Thursday, December 31, 2009

Can China Dominate the World?

The Chinese Dragon shows robust economic growth, and some experts say that its GDP will surpass that of Japan next year, which will make this country the 2nd largest economy after the United States. Also, China is building up its military capability rapidly these days. The Chinese authority frequently defies the American, or more broadly, the Western world order. But how strong is China?

The media and opinion leaders often fail to think of this vital question when they talk about Chinese influence on global political economy in this century. Mixing Pei, Adjunct Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, casts doubt to overvaluation of Chinese power and its leadership role on the global stage (“Why China Won't Rule the World”; News Week; December 8, 2009). Let me review his recent article on Chinese strength.

In view of stagnant economy in industrialized capitalist nations since the global financial crisis, opinion leaders in the West praise that China overcomes the crisis very well. Some leaders in emerging and developing economies, who are disillusioned with Western-styled free market capitalism associated with democracy, are charmed by authoritarian Red capitalism in China.

However, Pei points out some negative aspects in overheated Chinese economy. The Chinese authority worried over lending by private banks and overinvestment by State Owned Enterprises to real estates and stock markets. While China produces more TVs, cars, and toys, Chinese consumers do not buy them. China’s attempts to secure natural resource supplies from the developing world face vehement resist by Western governments, multinational corporations, and local communities. If Pei is right, China cannot dominate global natural resource market as the Major does in oil.

The debate on Chinese production and financial power will be endless, because the Chinese economy is coincided with robust growth and uncertainties. In my view, the most important point is whether China has gained structural power to manage the world or not. In other words, can China exert influence on making the global system and framework, along with the West?

Susan Strange who was Professor Emeritus at the London School of Economics, says that power in global political economy is classified into relational power and structural power. “Relational power is the power of A to get B to do something they would not otherwise do”, while “structural power confers the power to decide how things shall be done” (States and Markets; p.24~29). China may have gained relational power through rapid growth in industrial production, but has the Dragon acquired structural power?

Pei asks a critical question, “If China is so strong, why doesn't it show more leadership in addressing global problems?” He points out that China has been obsessed with its self interest in international conferences from G20 London Summit to COP 15 in Copenhagen.

Certainly, China poses significant challenges to the American world order, and shows increasing defiance to Western systems and ideology. However, China is neither prepared for nor capable of setting global agendas and sharing burden of decision making to manage the world. Therefore, it is a dangerous idea to expect China to supplant the United States as the hegemony. Chinese leaders shall never provide global public goods of peace and stability embedded liberalism.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Attention to Ukrainian Presidential Election!

This summer, I talked of Russian pressure on Ukraine in view of the forthcoming presidential election in January. The election will be held on January 17, and the final result will be determined on January 27. Wikipedia shows an introduction to this election which will be helpful to understand basic points about it.

Among numerous candidates, President Viktor Yushchenko, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, and pro-Russian opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych, are key focuses. According to the poll conducted by Research & Branding Group, Yanukovich and Tymoshemko lead, while Yushchenko is far behind both candidates. A Ukrainian journalist Tetyana Vysotska introduces each candidate on her blog with a brief biosketch (Who is who in Ukraine).

Since the Orange Revolution in 2004, Ukraine has been a showcase of successful Western styled democracy under the Yushchenko administration. The power of citizens and the rule of law rectified the fraud election, and Yushchenko was inaugurated as the president, instead of pro-Russian Yanukovich. It was a spectacular victory for the Bush administration that sponsored democratic movements during the revolution. Pro-Western Yushchenko administration started to bid the membership for NATO and the EU.

However, poor economic performance and a dispute over appointment of cabinet minister have split President Yushchenko and Prime Minister Tymoshenko. An American businessman, who runs an IT outsourcing company in Kiev, talks of the split within the administration concisely on his blog (Yushchenko, Tymoshenko Rivalry Emerges onto Public Stage”; Kiev Ukraine News Blog; February 16, 2008). In addition, as I previously quoted an article by Thomas Valasek, Director of Foreign Policy and Defence at the Centre for European Reform, Ukraine has not resolved domestic corruption since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and faces difficulty in transition to capitalism and democracy.

According to David Kramer, Senior Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the principal issue in this election is the economy as Ukrainian GDP is expected to fall 15% this year. While Yanukovich and Tymoshenko lead the poll, no candidates are likely to gain over 50% of votes, and the second round election will be held on February 7. Although Yanukoich courts Russia, the Kremlin strikes a balance between both leading candidates very carefully (“Ukraine’s Presidential Election: A Primer”; Focus on Ukraine; December 18, 2009).

Fair election is an important issue, as the 2004 fraud is too widely known. The result of this election will have significant implications to relations between Russia and the West, and Euro-Atlantic security. Furthermore, the consequence of the forthcoming election will place critical influence on democracy promotion in the former Soviet Union. In other words, post Berlin Wall world will be tested.

New Year will start turbulently. Keep an eye on this election. Finally, enjoy listening to Ukrainian national anthem by a top singer of this country Ruslana, who is the champion of the Eurovision Song Contest 2004, and supported the Orange Revolution. Watch the video.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Back to Carter’s America?: Warning Flashes of Little Americanism

In the last post, I mentioned an interesting blog post, affiliated with Foreign Policy, that raises a concern over growing isolationism in the United States, surging to the highest level in 40 years. This is based on a poll by the Council on Foreign Relations and Pew Research Center (“U.S. isolationism at a 40-year high”; FP Passport; December 3, 2009).

According to the poll, the rate of Americans, who believe that the United States focus more on domestic issues rather than global problems has risen precipitously (See Chart Ⅰ). Also, an increasing number of American public see the leadership role of the United States less important (See Chart Ⅱ). Quite interestingly, the percentage of skeptics on the American hegemony is rising in recent few years. Seen from this chart, Obama’s America looks like Carter’s America. The American public is less confident in America in both eras. There is no wonder why notoriously apologetic speeches in Prague and Cairo are accepted so warmly in a Carterian America.

                    Chart Ⅰ

                    Chart Ⅱ

Regarding the surge in Afghanistan, the public is less supportive of it than the members of the Council on Foreign Relations (See Chart Ⅲ). This illustrates it is isolationist trend that hampers the vital goal of defeating terrorists there, and defend the United States and its allies. As I quoted in a previous post, a former Japanese journalist Yoshiki Hidaka said that American voters chose Barack Obama because they saw the United States did not face critical threats, and national and global security was not a big issue in the presidential election. Had voters regarded foreign and security affairs as the key issue in the election, they would have chosen John McCain, says Hidaka.

                    Chart Ⅲ 

Quite alarmingly, such isolationism seems to be bipartisan. Even though President Obama’s approval rate drops, conservatives focus almost entirely on domestic issues. They need to show visions for American leadership in the world. Some opinion leaders launch movements like Keep America Safe and the Foreign Policy Initiative to reverse isolationist trend among the public.

China is one of the key points in this survey. In the Singapore Speech at the APEC Summit, President Obama declared that the United States would accept the rise of China. Surprisingly enough, CFR members see China more important future allies to the United States than Britain, the EU, and Japan (See Chart Ⅳ). Why CFR members are so lenient to the growth of potential threat to a liberal world order since Pax Britannica? According to the theory of hegemonic stability, when a hegemonic superpower provides the global public goods of free trade and liberalist ideology, a peaceful world order of will be maintained. Remember, when Britain had to choose democratic America and authoritarian Germany from the late 19th century to the early 20th century, America was chosen. The transition of hegemony from Britain to the United States was relatively smooth. However, China is neither prepared nor qualified to share the burden of securing a liberal world order, which is an anchor of world peace and stability.

                    Chart Ⅳ

Regarding major threats to the United States, while the public sees China, North Korea, and Russia critical, CFR members regard transnational issues such as climate change and financial crisis as important (See Chart Ⅴ). This implies that CFR members are more liberal, non-hegemonic, and cooperation-oriented beyond ideology (“U.S. Seen as Less Important, China as More Powerful”; Pew Research Center Publication; December 3, 2009).

Chart Ⅴ

The problem is, neither the public nor CFR experts are reluctant to assume imperial mission of American predominance in the world. It is not only the Obama administration, but also the public opinion in current United States is dangerously Carterian.

Global public opinion may prefer calm and conciliatory diplomacy by the Obama administration to high handed moralistic approach by the Bush administration. However, none of other great powers are willing to share the burden of a global policeman (“The Quiet American”; Economist; November 26, 2009).

It seems that global political economy with Obama’s America is moving toward a Carterian world. The cost of blaming a Strong America will be enormous. Illiberal powers like Russia and China will exert more negative influence to undermine a liberal world order. Global public will be more tolerant to rogue regimes and terrorists. As shown in speeches in Prague, Cairo, and Singapore can a less confident America under President Obama manage the world? If no, everything is gloomy.

Monday, December 07, 2009

The Final Decision for the Surge in Afghanistan

President Barack Obama has made a long awaited decision to increase the troop level in Afghanistan to defeat Taliban and Al Qaeda. In a previous post, I mentioned that President Barack Obama was cautious to accept the strategic assessment by General Stanley McChrystal. Armed forces leaders, notably, Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff; General David Petraeus, Head of the US Central Command; and Admiral James Stavridis, Supreme Commander of NATO; talked with General McChrystal to urge President Obama to accept the strategic assessment. Obama faced a pressure from an ally. British Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth criticized Obama for delaying the surge, which led to more casualties among British soldiers. It was unprecedented that a British cabinet minister blames the US President in public (Daily Telegraph; “Bob Ainsworth criticises Barack Obama over Afghanistan”; 25 November 2009). Also, Republicans led by Senator John McCain had been demanding the President to take vital actions to improve security in Afghanistan (“The decider”; Economist; November 26, 2009).

Finally, President Obama decided to send additional troops to Afghanistan. Also, Obama struck a balance to soothe domestic antipathy to this long war. In his speech at West Point on December 1, Obama said that the US forces would begin to withdraw in 18 month. Quite interestingly, this is before his re-election campaign. While placating doves at home, Obama reminded the American public of 9-11 terrorist attack and the fear of Pakistani nuclear weapons falling into terrorists’ hands (“Obama’s War”; Economist, December 2, 2009).

In the video on the White House web page, President Obama articulates three points to defeat insurgents and never allow them build safe havens to attack the United States and its allies. They are strengthening Afghan security forces, civil life assistance, and partnership with Pakistan. The President has made it clear that the US led coalition will transfer responsibility to the Afghan government and security forces, after succeeding in the mission to defeat Taliban and Al Qaeda in “18 months” (“President Obama’s Afghanistan Plan in 4 Minutes”; December 1, 2009).

Contrary to the presidential election, Obama draws more support from hawks than doves, regarding the Afghan War. William Kristol, Director of the Foreign Policy Initiative, and Frederick Kagan, Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, applaud the decision to boost the troop level in Afghanistan. Though President Obama’s surge of 30,000 falls short of General McChrystal’s request of 40,000, and setting the schedule for withdrawal is inappropriate, both authors argue that General McChrystal will have sufficient forces to defeat insurgents. The surge will be of much help for British and Canadian forces in Helmand and Kandahar. Also, they point out that economic assistance is aimed at poverty, not insurgents. Therefore, William Kristol and Frederick Kagan call for a nationwide support for the Afghan mission, although they disagree to the Obama administration’s policy on Iran, Russia, China, and defense budgets (“Support the President”; Weekly Standard; December 14, 2009).

NATO allies welcomed the surge, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was emboldened to hear pledges for 7,000 extra troops from European members, at the foreign ministers meeting in Brussels (“NATO allies pledge 7,000 more troops for Afghanistan mission”; Washington Post, December 5, 2009). While Britain, Italy, Poland, and Georgia send additional forces, France and Germany declined to join the surge (“Allies Help McChrystal Reach Troop Goal”; Wall Street Journal; December 7, 2009).

President Obama’s decision shall be welcomed, but there are some problems. In the West Point Speech, Obama mentioned the timetable for withdrawal. However, General McChrystal in Afghanistan is not Lord Mountbatten in India. The coalition forces still face formidable enemies. In a previous post, I talked of the panel discussion by Frederick Kagan and Jack Kean at the AEI. General Kean said that the surge in Iraq achieved success because the US forces showed firm willingness for continual commitment there. In addition, isolationism is on the rise in the United States (“U.S. isolationism at a 40-year high”; FP Passport; December 3, 2009). These problems may impose some constraints on the War in Afghanistan.

The surge worked in Iraq. As Professor Niall Ferguson of Harvard University often mentions, it is psychological stamina that matters. The American public should remember the vital point that 9-11 terrorists came from their safe haven in Afghanistan. It is a necessary war that must be won.

See “Fact Sheet: The Way Forward in Afghanistan” by the White House.

Monday, November 30, 2009

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

State Under Secretary Hormats at Waseda University

Shortly after the APEC Summit in Singapore, Under Secretary of State for Economic, Energy, and Agricultural Affairs Robert Hormats delivered a speech entitled "U.S.-Japan Leadership in the New Global Economy" at Waseda University. The event was held in the Okuma Auditorium, which is a historical landmark of Waseda University.

Since the lecture was given just after the APEC Summit, the focus was regional rather than global (See the full text of this lecture.). Quite symbolically, Under Secretary Hormats started his speech by mentioning the normalization of US-Chinese relations in 1972. In those days, Japanese policymakers were upset, because they thought it would lower importance of the US-Japanese alliance in East Asia. However, he said, Japan stayed as the primary ally in the Asia-Pacific region, despite the US-Chinese normalization. Implicitly, Hormats says that the Japanese public not be obsessed with rivalry for regional primacy and dispute on wartime history with China. At the APEC Summit in Singapore, President Barack Obama welcomed the Peaceful Rise of China, which spurred wide spread criticism among conservatives at home.

Under Secretary Hormats’ stance to China is beyond geopolitical consideration. He emphasized that multilateral approaches are necessary to manage transnational issues such as climate change, alternative energy, developing aid, and the global economy. During the lecture, he mentioned G20 cooperation repeatedly, instead of G7 or G8. His foreign policy viewpoints reminds me of a post Cold War essay by Former Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, which talked of multi-multilateral policy coordination among state and non-state actors (“Globalization and Diplomacy: A Practitioner's Perspective”; Foreign Policy; Fall 1997). Does the Obama administration envision a Clintonian world where conflicts over ideology and geopolitics end, and global citizens pursue a wonderful dream of fraternity beyond regimes?

As seen in the attitude to Russia and China, the Obama administration is not willing to promote Western liberalism into both authoritarian giants. Instead, current administration pursues engagement with them beyond differences in regimes and political values.

Under Secretary Hormats said that Japan and the United States work closely to manage a world like this, particularly in the Afghan War, environment, and development aid.

At the Q& A session, I said “Please forgive me to ask a critical question to the Obama administration”, because I wanted to express a concern to the Singapore Speech in which President Obama said America would accept the rise of China. I am not obsessed with the Sino-Japanese rivalry, but critically concerned with Chinese ascendancy from “The Return of History” viewpoint. If their illiberal capitalism supplants our liberal capitalism throughout the world, I believe it a threat to free nations, notably, the United States, Japan, and Europe. Moreover, Western experts and media are alert to the rise of radical nationalism in China ("China's rising nationalism troubles West"; BBC News; 17 November 2009). The Singapore Speech sounds like famous apologetic speeches in Prague and Cairo, for me.

In reply to my question, Under Secretary Hormats generously said that he would welcome any questions in democracy. He stressed that China was an important partner for the United States and free allies through G20 and other multilateral frame work, despite numerous disagreements in political values and national interests.

The lecture was a good opportunity to understand the Obama administration’s foreign policy viewpoints. I enjoyed listening to some questions on environment, development, and other transnational and bilateral issues by Waseda students. As more students are involved in international cooperation now than my college days, interactions between students and Under Secretary Hormats were quite stimulating and lively.

Photo: US Department of State

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

ACCJ Lecture by the Commander of the US Forces in Japan

On November 5, I attended a luncheon at the Peninsula Hotel in Yurakucho of Tokyo, in order to listen to a lecture by Lieutenant General Edward Rice of the US Air Force. Lieutenant General Rice was appointed to the Commander of the US Forces in Japan in 2008.

Lieutenant General Rice talked about the changing nature of international security environment, and stressed that the US-Japanese alliance transform in order to deal with new challenges. Those challenges are primarily transnational threats, such as terrorism, pandemic, organized crime, climate change, and so forth. Furthermore, he said that such threats have become more important than traditional threats of conflicts between nation states. He said that Japan and the United States develop further partnership to manage these global threats.

It seems to me that the lecture by Lieutenant General Rice reflects foreign policy viewpoints of the Obama administration. Certainly, multilateral security cooperation has become increasingly important in the era of transnational challenges. However, I think that the tone of the lecture could have been different, if Senator John McCain assumed the presidency at present. Regardless of his own political creed, Lieutenant General Rice works for the Obama administration now, just as General David Petraeus does even though he is an icon among Republican supporters. There is nothing strange that the lecture at the Peninsula Hotel was Obamanian.

At the Q & A session after the lecture, attendants asked a broad range of questions on US-Japanese relations and East Asian security, such as North Korea, US bases in Futenma of Okinawa, the East Asian Community, and interest in national security among the Japanese public.

Regarding the East Asian Community, Lieutenant General Rice said that it was necessary to see what it was, and told the attendants not to judge it prematurely. As to public attention to national security, the USFJ (US Forces in Japan) Commander commented that Americans were not necessarily more well-aware of security issues than Japanese.

The USFJ Commander was so cautious that he did not say something like, "the hardest thing right now is not China, it's Japan", as I quoted an anonymous comment in the Washington Post before. Unlike the media, Lieutenant General Rice did not say something provocative about the Hatoyama administration.

My Question to Lieutenant General Rice was whether the role of nation state was declining in global security in view of the rise of radical nationalism in Russia and China. Ever since I wrote a post on the discussion between Robert Kagan of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times, top opinion leaders from America and Europe, I have been watching both illiberal capitalisms very closely. I quoted phrases back to the old Soviet Union for Russia and Peaceful rise for China, to ask policy implications of their challenges to free industrialized nations like the United States, Europe, and Japan.

In reply to my question, Lieutenant General Rice said that traditional power games between nation states still mattered, even though transnational challenges were getting increasingly important. Also, he said that a combination of engagement and containment approaches were necessary to deal with the Russo-Chinese challenge. If the Western alliance depends solely on hardliner measures, radical nationalism in Russia and China will be invigorated furthermore, he says.

I was impressed that Lieutenant General Edward Rice replied to every question sincerely. The USFJ Commander also said that it was a good opportunity to know interest of everyone at the forum. It was a very good opportunity for me to participate in mutual interaction between the guest speaker and distinguished attendants.

Note: This blog post reflects my personal view points, and not those of the ACCJ and the USFJ. The author is entirely responsible for everything mentioned in this post.

Photo: US Forces in Japan

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Commentary by a Top CFR Analyst on Iran

Currently, the P5+1 (United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany) nuclear negotiation with Iran is in progress. I would like to talk of the Iran problem further in detail in forthcoming posts. In this post, I would like to review an interview to Ray Takeyh, Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, on November 11. Takeyh insists that the Iran issue needs broader approaches, beyond focusing on nonproliferation.

This interview is valuable, because Takeyh points out that Iranian foreign policy is defined by domestic politics, rather than identifying its national interests on the global stage. Therefore, he says that the United States and other stakeholders take broad ranged issues into account, and not simply focus on nuclear negotiations.

This is critical to discuss Western approaches to Iran in a political turbulence since the presidential election this June. The Vienna talk in this October may be a progress in nonproliferation negotiation, but Takeyh says that domestic politics makes Iranian attitude erratic and unpredictable. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may suggest counterproposals to the P5+1, but they are not necessarily based on well-defined national interests. Therefore, I have to say that economic incentives for the theocratic regime regarding uranium enrichment do not necessarily work.

Instead of focusing entirely on nuclear issues, Takeyh comments that the P5+1 find common goals with Iran in broader issues like Iraq, Gulf security, and the Middle East peace process. An agreement with Iran in other issues will help advance nuclear talks, according to him. I agree to this point, because these security issues are closely intertwined with Iran’s nuclear ambition. Also, I would like to mention that Libya abandoned the nuclear project because Khadafy needs Western help to curb domestic threats of Islamic radicals.

As Takehy mentions influence of domestic politics on Iran’s attitude to nuclear negotiations, it is logical to use the Cold War tactics to pressure Iran for human rights issues. The Obama administration was too cautious to blame Iran for the repression associated with the presidential election this year.

Ray Takeyh suggests helpful guidelines to deal with Iran in such a brief interview. Iran has been one of the most critical threats since the fall of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Therefore, I would like to talk of Iran furthermore in forthcoming posts.

It appears that the Obama administration hesitates to provoke Iran on other issues, and focus entirely on nuclear negotiations. But such a low risk diplomacy is no pain and no gain.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Role of Vice President Biden to Control Damages in the Obama Foreign Policy

Vice President Joseph Biden seems to have the special role in foreign policy of the Obama administration. President Barack Obama has launched new diplomatic campaigns to improve relations with adversaries and challengers to America, such as Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela, and so forth. Some US allies claim serious concerns with such appeasement. Vice President Biden tries to soothe such worries when he visited Ukraine and Georgia in July, and Poland and Czech in October. Is Joseph Biden playing a supplementary role to Barack Obama?

As I mentioned in a previous post, Russia Today commented that the United States would not sacrifice the reset relation with Russia for the sake of Ukraine and Georgia while Biden was on a trip to both countries. They used a word, pecking order, to emphasize that President Obama’s visit to Russia was more important than Vice President Biden’s visit to Ukraine and Georgia.

As if suggesting that Russia saw America weak, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev denounced pro-Western Yushchenko administration to impose pressure on Ukraine. Obama may be popular among doves across the world, but his soft line stances and apologism to the American hegemony make loyal allies that face the threat of gigantic adversaries like Russia and China critically worried. For allies such as Poland and Czech, Barack Obama looks too naïve and inexperienced to deal with consummate challengers. Therefore, Joseph Biden is expected to placate their concerns.

Prior to Biden’s visit to Eastern Europe in October, Ewa Blaszynscaya, Research Analyst at the Center European Policy Analysis, insisted that the Polish government use this opportunity to reemphasize Polish contribution to NATO forces in Afghanistan, and urge Biden to reconsider the Missile Defense issue, on her blog affiliated with the Warsaw Business Journal (“Vice President Biden’s Poland visit more than just damage control”; CEE Policy Watch; 20 October 2009).

Though the missile shield was scaled down, the Obama administration showed their willingness for continual commitment to New Europe. Vice President Joseph Biden talked with Polish President Lech Kaczyński and Prime Minister Donald Tusk longer than scheduled to soothe their concerns. It was a damage control to President Obama’s clumsy announcement that the United States would withdraw the Missile Defense System from Poland and Czech. However, the opposition criticizes the agreement a hoax as no timetable to implement the alternative plan was shown (“Biden does damage control”; Warsaw Business Journal; 26 October 2009).

Biden did the same damage control diplomacy to talk with Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer. While Czech contribution to the Afghan War was praised, both sides did not agree how to implement the new plan: whether NATO based or bilateral (“Biden reassures ČR of defense role”; Prague Post; October 28 2009). Furthermore, former Czech President Vaclav Havel criticized Obama for rejecting to meet Dalai Lama, even though Biden explained it “logically” (“Havel: US foreign policy aware of threats”; Prague Daily Monitor; 26 October 2009).

Artemy Kalinovsky, Fellow at the London School of Economics, says Joseph Biden is the best choice to soothe Central European allies. Biden has a brilliant career to endorse NATO expansion to Eastern Europe during the 1990s, and he has extensive personal contacts in this region. However, both Poland and Czech will be discouraged, if Biden fails to meet their expectation. As Kalinovsky says, “In the end, the Obama administration might learn that, as with domestic politics, it is impossible to be friends with everybody.” (“The Man for the Job in 'New Europe'?”; National Journal; October 20, 2009)

Obama was premature to express his hope of reconciliation with challengers and adversaries at one of the most sensitive time, which has raised serious concerns among loyal allies. As both the Warsaw Business Journal and the Prague Post pointed out, President Obama did not give sufficient consideration to the provocative remark by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at the 70th anniversary of the Soviet-German invasion to Poland. Putin’s pro-Stalin speech chilled the spine of people across Central and Eastern Europe. Also, Biden did not tell detailed information about the alternative missile interceptor SM3. Joseph Biden needs to do more to complete his damage control mission and restore trust among allies of New Europe.

Obama cannot heal all stakeholders. The Prague and the Cairo Speeches were hailed, but he needs to face savage reality of global power games. The Vice President will play a vital role to take care of concerns from US allies, just as a manager of the customer service center does. In any case, the role of Joseph Biden in the Obama foreign policy is beyond New Europe and Former Soviet nations. Vice President Biden has substantial jobs to do in the Obama administration for America to fulfill the role of the global superpower.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Can Lord Barry Heal the Japanese Bitter Ones upon His November Visit to Japan?

Secretary Robert Gates talked with bitter ones of new DPJ (Democratic Party of Japan) government in Tokyo to discuss security deals, including issues of US bases in Okinawa, North Korean nuclear threat, and Japanese contribution to the Afghan War.

It is an irony that Japanese voters were inspired with “Hope of the Change” by a Democrat President Barack Obama, which led to the victory of Japanese Democrat to overturn conservative LDP (Liberal Democratic Party) rule for 50 years this summer. However, the Obama administration faces “bitter” remarks by his fellow Democrats across the Pacific. Under the name of “equal US-Japanese relations”, the Hatoyama administration expresses that they are not willing to provide vital assistances for the coalition fighting in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The cabinet rejects to continue fuelling for the allied force navies in the Indian Ocean. Also, the DPJ government even declares to overturn the Okinawa base deal agreed between the Bush administration and the LDP cabinet. As Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama insists on founding a controversial East Asian Community, the American side takes the above mentioned rejects very seriously.

While Japanese liberals and leftists are critical to America’s role as the superpower and the alliance of free nations, they welcome the well known apologist speeches in Prague and Cairo. At the Atomic bomb Memorial Day on August 6, Hiroshima’s Social Democrat Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba used a word the “Obamajority” to show his heartfelt support for the denuclearization speech by Barack Obama. Currently, the Social Democratic Party joins the coalition cabinet led by DPJ. Even far left and the most anti-American politician Kazuo Shii, Secretary General of the Communist Party, praised Obama for the Prague Speech, while he opposes fuelling for the Afghan War vehemently. This is contradictory to his hail to Obama on denuclearization.

The Washington Post raises a serious concern in “U.S. pressures Japan on military package” on October 22, 2009.

For a U.S. administration burdened with challenges in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, North Korea and China, troubles with its closest ally in Asia constitute a new complication.

A senior State Department official said the United States had "grown comfortable" thinking about Japan as a constant in U.S. relations in Asia. It no longer is, he said, adding that "the hardest thing right now is not China, it's Japan."

Secretary Gates demanded Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa to abide by the agreement during the LDP era. Tensions between the United States and the DPJ has been intensified. Can President Obama heal relations with Japan when he visits there in November? As shown in Joseph Biden’s visit to Europe, the Obama administration may have some divisions of roles. Vice President Biden soothes concerns with appease to Russia when he visited Ukraine and Georgia in July, and Poland and Czech this month. For Japan, Secretary Gates pushes for American national interests, and President Obama may use his popularity to heal the trans-Pacific tension.

But I would like to quote a comment by Artemy Kalinovsky, Fellow at the London School of Economics, saying that, “In the end, the Obama administration might learn that, as with domestic politics, it is impossible to be friends with everybody” (“The Man For The Job In 'New Europe'?”; National Journal Blog; October 20, 2009).

Since the presidential election, "All Hail the Messiah" phenomena have been widespread in Japan, as well as in the United States and Europe. However, it is time that President Obama began to act as the leader of the superpower. The President of the United States is not a movie star, and he must push vital interests of our free nations, whether loved or hated. The President should never show appeasing attitude to Japanese Democrats as he did in his visit to Russia this July. President Obama must send a severe warning signal to the DPJ administration, in order to stop dangerous Asianism in Japan. Otherwise, Japan may repeat the same mistake of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere during World War Ⅱ. Absolutely no! Japan should be at the heart of the Western alliance. Japanese people must never forget this progressive spirit since the Meiji Revolution.

President Barack Obama must be bold, and never court Japanese liberals and leftists who plot to decouple US-Japanese ties. Please don’t heal everyone, and keep in mind the phrase “with us, or against us” to strengthen the unity of free nations.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Warning Flash to US Counterterrorist Policy

There is a shocking news report that terrorist organizations are developing new recruitment network, and an increasing number of Americans and Europeans join Al Qaeda and Taliban to fight against US led coalition. Until quite recently, fighters were mostly self-motivated volunteers who came all the way to Afghanistan and Pakistan by themselves. But today, Al Qaeda stations their own agents in Europe to recruit jihadists.

Analysts say that CIA campaigns to kill Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders and missile attacks by NATO forces are effective in general, but as long as terrorists can relocate their bases to Pakistan, those measures are not complete (“Flow of terrorist recruits increasing”; Washington Post; October 19, 2009).

In order to deal with the threat mentioned in this article, much more strict surveillance against potential terrorists is necessary. However, liberals on both sides of the Atlantic denounce wire tapping during the Bush era. But think again. Terrorists find new ways to pursue their jihad against free citizens. We, free nations, are at war. Read the article in the Washington Post thoroughly to understand what a dreadful threat they pose to the global community.

Friday, October 16, 2009

President Obama’s Competence on National Security Critically Questioned

As I mentioned in the last post, President Barack Obama faces vehement criticism for his lenient foreign policy to potential adversaries and cold blooded attitudes to allies desperately aching for US support. The Nobel Peace Prize awarded by the committee in Oslo has intensified bitter criticism to Obama’s foreign policy.

Global Geopolitics News and Analysis, a blog sponsored by the Eurasia Research Center and Global Geopolitics Net, has published a post on conservative and neoconservative attack to President Obama’s foreign policy. William Kristol founded Keep America Safe with Elizabeth Cheney, a daughter of Former Vice President Dick Cheney, to advocate “the world is a safer place when America is trusted by our allies and feared and respected by our enemies.” According to Kristol, as liberals has found dozens of organizations and spend millions to undercut the War on Terror, it is vital to help leaders who envision a strong America for world peace. Also, Kristol has been sending open letters with Robert Kagan through recently founded the Foreign Policy Initiative, in order to urge Obama to take more assertive foreign policy with regard to Russia, Afghanistan, and Central Europe. Furthermore, Charles Krauthammer criticizes the Obama administration’s foreign policy an exercise in contraction (”U.S.: Foreign Policy Hawks Launch New Campaign against Obama”; Global Geopolitics News and Analysis; October 13, 2009).

The rise of hawk backlash is not the only problem. Regarding the Afghan War, President Obama has not reached common understandings on the McChrystal Assessment within his own party, while Republicans are united to demand a further surge. Among Democrats, Senator Dianne Feinstein urges the President to accept the McChrystal Report, while Senator Carl Levin says a troop surge is unnecessary and simply increase the risk of further US casualties (“44 The Obama Presidency: Sunday Talkies: Democrats Unsure, GOP United on Troop Levels”; Washington Post; October 11, 2009).

While US Democrats are divided, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has decided to send another 500 troops recently. Even this decision is criticized by Former Defence Secretary John Hutton that it should have been earlier. Hutton quit Defence Secretary in June this year when Brown turned down the demand for a surge of British troops in Helmand and Kandahar provinces (“Gordon Brown 'should have sent more Afghan troops six months ago'”; Daily Telegraph; 14 October 2009). President Obama will be in awkward position if he hesitates to accept recommendations by General McChrytstal, while America’s closest ally has made a decision to boost troop level.

The Democrat divide on Afghan strategy will undermine the leadership of the President, not only in Washington but also on the global stage.

Since the presidential election, I have been questioning Barack Obama’s competence in foreign policy and as the Commander in Chief. The President has not succeeded in reaching consensus on Afghanistan within his own party. His attitude to Poland and Czech is disrespectful to the weak. The media has been praising him a Black Kennedy since the election. Now, it seems that he is a Black Carter, instead. It is quite ironical that President Barack Obama won the Peace Prize when he faces one of the most critical tests to manage the globe. Sweet and empty speeches are no proof to show that the President is ready to lead the world.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

An Open Letter to Question Commitment to Poland and Czech by a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate President Obama

The decision by President Barack Obama to withdraw the Missile Defense System from Poland and Czech has raised a serious concern among the public in Eastern Europe and foreign policy makers in Washington. President Obama may have taken a businesslike approach to Russia, in order to advance his own agenda of a nuclear free world. However, I believe this will pose some negative effects to America’s relations with East European nations, and also, former Soviet republics like Ukraine and Georgia.

Particularly, Poland and Czech are crown jewelries of US commitment to former communist nations. Both of them are successful case of transition to the market economy and liberal democracy. Some innocent free marketers believe that both are naturally coincided. Empirically, this is not true. On this blog, I have been talking of illiberal capitalism in Russia and China. To the contrary, growing socio-economic disparity has led to the rise of anti-Western cult nationalism in both countries.

Even pro-Western Ukraine has not made sufficient progress in developing transparent political and economic system to bid for EU membership (“Is Ukraine fit for the EU?: The Brussels-brokered loan offer may encourage Kiev to clean up its corrupt gas sector”; Wall Street Journal; August 24, 2009).

Considering these problems associated with the transition to capitalism and democracy, Poland and Czech are vital show cases to demonstrate the success and the victory of Western liberalism. Therefore, I strongly advocate that the United States and key NATO allies like Britain, France, and Germany, demonstrate their willingness to defend Poland and Czech from pressures by autocratic powers. Historically, Poland and Czech are the frontline of Western democracy. It was Adolf Hitler’s aggression to both countries that led to World War Ⅱ.

In view of these concerns, the Foreign Policy Initiative and the Center for European Policy Analysis sent a joint open letter to urge President Obama to make firm commitment to eastern and Central Europe, and not to surrender Russian pressure. Signatories are distinguished foreign policy experts, including Robert Kagan and William Kristol of the FPI, and A. Wess Mitchell of the CEPA.

Actually, Russian hawks are invigorated to hear to hear Obama’s announcement of withdrawal as I told in the post. Also, as Obama hesitate to provoke Russia on Ukraine and Georgia, Russia Today reported as if America were weak. Fouthermore, Iraq War veteran Captain Pete Hegseth regards such challenges as critical threats to global security.

In the open letter, signatories emphasized that Poland and Czech supports the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan despite vehement criticism from anti-American leftists throughout the world. Also, they insist that the plan to build missile defense facilities in both Poland and Czech is a clear message for continual American engagement in New Europe.

People in Prague expressed wholehearted welcome to President Obama when he visited there. Will he betray them through drawing back security assurance to Czech? As I quoted a comment by Nile Gardiner, former policy aid to Lady Margaret Thatcher of the United Kingdom, isn’t Barack Obama confident in American righteousness? If both questions are true, he is no icon of world peace. Poland and Czech crave for American support. A friend in need is a friend indeed. Never forget this President Obama! Again, read the open letter carefully. We shall defy a Nobel Peace Prize at the expense of Poland and Czech.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Foreign Relations of Japan under the DPJ Administration

Ever since the landslide victory of DPJ (Democratic Party of Japan), Japanese media are excessively excited with the CHANGE like the Obama fever among liberal media in the United States and around the world. Shortly after the inauguration, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama visited New York and Pittsburgh to attend UN General Assembly and G20 economic summit. Since Japanese public opinion was in the mood of “All Hail the Messiah” to the new DPJ Prime Minister Hatoyama, I did not write any posts on the DPJ government in order to stay out of such a laudatory tumult.

Actually, major Western allies paid far more attention to Iran and Afghanistan than to Hatoyama’s debut and his ambitious target for a 25% CO2 emission cut, during the General Assembly in New York.

However, it is time that we explored Japan’s foreign relations under Hatoyama. Prior to the Prime Minister’s trip to the United States, Douglas Paal, Vide President at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, had an interview on September 16 as shown in the video below. Paal was on the National Security Council as an expert of East Asian affairs under the Reagan and the Bush Sr. administrations.

Basically, Paal foresees no significant changes in Japanese foreign policy under the DPJ administration. Also, he comments the emergence of new government positively, as a path to real bipartisan democracy from the single party dominance by the LDP (Liberal Democratic Party). However, he mentions that the new administration will face critical challenges in policymaking communications with bureaucrats, because Hatoyama envisions drastic reform in policymaking processes from those led by bureaucrats to those by the cabinet.

Regarding new policymaking processes, American lobbyists in Tokyo talked about similar points in the forum sponsored by the American Chambers of Commerce in Japan on September 29. Unlike Douglas Paal, they did not give any evaluations to Japanese democracy. This may be because lobbyists are reluctant to say something to provoke antipathy to American business interests. As I said in previous posts (see 1 and 2), think tank scholars in Washington are free to say anything boldly.

Then, let me review the interview. As to the economy, Paal points out that it is unlikely that the DPJ succeeds in reversing postal savings privatization under the Koizumi reform. He is right, because it seems to me that both Japanese leaders and the public do not understand what the reform is.

While Hatoyama’s pro-Asian stance is taken positively among Asian neighbors, Paal says that Japan’s fundamental relations with them will not change so much because there are some difficult issues to reach an agreement, like territorial dispute, East China Sea, and war time history. In addition, I would like to stress that it is quite unrealistic for Japan to cohabit with China in a Common Asian House, just as the EU or NATO accepts Russian membership to a Western democracy club.

The US-Japanese relationship will not change substantially, because Japan enjoys a post modern peace under Pax Americana. However, Paal says that DPJ politicians are reluctant to accept advices from bureaucrats even though they are inexperienced, because the new cabinet wants to destroy bureaucratic dominance. The American side will face difficulties in finding the right channel for policy interactions. Quite importantly, Paal comments that the Obama administration will not impose Japan to continue fuelling for the Afghan operations. Rather, Obama will accept Japan’s alternative approach, such as providing assistance to civil life and so forth in Afghanistan.

In addition to the above analyses, Douglas Paal presents a critical advice to Japan. While Japanese media focus too much on Hatoyama, Obama is another key to US-Japanese relations. As Barack Obama is even-tempered and businesslike, it is unlikely that personal relations between leaders will play a significant role. Nor, will Obama see the world from “with us or against us” perspectives.

Paal’s recommendation sounds right. As shown in the withdrawal of missile defense system from Poland and Czech, President Obama does not regard loyalty to America important. Therefore, Prime Minister Hatoyama needs to suggest some alternatives to fuelling to the coalition forces. Also, the Prime Minister has to re-establish clearly understandable policymaking channels, if he were to restructure traditional bureaucracy-diet relations. Otherwise, American negotiators will encounter critical difficulties in finding the right person in Japan to talk on their own issues. An even tempered and businesslike president may not be patient enough. Keep this in mind Prime Minister Hatoyama.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Slogan Change

The slogan of this blog has changed as shown below.

Pro Anglo-American hawk and liberal imperialist blog for Japan as a leading WESTERN DEMOCRACY along with America and Europe. Advocacy and analysis of global politics from long term perspectives. Act beyond biases of World War II and the Cold War! Step toward New Era!

Pro Anglo-American hawk and liberal imperialist blog. Advocacy for a world led by top Western Democracies. FREE NATIONS OF THE WORLD, UNITE!

It is not the time to talk about World War II biases. We face the rise of new challenges, such as the Russo-Chinese axis, rogue states, and radical ideologists. History has started again, and Hobbesian struggles between nation-states are intensifying. It is a solid alliance of top democracies that can defeat those threats.

Free nations of the world, unite!

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Afghan Test for Obama: Competence as the Supreme Commander and Relations with Allies

Currently, Afghanistan is in a critical condition, and the Obama administration needs to make a vital decision whether to accept the recommendation by Army General Stanley McChrystal who heads the coalition forces in Afghanistan. During the election, Barack Obama insisted that the focus of the War on Terror be shifted from Iraq to Afghanistan. He even mentioned early withdrawal of troops from Iraq and send them to Afghanistan, instead. Therefore, it is vital for the Obama administration to turn the mission in Afghanistan toward a successful direction. As the Afghan operations are more multinational than Iraq, President Obama’ s decision will have insignificant impacts on security policies of NATO allies. Also, newly elected Hatoyama administration of Japan needs to understand Washington’s response to the McChrystal Assessment, in order to reset the US-Japanese alliance into an equal partnership.

In view of rampant attacks by insurgents and some alleged frauds in the presidential election on August 20, General McChrystal has submitted the Initial Strategic Assessment to President Obama via Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. As shown in the above video, President Barack Obama is not so generously accepting recommendations by generals, unlike former President George W. Bush. In the report, McChrystal stresses that the coalition forces gain support of the people, instead of simply killing enemies. He says, Progress is hindered by the dual threat of a resilient insurgency and a crisis of confidence in the government and international coalition. To win their support, we must protect the people from both of these threats (p.5 ~ 6). In addition, he quotes a comment by Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Wardak that Afghan people have never seen the US and NATO forces as occupiers. This is completely different from the case of Soviet invasion (p.8). Most of the media fail to mention this crucial comment.

Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, and General David Petraeus, Head of the US Central Command, expressed their endorsement to the McChrystal Assessment (“McChrystal Request to Reach Pentagon by End of the Week”; Washington Post; September 24, 2009). In order to push further surge in Afghanistan, Admiral Mullen talked with General McChrystal, General Petraeus, and Admiral James Stavridis, Supreme Commander of NATO, at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. At the Hill, Senator John McCain urged the Obama administration to send additional troops as soon as possible (“U.S. Military Leaders Discuss Troop Needs for Afghanistan”; Washington Post; September 26, 2009). Despite strong demands by top leaders of the US Armed Forces, President Obama is still reviewing the assessment. The second assessment will be sent to the President in early October (“Top general in Afghanistan asks Pentagon for more troops”; Los Angels Times; September 26, 2009). Within the Obama administration, Vice President Joseph Biden, Chief if Staff Rahm Emanuel, and national Security Advisor James Jones advocates an alternative strategy to troop build up, while Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke endorse the McChrystal Assessment (“Plan to Boost Afghan Forces Splits Obama Advisers”; New York Times; September 26, 2009).

Meanwhile, in the second report handed to Admiral Mullen and other attendants at the Ramstein meeting, General McChrystal gives an option of additional troop level from 30,000 to 40,000. Republicans urge quick decision to send troops (“U.S. commander offers troop options for Afghanistan”; Reuters; September 28, 2009).

The Afghan War is a real test for President Obama as the Commander in Chief. During the election, the majority of armed forces personnel were concerned with his competence in this field, as I stated in a previous post.

Also, the Obama administration’s decision will have significant influence on European allies. Thomas Valasek at the Centre for European Reform points out that European forces will withdraw, if Obama does not send further troops (“ANALYSIS - Obama's Afghan troop response is key for Europeans”; Reuters India; September 23, 2009). Barack Obama needs to show his dedication to the victory of free nations of the world. The most important message in the McChrystal Assessment is the protection of civil life and Afghan trust to the allied forces. Read the report again and again, and then, take necessary measures immediately, as the Bush administration did in Iraq.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Iran’s Adherence to Nuclear Ambition

Iran shows no sign of abolishing its nuclear program. At the General Assembly of the United Nations held in New York the other day, the nuclear negotiation with Iran is one of the key issues on global security. In June this year, Iran was criticized from the global community for fraud in the presidential election. Shortly after the turmoil, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace hosted a panel discussion on Iran on June 23, as shown in the above video. Regarding the P5+1 (US, UK, France, Russia, China, and Germany) nuclear talk, Roger Cohen, Columnist of the New York Times, says that both Russia and China are reluctant to undermine their relations with Iran, and therefore, he is pessimistic with multilateral talks.

Actually, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad revealed that Iran has built the second uranium enrichment facilities secretly, at the press conference of the United Nations General Assembly. The plant is expected to be located near Qom, and unlike the first plant in Natanz, it is too small for commercial use but adequately sized to produce weapons grade enriched uranium. At G20 Summit in Pittsburgh, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicholas Sarkozy, along with US President Barack Obanma, condemned it a deception to the global community. Iran’s nuclear ambition has become more imminent threat than ever (“U.S. and Allies Warn Iran over Nuclear ‘Deception’”; New York Times; September 25, 2009).

The problem is beyond a hardliner President Ahmadinejad. Karim Sadjapour, Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, focuses on the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to explore the nature of current regime of Iran, and its implication to the nuclear issue. According to his report, the nuclear program is the key to pursue revolutionary virtues of foreign policy. Khamenei regards nuclear project as a symbol of scientific advancement, which will lead Iran to become self sufficient and politically independent, and bolster Iran’s national esteem on the global stage(”Reading Khamenei: The World View of Iran’s Most Powerful Leader”; Carnegie Endowment Report; March 2008; p.27~28). Therefore, it is quite unlikely that P5+1 reach an agreement with Iran immediately.

In an interview with the Council on Foreign Relations, George Perkovich, Vice President at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, suggested the following to negotiate with adamant Iran. First, Perkovich insisted on getting the issue to the Security Council, because Asian members would criticize Iran for going too far, and they would dissuade it from pursuing further researches for nuclear bombs. In addition, he urged President Obama to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, in order to demonstrate his willingness to stop nuclear arms race (“No Signs of Iranian Flexibility on Nuclear Program”; Council on Foreign Relations Interview; September 2, 2009). Unfortunately, the first proposal has failed to work, as President Ahmadinejad revealed the secret plan at UN press conference.

Prior to the UN assembly and the P5+1 negotiation on October 1, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad showed no intention of halting the uranium enrichment project (“As Talks with U.S. Near, Iran Denies Nuclear Arms Effort”; Washington Post; September 21, 2009).

John Hannah, Senior Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and Former National Security Advisor to Ex-Vice President Dick Cheney, argues that President Obama make use of his popularity among Iranian citizens standing up against the fraud presidential election this June, and show his endorsement to them to pressure the theocratic regime to move forward on the nuclear talk (“Call Them Out, Mr. President”; Weekly Standard; September 21, 2009).

Hannah’s suggestion seems to be of much help in dealing with adamant theocrats, ruling Tehran. The problem is, President Barack Obama is reluctant to boast American righteousness as seen in the Cairo Speech. Also, Obama was cautious to pressure Iran in the post-election turmoil, though American and foreign leaders urged him to take resolute actions against the Khamenai-Ahmadinejed regime. We need to watch the forthcoming negotiation on October 1.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

President Obama, Cautious of Accepting General McChrystal’s Recommendations on Afghanistan

In the previous post on Afghanistan, I mentioned that General Stanley McChrystal of the US Army would submit the second assessment to suggest the number of additional troops to be sent there. I would like to explore its impact on policymaking process of the Obama administration in a forthcoming post. Now, let me talk about the assessment and current stance to the report by the Obama administration.

In an urgent and confidential report, General McChrystal warns that more forces are required to fight this war. Otherwise, he says, that the mission will fail. However, the General concludes "While the situation is serious, success is still achievable."

In addition to further surge, General McChrystal suggests to improve governance in Afghanistan. As the state institution is weak, officials abuse power, which lead to widespread corruption. Also, McChrystal proposes to build up the capability of the Afghan government to manage detention facilities. Currently, insurgents are overcrowded in those camps, and it is vital to interrogate them more effectively to obtain information about terrorists. Moreover, McChrystal suggests that ISAF build good relations with local residents, and help Afghan security forces grow up to 400,000, including both the army and the police.

Finally, the report points out that terrorist headquarters are located in Pakistan, and leaders support fighters in Afghan battlefield from there. Without sufficient surge, McChrystal concludes that ultimate costs of this war will be significantly higher (“McChrystal: More Forces or 'Mission Failure'”; Washington Post; September 21, 2009).

The problem is, American public support for the Afghan War is dropping sharply as shown in the table below. Mark Mardell, North America Editor of BBC, says “Obama will find it tough to sell the general's policy to a party and public reluctant to see more men and women sent to bolster an Afghan government accused of election fraud.” In view of such an atmosphere, General McChrystal used a strong word, failure, to push for a big surge. Paul Reynolds, World Affairs Correspondent of BBC, says that McChrysytal dared to use the F-word, because wants to achieve success in the end (“US in Afghanistan failure warning”; BBC News; 21 September 2009).

Prior to this assessment, General Sir David Richards of the new head of the British Army in Afghanistan stressed that defeat for NATO would have an "intoxicating impact" on extremists around the world (“General: If we fail, the world’s terrorists will be intoxicated”; Evening Standard; 18 September 2009).

Source: BBC

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama is cautious to accept the assessment, and he is going to reassess the Afghan strategy ahead of formal request for surge by General Stanley McChrystal. Republican Senator Mitch McConnell insists that the President follow the advice by General McChrystal as his predecessor did in Iraq. He argues that President Obama be more respectful to General David Petraeus and General Stanley McChrystal in this war (“Obama Questions Plan to Add Forces in Afghanistan”; Wall Street Journal; September 21, 2009).

This post is just a narration of the strategic assessment of the Afghan War. Static analysis of the assessment will appear in a forthcoming post on Afghanistan. This war is a real test for President Obama.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Was Preemptive Attack Necessary against North Korea?: A Review of Robert Kagan Comments in 2003

Shortly after the Iraq War, a Japanese freelance journalist Kazuki Ohno interviewed Robert Kagan, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. This interview was on neoconservatism and American foreign policy, and it was published in a Japanese political journal, entitled SAPIO on June 25, 2003.

In this interview, Kagan talked about North Korea, the most critical threat to the security of North East Asia. He stressed that no diplomatic negotiations and economic incentives have made any progress in nuclear non-proliferation, because North Korea was a totalitarian regime. Kagan also said it was quite unlikely that Japan could normalize the relationship with North Korea.

Since then, it has turned out that what Robert Kagan said in the interviews is right. North Korea simply got rewards without abiding by international obligations. Regrettably, North Korea has acquired the bomb. As Kagan said in this interview, military attack was the last resort to stop nuclear proliferation into a rouge state.

In those days, criticism to the US-led Iraq War was rampant, which led to substantial inflow of Al Qaeda terrorists to Iraq. The media reported anything inconvenient on Iraq so happily, and global leftists were emboldened to hear those news. Terrorists were overjoyed with such trends, until they were defeated in the big surge.

Such globally agitated pacifism is one of the reasons why the Bush administration hesitated to conduct a necessary attack against North Korea. We all know the result of it. The uproar of global leftists was so immense that the United States missed the vital opportunity to destroy one of the worst regimes in the world. Never forget this, those who argue against Pax Americana!

Friday, September 18, 2009

US Missile Defense Withdrawal from Poland and Czech May Activate Russian Hawks

The Obama administration has decided to withdraw the Missile Defense Plan to deploy anti-ballistic missile system in Poland and Czech. It was intended to protect US allies from Iranian nuclear missiles. Russia bitterly has been opposing this plan since the Bush era.

President Obama’s decision spurred vehement criticism among Republicans such as Senator John McCain and Former Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton. Alternatively, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that the United States would deploy Aegis-equipped ships to shoot down Iranian missiles (“U.S. replaces Bush plan for Europe missile shield”; Reuters; September 17, 2009).

Russia is likely to regard this decision as a victory to the United States. On the other hand, Poland and Czech raised concerns that the Obama administration is appeasing to Russia. (“U.S. to Shelve Nuclear-Missile Shield”; Wall Street Journal; September 17, 2009)

Thomas Valasek, Director of Foreign Policy and Defence at the Centre for European Reform, says that Obama is right to proceed nuclear disarmament with Russia, but it must be combined with assurance American engagement to Eastern Europe. Also, he points out that Russia is still obsessed with the idea of zero-sum game, which is US gains mean Russian losses, and vice versa (“Missile strategy must not be seen as a retreat”; Financial Times; 9 September 2009).

However, things are quite tough. I have been writing some posts on Russia to explore widespread cult nationalism in the post communist era. In view of this, Republican Senator Jon Kyl condemns President Obama as the following.

Despite the fact that Poland and the Czech Republic have committed their soldiers to fight alongside U.S. forces in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, today the Administration has turned its back on these allies. ….. The message the Administration sends today is clear: the United States will not stand behind its friends and views ‘re-setting’ relations with Russia more important. This is wrong! (“Kyl Blasts Obama Missile Defense Surrender”; Weekly Standard Blog; September 17, 2009)

Gary Schmitt, Director of Advanced Strategic Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, comments “It looks like not only have we hit the reset button when it comes to Russia, but now with our friends in Central Europe—except this time, it’s a big fat “no thank you” for your willingness to stick your neck out to protect allies" (“Are We Dropping Missile Defense in Europe?”; The Enterprise Blog; September 16, 2009).

More importantly, hawks are invigorated to hear this deal in an increasingly rightist Russia. I have mentioned that Russians are more and more infatuated with Joseph Stalin these days, and the Medvedev-Putin administration make use of this patriotic passion for their authoritarian rule.

Russian diplomacy is based on zero-sum ideas, and Moscow foreign policymakers do not understand Western concepts of “win-win” deals which Obama has in mind. The rise of hardliners will pose negative impacts on Ukraine, Georgia, and trans-Caucasia as well (“Demise of U.S. shield may embolden Russia hawks”; Reuters; September 17, 2009).

I strongly argue that the Obama administration needs to understand the nature of the counterpart regime. As shown in the Prague and the Cairo Speeches, Barack Obama is too hesitant to trumpet American power and ideals. Nile Gardiner, Ex-Foreign Policy Staff to Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, said it was too apologetic. The world never needs soft and sweet America. President Obama, please don’t discourage Poles and Czechs, whose real HOPE lies in close ties with the West.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Case for Benevolent American Imperialism by Paul Wolfowitz

In view of annoyance to long War on Terror and the global recession, the American public is becoming critical to global commitment as shown in the ABC-Washington Post Poll on Afghanistan. Former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz argues against such isolationism, and says that the United States be more actively involved in democracy promotion throughout the world. Let me review his article in Foreign Policy.

In this article, he criticizes realists’ understanding that the Bush administration was so belligerent as to impose American ideal of democracy on Iraq by force. Contrary to their viewpoint, Wolfowitz insists that the war was intended to remove a threat to the United States and the global community. Instead of installing another dictator or prolonging American occupation, President George W. Bush decided to establish a democratic regime there. The US-led coalition fights in Afghanistan for the same reason.

Quite importantly, Wolfowitz comments that the United States can push reform while dealing with unfavorable regimes. He mentions the Reagan diplomacy with the Evil Empire of the Soviet Union had led to perestroika. Moreover, he points out that Libya has given up the nuclear weapons program for fear of American will, not because the Bush administration spoke nicely to the infamous dictator Muammar Khadafy. Even modestly in some cases, Wolfowitz insists on continual push for reform in China and Middle East nations.

Based on the above perspective, Wolfowitz argues that the United States not compromise with Asian or Islamic values cited by dubious autocrats in those regions. He points out that Arab citizens are willing to hear the United States champion democracy, and criticizes that foreign policy realists dismiss this.

I agree with him. Remember what I said in “Islam and Democracy” and “Five Questions on Islamic Radicalism”. People in the Islamic world, even radical Muslims, admire Western freedom.

While some realists are cautious of destabilization as a result of democracy promotion, Wolfowitz argues that this is not so dangerous. Rather, he regards it as a positive catalyst for change, as seen in the fall of Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines, and recent movements against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran (“Think Again: Realism”; Foreign Policy; August 2009).

Contrary to widespread wrong understanding, the article by Paul Wolfowitz articulates that neoconservatives are pragmatists, not belligerent idealists. Realist foreign policy does not necessarily serve American and global security.

Furthermore, Paul Wolfowitz appeared in “Weekend All Things Considered” of NPR on September 5 this year. In an interview with the radio host Guy Raz quoted a counterargument to Wolfowitz by Professor Stephen Walt of Harvard University, "Idealistic wars of choice like Iraq invariably force policymakers to engage in threat inflation and deception, and Wolfowitz was an able practitioner of this art." In reply, Wolfowitz expressed his wholehearted support for democratic reform in the Arab world.

Quite importantly, Wolfowitz says that it is American interest to get involved with internal affairs of other countries, and argues that the Obama administration’s foreign policy is more aligned with neoconservative thoughts rather than realist ones. Like American presidents throughout the history, Barack Obama does not leave internal issues of other countries untouched, but willing to drive reform as shown in Afghanistan (“Wolfowitz on U.S. Role in Other Nations' Affairs”; NPR; September 5, 2009).

Paul Wolfowitz presents invaluable analyses and commentaries in the era of new security challenges, such as Islamic radicalism in the Middle East, nuclear proliferation by rogue states like Iran and North Korea, and the rise of cult nationalism in Russia and China. It is necessary to understand the fundamental idea of American interventionism from long term perspectives. The article and the interview will be of much help for this objective (also, listen to 1 and 2).

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The First Assessment on Afghanistan by General McChrystal and Commentaries by Experts

General Stanley McChrystal of the US Army, who heads the coalition force in Afghanistan, has submitted the first strategic assessment on Afghanistan on August 31. According to a blog run by Major Paul Smyth of the British Army, the assessment is directed by US Secretary of Defense and NATO Secretary General. The assessment includes socio-economic development and improvements in governance as well as military operations (“ISAF Commander Submits Assessment”; Helmand Blog-Afghanistan; August 31, 2009).

As mentioned in the above video, things in Afghanistan are quite tough, and the Taliban is still strong.

In the assessment, General McChrystal said the war on the ground was serious but told confidently it was winnable. The report recommends that the coalition forces deploy more troops in Kandahar province in the east and Khost Province in the south. The number of troop levels for the further surge will be stated in the next assessment later this month. A couple of senior defense officials say 40,000 additional troops will be required (“General Seeks Shift in Afghan Strategy”; Wall Street Journal; September 1. 2009).

The problem is, a recent poll by the Washington Post and ABC News shows that the approval rate for the Afghan War has dropped dramatically, and 51% of those who replied the questionnaire say that the war is not worth fighting, while 47 of them believe it worth fighting. Paradoxically, liberals are critical of President Barack Obama to increase the troop level (“Public Opinion in U.S. Turns against Afghan War”; Washington Post; August 20, 2009).

The legitimacy of August 20 election result is vital for success in the Afghan War. The opposition presidential candidate Former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah blames some fraud in favor of current President Hamid Karzai. The Electoral Complaints Commission deals with their complaints. Though Karzai is likely to win the election, substantial areas in Afghanistan are out of government control. General McChrystal understands political consensus is no less important than tactical success (“McChrystal ball”; Economist; September 1, 2009).

Nevertheless, Stanley McChrystal foresees some hope for victory. Frederick Kagan, Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, argues why the Afghan War is winnable.

Unlike widely believed understanding, current Afghanistan is completely different from that invaded by the Soviet Union in 1979. Politically, Afghanistan was about to fall into civil wars even without Soviet invasion. In addition, the Red Army was so heavy arm dependent against NATO forces that it was ill-equipped with counter insurgency battles (“We're Not the Soviets in Afghanistan”; Daily Standard; August 21, 2009). Kagan also says that no other strategists understand the nature of counter insurgency operations better than Stanley McChrystal (“Ask the Man Who Knows”; Daily Standard; September 8, 2009).

The key to the victory is how people react to the next strategic assessment by General McChrystal. The Obama administration is based on war-reluctant liberals. If his recommendation for surge spurs vehement criticism to the war itself, things will be deadlocked. Will President Obama overcome their opposition as Former President Bush did on Iraq?