Friday, July 12, 2013


"China has now become an influential country both politically and economically, and its military developments also draw attention from other countries. Accordingly, China is strongly expected to recognize its responsibility as a major power, accept and stick to the international norms, and play a more active and cooperative role in regional and global issues. On the other hand, China has been engaging in extensive, rapid modernization of its military forces, backed by continual substantial increases in its defense budget. China has not clarified the current status and future vision of its military modernization initiatives, while its decision-making process in military and security affairs is not sufficiently transparent: Hence it has been pointed out that this could potentially lead to a sense of distrust and misunderstanding by other countries. Furthermore, China has been rapidly expanding and intensifying its maritime activities. In particular, in the waters and airspace around Japan, it has engaged in dangerous acts that could give rise to a contingency situation, such as Chinese naval vessel’s direction of its fire-control radar at a JMSDF destroyer in January this year. In addition, Chinese aircraft and surveillance ships affiliated to China's maritime law enforcement agencies have intruded into Japanese territorial waters and airspace. Coupled with the lack of transparency in its military and security affairs, these moves by China are a matter of concern for Japan and other countries in the region and the international community. Therefore, Japan needs to pay utmost attention to China’s movements. This is why China is asked to further improve transparency regarding its military and why further strengthening of mutual understanding and trust by promoting dialogue and exchanges with China is an important issue. At the same time, while a substantial reshuffle in the Chinese Communist Party leadership has taken place, resulting in the establishment of the Xi Jinping regime, the environment surrounding the next administration is certainly not rosy, due to its various domestic problems. Thus, the question of how it will deal with the challenges it faces will be the focus of attention".
Ministry of Defense (Japan). Defense of Japan, 2013. Translation, p. 4. Accessed 12 July 2013, in "
BEIJING, June 26 (Xinhua) -- A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman slammed an overview of Japan's Defense Ministry's white paper for 2013, urging the country to conduct some introspection and do more to facilitate regional peace and stability. "China adheres to a road of peaceful development and pursues a national defense policy with a defensive nature," spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular press conference, adding that China is transparent in its military's strategic intent and poses no threat to any country. China's national defense development is aimed solely at maintaining national sovereignty, territorial integrity, and peace and stability in the region and the world at large, Hua noted. Owing to historical factors, Japan's military development, however, has received great attention from neighboring Asian countries, she said. "The Japanese side has been advocating the 'China threat' and deliberately creating tensions in recent years," Hua said, highlighting the international community's concerns about Japan's continuous arms expansion and frequent military drills. "We hope the Japanese side could follow the historical trend, seriously re-examine itself, take a deep look at its history of aggression and do more to facilitate the preservation of regional peace and stability," Hua said. She also reiterated that China would not change its position and determination on the issue of the Diaoyu Islands, and that it will continue to adopt measures necessary to maintain its sovereignty over the islands. "We hope the Japanese side will cease any provocative words as well as actions and make substantial efforts to help manage and resolve the issue through dialogue and consultation," Hua added. According to Japan's Kyodo News, an overview of the Japanese Defense Ministry's white paper for 2013 released on Tuesday said that a lack of transparency in Chinese military and security affairs is "a concern" for the region and the international community. In the summary, the ministry also considered it important to highlight the capabilities of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) in dispatching troops to remote areas and conducting joint drills with the U.S. military to prepare the SDF for recapturing any control it has lost over remote islands. The latest annual paper, a summary of which was presented at a meeting of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, is expected to be approved by the Cabinet of Japan soon".
"China slams Japan's new defense white paper". Xianhuanet. 26 June 2013, in
The accuracy and cogency of Japan's Defense White Paper can be readily seen by the official and semi-official Chinese comments on the same 1. The fact is that the Japanese White Paper accurately describes the dangers presented by the regime in Peking. Left to itself, the Peoples Republic will inevitably endeavor to expand its self-proclaimed off-shore sovereignty zone at the expense of its neighbors in the Orient. Make no mistake: in its current incarnation, the PRC is hardly another Sovietskaya Vlast or Third Reich. What is endeavoring to do is to employ its current military build-up and its perceived economic wealth and power to intimidate its (mostly peaceful) neighbors: from Japan to India. This situation can only be peacefully dealt with by a determined Western military and (more importantly) diplomatic response. Forcefully indicating to the regime in Peking that attempts to change unilaterally its borders vis-`a-vis its neighbors will resisted. If need be by the justified use of force. Since it is Peking and no other power who is endeavoring to unilaterally change the status quo ante bellum in the Far East.
1. In addition to the comments in Xianhuanet, see also: Jonathan Soble, "Japan criticises China over maritime disputes in white paper." The Financial Times. 9 July 2013, in

Thursday, July 11, 2013


"The military, having effectively deposed two Egyptian leaders in 2½ years, has firmly established itself as the only real power in the country. Mohamed ElBaradei and other secular leaders are happy to have been vaulted into positions of apparent power, but one wonders how real or long-lasting their influence will be. Live by the sword, die by the sword: If the military can depose one democratically elected government, it can depose another. What happens when Egyptian “people power” returns to confront the next government, as it surely will? Once again the military will have the choice of intervening or not. Its decision is likely to have a lot to do with how the military feels about that government. So who will wield the real power when the next crisis comes? And the next crises are entirely predictable. The economic problems that Morsi inherited and failed to solve require significant sacrifices by average Egyptians, who have already sacrificed much. Such reforms would be difficult to implement even in a calm political climate, and the post-coup climate will be anything but calm. At least some portion of the millions who voted for Morsi have probably come to two conclusions: first, that democracy is a sham; and, second, that what matters in Egypt is who has the guns. Some followers of the Muslim Brotherhood may well decide that violence is their best and only recourse. And the military will in turn impose more-severe limitations on civil liberties to combat the violence, employing — along with the police — their traditional brutal methods. They may even attempt to prevent the Brotherhood from fielding candidates in the next election. After all, having deposed one Muslim Brotherhood government, the military may not think it wise to let another, possibly angrier Brotherhood government get elected six months from now. What will the secular liberal civilians now allied with the military do as these threats to personal liberties and democratic processes metastasize? On Thursday, as the military was arresting dozens of Muslim Brotherhood leaders, ElBaradei said he would be the first “to shout loud and clearly if I see any sign of regression in terms of democracy.” One wonders when he will choose to see it, and what will happen to him if he ever does start shouting. Egypt is not starting over. It has taken a large step backward. And the Obama administration bears much blame. It put little or no meaningful pressure on Mubarak to make even minor political reforms that might have been enough to prevent the anti-regime outburst that exploded at the end of 2010. Then it put little or no tangible pressure on Morsi to end his undemocratic practices, which might have forestalled the most recent crisis. It has become fashionable in today’s “post-American world” milieu to argue that the United States had no ability to shape events in Egypt. This is absurd. The United States is far from being all-powerful, but neither is it powerless. Americans provide $1.5 billion a year in assistance to Egypt, $1.3 billion of which goes to the Egyptian military. It has leverage over the decisions of the IMF and influence with other international donors on whom Egypt’s economy depends. The U.S. ambassador to Egypt wields so much potential influence that Egyptians obsess daily over whom she is meeting, and they concoct wild conspiracies based on trivial events. The assumption in Egypt, as in much of the Arab world, is that nothing happens unless the United States wills it. The problem is not that the United States has no power but that the Obama administration has been either insufficiently interested or too cautious and afraid to use what power the United States has".
Robert Kagan, "Time to Break Out of a Rut in Egypt." The Brookings Institute. July 7, 2013 in
"How much have the US and its allies spent fighting wars this past decade? Add Iraq to Afghanistan, throw in the ever-prowling drones over Pakistan and Yemen and the bombs dropped on Libya, and the sum must amount to several trillion dollars. How much have these governments invested in would-be democracies since the start of the Arab uprisings? Unless you classify F-16 fighter jets as aid, it is a struggle to count much beyond a billion or so. The record makes one hesitate to say that the west has anything resembling a sensible prescription for the Middle East after this week’s coup in Egypt. The postcolonial settlement in the region is collapsing into sectarian strife. Borders are being erased as Sunnis square up against Shia, and Islamism battles secularism. Yet political leaders in Washington, Paris and London mostly occupy themselves mulling military intervention in Syria. In a different mindset, these leaders would have been attentive to the slow-motion car crash that ended in the toppling of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi. Where was the promised economic aid to buttress political pluralism after the fall of Hosni Mubarak? I was sure I heard someone talk about a Marshall plan for the region. It might even have been Barack Obama.... The mistake on all sides in the Middle East has been to confuse democracy with the ballot box. It is not enough that leaders submit themselves for periodical elections. Democracy demands a commitment to pluralism, the submission of the powerful as well as the weak to the rule of law, protections for minorities and respect for cultural and ethnic difference. None of these was in plentiful supply during Mr Morsi’s year-long presidency.... Egypt needs two things to build a democracy. Tunisia, and any other Arab state seeking to make the transition, need the same. The first is massive aid – technology as well as money, trade access as well as educational assistance – to modernise the economy, and to keep people off the streets while constitutions are written and institutions built. The second is expert advice and powerful incentives to create the political ecosystem in which opposing political forces can flourish. Dictators operate zero-sum regimes. Democracy demands positive sum outcomes that safeguard the interests of minorities as well as majorities.... Only daydreamers thought the Arab uprisings would see a transition within a decade or two to a region of shiny new democracies. On the very best assumptions, shaking off authoritarianism was going to be a generation-long project. Now, with civil war in Syria and the coup in Egypt, the region has started to go backwards. This is not to say it is time to give up and embrace the generals; it is to demand that the west think again about how to help".
Philip Stephens, "The Cairo coup is a rude awakening for the west." The Financial Times. 4 July 2013, in
For once the egregiously bien-pensant Philip Stephens has a valid point to make. It is indeed the case, that imagination of the sort that the Anglo-Americans displayed in the case of Western Europe circa 1947-1950, with Central & Eastern Europe in the last twenty-years and even (in a more limited fashion) in the mid to late twenties of the last century, with the Dawes and Young Plans. Unfortunately, in the case of Egypt and the other countries of the Near and Middle East, the West has for the most part been a silent partner in the ongoing 'transition' (now apparently stopped) to something akin to what one may term 'Democracy' since circa 2011. With the exception of the Anglo-French effort to overthrow the Gadaffi Regime in 2011 and the negotiations to pacify Yeman since 2011, the West has indeed been for the most part silent and almost non-existent on the ground since the commencement of the Arab Spring. Which is not to gainsay the fact that to some extent, a less overtly noticeable West is something that most of the new regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, Yeman and Libya wanted. Of course they did not at the same time, wish to forgo any sort of economic assistance that may come their way from the West. With that being said, it is in fact the case that the West, with the Americans in particular which have singularly failed to raise to the occasion since circa 2011. Which makes yesterdays' announcement that Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, both virulently opposed to the former Muslim Brotherhood-led government in Cairo, have promised eight-billion dollars in assistance to Cairo is all the more poignant in contrast to the virtual silence of the West 1. And, while one can appreciate the cogent rationale of the Saudi / Kuwaiti move, one cannot but be struck with what is highlights about the type of non-involvement of the West in the current near-chaos that is the Near and Middle East and especially in Egypt at the moment. Especially since neither Arabic power has any inkling of intending to assist any transitions towards Democratization, either partial or full-fledged as in the case of say modern-day Turkey. This is not to gainsay that for example contemporary Turkey is the plus ultra model for the region, merely that comme il faute, it is the very best thing on offer. Certainly au fond it is an infinitely a better future for Egypt and the region as a whole the 'other' possible future for Egypt, which is of course Algeria, since circa 1991. About which enough...
1. Ahmed Haggagy & Amena Bakr; Writing by Martin Dokoupil, "Kuwait promises Egypt $4 billion in aid-state." Reuters. 10 July 2013, in

Monday, July 01, 2013


"(Reuters) - Egypt's armed forces handed Islamist President Mohamed Mursi a virtual ultimatum to share power on Monday, giving feuding politicians 48 hours to compromise or have the army impose its own road map for the country. A dramatic military statement broadcast on state television declared the nation was in danger after millions of Egyptians took to the streets on Sunday to demand that Mursi quit and the headquarters of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood were ransacked. The generals' intervention was greeted with delight among protesters in the streets - and muted dismay by Islamists. Since the fall of Hosni Mubarak as the Arab Spring revolutions took hold more than two years ago, the Arab world's most populous nation has remained in turmoil, arousing concern among allies in the West and in neighboring Israel, with which Egypt has had a peace treaty since 1979. Mursi's allies were angry: "The age of military coups is over," said the Brotherhood's Yasser Hamza. Mohamed El-Beltagy said Islamists would take to the streets to show their strength. Mursi himself did not respond all day. Crowds in Cairo's Tahrir Square cheered when a flight of military helicopters swooped overhead trailing national flags. Silhouetted against the sunset, it was a powerful illustration of the military's desire to be seen in tune with the people. "If the demands of the people are not realized within the defined period, it will be incumbent upon (the armed forces) ... to announce a road map for the future," the chief of staff, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, said in the statement. It was followed by martial music".
Yasmine Saleh & Maggie Fick, "Egypt army gives Mursi 48 hours to share power." Reuters. 1 July 2013, in
"Opting for a revolutionary course this late in the game -- after more than two years of transition and five elections -- means starting from scratch with little guarantee that the second time will be much better. At some point, the past cannot be undone, except perhaps through mass violence on an unprecedented scale. If the first elected Islamist president is toppled, then what will keep others from trying to topple a future liberal president? If one looks at Tamarod's justifications for seeking Morsi's overthrow, the entire list consists of problems that will almost certainly plague his successor. They have little to do with a flawed transition process and a rushed constitution that ran roughshod over opposition objections and everything to do with performance ("Morsi was a total failure in achieving every single goal, no security has been reestablished and no social security realized, [giving] clear proof that he is not fit for the governance of such a country as Egypt," reads the Tamarod statement of principles). Legitimacy cannot depend solely or even primarily on effectiveness or competence. If it did, revolution could be justified anywhere at any time, including in at least several European democracies. That said, there is little doubt that Morsi suffers, perhaps more than anything else, from a legitimacy deficit, which, in an un-virtuous cycle, undermines governance, and so on. The key, then, is finding a way to bring disaffected Egyptians back into the political process -- a process from which they believe, with good reason, they have been excluded. This will require major concessions on Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood's part, including guaranteeing a fair electoral law with robust international monitoring, revising the most controversial articles of the constitution, and the formation of a caretaker national unity government until parliamentary elections are held later this year. Some in the opposition, of course, see the continuation of Brotherhood rule in near-apocalyptic terms and are unlikely to be satisfied with such concessions. The hope, though, is that enough concessions will be enough".
Shadi Hamid, "Is a Second Revolution Really What Egypt Needs?" The Atlantic. 27 June 2013, in
There is from a historical perspective a certain logic to what is occurring as I write these words in Egypt. The fact is that the Muslim Brotherhood's participation in the democratic game was always dependent upon their following the unspoken rules of that game. Rightly or wrongly it appears that the Brotherhood has failed to abide by the script that they were suppose to follow. In a little less than a year, the Brotherhood has managed to alienate a considerable portion of Egypt's population. In particular its urban population. This is not to gainsay the fact that the Brotherhood has a hold on perhaps forty to forty-five percent of the electorate. Merely that this 'hold' is under the current circumstances inadequate. What needs to be done, before the entire situation becomes completely out of control with all that implies with the Arab World's largest country is a reconciliation between the various forces in the country. Ideally, President Morsi should resign and be replaced by another, more moderate figure from the Brotherhood in a new, more inclusive government. The fact is, that however stupid and narrow-minded is the Brotherhood, it does represent a considerable element in Egypt's political landscape. A policy of overthrow by the military, especially one as politically maladroit as Egypt's is only at the very best a short-term solution. The Algerian example of the late 1980's gives us a good idea as to what may occur if the Brotherhood is simply ousted from power. However, much such a 'solution' may appear to be for the very best. What is currently and immediately needed is something which will hold the fort politically speaking until the reforms, especially economic reforms that this country needs and requires can be carried out. As indeed the outlook is grim for both Egypt and the Near and Middle East.