Donald Trump’s Hip Shooting Foreign Policy Babble


March 29, 2016

Donald Trump’s Hip Shooting Foreign Policy Babble

The Opinion Pages | Editorial

Donald Trump might use nuclear weapons to go after Islamic State terrorists. Or maybe not. In a recent spate of interviews, including with The Times, he was unable or unwilling to clarify his disturbing views on this and other critical national security issues, which sometimes shift from one minute to the next.

The recent horrific terrorist attacks around the world have provided a new opportunity for Mr. Trump to fan fears and throw out his alarming prescriptions for dealing with the world’s most complex challenges. On Wednesday, Mr. Trump was asked if he would use tactical nuclear weapons against the Islamic State. “I’m never going to rule anything out — I wouldn’t want to say. Even if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t want to tell you that because at a minimum, I want them to think maybe we would use them,” he said on the Bloomberg Politics program “With All Due Respect.”

He was more measured in his comments to The Times on Friday, saying nuclear weapons are “the biggest problem the world has” and he would use such weapons only as “an absolute last step.” Even if Mr. Trump, the leading Republican presidential candidate, doesn’t really believe that nuclear weapons should be used against a terrorist group, the fact that he has voiced it lends weight to this insane notion and could make it easier for other nuclear-armed states to think about that possibility.

The consequences of using a nuclear weapon in terms of lives lost, physical destruction and cost to American moral standing would be devastating. The United States and Russia have significantly reduced their nuclear arsenals, and the threat that either would ever use the weapons has greatly receded, in part because advanced conventional weapons can destroy almost any military target. Equally bizarre was Mr. Trump’s casual attitude in endorsing the idea of Japan and South Korea developing their own nuclear weapons, which would reverse America’s longstanding efforts to prevent the number of nuclear-armed states from expanding.

Mr. Trump also challenged decades of American policy by calling NATO “obsolete.” Since the Cold War, the alliance has undergone reforms and remains the primary organization that can deal with military threats. It is central to the stability of Europe, which is vulnerable to terrorist attacks, weak economies and the flood of refugees from the Syrian war. With Russia’s aggressive movements in Ukraine and threats to the Baltics, this is no time to suggest that Washington is rethinking its strongest commitments to its allies. Although Mr. Trump said he doesn’t want to pull America out of NATO, he said it has to be changed so the United States bears less of the cost.

Mr. Trump is confronting most of these issues for the first time, and many of his thoughts are contradictory and shockingly ignorant. In speaking with The Times, for instance, he complained that one problem with the Iran nuclear deal is that American businesses are now losing out to Europe on lucrative deals with Iran. He did not know that that is because Congress has insisted on keeping American sanctions in place.

Mr. Trump claims he is not an isolationist and wants to “make America great again.” It is hard to see how he achieves that when he describes a completely unhinged view of international engagement that denigrates Muslims and other foreigners and international organizations, including the United Nations. Mostly, his vision of cooperation with allies depends largely on how much they would pay the United States for protection.

In his interviews, Mr. Trump has said “unpredictability” is central to his thinking. He seems to have no inkling that operating in a dangerous world — one in which the United States is militarily involved in many conflict zones — requires some ability to communicate intelligently and forthrightly with both allies and enemies. It also seems to have escaped him that American voters deserve to know what a candidate is actually proposing.

A version of this editorial appears in print on March 29, 2016, on page A24 of the New York edition with the headline: Dangerous Babble on Foreign Policy. Today’s Paper

Will Trump Be Dumped?


March 21, 2016

SundayReview | Op-Ed Columnist

Will Trump Be Dumped?

MOST people would be upset to be at the center of an agitated national debate about whether they were more like Hitler, Mussolini, Idi Amin, George Wallace or a Marvel villain.

Not Donald Trump. He doesn’t like invidious comparisons but he’s cool with being called an authoritarian.

Republican Party Wrecker or Saviour?

“We need strength in this country,” he told me Friday morning, speaking from his Fifth Avenue (New York) office. “We have weak leadership. Hillary is pathetically weak.

“She got us into Libya and she got us into Benghazi and she’s probably got 40 eggheads sitting around a table telling her what to do, and then she was sleeping when the phone call came in from the Ambassador begging for help. You know, the 3 a.m. phone call?”

I asked the brand baron if he’s concerned that his brand has gone from fun to scary, from glittery New York celebrity to “S.N.L.” skits about him featuring allusions to the K.K.K. and Hitler. He blamed a “disgustingly dishonest” press.

I wondered about ex-wife Ivana telling her lawyer, according to Vanity Fair, that Trump kept a book of Hitler’s speeches by his bed. Or the talk in New York that in the ’90s he was reading “Mein Kampf.” Nein, he said. “I never had the book,” he said. “I never read the book. I don’t care about the book.”

All over town, even in the building where I’m writing this column, freaked-out Republicans are plotting how to rip the nomination from Trump’s hot little hands.

How does it feel to be labeled a menace, misogynist, bigot and xenophobe by your own party? “Honestly,” he replied, “I’m with the people. The people like Trump.”

Since he prefers to rely on himself for policy advice, is he seeking out expert help on the abstruse delegate rules? “Yeah,” he said, “I have people, very good people, the best people.” No details, as usual.

Won’t a contested convention require more of a campaign than après moi, le déluge? “I have an organization but it’s largely myself,” he said.

More heavyweights are jumping in to stomp Trump, including Elizabeth Warren. Asked about her jabs, he pounced: “I think it’s wonderful because the Indians can now partake in the future of the country. She’s got about as much Indian blood as I have. Her whole life was based on a fraud. She got into Harvard and all that because she said she was a minority.”

Told that President Obama was mocking his wine as $5 wine marked up to $50, Trump shot back, “My wine has gone through the roof.”

What about Mitt Romney, who’s pushing for an open convention? “He’s a jealous fool and not a bright person,” Trump said. “He’s good looking. Other than that, he’s got nothing.”

Paul Ryan, who will be leading the G.O.P. convention in Cleveland, says there could be a floor fight. But he protested that he would, no, no, never take it himself, just as he once said about the speakership.

Ryan snickered at the idea that Mexico would pay for the wall and chided Trump for warning that there would be riots at the convention if the Gasping Old Party tried to snatch the nomination. Was the speaker interested in seizing the crown himself?

“I don’t think so,” Trump said, noting that he liked Ryan and that they’d talked. “All that matters is the votes. I see people making statements about me that are harsh and yet they are calling me on the other line saying, ‘Hey, when can we get together?’”

Mitch McConnell also urged Trump to ratchet down the ferocity. Trump insisted that “the violence is not caused by me. It’s caused by agitators.” He added that “Hillary is the one disrupting my rallies. It’s more Hillary than Sanders, I found out.” The Clinton campaign called this “patently false.”

But shouldn’t parents be able to bring children to rallies without worrying about obscenities, sucker punches, brawls and bullying? “The rallies are the safest places a child could be,” Trump replied primly.

Didn’t the man rushing the stage give him pause? “I got credit for that because it looked like I was moving toward him,” he said.

Trump said that when the “agitators” scream and the crowd screams back, “Frankly, it adds a little excitement.” But there must be a safer, saner way to get some oomph.

I wondered if he realized that, in riling up angry whites, he has pulled the scab off racism. “Obama, who is African-American, has done nothing for African Americans,” he replied.

He said he would soon unleash the moniker that he thought would diminish Hillary, the way “Little Marco” and “Lyin’ Ted” torched his Republican rivals; “I want to get rid of the leftovers first.”

When he mocks Hillary, as he does in a new ad that shows her barking, it may backfire. Due to his inability to let go of his chew toy Megyn Kelly, Trump drew a remarkable rebuke Friday night from Fox News after he called for a boycott of her show and tweeted that she was “crazy” and “sick.” Fox painted Trump as a stalker, saying he had an “extreme, sick obsession” with the anchor. Unable to resist, even though he knows I respect Kelly, he also described her to me as a “total whack job” with “no talent.”

He has a history of crude remarks about women from his visits to Howard Stern’s show that could be used in Hillary ads. A conservative anti-Trump “super PAC” is running an ad with women repeating his coarse remarks.

“All of these politicians have said far worse than that,” Trump said, “drunk, standing in a corner.”

Joe Scarborough said that just as F.D.R. was the master of radio and J.F.K. of television, D.J.T. is the titan of Twitter. The titan agreed, gloating about how his tweets to his seven million followers, sometimes penned in his jammies, become cable news bulletins. “Yeah,” he said, “I’ll do them sometimes lying in bed.”

Not exactly a fireside chat. But it sure started a fire.

A version of this op-ed appears in print on March 20, 2016, on page SR11 of the New York edition with the headline: Will Trump Be Dumped?. Today’s Paper|Subscribe

 

Book Review: Burma’s Spring–Real Lives in Turbulent Times


May 31, 2015

BOOK Review

Burma’s Spring: Real Lives in Turbulent Times

Rosalind Russell,Burma’s Spring: Real Lives in Turbulent Times
London: Thistle Publishing, 2014. Pp. xxvi, 173.

Reviewed by Chit Win.

Burmas-Spring

This new book by Rosalind Russell brings colorful but ordinary Myanmar stories to life from an outsider’s perspective. As the sub-title suggests these are “Real Lives in Turbulent Times”. Burma’s Spring shows the spice and flavor of Myanmar’s nascent transition. For non-Myanmar readers it may seem to deliver the expected: stereotypical perceptions of the military regime and the suffering inflicted on the people. But Russell goes further by covering not only the struggle and sacrifice of prominent figures like Aung San Suu Kyi but also tales of unsung heroes that we have overlooked. We learn of their lives, their beliefs and, more importantly, their hopes, in a journey that introduces readers to everyone from undercover journalists to undercover officials, from a housemaid to a girl band, from a monk to the 969 movement.

Burma’s Spring starts with the double life of Russell herself as an undercover journalist for Reuters sent in to cover the monks’ uprising in 2007, also known as the Saffron Revolution, and as an undercover reporter for The Independent. She was known as Phoebe Kennedy, the pseudonym that she used while accompanying her spouse, who was head of an international aid agency in Myanmar in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis in 2008. Whether it was worth risking her own welfare and the agency’s reputation to produce Burma’s Spring, whether it was ethical to do so, and even whether it is now worth her exposing herself will depend on the judgment of the reader. But one thing is quite certain: her book highlights the difficult position of aid workers and their families in controlling the temptations to risk an aid agency’s relationship with the host country. It makes me wonder how a Myanmar government official would react to reading Burma’s Spring.

The book gives a mixed picture of Myanmar society prior to the ongoing period of reform and liberalisation. Discussion of the fears of the military about “R2P”—jargon for the “responsibility to protect”—in the wake of Cyclone Nargis and of the struggle of “the Lady” and other activists offers readers the usual information that they will learn from the international media.

But Russell extends our understanding of Myanmar society by introducing us to her main characters Mu Mu, a Kayin migrant worker, and Zayar, a fixer for Phoebe Kennedy whose dream is to become a journalist. Mu Mu was Russell’s housemaid. And Russell tells us about her life as a migrant worker who travelled to Bangkok and was pressured by her family to send regular remittances and never to come home. Her hopes of taking a short cut out of poverty were hampered when she failed in the effort that, having had nothing to do with politics and ethnic conflict inside Myanmar, she made to become a refugee. In the meantime, her boyfriend—also a migrant worker from her hometown—betrayed her so that he could fast-track his place on the waiting list to be resettled in Canada by marrying a Kayin refugee. On the other hand, Zayar, whose wife wanted him to become a common salary man, chose instead to struggle as an amateur reporter in Yangon and worked hard to make sure that Phoebe Kennedy was exposed to real stories.

We also get a taste of the resilience of the “MeNMa girls” and Darko’s “Side Effect” punk group against the backdrop of what is still a conservative society. These groups struggled to distinguish between creativity and indecency. Then there is Min Wai, a fortune-teller who has to play his role carefully when predicting good and bad karma and acting as a social counselor in a superstitious society. We get to know Monk Owen,born on the eve of the 8.8.88 uprising, and how he came to be exposed to a modern education that supported his desires to change Myanmar. Taken together, these characters help sketch a portrait of Myanmar’s society in the mind of readers.

Russell’s book offers insights for Myanmar readers about changes that they do not notice or changes that they may consider unimportant. It also shows the differences between views from inside and outside with regard to recent changes in Myanmar. For a regular traveler to Myanmar, the changes in Myanmar mean visas on arrival, fewer travel restrictions, money exchange counters, ATMs, mobile phones and air-conditioned taxis. These changes are mostly physical. For people like Mu Muand Zayar, the awakening of their hopes and the economic and political breathing spaces are really the most significant changes in recent times. In relating Mu Mu’sdecision to go back and settle in Myanmar, Russell has clearly reflected the feelings of some among the vast Myanmar diaspora.

Burma’s Spring may disappoint some Myanmar readers for not including a chapter on Naypyitaw, the new capital which has profoundly affected the lives of Myanmar people—especially public servants and their families—since its establishment in 2005. And I really doubt whether the general public in Myanmar have the same view as Russell, who portrays the MeNMa girls or the punk bands as important markers of social change. What is important to an outsider may not be so important to an insider. It is also something of a pity that Phoebe Kennedy could not persuade senior government officials to come out of the closet and reflect on their experience as servants of the system, which is so very human.

In summary, Burma’s Spring serves its purpose for multiple readerships. It is pleasant reading on the good and the bad guys, with a twist in the tail. For serious readers, it will garnish their understanding of Myanmar. It would be interesting to read any book reviews from Myanmar, should the book be translated into the Myanmar language. A note of caution is that Burma’s Spring should not to be confused with The Burma Spring: Aung San Suu Kyi and the New Struggle for the Soul of a Nation (2015) by Rena Pederson. The latter obviously focuses on the Lady while the former brings real stories from real lives. Stories so real, yet so often overlooked.

Chit Win is a PhD candidate in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific.

Reference

Pederson, Rena. The Burma Spring: Aung San Suu Kyi and the New Struggle for the Soul of a Nation. New York and London: Pegasus Books, 2015.

Prompt and Concrete Measures Needed, says Malaysian Bar


May 20, 2015

Phnom Penh

Rohingya and Bangladeshi Boat People Crisis: Call for Prompt Action

steven_thiru

The Malaysian Bar is appalled by the ongoing saga of the fate be- falling boatloads of thousands of people heading for our shores. It is a humanitarian catastrophe. The tragedy of suffering and even loss of life — through drowning and fights for survival on board boats left to drift on the high seas — is heart-rending.

 Boat People 1Regardless of the identity and status of the people on board these many boats, the first order of priority must be to prevent further suffering and loss of human life, bearing in mind that there are pregnant women, women who are nursing infants, and children, on board the boats. This means the Malaysian Government must allow these boats to land, set up reception centres to receive the people on board, document them, and provide them with basic amenities. There is a precedent for doing this, in the way Malaysia treated the Vietnamese boat people in the 1970s.

The Malaysian Bar acknowledges that some of the people on the boats may well be nationals of Bangladesh looking for better economic prospects than those available in their home country. They will have to be identified and, if necessary, repatriated. There are proper channels for dealing with the recruitment of foreign labour and other forms of legitimate migration from Bangladesh.

Be that as it may, there are also allegations that some of these nationals of Bangladesh on the boats have actually paid human traffickers to assist them to leave.This must be investigated and, if confirmed, the human traffickers must be apprehended and punished to the full extent of the law. Moreover, these victims of human trafficking should be accorded proper protection under our laws, including under the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007. However, many amongst the people on the boats are from the Rohingya community, fleeing from Myanmar due to religious persecution.

While it may seem unneighbourly to accuse a fellow ASEAN Government of wrongful conduct, it cannot be disputed that the Rohingyas have not been granted citizenship in Myanmar, thereby rendering them stateless.  Further, they have been deprived of all political rights and systematically displaced from their traditional places of abode.

Regrettably, Malaysia has indirectly contributed to the exacerbation of this problem involving the Rohingyas, by repeatedly ignoring the matter for many years. The misguided and undue respect for the hallowed principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of a fellow ASEAN member state has meant that Myanmar has been allowed to pursue a domestic policy of persecution of the Rohingyas, and even to dispute the historical evidence of their presence in areas in present-day Myanmar. Malaysia and other ASEAN nations have the responsibility to protect the Rohingyas so as not to compound the issue of ethnic cleansing that is being allegedly carried out by Myanmar.

The Malaysian Bar welcomes the fact that the Malaysian Government has scheduled a meeting tomorrow with the Governments of Indonesia and Thailand to discuss the situation.  However, the Malaysian Bar calls on the Malaysian Government to do more than just convene discussions, and to do it quickly. It is critical to address this issue head-on, and Malaysia as the Chair of ASEAN must take the lead and show the way forward.  The fact that Myanmar is reported as not being willing to attend tomorrow’s meeting with Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia means that the process already begins with a huge handicap, namely the refusal of the country of origin to participate in a process of finding a solution.

Boat People 2

Ironically, 2015 is the onset of the much-touted ASEAN Economic Community.  ASEAN cannot only be about the rich and well-off, the educated and the employed.  An ASEAN community that has no room for, and which says nothing about, the poor and the downtrodden is a sad shadow of a caring community.  The manner in which this crisis is dealt with will define ASEAN, and a failure to satisfactorily address the problem will jeopardise the very integrity of ASEAN.

Malaysians are, by nature, a generous people.  Blessed with relative peace and prosperity, we have reached out in the past and organised flotillas to assist the Palestinians, and have taken in Acehnese and Bosnian refugees fleeing persecution in their homeland. It is therefore somewhat perplexing that the same humanitarian spirit appears to be absent in the Malaysian Government’s response to the boatloads of Rohingyas coming to our shores.

The Malaysian Bar calls on the Malaysian Government to immediately engage with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees here in Kuala Lumpur to put into place a system of receiving and registering this latest wave of boat people, and to find a place of transition where they can land and their claims for refugee status documented and determined, followed by either repatriation or resettlement.

As Malaysia is a member of the UN Security Council, we also call upon the Malaysian Government to move a resolution for intervention in this crisis of alleged ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas from Myanmar.  In the past, the UN Security Council had passed specific resolutions for intervention regarding Mali, Sudan and South Sudan.  It is timely as well for the Malaysian Government to consider enacting legislation that will grant recognition for refugees in Malaysia and give them legally-mandated protection and provision in line with international standards.  Further, Malaysia should also accede to the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol.

The Malaysian Bar calls on the Myanmar Government to put an end to the stigma of “statelessness” and recognise the Rohingyas’ long-overdue right to citizenship.  This lies at the core of this crisis and unless it is addressed by Myanmar, the exodus of the Rohingyas is likely to continue unabated.

Finally, it is time for ASEAN to do away with the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of an ASEAN member state.  What this crisis clearly shows is that what happens in a neighbouring country can, and often does, have cross-border implications.  Whether it is about the haze or human rights, it is plain for all to see that ASEAN’s aim to “prosper thy neighbour” must include intervening in situations in neighbouring countries that have the potential of affecting, even destabilising, the region as a whole.  It is myopic to pursue economic progress in ASEAN without seriously considering social and political reforms.

The Malaysian Bar recognises that this humanitarian crisis requires prompt and concrete legal solutions. The pain, suffering and loss of life off our shores must end.  It is time to stop the pretense and the piecemeal measures in this catastrophe, and to put in place a comprehensive and lasting solution. The Malaysian Bar stands ready to provide advice and assistance.

 Steven Thiru
President, Malaysian Bar
19 May 2015   

Obama’s Silence is Tacit Support for Najib, says UMNO Secretary-General


November 2, 2014

MY COMMENT: True, Malaysian voters will decide  via elections whether NajibNajib and Obama Tun Razak will remain the Prime Minister. Right now, the Prime Minister’s popularity is at a very low point, according to a recent Merdeka Center opinion poll. That is real and no amount of Goebbels-like spin will change our perception of Najib’s leadership.

Najib is a weak and incompetent leader who is treating our country like his fiefdom.  As Minister of Finance Minister, he has been raising money with accountability. The financing of 1MDB is a classic example.

Najib and AbbottPresident Barack is in office to serve the national interest of the United States. Tony Abbott of Australia too acts in Australia’s interest. Both Obama and Abbott are also big talkers. Fortunately, for Obama, he is into his second term and will not be able to contest in the 2016 Presidential Elections. Abbott, on the other hand, will face Australian voters in the next General Elections (that is, if he is not thrown out by his party before that) and if he pursues pro-US policies, and is seen as a poodle like Britain’s Tony Blair, he will be rejected by his voters.

Malaysia is probably an exception. Personal interest overrides other considerations. Najib is known to do things for himself, his family, his cronies in UMNO and Barisan Nasional in that order. He thinks he can buy all Malaysians with his money dishing schemes. He is wrong. We all know that our Sixth Prime Minister is on “short substance, and big on slogans and promises”. –Din Merican

Obama’s Silence is Tacit Support for Najib, says UMNO Secretary-General

Commentary by The Malaysian Insider

UMNO Secretary-General Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor hasTengku Adnan done a great job of deciphering US President Barack Obama’s silence over Putrajaya’s sedition blitz as tacit support for Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

“Now we know the truth – that Obama supports whatever action Datuk Seri Najib Razak is taking. All these stories (on the sedition blitz) are the doing of the opposition. It is their aim to make our country look bad abroad,” the Cabinet Minister said today.

Of course, if Obama was to make some noise, Tengku Adnan and the 34 other ministers in the Najib administration would jostle to be the first to jump and ask him to mind his own business. Such is the vagaries of Malaysian politics that silence or rather ignorance, is proof of support. But Tengku Adnan should save his pomposity for another occasion.

The only thing that Obama shares with Najib now is a low approval rating among voters. Like the Malaysian PM, Obama’s critics argue that his time in office has been short on substance, and big on slogans and promises.

Like Najib, he gave a speech to the United Nations that sounded good. Sound familiar? So getting “endorsed” by a major disappointment in the White House is not something to crow about. Fact is that Tengku Adnan appears to be clutching for straws just to justify Putrajaya’s sedition blitz.

In the same way, Malaysians especially the Opposition, should end this infatuation with getting the support of the US, Australia or others for their cause. There is not much use in going around the world asking for support because it really won’t matter in Malaysia.

Abbott and ObamaIt also smacks of desperation by the Opposition. The world has always been about permanent interests, not permanent friends. No one is going to lift a finger to help as long as their ties with Malaysia remain prosperous and beneficial to him.

Only Malaysian voters matter. Obama, Abbott and the others will sell Malaysians down the creek when it suits the interests of their countries or their interests. It is time we grow up and take destiny in our own hands. Our future does not depend on any foreigner’s silence or supportive words. It depends on us doing the hard work for a better Malaysia

Japan is an unpredictable power


August 2, 2014

Japan is an unpredictable power

By BA HAMZAH

Japan is an unpredictable power. Sorrowful in defeat in WW 11, it promised never to bear arms againAbe-Najib. However, this is about to change if Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has his way. Since becoming the PM for second time in 2012, Abe-san has reneged on the solemn promise Japan made after its surrender in 1945. Abe-san has become the most determined leader to tear the 1947 Peace Constitution and put Japan on a war footing again.

At US $49 billion, Japan’s defence expenditure for 2013 saw an increase of 3 per cent over 2012, the highest in 22 years. Using the same pretexts that the Japanese Imperial Army used to wage wars in late 1930s & 1940s, Abe -san may succeed with his military build-up plan. Japan has a well-equipped standing conventional military ( a.k.a Self Defense Forces) of 225,000 personnel.

A hostile security environment (read China), access to markets, freedom of navigation and national pride are often cited as justification for a stronger military power. Japan’s real motivation is to prepare for the day when the US could no longer provide the military umbrella. Japan became a much-respected nation long after it lost the war.

Japan was a feared nation during the war because it was brutal in victory; it was hated for its brutality and for refusing to formally apologise for its belligerent past. For example, it has refused to acknowledge the role of comfort women, angering the Koreans. The Chinese are upset because Japan continues to deny that the “Rape of Nanking” incident did take place in 1937 and the administration of the Diaoyu/ Senkakus islands, contrary to the 1952 San Francisco Peace Treaty.

As the third largest world economy, (some say still second), Japan has achieved what no other nation has, including the victors of WW 11, the UK or France. Japan was able to become a strong economic power, NOT because (as asserted by some) the US has undertaken to rewrite its defence expenditure; but, primarily because it has clever, hardworking and innovative people. In short, unlike the United States, Japan (also Germany) has become an influential global power without the normal power trappings associated with the military. A rare achievement in a capitalist system ! By renouncing this geo-business model to bear arms, Japan may gamble its political future.

The Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu who wrote the treatise “The Art of War” who would have been proud of modern day Japanese leaders for embracing his strategic thoughts may now be troubled by Abe-san’s militarisation programme.

In fact, the geo-business model Japan adopted since 1947 has been the envy of many. By staying clear of political entanglements, Japan was able to focus on rebuilding its nation, rising from the ruins of war to what it is today. While Japan is free to be “a normal nation” again, by removing the constitutional constraint (Article 9), it faces an uncertain future as history may repeat itself. A re-armed Japan is set to become a new hegemon but a threat to the region and the world.

The world will be a much safer place without a hegemon with a shady past.Today, as businessmen, Japanese are welcome almost everywhere. Although they are tough trade negotiators (evident in the current Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) negotiations with the US), who rarely transfer freely their technology to host countries, they are perceived as friendly and courteous.

The nagging question is: why swap a proven geo-business model for M 16 and AK 47 that failed to sustain its Greater Asia co- Prosperity political dream in the 1940s. Why swap Honda, Toshiba, Hitachi, Suzuki, Nissan, for example, for the much-feared drones and missiles? Can the AK 47, drones, submarines and missiles give the Japanese people the same peace, prosperity and security they have enjoyed for almost seven decades, a quarter of a century from today?

Doubtful as it is, Japan seems to be reacting to some geo-political uncertainties in the region by reinventing itself in a traditional fashion, like a novice, when it should continue to rely on its proven geo-business model. With an eye for geography, the answer to a more assertive China is not to spend more on military hardware (Japan is currently world’s fifth largest defense spender) but to invest more on non- traditional ( i.e., diplomatic, cultural and economic) means by forging closer relationship with wary neighbours like China, Russia and South Korea.

Tokyo’s recent overtures towards the ASEAN countries and Australia, for example, will not bear fruits if Japan were to bear arms again and becomes a military threat to the region. As victims of its aggression in WW 11 their support cannot be presumed.

John KerrryBy selling or transferring used military assets, Japan may temporarily bolster the confidence of Vietnam and the Philippines currently at odds with China in the South China Sea. With the worsening of the US-Russia relations in Europe, following the crisis in the Crimea, for example, the strategic consequences of Japan’s subtle containment policy of the Middle Kingdom can be far reaching. When push comes to shove, in my view, the US may likely jettison its policy of “pivoting” to the Far East to focus on Europe. The Americans will not abandon Europe for Asia.