Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tokyo Rising

Tokyo Rising, by Ted Galen Carpenter
Cato, April 7, 2010

One very clear fact emerged from my recent meetings with officials and foreign-policy scholars in Australia and New Zealand: even though both countries have major economic stakes in their relationship with China, they are exceedingly nervous about the possibility of Chinese hegemony in East Asia. Since most of them also are reaching the (reluctant) conclusion that the United States will not be able to afford indefinitely the financial burden and military requirements of remaining the region's security stabilizer, a role the United States has played since the end of World War II, they are looking for other options to blunt China's emerging preeminence.

Increasingly, policy makers and opinion leaders in Australia and New Zealand seem receptive to the prospect of both India and Japan playing more active security roles in the region, thereby acting as strategic counterweights to China. That is a major shift in sentiment from just a decade or two ago. The notion of India as a relevant security player is a recent phenomenon, but there did not appear to be any opposition in Canberra or Wellington to the Indian navy flexing its muscles in the Strait of Malacca in the past few years. That favorable reaction was apparent even in vehemently anti-nuclear New Zealand, despite India's decision in the late 1990s to deploy a nuclear arsenal, which dealt a severe blow to the global nonproliferation cause.

Even more surprising is the reversal of attitudes regarding a more robust military role for Japan. When I was in Australia in the 1990s, scholars and officials were adamantly opposed to any move by Tokyo away from the tepid military posture it had adopted after World War II. The belief that Japan should play only a severely constrained security role—under Washington's strict supervision—was the conventional wisdom not only in Australia, but throughout East Asia.

And U.S. officials shared that view. Major General Henry Stackpole, onetime commander of U.S. Marine forces in Japan, stated bluntly that "no one wants a rearmed, resurgent Japan." He added that the United States was "the cap in the bottle" preventing that outcome. The initial draft of the Pentagon's policy planning guidance document, leaked to the New York Times, warned that a larger Japanese security role in East Asia would be destabilizing, and that Washington ought to discourage such a development.

U.S. policy makers appear to have warmed gradually to a more robust Japanese military stance. That was certainly true during the administration of George W. Bush, when officials clearly sought to make the alliance with Japan a far more equal partnership.

Yet some distrust of Japanese intentions lingers, both in the United States and portions of East Asia. The wariness about Japan as a more active military player is strongest in such countries as the Philippines and South Korea. The former endured a brutal occupation during World War II, and the latter still bears severe emotional scars from Tokyo's heavy-handed behavior as Korea's colonial master.

Even in those countries, though, the intensity of the opposition to Japan becoming a normal great power and playing a more serious security role is waning. And in the rest of the region, the response to that prospect ranges from receptive to enthusiastic. That emerging realism is encouraging. The alternative to Japan and India (and possibly other actors, such as Indonesia and Vietnam) becoming strategic counterweights to a rising China ought to be worrisome. Given America's gradually waning hegemony, a failure by other major countries to step up and be significant security players would lead to a troubling power vacuum in the region. A vacuum that China would be well-positioned to fill.

If China does not succumb to internal weaknesses (which are not trivial), it will almost certainly be the most prominent power in East Asia in the coming decades, gradually displacing the United States. But there is a big difference between being the leading power and being a hegemon. The latter is a result that Americans cannot welcome.

The emergence of a multipolar power system in East Asia is the best outcome both for the United States and China's neighbors. It is gratifying that nations in the region seem to be reaching that conclusion. Australia and New Zealand may be a little ahead of the curve in that process, but the attitude in those countries about the desirability of Japan and India adopting more active security roles is not unique. Washington should embrace a similar view.

Ted Galen Carpenter, vice president for defense and foreign-policy studies at the Cato Institute, is the author of eight books on international affairs, including Smart Power: Toward a Prudent Foreign Policy for America (2008).

New START - Evaluating the U.S.-Russia Nuclear Deal

Evaluating the U.S.-Russia Nuclear Deal. By KEITH B. PAYNE
The White House and Kremlin can't seem to agree what's in it, but it appears to restrict U.S. missile defense efforts and has no limits on Russia's tactical nukes.
WSJ, Apr 08, 2010

Today President Obama will sign a new strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia. Official Washington is already celebrating the so-called New START Treaty in the belief that it reduces forces below the 2002 Moscow Treaty levels and "resets" U.S.-Russian relations in the direction of greater cooperation. But the new treaty—whose actual text and accompanying legal documents were not released before the signing ceremony in Prague—may not accomplish these goals.

The administration's "fact sheet," for example, claims that the treaty will reduce the number of strategic weapons to 1,550, 30% lower than the 2002 treaty. But New START has special counting rules.

For example, there are reportedly 76 Russian strategic bombers, and each one apparently can carry from six to 16 nuclear weapons (bombs and cruise missiles). Nevertheless, and unlike under the Moscow Treaty, these many hundreds of nuclear weapons would count as only 76 toward the 1,550 ceiling. Consequently, the New START Treaty includes the potential for a large increase in the number of deployed strategic nuclear weapons, not a reduction.

The administration claims, as Under Secretary of State Ellen Tauscher stated emphatically on March 29, that "There is no limit or constraint on what the United States can do with its missile defense systems . . . definitely, positively, and no way, no how . . ." Yet our Russian negotiating partners describe New START's constraints on missile defenses quite differently.

On March 30, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in a press conference after the G-8 foreign ministers meeting in Canada that there are obligations regarding missile defense in the treaty text and the accompanying interpretive texts that constitute "a legally binding package." He also stated at a press conference in Moscow on March 26 that "The treaty is signed against the backdrop of particular levels of strategic defensive systems. A change of these levels will give each side the right to consider its further participation in the reduction of strategic offensive armaments." Kremlin National Security Council Secretary Sergei Prikhodko told journalists in Moscow on April 2 that "The United States pledged not to remodel launchers of intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-based ballistic missiles for firing interceptor missiles and vice versa."

The New START restrictions on missile defense as described by Russian officials could harm U.S. security in the future. For example, if the U.S. must increase its strategic missile defenses rapidly in response to now-unforeseen threat developments, one of the few options available could be to use Minuteman silo launchers for interceptors, either at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base or empty operational silos elsewhere. Yet, if the Russian description of New START is correct, doing so would be prohibited and the launchers themselves probably will be eliminated to meet the treaty's limitation on launchers. U.S. officials' assurances and Russian descriptions cannot both be true.

Another claim for New START is that possible concerns about the limitations on U.S. forces must be balanced against the useful limits on Russian forces. Yes, this argument goes, the U.S. will have to reduce the number of its strategic delivery vehicles—silos, submarine tubes and bombers—but in the bargain it will get the benefit of like Russian reductions.

This sounds reasonable. According to virtually all Russian sources, however, New START's agreed ceiling on strategic nuclear delivery vehicles will not require Russia to give up anything not already bound for its scrap heap.

The aging of its old Cold War arsenal and the pace of its strategic nuclear force modernization program means that Russia will remain under the New START ceiling of 700 deployed launchers with or without a new treaty. Whatever the benefit to the U.S. agreement to reduce its operational strategic force launchers, it is not to gain reciprocal Russian reductions. No such reciprocity is involved.

Some hope that New START's amicable "reset" in U.S.-Russian relations will inspire Russian help with other issues, such as the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs, where they have been less than forthcoming. This is a vain hope, as is demonstrated by the past 40 years of strategic-arms control: Innovative strategic force agreements and reductions follow improvements in general political relations. They do not lead to them.

Finally, for many the great locus of concern about Russian nuclear weapons lies in its large arsenal of tactical (i.e., short-range) nuclear weapons. According to U.S. officials, Russia has a 10-to-one numeric advantage. In 2002, then Sens. Joe Biden and John Kerry, and the current White House Science Adviser, John Holdren, expressed great concern that the Bush administration's Moscow Treaty did not limit Russian tactical forces. One might expect, therefore, that New START would do so; but the Russians apparently were adamant about excluding tactical nuclear weapons from New START.

This omission is significant. The Russians are now more explicit and threatening about tactical nuclear war-fighting including in regional conflicts. Yet we still have no limitations on Russia's tactical nuclear arsenal. The problem may now be more severe than in 2002, but concern seems curiously to have eased.

This brief review is based on the many open descriptions of the treaty by U.S. and Russian officials. Given the apparent inconsistencies on such basic matters as whether the treaty requires weapon reductions or allows increases, or whether missile defenses are limited or untouched, the Senate will have to exercise exceptional care in reviewing the actual language of the treaty documents before drawing conclusions about their content.

Mr. Payne is head of the department of defense and strategic studies at Missouri State University, and a member of congressional Strategic Posture Commission.