As we've been watching US foreign policy spiral ever more dangerously into the unipolarist fantasies of Zbgnw Brzznsk's "grand chessboard," the result has been predictable: growing opposition and "pushback" from the other great powers, and, as American power thins itself out with ever more bases, covert operations, and "nation-building' and "regime change" wars, there has also been pushback of a very different sort. THat pushback has come, I suspect, in the form of the growing realization on the part of America's allies that the empire's days, over the long term, are numbered. Like it or not, they will have to step up to the plate themselves, and secure their own energy supplies, via more sane policies towards Russia, and via a larger military commitment on their own part.
We've been watching the story of Prime Mr. Shinzo Abe's rearmament plans very carefully, and now, in spite of widespread popular opposition to them in Japan, that nation's Diet has made it official, as these stories from some regular readers here attest:
The major reasons given publicly for Japanese rearmament and reinterpretation of its pacifist constitution, suggestively and symbolically reinforced in the second article with the picture of Japanese and Australian soldiers - fierce enemies in World War Two - training together, are given in the first article linked above:
Tokyo has faced growing international pressure to expand the role of its military to defend the interests of its key allies, including the United States. America is bound by treaty to defend Japan, an agreement that has been in place since 1960.
"Japan is like the 42-year-old kid still living in the basement of the United States," said longtime Asia strategist Keith Henry.
Henry's Tokyo-based consulting firm, Asia Strategy, provides governmental policy analysis. Henry likens the defense bills to Japan finally "growing up" and moving beyond vague concepts of peace and democracy that are no longer practical given today's rapidly changing geopolitical landscape.
Henry says Japan is assuming a more proactive role in regional security, in part to offset China's growing military might.
"Japan is moving out of the house of the U.S. that was essentially built after World War II," Henry said. "But there are risks involved in protecting one's national self interests."
The move, as both articles note, is clearly unpopular in Japan, for all the expected pacifist reasons. There is however, a subtle tone to some of this, perhaps, as the following statement from the first article suggests:
Opponents of the legislation say seven decades of Japanese postwar pacifism are simply being tossed away without proper public debate or discourse. They worry about the consequences of potentially sending troops into battle without actual combat experience.
This is, of course, a concern, but the reality is, the Japanese military (the Self-Defense Force), like all militaries, would simply not commit untrained soldiers to any combat zone.
So what is going on?
The most obvious reasons for Japanese re-armament have been to offset growing Chinese power, not to mention the North Korean nuclear threat which is, if one is realistic, a nuclear popgun compared to the potential nuclear or thermonuclear arsenal that Japan could create, and create very quickly. The Japanese people are, undoubtedly, fiercly opposed to nuclear weapons for obvious reasons, but nonetheless the potential is there. As the article also makes clear, Mr. Abe's govenment has pushed these changes at the behest of the USA, to take up a greater share of security in the Western Pacific, which is, we must note, a tacit admission that the USA, for all its naval and air power, would be hard pressed to contain China in full scale hostilities.
But there are other, less obvious, and more hidden geopolitical reasons for Mr. Abe and his advisors to embark on the course that they have, and that is what can only be described as a possible, very cold, and calculated, assessment of the long range situation and the respective roles of American, Chinese, Russian, and Japanese military and economic power in the region. I have argued that Russia's growing trade deals with China concerning the building of pipelines in Siberia, and the buildup of Siberian infrastructure with Chinese money, would inject an undue Chinese influence in a region of Russia that is both sparsely populated, and rich in resources. A very real possibility exists that the region could become de facto, if not de jure, a region of China, without some countervailing balance in the region. Enter Japan. It will be noted that in recent months Mr. Abe's and Mr. Putin's governments have quietly expanded their "talking points", All three nations know and remember well what can happen when power vacuums are created in the region. Thus, for Mr. Abe and his advisors, the rearmament could be, and I would argue, is as much about not just China, but China and Russia, as it is satisfying American demands and pressures to assume a greater role in America's "Pacific pivot" plans. And in the eventuality that the American Empire might suddenly collapse from the insanity of its own policies, the Japanese, without a strong military and navy, would be defenseless and unable to secure its energy needs. Is is this, and this alone, which is ultimate driving the Japanese elite's plans, from remarmament today, to building microwave powerplants in orbit and on the Moon(and thus vastly expaning Japanese space assets to support its expanded military). As Japanese military power grows, something else will happen, and we can predict its consequences: Japan;s governments will increasingly, and with increasing vociferousness, dissent from American policies. It will all be very politely phrased, coated in hard-to-decode euphemisms, but it will nonetheless, in the final analysis, be clear. And, like Germany has been quietly doing, Japan will press for a permanent seat, and veto, on the UN Security Council.
And that will in turn, embolden the mostly-cowardly European leaders break more openly, often, and vocally, with their American "partners."
In other words, and in spite of the surface reassurances from Mr. Abe's government that Japan is only seeking to aid its American partners, the world just became a lot less unipolar. The Japanese Diet just made it official.
See you on the flip side...