Monday, February 17, 2014

CSD: Peaceful Asia? By Erick San Juan

 CSD: Peaceful Asia? By Erick San Juan

For Peter Lee in his article ‘Japan hawks ruffle dovish feathers’ - for some key stakeholders, there's more money in tensions than in peace. That's certainly the case for the defense industry and the national security apparatus, regardless of what civilian providers of goods and services might think. For people and organizations that work for the war side of the street, "Peaceful Asia" is boring and unprofitable.

Sounds familiar in the world of those sustaining their military industrial complexes or simply wanted to divert from other issues confronting domestic problems. I am referring to China and the United States but it seems Japan has its own agenda for creating a war scenario too.

Beijing’s two-front military confrontations in the offing both in East China Sea with Japan and in the South China Sea with the Philippines (and other claimants) has recently created tensions. And with the forthcoming visit of US President Barack Obama in the region particularly in Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines, stirred up another round of speculations.

Although several pundits believe that in the end it is possible that the conflict will spark between China and Japan that might lead to another global war, dragging with them regional partners in the process.

Remember that basically the issues on the territorial disputes has something to do with historical rights of the countries involved. As much as each nation wanted peaceful resolution on the problem, tensions from provocation,  propaganda and counter-propaganda had made it more difficult to achieve such peace in the region.

From establishing an air defense zone to visit to ‘forbidden’ shrine, and a lot of rhetoric and saber rattling, this continuous provocations might lead to mutually assured destruction if not handled with cooler heads. One such recent act by Japan is something to watch out especially by China.

As the Diet kicked off an ordinary session on Friday (January 24), Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in his policy speech that he will tackle the issue of the exercise of the right to collective self-defense on the basis of a report to be issued by a panel of experts, which is a private advisory body for him. For the first time in his current tenure, he mentioned the issue in a Diet speech. Although he did not use a direct expression, his intention is clear: to change the government’s long-standing constitutional interpretation. Under the war-renouncing Article 9 of their Constitution, Japan cannot exercise the right to collective self-defense.

If the Abe government achieves its goal, it will pave the way for Japan to engage in military operations abroad with other countries, especially the United States. Such a change would completely alter postwar Japan’s basic posture of “defense-only defense,” which is designed to ensure it will not repeat the mistake of walking the path to war as it did in the last century — with tragic results for both the region and Japan. The “defense-only defense” posture helped Japan regain the international community’s trust in the postwar period.
Japan’s embracing of the right to collective self-defense would cause friction with neighboring countries and perceived to destabilize the regional security environment. It is deplorable that Abe is trying to discard this stance, which has allowed the nation to prosper, on the strength of a report of a private advisory body. The Diet should stop Abe’s effort, which is tantamount to revising the Constitution without following the standard procedure for doing so. (Source editorial - Abe’s dangerous path, 1/27/2014)

For a long time, the United States has been keen to enable certain joint US/Japanese operations under the current pacifist constitution, with the Japanese side moving beyond its traditional "only defend Japan" restrictions to provide benign, non-aggressive services such as minesweeping, reconnaissance and ballistic missile defense, especially for new regional security missions only tangentially related to the defense of Japan. Scenarios for increased Japanese participation in joint activities, while still within the bounds of the current constitution, have been painstakingly parsed by American and Japanese  strategists.

Collective Self Defense would add another facet to this kind of operation. A joint flotilla could be sailing around outside Japanese waters, protecting sea lanes and what not, with the Japanese vessels sweeping mines, launching helicopters and surveillance planes, etc, in full pacifist constitution mode. Then, if things get ugly - for instance, if a US vessel and equipment of an unnamed Asian power get into a scrape - then it's showtime! And the Japanese ships are free to blast away to protect the US ship, protect themselves, launch pre-emptive strikes - the list of kinetic operations possible under the label of collective self-defense is probably quite extensive.

With this sort of scenario in mind, perhaps US planners might believe that "collective self defense" kills two birds with one stone. First, it will allow Japanese forces to be more easily and effectively integrated into new US regional missions beyond genuinely defensive ones. Second, it will keep Japanese forces in a "defensive" posture, so the United States and countries around the region don't have to worry about the Japanese military going off on independent military adventures.

In other words, the "collective self defense" will give the US the best of both worlds: Japan pulls its military weight in the alliance, but Japan's military ambitions remain under the thumb of the pacifist constitution. (US blind to barbs in Japan defense plan by Peter Lee, 2/13/14)

But not for long, for Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe “using the right to collective self-defense can be tolerated by reinterpreting the Constitution without amending it.”

The scenario-building that the abovementioned developments in Abe’s military policy will not create the needed peaceful resolution to disputes but actually setting the stage for the next war. And the drummer beating the war drums is obviously will not back off.

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