Friday, December 31, 2010

Who Visits Global American Discourse?

As Google has introduced an access counter system this year, I can compare statistic data of both English and Japanese version, now.

Access location is very helpful to estimate who are interested in this blog. Without question, the most accesses to the English version come from the United States. European countries such as Germany, Britain, and France are natural good customers. Quite interestingly, Global American Discourse has substantial accesses from small countries, like the Netherlands, Lithuania, Latvia, and so forth. Considering the population, this is impressive.

Among major countries, India and Russia are leading assessors, while hardly any web surf comes from China. Maybe, the Chinese authority bans a visit to Google site. Accesses from South Korea rises on special occasions like the Yeongpyeong attack by North Korea. I wish more visits come from the Middle East, as this blog often mentions Iran and Afghanistan.

As to the Japanese version, accesses come mainly from urban areas such as Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa, and Osaka prefectures.

Due to the nature of this blog, posts are not published so frequently. Advocacy commentaries on this blog are based on in depth analysis. Therefore, Global American Discourse does not necessarily respond to sudden incidents quick enough. But this implies that this blog does not make premature and poorly-founded comments.

This attitude is not advantageous to boost the popularity ranking of the blog, but it is the quality that gave Global American Discourse high reputation. As I mentioned before, policy experts pay attention to this blog. I hope that net citizens visit cool headed policy blogs, rather than dubious agitator ones.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Special Thanks for Link Requests

Thank you for link requests to Global American Discourse. I am pleased with your interest in blogposts on this site. I am sorry that I have not posted links to everyone who sent an e-mail.

Thank you again for your interest. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Reconsideration of the US-Japanese Alliance at the 50th Anniversary

It is the 50th anniversary of the US-Japanese Security Treaty this year. When the Cold War ended, the Hosokawa administration of Japan explored “independent” national security policy to strengthen Japan's own sovereign choice from the United States. However, the “peaceful rise” of China and tensions in the Korean Peninsula brought Japanese people home to understand vulnerable security in their neighborhood and importance of the alliance with the United States. This is not wrong. But I would like to talk about importance of the alliance from global contexts.

It is a pity that current debates on the US-Japanese alliance focus on bilateral and Asia-Pacific perspectives, that is, the alliance is an indispensable “public goods” to provide stability and a liberal order throughout East Asia. Assuming like this, Japanese leaders and the public feel a dilemma. While Japan can enjoy political stability and economic prosperity under the US security umbrella, a substantial number of Japanese public worry that the alliance will lead Japan into “America’s war” like Iraq and Afghanistan. The alliance must be viewed from more long term and worldwide perspectives. Remember that American allies around the world regard Japan as their trustworthy partner because they share common values and interests with Japan. As I argued in a previous post, an area from Suez to Pearl Harbor is the natural sphere of the US-Japanese alliance. We must be bold to deepen this indispensable strategic partnership.

Quite interestingly, liberal democratic nations still regard the alliance as bilateral and regional, though Japan and NATO explored closer ties during the Abe and the Aso administration period. At the policy forum by the Japan Forum on International Relations on November 22, I was rather perplexed to hear British Ambassador David Warren say the US-Japanese alliance “exclusive”. Technically speaking, Ambassador Warren is right, as the alliance is based on a bilateral treaty between the United States and Japan. Also, Japanese defense procurement is dependent on US made arsenals. There is nothing strange that policymakers who are keen to pioneer defense market in Japan think current US-Japanese alliance “exclusive”.

However, I would like to emphasize that the US-Japanese alliance is “opener” than commonly understood in the global community. It is a status symbol for Japan to strengthen its position in the world. As I said before, the alliance has been global since 1960s and 70s when Britain withdrew from the Indian Ocean and the shah’s Iran collapsed respectively. US 7th fleet expanded its operational sphere in response to them.

The US-Japanese alliance endowed invaluable political prestige to Japan. As a major industrialized democracy, Japan has been a de facto ally with Europe. It is symbolic that French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing invited Japan to the first Summit at Rambouillet in 1975. Also, Japan attended G5 Plaza finance ministers meeting of top Western economies, ahead of Canada and Italy. Europeans admit Japan their key partner, not simply because it is a big economy, but because it shares common values and strategic interests with them.

In security, Japan has been deepening partnership with American allies through the US-Japanese alliance. Since the War on Terror broke out, NATO has begun to develop strategic partnership with Japan. Also, in Iraq, Japanese Self Defense Force worked with Britain and the Netherlands through the US-Japanese alliance. “The special relationship” with America bolsters Japan’s multilateral diplomacy, particularly with European free nations.

Some Japanese lament that Japan was “forced” to join US-led Western camp through the alliance, and it lost foreign policy autonomy. However, since the Meiji Regime Change, this country has been one of Western Great Powers, and this is the national fundamental of modern Japan. Therefore, the US-Japanese alliance is a natural alliance for Japan.

The alliance helps Japan’s multilateral diplomacy in the Asia-Pacific region as well. When North Korea conducted a nuclear bomb test, American allies such as Britain and Australia also sent early warning planes to Okinawa. Japanese people were pleased with this multilateral support. In view of threats posed by China and North Korea, Japan is exploring regional security partnership with Australia, India, South Korea, Indonesia, and so forth. This is endorsed by the US-Japanese alliance.

Had I enough time to ask a question at the forum, I would have mentioned “open” and “multilateral” nature of the alliance to Ambassador Warren. His lecture was so stimulating that he needed to answer numerous enthusiastic questions from attendants. But as Ambassador Warren repeatedly said in the policy forum, there are numerous “exclusive” aspects in the alliance. Typically, Japan cannot help South Korea as “a friend in need” against recent aggression by North Korea.

In order to make the alliance is truly “open” and “multilateral”, it is necessary for Japan to lessen dependence on the Japan handlers. The alliance is evolving more worldwide. Regarding this, NHK TV broadcasted a special program on the 50th anniversary of the US-Japanese alliance on December 11. In that TV program, Jitsuro Terashima, Chairman of the Japan Research Institute, commented that Japanese policymakers should strengthen ties with global strategist in Washington political corridor rather than narrowly focused Japan handlers. I agree with him! I have been insisting that the alliance is not just bilateral and regional but global.

As to this point, I would like to mention Britain’s relations with the United States, as it is the role model for Japan to upgrade current alliance with the United States. Britain hardly relies on “British handlers”. British policymakers discuss global policy with American global strategists. Also, when they discuss regional affairs, they talk with corresponding American counterparts. When they talk on Russia, they meet American experts on Russian affairs. When they discuss Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, or wherever, they act accordingly. In those cases, it is no use to meet experts on Downing Street or Westminster.

Accordingly, it is not of much help for Japanese policymakers to depend excessively on Nagatacho and Kasumigaseki experts on the American side. Learning this “English lesson” will upgrade US-Japanese, UK (or EU)-Japanese, and Anglo-American relations. This triangle is much better than Yukio Hatoyama’s triangle among United States, Japan, and China ("Three interpretations of the US-Japanese-Chinese Security Triangle"; East Asia Forum; May 1, 2010).

These days, Japanese people are preoccupied with Chinese expansionism and North Korean brutalism, when they reassess the US-Japanese alliance. But we should not be “exclusive”, but “open, multilateral, and global” to make the alliance much more sustainable and strong.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

NATO Aid for Inter College Cyber Network in Afghanistan

Reconstruction in Afghanistan faces many difficulties, and stalled by Taliban insurgencies and continual corruptions. But the above video tells a brilliant progress. NATO is helping construction of inter college and satellite broadband network in Afghanistan. Unlike widely spread war torn image of this country, college campuses are very peaceful. Students are pleased with Internet facilities built by NATO, and they say new network will help their researches through connecting them with other universities in Afghanistan and outside their country.

Higher education is the key to reconstruction and modernization for the future. It will empower women and ethnic minorities, which is vital to promote stable democracy in the Middle East. The War on Terror is fought outside the battle field as well.

Monday, December 06, 2010

The US-Japanese Symposium on Nuclear Nonproliferation and East Asian Security

The US embassy in Japan hosted a policy forum, entitled “The Future of the US-Japanese Alliance: Security in East Asia and Nuclear Policy”, on November 29 at the American Center in Tokyo. The primary agenda of this forum is how the United States and Japan can achieve their common policy goal of “the world without nuclear weapons”, while replying on nuclear security umbrella. The peaceful rise of China and rogue behaviors by North Korea pose critical challenges to US-Japanese common security initiatives.

Panelists from both American and Japanese sides represented senior and young generations. Politicians, bureaucrats, academics, journalists, and students attended this event. The following experts presented their viewpoints.

Ralph Cossa (USA) President, Pacific Forum, Center for Strategic and International Studies

Guest Speakers:
Brad Glosserman (USA) Executive Director, Pacific Forum, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Nobumasa Akiyama (Japan) Associate Professor, Hitotsubashi University
Daniel Kliman (USA) Visiting Fellow, Center for a New American Security
Wakana Mukai (Japan) Researcher, Ocean Policy Research Foundation

Regarding the nature of the alliance, Brad Glosserman stressed reciprocal partnership between Japan and the United States. While US military presence in Japan ensures peace and stability in the region, Japan offers substantial help to US forces, he mentioned. Glosserman said that the American side is ready to accept more equal alliance with Japan, but Japan needs to define its own position in the world.

The threat of China and North Korea is growing precipitously. The peaceful rise of China poses long term uncertainties as its intention for military build-up is unclear. Nobumasa Akiyama pointed out that current US-Chinese rivalries were more complicated than Cold War US-Soviet rivalries, because China’s strategic interests and armed force structures are asymmetric to those of the United States. While China declares “No first use” nuclear policy, its missiles are targeted at Japan and Taiwan. It is quite difficult to apply MAD to China, unlike the Soviet Union in the Cold War era. The problem is that China is building up its military power in accordance with its rapid economic growth.

As to North Korea, he says that nuclear deterrence does not work for a small scale aggression like Yeongpyeong this time, because none of Kim Jong-il’s adversaries including South Korea, the United States, and Japan do not want to escalate the combat. Some alternatives needs be considered, but China is reluctant to pressure North Korea. Therefore, I think that we be prepared for the last option, that is, regime change.

At the Q & A session, presenters and attendants had lively interactions, and many insightful questions came from opinion leaders and students. I would like to mention a couple of them.

Regarding nonproliferation and regime change, Ben Hashimoto of Japanese Democratic Party, Member of the House of Representatives, asked a question why the United States had attacked Iraq but not North Korea. It is a pity that panelists talked primarily on retaliatory military capability of both countries through nuclear and conventional weapons. They did not mention Saddam Hussein’s expansionist ambition. Saddam invaded Kuwait and Iran, and mass murdered Kurdish minority with toxic gas. The Baathist regime sought dominant position in the Arab world, and 1991 invasion to Kuwait was inspired by nationalization of Suez Canal under Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt. The Baathist Party denies Israel. I wish guest speakers had mentioned ideological danger of Baathism.

A journalist of Asahi TV mentioned that it was discouraging for Japanese people because President Barack Obama had not visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki during his stay in Japan for APEC summit in Yokohama. But I do not agree with him, in view of the Senkaku dispute with China, tension in the Korean Peninsula, and the surprise visit to Kunashiri Island by President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia. As security in East Asia is critically fragile, the Japanese public, particularly pro-American conservatives will be worried if US president appears weak and apologetic. Those who are critical to a “triumphant” America from the fall of Berlin Wall to the outburst of the Global Financial Crisis will be pleased if Obama visits Hiroshima or Nagasaki. But remember. Most of them are leftists and inherently anti-American. Priorities will be given to managing current threats, rather than showing sweet and humanistic attitudes.

New START was another issue of high attention. Guest speakers unanimously criticized Senator Jon Kyl for refusing to ratify this treaty with Russia. However, as Ex-Ambassador to the UN John Bolton points out, verification process under the new treaty is looser than that of START Ⅱ by George Bush Sr. and Boris Yeltin. Is czarism nationalist Russia today more trustworthy than pro-Western liberal Russia in those days? This is a vital question that should have been discussed at the symposium.

I would like to mention my questions at the Q & A session. One was how to make Russia and China responsible stakeholders in nonproliferation, in view of the clash between Western democracies and autocratic powers. Guest speakers replied that each country had its own national security priority, and nuclear nonproliferation was not necessarily a critical issue for some states. Typically, China and Russia do not share Western concern on Iran and North Korea. In such cases, panelists said that we must lead them to understand business with rogue proliferators would harm their interests. Daniel Kliman added that national interest of individual states is important for nonproliferation to dangerous regimes. For example, he mentioned that democratic Brazil and Turkey tried to meddle Iran and the global community.

The other question was on the Indo-Japanese nuclear deal. This is a turning point of Japanese foreign policy, considering anti-nuclear sentiment among the public. Wakana Mukai replied that Japan did not define its basic stance to nonproliferation in the Indian subcontinent rather than revised its foreign policy. She said that Japan just followed American policy for India, and chose business interests over nonproliferation. These are vital points. But I would like to mention that other nations, such as France, Germany, Britain, Canada, and South Korea signed their deals from similar perspectives. Even Russia followed Western nations to sign a nuclear deal with India. Does Japan have any choice under such “multilateral pressure”?

In conclusion, panelists insist that arms reduction is the first step toward a nuclear free world, and it is America’s interest to achieve this goal as US forces have overwhelming advantages in conventional weapons. Panelists talked many issues of vital interest on nuclear non proliferation and East Asian security. Attendants asked very stimulating questions. Unfortunately, I cannot mention everything at the symposium. Finally, I wish some conservative speakers had been invited to this event, because the discussion at the forum sounded rather liberal. That would have made this symposium more helpful to discuss the future of the US-Japanese alliance and nuclear arsenals.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

North Korean Aggression: Reconsider Airlines in East Asia

Today, North Korea fired more than 100 artillery shells to Yeonpyeong Island, north west of South Korea. According to a Korean newspaper, 2 South Korean servicemen and 21 non-combatant residents were killed in the crossfire (“North Korea shells southern island, two fatalities reported”; Korea Joong Ang Daily; November 23, 2010). The reason for North Korean aggression is not clear at this stage. In any case, see the map below.

This is not the first time that Yeongpyeong Island is attacked by North Korea. Kim Jong Il went into a skirmish with South Korea in 1999 and 2002 near this island. If you see the map, you will find that Incheon airport (A on the map), boasting the hub of East Asia, is very close to such dangerous Yeongpyeong Island (3 on the map).

It is time that airlines in East Asia were reconsidered. The Narita-Haneda air systems, around Tokyo, must be arranged urgently, as alternative hubs to Incheon. Currently, Japanese political corridor is in a complete mess over minor scandals and partisan conflicts. Under short-lived Hatoyama administration, Land and Transport Minister then Seiji Maehara launched this ambitious plan, to restore Japanese economic strength.

Now, things have become more impending. This is not just for Japanese economy or status in the world, but for global public interest. The world needs the Narita-Haneda hub in East Asia! Act beyond petty power games in Nagata-cho!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The US-Indian Talk: A Rollback from Apologist Diplomacy?

Shortly after the loss in the midterm election, President Obama left for a ten day trip to Asia. Among big events including G20 in Seoul and APEC in Yokohama, bilateral talks with India is the most important because actual and concrete strategic issues were discussed, unlike nebulous and gigantic multilateral shows of G20 and APEC.

In addition to the rising market, India is a key country in security issues such as the Af-Pak problem and non-proliferation. Also, the trilateral power game among the United States, China, and India is an issue not to be dismissed. Prior to the bilateral talk from November 6 to 8, Senator John McCain gave a lecture on US-India relations at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on November 5. See the Video below.

Throughout the speech, McCain emphasized common democratic values between the Unites States and India, which are the key to develop further strategic partnership. India is not only a prospective emerging market for the United States. The Af-Pak problem is a critical issue for both countries. Senator McCain said that if the United States withdrew from Afghanistan prematurely, India would regard it as reluctance to deep commitment in the War on Terror. This is a critical point, because Bob Woodward says that President Barack Obama is psychologically out of Afghanistan, in his book “Obama’s Wars”. Actually, Obama showed the timetable for withdrawal from the Afghan frontline by 2014 at NATO summit in Lisbon (“Lisbon: NATO leaders endorse Afghanistan 2014 withdrawal date”; Daily Telegraph; 20 November, 2010).

Quite interestingly, McCain said that the US-Indian axis of democracy would advance liberty in Burma and Iran. In terms of geography, India is located between East Asia and the Middle East. The strategic partnership is beyond the Af-Pak security. India is developing naval cooperation with the United States, Australia, and other Asia-Pacific democracies. A hinge of eastern and western Eurasia, India is the key spot to coordinate trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific strategies of the United States. The problem is, the Obama administration is still somewhat shy of trumpeting America’s championship in global democracy. Therefore, the US-Indian partnership for regime change in Iran and Burma is likely to be a blueprint for the future.

Regarding the peaceful rise of China, though McCain talked implicitly of Indian counterbalance, he was cautious of making critical remarks on this country. McCain may have given consideration to business interests. However, he said that the US-Indian strategic partnership would be helpful to make China a “responsible power”.

On the other hand, George Perkovich, Vice President at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said that the US-Indian relationship needs sustainable development without relying on “amphetamine” deals such as the Indo-US nuclear agreement by the Bush administration. See the video of an interview on November 4 below.

Particularly, liberals are concerned that the nuclear deal with a non-NPT member is contradictory to US national interest of non-proliferation. In addition, they worry that verification for nuclear facilities in India is only for US built ones, and other nuclear sites are out of touch. Therefore, liberals think this agreement will provoke nuclear arms race in the Indian subcontinent and around the world. However, liberals agree that strategic partnership with India is a vital national interest for the United States in view of the War on Terror and export market. As a centrist, Perkovich agrees with McCain’s view of common democracy values between the United States and India.

Regarding the Indo-Chinese geopolitical rivalries, Perkovich argues that the United States not make use of it. For India, China is a less important security concerns than the Af-Pak turmoil, Pakistani nuclear threats, and Islamic terrorists, he says. Historically, threats to India came from the Khyber Pass, rather than Himalaya Mountains. As Perkovich says, we should rather not expect Indian counterbalance against China too much.

At the meeting in New Delhi, President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reached a crucial agreement on a wide range of issues. As the most leftist senator, Obama was critical to the bilateral deal under the Bush administration. However, as the president, Obama is keen to pioneer the market for American business, and expand investment in India. In security, Af-Pak, piracy, non-proliferation, counter terrorism, and bilateral defense cooperation are discussed. Both leaders agreed to develop bilateral partnership on new issues, such as the Evergreen Revolution and cyberspace security. The former is very Obamanian. It seems that this is a part of Obama’s Green New Deal, which has not made sufficient progress in the first half of the presidential term (“White House issues fact sheets on Obama's India visit”; Hindustan Times; November 9, 2010).

From Indian point of view, the latest joint statement with the United States is a breakthrough to join multilateral export control regimes of WMDs. S. Samuel C. Rajiv, Associate Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses in New Delhi, says that the US-Indian joint statement on November 8 will pave the way for Indian membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which will ultimately lead to India to join NPT and help India’s bid for a permanent member seat at UN Security Council, along with Germany and Japan. Obama is advancing his predecessor’s pursuit: deepening nuclear business with India, while accommodating this country into a US-led non-proliferation regime (“India’s Accommodation in Multi-lateral Export Control Regimes”; ISDA Comments; November 10, 2010).

The strategic partnership with India is a bipartisan national interest to the United States. For India, this will help boost its standpoint in global strategic bargaining. The bilateral deal by the Bush administration may have been controversial, but current administration could not develop the partnership furthermore without “amphetamine”. India is the first country that Obama visited after the midterm elections. Is this the first step to bring US foreign policy back to the normalcy as Robert Kagan argues, from apologetic diplomacy in the first two years?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Clash between the West and Emerging Economies

The media and business societies talk about emerging economies these days, because they see new market opportunities in those countries, which should not be missed. But are emerging economies really the hope for the future? Contrary to myopic commercialism, they pose critical challenges to liberal world order of the global political economy. Developed nations face severe competitions against cheap labor rivals. Some of emerging economies defy Western-led liberal system to defend their autocracy.

Emerging economies consist of BRICs, ASEAN, South Korea, Mexico, South Africa, and so forth. They are not uniformly the same. Some are democratic and pro-West, while others advocate completely new world order, as expressed in China’s “peaceful rise”.

Among rising economies, the most important group is BRICs, because they have political aspirations for greater influence, based on their economic prosperity. While Russia and China explore “leading” position through challenging the West, India pursues the rise through strategic partnership with the United States. Brazil may have tried to meddle Iran and the global community in cooperation with Turkey, but it does not challenge American preeminence. Therefore, we have to pay special attention to China and Russia.

When I attended a policy round table on APEC by the Japan Forum on International Relations on October 15, I mentioned three problems of political environment in China. I wonder why so many businessmen explore market opportunities in this country, without solid assurance for economic freedom for foreign business. First, China is notorious for currency manipulation to win global competition unfairly. Second, human rights problems are serious risks. In the Senkaku dispute, the Chinese authority has no hesitation for retaliatory arrests of Japanese businessmen working for Fujita Construction Company. Third, due to information control by the Communist Party, Google has withdrawn from China.

Remember that Western great powers refused Meiji Japan’s request to improve the “unequal treaty” in the 19th century, because Japanese legal system was not well arranged, which could have led to human rights abuse to Europeans and Americans in Japan. Only when Meiji Japan persuaded Western great powers that it had become “civilized” enough, did they accept Japanese request for equal partnership. For foreign business, political environment in current China is more dreadful than Tokugawa and early Meiji Japan.

While advocates for mutual dependence insist that engagement with China and Russia will tame them regardless of their regimes, they make use of our liberal world order to exploit us. Chinese capitalists buy strategic industries in America, Europe, and Japan to pirate the knowledge and to dominate the world economy, in close cooperation with the Communist Party. Russian oligarchs buy luxurious condominiums in South Kensington, which made it easier for FSB agents to lurk in London to assassinate Alexander Litvinenko. Through close cooperation between authoritarian government and privileged business, both countries make money for military build-up, which will ultimately pose threats to free nations. During the bubble economy, Japanese bid for the Rockefeller Center in New York annoyed Americans. It is understandable that people hate such a Shylockian behavior, but it was no threat at all as “no one can take the Rockefeller Center to anywhere”. But Chinese and Russian capitalists openly defy Western liberal capitalism.

In addition to regime and great power rivalries, nationalism is another problem. In the 1990s, South East Asian nations advocated “Asian values” to legitimize their paternalistic authoritarianism of the state over citizens. Booming economy in those days strengthened their confidence, which led them to defy Western preeminence. Only when hit by the Asian financial crisis, did they stop claiming Asian values against Western liberalism.

As to economic aspects, competitive advantage of cheap labor is not the only problem when we talk of emerging nations. Stephen King, chief economist of HSBC, warns that competition for scare resource will be intensified between the West and emerging nations. With the rise of living standard and the demand, emerging economies will increase more influence on price setting of natural resource. While globalization makes world economy overall grow, cheap labor subcontracts with emerging economies erodes consumer confidence in the West. Though free market is expected to be a built-in-stabilizer to avoid resource conflict as seen in World War Ⅱ, autocrats in Russia and China simply want higher growth through capitalist economy, while strengthening their political positions by manipulating the market (“Stephen King on scarce resources”; The Economist Online; October 13, 2010). Actually, China announced to reduce export of rare earth materials when the Senkaku conflict with Japan broke out this October.

The most critical problem with the rise of emerging economies is erosion of liberal world order. Ian Bremmer, President of Eurasia Group, and Nouriel Roubini, Professor of Economics at the Stern Business School of New York University, raise serious concerns that the world is changing from unipolar hegemonic stability to nonpolar irresponsible instability (“Paradise Lost: Why Fallen Markets Will Never Be the Same”; Institutional Investor; September 2010). Seeing from the theory of hegemonic stability, only a liberalist nation can provide the global public goods of liberal world order. The hegemonic state may have to share responsibility with other powerful stakeholders as Britain explored “bi-gemonic” stability with America during the interwar period. However, burden sharing states must be free nations, and just simply being powerful is not enough. Britain never thought of sharing hegemonic responsibilities with Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. None of current emerging economies are well qualified to share responsibilities with the United States, Europe, and Japan, and there is no wonder why G20 policy coordination works so poorly.

Of course, we need to respect their aspiration for equal relations with the West. What really matters is the nature of their regimes. Particularly, we need to pay attention to fundamental ideals of their nation building. While the “peaceful rise” of Maoist China is dangerous, the competitive rise of democratic India is peaceful. Since the independence, India has been pursuing economic development in Fabianism, which is the core value of British Labour Party. Therefore, we can welcome the rise of India, but not China.

Myopic businessmen need to see the world from “Country First” viewpoints. It is necessary to evaluate emerging economies who they are. Multinational corporations doing business with dangerous regimes may earn profit for a short term, but in the long run, they will lose. In the past, the Ohira administration of Japan continued the IJPC petro-chemical project with Iran when the United States and European allies imposed economic sanctions against the hostage crisis of the US embassy in Tehran. Business with the rogue regime ended is failure as the Iran-Iraq War broke out.

It is too naïve or Shylockian to regard emerging economies just simply as new market opportunities. They can be economic rivals, security threats, or anything that will destroy our liberal world order. Leaders of America, Europe, and Japan must think again how to deal with emerging economies.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A New Report on the Sino-Japanese Tension over Senkaku Islands

The Japan Forum on International Relations had an emergent committee meeting to discuss the Senkaku Islands Dispute between Japan and China on October 6, and has released a new report. Based on 38 articles, including mine (p.32 ~ 33), top experts talked about current Sino-Japanese relationship from two points: how to understand Chinese behavior and how to evaluate responses by the Kan administration. While liberals and libertarians advocate mutual economic dependence between two nations, the “peaceful rise” of China poses a critical security concerns to Japan. Also, this problem is associated with natural resources and national sovereignty issues.

Japan must reinforce security ties with the United States, and design new multilateral strategies in the Asia-Pacific region and around the globe. This report will be of great help to discuss how to manage the dangerous expansion of China. I am pleased that my article was included. You will find some contributions by my blog friend Dr. Cat aka Koshu Takamine, who is a policy researcher affiliated with the Liberal Democratic Party.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Will the United States Shed “post-American” Foreign Policy?

Since the inauguration, Barack Obama has been acting like a post-American president rather than American, just in order to change George W. Bush’s go it alone America into Zbignew Brzezinski’s lovable America. This is the vital reason why I have been critical to the Obama administration.

However, in view of czarist Russia, peacefully rising China, and nuclear proliferators Iran and North Korea, Robert Kagan, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, argues a very interesting point that the Obama administration will act more assertively in the latter half of this term. Kagan says that the Obama administration will shift emphasis on democratic allies in Phase Ⅱ, from great power cooperation and nebulous policy coordination of G20 in Phase Ⅰ (“America: Once engaged, now ready to lead”; Washington Post; October 1, 2010). Comparing the speech by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last year (“Clinton: U.S. Urges 'Multi-Partner World'”; Washington Post; July 16, 2009) and this year (“Clinton declares 'new moment' in U.S. foreign policy in speech”; Washington Post; September 9, 2010), Kagan finds changes in US foreign policy direction as mentioned above.

Chinese expansionist ambition is growing as shown in the Senkaku Islands dispute with Japan. Moreover, political pressure posed by China on Norway for awarding Nobel Peace Prize for Liu Xiabo raised critical concerns in the global community. Sophie Richardson, Asia Advocacy Director at Human Rights Watch, comments "This Nobel Prize honors not only Liu's unflinching advocacy; it honors all those in China who struggle daily to make the government more accountable", even though the award infuriates the Chinese authority (“China: Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel Spotlights Rights Deficit”; Human Rights Watch News; October 8, 2010). Asia-Pacific nations are critically alarmed at the peaceful rise of autocratic China, and explore staunch alliance with the United States. On the other hand, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization criticized the prize for Liu Xiaobao Western-centered (“SCO comes out against the Nobel Peace Prize”; EurasiaNet—The Bug Pit; October 15, 2010). As Professor Masako Ikegami of Stockholm University in Sweden argues, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is an axis of autocracies led by China and Russia, and NATO and Asia-Pacific democracies must unite against their expansionism.

Russia is another challenger. Secretary Clinton visited Georgia, Poland, and Ukraine this July to reset the reset and balk Russian expansionism. New START, which is a landmark of the reset, awaits Senate ratification currently. In November 2008, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates raised critical concerns as a cabinet member of the Bush administration that the United States had not designed new nuclear weapons while Russia was developing new ones, in the lecture at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Unlike the previous START between George H. W. Bush and Boris Yeltin, the Obama administration explores to reach an agreement when nuclear power balance is not in favor of the United States. Conservatives criticize new START. Russia succeeded in the test of launching new Bulava missile early October (“Russia's Bulava missile hits target in test”; RIA Novosti; 7 October, 2010). The reset with Russia was hasty, and needs to be reconsidered now.

In addition, engagement policy with Iran has not made any progress. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tries to divert public attention from domestic issues such as poor economy, growing democracy movements, and so forth. In the video below, broadcasted by France 24 on September 10, Meir Javedanfar who heads a London based think tank called Meepas, says the Iranian economy has deteriorated, and the number of brain drains and drug abuse has increased since the Islamic Revolution. Such desperate domestic politics leads Ahmadenejad to move toward nuclear development.

Also, Bernard Gwertzman, Consulting Editor of the Council on Foreign Relations, mentions that domestic political rivalry with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Parliament Chairman Ali Larijani erodes Ahmadinejad’s leadership (“Iran's 'Shaky' Ahmadinejad”; CFR Interview; September 21, 2010). Those aspects are supposed to make Ahmadinejad increasingly hardliner.

In view of the above challenges, American foreign policy may return to the normalcy. Alliance with European and Asian democracies will be re-strengthened as Robert Kagan argues. The problem is, whether President Obama is willing to make sufficient military commitment to defeat enemies and contain threats.

The war in Afghanistan is a Litmus test to judge Obama is an American or post-American president. Referring to “Obama’s Wars” by Bob Woodward, Charles Krauthammer talks of Obama, "He is out of Afghanistan psychologically." When Obama announced the surge in Afghanistan on December 1 last year, he said that US troops would withdraw in 18 months. While Obama explores an exit strategy, he is not willing to get involved with institution building that is the very essence of the counterinsurgency strategy endorsed by General Stanley McChrystal and General David Petraeus. Obama is preoccupied with domestic politics and Democrat support in view of the midterm election (“Why is Obama sending troops to Afghanistan?”; Washington Post; October 1, 2010). It is quite problematic that President Obama does not believe in the most important mission in the War on Terror. Moreover, the vacuum of power by early withdrawal will provoke China to pursue expansionism in the Middle East as it does in Africa.

Remember that lowering military commitment does not guarantee economic growth. William Kristol, Director of the Foreign Policy Initiative, argues against widely spread misunderstandings that military spending hurts the US economy. Even including the costs of Iraq and Afghanistan, defense spending accounts for 4.9% of GDP this year, which is much lower than annual average of 6.5% since World War Ⅱ. Compared with other budgets, defense spending has not increased so much since 9-11. Quite importantly, Kristol points out that instability around the world due to lack of US military commitment will ruin the environment for long term economic growth. As Kristol insists “A weaker, cheaper military will not solve our financial woes.” (“Peace Doesn't Keep Itself”; Wall Street Journal; October 4, 2010)

The problem of insufficient military commitment is more deep-rooted. Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has underfunded defense budget, assuming that the history has ended. Therefore, the Obama administration is not the only one responsible for security challenges today. A recent report by leading conservative think tanks refutes the myth of excessive spending on defense. In terms of purchasing power parity, Chinese military spending is almost close to that of American. Regarding sustainability of defense expenditure, Mackenzie Eaglen, Research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, points out that defense spending is not source of fiscal deficit, because social welfare expenditures grow more rapidly since 1976. The joint report endorses US role as the global policeman, and argues that US forces must be well prepared to deter would be aggressors from destabilizing the world (“Defending Defense”; Joint Paper of AEI, Heritage Foundation, and Foreign Policy Initiative; October, 2010).

The Obama administration may reset the reset of US foreign policy as Robert Kagan argues. But it must be founded on military preeminence over potential adversaries and current enemies. Also, the Obama team must act beyond domestic constraints. In Phase Ⅰ, Obama was preoccupied with health care and the economy. In Phase Ⅱ, President Obama may have to spend more energy to persuade Republican opponents in domestic politics, as conservative momentum is growing in the forthcoming midterm elections. But this is a poor excuse. American leadership in global security is beyond partisan politics. President Obama needs to re-strengthen the League of Democracies. Once potential adversaries and current enemies see America weak, political and security environment will turn unfavorable to economic prosperity for free allies and America itself. The world does not need a lovable America.

Friday, October 08, 2010

A Guidebook on Post Orange Ukraine for Americans and Europeans

Since the collapse of the Orange Revolution, Ukraine has fallen into somewhat a tributary state of Russia. A recent report published by Chatham House shows some clues to understand Ukrainian politics and security in the Black Sea region (“The Mortgaging of Ukraine’s Independence”; Chatham House Briefing Paper; August 2010). I would like to review this essay.

In this report, James Sherr, Head of Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House, presents an overview of post Soviet Ukrainian politics, and analyzes the Russo-Western geopolitical power game. Despite the hope of democracy, the Orange regime disappointed Ukrainian people because “Ukrainian society appears to have returned to the post-Soviet pattern of cynicism, apathy, distrust of others and loss of interest in anything unrelated to family and self.” However, Sherr says that the Polish-Lithuanian and Hapsburg traditions deters Russian-styled power rule in Ukraine. This is an important point to understand why Ukraine wanders between Europe and Russia.

The most important issue of this paper is the Kharkiv Accord with Russia on April 21 this year. Sherr says that President Viktor Yanukovych has committed a fatal error to sign this accord. Ukraine was offered a generous deal such as a 30% discount for gas import, in return of extending Russian military presence in its territory. In an interview with a Ukrainian newspaper, Amanda Paul, Policy Analyst at the European Policy Centre in Belgium, commented that the Kharkiv Accord would not damage EU-Ukrainian relations because this deal was expected. She says that the accord will not deter Ukraine’s aspiration for EU membership, but it is Kremlin’s stamp to keep Ukraine in the Russian sphere of influence (“Expert: Kharkiv accords between Medvedev, Yanukovych 'Moscow's stamp' for Kyiv”; Kyiv Post; April 22, 2010).

As Ukrainian people experienced the worst economic crisis since its independence during the gas conflict, they are preoccupied with the economy at the expense of national security. As a result, Ukraine was forced to take economic policies dependent on Russia. Once Ukraine cancels the deal, it must repay received discount. Also, Kremlin and Gazprom strengthened their leverage on Ukrainian economic policy. Sherr points out that though Yanukovych tried to decrease Russia’s ambitions through pre-emptive concessions, it has made Ukraine under de facto control of Russia.

This has significant implications for the Russo-Western geopolitics. Like the first president Leonid Kuchuma, Viktor Yanukovych explores to join the EU, while deepening friendship with Russia. However, the security environment has changed. In the Kuchuma era, the Euro Atlantic framework nurtured good relations between Yeltin’s Russia and the West. Today, Russia has moved back to Czarist nationalism. Also, 9/11 attacks and the peaceful rise of China have changed global security structure. In such a dangerous world, Yanukovych has deepened partnership with Russia, without counterweight to guarantee Ukrainian national interest, while Kuchuma explored NATO membership. Sherr mentions a critical point that Yanukovych does not understand fundamental difference in geopolitics in the 1990s and present days.

In view of Ukraine’s dangerous dependence on Russia, how should the West do? When Yanukovych was inaugurated to new president, America and Europe accepted him a pragmatic centrist. However, poor governance under the Yanukovych administration has ruined democracy in this country although the election was free of fraud. This is a grave damage to security in the Black Sea area. Sherr insists that the EU must present credible membership prospects encourage Ukrainian efforts for democracy. Also, he insists that the Obama administration act beyond saying that the United States will not sacrifice neighboring countries to reset relations with Russia. Sherr criticizes the speech by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in Kyiv on July 3, because she simply said that the United States did not regard the Russo-Ukrainian friendship as anti-American, without defining US and Western interests in this region.

James Sherr argues a vital point. President Barack Obama is preoccupied with resetting relations with Russia, and his post-American behavior raises concerns among nations from Poland to Caucasus. Also, European leaders are too post modern to balk Russian expansionism. But things are making some progress. At the Yalta European Strategy Conference this October, Štefan Füle (Czech), European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy, said that the forthcoming EU-Ukraine Association Agreement would improve political governance and economic transparency in Ukraine (“Ukraine and the World: Rethinking and Moving on”; Europa; 1 October 2010 As to the agreement, see “Ukraine close to finalizing Association Agreement with EU – Yanukovych”; RIA Novosti; 6 October 2010). Remember, James Sherr says “Even in the unlikely event that Russia’s more ambitious schemes of integration succeed, Ukraine will remain a sovereign state, and it must be treated as one“, in this paper.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Impact of Japanese Kowtow to China on the Free World

The territorial dispute between China and Japan over Senkaku Islands is beyond a bilateral clash. We need to understand this dispute from global contexts. It is a clash between autocracy and democracy, and the Japanese government bowed down Chinese pressure, as the rogue captain of Chinese fisher boat was released ("China fishing boat captain to be freed by Japan. Will it ease tensions?"; Christian Science Monitor; September 24, 2010).

One of the reasons for this kowtow is an export ban of rare earth elements to Japan imposed by China. These materials are necessary for manufacturing batteries for hybrid vehicles, appliances for mobile phones, and other high tech products. Currently, Japan relies 90% of rare earth resource demands on import from China ("China bans rare earth material export to Japan"; Fuji Sankei Business Eye; September 25, 2010). Chinese export ban inflicts critical damages on Japanese manufacturing industry. This dispute has brought us home that our free world is vulnerable to natural resource diplomacy by autocratic nations. It is quite similar to the gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine in January 2009. As Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin intimidated whole Europe to close gas pipeline, Ukrainians bent over Russia. Ukraine sold its national sovereignty to Kremlin to extend the naval base deal for the Black Sea Fleet.

Natural resource diplomacy by China and Russia is combined with their expansionist ambition. Just as Russia regards Eastern Europe and Former Soviet Union as its natural sphere of influence, China regards islands in East China and South China seas as the “pear necklace” for its aggressive expansionism from the Pacific to the Indian oceans ("China's High Seas Aggression"; Human Events; May 20, 2010). It is too well known that China pursues megalomaniac build up of its navy. Just as Russia acts with Czarist and Stalinist instinct in geopolitical rivalries against the West, China behaves with cefeng or Confucianism hegemony instinct when it claims its preeminence in East Asia. Throughout the history, China never admitted equal relations with any foreign countries until it was defeated by Queen Victoria’s gun boat in the Opium War. We must never forget this historical perspective, whenever China takes assertive attitude.

The Senkaku conflict is more serious than the Takeshima conflict. In the latter, South Korea has neither ambition nor power to tower over Japan, even though Koreans often launch anti-Japanese campaign on history. But China has cefeng ambition throughout East Asia, and explores to make Japan bend over, as Russia did to Ukraine. Therefore, autocratic China is far more dangerous than democratic South Korea.

In the old cold war, autocratic great powers were out of our system, and they had a tiny portion of share in global economic transaction. But in the new cold war, they use our global economy to impose their will on others. In an NHK’s TV program, “Japan at the Crossroads” on March 12, 2010, commentators and the public discussed the US-Japanese alliance and Japanese national security. In this debate, when a conservative opinion leader Yoshiko Sakurai stressed closer US-Japanese security ties to manage Chinese threat as both nations did against Cold War Soviet threat, Professor Kang Sang-jung of Tokyo University argued against her that China today was more incorporated into the global economy than the old Soviet Union. Kang said that China was no threat to Japan, because of such deeply founded mutual interdependence. If he understood the peril of natural resource diplomacy by autocratic states, he would change his viewpoints.

Will Japan succumb to China as Ukraine did to Russia? Current debates on this conflict utterly dismiss the fundamental structure global politics, which is the clash between democracy and autocracy as Robert Kagan, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, argues in his book “The Return of history and the End of Dreams”. Further Japanese kowtow to China will embolden autocratic states around the world.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Reality behind the Koran Burning on 9/11

The 9th anniversary of 9/11 terrorist attack was landmarked by Koran burning. It is a protest against President Barack Obama’s decision to give permission to build a mosque close to the ground zero. Certainly, 9-11 attacks aggravated anti-Islamic sentiments among Americans, and I think it is a caustic political error to give such a controversial permission when the public have not shed trauma of a dreadful incident.

However, I think things are beyond anti-Islamic sentiment but distrust to the Obama presidency. As shown in the Tea Party movements, grassroots conservatives criticize President Obama’s economic and health care policy, because they are afraid of “excessive” governmental intervention into their civil life. Conservative momentums are growing stronger even without the Tea Party. According to a recent poll by the USA Today and Gallup, “About 59% of Democrats, 55% of Republicans and 50% of independents said they believed the GOP had become more conservative since Obama took office” (Poll: GOP more conservative but not because of the 'tea party'; Los Angels Times; September 17, 2010). It is ironical that the Obama presidency splits America, as opposed to his famous speech to call for unity beyond race and ideology. Koran burning and the Tea Party movements are just tiny tips of an iceberg to illustrate the “Obama Divide”.

Unlike European welfare states, America is a “Right Nation” as John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge argue in their book. Conservative movements are strong and widespread in the United States. Both British authors compare conservative political bases on both sides of the Atlantic, and they say the American side has more extensive grassroots network and highly esteemed think tanks. Barack Obama is an odd man out in a Right Nation.

The Obama Divide is being intensified in foreign policy as well. While some media regard Obama’s speeches in Prague and Cairo as a breakthrough to depart from Bush’ s cow boy diplomacy, conservative opinion leaders criticize them apologetic to American preeminence. At APEC summit in Singapore, Obama even said that America would welcome the rise of China. Though Obama tries to meddle his liberal thoughts and presidential duty as shown in the speech to commemorate the end of US combat mission in Iraq, it is very tough to soothe conservative and centrist suspicion to his “un-Americanness”. Koran burning reveals such deeply embedded sentiments among the public.

President Obama’s background needs to be examined to explore the reality behind the burning. Had the president come from electoral bases acceptable to conservatives, radical Christians would have stopped burning Koran. Yoshiki Hidaka, Visiting Fellow at the Hudson Institute, mentions Obama’s “dark personal contacts” with left wing extremists in his book “America has chosen a misfortune”. The famous cover page picture of the New Yorker, in which Obama and his wife Michelle wear Taliban clothes, illustrates deeply embedded suspicion to Obama among the American public. Actually savage behavior like burning did not happen during the Bush era.

I shall never support this sort of uncivilized middle age brutalism. Eminent leaders of counterterrorism allies in both the Afghan and the Iraq wars, notably, Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and NATO Secretary General Anders Fough Rasmussen denounced Koran burning. Blair’s Britain was the staunchest contributor to US-led War on Terror. Rasmussen was a leading proponent of the Iraq War as the prime minister of Denmark. Moreover, General David Petraeus who commands the war in Afghanistan denounced the burning. But I have to call an attention to the Obama Divide when we explore the background of fanatic hatred to specific religion.

According to a survey by AFL-CIO, Barack Obama was the most liberal senator. Can a “leftist extremist” Obama govern the Right Nation? The mid term election will be a critical occasion to evaluate the effect of the Obama Divide. Has America chosen a wrong president? That is the vital question.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Prospect of Afghanistan by General Petraeus

President Barack Obama announced that the United States would concentrate counterterrorism struggle on Afghanistan when he declared the end of combat missions in Iraq. Therefore, I would like to review commentaries by General David Petraeus and some articles to understand the Afghan War and explore the strategy.

First, let me present an overview of this war. As in Iraq, the Obama administration explores to transfer responsibility to local security forces and withdraw earlier. However, former commander General David McKiernan and current commander General David Petraeus opposed early transition to Afghan units, because the progress of training them is slower than expected. In order to improve the capability of Afghan forces more quickly, the coalition sent additional troops in December 2009. Lieutenant General William B. Caldwell of NATO Training Mission for Afghanistan said, "Our mission is about teaming with Afghans to build a bright, dynamic future for this sovereign nation."

Currently, Afghan Security Forces consist of the Army, the Air Force, and the National Police. Among them, the army is regarded as the most capable unit. Although the size of the Afghan Army expanded from 83,000 in March 2009 to 113,000, that is short of the requirement by Senator Joseph Lieberman to double the manpower. Also, it is slow to provide sufficient equipments to fight independently against terrorists for the Afghan army. One Afghan general said "I was much [better] equipped when we were fighting the Soviets." The Air Force remains infant level, but the Pentagon plans to make this force capable of providing air support from helicopters to the troops on the ground. As to the National Police, lack of professionalism is a critical problem. The Afghan Police misuse power over the public, abuse drug, and shoot their colleagues.

Currently, as in Iraq, General Petraeus endorses close partnership between the coalition forces and the Afghan troops. US and NATO teams expand their training programs through the Afghan Defense University. Governmental bureaucracy needs to be reformed as well. Judicial systems are still inept to enforce the rule of law, and the Ministry of Defense is split with ethnic friction and political fractionalis (“Backgrounder: Afghanistan's National Security Forces”; Council on Foreign Relations; August 19, 2010).

In view of the above mentioned overview, some experts point out fundamental differences between Afghanistan and Iraq when discussing the surge. While Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was resolute to defeat insurgents, Afghan President Hamid Karzai explores some compromises with Taliban. Also, Iraqi forces were permitted to more freedom than Afghan forces, which is necessary to take decisive actions to defeat enemies in case of emergency. It is troublesome that Afghan people are “not necessarily fond of the Taliban actions, do not seem to see huge differences between Taliban and government control” (“Realities, rules, relationships won't help surge succeed”; Iraq the Model; August 1, 2010).

However, Joshua Gross, ex-Media Relations Director of the Afghan Embassy in Washington, insists on the case for the surge and Western involvement in nation building. He points out that liberals have been ardent proponent for the Afghan War since 9-11, while they talk of early withdrawal today. Gross urges war opponents such as the Members of Progressive Caucus to remember vital values of this war, and points out that President Obama endorses the mission in Afghanistan. He argues against progressive claim that the war is an unwinnable quagmire, and the land is ungovernable. Afghanistan fell into turmoil since the United States withdrew support for the mujahedeen when their resistance against the Soviet Red Army ended.

However, Gross points out that Afghanistan was relatively peaceful from late 19th century to early 1970s. And Afghan security is improving and its economic reconstruction is making progress little by little. Therefore, he insists that Afghanistan is governable. More importantly, Gross argues that America must not discourage reform minded Afghans through premature withdrawal (”Liberals stand with Afghanistan”; Politico; August 17, 2010).

As shown in the video below, General Petraeus argues against skepticism to the Afghan mission, and told that NATO forces overturned momentums for Taliban in key areas such as central Helmand province. Also he stressed that this was a necessary war to defend free citizens around the world from transnational extremists’ attack. In addition, General says that this is a war to save Afghan people from mediaeval oppression by Taliban (NATO Channel; August 31, 2010).

Although President Obama asserts his commitment to the Afghan War, his deadline of July 2011 raises concerns among policymakers and military strategists. Senator John McCain said "You cannot tell the enemy you're going to leave and expect to succeed" (FOX News Sunday; September 5, 2010). Marine Corps Commander General James Conway warned that the withdrawal deadline suggested by President Obama would boost Taliban’s morale, and he expected the Marine Corps to stay to complete the mission (“Obama's Afghanistan deadline gives Taliban sustenance, US general warns”; Guardian; 25 August 2010). To placate such worries, General Petraeus said that the White House understands unpredictable nature of the war, in an interview with David Gregory (“Meet the Press”; NBC News; August 13, 2010).

For successful mission in Afghanistan, the coalition forces revised both military and non-military approaches. General Petraeus intensified counterinsurgent attacks by special operation forces, and 235 enemy leaders were killed or captured. In parallel, the general said that the special operation forces have made contributions to community building, such as key leader engagements and medical exercises. Socio-economic improvements will discourage terrorists to claim the area as their safe haven or sanctuary (“Petraeus Explains Afghanistan Strategy”; Small Wars Journal; September 3, 2010). Understanding local community is critically important. However, General Petraeus points out that the United States did not know about Afghan tribes and tribal leaders to well enough to deepen cooperation in community building, unlike Iraq (“Petraeus: U.S. Lacks Afghan Tribal Knowledge”; Wall Street Journal; September 2, 2010). External threats are also important. Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his National Security Advisor Rangin Dadfar Spanta insist that the United States focus more on remote control to Afghan terrorists from Pakistan. Petraeus say their concerns are legitimate (“Petraeus: Karzai concerns about Pakistan 'legitimate'”; Hill; August 31, 2010).

In an interview with John Noonan, Max Boot, Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations said that cross-organizational coordination, not only between US military and the Embassy, but also between foreign contributors, the UN, and NGOs, is a key to success(”FPI Policy Advisor John Noonan interviews CFR Senior Fellow Max Boot”; Foreign Policy Initiative; September 8, 2010).

The Afghan War is winnable and the land is governable. Prior to NATO Summit in Lisbon on November 19 to 20 this year to discuss transition of responsibilities in Afghanistan, General Petraeus requested 2,000 additional troops to train Afghan security forces (“Gen Petraeus requests 2,000 more troops for Afghanistan”; daily Telegraph; 6 September 2010). The victory in the Afghan War requires consummate skill to coordinate American and international agencies, local authorities and tribes and so forth. General Petraeus has shown competence in managing delicate political interactions in Iraq. The most important point is President Barack Obama’s leadership. As shown in his speeches in Prague, Cairo, and Singapore, the President is too shy of endorsing American preeminence. This may be one of the reasons why he hints early pull out and focusing on the economy. That is a dangerous temptation.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

A Review of Ex-PM Blair’s Commentary on Iraq and the War on Terror

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has released a new book, entitled “A Journey” on the day when President Barack Obama announced the end of the Iraq War. Is it a coincidence? Even if it is not, the book has appeared at a turning point when Obama decided to turn the page (“Was Obama's speech 'Mission Accomplished'?”; Washington Post; September 1, 2010). Though Obama was an opponent to this war as a presidential candidate, FPI Director William Kristol says the President was respectful to soldiers in his speech (“A Note to My Fellow Hawks: It wasn't a bad speech”; Weekly Standard Blog; August 31, 2010). Anyway, Obama tried to strike a delicate balance between his liberal belief and the duty as the President. Since the Commander in Chief does not have confidence in the mission in Iraq, it is vital to review the new book, in order to understand why Tony Blair fought the Iraq War along with George W. Bush. Also, I would like to refer to some articles by Blair to explore how major democracies lead the global community in the War on Terror.

As the Prime Minister, Blair insisted that Iraq and Afghanistan was beyond security and military issue but they were starting points to win the War on Terror in terms of values. Extremists want stable democracy to fail, and drive the Islamic world back to semi-feudal religious autocracy. Also, Blair said clearly that Iraq was a vital threat to global security, though WMDs were not found. Iraq invaded Kuwait and Iran, and murdered the Kurds with chemical weapons. The United Nations issued 14 resolutions against the Baathist regime (“A Battle for Global Values”; Foreign Affairs; January/February 2007).

In his latest book, Blair talks about WMD information prior to the Iraq War. Though the media and antiwar activists blamed intelligence mistake, Blair says they would have accepted the war, had WMDs been found. In addition, Blair wonders why Saddam acted as if he had been hiding nuclear weapons. However, he still believes that the decision was right. Though Saddam faced tough sanctions, and it was a compelling priority to remove them to save the economy, Iraq still craved for dominance in the Middle East. Nuclear acquisition was vital for his ambition to overshadow Iran and Israel. I believe this is a critical point to evaluate whether American and British attack was right or not. Saddam mocked UN inspectors, because he did not give up such megalomaniac greed. Remember this when we deal with current proliferators like Iran and North Korea.

The threat of Baathist Iraq is not the only problem. Tony Blair mentions the number of Iraqi people who were killed by Saddam Hussein as shown below.

• Iran–Iraq War, 1980–8: 600,000–1.1 million total fatalities from both countries
(Anthony Cordesman, The Lessons of Modern War, Vol. II, p. 3)

• Anfal Campaign against Kurds, 1988: up to 100,000 Kurdish fatalities; many more injuries and displaced persons
(Human Rights Watch, ‘Genocide in Iraq’, 2003)

• 1991 Invasion of Kuwait/Gulf War: 75,000 fatalities
(Milton Leitenberg, ‘Deaths in Wars and Conflicts in the 20th Century’, Cornell University, Peace Studies Program)

• 1991 campaigns/reprisals against Shia: 50,000 fatalities

• Other political killings over the years: 100,000 or more
(Human Rights Watch, ‘Justice Needed for Iraqi Government Crimes’, December 2002)

Moreover, Blair points out that international sanctions inflicted significant impacts on health and sanitation for Iraqi citizens.

The Iraq War is just one case of the battle against extremist and autocracy. Blair insists that military intervention to rogue regimes has become increasingly required due to globalization. Among those regimes, Iran is the most critical. Blair comments, “Iran is a far more immediate threat to its Arab neighbours than it is to America ... That's why Iran matters. Iran with a nuclear bomb would mean others in the region acquiring the same capability; it would dramatically alter the balance of power in the region, but also within Islam." He concludes "I wouldn't take the risk of Iran with a nuclear weapon" (“Tony Blair: military intervention in rogue regimes 'more necessary than ever'”; Guardian; 1 September 2010).

As Barack Obama pulled US combat troops out of Iraq, it is time to explore rights and wrongs in the Iraq War, and learn lessons to defeat dangerous ambitions of terrorists, extremists, and rogue states. Tony Blair presents us invaluable suggestions.