Friday, March 07, 2008

Time for Japan to grow up and take care of itself?

Observing Japan, on which a few weeks ago the author (Tobias Harris, who is a good source of well-written/thought-out articles about Japanese politics) expressed shame, "...that members of the US Armed Forces have so abused the hospitality of the nation hosting them as to undermine US national interests."

Well, I doubt he means that like I read it to mean, but I am not ashamed of members of the US Armed Forces for abusing Japan's self-interested hospitality, and I also question just how well it serves our national interests to have a lop-sided security treaty with Japan.* These crimes happened because an extraordinarily small percentage of the people stationed on Okinawa are criminals. One doesn't have to live in Japan long to understand how crimes committed by non-Japanese are so often sensationalized and blown out of proportion by the media, the police, and politicians. I don't then feel ashamed that non-Japanese have abused Japan's hospitality, I feel anger and disgust at the criminals who commit the crime, not the group they do or don't belong to.

I do have just a bit of personal experience regarding law enforcement and crimes in the military. I was in the Air Force, as a military policeman (called Security Police at that time) and a drug dog handler . It is a bit dated perhaps and it goes back to well before Bush's (and our) war so damaged the military and recruitment efforts that some branches have had to start accepting those with criminal---or even felony criminal records---but compared to similarly populated civilian towns/cities the crime rate was much, much, lower. In fact, most of the very serious crimes that I saw involved civilian perpetrators. These were Air Force bases, but we did occasionally work with Army/Marine MPs. These were not places overflowing with criminal thugs either.

So no, the U.S. military is not full of rapists and thugs as the Japanese media/politicians like to imply. The idea of restricting everyone to base is frankly idiotic and will achieve nothing except as a show. (Maybe every time there is a crime by a non-Japanese in Tokyo, non-Japanese should be restricted to their homes.) And the claim by the Japanese government that it is going to put more pressure on the US to reduce the (extremely small) number of crimes by military personnel is a joke. They know it too. What could be done? Lock everyone in chains?

What this does show is that it is time to get the US out. All the way out. We can't argue with Japan that it is only a small percentage of people committing crimes. That isn't really the point---the point is that it is 63 years after the end of the war and there is a big question as to whether the US should still be here. This is not our country. I think we ought to withdraw our forces and re-negotiate the Security Treaty so that there will either be an equal obligation on the part of each country to risk blood to assist the other in a war in which both are involved, or that the US will no longer be expected to send Americans to be killed for Japan. Let Japan take full responsibility for its defense and its actions. The U.S.-written constitution is not our problem. If Japan wants to be the "peace nation" let it do so without U.S. military backing. If it wants to admit that the SDF are a military and start making decisions and polices to reflect that , let it. Let it rescind Article 9. It is a Japanese problem; not a U.S problem.

This will never happen as the U.S. will rarely voluntarily remove bases from a country. Think Philippines or John McCain's idea of keeping U.S. forces in Iraq for decades and decades.

Anyway, Observing Japan also has a post today in which it is argued that some reduction in U.S. military forces in Japan is a good idea and the plan to relocate 8,000 Marines and dependents to Guam by 2014 should be advanced. This won't happen either as the U.S. wants/needs Japan's money. (What? Increase US taxes to pay for its military? Are you joking? We won't even do that to support them in a war.) And removing only 8,000 Marines ain't enough either.

*This reminds me of that old load of bullsh*t by Mike Mansfield: ''The U.S.-Japan relationship is the most important bilateral relationship in the world, bar none." Someone forgot to ask Mike, "Why?" Same applies for the US national interest in having such a treaty with Japan, or the fact we have to have forces here and everywhere else on the planet.

No comments:

Post a Comment