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.