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Trump talks about U.S. military policy

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President elect of the United States, Trump, presented his Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis, during a rally in Fayetteville. During his speech he reiterated his willingness to withdraw US troops from all fronts, except against ISIS, and invest the money saved to start a modernization program for the country’s infrastructure but also to increase the maximum budget for military spending to make the US Army a formidable weapon to prevent terrorism.

Why will Shinzo Abe pay tribute to victims of Pearl Harbour

Americas/Asia @en di

The alliance between the US and Japan looks set to strengthen further in the near future. The first sign was the meeting “frank and friendly” between the president-elect Trump and the Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe last November 17, the first informal meeting for the incoming administration with a foreign head of government. The second step, which is more symbolically and politically significant, is the announcement of Abe’s visit to Pearl Harbour, in concomitance with the celebrations in memory of Japanese air attack on US port of Hawaii, which claimed 2,400 victims and pushed the USA to enter the war 75 years ago, on December 7, 1941.

The visit, planned for the end of December, promises to be an act of historic significance that aims to strengthen ties between the two countries and to inaugurate a new phase in bilateral relations between the shores of the Pacific. The more concrete aspects concern the Japanese need to reduce the uncertainties regarding the future US policy toward the Rising Sun, fueled by the unregulated Trump presidential campaign that, among other things, urged Tokyo to contribute more to the costs for the US military bases on Japanese soil.

The visit will culminate with a summit between Japanese Prime Minister and the outgoing president Obama, the next 26 and 27 December, delivering a clear message to the new administration: the alliance works as it is and should not be questioned. Obama and Abe have decisively contributed, on several occasions, to cement strategic cooperation between their countries. In 2015 the common defense guidelines were updated and the Japanese Self-Defense Forces were authorized to intervene in the US Army side in a limited number of scenarios.

Trump, however, has not been kind to Japan during the recent presidential campaign. After asking for more money to continue to ensure the presence of American military bases in the Archipelago, the candidate Trump criticized Obama for having visited Hiroshima, in the role of first US president to pay homage to the victims of the nuclear bombing that ended the World War II in the Pacific. According to Trump, Obama would have also remembered the victims of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour where “thousands of American lives have been lost.”

The next visit of Abe, therefore, serve to compensate for the gesture of Obama’s opening and to give the new administration the image of a Japan willing to look at the past with different eyes. According to the analyst Kent Calder, from Johns Hopkins University, the Abe’s visit will make the alliance with Japan more acceptable for Trump supporters, facilitating future relations.

On the Japanese front, Abe has always seemed willing to question that page of national history, at least in part by recognizing the responsibilities of his country. During a joint session of Congress, last year, the Prime Minister of Sol Levante made express reference, for the first time, to the Pearl Harbour attack, without offering an official apology. Also in anticipation of the visit of late December, the issue of apologies will remain suspended. Abe intends to bring “comfort” to the Japanese victims of the attack of 75 years ago and pay tribute to their memory, but can not be expected to use a straightforward language that can be read at home as the formulation of a public apology in favor of the former enemy.

On the American front, Abe’s visit could hurt the feelings of the survivors victims relatives, a concern which the incoming administration is certainly very sensitive to. Josh Earnest, the current Press Secretary of the White House, does not rule out that the Japanese visit will embitter the victims of the attack, even after so much time. Earnest, however, said he is confident that many will put aside their dose of bitterness, recognizing the historic significance of the event.

The visit promises, then, to be a success for Obama, who seeks to consolidate its legacy with a symbolic and diplomatic victory at a time when its main achievements on the international front, the agreement on the Iranian nuclear and the reconciliation between Washington and Havana , risk to be overwhelmed by the wave of the new Trump administration.

Shinzo Abe will be the one ,however, to reap the best fruits. The visit will serve to the prime minister to shake off the label of the historical revisionist, who accompanies him since his election, and that tarnishes his image at home and especially abroad. Fumiaky Kubo, a historian interviewed by the Japan Times, argues that Abe, despite the bad reputation, has made ” has made more progress in wartime reconciliation than any other prime minister. This
could be a model case for a reconciliation and set an example that both sides have to make efforts”

At a time when the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) seems doomed to failure, and the territorial dispute over the islands between Kamchatka and Hokkaido that opposes Japan to Russia is stopped into a siding, a strengthening of the partnership with the US could be the succes Abe needs to boost his government’s action on the international stage. Even at the risk of watering down the verve of nationalism that has always characterized is administration.

The new US allies in post-TPP world

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During his campaign, Trump frequently criticized Obama’s Asia policy, which was based on defending key regional allies such as Japan and South Korea. The most memorable part of Obama’s diplomatic effort in East Asia has been America’s “Pivot to Asia”, also described more recently as a rebalancing of its involvement in the Asia-Pacific region. Pivot to East Asia was a regional strategy, whose key areas of actions were: “strengthening bilateral security alliances; deepening the working relationships with emerging powers, including with China; engaging with regional multilateral institutions; expanding trade and investment; forging a broad-based military presence; and advancing democracy and human rights.” However there has been strong perception from China that all of these are part of US’ China containment policy. Supporters of this theory claim that the United States needs a weak, divided China to continue its hegemony in Asia. This is accomplished, the theory claims, by the United States establishing military, economic, and diplomatic ties with countries adjacent to China’s borders.

This is demonstrated by the fact that one of the main dispute between United States and China has concerned the South China Sea, where US military ships’ passage through China’s claimed exclusive economic zone was a key source of tension. As its military and economic power grew, China wanted to control more of its surrounding waters to guarantee its security needs, while the US felt it was in its national interests to minimize countries’ maritime claims and preserve its freedom to conduct military activities in the region.

Trump has sought to reassure both Tokyo and Seoul that the US would maintain a strong defensive posture in the Asia-Pacific region to protect its security and trade allies. But, the first meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Trump Tower in Manhattan on Thursday realized few concrete results. Abe has already pointed out that, in case of failure of the TPP, the problem of the alternative options would be set in Japan and would bring to the RCEP, the pan-Asian agreement in negotiation, which excludes the Usa and it has China as principal economy. So in other words, if Washington withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an increase in economic influence for the Chinese region will be inevitable. At a news conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Monday, Abe said the TPP would be “meaningless” without the US and could not be renegotiated. Besides, Trump’s advisers said Trump would double down on Washington’s commitment to rebuilding the US military, including adding some 80 warships to the US Navy to counter China’s rapidly expanding military capabilities, and urging Japan and South Korea to share the cost of sustaining a US presence in the region. They suggested that the new president would follow Ronald Reagan’s hawkish foreign policy doctrine of peace through strength, which has been endorsed by every Republican presidential nominee since the 1980s.

The policy initiatives of Clinton would have led to continue with pivoting to Asia and the TPP, encircling China politically and militarily, and isolating China economically. But according to Chinese advisers, Trump could be an opportunity towards more boosting economic development to unite American society, unlike democratic presidents who wanted Washington to show strength through interference in other nations. For these reasons, China is likely to face less political and military pressure in the Asia-Pacific under Trump because his administration would be less keen to interfere in global ­affairs.

On Monday, Trump revealed his policy plans for his first 100 days in office and vowing to issue a note of intent to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership “from day one”. Instead he said he would “negotiate fair bilateral trade deals that bring jobs and industry back”. The TPP intentionally excluded China; it was a central part of outgoing President Barack Obama’s push to boost US influence in the Asia-Pacific region. Through creating the world’s biggest free-trade zone with 11 partner nations, a strategic alliance would be put in place on China’s doorstep with the aim of countering its rise. The day after this statement, the Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Yang said that US policies towards China may be uncertain, but he is optimistic about American choices to take advantage of market opportunities in China’s economy. So clearly there are elements of rivalry, challenges, United States and China have different political systems and political values that are really the opposite, but it doesn’t mean that they cannot find ways to work together when the world is faced with very pressing problem.


By Roberta Ciampo

The Japanese prime minister trusts Trump

Americas/Asia @en di

“Trump is a trustworthy leader.” After Thursday’s meeting in the Trump Tower in Manhattan, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the first world leader to meet President-elect Trump, said he’s confident that the new US administration will prove to be a reliable partner for his country. In front of reporters the Japanese Prime Minister has described as “frank and sincere” his meeting with Trump. ” The talks – he said – made me feel sure that we can build a relationship of trust”

Probably the Japanese government was hoping for a victory of Hillary Clinton to the US elections last November 8, also because of some alarming statements made by Trump during the election campaign, about the need for Japan to contribute more, in economic terms, to assist American troops on Japanese soil and to acquire a nuclear arsenal as a deterrent to North Korea’s threats . Another problematic point emerged during the campaign concerns the opposition declared by Trump to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, on which the Japanese government strongly pointed, instead. Abe therefore wanted to meet Trump to express his concerns and, at the same time, reaffirm the commitment of his government to strengthen the alliance with the US, more than ever central today to Japan in diplomatic and strategic terms, especially to contain China and its hegemonic aims on the Pacific area.

Prime Minister Abe did not provide too many details on the talks content. Basically it was a preliminary meeting, for mutual knowing, in which the two leaders have avoided going into detail. It’s been, however, agreed that after January 20, the day of the settlement of Trump at the White House, will be scheduled a new meeting to ”  to cover a wider area in greater depth”. ” Any deeper conversations about policy and the relationship between Japan and the United States – reiterated Kellyanne Conway, an influential member of the electoral team of Trump – will have to wait until after the inauguration”.

It seems however that the meeting served to resize the Japanese concerns about future initiatives of the new US president on the Asian chessboard. Katsuyuki Kawai, an adviser to President Abe, has conducted talks with several members of the transition team, and some legislators, receiving assurances about the future of US-Japan relations. ” We don’t have to take each word that Mr. Trump said publicly lite rally”.

The meeting, in the protagonists declarations, thus served to reaffirm the strength of the bond between the two allies. Some analysts, however, consider premature the initiative of the Japanese Prime Minister, since Trump has not officially assumed the presidency and is completely absorbed by the formation of his government team. Koichi Nakano, a Sophia Univesrity political scientist interviewed by CNN, expressed his skepticism about Abe’s move: ” What is there to gain, I have no idea?” Abe) is not talking to a president yet.”

Less categorical was Jeffrey Kingston, director of Asian Studies at Japan’s Temple University, who, when asked again by CNN, gave a positive reading of the interview, at least from the Japanese prime minister’s point of view. According to Kingston, in fact, Abe would have a particular sympathy for a certain category of leaders, which Trump is likely to belong to. ” If you look at who Abe admires around the world, he likes strong leaders like Putin, Modi and Erdogan, who have despotic tendencies “.

Beyond the personal sympathies, the new administration Trump will have to look very carefully to Asia in coming years and will face a China increasingly strong. In this context, the alliance with Japan will play a strategic and indispensable role.

Syrian President believes Trump will become an ally against terrorism

Syrian President Bashar Assad said US President-elect Donald Trump will become a “natural ally” if he carries out his vow to battle “terrorists.” “We cannot tell anything about what he’s going to do, but if… he is going to fight the terrorists, of course we are going to be allies, natural ally in that regard with the Russian, with the Iranian, with many other countries,” said Assad, RTP reported.

From Cambodia and the Hindu-American community voices are raised in favor of Trump

Americas/Asia @en di

A few days before the US presidential elections, while the more corrosive election campaign in living memory come to end, in an atmosphere of absolute uncertainty, the candidate Trump collects the support of Cambodia’s prime minister and a Republican Hindu group. The origin of these positions, in both cases, is the fear that a Clinton victory could lead to a foreign policy contrary to the interests of Cambodia and India. Let’s order.

Hun Sen, cambodian Prime Minister, strong man of the small country in South-East Asia, in power for nearly three decades, today expressed its wish to be Donald Trump to emerge victorious from the polls next Tuesday. His election, argues Sen, would guarantee an easing of tensions between the US and Russia and the maintenance of peace globally. Hun Sen is under pressure ahead of internal elections of 2018, accused by US, UN and the European Union of not ensuring respect for human rights in the country and lack of commitment in the fight against corruption. A Trump victory would lead to a softening of positions by the United States? Sen, obviously, wishes it.

During a speech in front of the national police academy, the prime minister has thus explained his endorsement: Frankly speaking, for me, I really want to see Trump win the election. If Trump wins, the world will be changed and will be better because Trump is a businessman and as a businessman he never wants war,”. In addition, the tycoon would be a good friend of Vladimir Putin and Russia, strategic ally of Cambodia since the fall, in 1979, of the Pol Pot regime.

Clinton, with whom Hun Sen met several times when she served as Secretary of State, would represent a risk to the future of relations between the US and Russia and would promote an aggressive foreign policy on all international theaters. The American intervention in Syria would have been determined, according to Sen, by the pressure from Clinton on President Obama. A precedent that would give the measure of the risks posed by a possible Democratic victory at next Tuesday elections.

The voices raised by some sectors of the Hindu community in the US in favor of Donald Trump are less influential, perhaps, but still represent an interesting element of analysis to understand how the different communities of the American melting-pot fare watching to the presidential election through the lens of their specific interests.

The Hindu Republican Coalition (RHC), a ‘pro-republican organization of Hindu inspiration, released on American TV channels a commercial directed against Hillary Clinton, accused of being too pro-Pakistani. The Democratic Candidate, when she was Secretary of State, would have directed to the historic enemy of India billions of dollars in aid, would have sold weapons to the Islamabad regime and would now accept funding from Pakistani pro-Islamist individuals and organizations. Finally, the RHC lashes out against her husband and former president Bill Clinton, considered too close to the Pakistani positions on the Kashmir issue, and against Hillary’s personal assistant, Huma Abedin, half Indian and half Pakistani, accusing her of indirectly supporting Islamic terrorism in the sub-continent. ” Vote Republican – great for you, great for US-Indian relations and great for America.”

Not all of the Indo-American community is in favor of candidate Trump, of course. The Indian American Supporters of Clinton attacked the RHC organization’s commercial, calling it ” misleading, incorrect and false.”

Both inside and outside US borders, the world looks to the presidential elections of 8 November 2016 expressing its different points of view.

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Luca Marchesini
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