is as important as Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the United Kingdom. As President George W. Bush mentioned at the joint press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House, the Anglo-American alliance has been the most successful partnership to advance freedom and democracy around the world (Sky News, 18 April).

As if symbolizing the special relationship, British Prime Minister discussed key issues of global security and US foreign policy, ranging from Iraq, Iran, Third World development, health, food shortage, economy, and Zimbabwe. Unlike his predecessor Tony Blair, Gordon Brown is regarded more inward looking. However, Brown has shown that he is a global leader in his own right.

Having stayed in the United States from April 16 to 19, Prime Minister Brown visited the White House and the United Nations to discuss critical global issues. Prior to this trip, he addressed new security strategy at the House of Commons on March 19 when the Cabinet Office released a new report, “The National Security Strategy of the United Kingdom: Security in an Interdependent World”. The Prime Minister said that post-Cold War threats were far more unpredictable and diversified than Cold War adversaries. Prime Minister Brown mentioned new threats such as loosely affiliated network of terrorists and repressive regimes, climate changes, disease, and poverty. In order to confront these challenges, the Prime Minister emphasized importance of close partnership with the United States, NATO, the EU, the Commonwealth, and international organizations. Gordon Brown declared that the British government increase spending on tackling poverty, inequality, and poor governance to build stability in developing countries, which will eventually undermine terrorist and organized crime networks.

On 16th, Prime Minister Brown arrived at New York, and appeared in “Good Morning America” of ABC News. He advocated closer EU-US ties to deal with climate change, Africa, and globalization. Brown stressed continual British commitment to Iraq and hinted possibility of tougher sanctions against Iran.

Also, the Prime Minister gave a speech on Zimbabwe at the UN Security Council. Democracy in this country is no less important than freedom in Tibet. I wonder why Zimbabwe has been so corrupt while South Africa is moving toward a successful democracy. According to Freedom House Index in 2007, South Africa scores 2 both in political civil liberty. On the other hand, Zimbabwe sores 7 and 6 respectively, one the worst nations in the world. What have made both post-Apartheid regimes completely different? Brown’s appeal to the UN and the US will be an important step to dethrone Robert Mugabe and democratize Zimbabwe.

On 17th, Prime Minister Brown talked with President George W. Bush, and met all presidential candidates: Senator John McCain of the Republican Party, and Senator Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of the Democrat Party. Currently, Gordon Brown is the only foreign leader to see all presidential candidates in the election year. That is, Britain is better-prepared for the post Bush administration than any other nations.

President Bush and Prime Minister Brown discussed bilateral relations, Iraq, Iran, food and the economy, development and disease, and Darfur and Zimbabwe. While Brown promised close cooperation with the United States to defeat terrorists in Iraq, Bush declared to endorse British effort for democracy in Zimbabwe. (See the full text and the video of the joint press conference at the White House.) The rise of food price will be a critical agenda at the Lake Toya Summit this July. President Bush and Prime Minister Brown agreed to support activities of the World Food Program in Africa.

On 18th, Prime Minister Brown delivered a keynote foreign policy speech at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. Senator Edward Kennedy hosted this event. As mentioned in the new strategy report, Prime Minister Brown emphasized staunch policy coordination between the two “great continents” of America and Europe, in order to deal with new security challenges in the post-Cold War era. Also, he stressed that emerging economies such as China and India have more access to key global summits like G8. In addition, Brown said that a “reformed and renewed” United Nations be the cornerstone of global governance. Most importantly, Gordon Brown asserted that US leadership would be indispensable in an increasingly interdependent world.

The Prime Minister has come back to London next day. Iraq and Zimbabwe were not the only issue at the meeting. It was a preparatory talk for the Lake Toya Summit this summer. Matters like food, disease, and Africa, will be crucial at the meeting of leading Western democracies. Britain plays an important role to call America's attention to these problems. There is much to learn to make the alliance with the United State more successful.

Also, see photos of the US-UK summit.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Welcome to Japan! President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak is coming to Japan from April 20 to 21. This is the first time to publish a post on South Korea, since Global American Discourse was launched. In the category, entitled “China-Korea and Asia-Pacific”, this blog has been focusing China and North Korea, because both nations pose critical challenges to our liberal world order. Also, their threats to Japan are so grave that no other East Asian nations appear as frequently as both nations do on this blog.

However, active involvement of South Korea is essential in security of the Korean Peninsula which is one of the deadliest issues in East Asia. In the presidential election last year, Lee Myung-bak defeated a pro-North candidate Chung Dong-young. Not only has Lee dismantled appeasement to North Korea by his predecessor Roh Moo-hyun, the new president has been trying to improve relations with the United States and Japan. This is a major breakthrough in Far Eastern security and the War against the Axis of Evil. This is why I entitled this post “Welcome to Japan!”.

In the Roh Moo-hyun era, I was seriously concerned to read Barack Obama’s article in Foreign Affairs, saying that more South Korean role in security of the Korean Peninsula. As widely known, South Korea’s relationship with the United States and Japan strained under President Roh. But now, there is nothing to worry about larger stake of South Korea as the new president.

Currently, President Lee is on his trip to the United States and Japan, in order to strengthen tripartite partnership for security in East Asia. During the joint press conference at Camp David on April 19, President George W. Bush and President Lee Myung-bak addressed joint endeavor to advance freedom in the Asia-Pacific region. Also, both leaders raised concerns with human rights violations in North Korea.

According to news report by Chosun Ilbo (President Lee Myung-bak Leaves for US and Japan; April 15) and AFP News Agency (South Korean President Lee Myung-bak Coming to Japan; April 20), President Lee and Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda will discuss the following bilateral and global issues: North Korea, climate change, and the Free Trade Agreement.

Quite importantly, Lee Myung-bak declared that South Korea stop demanding apology to Japan, regarding colonial rule. Throughout the postwar period, the relationship between Japan and South Korea has been extremely idiosyncratic. Nasty emotional disputes over bilateral history and the Yasukuni Shrine have been hampering Japanese-Korean relations. As I have posted earlier, I do not agree to chauvinist ideology of the Yushukan Museum at the Yasukuni Shrine. However, both South Korean and Japanese nationalists must understand that history and Yasukuni are low priority issues, in face of North Korean threats. Whatever Japanese rightists remark, Japan has already gone through regime change, and nobody can reverse this country into a fascist nation again.

Both South Korea and Japan have common enemies and common allies. Not only nuclear weapons but also abductions by the Northern Red Devil poses dreadful danger to both countries. According to the National Association for the Rescue of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea (NARKN or the ‘Japanese Rescue Movement’), over 100 Japanese, and furthermore, over 80,000 South Koreans have been kidnapped by the evil regime in Pyong Yang. More South Koreans are confined than Japanese by rogue and ruthless North Korea.

Common allies are no less important to deal with post Cold War dangers. Just as President Bush endorses active involvement for worldwide democracy promotion by both nations, NATO has been exploring strategic partnership with Japan and South Korea. Both countries should assume responsibilities to fulfill expectations of Washington and Brussels.

I do not expect airy fairly stories of lovely friendship between Japan and South Korea. But both countries should not be preoccupied with bilateral relations too much. Normal relations between Japan and South Korea will be a significant help for the Greater Western Alliance. The real threat for both countries is the Rogue Tiger in the North. Never forget this!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The NATO Summit in Bucharest for Renewal of the Atlantic Alliance

The NATO Summit in Bucharest, Romania, was one of the big diplomatic events in the final year of the Bush administration. President George W. Bush was accompanied by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at the Summit meeting held from April 2 to 4. Restructuring the Atlantic alliance has been one of the key issues in US foreign policy since the beginning of current administration. Europeans also need to upgrade partnership with the United States to manage post Cold War politics and defeat terrorists. The Bucharest meeting is a milestone handed down to the next president of the United States.

At this conference, the following agendas were discussed, such as membership expansion, missile defense, and military operation in Afghanistan. While the missile plan was accepted and France decided to join the Afghan operation, membership for Ukraine and Georgia was postponed. Prior to the summit, experts discussed NATO’s role for the future.

At the beginning of this year, Ronald Asmus, Executive Director at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, comments on NATO expansion and the Russo-Western relationship (“Europe’s Eastern Promise: Rethinking NATO and EU Enlargement”; Foreign Affairs; January/February 2008). While arguing that NATO and EU must expand eastward to promote democracy and freedom, he says that the West be cautious enough not to provoke security concerns for Russia. He insists that NATO and EU expansion be paralleled with democratic transformation in Russia, which would eventually make this country a partner, or even a de facto ally to the West. Also, Asmus points out that NATO and EU enlargement raises serious concern among leaders in Russia while it has brought democratic stability in Eastern Europe.

Remember that democracy promotion is not solely attributed to the Bush administration. Asmus was a Deputy Assistant Secretary for European Affairs under the Clinton administration. He advocates America’s agenda as the current administration does. Of course, Asmus’s view on Russia is more softliner than that of the Bush team, as he thinks of making this country a de facto ally in the future.

In March, Ronald Asmus says that NATO is at crossroads in the post Cold War ambiguity of strategic objectives, while expanding partnership with its neighbors through EAPC (Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council) and the Mediterranean Dialogue (“Rethinking NATO Partnerships for the 21st Century”; NATO Review; March 2008).

Julian Lindley-French, Professor at the Netherland Defense Academy, and James Townsend, Director at the Atlantic Council of the United States, point out that the alliance needs to reach a strategic consensus to upgrade the organization and troops to deal with threats in this century. Also, non-Atlantic states such as Australia, India, Japan, and South Korea, should join decision making process in the broader Western alliance, they say (“Bucharest: Planning and Partnership for security effect in the 21st Century”; NATO Review; March 2008).

It is necessary to mention Europeans’ viewpoint to reshape NATO. On the eve of the Bucharest Summit, David Cameron, Leader of British Conservative Party, gave a lecture at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (“Crossroads for NATO - How the Atlantic Alliance Should Work in the 21st Century”; 1 April, 2008). [Also, link to the video.] Cameron argues that NATO has transformed from a reactive defense alliance into a peace enforcement alliance. NATO has made a significant contribution to peace and stability in the Balkans. 9-11 awoke the world to new threats. David Cameron argues the following four points for NATO to manage threats in the new era.

1. Closer trans-Atlantic partnership for democracy promotion
2. Strong American involvement in Europe
3. Europeans’ commitment to American policy making process
4. More burden sharing by European nations

Regarding Afghanistan, Cameron warns that failure in the Afghan operation will make America doubt utility of NATO, ultimately damaging European interests. Quoting French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s comment: ‘European security cannot rest on the shoulders of 3-4 countries’, Cameron urges all European members to upgrade their defense capability for global peace enforcement.

I believe it is valuable to listen to Cameron’s lecture, because global citizens can learn much about the alliance with the United States toward new era. His viewpoints and analyses are completely beyond domestic party politics. Keep this in mind, leftists and ultra-nationalists in Europe and Japan!

At the Bucharest Summit, America and Europe failed to reach an agreement of membership to Ukraine and Georgia, mainly because both sides still disagree on dealing with more aggressive Russia. Germany and France are more concerned with the balance of power with Russia, rather than rapid expansion of NATO. A German official said that the West needs to watch the next president Dmitry Medvedev more carefully, before posing a strategic challenge to Russia (“The NATO Summit: With Allies like These”; The Economist; April 3, 2008).

Despite the gap on eastward expansion, the missile plan was accepted. Moreover, France has come back as a full member of NATO, and decided to send more troops in Afghanistan.

Is this summit success or failure? Charles Kupchan, Senior Fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations and Professor at Georgetown University, comments that the Bucharest Summit illustrates difficulty in reaching consensus among allies in the age of post Cold War uncertainty. Regarding the failure in membership enlargement, Kupchan comments “It’s quite unusual. I can’t remember any time when the United States came in with such a clear position on a major issue and was so resoundingly rebuffed.” (“Kupchan: NATO Summit Shows Growing Difficulties in Reaching Solidarity in Western Alliance”; CFR Interview; April 7, 2008)

While the media tend to focus of the fall of American leadership in NATO, it is noteworthy that France has departed from Gaullist tradition as it decided to send troops to Afghanistan to help US, British, and Canadian forces, and reintegrate itself to NATO military command structure (“The Perils of Atlanticism”; Certain Ideas of Europe; April 7, 2008). Former Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepain, a vocal critic to US-led invasion when the Iraq War broke out, denounces President Sarkozy’s decision. But de Villepain will lose again, because Gaullism has become completely outdated.

Nevertheless, membership of Ukraine and Georgia is not completely ruled out, and it remains an issue of future consideration. The era of George W. Bush began with strategic discord between Old Europe, and now, his term is ending with rearrangement of the Atlantic alliance for the future.

Further references:

“Is NATO up to the Afghan Challenge? Expectations for the Bucharest Meeting”; Event at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; March 24, 2008

“NATO Summit: Fears for the Future” by Robin Shepherd; World Today; April 2008

Sunday, April 06, 2008

New Book by the Author of “Eternal Japan-US Alliance”

Mr. Hidemi Nagao , the author of “Eternal Japan-US Alliance” (published in Japanese), has released a new book again at the end of last March. This blog has mentioned about him in a previous post, entitled “Book Review: Eternal Japan-US Alliance”. In the recently published book, “Japan Desperately Needs Nuclear Energy”(原発が日本を救う), Mr. Nagao talks about Japanese energy policy, instead of the US-Japanese alliance.

In the introduction, he argues that Japan needs more nuclear power plants, in order to meet the demand of cutting CO2 emission to manage the climate change problem, which is one of critical agendas at the Lake Toya Summit this June.

In addition, Mr. Nagao advocates further nuclear power plants construction use, because Japan must be self-reliant on its energy supply. Considering high price of oil and gas, and shortage of food supply because of soaring demand for bio ethanol production, he says it absolutely necessary to expand the use of nuclear energy.

Quite importantly, he points out that it is politically risky to depend on importing oil and gas from the Middle East and Russia.

Mr. Nagao elaborates to shed widespread concerns among the public, regarding the safety of nuclear power plants. Most importantly, he suggests that we build mega floats, in order to have construction sites for the plant and manage dangers resulting from earthquakes. I believe this idea worthy of further research, in order to keep the effect on marine environment and coastal fishery as little as possible.

Like it or not, it is necessary to diversify energy supply. Mr. Nagao stresses that Japan must pursue energy independence to be a real partner in the global community.

“Japan Desperately Needs Nuclear Energy” sets crucial agendas to discuss energy and security. This book has been published just recently, and it is not available at dealers on the web such as Amazon. Please make a phone call to ERC Press in Tokyo, at +81-(0)3-3479-2151.