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.