Thursday, April 30, 2009

General Petraeus Warns Fragile Indo-Pakistani Relations Ruin the Afghan War

General David Petraeus expressed his concern that the Pakistan government gives defense priority to strategic rivalry with India, instead of fighting against insurgents in Afghanistan, at a panel in the House on April 24 (“Petraeus: Taliban, not India, top Pakistan issue”; AP; April 25, 2009). Petraeus warns that Al Qaeda and Taliban in Pakistan pose "an ever more serious threat to Pakistan's very existence." He stresses that Pakistani military forces and intelligence agency must be well-trained to fight against insurgents, and demanded US Congress to fund counter-terrorist trainings and operations in Pakistan (“Petraeus Calls on Pakistan to Redirect Military Focus”; Washington Post; April 25, 2009).

Since the independence from the British Raj, the relationship between Pakistan and India has been strained. When both countries tested nuclear bombs in the late 1990s, tensions in the Indian Subcontinent grew dramatically. The Clinton administration tried to ease the rivalry, but failed to build confidence between both countries.

It appeared that the Bush administration had contributed to substantially improved relations between India and Pakistan, as the United States led initiatives against global terrorism and the Coalition attacked Islamic radicals in Afghanistan. However, Indo-Pakistani relations have become chilled since the terrorist attack in Mumbai on November 26 last year. India criticizes possible ties between those terrorists and the Pakistani government.

As if symbolizing turbulent relations between Pakistan and India, both Indian and Pakistani newspaper reports that General Patraeus said India must be included to the portfolio of Richard Holbrooke, the Obama administration’s Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan (“Holbrooke’s Af-Pak portfolio includes India: Gen Petraeus”; Indian Express; April 26, 2009 and “Is India a concern for US Af-Pak envoy?”; Daily Times; April 27, 2009).

Apoorva Shah, Research Assistant at the American Enterprise Institute, argues that lenient terrorist policy in Pakistan is not the only issue of anxiety for India. The Mumbai attack has undermined the notion of India as a multicultural and democratic nation state. The Indian government is facing an imminent domestic security threats that would damage unification and stability of this country (“The ‘Idea of India’ after Mumbai”; AEI Asian Outlook; May 2009). It is understandable why India reacted so vehemently to Pakistan. But a positive Bush legacy in the Subcontinent must not be ruined.

As the Afghan War is an issue of high priority for the Obama administration, security in South Asia has become increasingly important than ever. The Indo-Pakistani relationship is a must watch issue now, and Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke faces such a critical problem while he tackles the matter of peace and stability in Afghanistan, the War on Terror, and non-proliferation in this region.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Key Person: The 60th Anniversary by a British Historian Who Made NATO More Active than Ever

Jamie Patrick Shea

Director of Policy Planning in the Private Office of NATO Secretary General, United Kingdom

Education: B.A., Surrey University; D.Phil., Oxford University

NATO held the 60th anniversary summit at Strasburg and Kehl in early April this year. France has come back to NATO command structure prior to this historical landmark. Jamie Shea has been working for NATO since he received his doctorate degree from Oxford University. Currently, he is the closest policy advisor to Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer (Netherlands).

In order to promote public understanding on NATO, Shea gives lectures on NATO history through the video, entitled “Jamie’s History Class”. As he mentions in the video of the first lecture, we learn history to understand what happens in the future. NATO is in the era of transition. It faces new threats of global terrorism, non-state actors, nuclear proliferation, and the Russo-Chinese challenges. As threats evolves increasingly global, NATO operations spread outside the Euro-Atlantic area. Also, NATO has transformed into an acting and fighting organization instead of a deterrence organization against communism. Shea endorsed NATO intervention in Kosovo.

As if implying his future of being involved in policymaking at the turning point, Jamie Shea was born in London on 9-11 in 1953. Having received degrees in modern history from Surrey and Oxford Universities, Shea has been engaged in public relations and policymaking for NATO.

His lecture entitled “1949: NATO’s Anxious Birth” presents some lessons to Atlantic and global security present days. Jamie Shea is right to say that history is a mirror to foretell the future.

From the beginning, some NATO members explored to expand the organization’s coverage out of the Euro-Atlantic region. France wanted to include French colonies in Africa. Actually, Algeria was under NATO’s security umbrella, before winning independence in 1962. The Netherland wanted Indonesia, Belgium wanted Congo, and Portugal wanted Mozambique and Angola, included into NATO defense area. There is something common between these past arguments and global NATO debate today.

Also, Europeans tried to entangle the United States with their security in face of Red Army threat posed by Stalin. This is true to Missile Defense debate these days. Poles and Czechs want to keep the United States close in order to curb the threat by increasingly nationalistic Russia.

The role of NATO is a vital issue in present context as well: whether to deal with military issues only or including socio-humanitarian ones. While Britain and France preferred military role only, Canada insisted on including humanitarian role as currently stated in Article Ⅱ of the organization.

Regarding trans-Atlantic involvement, Shea tells conflicts between isolationists and internationalists in the United States.

Jamie Shea mentions in this lecture that the Congress and the military wanted Europeans to rearm by themselves during the early days of postwar era. Shea points out that they were so isolationists because they desired that the United States retain the right to declare the war independent of multilateral organizations. Come to think of it, Americans took the Iron Curtain Speech by Sir Winston Churchill so bluntly at first.

On the other hand, Department of State was a leading proponent to build a multilateral security organization to deter Soviet expansionism. Shea points out that the Vandenberg resolution by Republican Senator Arthur Vandenberg enabled the United States to overcome constitutional restraints to join a multilateral military command structure.

Once involved, the United States has expanded the notion of trans-Atlantic security more broadly than Europeans. Unlike the WEU, the United States included peripheries like Norway, Iceland, Italy, and Portugal into NATO. The foundation objective of NATO was to deter communists, not necessarily to promote democracy. Shea points out that even the membership for General Franco’s Spain was considered.

Another point of focus is Britain in the Atlantic community. Shortly after World War Ⅱ, Britain was a proponent of joint European defense. The United Kingdom led the launch of the WEU. Sir Winston Churchill endorsed regional integration to reconstruct war devastated Europe. However, once NATO was established, Britain leaned toward the special relationship with the United States rather than leading European integration. Shea says this was a lost opportunity for British diplomacy.

Finally, Shea mentions a critical point that real victors of NATO creation were Germany and Italy. I strongly agree with him, considering relatively isolated Japan in the postwar era, because of its hesitation to join collective security organizations.

NATO history presents us with lots of implications to trans-Atlantic security, and also foreign policy of the United States, Britain, and continental Europe. In addition, the German-Italian experience gives invaluable lessons to Japan.

“Jamie’s History Class” is a great help to understand the past and the future of trans-Atlantic affairs, or more broadly the Western alliance of liberal democratic nations. More importantly, he is a man who made NATO more active than ever. Therefore, I recommend this video lecture series for highly motivated students of international affairs.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Japanese Contribution Praised by NATO

Previously, I have posted “NATO’s Partnership with Pacific Nations: Toward a Global and Multilateral US-Japanese Alliance” on this blog. As opposed to criticism by Japanese leftists and nationalists, the world trusts Japan because it is a close ally to the United States. Europeans anticipate Japan’s further commitment to manage the globe, as I argued in that post.

Currently, the War on Terror in Afghanistan and Pakistan is the most critical common agenda between NATO and Japan. NATO Channel TV has broadcasted news on Japanese contribution to Afghan reconstruction on March 31. No other Asia-Pacific nation draws such an enthusiastic attention by Europeans.

Quite often, people talk of Japanese national security merely from Asia-Pacific perspectives. This is wrong. Historically, Japan has deep ties with Europe. During the Meiji modernization, Japan learned a lot from European teachers. After World War Ⅰ, Japan assumed leadership in the world together with Europe. Japan’s historical ties with the Middle East are no less important. It is well known that the Meiji modernization inspired Kemal Ataturk of Turkey and Reza Shah of Iran.

A staunch US-Japanese alliance is a vital asset for Japan to strengthen partnership with its old friends of Europe and the Middle East.

In the news, the reporter narrates Japanese assistance to Afghanistan in culture, infrastructure, and public health. Japanese archaeologists conduct researches to restore the Buddha of Bamian with UNESCO. Expertise in Buddhism is Japan’s strength. Japanese Ambassador to Afghanistan Hideo Sato said that Afghanistan was a forefront of the War on Terror, and Japan must work together with allies and local residents to bring peace and stability. Japan built a tuberculosis clinic. Also, a new airline terminal was build at Kabul thanks to Japanese aid. Ambassador Sato said the new terminal would be the gateway to the world and the next generation.

Regardless of party politics in the United States, a staunch US-Japanese alliance enables Japan to expand partnership with free friends and allies. Japan’s strength such as expertise in Buddhism to restore ancient Buddha will be used more effectively.

Remember that Germany has won recognition as a good global citizen through NATO and the EU. On the other hand, Japan has been taking unilateral pacifist policy, which has somewhat isolated this country from the world. Therefore, I insist that Japan join a multilateral security structure through the US-Japanese alliance. European allies welcome Japan!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Publication in a Think Tank Online Journal

I would like to notify that an edited version of my blog post, “A New Initiative against American Isolationism” was published in Hyakka Saiho, an online journal by the Japan Forum on International Relations on March 31. This is the second time. For reference, see also this link.

I feel honored to have a post in Global American Discourse published again.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

The North Korean Challenge: Missile Crisis, Rivalry against the Sino-Russian Axis, and the Successor

The Iraq Gap has not resolved in the North Korean Crisis. China and Russia are reluctant to impose a binding declaration against this rogue regime. During the Iraq War, the global media bitterly criticized the Bush administration’s unilateralism to advocate UN led peace enforcement. The Obama administration has shown conciliatory attitudes to challengers to the West. Prior to G20 Summit in London, President Barack Obama talked with President Dmitri Medvedev of Russia on nuclear disarmament, and both presidents agreed that there was no Cold War rivalry again between the United States and Russia.

Unlike Iraq, the United States needs Chinese and Russian involvement in North Korea. Any bilateral talk with Pyongyang will be interpreted that the United States recognizes North Korea as an emerging nuclear power. In addition, China and Russia have strong leverages on North Korea since the beginning of the Cold War. In an interview with FOX News, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense K.T. McFarland, who was also a national security staff to Henry Kissinger, says that China is the only power to persuade North Korea because it supplies food and energy to Pyongyang. Quite importantly, she is extremely concerned with nuclear proliferation to Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Egypt, because of arms race in the Middle East. McFarland does not worry so much about North Korean attack to Alaska(”China Key to North Korean Missile Test?”; FOX News; April 3, 2009).

The anti-North Korea alliance consisted of the United States, Japan, and South Korea faces a critical dilemma. While Chinese and Russian involvement is necessary to prevent the Pyongyang autocrat from committing dangerous adventurism, their interference is a hurdle to impose effective pressures on North Korea. As far as the North Korean crisis is concerned, President Obama is tested in the following issues: non-proliferation, global and geopolitical rivalry with illiberal powers of China and Russia, and impacts on the War on Terror.

Although stakeholder governments want to avoid escalation of this crisis, 57% of American voters prefer a military action to destroy missile launching facilities in North Korea (“57% Want Military Response to North Korea Missile Launch”; Rasmussen Report; April 5, 2009). Actually, Israel bombed a French-built nuclear power plant in Iraq during the Iran Iraq War to stop Saddam Hussein’s dangerous ambition. Facing a crisis, American voters favor approaches by George W. Bush 1st term and John McCain over those by Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter. Of course, I believe it preferable to avoid an escalation of crisis. However, the United Nations has not overcome the Iraq Gap. Also, China failed in controlling the rogue dictator in Pyongyang. Therefore, the result of this poll is understandable.

Finally, I would like to mention an article by Nicholas Eberstadt, Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He points out that the real problem behind this missile test is the timing when the totalitarian regime is becoming fragile. The rocket was launched just before the annual Supreme People’s Assembly to decide the successor of ailing Kim Jong Il. In conclusion, Eberstadt says “A monolithic regime with a dying monarch is now suddenly exposing unfamiliar cracks to the outside world. This development may prove even more consequential for North Korea's future than Sunday's missile launch.” (“Kim's Crumbling Dynasty”; Wall Street Journal; April 6, 2009)

This crisis is beyond non-proliferation. The tripartite alliance of the United States, Japan, and South Korea, must be well prepared for geopolitical rivalry in the Korean Peninsula, against China and Russia. This is a long lasting test for President Obama.