Sunday, November 27, 2016

The think tanks of Donald Trump

Jason Stahl discussing his forthcoming book on conservative think tanks
at the Library of Congress in January 2010

Who is giving President-elect Trump advice is THE question in Washington. Until recently, most would not admit to this and others publicly rejected an association. In April, the LA Times identified eight men who advise candidate Trump, including Japanese American Retired Army Major General Bert Mizusawa.

Heritage's Dr. James Carafano is reportedly overseeing the National Security/Foreign Policy transition.

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Aside from the Heritage Foundation, the other think tanks that are said to have some influence on Mr. Trump's thinking are less well-known, less establishment mainstream. Many are funded by the Koch Brothers who opposed Mr. Trump and are pro-free trade. As Politico observed: "The president-elect, in filling out his transition team and administration, has drawn heavily from the vast network of donors and advocacy groups built by the billionaire industrialist brothers, who have sought to reshape American politics in their libertarian image."

The traditional think tank homes of foreign policy professionals appear to have fallen out of favor.  This interesting phenomenon will test the theory that think tanks are merely lobbying platforms as opposed to sources for original thinking as funders, especially foreign, will reconsider their investments. 

Here are those that are mentioned:

· American Action Forum

· American Civil Rights Union,

· American Crossroads,

· American Enterprise Inst. (AEI),

· American Foreign Policy Council,

· Americans for Prosperity,

· Americans for Tax Reform,

· Atlas Economic Research Foundation,

· Cato Institute,

· Center for Immigration Studies,

· Center for International Private Enterprise, .

· Center for Public Justice,

· Center for Security Policy,

· Center for the National Interest,

· Charles Koch Institute,

· Competitive Enterprise Institute,

· Concerned Veterans for America

· Conservative Action Project,

· Cornwall Alliance,

· Council for National Policy,

· Economic Strategy Institute,

· Employment Policies Institute,

· Family Research Council,

· Federalist Society,

· Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI),

· Freedom Works,

· Frontiers of Freedom,

· Heartland Institute,

· Heritage Foundation,

· Hoover Institution,

· Hudson Institute,

· Institute for Energy Research 

· Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis,

· Institute for the Study of War,

· International Assessment and Strategy Center (IASC),

· Jamestown Foundation,

· Manhattan Institute,

· Mercatus Center (George Mason U),

· Project 2049 Institute,

· Tax Foundation,

· The Foreign Policy Initiative,

· The Jamestown Foundation,

· United States Business and Industry Council,

To research see: 

Free Trade Think Tank Directory
How the Tea Party thinks about think tanks
Organization that tracks the Tea Party, Think Progress,
The following two conferences held this year also give insight into who may be have some influence:

Advancing American Security: The Future of U.S. Foreign Policy by the Charles Koch Institute (May 2016)

The best blog on think tanks, Think Tank Watch, however, finds an interesting anomaly in the sources of Trump inspiration.

Meet Trump's New Favorite Think Tank (July 1, 2016)

Presumed Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has a new favorite think tank, and it is not who you think. You may have guessed something like the Heritage Foundation or the Hudson Institute or even the Hoover Institution. Wrong, wrong, and wrong.

Trump's new favorite think tank is the liberal, union-backed think tank Economic Policy Institute (EPI). No folks, we are not making this up. On June 28 Trump gave an economic and trade speech which frequently cited statistics from EPI. In fact, in a footnoted version of the speech, he cited EPI 20 times. There was nary a single citation from a conservative think tank, which he also relies on from time to time.

The only other think tanks mentioned in the citations were the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) and the conservative Tax Foundation, which each had one citation.

EPI, of course, it not too keen on being linked to Donald Trump, and has called his latest take on trade a "scam." After all, EPI bills itself as the first (and the premier) think tank to focus on the economic conditions of low- and middle-income Americans and their families. Being linked to a billionaire is a huge no-no.

From 2010 to 2014, about 57% of EPI funding came from foundation grants, while another 27% came from labor unions. The remainder came from a mix of organizations, corporations, individuals, and others.

The Wall Street Journal recently called EPI "the AFL-CIO's think tank," referring to the largest federation of unions in the United States.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Monday in Washington, November 28, 2016

HOW CAN FINANCE MINISTRIES SUPPORT A SUSTAINABLE HIV RESPONSE? 11/28, 10:30am-Noon. Sponsor: Center for Global Development. Speakers: Deborah L. Birx, Ambassador-at-Large, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy, U.S. Department of State; Ramin Toloui, Assistant Secretary for International Finance, U.S. Department of the Treasury; A.K. Nandakumar, Professor of the Practice, Director, Institute for Global Health and Development, Brandeis University, Chief Economist, Global Health, U.S. Agency for International Development; Mike Ruffner, Deputy Coordinator, Financial and Programmatic Sustainability, Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy; Laura Trimble, Associate Director for Budget and Financial Accountability, Office of Technical Assistance, U.S. Department of the Treasury; Moderator: Amanda Glassman, Vice President, Programs, Director, Global Health Policy, Center for Global Development.

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ALLIANCES AND AMERICAN LEADERSHIP PROJECT LAUNCH. 11/28, 2:00-3:30pm. Sponsor: CSIS. Speakers: Michael J. Green, Senior Vice President for Asia and Japan Chair, CSIS; Andrew Shearer, Senior Adviser on Asia-Pacific Security; Admiral Gary Roughead, Former Chief of Naval Operations, USN (Ret.); Heather A. Conley, Senior Vice President for Europe, Eurasia, and the Arctic; and Director, Europe Program, CSIS; Jon B. Alterman; Senior Vice President, Zbigniew Brzezinski Chair in Global Security and Geostrategy, and Director, Middle East Program, CSIS; Kathleen Hicks, Senior Vice President; Henry A. Kissinger Chair, Director, International Security Program, CSIS.

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MESSENGERS OF THE RIGHT: CONSERVATIVE MEDIA AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF AMERICAN POLITICS. 11/28, 4:00-5:30pm. Sponsors: National History Center, American Historical Association; History and Public Policy Program, Wilson Center. Speakers: Author Nicole Hemmer, Contributing Editor, US News & World Report, Columnist, The Age, Australia; Moderators: Eric Arnesen, GWU; Christian Ostermann, Wilson Center. 

WHAT'S NEXT, FOR AMERICA AND ISRAEL? CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES IN AN UNCERTAIN WORLD. 11/28, 4:30-6:00pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: SAIS, Johns Hopkins. Speakers: Ambassador Ron Dermer, Ambassador of Israel to the United States; Moderator: Laura Blumenfeld, Senior Fellow, Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Can Asia survive the shock of Trump-ageddon?

Or will he be pragmatic?

BY JEFF KINGSTON, director of Asian Studies at Temple University, Japan Campus and APP member
The Japan Times, November 19, 2016

Donald Trump made some outlandish promises to win the U.S. presidential election. America and the world will survive, but he poses significant risks to the global economy and the peace that has prevailed in East Asia since 1979. His denial of global warming also means America will provide no leadership on climate change and the world will likely pay a high price for his ignorance.

If he does rip up the North American Free Trade Agreement and start a trade war with China, Trump will spark a global financial meltdown. Post-Brexit markets are already jittery, especially given concerns about the troubled state of China’s economy. In this context, Trump’s “America first” strategy (aka “Wrexit”) could have catastrophic consequences.

His transition team is currently in damage-control mode as they try to walk back some of his more unsettling proposals. Having proved the media and pollsters wrong about the election, can Trump prove the critics wrong about his leadership qualities and policy agenda?

He has a deep hole to climb out of because of his hatemongering. This is the reason why most Americans did not vote for him: he pandered to the primordial impulses that lurk in the dark soul of America, playing people like a revivalist promising redemption and a return to glory. But he showed us he is a callow charlatan and shyster carrying a huge chip on his shoulder. And worse, he is easily provoked into mistakes. Trump imperils the world with his vengeful short fuse.

Now his advisers are trying to convince us to ignore all that campaign nastiness and hope he won’t be as bad as we fear. Given Trump can’t surprise on the downside, can he pull off some positive surprises? Perhaps he will accept adult supervision and we will avoid the nightmare of Loony Donald doing what he promised and sparking a global economic meltdown, but that means Lying Donald would betray his supporters by not delivering what he promised — and probably blaming everyone but himself.

Asian leaders are scrambling to respond to President-elect Trump. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pinned his legacy on strengthening security ties with the U.S. and rejuvenating the Japanese economy through his Abenomics strategy. But Abenomics has been a dismal failure, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade accord represented the last hope for meaningful structural reform in Japan — the “third arrow” of Abe’s three-pronged strategy. Trump wants no part of TPP so there will be no final arrow.

Abe also saw TPP as part of a geopolitical strategy to keep the U.S. engaged in Asia as a counterweight to China. That is also why he signed the U.S.-Japan Defense Guidelines in 2015 and rammed unpopular security legislation through the Diet to ease constitutional restrictions on Japan’s armed forces. Abe likely sees Trump’s isolationist and protectionist impulses as a menace to everything he has tried to accomplish. Yet Abe has terrible chemistry with U.S. President Barack Obama, so he is seeking closer personal ties with Trump by fawning on him. He understands that the president-elect is a brittle creature, desperate for praise and attention, who suffers from zero credibility on the world stage. Peevish Trump rewards friends and lashes out against those who disdain him.

Thus, a worried Abe rushed to meet Trump on Nov. 17 to seek reassurance that the new president remains committed to the alliance. Abe did Trump a great favor by pronouncing him trustworthy. It’s likely he reiterated that Japan is not a free-rider on U.S. defense — it pays close to $2 billion a year for hosting U.S. military bases, about 75 percent of all costs, considerably more than in South Korea (40 percent) and Germany (33 percent). But if Trump has his way, Japan will have to up the ante.

Typhoon Trump puts wind into the sails of Abe’s agenda for constitutional revision: The U.S. security umbrella that helped make the war-renouncing Article 9 possible is looking ragged. In 2015, a Genron poll indicated that only 9.2 percent of Japanese regard the U.S. as a “very reliable” ally, but judging from the Japanese dismay that greeted Trump’s victory, that figure has no doubt declined. Does the U.S. have Japan’s back? A post-election NHK poll revealed only 5 percent of Japanese think U.S. relations will improve under Trump.

Trump’s rhetoric has generated uncertainties among U.S. friends and allies in Asia and reinforced a sense of American decline. Perceptions shape reality, so his loose talk about South Korea and Japan developing nuclear weapons, accusations of free riding and thinking aloud about reconsidering U.S. security commitments has set off alarm bells. Seoul is preoccupied by a leadership crisis and Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons — problems complicated by Trump’s heedlessness. His perfunctory phone calls and advisers’ bromides provide little reassurance.

Trump’s cavalier remarks have done a great favor to China by sowing seeds of doubt about U.S. intentions and resolve in Asia. However, this is destabilizing and increases the chances of a miscalculation in the region. The peace that has prevailed in Asia since 1979 is at risk, not only because security arrangements are being recalibrated, but also because Trump may trigger major economic upheaval and stoke bellicose nationalism.

Asian diplomats I have spoken to are putting on a brave face, hoping that Trump will be transactional and pragmatic on foreign policy. They have survived other nescient buffoons — former presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush — and expect that U.S. foreign policy will settle back into old patterns.

Malaysia’s corrupt leader and Thailand’s authoritarian regime will be happy to see the last of Obama and will hope the negative scrutiny abates under Trump. Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi was close to Obama, but it is hard to imagine that she can build similar rapport with a misogynist such as Trump. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will welcome another demagogue to the growing fraternity while his Hindu chauvinist supporters revel in Trump’s Islamophobia. But this prejudice won’t play well in Pakistan, Bangladesh or Indonesia, the nation with the world’s largest Muslim population. Singapore frets about reckless moves on trade and security while the Philippine’s erratic President Rodrigo Duterte will meet his match. Despite concerns about a trade war, Beijing has to be gloating about the weakened U.S. influence in Asia gifted by Trump. And the rest of Asia? Nervously imagining a Pax Sinica.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Monday in Washington, November 21, 21016

U.S.-KOREA DEFENSE ACQUISITION POLICY AND THE INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ENVIRONMENT. 11/21, 9:00am-12:30pm. Sponsor: International Security Program, CSIS. Speakers: Myoung-jin Chang, Minister, Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), Republic of Korea, John Hamre, President and CEO, CSIS; Kathleen Hicks, Senior Vice President, Henry A. Kissinger Chair, Director, International Security Program, CSIS; Mr. Kim, Il Dong, Director General, Acquisition Planning Bureau, DAPA; Mr. Kim, Chansoo, Head, Technology Strategy Planning Team, DTaQ; Mr. Dale Ormond, Principal Director for DASD Research, OSD; Mr. David Ahern (Moderator) Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Strategic and Tactical Systems, Department of Defense; Major General Oh, Won Jin, Director General, Defense Industry Promotion Bureau, DAPA; Yi, Yong Sic, Managing Director, Korea Aerospace Industries; Dak Hardwick, Assistant Vice President, International Affairs, AIA; Rick Weir, Director, International Policy and Campaigns, Aerospace Sector, International, Northrop Grumman Corporation; Mr. Frank Kenlon (Moderator) Formerly Director, International Negotiations AT&L/IC/IN.

CULTIVATING OPPORTUNITY: THE BENEFITS OF INCREASED U.S. - CHINA AGRICULTURAL TRADE. 11/21, 10:00-11:30am. Sponsor: China Center, US Chamber of Commerce. Speakers: Myron Brilliant, Executive Vice President, Head of International Affairs; U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Amb. Darci Vetter, Chief Agricultural Negotiator, Office of the United States Trade Representative; Fred Gale, Senior Economist, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service; Joseph Glauber, Visiting Senior Research Fellow, International Food Policy Research Institute; Matthew O'Mara, Managing Director, Biotechnology Innovation Organization; Joe Somers, Vice President, Informa Economics.

CREATING A STABLE ASIA. 11/21, 10:00-11:30am, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Speakers: Michael D. Swaine, Senior Associate, Carnegie, Analyst, Chinese Security studies; Ashley J. Tellis, Senior Associate, International Security, Defense, Asian Strategic Issues, Carnegie.

THE 2016  PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: RESPONSES FROM BEIJING, HONG KONG AND TAIPEI. 11/21, 10:30am-Noon, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Asia Program, Kissinger Institute on China and United States, Wilson Center. Speakers: Zhaoyin Feng, U.S. Correspondent, Initium Media; Chiachieh (Jane) Tang, U.S. Bureau Chief, Sina News; Robert Daly, Director, Kissinger Institute; Moderator: Sandy Pho, Senior Associate, Kissinger Institute.

THE AMERICAN MOMENT IN THE MIDDLE EAST--FROM EISENHOWER TO TRUMP. 11/21 11:45am-1:30pm. Sponsor: Hudson Institute. Speakers: Michael Doran, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute, Author, Ike’s Gamble: America’s Rise to Dominance in the Middle East; Walter Russell Mead, Distinguished Fellow, Hudson Institute, James Clarke Chace Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities, Bard College, Editor-at-Large, The American Interest; Ray Takeyh, Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle East Studies, Council on Foreign Relations; Moderator: Lee Smith, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute.

MIDDLE EAST STRATEGIC OUTLOOK: REGIONAL AND GLOBAL IMPLICATIONS. 11/21, Noon-2:00pm, Arlington, VA. Sponsors: International Center for Terrorism Studies, Potomac Institute; Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies; Inter-University Center for Legal Studies, International Law Institute; Center for National Security Law, School of Law, University of Virginia. Speakers: Michael S. Swetnam, CEO, Chairman, Potomac Institute for Policy Studies; Amb. (Ret.) Marcelle M. Wahba, Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, President, Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington D.C.; Amb. (Ret.) Theodore H. Kattouf; Former U.S. Ambassador to Syria, President, CEO, AMIDEAST; Cem Ulusoy, Counselor, Counterterrorism, Iraq, Embassy of Turkey; Caroline Vicini, Deputy Head, Delegation of the European Union to the United States of America; Prasad Nallapati, Former Additional Secretary, Government of India, President, Centre for Asia-Africa Policy Research in India; General Alfred Gray, USMC (Ret.), Twenty-Ninth Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, Senior Fellow, Chairman of the Board of Regents, Potomac Institute for Policy Studies; Moderator: Yonah Alexander, Director, Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies, Senior Fellow, Potomac Institute for Policy Studies.

CRISIS MANAGEMENT, STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS, AND THE NEXT FOUR YEARS OF U.S. ENGAGEMENT IN SOUTH ASIA. 11/21, 12:30-2:00pm. Sponsor: Stimson Center. Speaker: Manoj Joshi, Distinguished Fellow, Observer Research Foundation.

RESPONDING TO DIGITAL INNOVATION CHALLENGES IN JAPAN. 11/21, 2:00pm-6:00pm. Sponsors: Japan Information and Culture Center, Embassy of Japan; Washington Innovation Network (WIN). Speakers: Dr. Toshio Obi, Professor of Information and Communication Policy, Waseda University; Dr. Naoko Iwasaki, Associate Professor, Institute of Government, Waseda University; Tamaki Tsukada, Minister for Communications and Cultural Affairs, Embassy of Japan; Katsuyuki Imamura, Founding President, WIN; Richard Linowes, Associate Professor, Kogod School of Business, American University; Dr. Banning Garrett, Adjunct Faculty, Singularity University; Tomohiro Yonei, Deputy General Manager, NTT; Barbara Dyer, CEO, Hitachi Foundation; Abigail Friedman, CEO, Wisteria Group; Chiyo Kobayashi, CEO, Washington Core.

REAL SECURITY: GOVERNANCE AND STABILITY IN THE ARAB WORLD. 11/21, 3:00-4:30pm. Sponsor: Brookings Institution. Speakers: Suzanne Maloney, Deputy Director, Foreign Policy, Senior Fellow, Energy Security and Climate Initiative, Center for Middle East Policy; Madeleine K. Albright, Co-Chair, Middle East Strategy Task Force, Former U.S. Secretary of State, Chair, Albright Stonebridge Group; Tamara Cofman Wittes, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Center for Middle East Policy; Amr Hamzawy, Senior Associate, Middle East Program, Democracy & Rule of Law Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Moderator: Stephen Hadley, Co-Chair, Middle East Strategy Task Force, Former US National Security Advisor, Principal, Rice Hadley Gates [rumored adviser to President elect Trump]. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

GOP Foreign Policy Elites and Trump


Most Republican foreign policy elites were sure that Hillary Clinton would be president. And they were sure that there would be a continuity in American foreign policy. They were so sure, that they were willing to go on the record denouncing Donald Trump as unfit to be a world leader. Whereas their views were heart-felt, they were also tinged with ample self-interest. The Republican signatories of the many letters and articles of condemnation all wanted to be considered for positions in a Democratic Clinton administration.

This is a point unlikely to be missed by the Trump team who have demonstrated a deeply personal and ideologically protective approach to vetting the President-elect's advisers and appointees.

The letters and interviews dismissive of Trump by prominent Republican foreign policy experts have the potential to turn into a "hit list." Trump may chose vengeance over expertise and ban, ostracize, or just simply ignore these people.

All the signatories of the "never Trump" letters have considerable, hands-on foreign policy experience combined with deep ties to the elites of the countries of their expertise. They are people in which foreign capitals rely upon for access to Washington and to smooth the way for good relations.

This has now disappeared. For those who follow Asia policy, this is especially true. Asian states have been particularly reliant upon long-cultivated friends who move seamlessly between government and either consulting or think tanks to provide consistency and inside information. They are the "alliance managers." Relationships are maintained by consulting contracts and conferences.

It appears that Trump will drain this onsen.

Here links to the letters signed by GOP insiders.

A Letter From G.O.P. National Security Officials Opposing Donald Trump. New York Times. 8 August 2016.

Preserving U.S. Credibility in Asia: An Open Letter. Foreign Policy. 15 August 2016.

Republican Asia experts call Trump ‘ruinous'. Financial Times. 15 August 2016.

Statement by Former Republican Members of Congress. P2016. 6 October 2016..

Open Letter On Donald Trump From GOP National Security Leaders. War on the Rocks. 2 March 2016.

GOP Asia specialists have been quite alarmed and outspoken in their criticism of Trump. A number signed multiple letters. They took their lead from the titular "dean" of Washington Asia hands, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage who said "I have nothing but disdain for Mr. Trump and what he says and the way he acts."

INTERVIEW: I'd choose Clinton over Trump: Armitage by Naoya Yoshino, Nikkei Asian Review. 11 March 2016.

He followed “If Donald Trump is the nominee, I would vote for Hillary Clinton,” Armitage told POLITICO in a brief interview. “He doesn't appear to be a Republican, he doesn't appear to want to learn about issues. So, I’m going to vote for Mrs. Clinton.”

Exclusive: Armitage to back Clinton over Trump by Michael Crowley, POLITICO. 16 June 2016.

Among the Asia experts, the most outspoken, with the greatest number of letters signed and interviews given to raise the alarm about a Trump presidency, was Michael Green, the Japan Chair at CSIS, Bush II's NSC Asia desk director, and Richard Armitage protegee. He is considered the go-to Japan specialist in Washington. Reportedly, the prime minister of Japan and other prominent Japanese officials have his personal number on their phone direct dial.

In After TPP: the Geopolitics of Asia and the Pacific (Washington Quarterly 9 September 2016), Michael Green and his CSIS colleague Matthew Goodman defend the importance of TPP by using Trump as an example of the ignorant opposition: "When presidential candidate Donald Trump argued in the Republican primary debates on November 10, 2015, that the TPP is “a deal that was designed for China to come in, as they always do, through the back door and totally take advantage of everyone,” the other candidates reminded him that China is not in TPP, and that the whole point is to build alliances and partnerships to better enable the United States to compete with China." (pg. 24)

He also gave the following interviews to explain his position.

INTERVIEW/ Michael Green: Trump lacks judgment to be U.S. president by Taketsugu Sato, The Asahi Shimbun, 18 October 2016.

Why I Joined Other Republican Security Experts in Endorsing Hillary Clinton by Richard Katz, Tokyo Business Today, 9 September 2016. Full Interview

Six Reasons Why Trump Meeting With Kim Jong Un Is a Very Bad Idea, Foreign Policy, 18 May 2016.

What Should Shinzo Abe Say to Donald Trump?

Abe’s goal is clear: convince Trump of the value of the U.S. alliance system.

By Robert Dujarric, Director, Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies, Temple University Japan and APP member
first appeared in The Diplomat, November 16, 2016

During his successful presidential campaign, Donald Trump argued that the United States gets ripped off by its partners. He threatened to withdraw U.S. forces from overseas and to abandon America’s global role. In short, the author of The Art of the Deal menaced to shred the deal that underpins the welfare not only his own country but also of its allies and in many ways the rest of the world. As is often the case with him, Trump was short on specifics. But it was enough to terrify many in Tokyo and in other capitals, including Washington DC.

Since the early Cold War, the core allies of the United States in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans have stuck to a win-win bargain with Washington. The United States provides a larger proportion of its resources to the common defense in exchange for a leadership position far above what the size of its GDP would warrant. The others willingly surrender part of their sovereignty to Washington. The Americans permanently lament that their partners aren’t sharing the burden; the allies in turn complain continuously about the Americans. But this combination of greater direct economic costs for the United States and less sovereignty for its partners is logical. It makes this global coalition, which includes Japan, South Korea, Australia/New Zealand, NATO, and a few other de facto allies, more efficient. It explains why practically no country has left the U.S. alliance system. As the painful travails of Napoleon’s foes showed, coalitions without hegemons are ineffective. This U.S.-dominated structure has overcome quite a few serious but not mortal failures, the arrival of new parties in power, and the test of time. It has evolved and must do so, but its basic architecture is sound.

During the campaign, Donald Trump threatened to unravel this covenant underpinned by treaties. His talk about pulling out of Asia if certain ill-defined changes weren’t made, his admiration for Vladimir Putin, and countless other remarks, such as the ones about nuclear proliferation, rattled nations whose fate is intertwined with American power projection and resolve. On paper, the allies’ combined national incomes are more than sufficient to replicate the strength of the U.S. military. But in practice, to establish and run a global security network without America would require a very long time and a political-diplomatic revolution to start it. Trump is like a businessman musing about unilaterally abrogating contracts vital to his suppliers and customers. That it would also bankrupt him would not provide much comfort to his victims.

Of course, all is not yet lost. Trump only won the election a few days ago. It may be that in the end he will only tinker with the current system. He has never had any interest in foreign and security affairs. His ideas are are neither as firm nor sophisticated as those of men like Richard Nixon or George H.W. Bush, who had always been fascinated by national security and diplomatic issues.

Shinzo Abe has decided to be the first major ally to meet with Donald Trump. The Japanese prime minister may be the right person at the right time for this task, on behalf of not only Japan but all the countries that rely on the full faith and credit of the United States. The xenophobic, racist, and islamophobic tone of Trump’s campaign, which ended with an ad which reeked of anti-Semitism, is similar to what is happening in Europe. Any European premier, starting with the continent’s leader, Chancellor Angela Merkel, can only have a hostile reaction to Trump. There will also be an understandable urge to preach to him about his duties as Westerner, as a leader of the Free World (and perhaps for Merkel, the daughter of a pastor, as a Christian). But an “in your face” attempt to bring him back to the true path is not the right approach at this time. If anything, it could make it harder for Trump to make another U-turn back to a more logical policy.

Fortunately, Japanese politics are different from those of the Atlantic world. There are no Trumps in Japan. Abe will not be meeting a man who will remind him of his domestic enemies. He will have no need to grandstand to convince voters back home that he is repulsed by everything Trumpism represents.

The premier will not be in a room with a man who enters the Oval Office with the the geopolitical experience of George H.W. Bush or the keen intellect of Barack Obama. So starting with a graduate course on security policy is not the way to go. References to Thucydides and Clausewitz are not going to resonate with Trump.

So how should Prime Minister Abe approach what could be one of the most consequential meetings of his life?

He must explain things in simple terms. He should point out not only how valuable all the land which Japan provides the United States is, but also the high-quality Japanese labor there (paid by the Japanese taxpayer). He will also have to show the American president that Japan, like the other allies, actually has a robust military which serves U.S. interests. A few easily understood facts about the economic benefits of the current setup, such as the number of Americans who get their wages from foreign-owned and exporting businesses, might help. If the United States leaves, Japan will be weakened, and then Washington’s own position will be undermined and there’ll be less money around for Americans. Abe might point out that without Japan the Chinese would already be preparing to take Hawaii. It’s important that he also note that the world is interconnected. The United States abandoning the rest of Eurasia would affect Japan equally badly.

Finally, to flatter Trump, Abe would be wrong to approach this as just preserving the old system. He must think of some clever visible, but actually minor change, that would make the alliance look different, the way that if you add a few gold-plated faucets you can rebrand a fine hotel into a Trump Hotel without altering the property and its staff. It may be too much to hope that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could gain Trump’s support by being rebranded as the Trump Pence Partnership but something along these lines should be considered. For example, the prime minister could offer to establish a large Japanese military training facility in the United States, where it would create jobs and boost real estate values (something which is dear to Trump). The Japanese Self-Defense Forces are indeed short of training space so it would also be useful. Before leaving, Abe should ask Trump for advice on the Tokyo Olympics. Doing so won’t serve any real purpose but it will make an insecure man who craves respectability feel better about the prime minister.

Maybe Abe can initiate the slow process of avoiding the worst. If he does this, not only Japan, but also other allies and the United States itself will be in his debt. Even China might, in the end, thank the prime minister. An isolationist America abandoning the western Pacific might appear like a Trump-given gift to Beijing. But would it really be? East Asia could turn into a large Chinese satrapy. But equally probably, turmoil and fighting could erupt. Does President Xi Jinping want the India-Japan nuclear deal to become a money-for-missiles and nukes program for Japan?

Abe’s mission is simple: To convince Donald Trump that the U.S. global role is not some expensive alimony paid to avaricious ex-wives but a investment which generates a higher rate of return than any building in New York City.

The Repudiation of American Internationalism and What It Means for Japan

Op ed by Daniel Sneider, Associate Director of Research of the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University and APP member

First appeared on Tokyo Business Today, November 11,2016

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has apparently decided to hold an urgent meeting with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump in New York, on his way to the Asia Pacific Economic summit in Peru. It is far from clear what the Prime Minister hopes to accomplish, or whether such a meeting will even be a good idea, so early in the transition process. But one thing is surely true – the Prime Minister needs to go into that meeting with a clear understanding of what has happened in the U.S. and what it could mean for U.S.-Japan relations.

The election of Trump as the president of the U.S. is not merely a devastating defeat for the Democratic party and for the political establishment, including within the ranks of the Republican party. More stunningly, it represents a clear repudiation of the interventionist internationalism that has dominated the foreign policy of both major parties since the Cold War.

From the first moments of his campaign announcement in Trump Tower on June 16, 2015, Trump took aim at some of the most sacred foundations of that internationalism – a commitment to a global free trade system, our alliance systems in Europe and Asia, and our opposition to authoritarianism and defense of democratic rights.

In repeated interviews, speeches, debates and even Tweets, Trump articulated this world view, a nationalism that veered openly into isolationism, tinged with a xenophobic racism that aimed not only at Mexicans, but Muslims, Asians and ultimately all ‘foreigners.’ On November 8, enough Americans embraced that ideology to win him the Presidency.

Now what does that mean for Japan – and for all of Asia? Just listen to Trump’s words on that first day of his campaign:
“Our country is in serious trouble. We don’t have victories anymore. We used to have victories, but we don’t have them. When was the last time anybody saw us beating, let’s say, China in a trade deal? They kill us. I beat China all the time. All the time. When did we beat Japan at anything? They send their cars over by the millions, and what do we do? When was the last time you saw a Chevrolet in Tokyo? It doesn’t exist, folks. They beat us all the time.”
On the campaign trail, Trump vowed to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement and to renegotiate, if not repudiate, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a deal which led to the construction of Japanese factories in Mexico to export to the American market.

A few months later, in an interview in September with The Economist, Trump elaborated that attack on Japan for unfair trade and ‘stealing jobs’ by questioning the value of our security alliance. Why are we defending Japan against China, he wondered:

“You know the pact we have with Japan is interesting. Because if somebody attacks us, Japan does not have to help, If somebody attacks Japan, we have to help Japan. That’s the kind of deals we make.”

Trump took his questioning of the value of our security alliance a leap further in an interview with the New York Times in March. If Japan and South Korea should do more in its own defense, he was asked, would he object if they developed nuclear weapons to deal with China and North Korea? Trump was almost casual about the idea of junking long-standing American opposition to nuclear proliferation. At some point, Trump answered, given the state of American resources, “it could mean nuclear.”

Trump seems almost ignorant of the historical roots of the American alliances in Northeast Asia. As has been pointed out in American media, Trump ignores the significant contribution that Japan and South Korea make to the support of the forces based in those countries. More significantly, he simply does not seem to understand the strategic role those forces play in maintaining the peace and stability of all of East Asia.

Trump’s views are by now, well known in Japan. For months, American foreign policy makers have been reassuring Japanese, and other Asian leaders and policy makers, that these are just the heated rhetoric of the campaign. If Clinton wins, they told them, she will find a way to return to the TPP, despite her commitment, under pressure from Bernie Sanders and from Trump, to oppose the agreement.

Now those same policy elites are rushing, within hours of the shocking vote, to back Trump and reassure allies and friends that Trump will put these views aside and return to the fold of postwar internationalism, effectively consigning the making of foreign policy to the old elites. Familiar names, such as Richard Armitage, are floated as possible senior officials in a Trump administration, despite the fact that he and others denounced the candidate during the campaign.

This is a comforting idea and perhaps it could come to pass. Trump has few in his inner circle who are capable of running foreign and security policy, or even international economic policy. He will have to draw on the huge well of establishment Republicans to fill many positions, people who still hold to the classic policy prescriptions of internationalism and even assertive American interventionism abroad.

But there are more compelling reasons to believe that Trump will not outsource his foreign policy to the Republican establishment. First, he owes nothing to those elites. He was elected despite their opposition, without their money, and with a campaign staff composed of a hard core of loyalists, some of them even more deeply committed to his anti-internationalist ideology than he has been. He is the triumphant leader of a Republican party that has been transformed in ideology and in its base of support by him.

The most important reason to believe he will not throw away these ideas is that he has been personally voicing these views, on a consistent basis, since at least the days of the U.S.-Japan trade wars of the late 1980s. These are not slogans created just to appeal to former steelworkers in Pennsylvania. These are the deeply held beliefs of Donald Trump and he shows no signs of abandoning them.

In Trump’s ghost written book, “The Art of the Deal,” his manifesto of how to do business published in 1987, he complained about how difficult it was to do business with Japanese. That year he paid for a full-page ad in the New York Times, Washington Post and Boston Globe that denounced the Japanese, saying that while the U.S. paid for their defense, they built a strong economy, based on a deliberately weak yen.

As he told a television host the following year, “we let Japan come in and dump everything into our markets. It’s not free trade. If you ever go to Japan right now and try to sell something, forget about it.”

In a must read interview with Playboy magazine in 1990, amidst the boom of Japanese high profile purchases of Manhattan real estate, Trump was almost vitriolic in his portrayal of Japan as untrustworthy, even duplicitous allies:
“The Japanese have their great scientists making cars and VCRs and we have our great scientists making missiles so we can defend Japan. Why aren’t we being reimbursed for our costs? The Japanese double-screw the U.S., a real trick: First they take all our money with their consumer goods, then they put it back in buying all of Manhattan. So either way, we lose.”
In his language, and his understanding of Japan, it is clear that Donald Trump is simply frozen into the same place he reached in the 1980s. Nothing has changed that view of Japan – the only difference is that now he extends this to others such as Korea, China, and Vietnam in Asia. It would be an act of willful self-delusion to believe that upon entering the White House, with Republican policy elites whispering in his ear, Trump will now cast those views overboard.

Still it is legitimate to question whether Trump will give a priority to implementing those views. When it comes to trade, it is unimaginable that Trump will support ratification of the TPP. At best, he would see a complete renegotiation of the agreement. At worst, he will simply repudiate it. It is only slightly less likely that he will pursue the renegotiation, and possible repudiation of NAFTA as well. The Japanese government must understand that reality, though it is a painful one. For Japanese business, it could mean a drastic change in the conditions that led to plant construction in Mexico and Canada.

What is harder to predict is the future of the U.S.-Japan security alliance. Pentagon officials are sure to try to explain to Trump the essential nature of that alliance in meeting the challenge of a rising China. There is already wide spread speculation that the retreat into semi-isolationism by a Trump administration could lead to a more assertive effort by China to take advantage of the opportunity. China might flatter Trump, a la Putin, while exploiting his ignorance of China, wrote James Palmer in Foreign Policy. This will cause some in Asia to bandwagon with China while others, such as Taiwan, South Korea and Japan, propelled by a fear of American abandonment, might seek to develop nuclear weapons to replace the American guarantees of extended deterrence.

It is possible that some in a new Trump administration, wrapped in rhetoric of muscular nationalism, would seek to challenge China. And in that vein, the traditional value of the U.S.-Japan security alliance would be again evident, despite Trump’s complaints about free loading allies. Chinese policy makers will hesitate, however, to provoke Trump who talked about slapping massive tariffs on Chinese goods and blocking American firms from moving factories overseas.

For China, globalization is essential to its own economic survival. And Trump too may not be eager to take on China in the security realm, in areas such as the South China Sea or even to bolster the defense of the East China Sea.

For an Abe administration that has invested heavily in reinforcing the alliance, and in asserting a wider security role in the region, the election of Donald Trump could not come at a worse time. Abe has already pushed to pass the TPP in the Diet and has risked the opposition of the Japanese public by asserting a more robust Japanese defense role, within the framework of the alliance. If Trump undermines both of those pillars, where does Abe go? To Moscow, which surely will be seeking its own deal with Putin’s favorite American politician?

Japanese policy makers may comfort themselves that Trump will not act on his own beliefs, a view perhaps being already pushed to the Prime Minister’s office by friends in Washington. They would be wise to heed the words of Daniel Drezner, a professor of international relations at Tufts University and a regular contributor to the Washington Post who tried to answer the question last week: “What campaign promises would a President Trump try to keep?” Drezner concluded:
“If you think Donald Trump won't try to fulfill his core foreign policy promises as president than you are fooling yourself,” he wrote. And if you hope that ‘friends of Japan’ will emerge by his side to guide him, “Trump will empower advisors who seem to be even crazier than himself.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


Donald Trump’s Peace Through Strength Vision for the Asia-Pacific
How the Republican nominee will rewrite America’s relationship with Asia.

First appeared in Foreign Policy, November 7, 2016

In 2011, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced with great fanfare in Foreign Policy that the United States would begin a military “pivot” to the Asia-Pacific. This beating of the American chest was done against the backdrop of China’s increasing assertiveness in the region and the sense among many longtime American allies that the United States had lost sight of Asia’s strategic importance during 10 years of Middle Eastern wars.

President Barack Obama’s administration was right to signal reassurance to our Asian allies and partners. However, this pivot (and later “rebalance”) failed to capture the reality that the United States, particularly in the military sphere, had remained deeply committed to the region. This pivot has also turned out to be an imprudent case of talking loudly but carrying a small stick, one that has led to more, not less, aggression and instability in the region.

Initially, Clinton’s pivot and the Obama administration’s stated interest in countering China’s rising clout were met with general bipartisan agreement in Congress. Inside the Beltway, the analyst community also appeared to share a similar consensus that the global financial crisis had emboldened China. As one of Washington’s leading experts on Chinese foreign and security policy, Bonnie Glaser, told one of the authors in an on-camera interview: “The Chinese saw the United States as weakened by the financial crisis; and it created opportunities for China to test the United States and to try and promote its interests in its periphery in the hopes that the United States would not respond forcefully.”

With China’s multi-decade military modernization program bearing fruit — fueled ironically in no small part by the fruits of its large trade surplus with the United States — Beijing was in a prime position to flex its muscles. Washington’s pivot seemed to be an appropriate and timely response.

It did not take long, however, for the pivot to falter. Initially, it would mostly feature token gestures of American diplomatic and military support, for example, sending littoral combat ships to Singapore and 2,500 Marines to Darwin, Australia. However, over time, the administration would drastically cut the U.S. military — particularly by shrinking a U.S. Navy expected to be the tip of the pivot spear. Upon doing the pivot math, U.S. Naval War College professor Toshi Yoshihara soberly concluded in an interview that a “shrinking fleet” would “nullify our attempts to pivot to Asia.” His colleague and co-author James Holmes would more bluntly say in a separate interview that the pivot was “bush league.”

Curiously, the one aspect of the rebalance that seemed to most energize the administration was an economic rather than military gambit. This was pushing for passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade mega-deal involving 12 Pacific Rim countries accounting for “nearly 40 percent of global GDP.” Clinton herself called it the “gold standard” of trade deals. Against the backdrop of the pivot, the TPP deal was sold to the American public not as a way to increase urgently needed economic growth. (Voters have become increasingly immune to that failed siren song as millions of American jobs have been shipped overseas.) Rather, Obama and Clinton billed the TPP as a national security measure to help contain a rising China. As Ash Carter, Obama’s current defense secretary, asserted, passing TPP is as “important to me as another aircraft carrier.”

Of course, none of this — neither the shrinking “small stick” U.S. Navy nor a new “talk loudly” pivot — was lost on a rapidly militarizing China. While the United States continues to endure both a shrunken force and a readiness crisis brought about by sequestration, Beijing has created some 3,000 acres of artificial islands in the South China Sea with very limited American response. Beijing has also unilaterally declared an “air defense identification zone” in the East China Sea, expanded its illegitimate territorial claims everywhere from India to Indonesia, and further worsened its already loathsome human rights record.

It’s not just that Secretary Clinton’s weak pivot follow-through has invited Chinese aggression in the East and South China Seas. She also faithfully executed the Obama administration’s failed policy of “strategic patience” with North Korea — a foreign-policy doctrine that has produced nothing but heightened instability and increased danger.

Indeed, since Obama took office, the North has conducted four nuclear tests and sunk a South Korean navy vessel. It has also pursued a vigorous ballistic missile program that has put Pyongyang on the path to both miniaturizing a warhead and developing a missile capable of reaching America’s West Coast. Today, despite repeated American warnings and U.S. entreaties to China to bring its wild child under control, the Kim regime remains firmly in power, the North Korean people remain oppressed and poverty-stricken, and the danger to America and its allies is more acute. So much for patience.

American allies and partners in the region have been disheartened by a foreign policy that has veered from feckless to mendacious. The Philippines’s recent high-profile rejection of American leadership, and open courtship with China, is a further setback in Asia for the Obama-Clinton foreign policy. This setback may be traced directly back to Hillary Clinton. Few in Washington remember that the Obama administration pointedly refused to intervene in 2012 when China blatantly violated a diplomatic agreement brokered by Secretary Clinton’s right-hand man in the region, Kurt Campbell; Beijing shredded that agreement by brazenly seizing Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines after agreeing to stand down. Washington’s utter failure to uphold its obligations to a longtime, pivotal ally during one of its most humiliating crises has no doubt contributed to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s low opinion of American security guarantees — and his recent move toward a China alliance.

Obama’s infamous “red line” pronouncement in Syria likewise was perceived throughout the Asia-Pacific region as an open invitation for aggression against U.S. allies and partners. Obama’s meekness cast doubt on Washington’s willingness to enforce long-standing security commitments in the face of Chinese or North Korean aggression. This disastrous mistake has been further compounded by a string of failures in our bilateral relations with key countries since 2009. Indeed, the litany of allies and partners mistreated under this administration is distressingly long, and the cumulative effect has been a clear diminution in U.S. regional clout relative to China.

For example, Thailand, a key U.S. treaty ally with a chaotic and unstable domestic political situation, was unceremoniously booted from Washington’s embrace following a military coup. It is now aligning itself more closely with Beijing, even in security matters.

The Obama administration’s treatment of Taiwan has been equally egregious. This beacon of democracy in Asia is perhaps the most militarily vulnerable U.S. partner anywhere in the world. As far back as 2010, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency warned that the balance of power in the skies above the Taiwan Strait was shifting toward Beijing. Yet Taiwan has been repeatedly denied the type of comprehensive arms deal it needs to deter China’s covetous gaze, despite the fact that such assistance is guaranteed by the legally binding Taiwan Relations Act.

Fortunately, the United States has tremendous opportunities to reclaim its geostrategic position in Asia. This is due mainly to China’s own miscalculations and the overplaying of its hand.

Almost in spite of the Obama administration’s repellant policies, U.S. partners like Japan, South Korea, India, and even Myanmar and Vietnam continue to seek closer ties with Washington across the spectrum. They view Beijing as a bully and potential aggressor that must be balanced against. The next administration will be well-placed to seize these strategic opportunities — if it has the will and vision to do so.

To turn this situation around, the White House will require a leader who understands the challenges we face while boldly seizing openings to further our interests. If past is prologue, Hillary Clinton’s position overseeing the failed pivot has revealed that she is wholly unsuited to rebuild an Asia policy that she has already helped severely wound.

Donald Trump has been clear and concise on his approach to U.S. foreign policy. It begins with a clear-eyed appraisal of U.S. national interests and a willingness to work with any country that shares our goals of stability, prosperity, and security.

Trump’s approach is two-pronged. First, Trump will never again sacrifice the U.S. economy on the altar of foreign policy by entering into bad trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement, allowing China into the World Trade Organization, and passing the proposed TPP. These deals only weaken our manufacturing base and ability to defend ourselves and our allies.

Second, Trump will steadfastly pursue a strategy of peace through strength, an axiom of Ronald Reagan that was abandoned under the Obama administration. He knows, however, that this will be a difficult task. As former Air Force Secretary Mike Wynne has warned:

Under the Obama administration, the Navy has shrunk to its smallest size since World War I. The Army is the smallest it has been since before World War II. The Air Force is the smallest in its history, and its aircraft are the oldest. Readiness levels across the services are the worst in a generation, with pilots facing significantly reduced cockpit time and deferring critical maintenance, Navy ships and crews deploying as long as 10 months, and Army units are deferring critical training before deployments. The horror story of naval aviators taking spare aircraft parts from museums to keep their planes flying is simply unacceptable for those who wear our nation’s uniform.

Trump has pledged to work with Congress to repeal defense sequestration, a cause with bipartisan support in both chambers. He has laid out the most detailed plan for rebuilding our military of any recent presidential nominee. This is in stark contrast to Clinton’s near total silence on the issue.

Lee Kuan Yew, the legendary founder of Singapore, was candid about what the U.S. military presence in the Asia-Pacific meant for security. Noting that the stability provided by the U.S. defense presence benefited the entire region, including China, Lee once said the U.S. military presence is “very necessary” and essential for liberal values like freedom of the seas to prevail.

Trump will rebuild the U.S. Navy, now at 274 ships. His goal is 350 ships, a fleet in line with the up to 346 ships endorsed by the bipartisan National Defense Panel.

The U.S. Navy is perhaps the greatest source of regional stability in Asia. It currently protects $5 trillion of annual trade across the South China Sea and acts as an albeit faltering check on China’s growing ambitions. With the Chinese already outnumbering the U.S. Navy in Pacific-based submarines and projected to have 415 warships and nearly 100 submarines by 2030, the mere initiation of the Trump naval program will reassure our allies that the United States remains committed in the long term to its traditional role as guarantor of the liberal order in Asia.

Much has been made of Trump’s suggestion that U.S. allies like Japan and South Korea contribute their fair share to the cost of sustaining a U.S. presence in their countries. Japan is the world’s third-largest economy, with a GDP of more than $4 trillion. South Korea is the world’s 11th-largest economy, with a GDP of more than $1.3 trillion. The U.S. taxpayer not only rebuilt both countries after devastating wars, but American money and blood has allowed these allies the space to grow into mature democracies and advanced economies over the last half-century. It’s only fair — and long past time — for each country to step up to the full cost-sharing plate.

There is no question of Trump’s commitment to America’s Asian alliances as bedrocks of stability in the region. Trump will simply, pragmatically, and respectfully discuss with Tokyo and Seoul additional ways for those governments to support a presence all involved agree is vital — the same discussions will occur in Europe to bolster the critical NATO alliance.

Trump has demonstrated during his candidacy for the presidency a clear understanding of the building blocks for a successful foreign policy in Asia and globally. A cornerstone is undiminished American strength in support of U.S. national interests, where words have meaning and allies and competitors alike can be confident that the U.S. president stands by what he says. In a Donald Trump administration, these qualities will contribute to a far more stable Asia-Pacific — one that fully and peacefully serves the interests of America and its allies and partners.