Sunday, September 03, 2006

Americans Called Them Pigs, We Called Them Dogs. Now Listen to What They Have to Say

In a previous post, I talked about the inter-governmental cooperation that goes on between the Northeast Asia authorities, and how I hoped that it would help maintain regional peace and order in the face of destabilizing incidents. I came across an interesting example of how far such professional curtsey can go in a book I found. But some liberal readers of this blog will find it disturbing. Here’s why:

Mr. Atsukyuki Sassa is a leading figure in the national security establishment in Japan. A former member of the elite national police bureaucracy, he finished his bureacratic career as the first Director-General of the Cabinet Office of National Security. He has been writing a series of memoirs that cover his illustrious and tumultuous career, but it is his latest installment Gotoda Masaharu to Juninin no Souritachi (Masahauru Gotoda and the Twelve Prime Ministers), published in June, that caught my attention. (The book is not about the prime ministers themselves, nor even really about the late, great Gotoda, but about the author’s exploits during the respective administrations.)

The opening chapter, subtitled a Tale of Two Cities, chronicles, first, the central role Mr. Sassa played in providing technical assistance from him and other members of the Japanese national security establishment to Taiwan. The Japanese paramilitary police had honed techniques to control mass demonstrations without using deadly force. The assistance enabled Taipei to successfully establish democratic rule through the tumult of the late 1980s without incurring human casualties.

More astonishingly, Mr. Sassa recounts the advice he personally gave to Chinese authorities to pacify the 1989 Tienanmen Square dissidents without serious incident. Beijing failed to follow through on his recommendations and ended up with hundreds killed on the Tienanmen grounds. And he recounts with particular relish how he angrily called in, dressed down, and severed ties with the resident general in the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo. (It is, of course, hard to reequip and retrain your police force on the fly. Mr. Sassa seemed to have recognized this; all was soon forgiven, as the general, if anything, stepped up his regular visits to Mr. Sassa. Mr. Sassa, in turn, after he retired, accepted China’s invitation to a grand tour of Beijing, complete with an audience with its highest national security authorities. He would be vindicated in later years as he saw Chinese authorities use the equipment and tactics that he had advocated to dispel demonstrators with a minimum of serious incidents.

I’m sure many of you will feel appalled that Mr. Sassa expresses no regrets for having helped an authoritarian regime control its dissidents. Indeed, he seems only dimly aware of the political import such revelations may have. For Mr. Sassa, what matters is the maintenance of order, of stability. And that, to him, must be the universal value that binds, or, rather, should bind, national security officials worldwide.

This, of course, leaves decisions on the greater good in the hands of higher authorities. Granted, this does not always happen according to plan. Among democracies, Turkey and Thailand come to mind as nations where, historically, the military has been poised to step in the interests of the greater polity. Indeed, proponents of this engagement are numerous; you quickly find yourself stumbling into an international rogues’ gallery, culminating in Asia in the kleptocratic military cabal in Burma and the cultish military-No. 1-ism of North Korea.

But the last two examples also serve to focus our attention on Mr. Sassa’s other important point. His pont is that an effective paramilitary keeps the military out of the action. Indeed, it is the use of the military in Tienanmen that he had so dearly wanted to prevent. And it could be argued that had the Tienanmen incident been settled in a peaceable manner, as Mr. Sassa believes it could have been had his recommendations been adopted, the dissident movement might have fared very differently in the aftermath, and democracy taken a different route in China.

The Chinese desperately want stability. We can make the road to a more open China, domestically and abroad, easier to traverse by helping them find ways to maintain stability and order.








しかし、最後の二つの悪例は、佐々氏が言わんとしているもう一つの重要な点に我々の注意を引き付けます。つまり、有効な機動警察部隊が、軍の介入を予防するという点です。実際、佐々氏が、天安門でなんとしても止めたかったのは、軍の介入だったのです。そしてまた、もしも安門事件が無事に収めることができていれば --- 佐々氏は、自分の主張が取り上げられていればそうなっていただろうと信じています --- その後の政府反対運動の運命も大きく異なっており、中国の民主化もまた違った道をたどっていたかもしれないのです。


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