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April 22, 2003



(1)Nuclear talks becoming unclear; North Korea suggests reprocessing of nuclear fuel  


(2)Iraq war: U.S. campaign to "free Iraq" and the lesson for Japan; U.S. policy toward North Korea unlikely to change for time being  


(3)  Neo-conservatism in the United States: Listening to the views of journalist Fumio Matsuo


(4)Editorial:Deep wounds remain even after end of warfare    




(1)Nuclear talks becoming unclear; North Korea suggests reprocessing of nuclear fuel  


NIHON KEIZAI  (Page 2)  (Slightly abridged)

April 20, 2003


      Japan-U.S.-ROK director general-level talks held April 18 to crosscheck policies toward North Korea ironically exposed a subtle underlying gap between the U.S., which is still clinging to a hard-line stance, and Japan and South Korea, which give priority to a dialogue with the North.  The gap was triggered by North Korea's April 18 statement suggestive of its reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel rods.  In the wake of the North's announcement, Washington is now even considering a cancellation of the U.S.-DRPK-China talks scheduled to start April 23.  The future course of the North's nuclear issue is becoming increasingly murky.


* * * * *


U.S. Hard-line argument heard as discord emerged


[Washington, Hiroyuki Akita]


      On the morning of April 18, the upcoming U.S.-DPRK-China talks resulted in the U.S. administration's discord, which President Bush detests more than anything else.  The discord is traceable to a senior State Department official's comment to U.S. media organizations that the trilateral talks would be held as planned.  Immediately after his comment, a "senior official in the Bush administration" indicated to Reuters and other media outlets that [Washington] was considering calling off the trilateral talks.  Thus a difference in views surfaced.


      The announcement was a bolt from the blue for diplomatic authorities in Japan, U.S. and South Korea.  Director general level-officials of the three countries held a meeting at the State Department in the afternoon.  In the session, Assistant Secretary of State Jim Kelly only said, over whether or not to hold the planned U.S.-DRPK-China talks, "We will consider the planned talks while analyzing the North's statement."


      The confusion in the U.S. government resulted from the English text of the North's statement.  It is unclear from the original statement (delivered in the Korean language) if the North has started the reprocessing process leading to the development of nuclear weapons.  But according to the English-language statement prepared by the North, Pyongyang has started reprocessing [spent nuclear fuel rods].


      The start of the reprocessing process is extremely serious.  It could lead to economic sanctions by the UN Security Council, according to a U.S. government official.  A U.S.-DPRK relations source explained that White House and Defense Department hardliners moved toward canceling the trilateral talks on the basis of the English-language statement.


      The hardliners, including Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, and the group favoring dialogue, including Secretary of State Powell, are said to have repeatedly locked horns over North Korea policy.  It is also said that Washington decided at long last to hold talks between the U.S., North Korea and China with National Security Advisor Rice finally siding with Powell.


      Driven by fear for a rekindled conflict, Rice and others expedited on the afternoon of April 18 efforts to analyze the original statement in order to find out the North's "true intention."  As a result of reexamining the English-language text now accurately translated by the Central Intelligence Agency, the White House is leaning toward the conclusion that the North has yet to start reprocessing its spent nuclear rods, according to an American diplomatic expert close to the administration.


      President Bush is poised to make a final decision in a day or two.  The focus is on the North's true intention.  Did the North deliberately "mistranslate" its statement in order to throw Japan, the U.S. and South Korea into confusion?  Or was it to call off the planned talks with the U.S. and China?  Or was it simply a mistake? If the mistranslation was deliberately produced based on the North's political belief, the hardliners may vocally call for the talks' cancellation due to a lack of sincerity on the part of North Korea.


Japan, South Korea Priority given to dialogue


      "We cannot conclude at this point that the North has started reprocessing nuclear rods.  The North has not said that clearly, has it?" Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Director General Yabunaka said in the talks with U.S. and South Korean counterparts.  Yabunaka also underlined the importance of U.S.-DPRK-China talks.  South Korean Foreign and Trade Assistant Vice Minister Li Su Hyok also shared Yabunaka's view.


      However, senior South Korean officials, including national security presidential advisor Na Chong Il, repeatedly indicated, "The U.S.-DRPK-China talks will not be postponed."


      The rise of a hard-line argument in the U.S. government opting to use force against North Korea is the worst-case scenario for Japan and South Korea.  The North must not cross the line of reprocessing nuclear rods.  Japan and South Korea are highly alarmed that chances for a peaceful settlement might evaporate into thin air.


      Seoul, perceiving the U.S.-DPRK-China talks as an important step toward a multilateral format including South Korea, intends to urge Washington to hold the trilateral talks as planned.  At the same time, South Korea plans to work upon the North to resume a dialogue for settling problems by utilizing South-North channels and rice and fertilizer aid programs.


      In the meantime, Japan, which is directly exposed to the threat of North Korean nuclear and missile attacks, is hopeful that U.S. talks with North Korea and China will serve as brakes on the North's hard-line policy.


      The fear that a discontinuation of dialogue with the North might result in a contingency prompted Japan to acquiesce in the U.S.-DPRK-China setting despite its being left out of the loop.


      If the trilateral talks do not materialize and the North escalates its hard-line stance as a result, Pyongyang might recklessly turn its frustration to Japan in the form of firing another ballistic missile.  Japan definitely wants to ward off a situation in which the North will take reckless action out of desperation.  "The important thing in the trilateral talks is to obtain first a signed statement from [the North] that it will freeze its nuclear and missile programs.  And then hopefully the three countries can set a timetable for he next round," a Foreign Ministry official said.


      There is something that worries Japan and South Korea as much as North Korea's reckless action: the emboldening of the hard-liners in the U.S. administration from the overwhelming victory in the Iraq war.  There are many in the Japanese government who think, "To the hardliners [in the U.S. government], talks with North Korea and China are only a step toward military action."


North Korea Crisis staged to warn U.S.


      North Korea has pointed to the start of reprocessing nuclear fuel rods on the one hand, and it announced the resumption of South-North cabinet-level talks and the dispatch of a high-level official to China on the other.  The prevalent view is that it is the North's usual strategy to add impact to [the planned trilateral] talks.  Seemingly, the North's aim is to enhance its bargaining capability in dealing with the U.S.


      On April 12, shortly after the collapse of the Hussein regime, the North exhibited a flexible poise in discussing its nuclear issue in a multilateral format, and that lead to the upcoming U.S.-DPRK-China talks.  The North touched on nuclear fuel reprocessing shortly after the trilateral talks were set.  "Such a move might destroy the line of dialogue laid down by the North itself," a South Korean government source said.


      However, there have been no signs of nuclear reprocessing, such as a rise in the temperature of the reprocessing plant.  South Korean national defense presidential advisor Kim Hui Sang had this opinion: "The North intends to use it as a bargaining tip.  The likelihood is small that the North has actually started reprocessing rods."


      This is not the first case for the North to stage a dialogue and crisis at the same time.  In June 1993, shortly before resuming talks with the U.S. after retracting its withdrawal from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the North fired a Rodong ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan.






(2)Iraq war: U.S. campaign to "free Iraq" and the lesson for Japan; U.S. policy toward North Korea unlikely to change for time being  


SANKEI  (Page 17)  (Full)

April 21, 2003


Overwhelming war potential and flexibility in strategy


The U.S., as was expected, won an overwhelming victory in the military campaign to "free Iraq."  About 10 days after the launch of the campaign, we were worried, hearing the news of attacks by the Republican Guard and citizen soldiers on the frontline troops of the Third Infantry Division.


However, the U.S. forces were far more flexible than we had expected in mobilizing units and carrying their campaign plans.  In addition, air strikes by precision-guided missiles were so overpowering that the Iraqi side received a serous blow and was unable to strike the vulnerable parts of the coalition forces.


U.S. and British forces also displayed their overwhelming war potential in terms of high-tech weapons and in intelligence-gathering and reconnaissance operations. The U.S. and British forces put forth the goals of toppling the Saddam Hussein regime and seizing oil facilities and other important resources.  They dispatched army divisions, the Marines, special units, airborne troops, air wings and naval forces, which were most suitable in attaining the goals, and mobilized them flexibly under the control of their frontline headquarters.  This was an ideal joint-operation strategy.


Since the end of the Gulf war, the U.S. forces engaged in combat in Somalia, Haiti, Kosovo and Afghanistan.  Based on the experiences and lessons learned from such fighting, the U.S. forces came up with its current strategy.  If the Iraqi side had flexibly mobilized the Republican Guard and had rallied together its military forces, it might have had a chance.


Many observers had been anticipated that the Iraqi side would launch a missile attack on Israel, use biological or chemical weapons, or would conduct operations to destroy dams, bridges or oil facilities.  But the Iraqi side was put on the defensive to meet the offensive of U.S. and British troops.


Japan's emergency legislation


      Such a strategy will give a good lesson on modern war and can be a lesson to Japan in discussing the package of national defense bills, focusing on how to minimize civilian casualties.


To restore civil order in Iraq, it is now necessary for that nation to rid itself of weapons and also to establish a humanitarian assistance office to offer humanitarian and reconstruction aid to Iraq.  To this end, cooperation from the Iraqis and international agencies is imperative.  France and Russia are expected to express their willingness to take part in such assistance projects in pursuit of economic interests.  However, since the U.S. is unlikely to accept such proposals, it is not practical to call for the involvement of the United Nations Security Council in the reconstruction process.


Even so, it is urgent that a multilateral framework for reconstruction assistance be established.  For this task, Japan should offer the necessary contributions and play a much needed role.  Such issues as how to treat the Kurds and struggles for power among anti-establishment groups would make it difficult to restore civil order in Iraq.


Urgent task of stabilizing Middle Eastern, Gulf regions


      First, efforts are necessary to stabilize the Middle Eastern and Gulf situations.  Attention is now focused on what changes will arise in America's relations with Iran, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey after a new government is established in Iraq.  Another focus is on what effects the outcome of the campaign will have on the stability of these regions.  Resolving the Palestine issue is also an urgent task.  The U.S. must tackle these issues in a positive manner.


Second, efforts are necessary to narrow the rift that opened between the U.S./Britain group and the Russia/France/Germany group over the Iraq war, as well as to harmonize U.S. unilateralism with calls for multilateral coordination.  All the countries concerned must seriously address these challenges.


Third, it is necessary to carefully watch what effects the U.S. decisive victory in the Iraq war will have on its policymaking process, national defense policy and the economy.  The outcome of the campaign might influence the United States' alliance strategy and forward deployed strategy.  In such a case, Japan's security will also be unavoidably affected.


It is inconceivable that the U.S., preoccupied with the Middle Eastern and Gulf situations for now, will begin to focus its attention on North Korea.  Instead, that challenge could become the top priority task for a second-term Republican Party-led government.  Moves of U.S. policy will continue to be a matter of concern for international order and Japan's security.


(Satoshi Morimoto, professor at Takushoku University)






(3)  Neo-conservatism in the United States: Listening to the views of journalist Fumio Matsuo


ASAHI (Page 17) (Full)

April 13, 2003


      The spotlight in the United States is now on the thinking of a group called the neo-conservatives, or neo-cons for short, for their influence on the decision of the Bush administration to push forward with a war in Iraq.  In their view of changing the world in accordance with U.S.-style values, the use of armed force to achieve that goal cannot be ruled out.  Some call their thinking a new imperialism.  Why do the neo-cons have such influence?  What is the significance of their having appeared on the scene?  We asked Mr. Fumio Matsuo, a journalist with a long experience of reporting about the U.S. who from early on has been paying close attention to the neo-cons with contributions of articles to magazines and the like.


(Hiroshi Shiokura)


Why is there support?


      In the Iraq war, what drew my attention was the active involvement of Black Americans, such as National Security Advisor Rice, Secretary of State Powell and Brigadier General Brooks.  World attention was drawn to the fact that women were among the American POWs in Iraq.  America is a country where there have been rapid improvements in racial and ethnic discrimination, where people from all backgrounds can play their role on the social stage.  Most Americans believe this.  They are confident that they have created a free and equal society.  That undoubtedly is the main selling point of the neo-cons' argument.


      One characteristic of the policy and idea types associated with the neo-cons is their tendency to brag about American power covering the globe and the accomplishments achieved from the aspects of military power, economic strength, democracy, as well as equality and human rights.  They think that the U.S., as the sole victor in the Cold War, has the responsibility of spreading U.S.-style democracy across the world, and they do not rule out the use of armed force to achieve that purpose. 


      One of the main reasons for such thinking gaining prominence is first of all the influence of the Cold War victory.  For example, Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz, whom I consider to be representative of the neo-cons, created the strong America image that the Reagan administration displayed. 


      Former president Reagan, transcending the peaceful-coexistence line that then characterized relations with the former Soviet Union, dubbed the USSR the "evil empire," and decided to deploy to Europe mid-range nuclear warhead missiles.  In the understanding of Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz, this tough stance was a factor that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Cold War victory. 


      The impact of 9-11 was also significant.  President Bush during the election campaign took a stand of being cautious about involvement overseas.  However, [after 9-11,] he shifted to a stand that he called "homeland defense against terror."  I took it then as President Bush having bought on to the neo-cons' argument.  The neo-cons, who until that time had been a radical fringe group in the Republican Party, jumped into the center of the political ring. 


      However, one aspect that should not be overlooked is that the image of America projected by the neo-cons is indeed the real McCoy.  Since the founding of the country, something that might even be called a DNA of resorting to armed force has flowed through America's veins.  The Founding Fathers held ideals rooted in their religious beliefs that went into their effort to build an original democratic state.  At the same time, they also bore arms.  Here lies the balance between lofty ideals and a realism that "freedom is to be sustained by arms."  


      The essence of the country called America stems from such a duality.  That is why one can say that the support for the neo-cons exists broadly and quietly among the American people.  It should not be looked down upon as something that is transient. 


      When I talked to the neo-con advocates in American, I was reminded of the Best and the Brightest [of the Kennedy-Johnson era].  That was the name given to the policy elite who surrounded the U.S. president at the time when the U.S. became bogged down in the Vietnam War. 


      They argued at the time, "The U.S. must stop the communization of Vietnam for the sake of the world," and advocated interventionism.  If you lay on the current crop of neo-cons, you see them excited with the same -- almost pure -- sense of mission.  The elite who made up the Best and the Brightest were talented strategic thinkers, but they made many mistakes in political judgment and ultimately failed.


Is there no domestic criticism?


       There is naturally criticism in America of the neo-cons' incredible blueprint for changing countries into copies of American democracy across the world. However, since the country is now at war, this opinion does not have much force at this time. 


      Although there is a war victory mood as in the Gulf War, the sense of exultation like then is not as strong this time.  The reason is because Americans, too, are skeptical about the ability of the neo-cons to implement their strategy.


      Looking at the political situation in the U.S., internationalists and pragmatists still comprise the mainstream members of the Republican Party.  These include former national security advisor Skowcroft and former secretary of state Baker from the previous Bush administration.  But they, too, feel out of place now and are holding their tongues.  The reason seems to be the situation of the current president being the son of their former boss and the strong public support for the war. 


      On the one hand, the Democratic Party and the liberals recently have completely turned passive.  One of the reasons is the existence of so-called "liberal hawks" among the liberals.  The members of this group are active proponents of the use of armed force to achieve human rights and humanitarian goals [abroad].  They supported the air strikes against Yugoslavia and the Afghan campaign because "human rights were suppressed in those countries."  And they have not formed an influential counterview to the neo-cons' argument of "what is wrong with attacking the Hussein regime, which has ignored human rights." 


      On the other hand, the type of liberal represented by Noam Chomsky, who is given much attention in Japan, is treated as part of the anti-establishment crowd and has almost no influence in the U.S.  There are also few pure pacifists in America.  


      The ones who the neo-con group see most severely as their adversaries are instead the isolationist group within their own conservative ranks.  The traditional ideas they hold hark back to the Monroe Doctrine.  Representative of that group is Pat Buchanan, who will not budge from his stand of "returning to the roots of the Republic and not [opting for] imperialism." 


      However, in my humble opinion, it will be difficult for isolationism to outrival the neo-cons.  Isolationism in reality has been limited to not becoming involved with Europe, and when looking Westward, including toward Japan, the U.S. has continued its expansionist policies, which do not rule out the use of armed force.


Is the government's influence only growing?


      Looking ahead, it is highly possible that President Bush will not break with the neo-cons but will stand at their head committed fully to their beliefs.  If a political force appears in the near future to take on the neo-cons, and the chance for a change arrives, it will not be the liberals who carry out the rollback.   That is because there does not seem to be a way for them to recover, given the split in their ranks that I mentioned above.  Instead, what is conceivable, I think, is a split in the neo-cons themselves and the appearance of the international, pragmatic types on front stage. 


      In Japan, many tend to bring up the name of Secretary of State Powell as a member of the international cooperation group [in the U.S. government], but what I am paying attention to is the influence of Skowcroft, Baker and others from the previous Bush administration. 


      I think in the turmoil of post-occupation Iraq and depending on the economic situation in the U.S., the conditions would be ripe for the international cooperation types to make a comeback. 


      If the positions of the neo-cons are accepted literally, it is conceivable that the U.S. would adopt a strategy toward North Korea, as well, that would be premised on the use of armed force.  However, the neo-cons are not hard-nosed fundamentalists as some of them have been depicted.  Consequently, they will not forget the dual aspect of traditional American diplomacy.  So one cannot say that having gone to war against Iraq, the U.S. will now do the same to North Korea.  They are two different issues.


      I experienced during World War II the B-29 air raids on Fukui City.  I think that war occurred because Japan did not understand the country that is America.


      In Japan, there has been a trend of making light of Republican Presidents: Nixon, Reagan and now Bush, but they all for better or worse have carried out "major works."   We should by all means study the U.S. and deepen our understanding of that country to discover that aspect of it.






(4)Editorial:Deep wounds remain even after end of warfare    


TOKYO SHIMBUN  (Page 6)  (Slightly abridged)

April 21, 2003


      It has been a month since the Iraq war began.  Reportedly, yellow ribbons are selling well in the United States.  Praying for the safe return of their husbands, sons, beloved ones or friends who have been sent to the front in Iraq far away from America, some Americans are wearing yellow ribbons or tying them to their front doors.


      The way wars are fought has made progress, but human feelings, such as the sorrow and bitterness people have when they lose their family members or friends, or when they learn they have been wounded, are the same.


Expeditionary troops can return home at ease


      Triumphant U.S. and British soldiers, without suffering from hunger, can go home alive and well aboard planes or ships for reunions with their families waiting for them.  But defeated Iraqi soldiers are different; they have to walk home filled with worries about even the availability of food to eat.


      The contradiction is that U.S. and British troops, sent to Iraq far, far from their home countries can now return with ease, while Iraqi soldiers who fought on their own soil against them have to follow difficult paths to return their homes.


      U.S. and British soldiers do not have to worry about whether their families are safe or not, but Iraqi soldiers have no way of knowing about even that, and might find their wives and children blown up together with their homes by stray bombs.


      Many Japanese, after the defeat in World War II, had a similar experience to the one Iraqis are undergoing now.


      After many difficulties, they finally reach their hometowns.  But they find everything burnt to ashes, and no one knows the whereabouts of their families.  They call on one relative after another looking for their loved ones…


      The most miserable experience of that time was for a soldier to return to Hiroshima or Nagasaki.  These two cities were destroyed in a moment by atomic bombs that were dropped by orders of President Truman.  They found nothing there, not even streets, not to mention their families.


War is not a necessary evil


      Since the many battles with the American Indians, the War of Independence from Britain and the Civil War to liberate the slaves -- all fought on American soil -- the U.S. has not experienced a war fought on its own soil.


      Some may argue that at Pearl Harbor and the Midway Islands, the U.S. fought with the attacking Japanese Imperial Navy on U.S. territory.  Yes, indeed, these battles occurred on U.S. territory but the U.S. has had no modern experience of being invaded on the mainland by enemy troops.


      This fact seems to divide the U.S. from other countries, such as France, Germany, Russia and China, which all share similar wartime experiences and have seen many lives -- including average citizens and farmers -- fall victim to war.


      Britain, the U.S.' coalition partner in the Iraq war, has had no experience, either, of being invaded by German troops in World War II, though it suffered from air raids.


      War is an act that leaves behind deep sorrow, hatred and grudges.  War is never a "necessary evil."  Nevertheless, those in power find plausible reasons -- for instance, national interests or the liberation of people from a dictator -- to go to war.


      We do not necessarily advocate the principle of non-violence of Mahatma Gandhi, but we believe the mature wisdom of humankind should be not to take military action first, even though it is said to be for the sake of self-defense.


      Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi reportedly told President Bush who was impatient about going to war with Iraq: "I am hoping to see a match worthy of a grand champion sumo wrestler."  No reply, however, came from the President, perhaps because he did not understand the comment.


      Presumably, Koizumi used the expression, "grand champion sumo wrestler," to mean that the President should "accept challenges" in a dignified manner without fussing about small matters.  But apparently his expression was not understood well.  The present-day U.S., in terms of both economic and military strength, can be likened to the invincible grand champion sumo wrestler.  If such a champion took preemptive action to knock down the opponent wrestler, such would be seen as disgraceful in the world of sumo wrestlers.


      Even though the grand champion U.S. has thrust out a mere non-salaried trainee sumo wrestler, Iraq, from the ring, there is no one giving the U.S. a big hand.


      The action the U.S. has taken toward Iraq has come under criticism as "a war without justification" and "a lynching party."  As the reasons, one may point out that the U.S. has disregarded international law and United Nations resolutions.  But we think such criticism comes more from this basic feeling among the average public that "recently, the U.S. seems strange."


      Referring to the Iraq war, Americans say:  "Though we don't want war, we cannot leave a villain like Hussein at large.  Someone has to fight against him. The U.S. is the world's policeman, so we have no choice but to do so."


      But the situation now in Iraq is one of looting and violence and lawlessness.  People cry out:  "Is this the 'freedom' the U.S. told us it would give us?"


Dead persons will not revive, emotional injury will not cure


      Roads, bridges, buildings and other types of infrastructure will be rebuilt once someone pays for the cost.  But the dead will never come back to life, and deep emotional wounds will not heal easily.


      U.S. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said this about France and Germany, which were both opposed to the Iraq war:  "They are the old Europe."  But is the U.S., with its war mentality of the 20th century, "new"?




© Fumio Matsuo 2012