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Friday, January 03, 2003
Is Arming Japan an Option?
Tony AdragnaI started posting in the fray again 'cause you can now include linkage. Did you know that, Will? Didn't ask for my star back, though I think I had some few people rooting for it, and getting noticed by JD — I'm assuming that's because of the linkage & blockquoting — did the trick.
'Tis also nice not having to deal with multiple profiles, and with Slate profiles being linked to Net passports 'steada cookies we don't hafta worry 'bout not being recognized as a celebrity when in unusual climes.
Now, on to what I wanted to write about.. That is, do we have the option of supporting a nuclear armed Japan as a counterpoint to North Korea's arsenal? In a thread on whether to engage or disengage — Zathras arguing for disengagement — one atsjackson posits"[...} a stronger challenge to the regional powers involved in this 'crisis' would be plans to support the emergence of Japan as the de facto nuclear power in Asia."
I didn't think much of the argument, and wasn't going to respond 'til I saw Chuck The Hammer made a similar argument on today's op-ed page. After reviewing the situation and asking, "What to do when your hand is so poor?", Charles answers
Play the trump. We do have one, but we dare not speak its name: a nuclear Japan. Japan cannot long tolerate a nuclear-armed North Korea. Having once lobbed a missile over Japan, North Korea could easily hit any city in Japan with a nuclear-tipped weapon. Japan does not want to live under that threat.But is this really an option? One of the conditions that's got to be present in order to consider something an "option" is a fair likelihood that the actors you'll be depending on to make the thing happen actually committing to that thing happening. In this case, that means Japan committing to going nuclear: What's the probability of that?
Let's first disabuse ourselves of the notion that Japan's constitution wouldn't allow the maintenance of a nuclear arsenal. Since at least 1965 — when Prime Minister Eisaku Sato remarked to President Lyndon Johnson that "If Chicoms [Chinese Communists] had nuclear weapons, the Japanese also should have them" — there has been an argument that a Japanese nuclear arsenal as deterrent would not violate Japan's constitutional prohibition against offensive arms.
Sato's remarks at that time reflected not just his own personal opinion, notwithstanding his assertion to the contrary, but also had support among some Japanese politicians and scientists. In fact, successive Japanese governments have long relied on a nuclear arsenal in their defensive posture — nevermind that it's somebody else's arsenal.
It could be argued that, well, the Japanese government never accepted reliance on a U.S. nuclear umbrella. Indeed, you can point to Japan's refusal to allow U.S. nuclear weapons onto Japanese territory as expressed disapprobation of such an arrangement. But, you've got then to deal with the reality that Japan has tacitly approved exactly such an arrangement, accepting the U.S. position that we "neither confirm nor deny" the deployment of nuclear weapons aboard U.S. warships or at military bases.
Sounds like a nuclear armed Japan is an option, right?
Problem is that an overwhelming majority the Japanese polity still has a "nuclear allergy" — a perfectly understandable adverse reaction traceable to a particularly horrific experience. The Center for Defense Information — a DC defense policy think-tank — noted in its May 18, 2000 issue of Weekly Defense Moniter
According to weapon system analyst Carey Sublette, "Should Japan decide to do so, it is likely that emergency capability nuclear weapons could be deployed by Japan within a few months of a decision to produce them." Several factors have prevented Tokyo from going ahead with building and deploying the Bomb. First, Japanese public opinion remains bitterly against nuclear weapons, even as the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki fade from living memory. A 1998 Gallup poll revealed that 89% of Japanese said their country did not need nuclear weapons. Even after the North Korean missile launch, 79% of all respondents in an Asashi Shimbun poll stated that all countries should destroy their nuclear weapons without exception.Despite my skepticism of polls in general, I'm inclined to accept the cited results as an accurate reflection of Japanese public opinion. There's no evidence that any developments since then have moved opinion in Japan toward a favourable view of nuclear weapons.
Of course, beginning with deployment as part of the East Timore peace keeping force, and more recently in support of operations in Afghanistan, Japan has been willing to deploy forces outside of home waters, and that's a major change in policy. But, the latter deployment was authorized under legislation that allows Japan's self-defense forces to participate only in a non-combatant role, and that law is still considered controversial — maybe even unconstitutional. Even if a majority of people support those deployments — I've no idea one way or the other, but it doesn't matter since I make no assertions on that point — it's not suggestive of a change in Japanese opinion on nuclear weapons.
Maybe Krauthammer is right and Japan will overcome its "nuclear allergy" in the face of North Korea gone nuclear — that's in addition to already going ballistic. Until I see something to support that proposition, however, I don't see a "nuclear Japan" on the table.
The "they won't play along" problem isn't the only thing that makes arming Japan — or South Korea, as Thrasymachus proposes — a non-option. There's also the need to reconcile a proliferation solution with our from the begin committment to non-proliferation. There may good a good reason for a radical change in our own policy — let's face it, non-proliferation hasn't worked. But, this particular radical change amounts to dangerous fatalism that makes the world less secure, not safer. That's true if MAD is dead, anyway, as we've been told so often in the missile defense debate.
But MAD can't be dead if atsjackoson & Thras want their solution to work — the DPRK has got to be deterred by the nuclear forces opposite. Krauthammer's solution has the potential to work as declaratory policy pushing China to "squeeze" North Korea, but failing that it has the built-in fallback position of posing a deterrent nuclear force at the threat.
So, is MAD defunct? Let me restate the question, since MAD really was constructed for a bi-polar world that no longer exists: Does the threat of retaliatory nuclear response still deter a nuclear threat? If yes, then why doesn't the U.S. "nuclear umbrella" in the region still deter a nuclear armed DPRK? If not, then what's the point of a nuclear armed Japan [making exception for Krauthammer's "squeeze"] or a similarly armed South Korea?
Here's a question I can answer! Let me set aside the whole question of nuclear deterrence and get back to Zathras' argument in re disengagement to the point of withdrawal from the peninsula. We agree that "sea-launched American nuclear weapons" serve to deter a North Korean nuclear threat. But, in what way does that make "American ground forces in Korea [...] clearly superfluous as a deterrent"? In my opinion, the presence of U.S. troops on the DMZ is deterrence plus. North Korea can't but assume that an attack — whether conventional or nuclear — on U.S. troops would be responded to militarily.
Withdrawing U.S. troops only makes it easier for North Korea to launch a conventional attack across the DMZ, and more difficult for the U.S. to lend South Korea aid. Could that be why Kim Il Sung says, '[...] the issue of reunification of the Korean Peninsula will never be solved without putting an end to domination and interference by foreign forces..."? The withdrawal of U.S. forces has been a repeated demand of the DPRK, so call it a "redeployment" if you want, but it is in effect surrendering to "nuclear blackmail".
So, why not withdraw from the Korean peninsula? Because it serves North Korean interests while doing nothing to advance ours...
The Comeback of a Star
Will VehrsCongratulations to Tony "Quasipundit Number 1" Adragna for his recent mentions in Slate's Best of Fray and ... drumroll please ... for reclaiming his long dormat star. He's now an elite star poster--again! Best of Fray writer J. D. Connor makes the presentation here.
That star will look much better than those check marks ... way to go, Tony!
Faraway boy makes good: Dodd Harris' Ipse Dixit is mentioned as a favorite blog in today's Washington Post. It's certainly one of my favorites, too.
Wednesday, January 01, 2003
2002 In A Nutshell
Tony AdragnaWill, shame on you for not bringing to the attention of our readers what is the best bit of year end wrap to have been written this year — A. Barton Hinkle's [...] The Year That Was in Virginia
January, when female members of the General Assembly score a victory for women's lib and get their own restroom. Caught up in the moment, three of the Delegettes rush outside to burn their corsets and washboards, and are promptly arrested for crimes against Nature (despite the fact that "Burning Corsets" would make a really good name for a rock band). Governor Mark Warner announces the state faces a $5 billion shortfall. Richmonders learn their Sheriff, Michelle Mitchell, has spent profits from the jail canteen on membership at a social club, photographs of herself, and parties and gifts for deputies. And speaking of city officials, in . . .Hey, Chesterfield even gets a mention
MAY, THE Chesterfield Board of Supervisors, hoping to slow the county's population growth, votes to impose restrictions on adult-oriented businesses, thus disappointing Chairman Kelly Miller, who had hoped to ban sex altogether...Actually, Chesterfield gets mentioned again later
In religious news, Cyndi Simpson, a local witch, is refused permission to give the invocation at a Chesterfield Supervisors' meeting despite her insistence that Wicca is a religion of peace, and if she doesn't get her way certain people are going to get some very uncomfortable rashes. Chairman Kelly Miller introduces a measure to ban obscene works such as Chaucer's "Miller's Tale" and the racier bits from Ovid's Metamorphoses...What gives with Kelly Miller?
OK, so it's satire, and parochial satire at that. But, it's still a great read from one who on my list of favourite writers is right up near the top with Churchill.
QuasiPundit's 2002 Editorialist of the Year: A. Barton Hinkle!
Happy New Year!