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By H. Ross Kawamura

The Great Divide

Unless they work together, Europe and Asia will never defeat their common enemies

H. Ross Kawamura is an advocacy activist of the New Global Initiatives with America (www.newglobal-america.org)

Controversy over the EU lifting its arms embargo on China brings to light a serious problem: Security policies between Europe and Asia are poorly coordinated. The problem is that Europe and Asia do not pay enough attention each other. In the Far East, China poses the most serious threat to our free world, so it was very strange that Europeans cared so little about the adverse effects of exporting weapons there—until Great Britain raised objections. Asians are also to blame for their indifference to President Bush’s visit to Europe to try and repair transatlantic relations this February.

Both Europe and Asia must reevaluate their geopolitical strategies. The “Atlantic front” and the “Pacific front” must work closely together on four issues: China, Russia, Islamic terrorism and Central Asia. Europe and Asia should realize that they are different sides of the same coin. If they act separately, no strategies on the Eurasian continent will be effective enough.

To begin with, let’s talk about China, whose military and economic rise poses serious threats in the Far East. China’s expansionist ambitions over Taiwan, its human rights violations, and its oppression of Tibet and Hong Kong are critical problems. While the United States, Japan and Australia take these troubles seriously, Europeans put a priority on their access to China’s markets. In this environment, it has become increasingly important to establish a Euro-Asian partnership to deal with the Chinese threat.

The other three challenges are also being faced primarily from the Atlantic side. For example, when the United States talks with Russia, most of the negotiations focus on Europe. But the decision about whether to embrace or confront Russia is one for the entire free world to make. It is not clear whether Russia will evolve into a more democratic or a more authoritarian state, so at such a critical time, Americans and Europeans must include Asia-Pacific nations in their dealings. This is particularly crucial for Japan, which is engaged in a long-standing conflict with Russia over the Northern Territories. No territorial dispute will be settled without mutual trust. If Japan and Pacific countries can join the US and Europe in talks with Russia, it will go a long way toward advancing the cause of democracy in the world’s largest nation. In an improved atmosphere, the Northern Territories conflict will be resolved.

Ricardo Gimenes

Islamic terrorism poses another significant challenge. Since 9-11, these groups have become the most dangerous actors in international politics. According to the Israeli NGO Middle East Info (www.middle-east-info.org), nearly half of the world’s major terror groups—and five out of the seven state sponsors of terrorism—are Arab and Iranian. Islamic radicals are distributed throughout the Middle East, and their sphere of activity ranges all the way to Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. Currently, counter-terrorism efforts are being made primarily by the Atlantic front. New approaches from the Pacific front will be helpful to defeat terrorism and introduce democracy from Southeast Asia to the Middle East.

Central Asia, from the Caucasus to Xinjang, is another region that will require strategic approaches from both the Atlantic and the Pacific fronts. This area holds huge amounts of underdeveloped energy resources in the form of oil and natural gas. It’s also a critical region in the war against Islamic terrorists. Until now, the US, Russia and Europe have been the principal actors in Central Asia. But in order for global citizens to have a more promising future, Asian countries—and particularly Japan—need to involve themselves more in the region.
In order to more fully draw European attention to Asia, I suggest that Japan and Australia be allowed to join NATO. (The acronym refers to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, so the name may have to change.) When visiting Tokyo this spring, US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said that Japan is America’s key ally in the Pacific region. For the United States, Japan’s new NATO membership would be helpful in designing a coherent strategy on both the Atlantic and the Pacific fronts. This will bolster American leadership in the War on Terror and in the endeavor for freedom generally. Europeans could expect more help from the Pacific front in dealing with Russia and the former Soviet bloc countries.

NATO membership will also help Japan’s quest for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, which would demonstrate Japan’s firm commitment to tackle global challenges. It would also allow Japan to boast that it stands against demagogues and fascists throughout Asia and in Japan itself. Undoubtedly, all Asians will love a Japan like this, as all Americans love “New Europe.” Therefore, I strongly urge NATO to admit both Australia and Japan.

New Global Initiatives with America welcomes responses to this article: info@newglobal-america.org

Would you like to comment on this article? Send a letter to the editor at letters@metropolis.co.jp.

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