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Thursday, Dec. 20, 2001


Coalition welcomes Japan's ongoing help

Staff writer

As the first phase of the U.S. war in Afghanistan comes to a close, multilateral cooperation involving Japan will be important in rebuilding the war-torn country, according to a Washington-based scholar.

News photo
John Ikenberry

"Japan's role is not necessarily military. Japan can help provide resources for rebuilding the country. . . . I think its role will continue to be important," John Ikenberry, professor of government and international affairs at Georgetown University, said in a recent interview in Tokyo.

Ikenberry said Afghanistan is going to be a long-term process. The work to be done there includes dealing with the plight of refugees and establishing a provisional government.

Speaking about the U.S. involvement in postwar Afghanistan, the international relations scholar criticized past U.S. actions and expressed hope that the U.S. would continue to be involved in peace-building in that country.

"There is a tendency in American foreign policy to go in, bomb, win the campaign, then leave and forget about it. This is what we've done in the past," he said. "I hope this time, the U.S. makes a longer-term commitment and works with the United Nations and with Japan and other countries that are focusing on postwar Afghanistan to keep this country from falling back again."

Ikenberry, who is also a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank, said the U.S. government very much appreciates Japan's support in the U.S. military campaign against Afghanistan, and that there are no complaints or dissatisfaction about Japan's role.

According to Ikenberry, U.S. President George W. Bush even said in a speech he made in Virginia on the Dec. 7 anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, "Today, the great enemies of the past are now working shoulder to shoulder" to fight terrorism.

"I think Japan's offering naval support, offering its good offices, offering support with information-gathering. . . . All of these are very positive and probably mattered in the success of the post-Sept. 11 (campaign)," he said, adding that if Japan had not offered this help, Washington's actions would have been different.

However, the professor warned that Japan should not go beyond its pacifist Constitution on the use of force. Small steps are OK, he said, but bigger steps like revising Article 9 would not be necessary.

Article 9 renounces war and bars Japan from using force as a means of settling international disputes.

"Big steps are more provocative," he said. "Abolition of Article 9 and acquisition of nuclear weapons . . . this kind of normalization of military power is not needed and is not necessarily good for the region."

Ikenberry said Japan can play a role, especially in the area of U.N. peacekeeping operations. But again, Japan must figure out for itself how much of a role it can play in peacekeeping activities, which have become increasingly risky in recent years.

He also suggested that Japan should demand more involvement in the process of defining the alliance with the U.S.

"In making small steps, I also think Japan should insist on having more voice over alliance policy," he said.

While the U.S. can determine when it will use force, Japan has to figure out how it can play its role so it won't be criticized, he said. "That's the dilemma Japan has."

He said that if the U.S. emphasizes greater burden-sharing by Japan, Japan can also demand a greater voice and more involvement in forming the policy of the alliance. "Both have to go together, and it's a bargaining," he said.

Ikenberry recently published the book "After Victory: Institutions, Strategic Restraint, and the Rebuilding of Order after Major Wars," which describes how states have increased their power after winning major wars in the past. He said the U.S. must be careful not to make policy mistakes after the Afghanistan campaign.

While an active debate on what happens next is going on in Washington, there is momentum in the Bush administration toward stepping up pressure on Iraq, he said.

However, Ikenberry believes that the U.S. cannot gain international support for bombing Iraq.

Unless the groundwork is laid for an international coalition to act together, "You risk disrupting the kind of cooperation you need to pursue antiterrorism," he said. "The U.S. could end up looking like an arrogant, military-oriented superpower that disregards the international community. That's not good for a longer- and wider-term campaign against terrorism."

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