Current US-China Relations

Henry C.K. Liu

Part I: A Lame Duck-Greenhorn Dance

Part II: US Unilateralism
Part III: Geopolitical Dynamics of the Korea Proliferation Crisis

Part IV: More Geopolitical Dynamics of the Korea Proliferation Crisis

This article appeared in AToL on September 9, 2006 under the title:
Proliferation, imperialism - and the 'China threat'

Japanese Miscalculations Turned a European War into WWII

To jointly combat the spread of international communism, Japan and Germany signed an Anti-Comintern Pact on November 25, 1936. Italy joined the Pact in 1937. The Tripartite Treaty signed by Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Imperial Japan on September 27, 1940 in Berlin is known as the Axis Alliance based on the concept of a Rome-Berlin Axis put forth by Benito Mussolini in 1936. The Alliance was subsequently joined by Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Bulgaria. The Nationalist government in China under the Koumintang had been advised by German military experts. This relationship came to an abrupt end in 1936 after the Axis Alliance as China and Japan were at war.

In August 1939, Germany broke the terms of the Anti-Comintern Pact when it signed the Molotov-Ribbontrop Pact, a non-aggression agreement between the Soviet Union and Germany. On September 25, 1940, German foreign minister, Jochim von Ribbentrop, sent a telegram to Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov stating that Germany, Italy and Japan were about to sign a military alliance but claiming that this alliance was directed not at the Soviet Union but towards potential US hostility. The telegram read:
Its exclusive purpose is to bring the elements pressing for America’s entry into the war to their senses by conclusively demonstrating to them if they enter the present struggle they will automatically have to deal with the three great powers as adversaries.” As Germany saw it, the purpose was deterrence, not aggression, against the US.

The Anti-Comintern Pact was officially reactivated in 1941 when Germany launched
Operation Barbarossa against the Soviet Union on June 22 1941. On November 25, the Pact was  renewed for another five years with Germany, Japan, Italy, Hungary, Spain, Bulgaria, Croatia, Demark, Finland, Romanian, Slovakia, the puppet state of Manchukuo, and the puppet Nanjing government of Wang Jingwei in Japan-occupied China and t
he Provincial Government of Free India, a shadow government in Japan-occupied India led by Subhas Chandra Bose, a militant Indian nationalist who opposed Gandhi’s passive resistance to British imperialism. All over Japanese-occupied Southeast Asia, from Indonesia to Vietnam to the Philippines, all nationalists who resisted Japanese aggression were communists.

In September 1940 Japan, as a charter member of the Axis alliance, coerced the Vichy government of defeated France into turning northern Indochina over to Japan. From Japan’s perspective, it was a natural demand from a victorious ally to a defeated adversary. The US, through its special relationship with British and French imperialism, retaliated against Japanese expansion into French Southeast Asia by imposing trade sanctions prohibiting the export of steel, scrap iron, and aviation gasoline to Japan from an allegedly neutral and free-trading US. In April 1941, Japan signed a neutrality treaty with the USSR as insurance against possible attack from the north if it were to come into conflict with British and US interests while expanding towards Southeast Asia. Similar to the German-Soviet non-aggression pact, the USSR entered a neutrality treaty with Japan to avoid being involved in intra-capitalist conflicts and to neutralize potential British-Japanese convergence against the USSR. The Japan-USSR neutrality treaty lasted until August 8, 1945 when the USSR declared war on Japan two days after the US dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

Two months after the signing of the Japan-USSR Neutrality Treaty, when Germany invaded the USSR in June 1941, Japanese leaders considered breaking the treaty and joining their German ally from the east. A statement by Ribbentrop on the declaration of war on the Soviet Union issued in Berlin on June 22, 1941 began with the following paragraphs:

“When in the Summer of 1939 the Reich Government, motivated by a desire to achieve adjustment of interests between Germany and the USSR, approached the Soviet Government, they were aware of the fact that it was no easy matter to reach an understanding with a State that on one hand claimed to belong to a community of individual nations with rights and duties resulting there from, yet on the other hand was ruled by a party that, as a section of the Comintern, was striving to bring about world revolution - in other words, the very dissolution of these individual nations.

The German Government, putting aside their serious misgivings occasioned by this fundamental difference between political aims of Germany and Soviet Russia and by the sharp contrast between diametrically opposed conceptions of National Socialism and Bolshevism, made the attempt.

They were guided by the idea that the elimination of the possibility of war, which would result from an understanding between Germany and Russia, and safeguarding of the vital necessities of the two people, between whom friendly relations had always existed, would offer the best guarantee against further spreading of the Communist doctrine of international Jewry over Europe.”

War against the Spread of Internationalism

Ribbentrop was invoking the threat of international communism against the Westphalia order of nation states as a pretext for war.  The same pretext was invoked by the US to launch to Cold War. Yet the post-Cold War aim of US foreign policy adopts similar expansionist internationalism to “enlarge democracy” to justify regime changes around the world, challenging the Westphalia world order of nation states. Such internationalist approach will again lead to another world war.

Japan Chose to Stay out of War in Europe

Making one of the most fateful decisions of the war if not the 20th century, Japan chose to stay out of the European war by not attacking the USSR and instead to intensify its regional push towards the southeast for much needed strategic material to overcome US sanction. Japan had calculated that Germany would quickly defeat the USSR without Japanese help, as it did France, since Japan had defeated Czarist Russia in Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05. And Japanese occupation of Eastern coastal China faced more threat from the direction of the Pacific.  Both Germany and Japan underestimated the positive effect of communist leadership on Russia.

On July 23 Japan occupied southern Indochina. Two days later, the US, Britain, and the Netherlands, the three financial powers in the West, froze Japanese assets, making it impossible for Japan to purchase oil, which would within three months cripple her military as well as her economy. This act of financial war forced Japan to attack Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 to try to destroy the US Pacific Fleet to create a situation with which to hopefully force a compromising peace on the US. Japan calculated that Germany would be forced by the terms of the Axis Alliance to declare war on the US and US preoccupation with Europe will give Japan a free hand in expanding and consolidating its hold on Asia. That was exactly what happened up until the defeat of Germany. Japan’s answer to Germany’s call for Japan to contribute to the Axis Alliance by attacking the USSR was that a Pacific front would achieve the same result to weaken Allies war efforts in Europe.

Hitler’s Pro-British Sentiments

Hitler admired and respected the British and considered them to share many of the superior Aryan qualities and values possessed by Germanic peoples as evidenced by the Germanic lineage of the British royalty. In Mein Kampf he argued that to achieve its foreign policy objectives, Germany would have to form an alliance with Aryan Britain. “No sacrifice was too great if it was a necessary means of gaining England’s friendship,” Hitler wrote.

As soon as he gained power, Hitler repeatedly told visiting British politicians, diplomats and Nazi sympathizers that he appreciated British understanding that the terms of the Treaty of Versailles were too harsh for a permanent peace. He was assured by many Britons in high places that Britain was unlikely to declare war if Germany were to violate some of the more unreasonable aspects of the treaty. British conservatives told Hitler that traditional British antagonism against Russia had been accentuated by the nation’s having come under communism and the revolution’s regicide of the House of Romanov which was related by blood to Queen Victoria.  Britain and Germany had a common phobia about a Europe dominated by the USSR in terms of both geopolitics and ideology.

FDR’s Dilemma

Before Pearl Harbor, US President Franklin D Roosevelt had declared the US as neutral in the European conflict. Personally hostile to Hitler’s Nazi philosophy, FDR was well aware of the strong isolationist sentiments and the pro-German feelings of a large ethnic German population in the US. However, Roosevelt did all he could to let Britain receive US supplies and loans to enable her to continue fighting the war after the fall of France.

Hitler knew that Germany would eventually come into conflict with the United States. He wanted to complete German control of Europe so that any future fight with the US would be between equals and not in Europe but on the American continent. German submarines were ordered to avoid attacking ships with US passengers crossing the Atlantic to avoid provoking the US. He also attempted to persuade his Japanese ally to war against the Soviet Union and not threaten US or British interests in Asia until after the USSR had been defeated. German attack on the USSR to oppose international communism would give the US an ideological incentive not to interfere in Europe. 

Hitler Surprised by Pearl Harbor

Hitler was surprised and flabbergasted by Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor which prematurely dragged the US into the war in Europe. Hitler, who had previously called the Japanese “honorary Aryans”, the precursor of Apartheid’s categorization of Japanese as “honorary Whites”, was reported to have complained that “this is what happens what your allies are not Anglo-Saxons”.  Hitler was also reported to have told friendly British diplomats before the war that he would gladly send a few divisions to the Far East to help Britain contain the “yellow race”.  Racial contradictions in the Axis Alliance prevented coordinated unity between Germany and Japan. Berlin was more surprised by Japan’s “surprised attack” on Pearl Harbor than Washington.  Hitler had expected Japan to attack Singapore not Pearl Harbor.

Fascist Racism and the Yellow Race

Artur Silgailis, chief of staff of Inspection General the Latvian Legion, the Latvian Waffen-SS, in his book "Latvian Legion" (James Bender Publishing, 1986, pages 348-349) describes a conversation he had with Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS and the second most powerful man in Nazi Germany. According to Silgailis, Himmler said: “After the unification of all the German nations into one family … to include, in the family, all the Roman nations whose living space is favored by nature with a milder climate... I am convinced that after the unification, the Roman nations will be able to persevere as the Germans...This enlarged family of the White race will then have the mission to include the Slavic nations into the family also because they too are of the White race . . . it is only with such a unification of the White race that the Western culture could be saved from the Yellow race . . .”

The composition of the Waffen-SS, an all volunteer ideological military unit, testified to the popularity of Nazism all over Europe outside of Germany. Of the one million men who served in the Waffen-SS during the course of the war, 60% or 600,000 men were non-German volunteers from other European countries. Non-German volunteers came from the Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, France, Denmark, Norway, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, the Ukraine, Byelorussia, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Yugoslavia and even a very small group of British volunteers, known as the Legion of St. George. The foreign Waffen-SS units were all deployed on the Eastern Front because they had specifically volunteered to fight communism; and secondly so that they would never be asked to fight fellow countrymen in their native countries. All but a few thousand of the 20,000 French Waffen-SS volunteers, organized into a division called Legion Charlemagne, were killed in the Battle of Berlin in 1945.  They were die-hard ideologues rather than opportunists since by 1945 Fascism was visibly a lost cause.

Japanese Attack Helped Roosevelt Enter the War in Europe

President Roosevelt declared war on Japan on December 9, 1941, two days after Pearl Harbor but did not mention Germany in his “Day of Infamy” speech before Congress. It was still possible for Hitler to postpone the war with the US but he was forced to preserve the Axis Alliance by honoring German obligations to Japan. And on December 11, Germany declared war on the US. It was a major strategic error based on his miscalculation that the US would deal with Japan first and Europe after.

Roosevelt had other ideas. Several witnesses have commented on FDR determination to bring the US into war in Europe before Pearl Harbor. According to US General Alfred C. Wedermeyer, “Franklin D. Roosevelt, the professed exponent of democracy, was as successful as any dictator in keeping the Congress and the public in the dark about his secret commitments in relation to Great Britain, commitments which scoffed at the wish and will of the voters, who had re-elected Roosevelt only because he had assured them that he would keep us out of the war. In fact, there are few more shameless examples of cynical disregard of the people's will than those which came to light in Roosevelt's personal correspondence with Churchill, revealed in Churchill's books. This correspondence and Churchill's own description of his conversations with Harry Hopkins, whom he described as ‘mainstay and goader’ of the American President, prove beyond doubt that Roosevelt, already in January 1941, had concluded a secret alliance with Great Britain, which pledged America to war.”

P.H. Nicoll, in England's War against Germany, wrote: “Clare Booth-Luce shocked many people by saying at the Republican Party Congress in 1944 that Roosevelt ‘had lied us (the USA) into the war’. However, after this statement proved to be correct, the Roosevelt followers ceased to deny it, but praised it by claiming he was ‘forced to lie’ to save his country and then England and ‘the world’.”

Without a German declaration of war on the US, Roosevelt might still face an uphill fight in overcoming US isolationism.  After Pearl Harbor, the US would have to retaliate against Japanese attack, but there was still no compelling reason to get involved in the war in Europe which would in fact delay punitive retaliation on Japan. German declaration of war solved the problem for Roosevelt. It linked Pearl Harbor with the Axis Alliance.

Immediately after Pearl Harbor, Wedermeyer at the War Plans Department formulated a plan entitled “Victory Program” which would largely determine how and where US forces would fight the Second World War. The plan was presented to Roosevelt in mid December 1941. This policy became known as “Europe First” despite the fact the Germany did not attack the US.

The policy of Europe First called for seizing a foothold in Western Europe by landing a vastly superior force on the shoreline of Western Europe at the earliest possible date after the Atlantic was cleared of German U boats. Wedermeyer calculated US troops would have to outnumber the Wehrmacht by three to one to make the plan a success. His conclusions were at odds with Britain’s war plans which were focused on defending the far-flung empire outside of Europe and let the Soviets fight the Germans on the Eastern Front to soften them up before opening up a Western Front.

The North Africa Campaign to Save the British Empire

In September 1940, as the British feared, Italian forces from Libya launched an invasion into British-held Egypt to try to capture the Suez Canal. Unfortunately, or fortunately for Britain, Italian fascism while vigorous in theory, was less than necessary in efficiency. The Italians suffered a disastrous defeat from Britain’s Operation Compass counter-attack. To help her Italian ally in North Africa, Germany sent the Deutsches Afrikakorps commanded by General Erwin Rommel whom the defeated British referred to in awe as the Desert Fox.

The North Africa Campaign did not have anything to do with defending democracy or freedom. It was to defend British imperialism from Fascist expansion.  The campaign was a strategic error on the part of the Axis Alliance and failed to achieve its objective of cutting the British Empire two disconnected halves.  German lost 200,000 precious troops and materiel in North Africa which could have been better used against the USSR.

Britain Jailed Nationalists

Many African-Arab nationalists, such as Gamal Adel Nasser and Anwar al-Sadat, were openly sympathetic to the Axis powers as rivals of British imperialism and were jailed by the British colonial authorities during the war. Similarly, after WWII, nationalists in all collapsing European empires around the globe developed sympathy for communism as the onlyeffective resistance to post-war neo-imperialism.

British advance failed to drive the Italians out of North Africa, partly because of a failure to gain full Arab support. As British forces reached Al Argheila, Churchill ordered the advance halted to divert troops to try, without success, to defend Greece from German invasion, giving the German Afrika Korps time to reach Tripoli and launched Operation Sonnenblume that turned victorious British forces into a rout.

In mid-1942
, the Allies were met with defeat everywhere. In the first half of the year, German u-boats sank 3.25 million tons of shipping in the Atlantic carried by 465 freighters. In North Africa, Rommel smashed British defense, threatening the Suez Canal, only stopping 35 miles from Alexandria, Egypt, only because of a shortage of supplies. In Russia, the German 6th Army captured Stalingrad, with plans to head through the Caucasus for the Middle East oil fields and eventually link up with the Afrika Korps to cut England off from its empire. The Allies held Gibraltar, the approach from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean; Malta, the strategic fortress for the control of the Mediterranean, and Egypt, with its Suez Canal that links the British Empire. The Axis controlled France, Italy, Yugoslavia, Greece, and most of northern Africa.

British Malta Prevented German Victory in North Africa

Due to the relatively short range of WWII aircrafts, Malta’s strategic airfield was crucial to the British holding the Mediterranean, but food and oil supply by sea had to get past German and Italian bombers. After Malta was re-stocked with British planes launched from aircraft carriers of the Royal Navy, the 250,000 Maltese and 20,000 British defenders were still dependent on imported food and oil and other war supplies delivered by US freighters and tankers.

In 1942, after fierce sea and air battles with heavy losses on both sides, the British managed to hang on to Malta with the help of US tankers and used it as an effective base to disrupt and eventually halt German re-supply for the Afrika Korps. Rommel’s spectacular offensive was eventually stopped at the small rail stop of El Alamein, 150 miles from Cairo. British air attacks from bases in Malta on over-extended German supply lines forced the Afrika Korps to retreat westwards back towards Libya and Tunisia.
On October 23, British forces newly put under the command of Brigadier General Bernard Law Montgomery, well-supplied from Alexandra, opened an offensive against the Afrika Korps at El Alamein. The British 8th Army under Montgomery with superiority in men of two to one, and an even greater superiority in materials launched the decisive push against the Axis forces. After twelve days of violent fighting and heavy losses on both sides, the British drove toward Libya and eventually Tunisia. The Africa Campaign was a predictive microcosm of the war, a testimonial to the doctrine that wars are won by logistics. The US, with its unthreatened military supply base, would win the war as a matter of time.

Maltese Nationalists Jailed by British Colonial Authorities

Many Maltese nationalists were hostile to British occupation, a fact found all over the British Empire. When Malta was granted self-government without independence in 1921, Enrico Mizzi formed the “Partito Democratico Nazionalista” and was elected to the Legislative Assembly. In 1924 he became Minister of Agriculture and Posts and in 1932 was appointed Minister of Industry and Commerce and subsequently Minister of Education. His patriotism became cause for concern to the British colonial government during the Second World War and in 1942 he was interned and deported to Uganda, where he remained for the duration of the war. As a result, Enrico Mizzi was unable to take his democratically elected seat in the then Council of Government, making a mockery of WWII as a war to defend democracy.

Dom Mintoff, future post-war prime minister of independent Malta, was a product of elitist Oxford and a friend of Labour Party radicals. But it was liberal Lord Louis Mountbatten, royal cousin of King George VI, who advanced Mintoff’s political career. Mintoff’s father, a seaman cook, ran the pantry at Castille Palace in Valletta, where Mountbatten, then Flag Officer heading NATO’s Mediterranean fleet had his office and took a liking to the young Mintoff and recommended him to a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford to prepare him as a future leader friendly to Britain.  Later, through Mintoff, Mountbatten promoted a scheme for Malta to seek full integration with Britain, a political initiative that had parallels with secularized Moslem Turkey’s fantasy about being a full equal member of the Christian European Union. The project was eventually abandoned as another of Mountbatten’s unworkable liberal fantasies, much like the integration of India and Pakistan as one nation out of British India. The experience made Mintoff realize that liberal colonialism was still colonialism, with the result of him leading Malta to the left after the war.

Under the long and forceful leadership of Dom Mintoff, the leftist MLP government turned an independent Malta into a strong adherent of the Non-Aligned Movement in the Cold War.  It strengthened cultural and trade links with Malta's North African neighbors, notably oil-rich Libya, and also with the People’s Republic of China and North Korea, shunned as evil outcasts by the US-dominated West.

On assuming office in 1971, Mintoff renegotiated British/NATO agreements to dismantled its military base within 7 years on condition that the base cannot be used against Arab states. Mintoff also negotiated a treaty of friendship and close economic cooperation with Prime Minister Zhou Enlai in China in April 1972, making Malta a member of the Non-Aligned Movement.

El Alamein – the End of the Beginning

The German strategic goal of capturing the Suez Canal to sever communication between the British Isles and the British Empire in the Far East and to link up German forces thrusting south from Southern Russia with those in North Africa was thawed by the defeat at El Alamein, the first victorious battle in the war by a British-led force over the German Wehrmacht. Germany lost 200,000 of its best troops in North Africa and achieved no strategic advantage.  Those troops would have been better used in defending Italy. Winston Churchill used El Alamein to boost sagging British morale with his mastery of language: “Now this is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end. But it is however, the end of the beginng.”

Whatever it was, it was not the end of British colonialism, not even the beginning of the end, and perhaps the end of the beginning of neo-imperialism. In a since-released secret postwar report to Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee who replaced Conservative Churchill by popular vote immediately after VE Day, Montgomery, as Chief of the Imperial Defense Staff (1946-1948), Britain’s heroic soldier in defense of democracy, opposed British Labour policy of encouraging self-government in black Africa. The African, he concluded after a two-month fact-finding tour of eleven African countries in late 1947, “is a complete savage and is quite incapable of developing the country himself.” He did not elaborate on why after a century of British colonial rule, the African remained a “complete savage”. He recommended a sweeping plan to turn much of sub-Saharan Africa into a British-controlled bulwark against Communism that would be aligned with white-ruled South Africa, which at that time was still dominated by Britain. Montgomery and Rommel, heroes of colonialism and fascism, had two things in common: both were congenital racists and pathological anti-communists.

US Needed the USSR to Defeat Germany

In WWII, the US even with twice the population of Germany, had difficulty assembling and training the necessary military force, estimated to be up to 9 million troops, to prevail over the German Wehrmacht and also to simultaneously fight a major war against the Japanese. Thus Soviet resistance to German expansion in Europe was as vital as keeping Britain from capitulating to Nazi might. It is another geopolitical peculiarity that the US-Soviet alliance permitted the continuation of Japan-Soviet neutrality all through the war despite the fact that US entrance into the war was precipitated by Japanese attack on the US. Prior to the successful testing of the atomic bomb, the US was looking to the Soviets to fight Japan to again reduce anticipated US casualty in Asia as it did in Europe. The strategy of “Europe First” was based on the view that once Germany consolidated its hold on Europe, the US alone might not be able to win the war against Germany as a superpower. German diplomatic inroads into Central and South American, where strong anti-US feelings had been smoldering for more than a century, could lead to future German bases from whence attacks on the US could be launched.

In the summer of 1940 when Britain was facing Germany alone, Roosevelt demanded assurances from Churchill that if the British government should seek peace with Germany, the Royal Navy would be sent to Canada to prevent it from falling into German hands to threaten US control of the Atlantic. Churchill refused, using the Vichy France argument that he had rejected only weeks earlier, that the British navy would be a crucial pawn in any peace negotiations with Germany. The real purpose of Churchill’s hard-line position was to deprive the US of the option of abandoning Britain, the penalty of which would be the loss of US command of the Atlantic, let alone Europe.

On August 14, 1941, some fours months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States, not yet at war, issued jointly with a Britain already at war with Germany the Atlantic Charter, which set out a postwar world vision as an unspoken condition for a pending US alliance with Britain. Among other provisions, the Atlantic Charter emphasized British commitment to postwar international cooperation, including support for US efforts to form a United Nations based on the principle of self-determination for former colonies. Six months later, in February 1942, barely two months after the Pearl Harbor attack, under the Lend-Lease Agreement, Britain agreed to a postwar multilateral payments system based on the dollar in exchange for US commitment to help Britain financially during and after the war. After the war, under Truman, self-determination was preempted by anti-communism.

Yet at the insistence of the US financial elite, US aid was only granted in return for the surrender of British bases in the western hemisphere to US control, on the sale at reduced prices of British-owned companies and investments in the US, Canada and Latin America, the virtual seizure of South African gold production by US warships, restrictions on British exports and finally the removal of the pound-sterling as a reserve currency and the lifting of empire-wide trade controls which could have been used to rebuild the British pre-war economic empire after the war. Britain was saved from having to sue for peace with Hitler by US intervention. After Dunkirk, Britain had the choice to losing the war to Germany or to the US.  Since then, Britain has been forced to play the role of a subservient ally, but one that subtly turned the US into a post-war reincarnation of the British Empire with a greatly eclipsed Britain as top water boy for the US-led neo-imperialist team.

Japan-Soviet Neutrality a Geopolitical Peculiarity

In WWII, a glaring geopolitical peculiarity was that Japan, a founding member of the alliance of Axis powers, maintained a neutrality treaty with the major enemy of the Axis alliance all through the war. Had Japan attacked the USSR through Siberia instead of attacking the US at Pearl Harbor, FDR might not have been able to go to war in Europe, as US public opinion at the time was quite divided about getting involved in another foreign war in Europe only two decades after WWI. War with Japan was a total surprise to the US population even if it was not with the US government.

Conservatives in the US, with Churchill’s blessing, might even force the US government to lift US sanction against Japan if Japan had moved against the USSR in the name of anti-communism instead of threatening British/US imperialist interests in Southeast Asia in an intra-imperialist conflict.  After all, Japanese imperialism, modeled after British imperialism, while having begun in China, came into conflict with Western imperialism in Asia first by defeating Czarist Russia in 1904.

The Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05, which began with Japanese naval attack on Port Arthur, was the result of Japanese and Russian competition to develop “spheres of influence” in East Asia in the age of imperialism, mainly at the expense of China. Japan had won a war against the crumbling Chinese Empire in 1894-95 and imposed an unequal treaty on the Qing dynastic government, demanding from China heavy war indemnities, the island of Formosa, and Port Arthur with its hinterland. Port Arthur was named after William C. Arthur of the British navy. It is known in Chinese as Lushunkou, situated in the southern tip of the City of Dalian in Liaoning province. The European powers, while having no objection to the principle of war indemnities, sided with Russian interest in Port Arthur to win Russian concession in Europe. Germany and France applied diplomatic pressure on Japan, with the result that Japan was obliged to relinquish Port Arthur in favor of Russia. Two years later, China was coerced into leasing Port Arthur to Russia, together with the entire Liaodong Peninsula for an ice-free Russian naval base in the Far East to supplement Vladivostok.

The Boxers Uprising of 1900, the Chinese name for which is (Righteous Harmony Brigade), was an extremist xenophobic movement against Western imperialism. The decrepit court of the Qing Dynasty, dominated by the self-indulging, reactionary Dowager Empress (Cixi Taihou, 1838-1908) encouraged it as an alternative chauvinistic instrument to relieve pressure for modernization and reform in domestic politics.  Yihetuan, promoted personally by the Empress, was a populist counterweight to abort the budding “100 Days” elitist reform movement of 1898, led by conservative reformist Kang Youwei (1858-1927) around the young monarch, the weak Emperor Guangxu (reigned 1875-1908).  The reform movement was a belated and defensive attempt to resist foreign aggression through modernization. The model for reform was the Meiji Reform of Japan of 30 years earlier.

The members of Yihetuan, in a burst of chauvinistic frenzy, rejected the use of modern and therefore foreign firearms in favor of traditional broadswords. They relied on protection against enemy bullets from Daoist amulets, their faith in which would remain unshaken in the face of undeniable empirical evidence provided by hundreds of thousands of falling comrades shot by Western gunfire. The term Boxer, for unarmed fighters, would be coined by bewildered Europeans whose modern pragmatism would fill them with a superficial superiority complex, justified on narrow grounds, over an ancient culture that stubbornly clung to the irrational power of faith in defiance of reason.

The Boxer Uprising led a coalition of 8 Europe powers that included Japan to send an expeditionary coalition force to punish Chinese “barbarism”. When the fighting ended, Russian troops had occupied Manchuria with promise to withdraw by 1903, but failed to do so, wishing to hold on to Manchuria as a springboard for further expansion into China. Japan and Russia clashed over competing interests in Korea which led to Japan forming an alliance with Britain. The terms stated that if Japan went to war in the Far East, and a third power entered the fight against Japan, then Britain would come to the aide of the Japanese. If this treaty had held at the time of Pearl Harbor, Britain would have been drawn into war with the US.

Russia and Britain were hostile competitors in the Great Game in Central Asia and in Tibet. The Russo-Japanese War marked the first time in modern history that a major European power was defeated by an Asian nation whose navy was trained by Britain and whose army by Germany. The Russo-Japanese War greatly damaged the prestige of the Russian imperial house and set the stage for the Russian Revolution.

British Neutrality in Sino-Japanese War

Up till Japanese expansion into South East Asia, Britain tried to maintain cordial relations with Japan. It disallowed anti-Japanese agitation by Chinese nationalists in the British colony of Hong Kong where the British ruled with an iron fist adjacent to Japanese-occupied south China. It also forbade aid shipments funded by overseas Chinese to China through Hong Kong.  The European War did not change British policy on Japan hoping that Japan would invade the Soviet Union.

Without Pearl Harbor, there would have been no US intervention in Europe, then there would have been no landing in Normandy and no Western Front for Germany.  The USSR might not have been able to survive a two-front war with both Germany and Japan.  A Germany with a single-front Wehrmacht and a formidable Japanese army supplied from occupied China would be highly problematic for the USSR. If Germany had defeated the USSR, Britain will most likely capitulate and Germany would become the superpower of all Europe. In an ironic twist of events, the USSR, and world communism, was saved by a strategic error on the part of fascist Japan. Mao Zedong reportedly said to Japanese Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka in their first meeting in 1973 that if Japan had not invaded China and Southeast Asia, communism might not have prevailed in China.

The Cairo Declaration

The Cairo Declaration issued by China, the United States and Great Britain on December 1, 1943 stated: “It is the purpose of the three great Allies [USSR was not yet a war with Japan] that Japan shall be stripped of all the islands in the Pacific which she has seized or occupied since the beginning of the First World War in 1914, and that all the territories Japan has stolen from the Chinese, such as Manchuria, Formosa [Taiwan] and the Pescadores [Penghu], shall be restored to China.” The Potsdam Proclamation signed by China, the United States and Great Britain on 26 July 1945 (subsequently adhered to by the Soviet Union) reiterated: “The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out.”

On August 15 of the same year, Japan declared unconditional surrender. The instrument of Japan’s surrender stipulated that “Japan hereby accepts the provisions in the declaration issued by the heads of the Governments of the United States, China and Great Britain on July 26, 1945 at Potsdam, and subsequently adhered to by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.” Potsdam defined Allied occupation of the Japanese Empire as the USSR being responsible for North Korea, Sakhalin, and the Kuril Islands, while the US and the British Empire would have the responsibility for Japan, South Korea and Japan’s remaining possessions in Oceania. Only the lack of a Soviet Pacific Fleet prevented Soviet troops from landing in Japan to partition it into two states, a communist North and a capitalist South, as in the case of Germany, Korea and Vietnam.

After WWII, the Soviet Union refused to send a delegation to San Francisco to sign the peace treaty with Japan while the Korean conflict was still in progress. As a result, the USSR and Japan, the two nations that did not actually fight, remained in a state of war that began less than a month before WWII ended and without diplomatic relations until the USSR and Japan began working on a draft peace agreement and the restoration of diplomatic relations in spring of 1955, a full decade after the war. Bilateral relations were finally restored in the fall of 1956. However, a declaration was signed in lieu of the peace agreement. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev suggested that Japan shut down US military bases in exchange for the return of two of the South Kurile Islands. The US opposed the offer while Japan demanded the transfer of all four islands. The ownership of the islands is still in dispute, no maritime border has been set yet, and no peace agreement has been signed.

Japan’s Post-War Territorial Disputes with Korea and China

In violation of terms of the Cairo Declaration, Japan has introduced post-war territorial disputes also with Korea and China. With Korea the dispute is with regard to islets known in Japan as Takeshima which Koreans call Dokdo. Control over the islets means control over fishing grounds and possible undersea energy resources. With China the dispute concerns Okinotori, an uninhabited coral reef the size of a tennis court 2.9 inches above water at high tide 1,100 miles south of Tokyo described as a “bunch of rocks” by China whose interst in the area is based on its strategic position. US naval forces based on Guam need to pass through this area to approach Taiwan.

According to Article 121 of the United Nations Council on Law of the Sea (UNCLS), an island is a naturally formed area of land, surrounded by water, which is above water at high tide. Rocks that cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own shall have no exclusive economic zone or continental shelf. Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, known for his outspoken ultra-chauvinistic views, wants to increase economic activity on the rocky Okinotori islands. Japan in June 2005 installed radar, a heliport and an official address plaque, “1 Okinotori Island, Ogasawara Village, Tokyo.” China urges handling the relevant issues through friendly consultation.

The Cairo Decalration notwithstanding, Japan has also introduced post-war territorial disputes over a chain of islands in the East China Sea with important gas resources near key international shipping routes, known as Diaoyutai in China and Senkaku in Japan. Located about 250 miles west of Okinawa, Diaoyutai is claimed by both Beijing and Taipei as Chinese territory. The waters surrounding the islands are expected to be oil-rich.

Professor Kiyoshi Inoue of Kyoto University wrote in a published article in the February 1972 issue of Historical Research: “The islands which are being called the Senkaku Islands in Japan and to which the Japanese Government claims title have historically been definitely China's territory. As the victor in the 1894-95 war with Qing [dynasty] China, Japan seized these islands along with Taiwan and the Penghu Islands and incorporated them into Okinawa Prefecture as Japanese territory. The Cairo Declaration jointly issued by China, the United States and Britain during World War II stipulates the return to China by Japan of all the territory she had stolen from China during and after the Japan-Qing [dynasty] China war, including Taiwan and Manchuria. The Potsdam Proclamation issued by the allies stipulates that Japan must carry out the clauses of the Cairo Declaration. These islands have been automatically reverted to China as its territory just as Taiwan has been automatically returned to China from the time Japan unconditionally accepted the Cairo Declaration (December 1, 1943) and the Potsdam Declaration concerning Conquered Countries (August 2, 1945) and surrendered to the allies including China. It follows that these islands are territory of the People's Republic of China, the only internationally recognized authority over all of China. But in collusion with US imperialism, the reactionary rulers and militarist forces of Japan are making a clamor that the Senkaku Islands are Japanese territory in an attempt to drag the Japanese people into the militarist, anti-China whirlwind. This big whirlwind is sure to become fiercer after the return to Japan of the so-called "administrative right over Okinawa" by the U.S. armed forces on May 15 this year. We who are truly striving for the independence of the Japanese nation, Japan-China friendship and peace in Asia must smash in good time this big conspiracy of the US-Japanese reactionaries.”

Japan Most Obdurate on Korea Nonproliferation and Missile Tests

On the Korea nonproliferation issue, Japan has been the most obdurate participant of the 6-nation talks, demanding that all the North Korean nuclear reactors be shut down. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi threatened to boycott the 60th anniversary of the European victory in WWII held in Moscow to protest Russian stance on the still unsigned peace agreement. Koizumi’s militarist activities, symbolized by his visits to the Yasukini shrine where the most hideous WWII war criminals are revered as sacred heroes, and Japan’s vocal revisionism on the record of Japanese aggression and atrocities in Asia under Japanese occupation sparked public anger and resentment in China on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, and in Korea, both North and South, as well as all other Asian nations.  Japan also insists on a pre-emptive strike option on North Korean missile sites.

A new draft of the Japanese constitution provides for the formation of a full-fledged “Defense Army” of 60,000 strong, the number could be increased up to 375,000 in times of war repelling foreign aggression not just on Japanese soil but wherever Japanese interests claimed by Japan are located, with the authority to participate in collective defense alliance formalized. Active monitoring of China and North Korea is part of a new Japanese military doctrine. Under the new constitutional provisions, Japan can legally export missile components to the US, canceling the arms export ban effective in Japan since 1967. Japan’s electricity is largely produced by nuclear power, giving Japan the nuclear technologies to produce nuclear weapons on short notice.

Echoing Israel’s geopolitical game of securing US support by playing the role of counterbalance against communism during the Cold War and against Islamic terrorist threats after the Cold War, Japan aims to emerge as a regional military power in the name of counterbalancing a rising China in the region. It may well be another Japanese geopolitical miscalculation that will spark dire consequences.  From the point of view of China, Korea and other Asian nations, US presence in Asia is tolerated only on the condition of checking any revival of Japanese militarism.

US Forces around the World

The US has maintained the largest permanent force in peacetime beyond its home longer than any other empire in history. These troop arrangements are largely the result of post-WWII arrangements and Cold War exigencies. Fear of a massive land invasion of Western Europe from the former Soviet Union prompted the US to place large numbers of ground forces there to defend it. US forces in Korea and Japan have been in place for a rapid response to a North Korean or Chinese threat for the past 50 years. The current Iraq occupation takes about 130,000 troops, plus another 130,000 in the Persian Gulf.

The Nixon Doctrine stated that Asian nations should strengthen their own defense capabilities and not depend on the US for their security. After Vietnam, the Nixon Doctrine reflected a desire to reduce US force commitments to Asia. Some 20,000 US troops of the 7th Division were withdrawn from Korea by March 1971 as part of a Nixon strategy of opening to China.

President Carter planned to reduce US troop levels in Korea, pledging  during his campaign that US forces in Korea would be completely withdrawn in stages over four to five years. Maj. Gen. John K. Singlaub, then Chief of Staff of the Eighth Army, protested to Congress against Carter’s withdrawal plan. The effort was eventually abandoned in 1979 after only 3,600 troops had been withdrawn.

The US Congress adopted the Nunn-Warner Amendment to the 1989 Defense Appropriation Bill, which mandated a reduction in US troop strength in Korea from 43,000 to 36,000 by the end of calendar year 1991. In early 1990 the first Bush Administration announced plans to cut 7,000 of the 42,500 US troops in Korea over two and a half years. At that time, the US had 11,600 Air Force personnel and 31,600 Army personnel in Korea.  As a result, the 2nd Infantry Division’s 3rd Brigade was withdrawn from Korea in 1992 and deactivated.

South Korea, having refused to sign the armistice agreement of the Korea War due to the personal intransigence of Syngman Rhee, is technically in a continuing state of civil war with North Korea. For security, Seoul forged a mutual defense pact with Washington to keep the 37,000 troops there, the largest US contingent in Asia after Japan, which has 45,000 troops in 39 bases. The defense treaty with South Korea has kept the US, by proxy, technically at war with North Korea for almost six decades, beyond the original US “police action” mandate.

The US-Japan Security Treaty was also signed during the Korean War in 1951, at the same time as the San Francisco Peace Treaty that formally ended the Allied occupation of Japan. The security treaty with Japan enabled US troops to remain in Japan and use Japanese facilities as staging areas and logistics bases in the war then being waged on the Korean Peninsula and later in the Vietnam War and other future wars in Asia.  The US-Japan Security Treaty is the technical reason why Japan is paranoid about North Korea nuclear proliferation. As a frontline offensive base for US forces, Japan is a legitimate target in a war in East Asia.

US military bases in Japan were seen as essential to containing communist expansion in Asia during the Cold War, especially since the Soviet Union, China and North Korea were mistakenly viewed by the US as a monolithic threat unaffected by geopolitical contradictions. Throughout the Cold War, the US deployed more than 500,000 troops outside its borders, not counting troops directly engaged in shooting wars, such as Korea and Vietnam. Even now, after the end of the Cold War, the US military "forward deploys" almost 450,000 troops in foreign bases, with large numbers in Europe (112,000), East Asia (82,000) and the Middle East (240,000).  The US failed to prevail in the two major wars the US fought in Asia since WWII in Korea and Vietnam. Instead, these two wars did enormous damage to US social cohesion, caused sharp curtailment in domestic liberty, degraded public trust in government and created cynicism on professed US national values.

US Forces Korea

The US currently has some 37,000 troops in US Forces Korea (USFK) based in South Korea under an agreement dating back to the Korean War 50 years ago. The US is planning a major realignment of its forces in East Asia but says it remains fully committed to the defense of South Korea. The withdrawal of 4,000 men would significantly weaken the strength of the Second Infantry Division - the main US fighting force in South Korea. The division currently has 14,000 soldiers stationed near the border with North Korea.

The US announced plans in May 2004 to shift 3,600 troops from South Korea to Iraq, the first time the United States had reduced its armed forces in South Korea since the end of the Cold War. On June 7, 2004 a US delegation, led by Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Lawless, met with South Korean officials and reportedly proposed withdrawing up to one-third of the 37,000 US troops in South Korea. The two-day talks also covered plans to move about 7,000 US troops from their bases near the border with North Korea to a new military camp well south of Seoul.

On October 6, 2004, the Department of Defense announced that after several months of close consultations, the US and the Republic of Korea had reached final agreement regarding the June 2004 US proposal to redeploy 12,500 US troops from Korea.

Prior to 2004, there were normally about 37,500 military personnel stationed in the USFK Area of Responsibility (AOR), including an air force of 225 planes. The number of troops deployed in the area does not normally fluctuate. With the 2nd Brigade Combat Team deployed to Iraq in August 2004, the total number of USFK troops declined by 5,000, to a total of 32,500 military personnel.

US Forces Japan

US Forces, Japan (USFJ) with its Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps elements, consists of approximately 47,000 military personnel, 52,000 dependents, 5,500 Department of Defense civilian employees and 23,500 Japanese workers. There are roughly 350 aircrafts from the Air Force, Navy and Marines located in the USFJ AOR. North Korea’s missile test launches come at a time when the number of US troops in South Korea and other nearby Asian nations is declining and the Pentagon has been focusing more on alleged potential threats from China which it aims to counter with the power projection capability of a beefed up 7th Fleet, as the US aims to avoid another land war with China.<>

As for US military strength in eastern Asia, the plan is to break down large Cold War-era bases around the world, bring tens of thousands of uniformed personnel back to the United States and move some troops closer to potential hot spots so they can more quickly respond to conflicts.

At the same time, saying it has an eye on surges in China’s defense spending, the Pentagon is strengthening its Asia-Pacific force.  US troop reduction in South Korea where it has had a military presence since the Korean War is part of a plan to rely on South Korea to assume more responsibility for its own security. Similar restructuring is being implemented in Japan where 40,000 US troops are still stationed including more than 15,000 Marines and more than 13,000 airmen. Japan also is home port for the Navy’s 7th Fleet. Unlike South Korea which has always been on a war footing, US force restructure in Japan involves US acceptance of a revival of Japanese militarism, with serious geopolitical consequences. While US troop reduction in South Korea faces a South Korean government that is increasingly friendly to both China and its Northern brother to seek avoiding military conflict, particularly on Korean soil, US troop reduction in Japan opens the Pandora’s Box of Japanese militarism revival with ambition to exploit regional instability to recover territories lost after WWII.

Japan Echoes Pentagon’s China Threat Theory

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Asu, who is a contender for premiership to replace Koizumi in September, has echoed the Pentagon’s “China threat” theory. The annual “Self-Defense White Paper” released by Japan cites China’s rising military strength for the main “reason” that Japan has increased its military spending at double digits rates for the past 17 consecutive years. The Japan-US “2+2” (US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld plus Japan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Nobutaka Machimura and Minister of State for Defense and Director-General of the Defense Agency Yoshinori Ohno) Joint Statement of February 19, 2005 confirms US-Japan cooperation on global security issues beyond Asia to include Afghanistan, Iraq and the broader Middle East. The two pair of ministers commit the two countries to promotion of nonproliferation, particularly through the Proliferation Security Initiative, a proactive global effort that aims to stop shipments of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), their delivery systems, and related materials worldwide first announced by President Bush on May 31, 2003. The Joint Statement confirms Japan’s acceptance of ballistic missile defense (BMD), Japan’s new National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG) emphasizing Japan’s capability to respond effectively to new threats and diverse contingencies, Japan’s active engagement to improve the international security environment, and the importance of the Japan-US Alliance.

As a central component of its broad defense transformation effort, the US is in the process of reorienting and strengthening its global defense posture to provide it with appropriate, strategy-driven capabilities in an uncertain security environment. The Joint Statement confirms the need to continue examining the roles, missions, and capabilities of Japan’s Self Defense Forces and the US Armed Forces required for responding effectively to diverse challenges in a well-coordinated manner. This examination will take into account recent achievements and developments such as Japan's NDPG and new legislation to deal with contingencies, as well as the expanded agreement on mutual logistical support and progress in BMD cooperation. The “2+2 Ministers” of the two countries also emphasized the importance of enhancing interoperability between US and Japanese forces.

The Joint Statement also declares a common strategic goal to push China towards increased transparency in military spending. Yet Japan’s own official defense spending data is purposely opaque. It does not reflect defense contractor output values and capital investment. Despite the appearance of a market economy, the Japanese economic system is still very much a state enterprise that has been aptly described as Japan Inc.

In the past half century, China’s total GDP rose by 172 folds from a very low base and Japan’s by 80 folds from a relatively high base in nominal local currency terms. During the same period, China’s military spending increased by 32 folds and Japan’s by 47 folds. China’s population of 1.3 billion is ten times larger than Japan’s 127 million. In 2005, Japanese military expenditure was $44.3 billion or $350 per person while China’s was $81.5 billion or $63 per person. The increase in China’s military spending is 45% less than Japan’s notwithstanding China’s faster growth rate over Japan. China’s annual military spending rate in the two decades from 1985 to 2004 was 13.4%, and Japan’s yearly military spending increase for the two decades from 1961 and 1980 stood at 14%. This despite Japan’s security has been guaranteed by the US, thus relieving it from much military expenditure. The ratio of China’s military spending to its GDP has been falling to 4.3% in 2005. The ratio of military spending to the financial expenditure in China has fallen down from 34.2 percent in 1953 to 18 percent in 1973 and to 7.7 percent 2003. Japan sees the Taiwan Straits and East China Sea regions as area of possible conflict with China.

US-Japan security cooperation on regional arms build-ups, including theater missile defense systems for Japan and Taiwan means that the Taiwan issue is not one of a simple ‘renegade province’ in Chinese domestic politics, but a focal point around which Sino-Japanese and Sino-US antagonism and, ultimately, the entire region, could evolve.  For example, Australia which is increasingly aware of its future as being tied to peace and cooperation with her Asian neighbors is doing its level best to avoid being dragged by belligerent US policy into otherwise avoidable conflict with China. US-Japan alliance does not reinforce regional security and instead risks creating unnecessary global instability.

As part of a worldwide realignment of US forces, the Pentagon is drawing down troops at some decades-old installations in Asia, and the region’s allies are taking more responsibility for their own defense. This has been accompanied by burgeoning U.S. naval strength in the Pacific. Pentagon figures show just under 30,000 US troops in South Korea, compared with 37,000 two years ago, with some troops being deployed instead to Iraq. In its biggest reorganization in two decades, the US plans to bring down the number further to some 25,000 by 2008 and to compensate by building up the power projection capability of the Pacific Fleet. This is why North Korea says its missile program is for self-defense against US threat from the sea.

On September 17, 2002 Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited Pyongyang in North Korea and held talks with General Secretary Kim Jong Il.  After the meeting, Koizumi told the press unilaterally: “We confirmed that we would resolve the missile issue through dialogue and Chairman Kim Jong-Il stated that he would freeze all missile launchings without any time limit.”  There was no mention of the conditions behind the alleged understanding or even misunderstanding.  Since it was not a joint press conference, what Koizumi said was merely his understanding which may not be Kim Jong Il’s understanding.

Under Koizumi, Japan, with US backing, has adopted a far more aggressively militant role in the region and deliberately stirred up antagonism towards China and North Korea as a means for reviving Japanese militarism. He was rewarded with a presidential tour of Graceland, home of the late Elvis Presley. The North Korea missile crisis is a useful pretext for furthering this agenda. Japan is already involved in the joint development of an anti-ballistic missile system with the US. The US has indicated that it plans to speed up the deployment of advanced Patriot interceptor missiles on US bases in Japan for the first time.

US Promotes Trilateral Military Cooperation against China

Admiral William “Fox” Fallon, head of US Pacific Command, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee in March 2006 that US “trilateral military cooperation” with Japan and South Korea aims to deal not only with North Korea but also with China and terrorist threats in Asia. Yet South Korea is only a reluctant ally in this “cooperation.” Fallon indicated the US forces want the three countries to jointly “deal with China’s increasing military power, North Korea’s possible collapse and reunification of the two Koreas, unconventional regional threats, including terrorism risks in Southeast Asia, and other regional matters.”

But the trilateral process as well as bilateral defense talks between Japan and South Korea has stalled due to lingering territorial dispute and historical antagonism between Tokyo and Seoul stemming from Japan’s 1910-45 colonial occupation of the Korean Peninsula and to the recent revival of Japanese militarism. Washington aims to keep Japan and South Korea as allies against China and North Korea, especially hoping to prevent Seoul from leaning toward Beijing out of similarity in disputes with Japan. Yet Seoul’s approach to Korea unification conflicts with US policy on North Korea. South Korea is not at all keen on preemptive strikes on North Korea and view nuclear capability for a united Korea not necessarily an undesirable development.  The natural economic and cultural ties between Korea and China are undeniable.  Anti-China hysteria is increasingly not shared outside of the US. Beyond anti-communism fixation, there is little that the US can argue to convince South Koreans from reuniting with their brothers in the north or to form closer ties with China.

Fallon’s congressional testimony came after the US Defense Department issued its 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review in February, singling out China as having the “greatest” potential to militarily compete with the US among emerging and major powers. In the QDR, which set the defense strategy and military posture for the next 20 years, the Pentagon called for a “greater” military presence in the Pacific Ocean and vowed to boost military integration with allies to deter against hostility from emerging and major powers. Japan and the US agreed in October 2005 to step up integration and joint operations between the Japanese Self-Defense Forces and US forces as part of their broad accord on realigning the US military presence in Japan.  Yet, beside Japan and Britain, US unilateralism has dampened the enthusiasm of Cold War allies of the US to support US policies of global transformation.

Fallon praised Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro as having demonstrated “exceptional leadership” in guiding the Self-Defense Force (SDF) through “significant change,” such as sending ground troops to Iraq and refueling vessels to the Indian Ocean to help the US-led anti-terrorism operations in Afghanistan. “These actions clearly show the willingness and capability of the government of Japan to deploy the SDF regionally and globally in support of security and humanitarian operations,” Fallon said.  Such actions are viewed in most of Asia as signs of emerging Japanese belligerence. The only thing that remains unchanged about Japan’s force structure is the name of Self Defense Force.  Such “exceptional leadership” is viewed as dangerous adventurism by many in Asia.

Seoul and Washington agreed in early 2006 on “strategic flexibility” of US armed forces in South Korea, paving the way for US forces there to engage in missions outside the Korean Peninsula. But the accord led to controversy in South Korea as it may lead the nation to get involved in regional conflicts that the US could be engaged in, including a possible conflict with China over Taiwan. Fallon said, “We welcome [South] Korea’s adoption of a more regional view of security and stability… in light of the changing security environment, including unconventional threats, China’s military modernization and the potential for reconciliation between the Koreas.”  Seoul is less sanguine about the congruence of US and Korean geopolitical interests.

Such is the geopolitical dynamics surrounding the Korea Nonproliferation and Missile Test issue. All the noise out of Washington about “axis of evil” and “defense of democracy” is just propaganda. It is as convincing to the people of Korea, Asia, South America and Africa as the Nazi’s noise about racial superiority and the right to living space for Aryan nations. Just as the Nazis allowed the Japanese to be “honorary Aryans” and South African Apartheid allowed them to be “honorary Whites”, the US now allows the Japanese to be “honorary democrats” despite Japan’s post-war one-party system token democracy. Democracy has permitted some governments of otherwise peaceful people to be seized by extremists and militarists who use war on evil as pretext to dominate the world.

On what basis does the US asserts the sacred privilege to declare nations which hold values divergent from those held by the US as evil and not deserving of self defense and survival? There are those in the US foreign policy and security establishment who view US involvement in any military conflict in Asia, particularly with China, as unnecessarily counterproductive and a serious misstep for US geopolitical interests as the Third Reich’s invasion of the USSR was for Germany geopolitical interests. But such rational voices are muffled in the Neo-con controlled militarist Bush administration.

Next: Korean Nationalist Kim Il Sung and China