Monthly Archives: February 2007

Independencia energética y seguridad

A. F. Alhajji y Gavin Longmuir analizan en “La peligrosa fantasía de la independencia energética” las inseguridades de un mundo energéticamente independiente en Project Syndicate:

En verdad, confrontados por la retórica hostil de los líderes políticos, los productores de petróleo tienen un fuerte incentivo para aumentar la producción de manera de bajar los precios del petróleo a niveles que socavan la viabilidad económica de fuentes de energía alternativas –una política intervencionista lógica para contrarrestar las políticas intervencionistas anti-petróleo de los países consumidores-. Después de todo, un colapso de los precios del petróleo sería una sentencia de muerte para varias tecnologías energéticas nuevas y, no incidentalmente, aumentaría la demanda de petróleo.

A pesar de estas posibilidades, supongamos que los planes de independencia energética tienen éxito, y que varios países europeos, Estados Unidos, Japón, China e India se volvieran autosuficientes. Llegado el caso, los principales exportadores de petróleo podrían decidir utilizar su petróleo menos costoso fronteras adentro como combustible barato para un sector industrial expandido. En lugar de exportar petróleo directamente, podrían exportar su energía incorporada en metales, sustancias químicas y productos manufacturados a precios con los que los productores en los países consumidores de petróleo, especialmente Europa y Estados Unidos, no podrían competir, dada su dependencia de fuentes energéticas alternativas más costosas.

De hecho, la energía barata en los países productores de petróleo podría resultar en que sus nuevas industrias fueran capaces de competir con las de China, India y el sur de Asia. El resultado neto sería una pérdida de empleos y economías debilitadas. Los países podrían terminar siendo independientes en materia de energía, pero pasarían a depender del acero o de los petroquímicos.

El petróleo es un recurso finito. Sólo opciones energéticas de largo plazo, orientadas hacia el mercado, económicamente viables y sustentables pueden asegurar el crecimiento económico tanto en los países productores como consumidores. Las políticas aislacionistas, por el contrario, siempre conducen a la escasez y el descontento. No importa cuánto se busque la independencia energética, nunca representará más que una fantasía inalcanzable –y potencialmente peligrosa.


Corea del Nord i els "plans" per atacar el Japó,..

El diari amb més lectors del mon -14 milions- és a més un gran defensor de la línia més dura sobre la política exterior japonesa, i de fet ja porta anys apostant per una campanya mediàtica encaminada a canviar la reticència japonesa a canviar l’article 9 de la constitució.
Doncs aquest cop, alerta sobre la por que Corea del Nord ataqui en un futur al Japó,…

NORTH KOREA’S NUCLEAR THREAT / North Korea ‘had plan to attack Japan’
The Yomiuri Shimbun
An agreement adopted at the latest round of six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear program stipulates two-phase measures toward Pyongyang’s denuclearization in return for energy support.
This second series of articles on the threats posed by North Korea’s nuclear program, following the first series carried last month, takes a close look at the background to the agreement reached at the six-party talks.
This is the fifth and last installment of the series.
What appears to be a simple maritime accident can have very different implications in the eyes of military experts.
On Jan. 9, a U.S. Navy nuclear submarine collided with a large Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd. tanker in the Persian Gulf, causing damage to the submarine’s bow and the tanker’s stern. The accident itself was not serious, but Koh Young Choul, a former South Korean National Defense Ministry officer in charge of intelligence covering North Korea, analyzed it as follows:
“It was highly likely that the nuclear submarine hid itself in bubbles created by the commercial ship’s screws to sneak past surveillance by Iran,” Koh, 53, said. “That’s the best way for a submarine to slip through airplane patrol searches.”
“Even North Korea’s old-fashioned submarines could come close to Japan in the same way,” he added.
There is nothing to worry about if North Korea has no intention of attacking Japan. However, that was not the case in the past. According to Koh, North Korea mapped out a plan to attack the Japanese archipelago, called Operation Mt. Paektu No. 3, 10 years ago, when it deployed Rodong ballistic missiles.
Mt. Paektu, which stands on the North Korean border with China, is considered a sacred site by Koreans and also a symbolic place, having served as a bastion for anti-Japanese guerrillas during World War II.
According to Koh, part of the Mt. envisioned Paektu operation went as follows:
Immediately after starting a war, Rodong missiles would be launched, targeting U.S. bases in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, and other locations in Japan, as well as more than 50 reactors at nuclear power plants. In the meantime, ballistic missiles loaded with chemical warheads would be launched at Tokyo.
After that, commando units aboard submarines would enter Japan and carry out guerrilla attacks against important facilities.
For North Korea, U.S. military power is a threat. However, Pyongyang, which has an energy shortage problem, does not have any option in war other than a quick, decisive battle against the United States. Therefore, the best strategy for North Korea is to bring the war to an early ceasefire by inflicting maximum damage on Japan first. Such a scenario is a nightmare for Japan, but it could actually become a reality.
In autumn 2005, the Ground Self-Defense Force secretly conducted a security exercise at its garrison in northern Japan under the scenario that the garrison was a nuclear power plant. Two GSDF companies, or 300 personnel, were mobilized and put on alert around the garrison. Their mission during the drill was to block elite rangers, playing the role of North Korean commandos, from infiltrating the facilities.
The GSDF members who did not know each other were divided into friends and foes. Consequently, GSDF members acting as North Korean agents studied the situation around the garrison for several days before the exercise, and easily succeeded in entering the garrison by disguising themselves as construction workers or soft drink deliverers. In one case, some of the agents got into the garrison through a tunnel they made under a fence in only about 20 or 30 minutes.
“It’s difficult to destroy a nuclear power plant with small firearms such as rocket-propelled grenades, but there’s a possibility that infiltrators could capture the entire plant by causing a blackout to disable security sensors,” a senior GSDF officer said.
The only way to prevent infiltration is to boost security manpower. However, the senior officer said, “With less than 150,000 members in total, the GSDF has a limited capacity to allocate its personnel to guard important facilities nationwide and monitor the coast.”
“Even if we provide security jointly with police, we won’t be able to protect [important facilities] if the mission is prolonged,” the senior officer added.
Although North Korea’s nuclear program was the major topic at the latest six-party talks, Pyongyang, behind the scenes, demanded the United States stop its joint military exercises with South Korea and its deployment of cutting-edge fighter jets to U.S. bases in Japan and South Korea. There is no doubt that North Korea will–from now on, too–try to seize every opportunity to erode Japanese, South Korean, and U.S. military power.
The six-party talks will inevitably become protracted. Japan could end up in an even more dangerous situation if North Korea is given more time to advance its goal of strengthening its military power, centered on nuclear weapons.
Is Japan well prepared? It is time to look at the country’s present position with fresh eyes.
(Feb. 21, 2007)

Relliscada del Ministre de Defensa japonès?

Kyuma backpedals on anti-U.S. remarks

Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma now says his controversial remark on the U.S. invasion of Iraq was “inconsiderate,” adding that he will watch his step from now on.
Kyuma stirred controversy when he said in a speech on Jan. 24 that President George W. Bush’s decision to attack Iraq was “wrong.”
Not surprisingly, Washington clearly took exception to this and other remarks by Kyuma.
U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney wound up a three-day visit to Tokyo on Thursday without meeting Kyuma.
At a Lower House Security Committee session Thursday, Kyuma said he regretted stating his “personal” view in public and admitted the timing was also wrong.
“It was inconsiderate of me to say such a thing on the day (Bush) delivered his State of the Union address,” Kyuma said.
Bush used the Jan. 23 address before Congress (Jan. 24 Japan time) to seek support for his plan to bolster the U.S. troop strength in Iraq, amid increasing violence.
Kyuma told the committee he personally felt when the U.S. attack began that Saddam Hussein was not in possession of weapons of mass destruction.
He said he also thought the United States was too hasty in going to war in early 2003 without having drawn up firm plans for postwar reconstruction.
“Even though these were my personal views, I should have taken greater care,” Kyuma told the session.
“I keep telling myself that since I am a Cabinet minister, I must make my comments properly in accordance with the government position.”(IHT/Asahi: February 24,2007)

The New New World Order

Drezner’s interesting article says that European countries are the ones to blame in order to adapt the current international institutions (IMF, UN,G-7, etc.) to the emerging powers like China and India. It may have some good points, but it looks like it forgets thats is Washington who has the current monopoly on them, so it’s the US ready to loose its monopoly? Drezner is looking for a new concert of great powers… to substitute the old one… but there is no old concert of powers but a US hegemony (the last was the European concert of powers). The UNSC, IMF, WTO are not concerts of power, but multilateral organizations that are controled by Washington (not by and “old concert of powers”), so the US is the one to lose more weight (not Europe).
Adapting these regimes to the new power distribution is not changing them? With new, values, new norms, etc.? What about NATO? Finally, is not only Europe and the US, China is not willing to get India or Japan in to the UNSC either for exemple.

Some excerpts from this worth reading article:

The New New World Order by Daniel W. Drezner From Foreign Affairs, March/April 2007

Throughout the twentieth century, the list of the world’s great powers was predictably short: the United States, the Soviet Union, Japan, and northwestern Europe. The twenty-first century will be different. China and India are emerging as economic and political heavyweights.

This tectonic shift will pose a challenge to the U.S.-dominated global institutions that have been in place since the 1940s.But unless rising powers such as China and India are incorporated into this framework, the future of these international regimes will be uncomfortably uncertain.

To be sure, the EU has made its own bilateral accommodations and has been happy to cooperate with emerging countries in response to American unilateralism. But European states have been less willing to reduce their overrepresentation in multilateral institutions. The second problem, which is of the Bush administration’s own making, stems from Washington’s reputation for unilateralism.

Today, the distribution of power in the world is very different. According to Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank, by 2010, the annual growth in combined national income from Brazil, Russia, India, and China — the so-called BRIC countries — will be greater than that from the United States, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Italy combined; by 2025, it will be twice that of the G-7 (the group of highly industrialized countries).

Global institutions cease to be appropriate when the allocation of decision-making authority within them no longer corresponds to the distribution of power — and that is precisely the situation today. The UN Security Council is one obvious example; the G-7 is an even more egregious one.

“In the twenty-first century, emerging nations like India and China and Brazil and Egypt and Indonesia and South Africa are increasingly shaping the course of history. … Our current global posture does not really reflect that fact. For instance, we have nearly the same number of State Department personnel in Germany, a country of 82 million people, that we have in India, a country of one billion people. It is clear today that America must begin to reposition our diplomatic forces around the world … to new critical posts for the twenty-first century.” Rice announced that a hundred State Department employees would be moved from Europe to countries such as India and China by 2007.

Power is a zero-sum game, and so any attempt to boost the standing of China, India, and other rising states within international organizations will cost other countries some of their influence in those forums. These prospective losers can be expected to stall or sabotage attempts at reform. Although European countries are still significant, their economic and demographic growth does not match that of either the emerging powers or the United States. Having been endowed with privileged positions in many key postwar institutions, European countries stand to lose the most in a redistribution of power favoring countries on the Pacific Rim. And since they effectively hold vetoes in many organizations, they can resist U.S.-led changes. The Europeans argue that they still count thanks to the EU, which lets them command a 25-member voting bloc in many institutions. But if the EU moves toward a common policy on foreign affairs and security, it will be worth asking why Brussels deserves 25 voices when the 50 states comprising the United States get only one.

The United States faces a challenging road ahead. European countries remain vital allies. On issues such as human rights and democracy promotion, Europe speaks with a powerful, constructive voice. Bringing China and India into the concert of great powers without alienating the EU or its members will require prodigious amounts of diplomatic will and skill. The Bush administration has gotten off to a solid start. As it proceeds, its task is simple to articulate but hard to execute: keep the United States’ old friends close and its new friends closer.

SCO power club

Russia and Central Asia states are trying to get closer cooperation in energy issues. There have been many different proposals, all of them with Russia at the center, this is the last one: in to the SCO, without Iran, but in cooperation with OPEC.

February 27. KAZINFORM /Rassul Bakhamov/ An international round table under the theme Prospects for formation of the SCO Power Club was held in Tashkent on Monday.

The politologists, officials and representatives of the SCO business structures from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and the secretariat of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization participated in the forum, Kazinform reports.

Having stressed the importance of deepening fuel and power cooperation between the SCO member countries, the specialists also paid attention to the problems of energy security. They discussed both the establishment of the SCO Power Club and the problem points of this process.

According to the participants of the conference, the diverse level of economic development and water-power potential among the SCO member states may provoke negative trends from the outside.

In this respect the creation of the SCO Power Club seems vitally important. Owing to this structure the organization’s member countries will be able to establish orders on the territory as consistent with their traditions and regardless of the world stereotypes and doctrines.(what does this mean?)

The head of the Kazakhstani group of experts, Director General of the International Institute of Contemporary Politics Bektas Mukhamedzhanov stressed it was crucial to pay attention to the multifaceted cooperation between the SCO Power Club and OPEC and other specialized organizations. (it’s a cartel?)

At the end of the meeting those present voted the written appeal to the SCO Secretary General saying the Power Club could be a sort of “expert platform” for discussion and practical realization of the energy and transit projects of the SCO member states.

¿Comunidad de Seguridad en el Nord-este Asiático?

Tras las enormes críticas que ha recibido el acuerdo con Corea del Norte, es interesante leer un artículo muy (quizás demasiado) optimista. Excelente análisis de Gavan McCormack en A Denuclearization Deal in Beijing: The Prospect of Ending the 20th Century in East Asia Japan Focus, 23 February 2007.

Some accounts suggest that North Korea suddenly became amenable to reason because of Security Council Resolution No 1718 and its accompanying sanctions (following North Korea’s nuclear test), or because of Chinese pressure, or severe economic conditions. But that argument seems disingenuous. North Korea had scarcely changed its position since the Beijing talks began – or indeed since it entered the Geneva Agreements with Clinton. It had always been ready for a freeze, leading to step-by-step de-nuclearization, but only as part of a process leading to security and normalization.

It was the US position that had moved 180 degrees. Not only did it abandon its hard line early stance of refusal to meet or talk to the North Koreans, but it seems to have dropped, at least temporarily, three major matters that had been the subject of bitter contention:

(1) HEU: the supposed secret North Korean highly enriched uranium-based weapons program – so important in 2002 as to have led to the collapse of the Clinton Agreed Framework and the present phase of crisis;

(2) BDA: the Macao bank counterfeit charges – so important in 2005-6 as to have been the principal cause of a twelve month-long crisis. Christopher Hill, the chief US delegate in Beijing, announced as the delegates were about to disperse that this dispute would be settled “within 30 days,” which could only mean that it had already been settled.[17]

(3) LWR: North Korea’s demand for light water reactors, a key component of the 1994 Clinton agreement always fiercely opposed by the Bush administration but of the utmost importance for North Korea, canceled by Washington at the end of 2002, when works were about 40 per cent complete, and bitterly disputed in 2005.[18].

Bush Shocks?

How is such an apparent Washington change of heart to be understood? The fundamental factors would seem to have been the US Republican debacle in the Congressional elections of November 2006 and the continuing catastrophe of Iraq, together with the increasingly sharp focus of the Bush administration’s attention on Iran, and the likelihood that the Middle East war would be greatly expanded. It was the more important for the administration to have something to show for the long Beijing process at a time when US diplomacy elsewhere was in tatters and the Middle East erupting. It may be that the degeneration of the Middle East might also be inclining the US towards an accommodation with China over boundaries of influence in East Asia. North Korea’s October 2006 nuclear test also undoubtedly caught Washington’s attention in a way nothing else could.

One Japanese commentator offered the following perspective: Bush was returning, essentially, to the Clinton formula of 1994, with the great change that Pyongyang had become nuclear on his watch – although the word “freeze” was an anathema, and instead “dismantling” was used at every opportunity. The Bush CVID formula had morphed into something like its opposite: partial, prolonged, unverifiable (any agreement would have to rely, fundamentally, on trust, since North Korea plainly possessed substantial stocks of plutonium and might be expected to try to “salt” some away hidden from inspections against the possibility of negotiations over normalization stalling), and reversible (since the experience of producing and testing nuclear weapons could not be expunged), and the Bush solution for Northeast Asia involved greater reliance on China (restoring a kind of “tribute system”). For the first time, there was a real prospect of peace treaties (US-North Korea, Japan-North Korea) and normalization on all sides. US Forces would serve no further function in South Korea and Japan under such an order and might in due course be withdrawn (or sent to the Middle East). Parliamentarians in Seoul were said to be talking of a South-North Korea summit in August 2006, possibly to be followed by a grand 4-sided (Two Koreas, China and the US) conference to establish a new peninsula order.[19]

The Nixon Shocks of 1970 would pale by comparison with such “Bush Shocks.” South Korea and Japan face especially large consequences. For Japan, dependence on the US has been the almost unquestioned foundation of national policy for over half a century. A new level of subjection to US regional and global purpose, presupposing an ongoing North Korean threat, has just been negotiated.[20] The prospect of anything like the above shift in US Asian policy would be devastating to Tokyo. It can hardly have been coincidental that previously unimaginable rumbles of criticism of the Bush administration began to be heard from Tokyo, from the Minister of Defense and Minister of Foreign Affairs no less, over Iraq, a “mistaken” war whose justification had not existed and which had been pursued in “childish” manner, and over Okinawa, where the US was too “high-handed”. Neither earned more than the mildest of rebukes from the Prime Minister.[21] When the Beijing deal was struck, Japan was notably the odd-man out. Both Abe and his chief negotiator in Beijing, Sasae Kenichiro, protested that Japan could not be party to any aid to North Korea until the abduction issue was settled, so the financial tabs would be picked up by the US, China, and South Korea (Russia was assisting North Korea independently by agreeing to cancel 90 per cent of its debt, estimated to be in the range of 8 billion dollars).[22]

Prime Minister Abe Shinzo owed his rise to political power in Japan in large part to his ability to concentrate national anti-North Korea sentiment over the issue of abductions of Japanese citizens in the late 1970s and early 1980s. If the North Korean nuclear issue is now to be resolved, Japan faces the possibility of a reversal in US policy as relations are normalized with North Korea and China assumes significantly greater weight in American thinking. Japan found itself isolated at Beijing precisely because it had allowed domestic political considerations to prevail over international ones in framing the North Korean abductions of 1977 to 1982 as a unique North Korean crime against Japan rather than as a universal one of human rights (since in such a frame Japan itself would become the greatest 20th century perpetrator, and Koreans, north and south, among the greatest victims).[23]

In Seoul too, specialists on South-North relations and major think tanks expressed alarm that, after so long determinedly standing in the way of any solution to the underlying peninsula problems, the US now might be moving too fast.

Otros artículos de Japan Focus:

Sara L. M. Davis Dance, Or Else: The Politics of Ethnic Culture on China’s Southwest Borders Email
Ian Buruma Eastwood’s War: The Battle of Iwo Jima Email
Chalmers Johnson 737 U.S. Military Bases = Global Empire Email
T Costello, B Smith, J Bre… Chinese Labor Rights Debated Email
Mark Schreiber Japan’s Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare Stumbles on ‘Baby Machines’ Email
Georgy Bulychev North Korea: Nuclear Menace or Paper Tiger? Email
Gavan McCormack A Denuclearization Deal in Beijing: The Prospect of Ending the 20th Century in East Asia Email
Lawrence Repeta Politicians, Teachers and the Japanese Constitution: Flag, Freedom and the State Email
David McNeill Japan and the Whaling Ban: Siege Mentality Fuels ‘Sustainability’ Claims

Inequidad y conflicto social

Excelente artículo de Robert Shiller en Project Syndicate (aquí la versión en español). Sin duda, el debate puede aplicarse también a los casos de China o países centro-asiáticos, con crecientes desigualdades:

In fact, some statistical analyses of the correlation between inequality and social conflict conclude that there may even be an inverse relationship: societies that are more unequal tend to show less conflict, because the rich are better able to control the poor.

There is some evidence that social unrest follows from inequality. The economists Alberto Alesina and Roberto Perotti have shown that, after controlling for several other factors, high-inequality countries do tend to have more social instability, as measured by, say, the number of politically motivated assassinations or the number of people killed in conjunction with domestic mass violence.

Nevertheless, one wonders why the evidence that inequality causes social unrest is not stronger.

One part of the problem may be that it is not always inequality per se that causes social discord, but also how inequality is perceived to have come. Unrest may reflect more a sense of betrayal – that others are not living up to their implied promises or are not behaving honorably. (…)

By contrast, when inequality is perceived as the result of a breakdown in trusting relationships, it can lead to bitterness, and, ultimately, social unrest. This frequently occurs in times of rapid economic change. For example, in a rapidly globalizing world, people may have to leave their long-term employers, with whom they have built a sense of trust, or it may be their supervisors who will have to be replaced. In such cases, inequality may be perceived more intensely, for people may link it with the loss of good will.

What Singh, Lula, and other world leaders really seem to want is to strengthen trust and cooperation even amidst a rapidly changing economy. If they succeed in devising policies, laws, and incentives that achieve this, a byproduct would likely be a reduction in inequality, which one hopes would reinforce the improved sense of trustworthiness