The Three-legged Stool
Wanted: Enemy to Justify
$344 Billion War Budget
By John Q. Garside
8 October 2001
On September 8 there was a spoof ad on Alternet.org
Wanted: Enemy to Justify $344 Billion War Budget
days later one might have expected to see --
But, all the gung ho rhetoric notwithstanding, is Afghanistan
or Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network going to be sustainable
as a proper $344 billion enemy?
As historian John Dower observed
Americans seem prone to resent only one Asian
nation at a time.
Triangular relations among the United States, Japan and China,
which has often resembled a three-legged stool, confirms
After an adequate period of resentment of the
Taleban; after underscoring US dominance in Central Asia,
things will return
to normal --
# The United States will go back to maintaining
an equilibrium in Asia by ensuring that neither the China
nor Japan legs
became so tall as to
throw the stool off balance.
# China will continue to fear Washington imperialism
only less than that from Tokyo.But fear the Soft War -- the
cultural war -- more than either.
# And Japan ... China's
Japan - Geo-Strategy
Flaccid as a Big Girl's
After the attacks on September
11, Tokyo's hawks fumbled, then held on to the opportunity
to change the law and enable
the military to take a
more active role.
However, there's only limp endorsement from the public --
67 % said they
were in favor of helping the U.S. - depending on what Japan was asked
The electorate remains blissfully uninterested in the geo-politics outside
Two U.S. experts on China have noted that U.S.
air surveillance of China had been conducted at Cold War
intensity for a year before the
spy-plane crash near China's Hainan Island. These flights operate out
Okinawan territory. Yet most Japanese genuinely believe their nation
shows a friendly attitude to China and that if China gets angry that
Taiwan's recent decision to allow close economic
links with China also got minimal coverage. On the NHK news
it was item
No. 4, after the
usual roundup of minor domestic scandals. Yet eventual rapprochement
Taiwan and China will not only undermine the current thrust of Japan's
military alliance with the U.S., it will completely change the Asian
balance of power, and not necessarily to Japan's advantage.
some confusion about pacifism --
Japan says it is anti-nuclear
and pro-disarmament, yet it automatically supports a U.S. that is
pro-nuclear and anti-disarmament. It says it
wants peace and stability in Asia. Yet it tacitly supports a U.S.
that upsets that stability by denying others the ability to retaliate
in the face of arbitrary U.S. attacks.
Content to be America's lapdog, "our
little buddy across the Pacific"--
"Japan is a puppet, a satellite country. Japan is too obedient to
the US; too loyal politically, economically and in security affairs,"
Yoshida, professor of international relations at Osaka University
of Economy and Law told AFP.
The debate about Japan's pacifist constitution is out in the
Is the pacifist stance impotence or virility - a counterpoise
to the US?
Can the lapdog growl, must it be muzzled or can Japan act as
"As an exemplary member of the Asian community, Japan is the one country
respected by all parties for its sense of fairness and commitment
said Sardar Mohammed Ibrahim Khan, a former
Pakistani army general who now serves as president of Azad
Jammu and Kashmir, the Pakistan-controlled
sector of the disputed territory.
Japan - Economy
Credulous or Stoic?
Surely not, as Time quoted
a member of the Nixon cabinet,
"The Japanese are still fighting the war, only now instead of a shooting
war it is an economic war. Their immediate intention is to
try to dominate the Pacific and then perhaps the world,"
as PJ O'Rourke says,
"Japan has turned out to be --
a macroeconomic Pokémon craze"
Words like "structural reform" repeated endlessly are supposed
to give everyone the warm feeling that recovery is around the corner even
as it is clear that the economy is going down the tubes.
The economy is about to drop to number 3 in the world, behind
the EU. Yet Japan seems to be unable to marshal the will
to deal with
"It would be a miracle if this government were able to come up with
a policy to deal with a [non-performing loans] problem it doesn't understand."
Alex Kerr writes in his cogent analysis of Japan's calamity,
Dogs and Demons --
"Radical change will only come when conditions have grown completely
intolerable -- and in Japan's case that day may never come"
"Mr Koizumi seems to be gently subsiding into Japan's familiar political
quicksand.... Jun-chan” already seems a shadow of the man who led
his party to victory in July".
US - Geo-Strategy
Faustian Hegemon or Hyperpower?
Both now in 2001 and at the time when John Foster Dulles
did the deal-making that he felt he needed to do on the eve
Treaty with Japan --
U.S. objectives [in East Asia had] little
to do with the self-defense of either the U.S. or Japan,
and a lot to do
with the promotion
of Washington's perceived interests.
In America and the Japanese
Miracle Forsberg addresses Washington’s
post-war strategic objective of "keeping Japan on our
correctly points out, as Noam Chomsky and Gabriel Kolko did
several years earlier, that the other side was not the Soviet
Union or China, but simply
a neutralism similar to that of Nehru in India.
likely to, as Richard Nixon predicted (to the Chinese),
"either go with the Soviets or re-arm" ?
Whatever threat there was from Japan --
Economic - Japan As Number One :
Lessons for America (Vogel)
Military - The Coming War With Japan (Friedman & LeBard)
is petering out.
In his book, The China Threat, Washington Times
reporter Bill Gertz foresees
"the very real possibility that China's rulers could make the same
kind of catastrophic miscalculation that Japan's dictators
did in attacking Pearl Harbor".
The China threat
"puts at risk the very national existence of the United States ...
our country, by virtue of its wealth and power, is the leading force for
freedom and democracy everywhere. Without this leadership, there is little
hope of a better life for all mankind".
In California --
43 percent of respondents said the United States'
relationship with China was more important than its relationship
with Japan; 40 percent
Japan was more important.
So, after 30 years of "here comes the Japanese bogeyman", it's
China's turn to be sawn down to size ... preferably with Japanese help.
Infected by Western Expansionism?
So is the threat real?
Will China, infected by the democratic and
therefore aggressive virus,
be able to absorb democracy yet reject expansionism?
In his book Another
China (serialized recently by the LA Times), Francesco Sisci is forthright
on the bogeyman scare --
The catch phrase for the next
few years is to increase domestic consumption "through
any means needed".
The West must be persuaded that China's growth is in its best interests,
helping global growth. In this situation, is it so important for the
US to be vigilant against possible Chinese attacks? And how vigilant
China be against possible US attacks?
China is aware that the decisive test
for its future as a major power is
not geopolitical or economic.
The battle is against the same formidable weapon used by the US to dismantle
the "Evil Empire" -- the culture industry.
Seen in this light,
China's goal -- increased domestic consumption -- is its only way to
win the Soft War.
China - Economy
Psst ...wanna sweatshirt for that nanotech
Japanese shrine visits,
revisionist textbooks, trade spats ... notwithstanding,
Xie, chief economist for Asia Pacific at Morgan Stanley, believes that
(although neither is aware of it yet, and it may take a crisis for
each to realise how powerful their common interests are) Japan and China
Asia's natural partners: economic integration
and shared security goals
[could result in] within as little as 10 years, China and Japan replacing
the US as each other's most important trading partner. And will push
China and Japan towards [being] fully fledged allies
The Americans do not dismiss
this lightly --
A two-day conference, pulling
together a handful of experts, to project what Japan would look like
in the year 2020 envisaged 6 scenarios. The
sixth, the least pleasant, was --
Finlandization - Japan will be so heavily
under Chinese influence that it will be unable to implement any foreign
or defence policy independently
from China, as was the case with Finland vis-à-vis Soviet Russia
during the Cold War era.
Washington must, despite itself, back off if
it wants to avoid this scenario.
Christopher Layne wrote in the Washington Post --
What could be better
than being the sole superpower in a unipolar world? The answer usually
given in Washington is "nothing." In the real
world, however, this unilateral dominance--what political scientists call
hegemony--is self-defeating. In the first place, hegemony cannot be sustained.
Secondly, attempts to do so may ultimately prove more harmful than beneficial
to American interests.
As William Pfaff wrote in the International
Herald Tribune --
for both China and Japan is: What does the United States want, since
it is the non-Asian actor in this situation? Being the foreign
America must in the long term leave the region to them, and to the smaller
political actors in Asia. They can see this, even if today's Washington
What the United States cannot reasonably want
is to exercise permanent power in the Far East, against China's
hostility, and eventually that of
Japan, which sooner or later will shake off its subordination to the
United States. However, that is a long-term consideration,
and Washington deals
in the short term.
Copyright © 2001 by John Q. Garside
John Q. Garside lives west of Tokyo,
writes about Japan in general, and can also be found at japanacea.com
and insite-tokyo. Let John know what
you think, send him email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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