An interesting article in the New York Times:
…From a militarist empire whose armies tore across Asia in the first half of the 20th century, Japan, seared by the most horrific consequence of war, embraced democracy and nonbelligerence seemingly overnight. It has not sent a soldier into combat since 1945, a record of pacifism that exceeds even that of its onetime ally Germany.
Yet as President Obama travels to Hiroshima on Friday, bringing renewed attention to the city and its legacy, many worry that the ideals Hiroshima has represented for so long are fading in Japan. The deep aversion to military entanglements is being challenged as never before by an ambitious conservative movement led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe…
The article is essentially a long lament over the end of pacifism in Japan. Of course, anyone who bothered to read Bergamini’s Japan’s Imperial Conspiracy knew this was coming, eventually – but it is coming sooner than I expected. What is missing from the article – and Progressive understanding – is that America’s withdrawal from world dominance is forcing Japan’s hand.
You can be pacifist – and devote only a tiny portion of your national wealth to defense matters – when you have an overwhelmingly powerful ally absolutely committed to your defense at the drop of a hat. If that is lacking, then your only recourse is that tired, worn-out (but absolutely true, nonetheless) maxim of “peace through strength”. If Japan wants to merely defend itself, it must build a military force powerful enough to give China and Russia (and North Korea) pause. This isn’t about Japan suddenly desiring to have a second go at creating the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, but just holding on to what Japan has…and that means, primarily, making sure the sea lanes by which Japan lives are kept open. Since 1945, it has been the US Navy which has guaranteed this – now, with the US Navy getting smaller and Obama showing the world that any attack will be met with a cowardly back down on the part of the United States, Japan has to look after it’s own interests.
And it isn’t just Japan building up. South Korea is also making a blue water Navy. Australia, Singapore, Philippines are all making significant investments in naval power – especially the power to move ground combat forces by sea (ie, fleets designed with thwarting Chinese aggression) and submarines which can vigorously attack a superior surface fleet. Japan has already built a semi-aircraft carrier – probably as a test-bed as they get ready to build fleet carriers in the future.
Outside of Western Europe, which is still sunk in apathy about national defense, the world is arming as it hasn’t since before World War Two. Everyone wants arguments ready to hand – and the reason everyone is doing this is because the United States has signaled an unwillingness to defend allies (and, indeed, at times has demonstrated what amounts to a desire that our allies be harmed). This is a formula for a World War – and not ages from now, but within the next ten years. Only a rapid reassertion of American power – coupled with a military buildup not seen since the start of the Reagan Administration – can we nip this in the bud. China won’t care about Japan’s build up…always viewing it as insufficient to meet China’s power (just as Russia doesn’t care about Poland’s build up…Poland, alone and no matter how well-armed, just can’t withstand Russia)
And our problem is our Clueless Progressives – who still think that peace can be brought about by incantation. By merely saying words. It doesn’t work like that because there are people in the world who want to fight – or, more accurately, want to grab what they can, convinced that there will be little or no fighting to get it. It is precisely this attitude which brought on both World Wars…not old rancor or irrational fears…people in charge of nations just wanted to steal things from other nations. China and Russia – and Iran – want to steal things which don’t belong to them. If they think they can do it with little or no loss, they’ll do it – only by convincing them that national suicide is the result of attacking will they be deterred. We’ll see what the next President does – build strength and prevent war, or keep on with Obama’s policies and make war certain.