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America vs. The World

The big trouble with dumb bastards is that they are too dumb to believe there is such a thing as being smart. — Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Japan's new look

And just when you thought the world was getting boring...

North Korea's recent missile testing (seven in total), combined with its unabated nuclear aims, has sparked some harsh criticism around the world.

In response, the Japanese are looking to shrug off their pacifist constitution, and have even considered allowing for pre-emption if they deem it necessary for self-defense. (Offensive military action is currently forbidden by the Japanese constitution, which is a main reason they are, in all effectiveness, an American protectorate.)

Meanwhile, South Korea is clearly upset about the whole ordeal--yet what alarms South Korea isn't the North's sabre-rattling, but rather Japan's "threatening" response.

China's pissed off as well. And given Japan's unwillingness to repent for their military atrocities in World War II (imagine how Europe would feel if Germany largely skipped over 1930-1945 in their textbooks), China remains the more popular power in the neighborhood.

Now, in a nice world, Japan would atone for their war crimes of 60+ years ago, and in exchange North Korea lays down their arms after the next round of talks and China stops building one of the most powerful armies in the world.

But that's not going to happen. So Japan is exploring their other options:

1. Proposing sanctions at the United Nations. They tried. Russia and China say nuh-uh.
2. Getting shot.

This may be an oversimplification, but the fact is that Japan resides in an area of expanding power and growing significance, and that's no place for a pacifist. That isn't to say they should immediately develop a world-class air force and kick the shit out of Kim Jung-il tomorrow, but they need to at least prepare themselves for an already shifting balance of power. And as Japan's strongest and closest ally, America should help them--starting with their image.

What America needs most in the Pacific is a strong yet popular Japan. We need the world to see a strong Japan as a good thing. Doesn't the world owe them some trust? Isn't two generations of peace and unparalleled charitable generosity worth anything?

Granted, anything Japan does to become stronger will, by definition, upset the Chinese--but perhaps there's a way to calm the fears of South Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan and all our other Asian allies. So in the next ten years, what Tokyo needs is a double-dose of power politics and public relations.

After all, you can't spell "power" without PR.


Blogger Buck B. said...

I've always harbored the suspicion that when the time is right, the Japanese will unleash the fleet of fusion-powered, death-ray equipped flying saucers they've been working on for the last 50 years to crush all who oppose them and re-establish their Pacific empire.

Which is all the more reason for the United States to stay in their good graces.

Blogger George Ohhhhh! said...

Yeah, I've had one of those hovering over the apartment for years....with a cloaking devise of course. It's a Honda too, low insurance rates!

Anonymous P. Pirx said...

Pity poor Japan, it is going to find mixing power politics and PR challenging, to put it mildly. It is so much easier to keep one's manicured hands immaculately clean when you let somebody else to do the necessary dirty work, while one frowns at his "excesses". This way one can (as long as the arrangement works) combine two blissful feelings, a sense of security and a sense of moral superiority.

Blogger Gordon the Gnome said...

It is so much easier to keep one's manicured hands immaculately clean when you let somebody else to do the necessary dirty work.

The same goes for Western Europe, no? I dare someone to show me the difference between Germany and Japan in this regard...

Anonymous P. Pirx said...

Oh, Japan is far better behaved than most of Europe in this regard. Give me Japan over Germany, France, Belgium,... etc. every day. And, should we even mention Canada?

Anonymous Adam said...

Granted China took some of the bite out, but the U.N. Security Council resolution was considerably stronger than I had imagined it would be. K-Jong still seems pretty pissed.

This is pure speculation, but I'm wondering if that's recognition of just how serious Japan is about this whole deal -- militarization, missile defense.

Maybe even China and Russia recognize that the alternative would be Japan pulling an America and taking matters into their own hands.

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Jeff Goldstein is a wanker.