Saturday, February 05, 2005

Condoleezza’s choices

There are inherent tensions in Bush’s new foreign
policy team writes Walter Andersen.

Quotes :

"The writer is associate director, South Asia Studies
Programme, School of Advanced International Studies,
Johns Hopkins University

George W. Bush was sworn in as president in 2001 with no
intention of focusing on foreign policy. The second
inauguration of George W. Bush on January 20 was quite
the reverse. In his inaugural speech, he laid out one of
the most expansive manifestos ever offered from an
inaugural platform as he dedicated his presidency to
spreading democracy and freedom. He portrayed the US as
a beacon for the subjugated and promised to
confront despots who enchain them. The catalyst for this
about-face in foreign policy, of course, was 9/11 and
the subsequent Global War on Terrorism.

It was the military activity in Afghanistan and then
Iraq that provided an opportunity for Secretary of
Defence Donald Rumsfeld to assume the dominant role in
the fight against terrorism, America’s major foreign
policy engagement. In this, he was ably assisted by Paul
Wolfowitz, his brilliant deputy secretary who is the
intellectual father of the notion of pre-emptive
military action that was employed against Saddam
Hussein, and by Douglas Feith, the under secretary of
defence policy. Vice President Richard Cheney’s support
for Rumsfeld guaranteed the victory of Rumsfeld and the
Department of Defence against the Department of State
headed by Colin Powell, in the bureaucratic battle for
control of Iraq policy. The Defence Department’s
preeminence was revealed when it asserted control over
the postwar reconstruction efforts in Iraq.

The botched reconstruction efforts, the emergence of
Iraq as a centre of terrorist activity and the
continuous killing of American soldiers in Iraq have not
been held against Rumsfeld and his team. Not only was he
asked to continue in office soon after Bush’s November 2
victory. his chief deputies, Wolfowitz and Feith, appear
to be remaining in place as well. Given the Bush
campaign’s refusal to admit any mistakes in Iraq, it was
inevitable that the Pentagon leadership that managed US
policy in Iraq would remain. Any other course would have
reflected badly on the administration’s policy line.
Powell, however, was expendable and he was not invited
to stay on. His loyal deputy, Richard Armitage, too has
left. Armitage had played a major role in the US
formulation of policy toward South Asia that witnessed
the effective end of nuclear related sanctions on India
and Pakistan, the revival of military ties with the two
countries that was shaped by larger counter-terrorism
objectives, and US efforts to reduce tensions between

Taking Powell’s place will be Condoleezza Rice, the
president’s national security advisor during his first
term. Looming foreign policy challenges such as nuclear
weapons programmes in Iran and North Korea, the
Palestinian issue, and a post-election Iraq will test
her bureaucratic skills against rivals, especially in
the Department of Defence, and will determine how
effectively she can rebuild international alliances to
address these issues. At least on the bureaucratic
politics, Rice has several advantages over her
predecessor: she is personally close to the president;
she goes into her job with a wealth of knowledge about
the issues and the complicated bureaucratic policy
formulation process; her loyal deputy at the National
Security Council, Stephen Hadley, has been appointed her

At her January 18-19 confirmation hearings, Rice said
the State Department would be the “primary instrument�
of foreign relations. She stressed the importance of
alliances in fighting the war on terror and encouraging
the spread of democracy and asserted that the “time for
diplomacy is now.� She made specific reference to the
creation of an office at the Department to handle
reconstruction in crisis situations, a not-so-subtle
reminder that State will not abdicate this traditional
diplomatic responsibility to the Department of Defence,
as it was forced to do two years earlier. Her initial
appointments suggest the continuation of a
non-ideological approach to issues at the State
Department. Her first personnel action was the choice of
a deputy and she selected Robert Zoellick, the US trade
representative and a moderate, an appointment that also
points to a more focused approach to economic issues.
Bush gave his personal blessing to this team, stating in
their presence that the two “will form one of the really
strong, capable foreign policy teams our country has
ever had.� Rice bypassed John Bolton, the under
secretary of state for arms control and international
security, a hardline ideologue who is widely believed to
have lobbied for the position. Bolton’s likely
replacement is Robert G. Joseph, who worked closely with
Rice on non- proliferation issues at the NSC. These
appointments would represent a victory for foreign
policy realists in the Republican Party over
neo-conservatives who dominated foreign policy in Bush’s
first term. The pragmatic thrust will be further
strengthened by the likely appointment of NATO
Ambassador Nicholas Burns, a skilled negotiator and
career diplomat, in the number three position at State,
the under secretary for political affairs. Informed
opinion in Washington predicts that most assistant
secretaries in charge of the regional and functional
bureaus at the State Department will be her appointees
and not ideologues thrust on the Department to curb
dissent, as was once widely rumoured would be the case.

Regarding South Asia, Rice has an opportunity to build a
strategic relationship with India, a stated US goal that
has lacked momentum, in part due to the focus on Iraq. A
tentative start was taken in the decision to work
closely with key Asian powers of India, Japan and
Australia on tsunami relief. While this coordinating
function was turned over to the UN, it is a sound model.
These are democracies with no expansionist ambitions and
share the fundamental security views of the US. The
president in his inaugural address dedicated his second
term to the spread of democracy and the curbing of
tyranny. A good place to begin is to seek the
cooperation of the world’s largest democracy, India. Key
to this happening will be the appointment of a forceful
and politically well-connected assistant secretary for
South Asia."

Tokyo MP's role to be ignored under missile attack?

This article speculates on the current government
discussions trends regarding the chain of command and
the political control of the SDF in case of an attack on
the archipelago.

Quotes :

"The government plans to diminish the roles of
lawmakers-including the prime minister-in decisions to
counter surprise missile attacks from foreign nations.

A draft bill on amending the Self-Defense Forces Law
includes a plan that does not require the prime
minister's prior approval for the SDF to intercept an
incoming missile in a surprise attack. In addition, the
government would not be obliged to report to the Diet
any countermeasures taken in such emergencies.

Instead, the counterattack would follow procedures
established in advance by the director-general of the
Defense Agency. The final decision to launch interceptor
missiles would be left to the SDF commander-even without
an order from the defense chief.

The plan is intended to accelerate the process in the
limited time available to protect the populace from a
missile attack. A North Korean Nodong missile, for
example, could reach Japan within 10 minutes after its

But the proposed revisions will likely raise serious
concerns about the loss of civilian control over the

The government plans to gain Cabinet approval of the
revision bill on Feb. 10 and submit it to the current
Diet session. Pacifist lawmakers are certain to oppose
the legislation.

The plan in countering a ballistic missile attack has
two sets of procedures.

One is for cases when there are ``risks of a missile
directed toward Japan.'' The other concerns a missile
attack without any warning sign.

If there are prior signs, the defense chief is to report
the threat to the prime minister. The prime minister
would then approve the carrying out of countermeasures
and give the defense chief the authority to give the

If an attack occurs, the SDF commander would act
according to rules of engagement compiled beforehand.

If an attack comes without any warning sign, the SDF
commander would decide whether to take countermeasures
based on an emergency manual, which will be compiled by
the defense chief.

The contents of the manual, which must be approved by
the prime minister, will fall under a government
ordinance and not be included in the main part of the
amended law, according to the government plan.

Under the current SDF law, approval from Japan's
Security Council, the Cabinet and the Diet must be
obtained before the prime minister can order the SDF to
engage in activities involving the use of force. Diet
approval is required after the fact, even for

Monday, January 31, 2005

Japan's re-emergence as a military power

Quotes :

"Earlier last week, 950 personnel from Japan's
Self-Defense Force (SDF) arrived on Indonesia's Aceh
coast, bearing humanitarian aid for victims of last
month's tsunami disaster.

The task force comprising three navy ships and several
helicopters arrived late: other militaries from the
United States and Singapore had already scaled down
similar missions to make way for non-military

Nonetheless, the deployment is historic in both timing
and scope - it constitutes the country's largest mission
since World War II, and represents more proof that Japan
is shrugging out of its straitjacket pacifist

Significantly, the deployment did not provoke negative
reaction in Asia, including Southeast Asian countries
that previously suffered under Japan's wartime

Jusuf Wanandi, from an Indonesian think tank, told the
Straits Times he had absolutely "no problems" with Japan
playing a bigger role in the region, so long as the
Japanese did not "go nuclear" and create a new arms

Japanese officials have indeed been thinking about such
a wider role for the country's military. In its first
defense review in a decade, they sketched out plans for
a more proactive and assertive military last month.

Disaster relief and peacekeeping operations were added
to the SDF's defensive duties in a defense policy
document which candidly fingered North Korea and China
as "grave factors of insecurity."

That review marked the latest step in an often-tentative
Japanese experiment to "modernize" its military that had
begun in the early 1990s, in the wake of the first Gulf

Japan contributed billions of dollars to the U.S. war
chest for that conflict, but sent no troops to liberate
Kuwait. That led to accusations of checkbook diplomacy
which stung some Japanese. The following year, in 1992,
Japan passed laws to allow the SDF to venture abroad, so
long as its troops were under a United Nations mandate.

Over the next decade, Japanese peacekeepers were sent to
countries like Cambodia, Mozambique, Rwanda and Timor

In 2003, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi deployed about
600 troops in Iraq - a move which fuelled controversy
because it was the first time that Japanese forces were
sent to a country still seeing active warfare.

This sparked much soul-searching in the country, and
beyond, about Japan's global role. The capture of three
Japanese as hostages by Islamic militants and the
beheading of another last year upped the ante in the
debate swirling around Koizumi's bid to make Japan a
normal state.

The problem here, however, is not so much Japan's past -
but its future. While it has repeatedly stressed that
its goals are peaceful, other recent measures have had
countries like China and South Korea on edge.

These include plans to:

- Seek a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council;

- Upgrade its Defense Agency into a full-fledged
ministry (a status lost after World War II);

- Beef up civilian control over the SDF to speed up
response to threats, such as recent incursions into its
territory by North Korean and Chinese vessels;

- Build a mid-range ballistic missile system that can
hit targets in Shanghai, Beijing and Pyongyang:

- Develop jointly with the United States a missile
defense system that will help ensure that any
pre-emptive or retaliatory strikes will be struck down.

The ultimate prize for Koizumi would be the refashioning
of Article 9 of the country's pacifist Constitution,
which expressly forbids Japan from having any armed
forces. He has hitherto stretched the interpretation of
Article 9 to justify his actions.

A new draft, which is expected late this year, will lend
more legitimacy to what one commentator called a "shift
from passive pacifism to proactive pacifism."

" Koizumi is trying to make the Constitution more honest
to reality," said Dr. Hiro Katsumata, a post-doctoral
fellow at Sin-gapore's Institute of Defense and
Strategic Studies.

These moves all portray a Japan that is becoming more
assertive. In November last year, for example, Japan
extracted a rare apology from China after it tracked
down a Chinese nuclear attack submarine in its waters.

Whether Japan's bid for a bigger global role will be
viewed benignly by Ch.ina and South Korea - immediate
neighbors which carry scars of Japan's wartime past - is
another matter.

"Having Japan as a reinvigorated military power will
significantly alter Asia's political and security
environment and give other regional powers something
else to consider in their own planning," Stratfor, a
U.S.-based intelligence firm, said in a recent report.

There are two competing schools of thought: those who
believe that Tokyo is reverting to its "hegemonic
intent" of old, and pragmatists who argue that Japan is
simply reacting to a deteriorating security environment
- a nuclear-armed North Korea, a more confident Chinese
military and the threat from terrorism.

Japan's recent deployment in Indonesia, the pragmatists
say, is the country's latest bid to add a positive
element to international security.

In the long run, however, only time will tell. And much
of this, say analysts, will depend on China's reactions
to Japan's re-emergence as a military power.

"Japan's planned revision of the Constitution is causing
some tension," professor Zhu Feng, an international
relations lecturer at Beijing University, told the
Straits Times.

"But it reflects a new drive for respect in the region.
The majority of the Chinese can understand such an
endeavor." W Choong ST Singapore"