Wednesday, May 28, 2008

NATO’s Partnership with Pacific Nations: Toward a Global and Multilateral US-Japanese Alliance

In the post 9-11 world, NATO is exploring global security cooperation beyond the Euro-Atlantic region. In the Pacific area, four countries, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea, are named strategic partners. Among the above nations, Japan draws the highest expectations from Europeans. My fellow Japanese citizens, whether right or left, should take pride in this vital fact.

Currently NATO News Release has mentioned 7 times of senior official (including cabinet ministers) meetings for Japan, while 5 for Australia, 4 for New Zealand, and none for South Korea. For further understanding of security cooperation with Pacific nations, NATO quotes a keynote address by the Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and an article in NATO Review by Professor Masako Ikegami at Stockholm University in Sweden. In addition, the volume of information on Japan exceeds far more than those of other Pacific partners.

Such high expectations and unrivaled trust by Europeans are consequences of staunch US-Japanese alliance. The US-Japanese alliance is beyond a bilateral security deal. This is an anchor of postwar regime change in Japan, and a keystone of liberal democracy promotion from Hawaii to Suez. Despite constitutional constraints, Japan has been the most important ally in the Asia Pacific for the United States, particularly, providing the largest and the most sophisticated bases for US forces.

When Foreign Minister (then) Taro Aso visited NATO headquarters in Brussels on May 4 in 2006, he mentioned common values and ideals between Japan and NATO (See the transcript of his speech). So did Prime Minister (then) Shinzo Abe on his visit to Brussels headquarter on January 12, 2007 (See the video 1 and 2). Current Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda is going to Europe early next month to meet with British, German, French, and Italian leaders to prepare for the Lake Toya Summit. I hope he will also emphasize common strategic and ideal standpoints with European leaders.

In order to understand NATO-Japanese relations, let me talk about some references. Professor Masako Ikegami, Director of the Center for the Pacific Asia Studies at Stockholm University, advocates developing NATO-Japanese collaboration, because critical threats in East Asia pose unprecedented challenges to global security. In addition she expresses concerns with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (“NATO and Japan: Strengthening Asian Stability”; NATO Review; Summer 2007). Ikegami says Shinzo Abe’s arrival to NATO headquarters in January 2007, which is the first visit by Japanese prime minister, was an epoch making event.

Ikegami mentions that Japan has begun to get involved in non-combat operations with NATO members in the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea since 9-11. She says that NATO and Japan share common security agendas, such as the War on Terror, WMD non-proliferation in Asia, and the rise of illiberal powers led by China and Russia.

As NATO is transforming for operations beyond the Euro-Atlantic area, Japan needs to develop strategic collaboration with the Alliance. Ikegami points out that while the Cold War has already gone in Europe, there are still war frontlines in East Asia: the Korean Peninsula and the Taiwan Strait. NATO-Japan cooperation will help WMD non-proliferation in North Korea through the Khan Network. Regarding the Taiwan issue, she argues that NATO support will strengthen the United States and Japan against Chinese expansionism.

In addition, Masako Ikegami warns that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has the potential to become a main adversary to both Japan and NATO. Since 9-11, China and Russia has been upgrading SCO (current members: China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) to expand their influence in Central Asia, and challenge our liberal world order.

Ikegami presents the following recommendations to Japan and NATO, in order to manage those global and Pacific threats.

Steps for Japan:
1. Reinforce US-Japanese security cooperation;
2. Increase partnership with NATO to ensure credible deterrence;
3. Improve the international security environment by increasing support to peacekeeping operations;
4. Contribute to peacemaking with economic and humanitarian aid; and
5. remain firmly committed to international arms control and disarmament schemes.

Steps for NATO:
1. Active partnership for global "security-making" with countries that share fundamental Euro-Atlantic values; and
2. Association for the purposes of engagement and confidence-building with countries that do not adhere to Alliance principles, but are nevertheless significant actors in international or regional security.

Under such a scheme, Japan would fit into the first category, while Russia (or eventually China, if invited) could fit into the second. NATO could thus enhance confidence-building measures with some countries, while acting more vigorously for conflict-prevention with those close partners that share basic Euro-Atlantic values and commitments.

For this objective, Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer visited Japan on December 13 and 14 last year. At the press conference, Secretary General Hoop Scheffer mentioned NATO’s partnerships with Ukraine, Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Middle East in the post Cold War era.
Regarding NATO-Japan relations, the Secretary General pointed out that Japanese help was indispensable for NATO operations in the Balkans. He expressed high expectations for Japan as an important member of the G-8 and the second largest economy. The most important issue between Japan and NATO is Afghanistan. As I have mentioned in the previous post on the Bucharest Meeting, success in Afghanistan will be an important step for NATO activities beyond the Euro Atlantic area.

Currently, debates on the anti terrorism special measures law at the Japanese diet has been suspended. Hoop Scheffer was cautious enough not to provoke constitutional arguments between Japanese ruling party and the opposition. To my regret, both sides spend too much time on meaningless debates about legal details and definition of a vague word international cooperation. Policy debate should be more concrete. NATO’s success in Afghanistan is Japan’s vital national interest.

Also, I must refute isolationists’ argument that Japan stand aloof from the West, because people in the Islamic world cherish good images to Japanese as opposed to imperialist Americans and Europeans. However, a previous post, entitled “Five Questions on Islamic Radicalism”, proves they are wrong.
Apparently, Japan should be at the heart of the Western alliance. Like it or not, the Japanese has been enjoying the privilege of honorary white status thanks to the US-Japanese alliance. Never forget this in the era of a global US-Japanese alliance.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Britain and France Step towards the New Atlantic Century

The Anglo-French Summit on March 26 and 27 in London will be a landmark in the future of the Atlantic alliance. As shown in the Franco-American relations, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has impressed his willingness to develop strategic partnership with Anglo-Saxon powers.

Throughout the postwar era, Britain and France have been frequently at odds in many issues on global security, Atlantic diplomacy, European integration, and so forth. Meanwhile, Germany and France have shed World War hostility dramatically. The Anglo-French strategic partnership will change interactions among major Atlantic powers: the United States, Britain, France, and Germany. As British Conservative Party Leader David Cameron said at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Europe has to make substantial commitment to develop the Atlantic alliance furthermore, which cannot be achieved through efforts by a couple of European nations. However, close Anglo-French defense initiative will stimulate active European involvement in global security. At the NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania, France has reintegrated itself to NATO military command structure.

In order to symbolize friendship between Britain and France, Prime Minister Gordon Brown and President Nicolas Sarkozy visited the Emirates Stadium which is the home of Arsenal FC, a soccer team of the English Premier League (See the video). Prior to Sarkozy’s visit to London, the Economist talked about the dawn of new Anglo-French relations. His declaration to send more troops to Afghanistan pleased British opinion leaders. Unlike his Gaullist predecessors, Sarkozy does not push Euro-skeptic Britain hard to commit to ESDP (the European Security and Defence Policy) over NATO (“Anglo-French Relations: An Entente in London”; March 19, 2008).

John K. Glenn, Director of Foreign Policy at the German Marshall Fund, concludes his survey that America and Europe are nonetheless converging on some issues, principally on the threats that face them. Europeans are more alarmed than they were about Islamist fundamentalism, for example, and America is waking up to global warming. And he notes that on some questions about the use of force France is as close to America as Britain is. (“Britain and America: Anglo-Saxon Attitudes”; Economist; March 27, 2008)

Though new Atlanticism is under attack by the Socialists at home (“France and Defence: Gaullist No More?”; Economist; April 3, 2008), Sarkozy does not simply respond to pressure from the United States, Britain, Canada, and the Netherland. 

Charles Grant and Tomas Valasek, Director and Director of Foreign Policy and Defence at the Centre for European Reform respectively, point out practical motivations of Nicolas Sarkoy’s pro-American, British, and NATO policy. Through full NATO membership and sending troops in Afghanistan, France can achieve symbolic and geopolitical success. France has been exploring to expand EU role in European defense, but Given the limited quantities of personnel and equipment that European governments can provide, NATO and the EU need to work more closely together. Under Chirac, French officials often blocked such co-operation; now they encourage it.” Both Britain and America welcomes his decision (“Sarkozy's bold European defence initiative”; Financial Times; 24 March, 2008).

At the press conference, Prime Minister Gordon Brown concluded this summit as the following.

Together, we will address the challenges of this new global era. Together, we are well placed to do so. Our two countries are at the heart of what we want to be: an outward-looking and globally-focused Europe. We both favour a strong relationship with our American partners. We agree that only by working together can we confront the challenges we face from terrorism, climate change, poverty, disease and failed states. We have agreed that we will deepen and strengthen the partnership between our two countries. We will turn the entente cordiale into the entente amicale in the following ways of working together in the future.

Tomas Valasek at the Centre for European Reform analyzes the reality behind President Sarkozy’s quest for improving relations with Britain and the United States in a recent policy brief (“France, NATO, and European Defence”; Centre for European Reform; 12 May 2008). France had been insisting that the EU should play more active role in European security since the launch of ESDP at the meeting between President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Tony Blair in St Malo in 1998. However, both Britain and the United States have been in favor of NATO supremacy over the EU, as far as security issues are concerned.

However, the Sarkozy administration has changed approaches, instead of provoking defense policy rivalry between NATO and the EU. Valasek argues the following.

Sarkozy does not share Chirac’s penchant for competing with America, and he and his team are more keenly aware of the insecurity around Europe’s borders. So they have essentially told NATO that France will stop playing politics with defence, and that both the EU and NATO should get on with the job of building and operating military forces.

Valasek points out that Sarkozy wants France to be at the heart of NATO rather than to stay outside of US led Atlantic security organization. This is why he visited London to advance relations with Britain, and declared to rejoin NATO command structure and send forces to Afghanistan at the Bucharest Summit of the Atlantic alliance. In other words, President Sarkozy explores to expand French influence on trans-Atlantic security, not thinks of subordinating to Britain and America. Remember this, anti-Anglo-Saxon politicians!

In return, Valasek recommends that Britain agree with France to strengthen EU defense policy.

Regardless of the Atlantic command structure, both Britain and France are developing next generation aircraft carriers (CVF or Future Aircraft Carriers for Britain, and PA2 or Porte-Avions No2 for France) through a joint venture. This project is a Concorde of the 21st century. For detail, see the following links to British MoD (1, 2, and 3). Also, Navy Matters, an affiliated website of UK National Defence Association, tells further in detail about CVF projects in both countries. This site is also linked to some useful sources in French.

The Brown-Sarkozy summit is an important step of the Atlantic security for the future. Europe can get out of post-modern daydream, and confront critical threats to our liberal world order. A new Anglo-French entente will lead Europe to the new era.
Picture: Sarkozy se joindra à la ligue d’Anglo-Saxon? (“Britain and America: Anglo-Saxon Attitudes”; Economist; March 27, 2008)

Monday, May 05, 2008

Red China or Mad China?: Tibet, Olympic, and Repressive Regime

Controversies over the Beijing Olympic and Tibet have been intensifying day by day as freedom activists all over the world protest against the torch relay. Facing harsh criticism by conscientious global citizens, the Beijing authority decided to mobilize Chinese people to overwhelm pro-Tibet protesters with a sheer number of Communist supporters.

In Canberra, Nagano, and Seoul, a huge flock of Red Chinese surrounded pro-Tibet activists on the street, and imposed substantial psychological pressure on freedom fighters. When I saw these bizarre flocks of Chinese carrying the Red Flag, those scenes chilled my spine. How can the Chinese government mobilize such centrally controlled street activists against freedom fighters? Although those Red Chinese did not punch or kick against pro-Tibet activists, that sort of intimidation is nothing but a kind of violence. It reminds me of an Orwellian world. A dreadful behavior like that should never be accepted as an act of patriotism! It turned out that China is a backward and dangerous state despite seemingly rapid modernization.

Think again. When the United States and Britain faced vehement criticism on the Iraq War, both governments never ordered their citizens to go to the street and protest against antiwar activists. Even the Soviet Union did not do so, when it was blamed for invading Afghanistan. It has become apparent that current China is a dreadfully authoritarian society, and in the midst of the Dark Age.

In order to discuss backwardness and repressiveness of China, I would like to refer to some authors. What terrifies me most is that China had been assuming itself the supreme nation in the world until defeated by the British gunfire in the Opium War. Throughout the history, Chinese Emperors imposed the “ce feng” system all over East Asia, and had been demanding monarchs there to show loyalty to China. Having been defeated by the Royal Navy, the lord of the universe in the Confucian world order accepted the Westphalian regime. Has China become sufficiently modern since then? It is absolutely essential to understand the nature of current regime in China when we talk about freedom in Tibet.

Robert Kagan, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, casts doubt to a widespread opinion among China watchers that the West accept this country as a “responsible stakeholder” (“Behind the ‘Modern’ China”; Washington Post; March 23, 2008). Kagan criticizes the idea that growing middle class would lead China to liberalization of politics and adaptation to the global economy. He calls it a self-interested wishful thinking of commerce-oriented Western businessmen, because autocrats are simply interested in holding their power and they use money earned from global business to repress Tibet and threaten Taiwan.

Also, Kagan rejects the idea of building the East Asian Community. Europeans respect local ethnic minorities such as Catalans in Spain, Flemish in Belgium, and Scottish in Britain. To the contrary, Chinese Communists have no hesitation to impose their authority on Tibet, Taiwan, and Xinjian. Also, I would like to mention that Chinese leaders force their neighbors such as South Korea and Japan to accept their evaluation of Asia history.

Robert Kagan points out that autocrats want to keep the world safe for their own at least, which is incompatible with desire of Western leaders to keep the world safe for democracies. Therefore, Kagan argues that it is wrong to think of integrating China into our liberal world order.

How do Chinese leaders see their country and their position in the world? Wang Jisi, Dean of the School of International Studies at Beijing University and Director of the Institute of International Strategic Studies at the Central Party School of the Communist Party of China, comments that national interests of China and the United States are so intertwined that mutual cooperation is the best way for both countries, though he does not expect a true Sino-American friendship. Also, Wang admits that US hegemony cannot be overturned for a long time (“China’s Search for Stability with America”; Foreign Affairs; September/October 2005).

However, Wang Jisi points out that post 9-11 security in the world and increasing mutual dependence in the economy has led the United States and China to explore closer strategic cooperation, though both nations do not expect real friendship each other. Despite difficulty in improving the relationship with the United States, Wang insists that it is Beijing’s interest to pursue closer ties with Washington to modernize China, because the United States is the global leader in economics, education, culture, technology, and science.

Despite modest tone of this article, Wang asserts that the Taiwan issue is a domestic problem. As he is in a top position of foreign policymaking in the Communist Party, it is apparent how Chinese leaders think of ethnic minorities in Tibet, Xinjian Uighur, and Inner Mongolia. Actually, he does not mention anything about reforms of political and civil liberties in China. Wang simply talks of gains from business transactions and strategic bargaining with the United States. This means that Chinese leaders are not interested in real modernization but superficial renewal. A state like this shall never be acceptable to our liberal world order.

Freedom House has launched the “China and Olympic” advocacy activity to condemn the decision to hold the Beijing Olympic by the International Olympic Committee. This site is linked to numerous useful articles, reports, and press releases. Let me have a brief look at “Ten Things You Should Know about China” by Freedom House. I will mention a couple of points among them.

2) China imprisons more journalists than any other country in the world.
The media must mention this more frequently than ever.

5) 65 crimes in China carry the death penalty.
Capital punishment itself is no surprise for me, because some states in America and whole Japan still retain it. The problem is the following.

The Chinese justice system has a number of other problems. Torture is often used to induce confessions, judges lack independence, and a lack of media freedom means that the press is unable to hold the judiciary accountable.

Regarding the Olympic and Tibet:
7) Tibetan Buddhists, Christians, Muslims and practitioners of other religions face frequent harassment.

Though constitutionally recognized, religious freedom is given little respect in China. All religious groups are required to register with the government, and while officially sanctioned groups are tolerated, members of unauthorized religious groups, such as Falun Gong, are harassed, detained and imprisoned in brutal conditions.

In Tibet, religious freedom is strictly limited by the Chinese government. While some religious practices are tolerated, officials forcibly suppress activities viewed as vehicles for political dissent or advocacy of Tibetan independence. Possession of pictures of the Dalai Lama can lead to imprisonment, and Religious Affairs Bureaus continue to control who can study religion in Tibet. Only boys who sign a declaration rejecting Tibetan independence, expressing loyalty to the Chinese government, and denouncing the Dalai Lama are allowed by Chinese officials to become monks.

In conclusion, I would suggest that we call this country Mad China, instead of Red China. I have not been so radical as to reject products of made in China until quite recently, but I may have to start a China free life from now on. Finally, I would request the Smithsonian Museum not to sell merchandises made in China at the souvenir shop. If you need something inexpensive, you can buy them from Mexico. The hall of American spirit should not be dirtied by a mad regime.