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(A) The United States' security alliance with Japan began after WWII and quickly evolved into a key policy measure in the containment of communism and the Soviet Union. However, with the Soviet dissolution and the end of the Cold War, the proverbial "glue" holding together US-Japan relations, had to be reevaluated (Curtis, 208). Under the Clinton administration the major features of the security alliance (the shelter of the US "nuclear umbrella" and the presence of 8 US military bases home to 45,000 US personnel able to project effective military force throughout Asia) remain intact, however, the strategic rational has fundamentally changed.

Generally speaking, US interest in Japan and East Asia is one of regional stability in order that US economic interests in trade and investment are protected and will flourish (Curtis, 185). Japan also has corresponding interests in regional stability, and thus the security alliance remains viable. Together the US and Japan have the following common goals/interests. As stated by Nishihara (Shinn, 178), they are:

--Japan's economic and military survival through a close alliance with the US, where the two nations currently engage in a robust $200 billion of annual trade.

--To prevent the emergence of a dominant power in East Asia (other than the United States).

--To ensure political openess and open market economies, thereby fostering economic interdependence throughout the region.

--To secure the sea lanes through the western Pacific and the Indian Ocean by befriending countries in those regions.

Maintaining the alliance is therefore mutually beneficial and necessarily accomplished by a continued US presence in East Asia, the latter condition substantiated by regional concerns over a militarily powerful Japan. If the United States were to forgo its security obligations in Japan and East Asia, a power vacuum would result. Japan, to provide for its own defence, would rapidly scale up its military power. Threatened by the replacement of the US' relatively "benign" security presence, other nations in the region would be compelled to increase their military forces, the consequences of which would be a costly and destabalizing arms race that would hinder economic growth and perhaps result in regional warfare. The presence of US forces, then, is necessary to "dampen underlying suspicions of Japan,"(Curtis, 212) acting as a buffer against Japan's historical threat. Japan, as well as the rest of Asia, benefit from the security presence of the US.

While the bilateral security arrangement is currently "free of serious controversy," (Curtis, 241) as the national interests of both nations very nearly coincide, there have been and still are issues that the US presence in Japan have raised. On the US side these issues are the disparity between military budgets and trade relations, while in Japan there is sentiment against US forces in terms of difficulties related to the presence of their military bases and "normalizing the state"- rearming Japan.

One of the main points of contention and reason for the possible (but unlikely) withdrawal of the US from Japan was the military budget disparity between the two countries which directly contributed to unfavorable trade balances for the US. The US, in part to protect Japan, is spending approximately 4% of its GDP on military expenditures. On the other hand, Japan was spending less than 1% on its own security. Coupled with a large trade surplus, it seemed to the US Congress that Japan was benefiting unfairly from the security arrangement. The issue was diffused, however, as "Japan has assumed an increasingly large share of US base costs and continues to do more." Currently this number is around 60% to 70%. Congress, however, would like to see this figure at 100% (Kau).

This "purchasing" of security brings up a perception of US forces as defacto mercenaries- soldiers for hire, and worse still bargaining chips in order to gain trade concessions from Japan. Indeed, Japan has felt compelled to reduce US deficits by purchasing proprietary weapon systems from the US. Recognizing this type of relationship would lead to a "weakening or breaking of the US-Japan relationship," (Curtis, 242) the US has encouraged Japan's wider involvement in regional security such as defense of its territorial waters, protecting sea lines of communication (SLOCs), financing United Nation operations, as well as participating in UN peacekeeping. Building the US-Japan security relationship over the long term establishes mutual trust which in turn creates a more beneficient economic relationship.

Incorporating Japan into the US' defense committment, however, has its own problems. There is nationalist sentiment within Japan which sees national security according to US foreign policy an affront to national pride, that a country which has renounced the sovereign right to go to war is abnormal and deficient. Thus it is Japan's responsibility to independently build up its national security forces, in the so-called "big power internationalist" approach, as opposed to the "civilian internationalist" approach currently in compliance with US security (Kao, lecture). Indeed, there is a complimentary sentiment within the US that believes Japan should be allowed to "normalize the state" and become friendly equals with the US and perhaps go as far as giving Japan a seat on the UN Security Council. However in the light of regional security issues listed above and current leadership in Japan, the "big power internationalist" approach will not be soon in coming.

Finally, there are domestic problems with the US presence in Japan. Local support for the US bases has decreased with the end of the Cold War. Nearby residents feel the number and size of the bases could be reduced, with reasons varying from sexual assault of Japanese girls by American servicemen, to noise pollution from pilot training, to land use policies which seek to develop the bases into tourist areas. Thus far, Tokyo has been able to quell local opposition and keep the installations in order to promote the greater security of Japan, however, "unless the issues surrounding the US bases are managed properly by both Tokyo and Washington, they may impede security relations in the future." (Shinn, 178).

In sum, the effectiveness of the Clinton Administration's policies of a continued presence in Japan and East Asia has been evidenced by the regional stability and phenomenal economic growth since the end of the Cold War- the desired outcomes explicitly stated by Nishihara. However, there is still friction (albeit little) in the bilateral security arrangement. These include local opposition to US bases and a lack of a comprehensive policy as to whether if and when the Japanese should "normalize their state." Thus far, Japan has been accomodating of the US presence, footing the majority of the bill as well as lobbying for their continued presence despite bad behaviour by their "guests." Improving this relationship, then, would entail tighter restrictions on US personnel and servicemen in order to appease the local citizenry and a long term continuation of allowing Japan to play a more active role in its defense, that it may (when economic interests supercede military gains in the region) normalize into a complete state.

(B) Clinton's foreign policy in regards to fostering a policy of "comprehensive engagement" with China consists of the following:

--The People's Republic of China (PRC) plays a major role in the post-Cold War world.

--It is the world's most populous nation (about 1.2 billion people) and the third-largest in land mass (after Russia and Canada)

--It has nuclear weapons, is a growing military power, and plays a key role in regional stability.

--As one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, China has veto power over Security Council resolutions dealing with key multilateral issues, including international peacekeeping and the resolution of regional conflicts.

--China is undergoing extraordinary economic growth and promises to be a preeminent economic power early in the next century.1

With these points in mind, US strategy has been to encourage Chinese cooperation in multilateral, regional, and global security arrangements, to test China's intentions, and hopefully to head off its emergence as a threat. Meanwhile, US forces should play a major role in balancing China in the worst case that China indeed emerges as a threat to its neighbors. In the best case, US deployments could act as pawns in negotiations with China and its neighbors to develop cooperative security arrangements. However until such time, the US should maintain a presence in Asia. (Curtis, 212)

While the US-Japan security policy at its basic level involves the presence of US armed forces in Japan, comprehensive engagement with China takes place on a number of different levels. These include most favored nation (MFN) trading status, involvement in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) organization- a regional multilateral mechanism that deals with economic issues, admission to the World Trade Organization (WTO), regular bilateral and multilateral meetings of heads of state, promoting arms control in the region, as well as a continued US presence in the region.

The most visible policy tool the Clinton administration has had in engaging China has been the renewal of China's MFN status. Strong sentiment in the US encourages conditional engagement with China on this issue, linking MFN trade status to the protection of human rights within China. However, in practicing comprehensive engagement this type of linkage in untenable. Curtis writes, "'punishing' China for behavior the United States finds abhorrent can stimulate the kind of regionalism the United States should be seeking to avoid, and hurt US business interests more than anything else." (Curtis, 26) Rather, the US should help China to incorporate itself more fully into the global system by encouraging international trade. In addition, not only would removing MFN hurt US business by creating a trade war with a country that is a net exporter to the US, it would do little to damage China's trade as MFN is a bilateral and not a multilateral mechanism. The drop in trade with the US would have been made up by other countries willing to accept China's human right's abuses.

In 1993 when the heads of state in the Asia-Pacific region met in the United States, APEC became a high-powered forum that discusses regional economic integration around the Pacific Rim. Every year since then the heads of state have reconvened to promote free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region, encouraging economic cooperation, integration and growth, and in so doing creating lasting ties that are the best measures to promote peace and stability among its constituent members. When President Clinton addressed the G-7 summit in Tokyo in July 1993, he called APEC "the most promising forum for achieving a more open regional economy, encouraging economic growth, and fostering prosperity and opportunity throughout the region."2 This type of multilateral forum is the ideal in which to comprehensively engage China, however there have been controversies, particularly in China's bid to gain membership in another more prominent forum, the WTO.

In April of this year, Washington successfully blocked China's accession into the WTO, apparently in contradiction to the US' policy of comprehensive engagement. Denying China access to this international body created to mediate trade disputes closed off an avenue for China to play a greater part in the international system. However, preventing China from joining the WTO was consitent with "testing China's intentions." Washington has long insisted that China make its markets more accessible by abolishing import quotas on key manufactured products and ending state subsidies to loss-making enterprises. By holding firm on these points, Washington effectively tested China's committment to become a fair player in international trade. Since China's rejection, Beijing has promised to comply with the abolishment of its quotas and there is now talk of China's admission early next year.3

Besides regular multilateral meetings of heads of state in APEC, bilateral summits also play an important role in comprehensive engagement. President Jiang Zemin and President Clinton met in October 1995 to discuss the status of the two powers (Shinn, 90). Later this fall, President Jiang will again return to the United States, however, this time as the top leader of the PRC. More importantly, than testing China's committment to fair trade, this would be an ideal forum for President Clinton to test China's willingness to cooperate within global regimes like the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START), in order to guage China's committment to nuclear non-proliferation.

Finally, there is the issue of US military engagement with China, the stick in President Clinton's comprehensive engagement policy. In terms of naval power, the US promises to be more than a match for Chinese projection capabilities for many years to come (Curtis, 204). Defacto evidence of the effectiveness of US naval forces in the region include the non-invasion of Taiwan after large-scale military exercises by the PRC in the Taiwan Strait and the lack of PRC military involvement in the Spratly Islands since 1988. While this evidence is circumstantial, the lack of conflict does lend weight to the deterrent effect the US Navy has in the East and South China Seas. In actually engaging China, Thomas L. McNaugher has proposed a naval cooperation in which China could "reassure global trading interests, as well as SE Asian neighbors, by taking an interest in cooperative measures to ensure the safety of sea lanes." (Curtis, 204)

Chinese conventional ground forces, however, are less tractable as they lie beyond US engagement (Curtis, 203). Indeed, China's military modernization is this regard is causing alarm in SE Asian states as well as Russia. In dealing with this issue, Washington has only been able to observe and unsuccessfully engage China on issues of transparency in its military forces and budget.

Thus far Washington's comprehensive engagement of China has been a success, in engaging China economically through APEC and the WTO. However, the true tests remain in terms of relevant security issues- engaging China to participating in international security by inviting Beijing to enter into the global nuclear arms control regime and waiting to see what shape China's military modernization will take, looking closely at the Sino-Russian border. In improving and possibly diffusing these potentially dangerous affairs, it would be prudent to further involve China in the institutions of the international system, press for increased transparency into China's military forces, and strongly pressure China into nuclear non-proliferation.

(4) The US security alliance with Japan and "comprehensive engagement" with China are both mainly coherent in that their means match their general ends. In the bilateral arrangement with Japan, a US military presence achieves the goals and protects the interest of both the US and Japan such that not only is Japan protected from foreign invasion, but is able to engage in lucrative foreign trade within the region because the relatively benign US force makes up Japanese security rather than a perceived billigerent Japanese nationlist military. The US, then, is also able to gain from the stable environment in which to conduct business. The only contradiction in means are the relatively minor dissent among local occupants around the base and the small possibility that Japan's interest may diverge from the US' as Japanese nationalists gain control of the country and insist on Japan's independent security. However, the US is already accomodating these tendencies by encouraging limited joint participation in security measures.

The US policy of "comprehensive engagement" with China is similarly matches ends with means. The US wants a prosperous Asia-Pacific region, and in achieving this is engaging China to particpate in its economic growth, thus allying their mutual interests. This calculus breaks down, however, with China's interests to establish itself as a military power in its own right in the global arena.

Finally the two respective US policies are complimentary with one another. They both emphasize regional stability and economic growth. The US presence in Japan allays Chinese fears of a powerful Japan, and in turn allows Japanese investment in China. The US promoting these economic interdependecies lessens the potential for conflict and in so doing creates markets for its own goods.

 

Endnotes

1United States Information Agency, China- http://www.usia.gov/abtusia/posts/HK1/wwwhch07.html

2United State Information Agency, The US and APEC- http://www.usia.gov/regional/ea/apec/apec.htm

3Asiaweek, April 4, 1997, Trade Tussle- http://pathfinder.com/Asiaweek/97/0404/cs2.html

 

Bibliography

Curtis, Gerald L. ed. The United States, Japan, and Asia. New York: W.W. Norton, 1994.

Shinn, James ed. Weaving the Net. New York: Council of Foreign Relations Press, 1996.