Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

Disillusioned by America, the Superpower
KITAMURA Fumio  / Journalist

June 24, 2004
On June 30, the Iraq War will enter a new phase. The existing Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) will be dissolved and the country's sovereignty will be transferred to the interim government of Iraq. In his speech on May 24, U.S. President George Bush congratulated himself by calling it "the end of the occupation" and the first step towards democracy in Iraq. However, the effectiveness of the roadmap for Iraqi reconstruction envisioned by President Bush is being strongly questioned by countries around the world, including Iraq. Even in America, the disapproval rating against the Bush administration's overall policies on Iraq has reached 61%, according to the results of an opinion poll broadcast by CBS Television at the end of May.

The current state of Iraq has indeed become a quagmire. Intensified attacks against the U.S. Forces have accelerated the rising number of victims; the death toll among American officers and soldiers since the start of the war has exceeded 800. U.S. Forces are faced with a diverse array of "invisible enemies," including supporters of the former Ba'ath Party, international terrorist organizations such as Al Qaida and Islamic radicals encompassing both the Shi'ite and Sunni factions. What's more, contrary to the Bush administration's initial scenario, there are increasing signs that suggest collusive action among these groups. Even if the Iraqi interim government is established, it will lack the adequate system for maintaining public order. This will bring little change to the state of affairs where the 130,000-plus U.S. Forces remain at the mercy of growing complications in the Iraqi situation. Worse still, for the time being the interim government will have no control over U.S. Forces - a fact that won't help soothe anti-American feelings that view the U.S. Forces as "occupiers."

The events of June 30 will signify neither a transfer of sovereignty in the true sense of the word, nor an "end to the occupation." This gloomy prospect has led to heated discussion in the American media concerning an "exit strategy for Iraq." So far, there are no signs that America will find an "honorable exit" from Iraq. Looking back on the course of events in which the Bush administration plunged into "unilateralist" military action and now faces an exit-less agony, we experience that enigmatic feeling of wandering into a Kafkaesque world. And this sense of enigma seems to have its roots in the gap between America's massive material superiority and the intellectual judgment required by such strength.

America's powers are prominent in every respect, including its politics, economy, science and technology and military capability. And for this reason, the world expects to find the best set of brains gathered in Washington, D.C. Serious mistakes made by U.S. policymakers may have tragic consequences for the fate of many other countries. The strong are not allowed to err. Herein lies the moral responsibility of the most powerful nation on earth.

Considering its might, we expect America's intelligence capability to be unparalleled in quality. And judging from the availability of competent human resources, ample funding and years of experience, its system of intelligence must have in store abundant information for accurately grasping the political, economic, military and social situation of each region in the world. Furthermore, beyond the government apparatus lies the multitude of universities, research institutions and think tanks where excellent professional researchers have accumulated a wealth of knowledge on the diverse history, culture, tradition and values of countries and regions. Japanese academics and professional researchers - myself included - have shared the fortunate experience of being enlightened and stimulated by the fruits of such intellectual activity offered by America.

In theses and articles published in America by academic and quality publications over the past two years, opinions critical or opposed to the forcible execution of the war in Iraq seemed to outnumber opinions in support of the war. These included numerous theses predicting that an outcome similar to the current deadlock could follow if America entered war under circumstances that prevailed in March last year. Had there been objective analysis of collected information, and had level-headed attention been paid to the voice of accumulated wisdom, it would never have led to the conclusion that a war exploiting precision-guided munitions would bring democracy to Iraq. Furthermore, the Bush administration went ahead with the war without providing the international community with specific evidence of the suspected development and possession of weapons of mass destruction by the government of Saddam Hussein, which was the administration’s justification for the war.

Years ago, David Halberstam wrote "The Best and the Brightest" to determine why the administration of John F. Kennedy - which supposedly represented the cream of the intellectual crop at the time - made the mistake of military intervention in Vietnam. The Iraq War waged by the Bush administration attests to the contemporary relevance of Halberstam's masterpiece. Then again, America's status and responsibility in the world has become far more important today than in the days of the Vietnam War in the 1960's. Following the end of the Cold War and subsequent dissolution of the Soviet Union, America became the sole superpower in the world. Since the 1990's, we have entered an era in which international order is significantly transformed by the intentions and actions of a single country. This is precisely why America must embrace the obligation of demonstrating to the international community the legal and moral justification of its actions.

The Bush administration upholds a Greater Middle East Initiative stretching from Morocco to Pakistan, and has identified the Iraq War as the starting point for democratizing this expanded region. However, the initiative is sure to fail as long as confidence in America continues to waver. Even if it succeeded in bringing the Middle East governments closer to the Greater Middle East Initiative through various inducements, the trade-off will be the emergence of an even more troubling situation of alienation and antagonism between the government and people of Middle East countries. This alienation, currently in progress within the Middle East region, in fact provides fertile ground for the rise and growth of terrorist organizations such as Al Qaida.

Japan's Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro has explained his decision to support the Iraq War and participate in the Coalition of the Willing by emphasizing solidarity with "America, our most important ally." But he has made no convincing comments on justifying the Iraq War itself. Various opinion polls conducted in Japan show declining confidence in the Bush administration's Iraqi policy. The primary factor behind this gap between government policy and popular sentiment seems to lie in disillusionment with the U.S. administration's inability to make intelligent decisions.

The writer is a Professor of Shukutoku University and former Senior Editor and London Bureau Chief of the Yomiuri Newspaper.
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2004年 6月 24日









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