Clinton diplomacy a concern for Japan
U.S. President-elect Barack Obama announced his national security team Monday. Most of the headlines were reserved for Sen. Hillary Clinton, who was named as secretary of state. Obama retained Robert Gates as defense secretary and picked retired marine Gen. James Jones as White House national security adviser.
The Obama administration will officially be inaugurated on Jan. 20. Obama’s new security and economic lineups will be under pressure to produce tangible results in addressing problems ranging from the global financial crisis, to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and nuclear development in North Korea and Iran.
We think the appointments of Gates and Jones make good sense. Their selections probably are aimed at compensating for Obama’s inexperience in foreign policy and security affairs.
However, the appointment of Clinton, with whom Obama fiercely fought for the Democratic presidential nomination, is cause for concern. During the primaries, Clinton blasted Obama as being naive for his willingness to seek dialogue with dictators without preconditions.
Talking the talk
Obama looked confident as he announced at a press conference that he would be handing his powerful rival a key post.
“There are going to be differences in tactics and different assessments and judgments made. That’s what I expect. That’s what I welcome,” Obama said. “The buck will stop with me.”
It is questionable, however, if the emotional strains of the bitter campaign have completely evaporated.
Under the administration of President George W. Bush, tempers in the State Department, the Defense Department and the White House over the fight against terrorism often reached boiling point. Such a situation should not be allowed to emerge again.
All eyes will be on what decisions the Obama administration will make and what actions it will take in its foreign and security policies. In this sense, Obama, Clinton and Gates, and other members of the inner circle, must work closely to ensure U.S. policies are coordinated.
Putting China first?
The hard-line stance against Japan taken by the Democratic administration that took power in the early 1990s is still fresh in our memories.
The so-called Japan-bashing peaked as the United States pressed Japan hard to eliminate U.S. trade deficits by meeting numerical targets.
The Japan-U.S. alliance eventually got back on track as both nations were confronted with such challenges as North Korea’s nuclear development and tension in the Taiwan Strait. However, Bill Clinton, the U.S. president during those years and Hillary’s husband, appeared to lean toward China. Some observers branded this perceived stance as “Japan-passing.”
Hillary Clinton said last year that the most important bilateral relationship will be the one between the United States and China. If she puts greater emphasis on relations with China and plays down the importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance, it could be problematic in many respects for stability in Asia.
Japan must hold constant consultations with the Obama administration over foreign and security policies in dealing with such issues as the reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan and stopping nuclear weapons development.
(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 3, 2008)
(Dec. 3, 2008)
A legitimate concern. China has a hands-off approach toward Kim Jong-Il. Someone has to worry about it. The Clinton Administration was quite cozy with the Chi-coms, and as a result, Japan was left holding the DPRK bag. It will be interesting to see how this Madam Secretary differs from the Clinton era Madam
Secretary, when it comes to North Korea and China. Our guess is she will cave to the Chicoms..
From a Japanese english edition daily, Yomiuri Shimbun