Sunday, August 12, 2007

Paradigm shift in the offing?

With political Japan in vacation mode, the decision by the DPJ leadership to oppose extension of the anti-terrorism special measures law continues to cast a shadow over the alliance. Defense Minister Koike's visit to Washington seems to have done little to ease American fears — her speech at CSIS, available online here, seems to contain little more than the usual bromides about US-Japan defense cooperation.

The Abe cabinet's reply to the DPJ maneuver illustrates perhaps the single most important problem in the US-Japan security relationship: there is an utter lack of vision of what the alliance ought to become and what role Japan ought to play in the relationship. For all the intensification of defense cooperation under Koizumi and Abe, it has been remarkably aimless. Defense cooperation to what end? Neither the LDP nor the DPJ (nor the US, for that matter) has a clear vision for Japan's security role, once again undermining the idea that Japan is on a linear track to becoming a more significant security provider.

Take Mr. Ozawa's emphasis on UN approval as a prerequisite for Japanese participation in international coalitions, even in the event of a crisis on the Korean peninsula for example. Some maintain, as noted by Matt Dioguardi, that Ozawa's position on this is consistent. In a broad sense, this is true: Ozawa did emphasize the UN. But it was not necessarily in contradistinction to the US-Japan alliance. This is my summary of Ozawa's position in my master's thesis, based on his Blueprint for a New Japan and the work of the LDP's Ozawa Committee (my apologies for being self-referential):
The basis of Ozawa's 'Japan as a normal nation' position was that Japan could no longer be a 'conscientious objector' in international affairs; the tremendous stake it acquired in international peace and stability as it became an economic power meant that Japan also acquired responsibilities in maintaining peace and stability. Accordingly, preserving international peace and stability had little to do with remilitarizing so as to become a more independent player in the East Asian balance of power or a co-sheriff with the US. The alliance with the US is essential as a framework for cushioning Japan’s return to normalcy, but the focus of Japanese activities should be the UN. He called for the JSDF to be recalibrated for 'peace-building', which meant that it should become a more flexible, technology and knowledge intensive force that can contribute extensively to UN peacekeeping operations (PKO) and other UN-sanctioned missions. He did support a stronger US-Japan alliance, which endeared him to Americans, but as only one part of a Japanese foreign diplomacy that emphasized the UN and cooperation within East Asia.
Is Mr. Ozawa's rejection of the anti-terrorism special measures law consistent with this position? I would argue that the DPJ's position sounds suspiciously like the "conscientious objections" that Mr. Ozawa rejected in the early 1990s. Again, Afghanistan and Iraq are missions of a different color, the latter being a US war with a thin veil of multinational cooperation, the former being a broadly legitimate, multinational project to prevent Afghanistan from reverting to Taliban control and/or general lawlessness and state failure. To reject the Afghanistan mission because it was initially the product of a US war of self-defense is to split hairs for no purpose other than to cock a snook at the US.

In any case, the emphasis on the UN is not a vision for Japanese grand strategy but the absence of one. And given Ozawa's insistence not only on UN approval, but on the mission's being initiated by the UN (as opposed to being initiated by the US, apparently), his formula guarantees Japanese inactivity, at least in all but the most clear-cut cases. It also, in the case of a serious East Asian crisis, gives China (and Russia) veto power over Japan participating in a multinational coalition. Where is the discussion of Japan's national interests? Where is the discussion of what Japan's responsibilities are as a great power? No, defenders of Mr. Ozawa's position are wrong to attribute higher principle to his opposition — other than the principle of a Japan less dependent on the US, as noted by Richard Tanter in this article at Japan Focus.

The government, however, is not blameless. As Nagashima Akihisa, one of the members of Maehara's group, observes at his blog, the DPJ's problem with the Afghanistan mission in the past has been the government's insufficient explanation of what the mission has achieved before calling for votes on previous extension bills. He says that it's "baffling" that the government has not called more attention to the Afghanistan mission's multinational character. And he's right. Defense Minister Koike's rushing to Washington on short notice sends the wrong message to the Japanese people and effectively makes it easier for Mr. Ozawa to present the DPJ's position as a matter of standing up to the US in defense of Japanese interests instead of Japan's shirking its global responsibilities. The Koizumi-Abe line — the road to a "normal" Japan leads through closer alliance cooperation — is as devoid of vision as Mr. Ozawa's emphasis on UN approval. It has resulted in Tokyo's parroting of the Bush administration's rhetoric and photo-op stunts like Prime Minister Abe's visit to the troops in Kuwait in May, which in turn have cleared a path for a popular reaction to closer cooperation with the US rooted in fear of entrapment in American wars.

In short, neither the LDP's nor the DPJ's positions looks at Japanese grand strategy in terms of interests and responsibilities (the ends) and then considers how different means (the US-Japan alliance, the UN, regional fora) help Japan secure those ends. What we have instead is posturing, leaving Japan no closer to a new grand strategy that will enable Japan to defend itself and contribute to regional and global order. So Americans should not overreact to the DPJ's opposition to the Afghanistan mission, and, at the same time, they should be less content with the leadership of Koizumi and Abe, who for all the symbolic measures taken in the past six years, have yet to articulate a clear vision of where Japan and the alliance should be going.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is in some respects a curious analysis you have cast with respect to Ozawa's position on the direction the DPJ will support on foreign policy. Let me back off a little. Your explanation does clarify Ozawa's thinking on this important matter. My impression was that he was a hawk when it came to defense matters having warned the Chinese at one point that Japan could quickly ramp up into a nuclear power in short order. So his strong support for UN PKO as an important part of Japanese engagement in the world is a welcome position from my point of view. Why does this not express a statement of Japanese national interests? As you know, the Bush administration and for that matter the Republican party has taken a strong anti-UN bias, contending that the UN is divided, ineffectual, and hence a barrier to the US national interests. This has come about rather recently (since the neo-conservative dominance) in US history. It is an expression of the unilateralist foreign policy of the Bush II administration. The Democrats have already made clear (John Kerry for example) that they will seek a more multilateralist and accomodative (to the UN) foreign policy. Since there is a strong possibility that the Democrats will capture the White House in 2008, Ozawa's and the DPJ's expression of the UN centric position will not seem so unrealistic as you imply in your analysis in 2009.

Anonymous said...

This is an addendum to my previous comment. For a long time after the Iraq invasion had morphed into a protracted and unsuccessful occupation and pacification of the Iraqi militia forces, the US and Britain have largely ignored the UN or another international fora to try to end the increasingly bloody civil war in that country. This changed in the past week, as the US turned to the UN for help with a Security Council resolution to convene an international effort to stop the bloody fighting in Iraq. The emphasis I want to make here is that by this action, Bush (and Brown) have conceded that they are no longer able to cope with the situation in Iraq and must (belatedly) turn to the UN for help. Thus it is clear that Ozawa may be right in the end to promise to bias Japanese foreign policy in the future to a greater committment to multilateral organizations including the UN for the settlement of international disputes.

Bryce said...

That Ozawa comment about "ramping up nukes" was hardly an indication of Ozawa's hawkishness. It's pretty clear that his statement was intended as a warning about elements in Japanese society who could push for nuclear rearmament were China to take a more aggressive stance towards Japan - a scenario that Ozawa hoped to avoid. Fukuda Yasuo has been endlessly misinterpreted for making similar statements. It reflects more a way in which some people - notably in publications like the Council for Foreign Relations - want to see "Japan" rather than the actual intentions of Ozawa or Fukuda.

I think the analysis in this post about Ozawa's position is pretty much spot on.

Bryce said...

Sorry, please change "publications" to "organisations". The publication was, of course, "Foreign Affairs."

Anonymous said...

Bryce, thank you for the clarification and the mischaracterization of Ozawa's position by US media and other publications.

Matt Dioguardi said...

"Where is the discussion of Japan's national interests? Where is the discussion of what Japan's responsibilities are as a great power?"

This sounds to me very much like the neoconservative view.

1. Blood for oil for freedom. That is without energy, America nor the free world can sustain itself (so the argument goes). So unless the middle-east can be made safe for democracy, we won't be able to insure the oil supply or our way of life. So the middle-east must be made safe for democracy. This is the neo-conservative view. It's popular with people like Hillary Clinton as well.

2. The idea that some nations are great and others no so great (well in terms of power), and therefore should exercise influence in the world is also a big part of neoconservatism. What good is a powerful army unless you use it, eh?

Japan observer is almost surely a neoconserative. Did he support the invasion of Iraqi? Almost surely. Does he support preemptive war? Probably.

Abe is a neoconservatist. When Bush says "jump", Abe asks "how high?"

Bush's popularity is at a low point. It's hard to imagine the democrats not taking the presidency next time around. Whether its Clinton or Obama or Gore or Edwards, they will almost surely stress using coercion only through UN auspices.

If Ozawa has traditionally sided with the UN, then this would certainly seem a good time to continue in that direction.

Japan Observer said...

Actually Matt, it's called realism and it's been around for centuries before Michael Harrington decided to slander some apostate socialists with the sobriquet "neo-conservative."

In fact, I have grave doubts about the Koizumi/Abe line, which has cynically latched on to the rhetoric emanating from Washington. Japan has never been one to root its foreign policy in universal values, and I don't think it's about to start now.

Two, I agree with the DPJ position on Iraq. I think the JSDF should pull out, the sooner the better, and the same goes for the US.

Three, it would be good if you actually stuck to the facts. What does the reconstruction of Afghanistan — broadly and repeatedly legitimated by the UN and scores of other countries — have to do with "blood for oil for freedom?" Would you prefer that the world turned its back on Afghanistan and leave it to return to the dark ages?

Four, don't tell me that "The idea that some nations are great and others no so great (well in terms of power), and therefore should exercise influence in the world is also a big part of neoconservatism." Perhaps you've heard of someone called Thucydides and a little piece of writing called to Melian Dialogue? Trust me, Thucydides wasn't a neoconservative.

Five, remind me. Was Bill Clinton, who waged war in Kosovo with not a shread of support from the UN, a Democrat? Reality is a little more complicated, and while Democrats tend to prefer multilateral options and criticize the preemptive war doctrine, the idea that a Democratic president will not act without the UN behind him (or her) is fatuous.

That's my problem with Ozawa's latest position. It's not that he thinks Japan should respect the judgment of the UN, it's that he seems to think that Japan should defer to the judgment of the UN in lieu of exercising its own judgment. I happen to think it's a bad thing that Japan has moved as close to the US under Koizumi and Abe as it has. Or have you missed the bits where I've criticized them for doing that?

Japan needs to learn (or re-learn) how to think about its security for itself — and thus, like I said, "Where is the discussion of Japan's national interests? Where is the discussion of what Japan's responsibilities are as a great power?" Japan may well find that being so close to the US is not in its interests, and that there may be better ways for Japan to secure its interests. I didn't delve into what I think Japan's interests are, although I may well do so in the future.

In any case, before you come to my blog and tell me what I believe, you should probably have some idea of what you're talking about.

Bryce said...

JO

I don't really want to come on to your blog and denigrate a worldview that you obviously cherish, but...

You are not a neo-conservative, you are a realist, just like Thyucidides, right?

As someone who speaks Japanese, knows quite a bit about the inner workings of the Japanese political system and can offer some really fresh insights into what is going on, I find it odd that you would stick to decaying theoretical framework that treats states as if their intentions were constant and as if political culture and internal political organisation should have no bearing on the interpretation of foreign policy outcomes.

I'm also somewhat amazed that you have no problem with realists reclaiming the Greeks as their own (not to mention good old Machiavelli, a liberal if ever there was one). The Melian dialogue is a snippet from Thucydides account of the Pelopennesian wars, and yet is constantly taken as representative of Thyucydides "realist" views. Yet the guy was a historian. You can interpret (and some have) his account in a number of ways to fit any of the broader theories of international relations, just as you can use the Concert of Europe to show that 19th century European multipolarity was not a 'natural' realist state of affairs; in terms of the power ratios at the time it should have been a bipolar or unipolar system - realists can't explain why it wasn't.

And in any case, "Thyucidides, etc. were realists and therefore its a sensible theory" is not a very strong argument. Indeed, it is an appeal to authority, which, last time I checked, was a formal logical fallacy.

And of course, because realists don't care about falsification a la Karl Popper, yet claim their theory to be predictive, they can use it to rationalise any historical event or "predict" any possible future action, no matter how contradictory two of those predictions may be. Japan didn't rearm after World War Two? Oh, Japan enhanced its financial POWER and relied on the Americans for military might. Suckers! Japan did rearm after World War Two? Oh, it was balancing China (unless it was balancing the U.S. or Australia, or New Zealand, or whatever.) Japan adopts missile defense? It is balancing North Korea and China. Japan rejects missile defense? It is "soft balancing" against the U.S. or avoiding an arms race with China that will put it in a strategically worse position. You see what I mean, right? You can prove anything.

And it doesn't stop there. One of the reasons the words of many of the "greats" have been absorbed into the realist pantheon by feebler minds is that realism doesn't stand a chance working from its own principles. This was recently demonstrated in a book on Japan's "realist" foreign policy by Kenneth Pyle, who resorted to quoting Alexander Wendt to explain central parts of his "realist".

Wendt is the world's most prominent constructivist.

I wonder he Wendt felt about being absorbed by a theory that can't be falsified (and therefore is not a theory). I wonder if its similar to how Thyucidides' ghost feels.

My advice: As a bunch of hokey anecdotes about power told in the 1960s, realism is kind of fun in the same way that the original "Star Trek" offered us a series of morality plays loosely based on our own history. As a fully-fledged testible theory - the one that Waltz and others have tried to come up with since 1979 - realism is dead. Start looking for something else.

You're right though, liberalism isn't the answer.

Speaking of which, Matt, where is your blog? It seems to have shut down.

Japan Observer said...

Bryce,

Thank you for your articulate and thoughtful comment.

I wasn't necessarily asserting that I'm a realist, just that the idea that there are differences in the power of states and that strong states can and will act differently than weak states is an idea that's been around for far longer than neoconservatism. (Also, although I hesitate to delve into a theological debate about neoconservatism and its varieties, it is irresponsible to dismiss the idealism of neoconservatives, which of course led many realists to reject the Iraq war absolutely.)

In any event, I don't particularly like being pigeonholed, so I try to avoid embracing any theoretical or ideological position unquestioningly. Realism has some value, but its shortcomings in explaining why states do what they do are substantial. If anything, one of the interesting things I find about Japan is how unusual its behavior in the latter half of the twentieth century has been, and how much its realism has depended on good leadership, which of course does not fit orthodox realism at all.

As for Pyle, I'm in the process of reviewing his book, and the problem you identify is exactly my problem. He borrows whatever theory is convenient for the case he's studying, which might make for good history, but yes, completely non-falsifiable as far as international relations theory is concerned.

All of this is a long way of saying that I agree with you entirely.

Bryce said...

Cheers,

I like it when people agree with me.

Will you be posting the review on your blog or elsewhere? I'd like to give it a look. The worst thing about it was its title. "Japan Rising" to me indicates something that was written to explain recent events (hence the gerund) but Pyle's book is a history of Japanese foreign policy. For that MacCormack's "Client State" was way cooler, though I imagine it wouldn't be your cup of tea.

I also didn't really like the way Pyle almost completely ignored the far right and the left in debates about Japan's postwar stance, prefering to portray Yoshida and co. as purposefully steering down the "chonin kokka" "realist" course as if their actions weren't hemmed in by the actions of others. And that nonsense about Japan being the manipulative trader in the 1980s to the disadvantage of the U.S. should be old hat by now.

Japan Observer said...

September issue of the Far Eastern Economic Review.

And I noticed the same: even if Yoshida and his pragmatic conservative forebears managed to get their way, the interesting question is how they did that despite having to contend with the idealists. I'm in the process of putting together a research project on the legacy of the 1960 treaty crisis, which was unique in that it pitted left-wing idealists versus a right-wing idealist, with the pragmatists forced to undercut Kishi from behind the scenes. (I know some consider Kishi a pragmatic conservative, but on defense matters I would argue that he was an ideologue through and through.)

Matt Dioguardi said...

Japan observer,

Thank you for some mostly straight shooting and clear positions here. This is extremely useful in terms of understanding where you are coming from.


Actually Matt, it's called realism and it's been around for centuries before Michael Harrington decided to slander some apostate socialists with the sobriquet "neo-conservative."


I disagree that realism can be conflated with neoconservatism. I have sympathies with the realist position.

I would accept the following definition of neoconservatism, "a conservative who advocates the assertive promotion of democracy and United States national interest in international affairs including through military means." I doubt this was the original way the word was used, but for better or worse that is the way it is used now.

Of course, I would place the emphasis in the above definition on national interest.

Realists are not nearly as assertive in the use of power abroad, but generally try to take a more strategic viewpoint. I would not advocate realism, but can certainly appreciate it far more than I can neoconservatism.


... Two, I agree with the DPJ position on Iraq. I think the JSDF should pull out, the sooner the better, and the same goes for the US.


Me too.


Three, it would be good if you actually stuck to the facts. What does the reconstruction of Afghanistan — broadly and repeatedly legitimated by the UN and scores of other countries — have to do with "blood for oil for freedom?"


I am only making guesses, same as you. However, Abe's near unequivocal support for Bush and company is troubling. American policy makers are certainly considering taking actions against Iran in the future. Japan's Indian Ocean support here will have to figure into this in some way. If Japan is adamant about only helping America in Afghanistan so long as there is a clear and unequivocal UN mandate, that is a really good thing. It will certainly act as a palliative to whatever actions America considers taking in Iran.

Can you point to the clear and unequivocal UN mandate that allows the Indian Ocean operation. I can't. It's a world of gray and muddle as far as I can see it.

In my opinion Ozawa is mapping out a excellent course. He can now accomplish all of the following:

1. First and foremost, he can appease the left leaning elements of his own party.
2. He can show he is standing up to America.
3. He can differentiate himself from Abe.
4. Once a UN mandate has been defined, the policy really need not shift at all.
5. He can soften America's hardline stance against Iran.
6. He may even be able to force a political show down leading to a lower house election.

Of course, all of this is a gamble. But if any or most it plays out, it will make Ozawa appear brilliant. If it fails, he might look foolish. We'll see what happens.


Would you prefer that the world turned its back on Afghanistan and leave it to return to the dark ages?


I think this is hubris. I would even say it were silly if the situation were not so grave and tragic. I would be open to supporting *any* operation if it could be viewed as obtaining the target, Bin Laden.

I am not at all optimistic about nation building in Afghanistan and view it as a distraction. Also, clearly the goal is not charity as you imply, but only strategic self-interest.


Four, don't tell me that "The idea that some nations are great and others no so great (well in terms of power), and therefore should exercise influence in the world is also a big part of neoconservatism." Perhaps you've heard of someone called Thucydides and a little piece of writing called to Melian Dialogue? Trust me, Thucydides wasn't a neoconservative.


Evangelicals supported the invasion of Iraq, but I would NOT classify most of them as neo-conservatives either. Certainly many of Plato's ideas would coincide with neoconservatism and fascism. So? Are you saying my statements were unfair because I should have said you seem like a Platonist? Okay, so my suggestion was a bit unfair. Maybe. I can't get worked up over it. I was trying to feel you out and get you to stake out a clearer position.

So long as someone is not all out cursing me down, I am generally grateful for any comments I get at Liberal Japan.


Five, remind me. Was Bill Clinton, who waged war in Kosovo with not a shread of support from the UN, a Democrat? Reality is a little more complicated, and while Democrats tend to prefer multilateral options and criticize the preemptive war doctrine, the idea that a Democratic president will not act without the UN behind him (or her) is fatuous.


I support Christian just war theory. Not because it's a Christian theory, but because I think it's appropriate. I'm still confused as to whether or not you support preemptive war or not. I emphatically do not.

It does seem to me that neo-conservatives are not alone in their responsibility for America's current defective policy. You seem to be setting up many straw men for me to fight off, but I can't express much interest in this.

Clinton's policy was certainly flawed, but I would not necessarily say it was flawed in the same way the policy neoconservatives advocate is.


That's my problem with Ozawa's latest position. It's not that he thinks Japan should respect the judgment of the UN, it's that he seems to think that Japan should defer to the judgment of the UN in lieu of exercising its own judgment.


I am guessing that you are underestimating Ozawa.


I happen to think it's a bad thing that Japan has moved as close to the US under Koizumi and Abe as it has. Or have you missed the bits where I've criticized them for doing that?


I started following your blog earlier this year. I try to at a minimum skim new posts, it's quite possible I may have missed something. I look at the whole process of blogging as a learning process. If I advocate anything it's fallibilism.


Japan needs to learn (or re-learn) how to think about its security for itself — and thus, like I said, "Where is the discussion of Japan's national interests? Where is the discussion of what Japan's responsibilities are as a great power?"


We're clearly discussing foreign policy, right? So your talking about national interests abroad, right? Like in the middle-east, right? Then, you follow this up with a question about Japan as a great power.

So what you are really asking is how Japan should exercise its power in the middle-east to forward its own interests? Is that not the case?

Well, I would answer the question this way. Japan should NOT use its power to forward its interests in the middle-east. To me power equals coercion. Laugh if you want if my naiveté, but I think Japan should pursue win-win relationships.


Japan may well find that being so close to the US is not in its interests, and that there may be better ways for Japan to secure its interests. I didn't delve into what I think Japan's interests are, although I may well do so in the future.


Well, we already know that Japan gave up a lucrative deal in Iran for promises from the Bush administration about lucrative deals in Iraq. We could kind of say that Japan gave up one in the hand for two in the Bush. Excuse the pun.


In any case, before you come to my blog and tell me what I believe, you should probably have some idea of what you're talking about.


It was not my intention to strike a sore point. Okay, maybe it was, but you kind of set up an easy target. And clearly you reacted.

Let me try to speak plainly here.

I am an American national, but have lived in Japan for 13 and a half years. I have family and roots in both countries. I care deeply about what happens in both America and Japan. I don't think hostilities in Iran are good for either Japan or America. I was excited about Ozawa's move because I looked at this as something positive.

As far as the Iraqi war, prior to the war, I was generally silent on this issue. I hoped things would come out the way they planned them, but I couldn't personally support the war, because it didn't pass the most important litmus test I could give it. I wouldn't have been willing to sacrifice my own life to topple Saddam Hussein, so how could I ask anyone else to.

In the end though, watching what has happened and seeing how some libertarian critiques of the planned attack were spot on, I've become really impressed with at least some on the anti-war right. I've now taken it upon myself to begin studying their position carefully.

Go back and read some of the speeches Ron Paul gave to the American congress prior to the Iraqi attack. Point by point he was right. He said, there will be no weapons of mass destruction. Check. He said, the war will become prolonged. Check. He said it will allow al Qaeda to grow. Check. Amazingly, he said, the democrats will go antiwar but not act decisively to end the war. Check. He stated all of these positions prior to the attack and more.

I remember moderating debates in the Yahoo critical rationalist forum between an Hayekian libertarian and a fairly solid conservative, who had mastered all the standard party lines about WMD and so on. I am simply amazed when I go back and review that debate and see how incredibly correct many on the anti-war right were. It was so scary to take up their position, because, my God, what if they were wrong. What if there were WMD and so on and so forth ... what if those terrorists did get a hold of a nuclear weapon.

Well, let me tell you, Tobias, I don't know about you, but I'm through being scared.

As far as I can tell, Hillary Clinton is still rattling her saber, and Obama is on again off again rattling his as he tries to decide which position is most suitable. As much as I dislike Gore, I think he might be the only candidate with a realistic chance of winning that I could almost bear. Most other front runners deeply trouble me.

The vast majority of Japanese by character are mostly anti-war these days. So I hope that Ozawa's position, for whatever self-serving reasons he is taking it, will in the end help reflect the character of most people in Japan because Abe's sure the heck doesn't.

Matt Dioguardi said...

Bryce,

Thank you for bringing Karl Popper into the discussion. He is a favorite of mine.

I currently moderate the critical rationalism Yahoo group forum. If you ever have a chance to drop by, please do so. Everyone is welcome whatever their affiliation.

My blog is having server problems. It'll be back up eventually.

Bryce said...

I don't think there is much debate about Kishi's stance - at least in the English speaking world. In Japan I have seen a few political hacks of the right idealist persuasion try and reinvent Kishi as some sort of hero of Asian diplomacy. While it is true that he did travel to a hell of a lot of Asia-Pacific nations in his bid to sell the treaty revision (and to lay the groundwork for his larger objective: changing the constitution), he really only found himself visiting those governments who were already either supportive or ambivalent about treaty revision. As far as I know, the only trip on his itenerary where there was much trouble was Australia, and the fact that he "wasn't allowed" to go to China, much less the Soviet Union or North Korea meant that there wasn't much real diplomacy going on.

But, yeah, 1960 is absolutely critical to understanding everything that has come after.

By the way, did you know about the deal between Kishi and the moderates over acceptance of the treaty. It was that that led to Ikeda's instatement and the subsequent dominance of the chonin kokka bunch thereafter. This is really where the centre started playing the left and right off each other, a process whose beginnings Pyle misattributes to Yoshida.

BTW, any reason for the comment moderation. It sucks.

Anonymous said...

I want to clarify that I have not and am not accusing anyone commenting on this blog of being a neoconservative. My impression is that except for the few public intellectuals who have signed on to the PNAC declarations and some of their powerful friends like Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush, Rice, etc the "pure" neoconservatives are remarkably small in numbers. Though I classify myself as a liberal Democrat, the events of the past few years has been such a shock that I am opposed to liberal internationalism sometimes known as Wilsonianism. I even opposed the Kosovo war though I recognized the UN was being humiliated by the actions of Serbian nationalists in Bosnia. So unlike David Rieff, who recently renounced liberal humanitarian interventionism because of Bush's (and Blair's) uses and abuses of that doctrine in Iraq, I actually did not have to explicitly renounce liberal internationalism using military invasiona and occupation. By the way, I am also reading Kenneth Pyle's book (Japan Rising) and find it interesting so far without any substantive difficulties. I welcome and appreciate anyone's views on this.

Bryce said...

Anon, I shall reiterate my two major bugbears with Pyle's book.

1.) As I noted before, Pyle quoting Alexander Wendt (a constructivist) to prove that Japan conforms to realist theories of international relations is kind of like Pat Robertson noting Ghandi's non-violent approach to resistance as proof that India is a Christian nation. Yet Pyle consistently cuts and pastes from a variety of international relations theories and calls his approach realism. Either realism here is so broadly defined so as to subsume everything that has ever been said about anything, thus rendering it useless as a theory; or Pyle has to admit that realism simply doesn't work without coming up with ad hoc additions to the theory. If that's the case, why not just use a different theory that's more consistent with the facts.

Part of the problem is that Pyle doesn't clearly define what he perceives realism to be. It seems that for him, realism is just the theory that is being used whenever power is discussed. This may have been the way realism was viewed 40 years ago, but since then the field of international relations has become somewhat more sophisticated and realists no longer claim a monopoly on discussions of power, a fact of which Pyle seems blissfully unaware when he talks about Japan adjusting its internal politics to fit into changing world orders, yet attempting to do so by defining the nation's new stance as part of an unbroken tradition. I'm not necessarily disagreeing that Pyle is wrong here, it's just that realism has little to say about the process by which states adhere to the norms of the day. This just sounds like a constructivist argument to me. Why call it realism?

2.) When realism does come into play, it blinkers Pyle into believing that a lot of the choices were made by the government of Japan as a rational actor free from domestic constraints. For example in the 1950s it was the left's rejection of the alliance with America and the right's rejection of the constitution, coupled with a general public distaste for the impositions caused by U.S. bases that forced the centre to adopt a position of compromise. Yet Pyle would have us believe that the government's position was all orchestrated by Yoshida. He does briefly mention the wider context, but only in passing, prefering to focus on "clever little" Yoshida. It doesn't really tell us much about the real debate on defense issues during that time.

3.) The title sucks.