(BGF) – On August 4,the Boston Global Forum is pleased that its second conference on the topic of “Building a Framework for Peace and Security in the Pacific” was taken place successfully with participation of delegates from Washington D.C, Tokyo, London, Hong Kong, Ha Noi, Ho Chi Minh city through Google Hangouts.
Below is the transcript of the conference.
Governor Michael Dukakis: Good morning. I’m Michael Dukakis, the former Governor of Massachusetts and the Chair of the Boston Global Forum. For those of you joining us for the first time, just a quick word or two about the Forum. This was created largely thanks to the initiative of Tuan Nguyen, who was the founder of the VietNamNet in Vietnam and who is currently and for the last several weeks, is in Vietnam but also spends a good deal of his time here in Boston. He and a group of us, who he pulled together, decided it made a lot of sense if we could create something we are calling the Boston Global Forum to tap into the extraordinary intellectual riches we have here in the Boston-area and at the same time involve literally hundreds of you from around the globe, thanks for the miracle of online conferencing.
We decided that what we would do is pick a particular issue each year and focus on that issue. We began on the subject of occupational safety and health standards, especially after the disasters in Bangladesh and devoted several months to that. But we’ve decided for our next topic we’re going to look at the prospects for creating a framework for peace and security in the pacific, something which I’m sure I don’t have to remind any of you is a very important part of what has to be on the international agenda.
We are currently at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University with some really great people who I’m going to introduce to you in just a minute and we’ll be joined by people in Japan, in Vietnam, and all over the world. We’re going to begin today with a discussion of whether or not there are lessons to be learned from World War I that we can apply constructively to our efforts to create an international framework in which we can have peace and stability without war.
So, we’re going to spend the first 45 or 50 minutes of our session today on that and then we’re going to move, at least to an introduction for a discussion on how we can create a framework for peace and security in the Pacific. The Greeks have an old saying: “Things happen, we’re supposed to learn from them”. So, one of the things we’d like to do today in kicking off our discussion, is to take a look at that with some very good people who are here with me at the Kennedy School and ask ourselves whether or not there are lessons to be learned from World War I as we seek to create a peaceful and stable world.
I’m going to ask Dick Rosecrance, who has headed up a very interesting effort recently to ask a number of people, including some of the people who are here with us, to take a good look at World War I, especially its origins, and see if we can learn some lessons from that which would be helpful to us as we move ahead now in the months and years ahead on a number of international issues, specifically for the purpose of the Forum this year on the question of peace and security in the Pacific. Let me introduce Dick Rosecrance to you and then we’ll here from Joe Nye and Dick Cooper and some of the other folks who are going to be discussants, including some of the people that are involved in this and participating in this from around the world. Then after 45 or 50 minutes we’re going to get into our focus on the Pacific and at least begin that discussion. Dick Rosecrance.
Professor Richard N. Rosecrance: Thanks very much, Mike. It’s wonderful to be part of this assembly and to hear the views, not just of us here at Harvard but also from around the world, in Vietnam, Japan, and other places. Mike didn’t mention that we have a book that has already gone to press that raises the following questions: Are we going to have a new great war before too long, considering the ways in which World War I started? I think, if I summarize some of the views in that book, many of us are convinced that in all of the nationalist and other goads to war between countries in those days, particularly the assumption that sooner or later there’d be another great war, there’d be nothing to eliminate war so at some point there would have been some kind of war but perhaps would have been a war between two powers rather than five or six, as it turned out. So, I think even if we admit that there were long run causes that would have pushed in the direction of conflict between countries because there hadn’t been a major conflict since 1870-71, still I think the thing that impressed most of us to the greatest degree was how accidental this war was – how there were so many ways in which it could have been avoided and I think Joe Nye will talk about some of those. I think it’s important to bear that in mind because as we look ahead, what are the reasons that might produce another war? Are they also as incidental and accidental as the reasons that helped to produce World War I? I think it’s possible to imagine that some of same things that caused World War I are still with us and those are the things we begin to worry about.
So, as we look ahead we have to think not only about what caused the war but what you can do about what caused the war. Of course, if Britain had not come into the war it would not have been a World War. If the person who is conducting Franz Ferdinand on that fatal day June 28, 1914 had not stopped at the place where he was supposed to turn and backed up in order to turn into the correct route he would not have delivered Franz Ferdinand up to Princip’s bullets that killed both the Archduchess Sophie and the Archduke. So, there were many sort of accidental things that could have gone the other way. Look at the degree of economic relationships between the major powers: they were very substantial. Trade between Britain and Germany was very, very significant – they were there own best trading partners despite the rivalries that they had. French and British trade was good. All of these countries could forward to a period of economic growth ahead of them in which their own futures would look better than the past. Why didn’t they then hold back? Or consider the military issue. There was no certainty that the [inaudible] planned which involved a sweeping movement around the French forces that would go through Belgium and then circle around just by the seacoast and come back and press the French against the borders of Paris at their own frontiers. There was the possibility that this would not work. The Germans did not have enough forces to in fact carry it out. That they staked everything on this rash gambit is at the time, and certainly later, a very questionable thing to have done. There were many ways in which countries went into a war that they could not see the end of: they could not see the end of it physically, they could not see the end of it in terms of the violence it would create. At the Battle of the Somme on July 1, 1916 that single day more people were killed or put out of action than all of the Americans killed in Vietnam during our period of time there. This was just horrific bloodletting in which every few seconds people died. I think that they found out that for every meter of advance that the French or British had against the Germans it took 11 people to die for every meter. It was just an unbelievable killing machine. That this could not have been avoided seems, in hindsight, a very tremendous unanswered question, one which I think we will come back to and deal with at some length also. So, I think what we’re posing for ourselves and for our listeners, the whole question of what caused the War and how do we prevent it from occurring again? I would merely offer now the cautionary tale that it is not going to be easy to do that. The kinds of conflicts that exist in East Asia now are not minor ones – they do involve territorial outposts in the East China Sea. Territory is one of the things, as we found out in the Ukraine, that causes big problems between countries. Those kinds of issues have to be taken care of to be sure that everything is going to be fine in terms of our longer relations with countries in the Far East. Having offered those cautionary tales I will defer to Joe Nye, who I think is going to speak next.
Professor Joseph S. Nye: Well, let me pick up where Dick Rosecrance left off and relate the topic we’re discussing this August 4th to East Asia and particularly to stability in East Asia. The place to start on this, I suppose, is with the Greek. There’s the famous statement by Thucydides about the origins of the Peloponnesian War, which Thucydides said was caused by the rise in the power of Athens and the fear it created in Sparta. Indeed, I wrote a piece in The Economist in 1998 suggesting that this was an interesting parallel. Many people say it’s really the story of World War I, with the rise in the power of Germany and the fear it created in Britain. In fact, that’s much too simple. There was a rise in the power of Russia, as well as in Germany, and the decline in the power of Austria, which was just as important. So, one has to be careful of these historical analogies. While the analogy of Thucydides and the origins of the Peloponnesian War are cautionary, they really are not determinative in any sense. If you ask is it plausible or possible that we could see a war arising in East Asia? Yes, its always possible. Is it possible that it would be like World War I? Well I think you have to be careful. First of all, there are some important differences. There is a rise in the power of China and it does create fear in its neighbors: Japan, Vietnam, the United States, and so on. But it’s also worth noticing that there is a lot of exaggeration of the rise in the power of China. When China passes the United States in total GDP, which some people think could happen within the next decade – some even put it earlier on purchasing power parity – its not equal to the United States in power. If you look back to 1914, what’s interesting is that Germany had not only passed Britain in industrial strength by the year 1900 but it was pursuing a very adventuresome policy. So, when the British faced the decision 100 years ago today, Germany had already passed them in some sense. With the United and China there is much more time before China gets close to the United States in overall power, including military and soft power, which gives us more time to manage this relationship, not to have the sense of fear or not to succumb to the extreme sense of fear such as we saw in the World War I example.
But there are two lessons that I would learn from World War I, which we want to keep in mind today. One is the role of accident and miscalculation. When I went to East Asia to meet with the Prime Ministers of Japan and China at the request of Secretary Clinton, as she then was, it was very clear to us that neither the top leaders in Japan nor the top leaders in China wanted any sort of war. But its also clear that wars sometimes happen, not because people want war, but because of miscalculations. Its interesting if you look back at so many of the things that happened at the origins of World War I they were really miscalculations. You could make an argument about one or another country wanting war but I think the only country that really wanted war was Austria which wanted to prevent its decline. I think the others, in the end, would have preferred not to have had the war but the miscalculations that occurred meant that they faced with a set of decisions where they felt they had no choice. We want to make sure that miscalculations don’t ever get us in that sort of a situation.
The other lesson I’d learn for today for East Asia from World War I is that war is never inevitable. Sometimes people who use these analogies, like the analogy from Thucydides, “Well, this shows that war was inevitable – nobody could have stopped it.” In fact, there’s another quote from Thucydides which is even more important than the one that’s often used and misused about the rise of power and the fear it creates and that’s a statement that Thucydides made which I think is profoundly wise to this day which is: “The belief that war is inevitable becomes one of its causes.” So, once we succumb to the feeling that there is bound to be a war we start preparing for war and our adversaries, or potential adversaries, see our preparations and say “Aha, that proves our point” and they increase their preparations and before you know it you have a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So, I think the two lessons I would learn for East Asia from World War I, building on Dick’s fine start, is don’t succumb to misleading analogies instead beware of miscalculations and don’t succumb to the belief that war is inevitable, it never is inevitable.
Gov. Dukakis: Thanks, Joe. Dick Cooper.
Professor Richard Cooper: Rosecrance referred to I was asked to look at the relationship between the high degree of economic interdependence in 1914 again with the historical analogy in mind. The last great period of globalization was the period from 1870 – I actually dated from 1866, when the first trans-Atlantic cable was successfully put in – to 1914. Of course, globalization is on everyone’s lips these days to describe the period of the last 30 years. Again, there is an analogy between the late 19th and early 20th century and the late 20th and early 21st century in terms of the tremendous thrust of economic intercourse, not only for trade, but also for the movement of capital and especially, in the earlier period, for the movement of people although the movement of people is very great today also. The question that is often posed is how, with this high degree of interdependence, war could have taken place?. Joe has given part of the answer, which is that nobody planned for it. I just want to say, with respect to Austria, Austria did not want a world war or a European-wide war: it wanted war against Serbia, a small neighbor; it wanted to punish what it considered an impotent neighbor. It was as much a surprise to the Austrians as to everyone else that a world war emerged from their initial actions. It is absolutely true, as Dick has said, that there was a high degree of interdependence particularly between Britain and Germany. So the question is why did they go to war? I want to rehabilitate a man called Norman Angell here. Many of you may have never heard of him, but those who are international relations specialists probably have. He is frequently quoted, usually with a degree of contempt as saying in that period, 1910, war was inconceivable. That is actually not what he said at all, what he said was – my words, not his – war would be stupid. He meant concretely by that that even the victors of such a war, which was already being talked about then, would be worse off after the war than they were before. This is in contrast to many previous wars where the victors could plausibly expect to gain from war. I mention this bit of intellectual history because it’s an example, in my mind, of truth through repetition. There’s no doubt in my mind that any of the people who cite Norman Angell, as I say with a slight tone of contempt, have never read him. He did not say war was inconceivable, he said it would be stupid. Of course, in that respect, he was absolutely right. The victors, France and Britain, came out of World War I devastated and never, in some sense, fully recovered.
That’s the first point I want to make. The second point I want to make is that those who pine for a multipolar world should think twice. This, after all, was a multipolar world in 1914. Five acknowledged great powers, the Ottoman Empire in decline, a young United States on the rise, and even Italy was very feisty. So, this was very much a multipolar world and look what it got us. Think carefully, those of you who pine for a multipolar world. As the famous Chinese curse, “May your wishes be granted”.
There was one of the great powers, Angell notwithstanding, who plausibly could persuade itself that if victorious in a European-wide war, it would actually come out ahead and that was Czarist Russia – this was before the Communist Revolution. The Russian degree of economic interdependence was an order of magnitude lower than that of the Western European countries – Germany, France, Britain. Russia over decades, even centuries, had its eyes on Istanbul and an exit from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean and ultimately to the Atlantic Ocean. The Russians could persuade themselves that if they were victorious against Germany and Austria, Istanbul could fall into their hands and that was an integral part of Russian thinking leading up to the World War. It is noteworthy, at least on my reading of the history, that the country that first made the decision knowing that a European-wide war would follow was Russia. Germany is very culpable in many, many ways but actually, just in terms of the time sequence, the country that made the decision knowing that a European-wide war would follow was actually Russia, not Germany.
I’m one of those who shares the view of Joe, I’ll put it even more strongly, beware of the lessons of history – you run the risk of learning the wrong lessons, which the Germans did. They thought they could defeat France very quickly and then turn their military attention to Russia, so they attacked France first and that was on the basis of their reading of the 1871 event in which they attacked France and the French capitulated very quickly – they thought they could have brought that up again but nothing could have been more wrong as it turned out. But, I think history can stimulate the imagination. With that in mind, my lesson is beware third countries. It was Russian actions, through a sequence of events that brought Britain to war with Germany – Germany played a culpable role in that. If one thinks today, as Joe suggested, about China and the United States don’t just look at China and the United States – look at what third parties, who might be skillful at manipulating public and leaders’ sentiment in those two great countries, might think they could gain from a conflict between China and the United States. I’ll leave it to your imagination who those countries might be but there are at least half a dozen who might persuade themselves, given the difficulties that they’re in, that digging up a little conflict would not be bad from their point of view.
Gov. Dukakis: I’d like now to go to Tuan in Vietnam who, after all, is the guy who brought us all together around the idea of the Forum. I’ll ask him first to say hello and secondly, perhaps introduce some of the people who are with him in Vietnam and ask them to make a comment or two at least. We’ll come back to you obviously and talk in great detail about what should happen in the Pacific. So, Tuan, welcome. We miss you here in Boston but it’s good to see you, thanks to modern technology, in Vietnam.
Ms. Bui Viet Lam: Good morning everyone. I am actually in Vietnam so I am so glad to introduce Mr. Bui Duc Lai. He is the Special Advisor to the Chairman of the National Assembly in Vietnam and he would like to say something to contribute to this discussion today.
Mr. Bui Duc Lai (Special Advisor to the Chairman of Vietnam National Assembly): Governor Michael Dukakis, distinguished guests, speakers, ladies and gentleman, I would like to express my thanks to Chairman Dukakis for giving me the unique chance to contribute to this important session. I am sorry I cannot speak directly in English, I will have to speak in Vietnamese. Mrs. Bui Viet Lam will help me translate. so I will shorten my presentation.
As we all know, the 20th century has witnessed great wars among powers and the first 10-20 years of the 21st century we can have a perception that the world is not safe. What we see today is that the world has become dangerous with rapid conflicts, civil wars, and arms races between countries. They have taken place in many areas in the world. Additionally, they have been costly and they threaten to escalate into military conflicts. I think the origins of the political situation could be blamed on the rise of certain powers who have become more aggressive and assertive [inaudible] in its national interests to create the new rules and policy measures against other countries. The annexation of Crimea and war in Eastern Ukraine is a feature of the [inaudible] nowadays. But today I would like to speak more about the non-peaceful rise of China, which has been a topic of controversy.
The Chinese leaders always talk about their peaceful rise but in reality the opposite is true. To realize the Chinese dream is to realize the centennial Chinese ambition to achieve global dominance. What we observe is that the Chinese leaders have a radical nationalism among the power of the people by launching massive propaganda campaigns of so-called historic lands and historic waters, the Chinese glorious pacts and relations with other regional countries. In relations with China, every country has to make a commitments to support their policies in Taiwan, Tibet and other world issues. In relationships with the citizens will it not be as conscious and retaliative? Recently China declared the 9-dashed line that comprises most of the South China Sea which violates any international norms and laws. Most dangerously, two months ago China placed an oil rig inside Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and used hundreds of military and paramilitary vessels with support of several private jets to coerce Vietnamese fisherman. A major concern is that China has violated UN clauses and commitments it has made with ASEAN countries even in bilateral relations with Vietnam. I mentioned the South China Sea, to stress that it’s right time the world achieve mutually shared perspective and joint response to deter and punish the use of force in the international relations. Otherwise there is no guarantee that the catastrophe will witness in the 20th century would not be [inaudible]
So following are some recommendations I would like to make so as to detail and prevent the colliding of small countries. First of all, we agree that it is important to build up a framework to manage the tensions, particularly international laws. These rules and norms must be effective in preventing the great powers from coercing small and medium countries. I think we need to cut out a red border in which no countries can violate those things. If they cross the red border they must be punished. In my opinion, the 9-dashed line [inaudible] and if the world accepts the 9-dashed line it could be very dangerous for world security and peace. Secondly, all nations must reach an agreement to have a shared reaction based on mutual relations. It is essential to have a political, economic, and even military insurance to ensure the enforcement of these rules. To this end, the United States and other powers must [inaudible] particularly the United States as a falling superpower has a long-term in fighting against great power diplomacy. Small and medium countries must cooperate in dealing with great power strategies to avoid the political pressure and tactics from the great forces. Historic lessons have shown that if those countries just took care of their own interests, which could be referred to as “stay quiet as neighbors house is on fire”, these countries could be harmed sooner or later. We believe that if the ASEAN countries can reach a joint agreement it will be more difficult for China to use its diplomacy. The media must play a more active role in uncovering the propaganda tactics that are relevant with powers classes. For instance, the Chinese media has flooded the world with wrong, distorted information to deflate the international community from what is true. I won’t say any new thing but we understand that many Chinese people do not have information about the South China Sea.
Gov. Dukakis: We’re running out of time here and I want to wrap up our discussion. Based on the analysis we have here on World War I I would like to come back here and ask some of our other speakers. Considering now what we’ve heard from Vietnam, any thoughts Suzanne, Ezra? Anybody else who wants to comment on how we might apply these lessons to the Pacific? Especially given the comments we’ve had from Vietnam which reflects the tough feelings on China’s role.
Prof. Nye: Well, I think major thing is not to apply these World War I lessons literally. When Prime Minister Abe raised the issue of 1914 at Davos last January he created quite a stir and I’m not sure it helped him. I think something we ought to be careful to ask is what are the things we have been doing for the stability in East Asia now and avoid too many of these historical metaphors and analogies which are often leading us astray?
Gov. Dukakis: This is a very different East Asia than the one that was around in 1914. Dick, do you have a comment or two?
Prof. Rosecrance: I’d like to agree very strongly with one thing that our Vietnamese interlocutor said which goes to the flow of information. The Chinese and now the Russians are engaged in a systematic program of misinformation. More so in the case of China than in Russia but a systematic effort to exclude, insofar as possible in today’s world, points that are relevant. So, for example, Chinese, except for those who study it at university, do not know the Southeast Asian case for their claims to the islands or the Japanese case to the Senkaku’s. So, the Chinese government has a program of chopping the information that reaches the general Chinese public, not scholars. Of course, it’s always possible to learn things on the Internet but it requires a certain degree of skill to do that. I think that high school textbooks, to start with that point, and more generally information, are a legitimate and a very important part of foreign policy in today’s world.
Gov. Dukakis: I’m not sure that the media, generally, in any country doesn’t do a certain amount of tilting.
Prof. Rosecrance: They do a lot of tiling, but I’m not sure the tilting is systematic in, say, the British, if you read everything. Enough material is available, but that material is not available in Chinese in China.
Gov. Dukakis: Okay, we’ve just about come up to time in terms of this great discussion. I want to thank our discussants, they’re not leaving us, they’re going to be with us. I get a sense that what our friends Joe and Dick are saying is beware of analogies that may be not particularly relevant.
Professor Ezra Vogel: They may actually wrong. That’s worse than being irrelevant.
Gov. Dukakis: Some interesting lessons to think about as we move through our discussion. I want to turn now, before we go to our Japanese friends, to Ezra Vogel and to Suzanne Ogden and ask each of them for a comment or two on what you’ve heard and more specifically how we approach this question of creating a framework for peace and security.
Professor Ezra Vogel: You originally asked me to set out the long picture. I think the best way to plot the world’s situation in Asia is that we’re in a very fragile transition now from a world that has been dominated by the United States who provided security and economic vitality to the region where each country felt that if they made investments they were going to be secured. The dominance of the United States in that part of the world, and the willingness of the United States to have international rules to share technology, to share information, to open its universities has provided a tremendous opportunity for dynamism. We have a new age of uncertainty that is created merely by the fact that China is much stronger and may surpass the United States in overall economic output in a decade or so. China’s purposes are somewhat uncertain to the rest of the world. They advocate a presumed peaceful policy but particularly the uncertainty centers around the question of territorial claims right now because a lot of issues that were not settled historically are now, that all countries are very active in the Western Pacific, a great issue. The question is whether you find some way to manage those different territorial claims. The problem is that China has historical claims which would probably not go very well in the International Court of Justice and therefore they are reluctant to take the case to the International Court of Justice. There are people who worry that, if China gets stronger, there will be a much greater risk and they may use force as a way of growing stronger. The United States’ basic approach in this new uncertain era is to reassure its allies: we are the United States, we will be loyal to our countries. The word pivot was used that had some unfortunate consequences because some Chinese thought that meant that we were just using military force to try to block the Chinese.
Gov. Dukakis: Some Americans too, I might add.
Professor Ezra Vogel: Some Americans also thought that was not the best terminology, but I think what the intent was to provide security that, even though we are trying to pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States has long term interests in the Western Pacific that are very vital to our future. The policy ever since Nixon went to China for the United States was to engage with China but to be prepared in case of emergency. The problem is that that is a very difficult balance to maintain. Within the United States there are many different voices: there are voices of the media who want to turn [inaudible] between China and the United States; there are voices at the Pentagon who worry about the next budget and need an enemy in order to justify their budgets; and there are various other voices. The problem for the president is to try to provide an overall good engagement with China, yet enough discussions with all these other countries. The Chinese has a similar problem. They annunciate a desire for peace and yet there are a lot of Chinese military who China has been taken advantage of historically and finally we’re going to be strong enough, we can do things, we have economic leverage. To have the wisdom to manage that whole process is very difficult, especially now that China is entering a period with a slow growth rate.
Korea has been an array of a fulcrum of Asian conflicts for over a century. It was the Sino-Japanese War was there, the U.S.-Russia war was there, and now Korea has the long term problem of trying to balance the security relationship with the United States but closer economic relations with China and to manage a very strong anti-Japanese sentiment from history with getting along with Japan. In the case of North Korea, you have an impossible situation that there is no easy solution to. You have a country that is so small, that is so outdated, and so worried that if they open up they will be flooded with rich business people from South Korea, Japan, and other places that it’ll overwhelm them and therefore they’re afraid to open. They’re afraid to have real discussions and the only thing they have is the atomic bomb and that’s going to create a lot of problems as they develop their weapons systems. So, in the short-term, I think we’re going to have a lot of small countries that will turn to the United States as China gets tougher and want security. One of the problems for the United States is to provide that security without making into a risk with China over-responding and creating conflict.
I have brought some suggestions for how to approach things. One is that countries try to avoid provocative statements. The visit of Abe to Yasakuni Shrine would be considered provocative, some of the Chinese use of military force is provocative. Secondly, they have to deal with the broad historical issues to provide a framework so that the countries have a better understanding and accurate, fair, open-minded picture of the history. Third, it takes a lot of active diplomacy, getting top security leaders to demand this process.
Gov. Dukakis: Suzanne.
Professor Suzanne Ogden: Just a quick comment, maybe trying to understand Beijing’s view on this. I think, from China’s perspective, we have these bases basically surrounding China – they were originally put there during the Cold War as part of our fight against the spread of communism – it must feel to China the way it would feel if there were Soviet bases in Cuba, which we weren’t very happy about or if today the Chinese were to put a base in Central America. We are very close to China with our bases so I think that China, now that it has more power, would sort of like this situation to stop where they feel surrounded by U.S. bases that have long been there for theoretically a different purpose, during the Cold War for the containment of communism.
The only other thing I would say is that historical claims are very dangerous because which historical claims? How far back do you go? If we go back to the Mexican-American War in the 1850s and say “That’s Mexico’s historical claim” they’d have claim to something like a third to 25% of the United States’ territory. Of course, we could also go back in Europe to an earlier period. I think that’s always a problem. The nine dashed line, well whoever accepted that? And why should anybody accept that time in history as the defining moment for who owns what territory?
Gov. Dukakis: Dick, I want to turn to you before we go back out and talk with our friends from Japan. Ezra mentioned the International Court of Justice as a possible forum for resolving these issues. But, I haven’t been hearing a lot from the United States or others about the importance of doing that. Instead, it’s all about alliances, which as Suzanne points out, really go back to the Cold War. If this is going to be resolved doesn’t there have to be some kind of serious international institutional framework in which to do this? Otherwise we’re left with a collection of alliances, pressures, and the Chinese president goes to South Korea to be interpreted in the American media as being an effort to destroy our alliance with South Korea. I thought it was a pretty good signal to the North Koreans that the Chinese are taking the South Koreans quite seriously. In any event, what about this international framework that is out there but doesn’t seem to be functioning very effectively? And the United States and a lot of other people, with the possible exception of the Philippines, seriously talking about using it.
Prof. Rosecrance: I think the idea of going to the ICJ, the International Court of Justice, for some of these claims is a very good one. But, in order to have that be effective, both parties have to agree. We have tried to get the Japanese to do it – Joe, you personally intervened on that – and they’re not willing to do it and I don’t think the Chinese are willing to do it either. So, I think it’s very much a background kind of thing, the role of the ICJ.
Gov. Dukakis: Let me interrupt for a second. Why wouldn’t the Japanese be interested?
Prof. Nye: Well, we should ask Ambassador Fujisaki who can really speak to that. The Japanese said they would be willing with Korea over the Japanese call to catch the Korean’s over what the Japanese call the Takeshima Islands and the Koreans call the Dokdo to the ICJ. But in that case, the Koreans are in possession of the islands. On the Senkaku’s the Japanese have said there is nothing to dispute – it’s our sovereignty, why should we go to the ICJ? But in that case, Japan’s in possession. So, the willingness to go to the court or not is often based on that cliché that possession is 9/10ths of the law.
Prof. Rosecrance: I would just like to make one comment about whether or not we can get a grouping in Asia that will deal effectively with these problems. Remember, you’re in the 1950s and 1960s in Europe we did have a grouping that was very strong, that buttressed Western policy, and particularly American policy, and gave rise to NATO and there was never anything like that in Asia. Is there going to be anything like that? I don’t think so, at least not in the short-run. The differences within the Asians are just as great as the differences between them and China.
Ambassador Fujisaki: Can I add something to the discussion? I think it was a very enlightening discussion on World War I. Just two points. I think the difference today is that the world has rules. There were no rules 100 years ago. Whole countries are now violating international laws and regulations. That’s point one.
Point two: of course you know, nuclear deterrence. The existence of that makes a big difference. I think war should be avoided as many of you said. But two things have to be kept in mind. One is that some countries may not think that way and may use force, not only as deterrence, but also with little hesitation. The second point is that we should also learn or keep in mind the lessons of World War II and the Munich Conference as well.
As for our relations with China I think three things are important from our side. No comprise, don’t be taken off guard, and no provocation from our side. I think China has a lot of frustration in the country, so they may need something as well. As long as the U.S. is trustworthy, I think the Japanese in general would not think that we really have to change the policy.
As for the ICJ, as you have rightly said, we think that this has been our land all the way and the U.S. has returned this to us. There is no reason why we have to negotiate. On the Chinese military, one thing we have to say is that we often discuss that Japanese or Americans saying that the Chinese military needs more transparency. This is true, but this is not the real issue. The real issue is the sheer size of the military. It’s growing rapidly and I think we have to be very clear on that rather than always saying the very diplomatic word of transparency.
Thank you very much for taking time.
Gov. Dukakis: Okay, Ambassador, but let me ask you this. There’s obviously a dispute about these islands and generally speaking in our societies, at least domestically, if there’s a dispute, you go to court. We don’t say “Well, I’m there, we reject the other side’s claim and we’re not willing to submit it to a court of law”. Why wouldn’t Japan be willing to do that? Why shouldn’t, for that matter, any other country say “Yeah, we’ll go to court and let the International Court of Justice decide this”. Isn’t that the way these days that in civil society we try to resolve these disputes. We don’t just say we’re there so we’re not going to go to court.
Ambassador Fujisaki: If that attitude is going to be taken by the U.S. government if a U.S. island that has been in the United States for many years is just surrounded by some other country’s ships and said that they are their territory. Would go directly to the International Court or would you say that this is our land and there’s nothing to be disputed? In my mind, I could be wrong, but my hunch is that the U.S. would not say “Hey, let’s discuss this.” I think the U.S. would say this is our land. I think that that’s the same.
Gov. Dukakis: If you take that attitude generally then we’ll never resolve these disputes. Speaking as an American, if there was American territory that some other country thought was theirs, personally, I wouldn’t have a problem with going to the International Court of Justice. It’s an interesting question but I don’t think it’s going to happen.
Ambassador J.D. Bindenagel: Governor, this is J.D. Bindenagel. I’m actually in Ho Chi Minh City with Tuan. I would like to react to several things that have been said. I agree with Joe and others who said that you may draw the wrong lessons from history if you take the wrong analogies. But there are several things that have come out of the history that are very important that we now know. One is that, in World War I, there were several miscalculations. The miscalculations were motivated by nationalism and other issues that we really didn’t all understand. There was no place, in the case that you just mentioned about the Senkaku’s in the South China Sea, there’s no place that others recognize as a legitimate way to resolve these issues – there’s no court. No one will recognize the court or not all sides will recognize the court so it’s not possible. So, I say this, perhaps reluctantly in this group, but we end up with the Bob Kagan and Mearsheimer concern about great power politics played without rules and with the chance of conflict between the United States and China along with the smaller countries who would like us to play a role, so it comes back to the United States’ role. The role should really be the one that we’ve heard here. That we played a stabilizing role in the Cold War and that after the Cold War we remained to have great interests there and what should we do but try to clarify what the interests are and what the narratives are of these countries so we can have some basis for making some judgments. There isn’t any other way for the United States to play. There are the Asia Summit and the ASEAN and ASEAN Plus organizations that provide a place for us to have these conversations. What you have all done here starting this Forum is to create a way for understanding, for shared narratives, and for avoiding miscalculations that then lead us to some way to make decisions.
I agree with Ambassador Fujisaki whose note that for China their policy is no competition, no surprise, no provocation. Those are good rules. It’d be good if that narrative was shared with the Chinese and we could play a role perhaps in facilitating it. We all, I think agree, that war should be avoided but we’re not headed that way. The South China Sea has enough conflict and enough interests involved that we will have conflict unless we can find some way to understand and calculate what I think is the most important force here and that is nationalism. Nationalism is not limited to China – Vietnam, Korea, Japan. Now, we see in the international order, what Putin has done in pursuing ethnic nationalism with the use of force has undermined the Helsinki Accord about not changing borders except through peaceful means. He’s using ethnic, not quite ethnic cleansing, but ethnic moves to create conflict. These are the things that we have in this Forum that you’ve created here a way to understand what’s happening, share narratives, and to avoid miscalculations.
Gov. Dukakis: Thanks, Mr. Ambassador. Comments. Joe?
Prof. Nye: Well, I think J.D. makes a number of very good points. I think the American presence in East Asia after the Cold War meant that there was a stabilizing factor. I remember talking to Chinese officials which they said that while they objected to bases outside of countries, they made exceptions for historical reasons meaning that the U.S. relationship with Japan. So, I think actually the U.S. role in maintaining the U.S.-Japan alliance is a stabilizing factor. I think the harder question is what do you do in places where we do not have alliances, like in Vietnam.
Gov. Dukakis: Dick?
Prof. Rosecrance: I would just like to say that I don’t think we’re going to get a single overarching regional organization that will settle these problems. I think most of this will depend upon individual relationships between countries that are close to the United States and the United States. There is not going to be a Pacific Pact analogous to the Atlantic Pact but I think there can be closer relationships with the United States and Vietnam, obviously, is a key case where I think the relationship should be closer than it has been. Obviously, Vietnam is on the frontline in dealing with Chinese territorial claims. I don’t think it should be on the frontline alone. I’m not suggesting a formal alliance between the United States and Vietnam but I am suggesting that in terms of understanding Vietnam’s policy, the U.S. should speak out very clearly that it is concerned about these territorial issues that are unresolved and even though the drilling rig has left it will probably be back and will that be something that Vietnam can handle entirely by itself? I think the answer is not clear. So, I think there is going to be, over time, a relationship of important East Asian powers, like Vietnam, like Korea, like Japan, with the United States to help them to deal individually with the problems that they face with China. I think we should encourage that and recognize that a regional organization is not going to emerge.
Gov. Dukakis: But Dick, doesn’t that reinforce the view that China may have about all of this. If this is about the United States sustaining a bunch of alliances that are clearly designed to constrain China aren’t you just exacerbating the problem?
Prof. Rosecrance: Everything depends on how you handle your alliances. The real problem in 1914 is that if your ally was on one side then you went with him no matter what. Take Bismark – Bismark had two allies that had differences with one another. He was very careful not to side forcibly with one particular party as against the other. He insisted on supporting both sides and not allowing conflict between them. Why can’t we do that vis-à-vis, Japan and China, vis-à-vis, Vietnam and China, where you have close relationships with both sides but you’re not going to come down supporting just one side. I think that is what we need to do. We can’t get rid of alliances – those are crucial. But you have to handle them in a way that is more balanced than we’ve handled them up to now.
Professor Richard Cooper: I would take issue with Susan’s observation. For anyone who is historically minded, which in general Americans are not – the Chinese are, these bases have their origins independent of China. Japan, Korea, these are not key to China. They are stark in origin. The question is whether they have served their purpose and we should close them down but we need to ask what signals that would send, if we did that. The only new base we have in that part of the world is in Darwin, Australia. We’ve had an alliance with Australia for a long time but if you look at a map Darwin is very, very, very far from China. Only on a world map does it look close to China. So, if the Chinese are interpreting these bases as being anti-Chinese in origin then that is, in itself, a deliberate – I say deliberate, but I’m sure it’s inadvertent on the case of many Chinese – distortion of history. We should make that point and ask them straightforwardly would you like us to close them down. This has to be done in track two, not in official channels. Would you like us to close them down and what are the consequences of that? By the way, for your own military forces, as the point was made, China has the largest military forces in the world by a large measure, if you count by manpower. And if you leave aside the United States, they have the largest budget for military forces.
Gov. Dukakis: You don’t think we’d be troubled if the Chinese sent 2,500 marines to Venezuela?
Prof. Cooper: It depends on what they were going to do that. But, if they were serving a good purpose, I don’t actually. I’ve never thought of South America as an American backyard. That’s a misconception on the American part.
Ambassador Fujisaki: Can I say a word about the alliance following up on what Joe Nye said? I think most of the people in Asia, maybe except for maybe North Koreans and Chinese, would continue to look upon the U.S. as a stabilizing force. A lot of us would not really spell it out, maybe, but in reality they think don’t be shy Americans, we need you there. I’m not trying to make some propaganda, but really this is the underlying current there. Some people may say that it’s changing, but I still think not yet. So please keep that in mind.
Professor Ezra Vogel: I think some of things about say not having a regional organization – we have thousands of regional organizations and they overlap. We have to work with all kinds of the Southeast Asian organizations. There is no single dominant organization, but they all play a role. The roots now are so complex and the United States and China have so many interlocking arrangements of all kinds. So, to say that we should tell someone something, it’s not that simple. There are broad, complex, deep relationships and the problem is trying to manage those in such a way that we can work with China in a positive way for dealing with all of these difficulties and for taking account of all of these complexities and yet say that when push comes to shove we will back our ally and that will make it very clear that its wise to avoid those risks.
Prof. Suzanne Ogden: I would have to dispute what Dick Cooper said. Those bases, more than 100 bases, that we established during the Cold War they were aimed at containing communism in the Soviet Union and China. There’s no question – they were not there for some other reason. So, we were in Taiwan, there was a base there.
Prof. Cooper: We’re out of those places now. You were talking about contemporary bases today. So, it’s Okinawa, it’s Guam, it’s Japan, it’s South Korea, and now Darwin. We’re out of the Philippines, we’re out of Taiwan.
Gov. Dukakis: We’re back in the Philippines.
Prof. Cooper: No we aren’t.
Prof. Ogden: We were only out of the Philippines because we were kicked out.
Ambassador David Warren: Chairman, David Warren, the former British Ambassador to Japan talking from London. Thank you for letting me join you today.
I have to say, looking at this from a Japanese perspective, the problem is that Japan feels that much of the rest of the world sees China as the status quo power but Japan does not see China in those terms. This, of course, presents us with a major problem in terms of crafting a narrative for managing these security issues in East Asia without, at the same time, crafting a narrative which is about containment of China. And the parallels with the ‘40s and ‘50s are maybe not very helpful there because those narratives were about containment of Soviet Russia. I have to say, though I’m seeing this from a Japanese perspective, I really cannot see an alternative in the absence of any international institutional framework which allows these toxic territorial issues to be discussed, to the United States continuing to play the role that they have played as Japan’s ally and guarantor of regional stability in Northeast Asia. There doesn’t seem to me to be an alternative to that. I think it would be much easier for us to see a way through some of these problems if the Japanese government moved away from the position which Ambassador Fujisaki has explained very clearly of denying that this is a dispute that can be taken to the International Court of Justice. I think that Japan would be in a much stronger position, or at least let me say it would be much easier for Japan to evade Chinese attempts to manipulate Japan’s position, if Japan were to say to China that we will see you in court. Now, that might present China with difficulty but in the absence of an institutional framework which allows these issues to be discussed we are inevitably going to find ourselves moving back into great power diplomacy because it will be alliances that will dictate who does what and who exercises power. I am not a historian, and there are some very distinguished historians on the panel and around the world discussing this today, so I don’t myself know quite what conclusions we draw from looking back 100 years. But, it was clear from the diplomatic failures in 1914, diplomatic and military failures, that there was profound misunderstanding of each other’s strengths, capabilities and intentions. There are also historians who argue quite strongly that there was, on the part of individual parties to the dispute, a reluctance to accept that other parties had rights that had to be respected. Christopher Clark in his book Sleepwalkers makes a powerful and provocative argument that that applies very much in terms of Russia’s attitude towards Austria-Hungary’s rights to seek restitution from Serbia. I’m not going to argue the pros and cons of those historical cases, but it is important I think in this instance that we recognize that, from a Japanese perspective, there is a proximate threat in Northeast Asia, and we have to find a way of resolving that threat without tipping ourselves over into this competitive great power diplomacy that so failed us a century ago.
Ambassador Fujisaki: I just wanted to say a few words. This was very important. When you were there in Tokyo three years ago, four years ago, I think there was frustration on the Japanese side that the rest of the people don’t think China is a status quo power, Japan not. However, I think the situation may be changing a bit with Vietnam, the Philippines, and many others thinking that hey we are just status quo. I think, all in all, Japan has been status quo and has been working with the United States and all others, ASEAN, for so many years.
One thing I want to add is the time element. When you are negotiating with some countries who’s leaders do not change for ten years, when there is no election and the regime would go on for twenty or thirty years, when you try to rush to make a deal you would often be in a disadvantageous position. We have to always keep in mind, if this is the right timing to make something of the international institution or do we have to endure more? I think it may not be the right timing to try to go to make some deal and we have to have the understanding of the international society, as you have rightly said, and I think we are getting that more and more thanks, not only to our effort, but to the effort of the other side, if I may say. We hope that the time will come, as you said, that an international institution should be established or considered. I hope this day will come soon but we will be very patient in waiting. And that is exactly what I said about no compromise, no provocation, and not being taken off guard. Thank you very much.
Gov. Dukakis: Thank you very much Ambassador. Unfortunately we’re running out of time, so we’re going to have to close this down. But we’re going to have another conference, we’re going to have two more, the first of which will be in September. I hope we can invite all of you to be a part of this. I think you’ve all set the stage, and Ezra I’d like you to wrap up on this, I think we’ve kind of set the stage for our next meeting here. We want to thank all of you for being a part of this. Ezra, some closing words?
Prof. Vogel: I was going to make a comment that to try and understand Japan and what they’re doing, to add to what Ambassador Fujisaki and David Warren said, is that they use the example of Finland – what happened to Finland and the Soviet Union. I think the reason they’re not rushing to agreements is to make it clear that they’re not going to be pushed around. They want to make it clear that they are a strong country – Japan, the Japanese government. Therefore, my opinion is that if it were taken to court they would be happy to have it done that way but I think as a general stance they have to do things so that they’re not going to just set the stage for China, so I think that’s very important. I think the big issue is that all these smaller powers in Asia, smaller than China and the United States, were turning to the United States and how we manage that process to give them reassurance at the same time that we are not aggressive to China in the context of engagement and working with China. That’s going to be the challenge that our group needs wrestle with.
Gov. Dukakis: I would add, and the challenge of what? Creating some kind of international framework or institution where, over the long term, these issues can be resolved.
Prof. Vogel: I think it’s not a single organization – it’s a pretty complex web and it’s managing that complex web.
Gov. Dukakis: Well, I think this sets us up for a very good discussion in September. I want to thank all of you for being a part of this. Tuan a special thank you to you as always for bringing us all together in the first place. We look forward to involving you and many others in September. I think we have the basis for a good, solid discussion and I want to thank all of you for being a part of this. Thanks so much.