Jan 20, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 18 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
You would guess that an agreement between the United States and Japan to move a Marine air base from one location to another on Okinawa would be good news. And it is, for three reasons. First, because there has been opposition to relocating the base on the island, and negotiations had stalemated. And second, because the move is endorsed by Okinawa’s governor, who had initially opposed it. That endorsement came at a price, of course: Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, offered Okinawa (in the words of the Washington Post) “a major spending package aimed at infrastructure and development projects on the island.”
But it’s money well spent, in The Scrapbook’s opinion, because of reason number three, described again by the Post: “The relocation . . . is a key piece of a broader U.S. realignment of troops and resources in the Asia-Pacific region. The Obama administration is seeking to augment its presence in the region to counterbalance China’s military rise and anticipate threats from a volatile North Korea.”
Sounds sensible, prudent, vigilant, responsible, and entirely consistent with our historic responsibility to defend freedom, protect our allies, and keep the peace—yes? Well, not if you’re one of the “international scholars, peace advocates, and artists” who issued a statement last week condemning the agreement, supporting (in their words), “the people of Okinawa in their non-violent struggle for peace, dignity, human rights, and protection of the environment.” To be sure, there’s no evidence that the people of Okinawa have solicited the support of the aforementioned international scholars, peace advocates, and artists; but a closer look at the list of signatories tells a tale.
There are the predictable left-wing historians and political scientists—Norman Birnbaum of Georgetown, Catherine Lutz of Brown—and professional opponents of American foreign policy: Richard Falk of Princeton, Noam Chomsky of MIT, Joseph Gerson of the American Friends Service Committee. There are celebrity cranks (Daniel Ellsberg, filmmakers Michael Moore and Oliver Stone), enablers of tyranny (Rev. Lois Wilson of the World Council of Churches), even Canadian conspiracy theorists (Naomi Klein). Oliver Stone’s documentary colleague, Peter Kuznick of American University, is famous for blaming the Cold War exclusively on the United States.
Which is precisely the point. This comparatively trivial issue—the relocation of a single Marine base on Okinawa—has brought together a constellation of names whose careers have been almost exclusively dedicated to loudly opposing American postwar policy, undermining efforts to preserve national security, defending our enemies, excoriating our allies, and blaming the United States for the world’s ills. Even when the Obama administration gets it right, they cannot break the nasty habits of a lifetime. Some would call them foolish, some might say misguided, others might even consider them dangerous.
The Scrapbook is not quite sure on that point. But one word nicely sums them up over the decades: wrong.
9:01 AM, Dec 6, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
The press covering Joe Biden's trip Asia caught an unusually frank comment from the vice president. Biden, speaking about himself, reportedly said that his "profound insights on policy are vastly exaggerated, but we do have profound respect for the people of South Korea."
11:55 AM, Dec 3, 2013 • By GARY SCHMITT
Absolute coherence when it comes foreign policy is a rare thing. International relations will forever be a mix of principles, interests, circumstances, and necessities. But recognition of that fact doesn’t mean one has to jump to the opposite conclusion that foreign policy is simply a grab bag of decisions, lacking any coherence whatsoever. But, more and more, this appears to be the case when it comes to the Obama administration’s so-called “pivot” to Asia.
1:00 PM, Sep 13, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Barack Obama will be traveling to Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines, at the beginning of next, the White House announced today.
3:01 PM, Jul 1, 2013 • By REUBEN F. JOHNSON
On the first weekend in June and for the twelfth year in a row, senior foreign policy makers, military officials, politicians, and defense industry representatives flocked to an exclusive hotel resort in this Southeast Asian city-state for the Shangri-La Dialogue Asian Security Summit. The event now draws a Who’s Who of global military power personalities: Asian, European and U.S. defense ministers; regional military commanders, including a high-level delegation of strategists from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) military.
9:29 AM, Jun 25, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
While Daniel P. Schrag, White House climate adviser, tells the New York Times that "a war on coal is exactly what's needed," so far the Obama administration has been a boon for U.S. coal exports.
12:34 PM, Apr 14, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Secretary of State John Kerry told the press in Beijing that he discussed with Chinese government officials investing in America's infrastructure. Kerry called the security concerns "very, very few; very, very little."
10:29 AM, Apr 12, 2013 • By VANCE SERCHUK
John Kerry’s first visit as secretary of state to Asia this week will be rightly dominated by the heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula, where Kim Jong-un’s regime continues to generate headlines around the world with its bluster and brinksmanship.
Asia’s divided democracies.Jan 21, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 18 • By JOSEPH A. BOSCO
Asia’s democracies need to get their acts together to address a common danger from the region’s authoritarian/totalitarian powers. Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan face rising challenges from China and/or North Korea. All have security arrangements with the United States to deter or confront those threats.
7:56 AM, Nov 25, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
The Chinese military claims for the first time to have landed a plane on an aircraft carrier, the state media outlet Xinhua reports.
China has successfully conducted flight landing on its first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, naval sources said," says Xinhua.
8:03 AM, Nov 19, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Barack Obama called Burma 'Myanmar' after a bilateral meeting with Thein Sein, the president of that country. From the pool report:
Obama used the word "Myanmar," the preferred terminology of the former military government and currently nominally civilian government, in a spray following the bilat, rather than use "Burma," the former name of the country, and the one preferred by Aung San Suu Kyi as well as the name the U.S. uses.
10:42 PM, Nov 15, 2012 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
President Obama heads abroad Saturday for a four-day visit to Thailand, Burma, and Cambodia. One assumes the president was going to add on to this trip a visit U.S. troops in Afghanistan, which would certainly be the fitting and proper thing to do.
1:44 PM, Nov 8, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Barack Obama will travel to Burma, as well as other countries in Asia, the White House announced.
6:15 AM, Oct 25, 2012 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
A post in the Wall Street Journal blog covering India suggests relations are souring between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, long the main instrument of Riyadh’s ideological influence over South Asian Muslims. The desert monarchy has extradited several terrorist suspects to India, under a treaty signed between the two countries in 2010. Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari was sent to India in June, A. Rayees was deported by the Saudis to New Delhi in October, and Fasih Muhammad, last week.
4:59 PM, Oct 23, 2012 • By LIANCHAO HAN
During Monday night’s presidential debate, the candidates beat their breasts vying to be tougher on China. Barack Obama pointed to his accomplishments, while Mitt Romney attacked the president for being afraid to label China a currency manipulator. The amount of time devoted to America’s largest creditor and potential enemy shows that managing the relationship with China is critical for whoever sits in the Oval Office.