SECURITY / CONFLICTS

China has the largest aircraft carrier building program in the world, after USA. The pace of carrier building and the development of the relevant air crafts has been without any major delays or issues till now. Will China People’s Liberation Army- Navy(PLA-N) one day challenge the US Navy in the Pacific?

 

 

If we are eager to start a revolution every injustice becomes a reason. But in all our activism, let us also remember that there are no pure malignant evil people. So let our activism be directed at institutions, and not at individuals.

There is a part in every man that seeks to be guided to truth, to see a better world and an inclination to abandon own malignity. Many of our attempts to reform society are resisted or fall on deaf ears because we didn’t bring to them our authentic side. People despise our extemporaneous activism; so they go on to reject the ‘truth’ because it comes from us. They don’t hear us when speak with gags, exaggeration and fanaticism.

Activist or not, we are all radicals in certain mood. We are all better than our pretense, but it is our resistance to our true nature that robs us off our manhood and the power to reform. We lose authenticity because we never want to upset any that cheered us once. We tie ourselves with friendly chains of intellectual prostitution for few cheap praises and empty affections. To be praised and flattered; gliding ghostlike with thin masquerades – we go on skulking and pretending.

In every part of society, we still see a beam of optimism and fresh breaths of idealism – all making claims to know the best path for the rest of humanity. We are quick to stand for a thought or an idea, for new terminologies and trends – but how many of us are ready to pay the full price to realize these aspirations?

Also are pessimistic reformers – they loom over to cast shadows of doubt to foretell our destruction. With malaise and resentment, they warn us all of the impending calamities. They see no hope and no salvation for the natio unless we follow their dictates. But how does one makes activism out of doom saying?

With new spirit of protest, all are eager to declare their discontent of the conventional. Some blame government for causing all our troubles. Some can only drag in the President to rest on him all the troubles of the society. Others argue it’s the selfish or mischievous opposition leaders. Some blame it on the wickedness of ‘tribalism’, and the ‘ignorance’ of the masses.

Each reformer defies the other’s dictates like gang of kings trying to rule over one kingdom. All are proposing new projects and remedies for the salvation of the nation.

Constant – is a sincere protestation against existing evils and social injustices. Many are moved by moral conscience and want of a better and a more just society. But behind every sincere protester, quickly follows a copycat protester or a brainless underling to add plenty of vapory, hypocrisy and backsliding in our every discourse.

Every protest is still noble if it is the dictate of man’s conscience and moral beatitude – even where the perception is flawed. What is honest and original is always elegant. Solitary resistance and honest dissent is always noble. But all protests will turn vain, dull and suspicious when it is adopted for a cheap popularity.

My highest appreciation goes to the reformers calling for reform of our education system. Many students now graduate with a bag of wind, memory of words and are indoctrinated to seek out a master through their employment. Practical knowledge is rarely taught; common sense that’s not backed by theoretical speculations is rejected. Students are given these theories and philosophical dictates they could never learn to apply in practical life. Mathematics, the mother of all sciences is only taught and seen as a theoretical oppression of the analytically disadvantaged – instead of the universal language and the practical philosophy of life that it is.

We learn foreign languages through high school but couldn’t recall a word in those same languages two years after graduating. In our social studies, we memorize bunch of dates and names of the old that has zero relevance to the practical life of the man today. Still, we are told Christopher Columbus discovered America.

Very little is done to develop our intuitive faculties and students are forced to expend all their energies into useless memorization without any practical use for them in our real lives. We are taught at school that to try and fail makes one a failure, and without a certificate no amount of essential knowledge is useful. We are diminished of our true proportion and full use of common sense after we finished our formal education. Is like warfare against common sense and program to train us to serve the ‘new masters’.

Unfortunately, the push for reform in our education is abysmal. It is in political activism that our brute nature is aroused. Some of us are passionate to talk about the lies and misgivings of the government, whilst others eagerly talk about the lies and the malaise of the opposition. All seem to forget about the lies and deceptions of the common man – from whom all these lies proceed. In advancing to rid darkness, all bring along their own forms of darkness through their dogmatism but call it the ‘ultimate light’. We see with only one eye. The eye that pleases our whims!

The chaos in our activism often rises out of moral and intellectual deficiency; when the ambition to change society is outmatched by the capacity of the activists. So they employ insults and lies to guile these weaknesses instead of refining their own latent forces. When the going gets tough, some are afraid to scale or ascend because they are terrified of falling. We are afraid to help anyone whose light we assume will dim ours.

Nevertheless, this keen scrutiny of government, political and social institutions proved benefit in keeping government and institutions more responsive.

The general purpose of great many of our activists remain to be good and noble; always working on course; paid or unpaid, seen or unseen and never wasting a day on triumphing. They are always too busy working in the fields. Their only reward is to have their work done well!

Those that change the world came to it with their whole nature and hid little from our senses. They came to us with certain gravity, making even their simplest gestures look terrific! These folks don’t wait for society to choose their place for them. They act with moral courage to bring society the way – a promise of a better tomorrow.

To all these activists and reformers – I salute you.

 

Jamal Drammeh

Throughout the history of the United States, presidents have brought forward their own security strategies in order to promote effectiveness and dissuasiveness in foreign policy. As circumstances alter rapidly in the world isolationism and activism have been two fundamental instruments in U.S. foreign policy.

 

President Donald Trump delivers a speech on national security, Monday, Dec. 18, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Many of previous presidents conducted isolationist policies such as George Washington, and many of others have conducted activist policies in foreign policy such as George W. Bush.  Mr. Obama could be seen as the last implementer of some form of isolationism. On the other hand, in the recent years, rising rivalry conspicuously began to be argued in domestic affairs and seen as a critical problem for American leadership. So, it seems that, Trump’s administration does not want to ignore the risk toward the worldwide dominance of U.S.

Critics Over Obama’s Administration

When Mr. Obama’s presidency taken in hand, it’s obvious that during his era, national security strategies of U.S. were much more inclining towards  ”Soft Power’ in an effort to appease Anti-Americanism. According to some, Obama’s presidency has prevailed reversing negative considerations toward U.S. In other respects, current president Trump is been exerting his boldness by enhancing the sense of ”Making America Great Again”.

As President Trump addressed in his national security strategy speech, he brought to the fore front the notion of ”America First”. This stands as intrinsic part of his doctrine. Also in the newly decided Security Strategy, preserving American citizens’ rights are depicted as a sworn duty of the U.S. Government.  Many people see Obama’s presidency as an era of deterioration of America’s dominance meanwhile others favor his policies.  Allegedly, his policies have enhanced Russian influence especially in Syria and even in the Black Sea in parallel with the annexation of Crimea in 2014. Therefore, it is not so hard for many to advocate Trump’s policies. During his campaign, he had showed his eagerness to convert foreign policy from Isolationism into the Activism.

As he stated numerous times, it is the right time for America to consider effective transformation in many fields such as economy, health care system (cancellation of Obamacare) and so on. According to many Republicans, predecessor’s mistakes in both domestic and foreign affairs, overwhelmingly coerces U.S. to handle with current and forthcoming circumstances. Let’s look into Trump’s commitments in his security strategy.

Dwelling on Facts

It is a striking point that during the announcement of the Security Strategy, Mr. Trump labeled Russia and China as ”Rival” powers. Also he added that they are willing to shake US dominance utterly. That could be a correct indication with many aspects. United States is the world’s leading state on military spending with approximately $600 billion (it has been decided to be increased by $80 billion) whilst Russia and China have around $200 billion combined. It is a well-known fact, Russia and China are about to increase their military and economic strength in parallel with their regional and global goals in the future.

Especially since 2015, Russian naval production is been increasing tremendously. Only within 2017, in parallel with the Russian Naval Doctrine ratified by Vladimir Putin and published in 20 July 2017, Russians aimed to include around 30 new modern warships to their naval forces in order to gear up the capacity to challenge with the U.S. dominance in the seas. Yet, U.S. Naval Forces has worldwide impact thanks to its active 11 Aircraft Carriers while Russia and China combined only have 2 Aircraft carriers in service.

 

               Putin, Rogozin and Shoigu discuss the new Naval Doctrine of Russia

 

Education, Economy and R&D

For a nation, almost all of the success comes from educational development and innovation rate of communities. When U.S. education system observed, the knowledge generation looks better than any other country. United States has 18 universities in the best 50 in the overalls meanwhile China has 6 and Russia has none (Lomonosov Moscow State University has the highest ranking in Russia, 95th). This is not the only comparison. Also most of the world innovative companies are located in the Silicon Valley.

Eventually, the development in education will reflect the economic capability and a substantial element on economic growth based on technology and innovation. When the data is observed, U.S. expenditure on Research&Development seems around $480 million in PPP. This is the highest expenditure on R&D all around the world. Chinese expenditure to R&D seems around $370 million. This is the second biggest amount after U.S. and numbers clearly demonstrates that U.S. leadership is still continuing in many fields. However, China’s growth of potential has been gaining momentum every year thanks to its high labor force with around 1.40 billion population (2017) and governments correct tax regulations towards Foreign Direct Investors.

Also, there are many reasons for investors to choose China. Towards  the end of the 20th Century, China has started the liberalisation process and trying to entice foreign firms by making circumstances convenient for them. China would get ahead of the U.S. economy in the forthcoming decades. In addition to this, China’s lead on global economy is ”inevitable” to some. Donald Trump’s nascent tax reform could be seen as kind of an attempt of clawing back the financial advantage from the hands of China. The reform includes decreasing percentage of taxation in case of firms moving back to U.S.

A Sworn Component to Soft Power: Culture 

After all of those facts taken in hand, let’s take a look at the issue from a different perspective. The importance of China in economic and also we could add military field, has been increasing sharply. Yet, these are not the only competitive fields. Also, culture is such a key instrument on rising influence. Also, it is a significant advantage that U.S. holds the world’s biggest and effective cultural tool called Hollywood. The U.S. culture is able to stretch and spread its existence. This is another reality that needs to be taken into account by rivalry candidates. The Hollywood is in the forefront in the cinema sector across the world and that accelerates spread of US identity.

This way, U.S. identity obtains a vital chance to embrace with the people with another identity. Accessibility is a superior necessity to a nation. Throughout the world, almost all sectors are being dominated by American firms. If the rivals are willing to gain leverage in any field, than the success requires an efficient mobilization backed up by a long-term planning.

 

KFC and McDonald’s signs in Xiamen, China. Photo: sly06 / Flickr Creative Commons

As a conclusion, it is not rational for rising rival powers to acquire head to head capacity in worldwide sphere in a short period. The huge potential of the east would be worth pondering in following decades. A well utilization of potential in the long-term could have an impact upon roles.

 

Mustafa Aydogan is currently working on topics related to Russian Eurasianism and Middle East. He has a Bachelor degree from  Bahcesehir University Istanbul and he is keen on pursuing an academic career in the future.

 

British Prime Minister Theresa May has received widespread praise for the steely way that she has handled the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal in the sleepy market town of Salisbury. Those accolades are exaggerated. If anything, the British authorities reacted too fast and too furiously to the attack on Skripal, a former Russian military intelligence officer and convicted British double agent who was released from prison in 2010 in a spy swap that involved the glamorous Russian sleeper agent Anna Chapman.

May was the home secretary who in 2014 authorized an inquiry into the November 2006 assassination of former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko in London, after having withheld permission in earlier years. Now, as prime minister, she predictably wants to show that she will stand up for the national interest. It’s vital to be seen as strong, especially at a time when the daily headlines pillory her handling of Brexit negotiations with the European Union. Westminster was bound to take stern measures, because a swapped spy is meant to have immunity from retaliation. To make matters worse, Skripal’s innocent daughter as well as a local detective constable who went to their rescue were affected by the use of a chemical nerve agent on British soil.

But just as acting too quickly can backfire, it has always been counterproductive to act too late and too meekly. It’s worth recalling that it took nine long years from the Litvinenko murder to the conclusion of the inquiry, which laid the blame on two Russian intelligence officers, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun. The Litvinenko inquiry, after exhaustive proceedings, concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin had “probably” given the order for his gruesome death by radioactive polonium-210 poisoning. What we do know, however, is that every Russian spokesman from Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has ridiculed the use of the word “probably” ever since  and several Moscow newspapers that are usually capable of criticizing Putin followed suit. The political handling of the Skripal poisoning has exposed the British Cabinet to the same treatment by Russian officials. This time, Downing Street decided to condemn Putin without even bothering to put forward corroborating evidence.

After all, engagement with the Russian public matters, too, if the West is ever to counter the popularity that Putin currently enjoys with most Russians. For an entire week after the Salisbury poisoning, Russian TV’s Channel One carried commentaries ridiculing Britain for failing to take care of its Russian residents and rejecting British claims about Moscow’s long arm of terror as yet another example of official Russophobia. In addition to making earnest demands for proof, the TV network as well as some Russian diplomats dropped hints that the attack on Skripal was a devilish plot by the British secret services to stir up hatred of Russia and disrupt its preparations for the June 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Most Russians obtain their news primarily from Moscow-based TV channels, which subserviently toe the Kremlin line. And the prime minister’s total attribution of blame to Putin without publishing any evidence has played into the Kremlin’s hands. The same was true of British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who has a habit of scoring own goals by saying the first thing that comes into his head. Johnson hinted that the England soccer team might be withdrawn from participation in the World Cup. Johnson repeated his display of idiocy by comparing Putin to Hitler — a highly insensitive comment in the minds of most Russians, who are united in the pride they take in the Soviet Union’s role in defeating the Third Reich.

May’s government has begun to recover from this shaky start. In the past, getting support for a robust diplomatic response from Washington and Brussels would have been guaranteed in advance. European anger about Brexit and the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, an admitted admirer of Putin, have made it less straightforward. Trump has shown a reluctance to criticize the Russian leader even when various parts of his administration have enacted policies that run counter to Russian interests. Nevertheless, May succeeded in extracting a measure of support from Trump, and she and Johnson eventually found a sympathetic hearing among European leaders. They have also welcomed inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. They even persuaded the Trump administration and several European states to engage in a simultaneous large-scale expulsion of Russian diplomats.

Whether May and Johnson spoke more openly to U.S. and EU officials than they did in public about the evidence linking the poisoning to Putin still remains unknown. They would do themselves a favor if they were to discuss, however gradually, the contours of the evidence they have collected. When the Russian authorities make mischief by offering to assist in the investigation, the most effective response would be to accept the overture, share a sample of the poison, and then subject the Kremlin’s response to the same techniques of forensic exposure that Russians have been applying to British official announcements. It’s true that this risks could mean more RT spreading its propaganda. But Western democracies ought to have faith in their own resilience. Prolonged political transparency is more effective than secretiveness — people have had enough of politicians who seek to preserve their privileged access to information that doesn’t pose a danger for national security.

 

David İmoisi, originally from Nigeria, is currently studying international relations at Yakin Dogu Universitesi in Cyprus. His interests revolve around international politics and diplomacy.

Following a recent series of deadliest attacks, Kabul was again shaken with heinous terrorist bombing on 27 January when an ambulance loudened with explosive materials was detonated on busy road near the city hospital. According to the Ministry of Public Health of Afghanistan (MoPH) 95 civilians have been killed and more than 191 others have been injured. Responsibility behind this attack was claimed by proxy Taliban militants.

Another such deadly attack has occurred at Intercontinental Hotel Kabul killing 25 people, almost 14 were foreign nationals, included nine from Ukraine, two from US and others from Greece, Germany and Kazakhstan when gunmen in army uniforms entered the hotel. It was also claimed by the Taliban, the shadow of Haqqani Network. In the course of such soft targeted attacks, yet another terror attack was carried out on British run aid agency ‘Save the Children’ in Jalalabad on 23 January where at least four people were killed and dozens injured.

The gist of the above reports is that in the modern warfare strategy, the adversaries make use of irregular and covert means, in other words unconventional dimensions of war strategy to achieve their strategic and political designs which is called hybrid war. For more than four decades Afghan people are victimized and winced in this excruciation of undeclared war, which represents the essence of hybrid war, imposed upon them from neighbouring states, particularly from Pakistan due to Afghanistan unfortunate strategic location and political importance in the region. In military warfare, this undeclared war is the most sophisticated warfare strategy against an adversary.

Hybrid warfare has non-standard methods or tactics used to combat the adversary through indirect war such as terrorist actions, indiscriminate violence, criminal activity, changing perceptions and propaganda. The strategic calculations of hybrid war are more lethal, potential and cheap allurements to belligerent state due to the use of non-state actors, as forefront liners in the combat ground against the rival. In the same way, the Pakistani military elite and intelligence agency ISI have launched proxy war against Afghanistan for its so-called strategic abyss, containment of Kabul for future retribution and bulwark against New Delhi.

For disrupting and destabilizing Afghanistan and the region as whole, Pakistan military establishment uses and calculates the Taliban, Haqqani network and other militant groups as foreign policy tools for many years and now by nurturing, recruiting, financing and sheltering these goons under aegis of Islamic sentimentalities in religious madrassahs and masques where they get Islamic edict or fatwa issued by Pakistan clerics to legitimize holy war in Afghanistan and where else.

The Haqqani network is most qualified, veritable arm and sophisticated militant group for Pakistan military establishment in Rawalpindi backing and sponsoring against Afghan, US and allied forces in Afghanistan. The group is led by Siraj Haqqani, the son of the famous anti-Soviet Jihadist Jalaluddin Haqqani, who also led deputy command of Afghan Taliban after death of Taliban leader Mullah Mansoor in US drone attack in Pakistan July 2016. Since the recent past the Haqqani network preserves huge command and control lines of Taliban operations which prove more extreme, disastrous and fatal for innocent civilians of Afghanistan and its national security forces. The recent atrocious and barbaric attack in Kabul via explosive ambulance has crossed and ashamed humanity and civility at all.

However despite much confirmation of sponsoring and sheltering terrorist groups, Pakistan repeatedly denies these allegations about collaborating with Islamist proxies against Afghanistan. While on the other side, for interval of times, suspected U.S. drones find and kill high profile commander level militants of Haqqani network or Taliban in missile strikes. Even the world most wanted terrorist Osama Bin Laden was found and killed in Pakistan.

In the recent months, sources close to the Haqqani Network confirmed to media that drone missiles had killed two militants of the Network in the compound in Dapa Mamuzai village of Kuram Agency Pakistan who were mid-level Afghan commanders. In response Pakistan clamours for condemning U.S. drone strikes and pursues the violation of its sovereignty and integrity while in sagaciousness, isn’t it being considered as the transgression of the territorial by Pakistan officials when its military establishment harbours, assists and foreign militants in safe havens within Pakistan soil? No, because it depicts the reality that these militants are the strategic assets the Pakistani state uses as policy tools against Afghanistan and India.

Even the US President Donald Trump’s tweets about Pakistan’s duplicities and lies in international war on terror didn’t fall on the deaf ears of Pakistan ruling elites and military establishments. Its world prospects are even narrowed down to the level that Pakistani state confronts an isolation and diplomatic failure internationally for its double standards and carries on the same covert suicidal policies of harbouring and sheltering Islamic proxy terrorists and extremists at home and abroad and making denials officially.

Through these remarkable evidences, it’s an open message for the US, international community and Afghanistan that this strategy of Pakistan via proxy groups is much worth and more prohibitive for it. Its behaviour can’t be changed unless and until the steps of international sanctions and declaration of terror sponsor state are imposed on Pakistan.

Habib Khan is an M.Phil Student of International Relations at QAU Islamabad.

Fleeing the economic collapse that has been destroying Venezuela since 2015, Esmeralda,
21, quit nursing school and left for Brazil with hopes of pursuing her education, finding a job, and providing for her family.

In her suitcase, Esmeralda packed her scrubs and books. Yet in Roraima,
Brazil’s northernmost state, her work uniform became something different altogether: a
short, tight dress and heels. Without many job opportunities, and facing discrimination from
Brazilian employers, Esmeralda is one of the hundreds of Venezuelan women who have been
pushed into sex work to make ends meet.

“My family doesn’t know I work like this, it would bring them shame. I didn’t study to have
this life,” she says, after hopping out of a client’s vehicle. Shame – and fear – are common
feelings among women like Esmeralda, especially when they have families waiting for them
in their home country. To avoid exposing her identity, Esmeralda chose not to disclose her
surname.

“I’m pregnant, and I don’t know what I’m going to do moving forward,” says Maria, a 36-yearold
former hairdresser who declines to give her last name. “[The baby is] my husband’s,” she
then explains, as if trying to set the record straight.

Maria has mailed food to her three kids, who are 14, 18, and 21 years old, and her husband,
all of whom are still living in Venezuela. She hasn’t told them how she earns the money to pay
for the goods she sends them. Some of Maria’s income still stems from her former trade: in
cities located on the outskirts of Boa Vista, she gives manicures and haircuts to her fellow
sex workers.

Since Venezuela’s economic collapse began in 2015, hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan
migrants have crossed the Brazilian border. According to data from the International
Monetary Fund, Venezuela has the world’s worst economic growth. Inflation rates should
spiral to 13,000 percent this year, and its currency has lost 99 percent of its value since
2012. As Matt O’Brien wrote for The Independent in 2016: “Venezuela is the answer to what
would happen if an economically illiterate drug cartel took over a country.”
Despite the migration free-flow that has been occurring for more than two years, it is only
now that the Brazilian government has decided to act on the migration crisis in northern
Brazil. President Michel Temer recently declared a “state of social calamity” and will send
resources to help the state government deal with the situation. Justice Minister Raul
Jungmann announced that 200 military troops will act on the border “not to forbid their
entry in Brazil, but to give some order to this process.”

Risky bussiness

In 2017 alone, more than 70,000 Venezuelan nationals have passed through Roraima –
especially now that Colombia has imposed barriers at its border. Over the past 45 days,
18,000 Venezuelans have applied for a Brazilian visa.

Around 40,000 of these refugees have stayed in Boa Vista, the state capital. Roraima is
isolated from other states by vast stretches of treacherous rainforest. A plane ticket to São
Paulo, for instance, usually costs over 1,000 BRL – more than the country’s minimum wage.
The sheer lack of options forces many Venezuelans to settle in Boa Vista, and they now
amount to over ten percent of the city’s population.

But though it is a state capital, Boa Vista is by no means a dynamic urban center – and
employment is lacking, with formal opportunities scarcer than many other cities in
Brazil. Unemployment rates have surpassed 11 percent, the highest of the state’s history.
The few available jobs often impose degrading work conditions. Aware of the desperation of
migrants, many Brazilian employers offer salaries far below normal rates, and for long hours.
The same happens in the sex work industry.

Since the 1990s, when gold miners started to occupy the region, the Caimbé district has
gained notoriety for its brothels and street prostitution. But since 2015, those activities have
intensified. Previously, sexual services were sold in the Caimbé district of Boa Vista for an
average of 100 BRL – that is, until the arrival of the Spanish-speaking call girls.
As the numbers of foreign women working in the streets have surged, the average price has
fallen to 80 BRL – a number that has become these women’s nickname: the ochenta(eighty, in
Spanish). The epithet has turned into a song, Xote das Ochenta, a ballad about a mean-spirited
man bargaining to lower a Venezuelan sex worker’s rate.

But in addition to payment problems, the ochenta are often forced to deal with violence.
Several of them are controlled by pimps, who lurk around the women disguised as coffee or
chocolate vendors. Whenever a man enquires about rates, the pimps approach to sell a treat
– but they are actually controlling how much the woman is charging for her services. Last
year, three men were arrested by the Federal Police for pimping and extorting women.
Nor are the clients any less dangerous.

Back in December, a Venezuelan woman was raped, stabbed and abandoned in a roadway
outside of Boa Vista. Yet despite the severity of the attack, she survived – and told the police
that the man attacked her after she refused to have sexual relations without a condom. The
suspect was identified, but he has not been arrested.

To avoid a similar fate, other girls have a security system. Whenever one of them hops into
the car of a client, the others use a rock to write the car’s license plate on the wall. “If she’s
away for too long, we call the cops,” explains Maria.

For many of the ochentas, like Michele and Valencia, the daily routine starts as early as 7 a.m.
The two 20-year-old friends arrived in Boa Vista two weeks ago, from the Venezuelan city of
Maracay. Their clients start coming soon after, looking for sex before going off to work. They
come back during lunchtime, and then again from 5 p.m. until the early hours of the next day.
Michele, a former nurse, is nostalgic about her days in Venezuela. “I loved my work helping
women to give birth. I had always dreamt of being a nurse,” she said as she headed towards
her next client’s car.

 

This article, written by Eliane Rocha was originally published by The Brazilian Report and is available here.

With Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia’s elections set to take place in 2018, the South Caucasus could face some significant security risk. As changes in the U.S.-Russia and Europe-Russia relations continue to influence the region’s politics, the fragile state of the internal politics can leave a lasting impact on the stability of the region.

BY: ANI KARAPETYAN

The three countries of the South Caucasus – Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia – are set to have presidential elections in 2018 in the mentioned order. While Georgia is scheduled to have its elections in October of this year, Armenia and Azerbaijan are confirmed to have their presidential elections in March and April respectively, both of which will possibly have larger geopolitical implications than the Georgian elections.

The 2017 amendments in the Georgian constitution have shifted the country’s governing structure to a fully proportional system, not lacking in controversy; some even predict considerable shifts in the political landscape of the country. Georgia, however, unlike Armenia and Azerbaijan, is not involved in a regional inter-state conflict (the brief war with Russia in 2018 reached further than the borders of South Caucasus). Georgia’s presidential elections, therefore, although equally important for the country’s internal affairs, are less likely to have security-related consequences for the region.

Meanwhile, Armenia and Azerbaijan are parties to the unresolved conflict of more than three decadesDeadly clashes in the border between the disputed breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan occur frequently. Consequently, the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidential elections in the upcoming months can potentially influence the security of the region as prospects for peace remain fragile and commitment to democracy by both governments doubtful.

After the constitutional referendum in 2015, Armenia transitioned from a semi-presidential form of governance into a parliamentary republic. Opposing political figures, European observers and the public grew concerned with the results making serious allegations of fraud and vote rigging; the proponents of the “No” campaign soon formed public resistance. The constitutional referendum was largely seen as a means to extend the political power of the incumbent president Serj Sargsyan and his ruling Republican Party. Sargsyan’s second and last term ends in 2018, and he had to step down if not for the constitutional referendum results.

None of the reported irregularities and public outcry gained enough momentum to generate change or reverse the referendum results. The public movement soon died down after facing the ruling party’s usual and often violent crackdown on the critical members of the public and political opposition.

Based on procedures established in the aftermath of the constitutional referendum- on March 9, 2018, for the first time in the history of the Republic of Armenia the president will be elected by the Parliament and not by popular vote. The incumbent president has already nominated Armen Sarkissian, an independent politician and a former ambassador of Armenia to the UK, for the largely ceremonial role of the president. On February 16, 2018, Sarkissian accepted the nomination to be the Republican Party’s candidate and is projected to be the winner of the parliamentary vote.

In the upcoming Azerbaijani presidential elections on April 11, 2018, Ilham Aliyev is so far the only candidate. The incumbent president of Azerbaijan is projected to win his fourth term of presidency; Ilham Aliyev succeeded his father, Heydar Aliyev, in 2003 when he won the presidential elections by a landslide following his father’s death.

The Azerbaijani elections are less rich in context. Besides Aliyev’s decree to move the election from October 17, 2018 to April 11, 2018, and the possibility of human rights violations that usually accompany the elections, the pre-election months have been uneventful.

It is apparent, in these contexts, that the South Caucasus’ politics do not happen in isolation. The region’s Soviet legacy has implied Russia’s interest in maintaining a strong presence in all three countries. Armenia, as a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Eurasian Economic Union as well as the host of a Russian military base, has traditionally strong relations with Russia. The ties with the Europe are of considerable interest to Armenia as well, and the recent Association Agreement with the European Union serve as a testament to that.

Azerbaijan’s wealth in oil and natural gas has always been a concern for Russia and of significant interest to the U.S. and Europe. The West has often been criticized for ignoring the numerous human rights violations by the Azeri authorities for the sake of the country’s oil and gas exports; both EU and U.S. have interests in leveraging Azerbaijan’s exports of the natural resources to mitigate the dependence on Russia’s oil and natural gas.

Russia’s relations with Azerbaijan, on the other hand, are complex. Azerbaijan’s unique non-aligned status speaks to the fact that the two countries’ declarations of commitment to military and trade cooperation are fragile.

Armenian-Russian relations seem to have entered a rough patch in the recent years. Russia’s declining economic strength and Armenia’s reducing remittances coupled with Russia’s failure to act as a security guarantor in what came to be known as the four-day-war in April, 2016, have influenced the countries’ relations negatively.

With the latest regional and larger geopolitical developments, it is clear that the region of the South Caucasus is in the midst of a security crisis. Changes in Russia-U.S. and Europe-Russia relations have a track-record of influencing the regional politics. And the closely following presidential elections in Armenia and Azerbaijan could potentially increase security risks. With Russia under pressure to rebalance its relations with Armenia alongside maintaining the traditional security role in the country and the desired influence in the region, the possibility for a peaceful 2018 is decreasing. Although elections in both Armenia and Azerbaijan are expected to end in the leading political powers’ win, the fragile state of the internal politics of the countries can lead to developments that have the potential to leave a lasting impact on the stability of the region.

Ani Karapetyan holds a Master of Science degree in Global Affairs from New York University. She has received NYU provost’s Global Research Initiatives fellowship to analyze UN’s social and environmental accountability and has published Democracy and Civil Rights related articles.

This article was originally published by Political Insight and is available Here.

 

Both France and the UK have gone into polls in the months of May and June of the year 2017 respectively. Both, being the nuclear powers and permanent members of UNSC, hold a great importance for the world politics in general and specifically, the EU. Elections in these two countries have given rise to several new debates and have lain to rest some prominent issues which could ensue if the results were different. However, in case of France, the results of the presidential elections have brought a sigh of relief with Emmanuel Macron from neophyte ‘En Marche’ (On the Move) party as president, while, in the UK’s case, they led to a weak i.e. hung parliament which cost the Conservative Party its majority in the British House of Commons. Political parties of Pakistan have many lessons to learn from both these elections.

Pakistan’s different districts. Source : http://www.saverwallpaper.com/beautiful-pakistan-hd-wallpapers-free-download/

The Election of Macron: A Great Victory for the EU

Emmanuel Macron during Presidential Elections in France

With Macron in office, the world will have a strongman standing against businessman turned politician Donald Trump

The first round of the French Presidential election was held on 23 April 2017 with no candidate winning with a majority. Thus, on 7 May 2017, top two candidates, Emmanuel Macron of ‘On the Move’ and Marine Le Pen of the ‘National Front’, contested in the second round. France elected its youngest President, Emmanuel Macron, a pro-EU and pro-business who assured to boost investments while dealing with the high unemployment. He secured 66.1% of the votes in a turnout of approximately 65%. This was a great victory for Macron, France and the EU. President Macron had found En Marche, a centrist and liberal party, in the month of April 2016.

France preferred Macron over Marine Le Pen, who promised the opposite of what Macron had promised. “She wanted a Europe of nations to replace the EU,” reports BBC. His victory was celebrated all around the world. Hillary Clinton termed it a “victory for Macron, for France, the EU and the World”. Another reaction to his victory was, “We are not so stupid in France, finally,” insinuating to the presidential elections in the US in the year 2016.  Macron’s victory holds a great significance for the global politics which is shifting to illiberal democracy and has already shifted in some countries. Marine Le Pen had twitted “I give myself six months to negotiate with the EU the return of sovereignty. Then it will be the French who decide.” Her victory would have been another blow for the EU after the Brexit and world would have seen another leader promoting illiberal democracy alongside with Trump and Putin. With Macron in office, the world will have a strongman standing against businessman turned politician Donald Trump along with an unfaltering Angela Merkel-German Chancellor (if she is lucky enough to be chancellor for the fourth term).

UK, Brexit, and Pakistan

Political parties of Pakistan must understand what can bring them majority i.e. being a party for all and restricting itself to a particular region or ethnicity

On the other hand, in April 2017, British Prime Minister Theresa May from Conservative Party called for a snap general election to secure her party’s Brexit mandate. However, 8 June 2017 general elections backfired her motives and led the UK to a hung parliament. With 68.7% turnout, none of the parties contesting the elections could win a simple majority to make its government. Conservative Party led by Theresa May could secure 318 seats while Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn could win 262 seats with 43 and 40 in terms of percentages respectively. Overall, Conservatives lost 12 seats while Labour unexpectedly gained 29 seats. Rest of the seats, out of total 650 seats, were secured by Scottish Nationalists (35), Liberal Democrats (12), Democratic Unionists (10), Greens (1) and others (12). UKIP party could not secure a single seat after accomplishing it Brexit mission. From these results, political parties of Pakistan must understand what can bring them majority i.e. being a party for all and restricting itself to a particular region or ethnicity.

A close look at these two elections would give an impression that liberal democracy won over illiberal democracy.

Jeremy Corbyn, with the manifesto of Labour Party committing to scrapping tuition fees, boosting workers’ rights and reversing a series of benefit cuts, was successful to involve the youth in the general elections. The turnout of the young registered voters made the difference in the UK general elections. The turnout of the youth aged between 18 to 25 was 72% as compared to an overall average of 68.7%. The young mostly supported the Labour. Labour’s success is due to the glistening performance of Corbyn. He tried to address the masses and won their favor. He used public transport to be among the audience while May, on contrary, used private transport. This helped Leader of the Labour Party gain popularity which resulted in its 29 seats gained in the House of Commons. However, a simple majority of Conservative would have left the Brexit on the party’s choice which might have led to ‘hard Brexit’. ‘Hard Brexit’ might happen still but the result gave a serious blow to Conservatives motive in this regard. Furthermore, May’s hate speech and encouragement of Islamophobia publicly have also contributed to her party’s loss of simple majority. Moreover, May has announced to form a coalition government with Democratic Unionists Party (DUP) which could grab 10 seats. Her coalition with DUP would impact negatively her already declining support. For Political Parties of Pakistan, a significant lesson is to be learned from this especially when it comes to making coalition governments with less popular parties.

Trump, Duterte, Orban, Le Pen: The Illiberal Democratic mindset

Image result for Trump duterte orban
Duterte, Putin, Erdogan, Trump , Modi and Orban.

A close look at these two elections would give an impression that liberal democracy won over illiberal democracy. With Trump in the US, Putin in Russia, Duterte in the Philippines, Orban in Hungary; with the victory of hardliner Marine Le Pen in French presidential election, the world would have met with another leader with an illiberal democratic mindset. Things would have gone from bad to worse. In case of UK general elections, one can witness the triumph of popular leadership against an elitist politician who made a move to tighten her grip over Brexit negotiations.

Pakistani politicians must not underestimate the power of public which was mobilized during the last elections by the call for ‘Change’.

With the call for general elections in the year 2018, there are various lessons to learn from these elections for the political parties in Pakistan. It would be naïve to compare the electoral system of Pakistan with that of these two developed European countries. However, Pakistani politicians must not underestimate the power of public which was mobilized during the last elections by the call for ‘Change’. Next general elections would be challenging for various parties, mainly PML-N, PPP and PTI owing to their provincial governments. Parties must address the grievances of the masses and design their manifestos keeping in mind the internal and external issues which Pakistan is faced with. Moreover, it would be harder for the federal ruling party in case if it fails to deliver what it promised before last elections, especially in energy and economic fronts. Otherwise, it might face what Conservatives in the UK and National Front faced in France. From Emmanuel Macron’s victory, novice parties can learn lessons to turn the winds in their favor which seems unlikely though at least for now. Lastly, Jeremy Corbyn’s sparkling performance must be kept in mind to win popularity especially among the youth which comprises 60% of the total population of Pakistan.

By Muhammad Murad 

Karachi, Pakistan 

 

I don’t know if our human minds can ever fully understand the deepest levels of calculus of military interventions in Africa. A more complicated SWOT analysis and evaluating interventions outcome is required.

Map of Africa. Credit : Dawn News

Western Powers and Africa

 so-called protection of civilians and counter-terrorism were behind most of foreign military interventions over the past two decades.

Western powers’ appetite for the dispatch of armed forces to Africa has been increased greatly in the twenty-first century. The so-called protection of civilians and counter-terrorism were behind most of foreign military interventions over the past two decades.

Unfortunately, these interventions in the continent have not changed anything. In fact, they worsened the situation in the continent as it has become more complicated in places like Somalia, Central African Republic [CAR], Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC] and Libya, particularly.

Same Mistake Every Time

Mali and CAR are almost in the same way as Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq. Western powers have been committing the same mistake every single time they kick off a military intervention in Africa since their intervention in Somalia.

Perhaps, just like me, you have been wondering how Western powers evaluate their calculus and decisions with their African partners when it comes to any military intervention in the continent. How do their policy makers understand their SWOT analyses?

Probably their policy makers think that each military intervention is taking place in a state similar to each other or looks like a western model at least. This kind of thinking has led Western powers into failed combats. Somalia, Libya, Mali and CAR were and are all failed states – or rather, these states have become less good than my African father’s corral.

Take a look at CAR now, despite strong support to the French mission; the power vacuum occurring in Mali has occurred equally in CAR or even worst – the country has become deeply divided by violence between Western Christians and Eastern Muslims. The latest battle north of Bambari last month has proved to us that the country is still in chaos. One in four has fled their homes in CAR and the past week has been outstanding for Bambari. What is more, hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children are sill displaced. But is this the correction for which we’ve been waiting?

Despite many military interventions in the continent to battle the increased terror threats or protect civilians, little is known about the effects of military interventions in Africa. Military interventions in Somalia in 1992 marked the emergence of an episode that had previously received little analytical attention in the continent.

Foreign military interventions for the proclaimed objective of saving lives of civilians or helping the local population to survive the ruthlessness of armed men and terrorists were not a fledgling coincidence as shown by interventions in Rwanda, Libya and CAR in the ensuing years.

There are a million reasons to believe that humanitarian interventions in Africa will continue in the future as long as Western Sahara still lacks peace as we all know that the next very horrifying danger is coming from there – humanitarian crises will continue to arise, hence I expect a number of national and global militaries maintain the capacity to respond.

Although, military and security solutions may finally represent an inevitable choice in the African reality, however, they reflect the failure of preventive measures such as mediation and negotiations. I am not trying to suggest that we should negotiate with all radical groups and terrorists. However, we have no choice and it is my candid opinion that we sit down with rebels/terrorists and negotiate sometimes.

What is negotiation and why do we need it? Surely these kinds of questions should not be asked by military strategists, but should be in the mind of young foreign policy makers when thinking about going to war and ending it as it’s been said that “It is easier to start a war than to end it.”

I wonder if French policy makers had deeply thought of the outcomes of the military interventions in Mali and CAR? It is obvious that France does not have the military and intelligence abilities required for a long counter- disorder or terrorism war in Africa and it does not possess the domestic economic engine needed to sponsor a decade-long war.

In Mali for instance, we have seen the mediation of Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaoré with Tuareg rebels ended in 2012 throughout an abject failure, where the radical Islamic groups such as Ansar al-Din, Tawhid and Jihad and al-Qaeda in the Arab Maghreb took over northern Mali and declared their silly independent state of Azawad.

So far, France repeated exactly the same mistakes made by the US in 2003 in Iraq. After the seizure of Timbuktu on January 29, 2013, French President, François Hollande declared: “We (France, Chad and Mali) are in the process of winning the battle.” This naivety and lack of foresight were followed by the declaration of the Defense minister of France, Jean-Yves le Drian, thus: “The mission is fulfilled.”

This funny scenario looks too much like the 2003 mission accomplished speech by former US President George W. Bush after the fall of the Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq, but look at these countries now after that arrogant declaration. Currently, these countries are nothing, but failed states and strongholds of terrorists. These French and American temperamental behaviors only functioned as a guideline for future actions for the spread of terrorism, thus reminding the world of their status of dominant powers. Any expert would agree that the war in Libya, Mali and CAR is far from being won. The war might just be a tool to please public opinion at home or challenge China abroad.

ChinAfrique?

In the case of Libya, more than five years after Gaddafi fell, Libya is on the brink – just forget about the political landscape and portrait the security implications in the region for a moment – the country has become a magnet for radical militants who receive weapons training in terrorist camps before launching deadly attacks in other countries across the Sahara and Sahel.

The terrorist groups’ immediate goal is to create a new caliphate in Libya or around the Sahara as it has become a safe haven for them. If no quick solution for Libya is found, terrorism activities will spread in the region and the whole world. The current attack on the Christians of Sinai/Egypt last week is another consequence of the chaos in Libya.  During Gaddafi, Libya was a bulwark against the terrorist groups spreading in the Sahara and Sahel strip, but the balance of power in that region has been upset, creating a dangerous threat that a new terror state will rise in the border lines due to the terrorism expansion therein.

In an interview with a Chadian army colonel who spoke on condition of anonymity, he told me that the intervention in Libya was definitely great for terrorists as they thrive in conditions of chaos. Muammar Gaddafi was making strong overtures against them. The truth that many people do not know about Gaddafi is that he spent billions of dollars in counter-terrorism and stopped terrorists from going to the Middle East and Europe.

He was like a security belt for Africa and the whole world. Chad is the most country affected by the chaos in Libya. The situation in Libya has gone from bad to worse and is horrific in many dimensions. “I am not a politician, but the future doesn’t look much brighter there,” the Chadian Colonel said.

Many African leaders including Chad’s President Idriss Deby have condemned the international community for its interventions in Africa. Deby argues that the crises engulfing the continent come from outside and not within Africa itself. “Gaddafi is dead and has left Libya to armed groups. Africa must now bear the consequences of this chaos,” said Deby in an interview with DW.

He said Europe must take responsibility for the fact that formerly peaceful countries are being terrorized by the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram. According to Deby the arms come from Libya and Boko Haram fighters were also trained there after Gaddafi’s death.

It’s obvious that there is still a huge gap between the international community and these African leaders as they criticize the international community for its military intervention in Libya in 2011, in which Gaddafi was killed. Deby argued that France played a leading role in the deployment. Today, Africa must bear the consequences of the intervention. “But the African continent has never asked to fight against Libya,” Deby stressed.

Senegal’s president Macky Sall also told the French minister of defense, Yves le Drian during the closing session of the Dakar International forum on peace and security in Africa in 2014 that NATO’s intervention in Libya led to the assassination of Gaddafi and the destruction of Libya, but then left Africa to clean up the mess. “There was no after-sales service,” he added.

Perhaps, just like me, you have been wondering why American troops engaged in lengthy conflicts that have not been able to get out of it for more than a decade such as Afghanistan and Iraq, while French forces were able to finish the operation quickly in Libya and Mali, regardless of the outcome of the military interventions. Thus, there is no reason to believe that the result will probably be different in CAR in the future.

Recently, the French government has establishment a 3,000-strong counterterrorism force across the Sahel region under the name of Barkhane Operation, starting in August 2014, with its headquarter in N’Djamena, Chad and its forces present in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Mauritania and such a step demonstrates the long-term involvement of France in the Sahel region.

More than two years later the Sahel is nothing, but a drought-prone region of the continent and Africa still hasn’t forgiven France, Britain and the United States for their military intervention in Libya.

Numerous current studies clearly indicate that outside military interventions tend to lengthen the expected duration of civil wars, making the hostilities more bloodier and longer, consequently, more serious regional disaster, hence if we look back at Somalia, Libya and CAR or even Iraq,  foreign military interventions in these countries are nothing, but just disastrous failures.

What then are the solutions?

I am not an expert in security as I don’t have a wealth of information on security matters. However, much of the empirical literature suggest incorporate mediations as the crucial importance to resolving the strategic problems that fragile states and civil war parties face.

As I am digging for solutions, I was not really surprised by Mr. Chuck Hagel, the former US Secretary of Defense when he claimed in August 2011, by discussing the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq: “We’ve got to get out of those wars. Let the people [Afghan and Iraqi people] decide what they want. If they don’t want what we wanted for them, or if they certainly don’t want what we wanted for them as much as we want it, then we can’t control that.”

This point might be very interesting for a military strategist to think this way. At first glance, it sounded to me like hell, yeah – this is the only solution for the construction of a viable Malian state and for the ones in CAR and Libya or even in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, here are the real questions: Is it the desire of local populations in Africa to commit genocide? Or to be killed by the Bats of darkness– the so called terrorists?

No sir. At this moment the answer is absolutely not to let the people decide what they want, but you’ve got to get out of those wars anyway.

Why shouldn’t the international community let the people of conflict-affected areas choose what they want? It is a misconception that education and economic solutions are not immediately critical solution for this dilemma. We all know that most of the people live in conflict-affected areas are poor, not educated and face the lack of national identity as well as the limited allegiance to a centralize source of power, these are the challenges to success peace, sovereignty and integration.

Tribal warfare and religious variable – or the so-called Islamic radicalism is the element of the complexity of conflicts in the contemporary reality of Africa. Therefore, African governments have resorted to the use of security and military solutions to confront and resolve these conflicts, rather than diplomatic techniques and strategic games.

Even though the U.N. Security Council could be the preferred authorizing body for military interventions according to the U.N. Charter, however, the African Union and sub-regional organizations should be legitimate authorizers in resolving armed conflicts in Africa because I deeply believe that regional and sub-regional African organizations have the right moral, cultural and political ability to resolve armed conflicts in the continent. Nevertheless, we cannot depend only on Africa and the ideal situation would be at all three levels – the international, regional and sub-regional actors to be focused and in agreement on actions that have to be taken.

In connection with this, my argument is based on the experiment of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) tactics in Gambia that served as a model according to ECOWAS Article 58 of its revised treaty relating to regional security which justifies interventions. We have seen an amazing combination of muscle and diplomacy that forced Gambian President Yahya Jammeh to cede power last month to challenger Adama Barrow who won the nation’s general election.

Don’t you think that this is the right calculus that our new generation dreams of?

It has perhaps, never been more important to wonder about the best steps to take in ensuring Africa’s stability. In an exclusive interview with Dr. David R. Leffler, Invincible Defense Technology Expert, he argues that the ultimate and best step to ensure Africa’s stability would be for the military of each African country to fund, staff and maintain their own Prevention Wing of the Military. Such elite, highly trained units would meditate together using IDT twice daily, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. In this manner, their nations would always be fully and safely protected. If this plan could be implemented, Africa would be self-sufficient for both international and domestic security. It would not be necessary for the US or any other outside country to take responsibility for Africa’s stability.

In addition to using invincible defense technology, various studies have confirmed that diplomacy is conclusive for understanding the duration of civil conflicts or any domestic stress. They find that mediation has a spectacular effect on the expected duration of a civil war or any domestic stress and that when controlling for diplomatic efforts, economic interventions can also play a crucial role. Therefore, there are important and need to re-examine history in understanding conflicts as well as academic attention is urgently needed instead of military interventions.

But hang on a minute: does one plus one equal one?

About the Author

Idriss Zackaria is an international reporter, editor, and specialist in international media and strategic communications, with an emphasis on support for independent journalism in emerging democracies and communications campaigns for international development. His previous role has been the coordination of all aspects of local and international media based in Istanbul and Cairo.

His time in Africa and the Middle East has seen him plan, implement, evaluate and report on programs that provide both journalistic, media marketing and acquisitions for sustainable local development.

He is currently based in Chad writes mainly for international media on Middle Eastern and African politics, human rights, political risk, security risk management, African economies and media ethics.

Zackaria has completed a Bachelor of Arts in mass communication, and holds a master’s degree in political sciences and public administration.

Japanese military normalization and collective self-defence under a Trump Presidency. This article is the continuation of the previous article about Japan’s Security 

Under an Orange Rising Sun, Part I

The Curious Security Relationship with the US

The next argument concentrates on the importance of Japanese military normalisation beyond collective self-defence and beyond its security relationship with the United States. Japan has the third-biggest economy and the seventh-most effective military in the world. Yet its pacifist constitution belies this fact and creates a paradox situation for Japan. Abe Shinzo and his conservative LDP  have called repeatedly for constitutional revision and a change to the pacifist Article 9. Abe echoed the fact that 70% of Japanese constitutional scholars regard the existence of the Japanese military as unconstitutional and presented an amended draft constitution in February 2016. In it, the right of self-defence and the right to maintain a standing military would be enshrined (The Japan Times).

Stronger Japanese Military

Due to the unclear and – by some accounts – illegal status of the Self-Defence Forces, their role is severely limited. Since Japan’s adoption of new military legislation in March 2016, the Japanese Self-Defence Forces are able to actively interfere in foreign conflicts. (Mie November 2016) An example of the benefits deriving from this new situation is the greater freedom with which the Japanese military can participate in UN peacekeeping missions. Up until the adoption of the military legislation Japan was unable to initiate force when taking part in UN peacekeeping missions. One of the first results of the changed legislation is the replacement of Japan’s contingent of soldiers stationed in the South Sudan as part of the United Nations UNMISS mission since 2011. Japan has taken part in five UN peacekeeping missions since 1992, yet the JSDF was never authorised to use force. The new contingent of 350 soldiers – made up of trained engineers –  is tasked with aiding construction in the war-torn country. But the new mandate also authorises them to actively engage hostiles to defend civilians, UN staff or aid workers (Bearak). Beyond the implications for Japan’s ability to deploy its military for self-defence of its own territory, this example also highlights the beneficial consequences of a normalised Japan for international peacekeeping efforts.

Defend Japan’s territorial claims and deter Attackers

Japan has territorial disputes with most of its neighbours: It claims that the Russian-controlled Kuril Islands are Japanese territory and were illegally taken by the Soviet Union

The third argument focuses on the necessity of normalisation to assert and defend Japan’s territorial claims and deter attackers. Japan has territorial disputes with most of its neighbours: It claims that the Russian-controlled Kuril Islands are Japanese territory and were illegally taken by the Soviet Union right before the end of the Second World War. Both Japan and the Koreas claim sovereignty over the uninhabited Dokdo/Takeshima islets in the Sea of Japan. While they are held by South Korea, both Japan and the DPRK challenge this. Japan is also embroiled in a territorial dispute with China and the Republic of China over a group of islands close to Taiwan claimed by all three contestants and controlled by Japan. They are called Senkaku by Japan, Diaoyu by China and Tiaoyutai by the ROC (Takahashi).

From Obama to Trump : What Changes for Japan?

The shift from Obama to Trump means insecurity especially regarding the Senkaku Islands.

The Senkaku Islands.

The shift from Obama to Trump means insecurity especially regarding the Senkaku Islands. Barack Obama was the first American president who publicly stated that the Senkaku Islands were covered by the security treaty during a state visit to Japan in 2014. Although the US refused to comment on the question of sovereignty with regard to the territory, they clearly communicated their commitment to defend Japan’s claim to the islands against China (McCurry/Branigan). This commitment has not been made by Trump or any member of his future administration (Klingner). This, combined with his sharp criticism of the security treaty as a whole makes a repetition of Obama’s clear commitment to defend Japan’s claim unlikely.

So, Japan potentially needs to deter attackers from the Senkaku Islands with its own navy, a likely scenario considering Chinese incursions in Japanese-claimed territorial waters around Senkaku (Klingner). But to effectively employ and use its military, Abe’s government requires a clear constitutional mandate. Japan’s territory is contested and the military support of the new administration in Washington is shaky. Because of this, Japan’s military normalisation is a pragmatist necessity.

The security treaty between Japan and the United States has prevailed for 56 years under 10 American presidents and 24 Japanese prime ministers. Yet today its future is as uncertain as it has never been before. Japan is faced with an American president that calls many commitments and guarantees into question. Japan can no longer depend on the United States’ categorical pledge to defend Japan and to maintain a military presence there. The land of the Rising Sun is faced with three scenarios concerning the future of the security treaty: The alliance can either continue as it did before, it can change to require greater financial or military commitment from the Japanese, or it can be dissolved completely. In all of these three scenarios, military normalisation and collective self-defence is necessary. Japan is challenged by its contested territorial claims, by North Korea’s growing hostility and by the increasing regional insecurity due to China’s revisionist bids in the South China Sea. To address these challenges, Japan must be able to rely on a military that is free from constitutional shackles, especially if the unconditional support of the USA is no longer completely certain.

Marian Blok

Marian Blok is a member of Tel Aviv University Model United Nations. A Young Diplomats Partner.