Archive for the 'Japan' Category



Concerning Cartoons and the Chinese Military

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 10 months ago

I was watching cartoons over the weekend (don’t ask me the context, please), and spent a couple of minutes on one very special one about the bears and foxes.

Kai-lan and her friends are playing in the backyard when they get a visit from their superhero friend, the Monkey King, who really needs their help! There’s trouble in a kingdom far away–the foxes and bears who live there won’t talk to each other and there’s only one person who can help them become friends–Kai-lan! Kai-lan and her friends set off on a magical adventure with the Monkey King to help the Fox King and Bear Queen (voiced by Lucy Liu) work out their differences.

As it turns out, the bears danced and shook the ground, while the foxes sang and polluted the environment with noise.  All they really needed was to talk to each other.  The solution to their differences was for the bears to dance while the foxes sang, and they were both happy!

It was all very sweet – for a two or three year old.

In our very own, real life version of the bears and foxes, Secretary Gates must figure that we just need to communicate better with the Chinese military.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates met his Chinese counterpart, Liang Guanglie, in Vietnam on Monday for the first time since the two militaries suspended talks with each other last winter, calling for the two countries to prevent “mistrust, miscalculations and mistakes.”

His message seemed directed mainly at officers like Lt. Cmdr. Tony Cao of the Chinese Navy.

Days before Mr. Gates arrived in Asia, Commander Cao was aboard a frigate in the Yellow Sea, conducting China’s first war games with the Australian Navy, exercises to which, he noted pointedly, the Americans were not invited.

Nor are they likely to be, he told Australian journalists in slightly bent English, until “the United States stops selling the weapons to Taiwan and stopping spying us with the air or the surface.”

The Pentagon is worried that its increasingly tense relationship with the Chinese military owes itself in part to the rising leaders of Commander Cao’s generation, who, much more than the country’s military elders, view the United States as the enemy. Older Chinese officers remember a time, before the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 set relations back, when American and Chinese forces made common cause against the Soviet Union.

The younger officers have known only an anti-American ideology, which casts the United States as bent on thwarting China’s rise.

“All militaries need a straw man, a perceived enemy, for solidarity,” said Huang Jing, a scholar of China’s military and leadership at the National University of Singapore. “And as a young officer or soldier, you always take the strongest of straw men to maximize the effect. Chinese military men, from the soldiers and platoon captains all the way up to the army commanders, were always taught that America would be their enemy.”

The stakes have increased as China’s armed forces, once a fairly ragtag group, have become more capable and have taken on bigger tasks. The navy, the centerpiece of China’s military expansion, has added dozens of surface ships and submarines, and is widely reported to be building its first aircraft carrier. Last month’s Yellow Sea maneuvers with the Australian Navy are but the most recent in a series of Chinese military excursions to places as diverse as New Zealand, Britain and Spain.

China is also reported to be building an antiship ballistic missile base in southern China’s Guangdong Province, with missiles capable of reaching the Philippines and Vietnam. The base is regarded as an effort to enforce China’s territorial claims to vast areas of the South China Sea claimed by other nations, and to confront American aircraft carriers that now patrol the area unmolested.

Even improved Chinese forces do not have capacity or, analysts say, the intention, to fight a more able United States military. But their increasing range and ability, and the certainty that they will only become stronger, have prompted China to assert itself regionally and challenge American dominance in the Pacific.

That makes it crucial to help lower-level Chinese officers become more familiar with the Americans, experts say, before a chance encounter blossoms into a crisis.

It’s almost as if the Chinese military is already studying cyber exploitation within the context of offensive operations; it’s almost as if they already practice it; it’s almost as if the Chinese military has been trained up in the art of unrestricted warfare; it’s almost as if, in a different time, the recent Chinese saber-rattling in the South Pacific would have caused Japan to seek stronger military ties with the U.S. Oh, wait.  They have already done that.

Perhaps Japan needs to watch the cartoon about the bears and foxes.  Then we could all understand everyone’s point of view and get along.

Cutting Japan Loose from U.S. Support

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 12 months ago

The recent Japanese elections have caused Japan to turn a corner, or so the current analysis goes.

Japanese voters swept the opposition to a historic victory in an election on Sunday, ousting the ruling conservative party and handing the untested Democrats the job of breathing life into a struggling economy.

The win by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) ended a half-century of almost unbroken rule by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and breaks a deadlock in parliament, ushering in a government that has promised to focus spending on consumers, cut wasteful budget outlays and reduce the power of bureaucrats …

“This is about the end of the post-war political system in Japan,” said Gerry Curtis, a Japanese expert at Columbia University. “It marks the end of one long era, and the beginning of another one about which there is a lot of uncertainty” …

The Democrats have pledged to refocus spending on households with child allowances and aid for farmers while taking control of policy from bureaucrats, who are often blamed for Japan’s failure to tackle problems such as a creaking pension system.

“The problem is how much the Democrats can truly deliver in the first 100 days. If they can come up with a cabinet line-up swiftly, that will ease market concerns over their ability to govern,” said Koichi Haji, chief economist at the NLI Research Institute in Tokyo.

“Because hopes for change are so big, the disappointment would be huge if the Democrats can’t deliver results.”

The Democrats want to forge a diplomatic stance more independent of the United States, raising concerns about possible friction in the alliance.

“The LDP is probably going to be missed more in Washington than in Japan,” said Michael Auslin at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.

Yea, other nations have had that problem of huge disappointment at the broken promises too.  It will be interesting to see how long it takes before reality sets in.  As for forging a future more independent of the U.S., we should oblige them.  Stability in the Pacific rim, particularly for South Korea and Japan, has been assured by the financially convenient arrangement to rely on the umbrella of protection afforded by U.S. military power.

China has been profoundly unwilling to help with the neurotic dictator in North Korea for the same reason that its Navy has been more aggressive in Pacific waters (mostly littoral waters) and cyberwar is being forced on the U.S. by China.  There is no proximate threat to its security.

The best way to ensure that North Korea is reined in is to help South Korea to become independent of U.S. help and protection.  Once this is effected, the silly “sunshine diplomacy” with the North will be history.  Likewise, the easiest way for China to feel the effects of a militaristic neighbor on its coast and forget its preoccupation with the U.S. military is to let Japan become truly independent of U.S. military protection.

The Democrats in Japan probably aren’t thinking about U.S. protection when they say that they want a future more independent of the U.S.  But a change to Article 9 the Japanese constitution should occur within short order if it is made clear that their umbrella has evaporated.  It is believed that Japan is a de facto nuclear state anyway due to the fact that it could produce nuclear weapons in about a year.

There isn’t any reason that Japan should feel the freedom to forge closer ties with Asia while at the same time it relies on nuclear protection by the U.S.  If Japan wants to grow up, we should let her.  But growing up comes with new responsibilities – expensive ones.  It’s doubtful that the Democrats planned for that.


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