A Political oculist? Is there such a thing? Well, if not, perhaps someone should become one, because the United States is in dire need of treatment for political short sightedness.
America’s foreign policy establishment, whether Red or Blue, has displayed astonishing genius for picking the wrong causes and allies to serve short term goals. That is to say, the US formulates policies which are expedient for the short term but turn out to be medium and long term catastrophes.
Aside from the most glaring examples of Israel and Taiwan, the most damaging of these ill advised relationships was the support of the Jihad in Afghanistan. That movement, supported enthusiastically with money and weaponry from the US, gave sustenance to Osama bin Laden, the Taliban, and Al-Qaeda. The armaments and money given to them to fight against the Soviet invasion are now being used to attack the UN troops in Afghanistan and the Coalition troops in Iraq.
The United States has become the Dr. Frankenstein of the global political arena creating political and military monsters which come back to haunt them. The people in Washington are seemingly unable to look ahead beyond immediate considerations. They would be poor chess players and even worse GO players, the latter requiring not only calculating and anticipating moves, but multi-tasking.
Aside from the obvious mistakes already made and mentioned above, another is looming.
The US, desperate to brake the onrushing Asian giant, China, is now enlisting Japan, former nemesis to the US and all of Asia to counter balance the Middle Kingdom. The US has involved Japan in the Taiwan dispute and is encouraging the militarization of Japan, something presently not allowed under the Japanese Post WWII constitution written by the United States.
This partnership does indeed serve the short term interests of both parties in the narrow focus of China. Japan is in imminent danger of losing its dominant position as the economic engine in Asia and it fears China’s growing military strength. Ditto for the United States, which wants to maintain its role as the preeminent power in the Pacific region.
An article in the online Washington Post of 26 February dealt in part with this issue. It pointed out that China is quietly assuming leadership in an area once the target of Japan’s ill fated Co-Prosperity Sphere in the early 1940s. The article goes on to say that whereas China is looked upon as a benign influence by the ASEAN member states, there remain some bad memories and mistrust of Japan’s WWII atrocities and heavy handedness. Ironically, China is now at the forefront of the region represented by ASEAN, an organization created at the behest of the United States, also a member. Now, however, China is finessing the US by dealing on a one-to-one basis with the ASEAN members, developing bilateral agreements and forming its own pro-China bloc within ASEAN.
Bad enough that the US wants is attempting to its influence over a region with which it has little cultural relation, but what is worse is the partner it has picked to further that cause, Japan. Japan is now considered by many to be the “Britain of the Far East”, the Asian “lap dog” of the United States. As a result of America’s global bullying, it is already in bad odour in Asia, and by associating itself with Japan, that impression will be not be improved, quite the contrary. The US could gain in terms of an ally on the questions of Taiwan and potential counterbalance to China, but it stands to lose allies in the entire South East Asia region and worsen relations with China.