I’m sorry for the clunky title, but I was honestly unsure how to title this one—and besides, it sounds like it belongs right in the pages of Foreign Policy magazine. For those of you not in the loop, Japan has had a new election, and the incoming Prime Minister is a bit more, shall we say, “hawkish” than his predecessors:
TOKYO (AP) - Imagine that North Korea launched a missile at Japan. Tokyo could - and would certainly try to - shoot it down. But if the missile were flying overhead toward Hawaii or the continental United States, Japan would have to sit idly by.
Japan’s military is kept on a very short leash under a war-renouncing constitution written by U.S. officials whose main concern was keeping Japan from rearming soon after World War II. But if Japan’s soon-to-be prime minister Shinzo Abe has his way, the status quo may be in for some change.
Abe, set to take office for a second time after leading his conservative party to victory in elections last Sunday, has vowed a fundamental review of Japan’s taboo-ridden postwar security policies and proposed ideas that range from changing the name of the military - now called the Japan Self-Defense Forces - to revising the constitution itself.
Most of all, he wants to open the door to what the Japanese call “collective defense,” which would allow Japan’s troops to fight alongside their allies - especially the U.S. troops who are obliged to defend Japan - if either comes under direct attack. The United States has about 50,000 troops in Japan, including its largest air base in Asia.
Right now, if Japan’s current standoff with China over a group of disputed islands got physical, and U.S. Navy ships coming to Japan’s assistance took enemy fire, Japan wouldn’t be able to help them.
I like to think that while I am a very well informed person when it comes to US political news, I generally remain somewhat detached regarding what the latest artificially created crisis du jour facing the nation is. I find that regardless of what dire consequence both sides try to convince us will happen if the other side gets their way, life goes on, business as usual for the rest of us, and inevitably some compromise is reached which allows both sides to claim victory. It is a cycle I’ve seen play out so many times in my relatively short time on Earth that I find it quite comical. However, I do find my blood pressure rise ever so slightly when contemplating the mismanagement and lack of leadership in energy policy in this country. The recent Keystone XL Pipeline debacle is a perfect example of how DC politicians chose to put political posturing ahead of US energy security, national security and true environmental policy.
President Obama is out of the country. With the problems in Japan and now us blowing up stuff in Libya, he finds himself in Rio, one of the most glamorous cities in South America (which is admittedly a fairly relative term). Many on the right are chomping at the bit, demanding that the President come back home immediately from his “vacation”. They’re wrong.
First, this trip isn’t a vacation, but is actually work related. The United States does a great deal of business with South America and we actually spend remarkably little time actually acknowledging that fact. This trip is, in theory anyways, supposed to change that perception.
However, even if it was a vacation, I have no issues with it. You see, the President can’t do a blasted thing about a nuclear reactor in Asia. He just can’t. He was a community organizer, not a nuclear scientist. About the best he could do is organize a protest to the reactors. Somehow, I doubt the reactors would be particularly impressed.
Right now, the reason du jour for him not going on this trip is because we’re bombing the hell out of another country right now. I can kind of see their point, but they’re wrong again. You see, the last thing you really need in military operations is the civilian leadership involved in the minute details of the operation. Do they need to be briefed? Absolutely, and I have little doubt that Obama is being briefed about the situation multiple times per day.
Jim Rogers tells CNBC something they rarely hear from their “expert” guests- that the economy needs to be left to itself to liquidate and that the result will be a future of more sustainable growth.