Thursday, January 31, 2008

Now that the Other Presidential Candidates Are Going, Going, (Mostly) Gone

The Democrats are down to the two I already did. Now let’s take a look at the two Republicans remaining with a chance to win to see how they see Japan.

Mitt Romney’s Foreign Affairs essay is an easy one. Japan is missing, except as, together with Germany, as a country that the US defeated. In fact, most of the known world has been left off his roadmap. Instead his entire focus is on national security, and the Middle East is the only place and Muslims - the bad ones only, mind you - are the only place and people outside of the US that matters*. Even free trade agreements are invoked to solve the Middle East problem. Near the beginning of his essay he does tell you that “…[t]he economic rise of China and other countries across Asia poses a different type of challenge. It is easy to understand why Americans -- and many others around the world -- feel so much unease and uncertainty.” But this thread is never picked up. He is playing to national security conservative Republicans. Nothing else matters on foreign policy until he wins the nomination.

John McCain’s essay is another thing altogether. Now his Middle East policy is basically Bush on steroids - altius, citius, fortius. He sees Japan and Asia from a similar perspective, and is effusive in his praise of Japan, whether it is for “serving alongside” the United States as a “democratic all[y]” in Afghanistan as part of Mr. McCain’s grand strategy of “Uniting the World’s Democracies”, or exerting “international leadership and emerg[ing] as a global power” as part of Mr. McCain’s grand design for “Shaping the Asia-Pacific Century”. It is no surprise then, that a President McCain will “encourage its admirable ‘values-based diplomacy,’ and support its bid for permanent membership in the UN Security Council,” while speaking favorably of the "'arc of freedom and prosperity' stretching across Asia."

As for North Korea, future talks with it “must take into account [it]s ballistic missile programs, its abduction of Japanese citizens (my italics), and its support for terrorism and proliferation.” China is given even more attention, but not necessarily in ways that the Chinese authorities will appreciate, his conclusion being: “until China moves toward political liberalization, our relationship will be based on periodically shared interests rather than the bedrock of shared values.”

John McCain, a President that the Prime Minister can only love. Prime Minister Abe, that is. And therein lies the… I can’t quite find the right word, but you know what I mean…

Actually, there’s little about Mr. McCain’s thoughts about Japan that goes against official policy here. Yet I cannot escape the feeling that Mr. Fukuda must be hoping that Mr. McCain’s bark is worse than his bite.

* In fact, Mr. Romney’s limitless capacity to live in the moment is one of the secrets to his past successes. It is essential to his ability to slip seemingly effortlessly into any role that he chooses to take on. The downside of all this: The simultaneous, granular attention that a presidential campaign casts brings to all his characters and lines reminds me of that Martian shapeshifter who has a meltdown in a Ray Bradbury story whose name escapes me.

(UPDATE) The Martian, from The Martian Chronicles. Thanks, MTC


MTC said...

Okumura-san -

"The Martian", 1949

republished in The Martian Chronicles

Jun Okumura said...