Sunday, April 22, 2007

Axis of Good?

Old Europe may be in decline, but we as a continental power can look to the Pacific as a new 21st-century focus.

The Emerging Axis Of Good

Alliances: The sun may be setting on the British empire, but at least one part of it is still showing some spunk. Japan, meanwhile, is shaking off its pacifist past to become the Gibraltar of the Far East. We are not alone.

The departure of Tony Blair and Britain's resolve is regrettable. And the wimpy reaction of Britain to Iran's seizure of 15 Royal Navy seamen won't make anyone forget Admiral Nelson at Trafalgar anytime soon. But Australia and its prime minister, John Howard, have made it clear they aren't going anywhere.

In an interview on the fourth anniversary of the liberation of Iraq from the murderous and genocidal regime of Saddam Hussein, Howard said a precipitate withdrawal from Iraq, as the Pelosi/Murtha/Reid Democrats want, would be "disastrous."
Howard rejects Democrat arguments that we should abandon Iraq and focus on Afghanistan. "Why," he argues, "is it OK for Iraq to become a safe haven for global terror, but not Afghanistan? Why is building Afghanistan's security capability more compelling than building Iraq's? And why is a massive setback to American global leadership fine in one place but not in another?"
Australian troops have served valiantly in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and Howard has no sympathy for our Democratic presidential candidates who would cut and run.

Howard reacted to the candidacy of freshman Illinois Sen. Barack Obama by saying, "If I were running al-Qaida in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008 and be praying as many times as possible for a victory not only for Obama, but also for the Democrats.
In March, Howard was in Tokyo to sign a security pact with Japan, the first such treaty Japan has signed with a country other than the U.S. "The purpose of this is to express a common desire of Japan and Australia to work ever closer together to contribute to security in the region," Howard said after meeting with Japan's Defense Minister, Fumio Kyuma.

On April 13, the Japanese government took a major step toward revising its pacifist constitution, winning parliamentary endorsement of procedures for a national referendum necessary to make changes to its postwar charter.
With 240,000 troops under arms and a budget of $50 billion, Japan's military already outranks Britain's in terms of money and manpower. According to a recent article in Forbes magazine, Japan could produce a nuclear arsenal in just 183 days.
Abe has said that if "there is no other option to prevent" a North Korean attack, a preemptive strike by Japan on Pyongyang's missile sites would be "within the constitutional right of self-defense" enshrined in Article 9.

But Abe knows that even a creative interpretation of Article 9 has its limits. He wants to amend it, if not repeal it, so Japan can have a real military with real responsibilities and real capabilities.
The transformation of Japan from Asia's Switzerland to Asia's Britain — a strategic partner with teeth — is under way. The Aussies, the Yanks and the Samurai: quite a team for freedom.


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