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Isen Shimbun, Japan

Despite War on Terror Mistakes, Japan Needs U.S. More than Ever


"In the decade since 9/11, the U.S. has changed so completely, it is as though it were a different person. … With its wars and recessions, the course of history over the last ten years can only be described as a wheel rolling down a badly-paved, pothole-riddled slope. … Meanwhile, China is making its presence known. At this rate, the entire South China Sea will become Chinese territory. Japan's future development will be impossible without deepening the U.S. alliance."


By Hiroshi Kawamoto [河本弘]


Translated by Anthony Figueroa


September 30, 2011


Japan - Isen Shimbun - Original Article (Japanese)

On the 11th of every month, we observe the anniversary of the massive earthquake that struck northeastern Japan on March 11. This day in September marked six months since the earthquake, and memorial events were held across the country. The United States, too, was immersed in a fresh wave of emotions, since the 11th day of the month signifies something different; the date of the September 11 terrorist attacks. The attacks not only shocked the world, but they transformed the United States into a completely different country.


In the decade since the incident, the U.S. has changed so completely it is as though it were a different person. U.S. Vice President Biden once said that this has been a “seemingly endless ten years.” With its wars and recessions, the course of history over the last ten years can only be described as a wheel rolling down a badly-paved, pothole-riddled slope. While the 9/11 incident and terrorism played a role in throwing the global community into a vortex, the U.S. itself was also heavily responsible. As a result and much to its own detriment, the United States has since tried and had difficulty pursuing the global strategies it employed during the 20th century.


Trying to return to the United States of the 20th century - the U.S. that prevailed in the fight against the Soviet Union and which exerted itself spreading its own brand of democracy throughout the world - is a pipe dream. The U.S. and its people believed nothing was impossible for them. American capitalism spread across the world, from trade and commerce to finance, with the U.S. dollar becoming the international currency of choice in many countries. Americans believed that they would continue to enjoy this status forever. But they never envisioned a world in which American-style democracy is not embraced by all.


U.S. people believe that making the American lifestyle possible is good for all. That also extends to religion. Many Americans identify themselves as Christians, but the world is a large and diverse place. In addition to Christianity, there are a great number of other religions, such as Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, etc., each with its own unique way of life and culture. War and endless conflict have begun as a result of the differences among these varying religious sects. First and foremost, as the world leader, America should have more seriously examined such religious differences. But because America mistook one religious sect for another, it was met with disappointment from some, and in the most extreme cases, made enemies with others. Ten years on and in the midst of dwindling goodwill, the America of today continues to create enemies indiscriminately.


What the United States wanted to do was mend the wounds caused by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which so monopolized the nation's prosperity. The U.S. was outraged. And while its intent was to do what was best for the world, the results were less than desirable. Americans did not remain silent. They wanted to know who the mastermind was behind 9/11. Inevitably, they went about locating the leader of the attacks. The U.S. marched with determination into an endless War on Terror. It has been a decade since then. Due to the amount of energy spent on the war, the United States confronted a growing budget deficit and a slowing economy. This crisis continues to this day.


During this period, pursuit of the terrorist mastermind stretched across the globe and the Taliban, a group running the Afghan government that protected al-Qaeda, was toppled. Eventually, Osama bin Laden, prime suspect and leader of al-Qaeda, was located and killed.


Revenge seems complete. But the war on terror nevertheless did major damage to the United States. While total U.S. troop deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq totaled around 2 million, U.S. casualties reached about 2,600 in areas that sympathized with al-Qaeda. But the damage done wasn't limited to soldiers on the ground. One cannot ignore the financial impact of the wars on the U.S. economy. The amount of money invested in Afghanistan and Iraq is estimated to be $1 trillion. Medical expenses for veterans, pensions, and interest on loans used for the war swelled to around $4 trillion.


But that's not all. America's international standing also took a major hit. The terrorist attacks and subsequent wars have since led to a rift between the U.S. and Europe, which have shared many of the same values in the past. Europe has long had doubts about the war in Iraq.


Anti-American sentiment skyrocketed among Europe's significant Islamic population. For that reason, President Obama stressed during his 9/11 memorial speech that, "The United States will never wage a war against Islam.” Thus, the U.S. is gradually changing course from the "decade of war" toward a "future of peace." In short, the U.S. is becoming more future-oriented and less wedded to the single-minded pursuit of the war on terror. War and recession: If you think about it, these have been turning the gears of world history for the last decade.


Now there is a desire to move on. When the U.S. was victimized by a major terrorist attack, it gave the world a choice: you are either with us or against us. But the world wished to choose neither. After the shock of the Lehman collapse and the financial crisis, developed nations lost interest in diplomacy. European castles built in the desert began to precipitously crumble, while at long last, flowers of revolution bloomed in the wasteland of Middle East dictatorship. The U.S. and Europe remained indifferent to the revolutions, particularly Western Europe, which couldn't hide its irritation.   



It has been ten years since the terrorist attacks on the United States. There have been wars on terror in different parts of the world. The most striking change of the last decade was the toppling of so many long-standing dictatorships. Equally significant is the crisis facing the United States. The U.S. faces a large budget deficit and slumping economy, something President Obama calls a "national crisis," - a crisis it is struggling to break away from.


Competing territorial claims in the South China Sea: China sees

the United States meddling, whereas other nations in the region

regard the U.S. as playing a balancing role.


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People's Daily, China: U.S. Internet Hypocrisy Creates Global Suspicion
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Huanqui, China: Blunt Talk Reflects Improved Sino-U.S. Military Relations


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With regard to current conditions in the U.S., President Obama said in a public address, "After ten hard years of war, it is time to rebuild this nation." This was one part of a speech given on the ten-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks. But Mr. Obama finds himself under the severe gaze of the American public. While Mr. Obama's handling of the war on terror has an all-time high approval rating of 62 percent, his ratings on issues like the economy, unemployment, and cutting the budget deficit are at a low of 36 percent, and his overall approval rating of 43 percent is the worst of his presidency. Mr. Obama has focused on businesses and employment, announcing a $447 billion plan, but there are doubts about whether it will win enough Republican votes to pass. There are many methods for securing funds in the plan that remain uncertain, and Republicans are unlikely to agree on raising taxes.


With that, the U.S. finds itself in a predicament. While Osama bin Laden has been killed, the Iraq War that America long waged, despite global objections, has entirely backfired. Because of the long, drawn-out use of American military and economic power, it has since been labeled a "hyper power" and a "democratic imperialist." So what now? America is no longer the sole dominate country. On the contrary, its continuing brazen military spending has ushered in yet another economic crisis.


The United States and our country are now close allies. In the Iraq War, this relationship was shown by the deployment of a Japan Defense Ship to the Indian Ocean. But the question of the U.S. military base at Futenma in Okinawa remains deadlocked with no solution in sight.


Meanwhile, China is making its presence known. Seeing the Futenma issue and the potential problems it may bring, China has begun to dabble in the contested Senkaku Islands - traditionally Japanese territory. At this rate, the entire South China Sea will become Chinese territory. What our country should do is take another look at this U.S.-Japan alliance. Japan's future development will be impossible without deepening this relationship.




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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US, Oct. 5, 5:49pm]




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