Saturday Mash-Up

Japan’s Complicated Choice: US Or Russia
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said his nation’s bilateral relationshipbut the chaos in Ukraine may compel him to choose between the US and Russia, says Shannon Tiezzi.

Japan has signed a letter from the G7 leaders that condemned “the Russian Federation’s clear violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, in contravention of Russia’s obligations under the UN Charter and its 1997 basing agreement with Ukraine,” but it did so reluctantly.

“However, Japan’s independent political statements have made it clear Tokyo is not quite comfortable with that stance. Minister for Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida told the press that “Japan’s stance [is] to urge all the parties concerned to behave with maximum self-restraint and responsibility.” This statement avoids singling out Russia for condemnation and implies both sides share responsibility for settling the issue—quite different from the confrontational tone of the G7 statement,” Tiezzi notes.

Condoleeza Rice, who served as national security adviser and Secretary of State in the administration of George W. Bush, maintains the United States would be ignoring the lessons of history if it backs away and cedes Ukraine to Russia.

Rice, who is a specialist in Russian affairs and professor at Stanford University argues that global developments have occurred because of “signals that we are exhausted and disinterested” and not prepared to engage globally.

“The notion that the United States could step back, lower its voice about democracy and human rights and let others lead assumed that the space we abandoned would be filled by democratic allies, friendly states and the amorphous “norms of the international community.” Instead, we have seen the vacuum being filled by extremists such as al-Qaeda reborn in Iraq and Syria; by dictators like Bashar al-Assad, who, with the support of Iran and Russia, murders his own people; by nationalist rhetoric and actions by Beijing that have prompted nationalist responses from our ally Japan; and by the likes of Vladimir Putin, who understands that hard power still matters,” Rice writes in The Washington Post.

Obama: Eisenhower Or Carter?
James Traub says analysts who compare the foreign policy of President Barack Obama to Jimmy Carter are off the mark. Instead, he says, Obama is more like Eisenhower than any other president.

“As a foreign-policy president, Obama deserves to be compared to Eisenhower at least as much as he does to Carter. Like Obama, Eisenhower inherited a vast military budget that he viewed as an unsustainable burden on the national economy. He tried, not always successfully, to do more, or as much, with less. (In Maximalist, Stephen Sestanovich describes both as “retrenchment” presidents.) Obama’s great goal in foreign policy is to wind down inherited conflicts — including the war on terror, as I wrote last week — in order to give his activist domestic agenda a fighting chance,” Traub argues.

Saudi Arabia Tags Muslim Brotherhood A Terrorist Group
In a move that reflects its growing concern about young Saudi Arabian men coming home from Syria to target the homeland, as has occurred after the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.



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