Japanese American Internment During World War II

Students in my Intro to IR class have turned in papers dealing with ethics in international relations. One of the papers has an interesting quote by a Lieutenant General John L. DeWitt (who [my student claims] ultimately ordered the internment).

According to my student (AA), this is what Lt-Gen. DeWitt said to members of a Congressional panel:

“I don’t want any of them [persons of Japanese ancestry] here. They are a dangerous element. There is no way to determine their loyalty… It makes no difference whether he is an American citizen, he is still Japanese. American citizenship does not necessarily determine loyalty… But we must worry about the Japanese all the time until he is wiped off the map” (Mullen)*.

*Here is the source: Fred Mullen, “DeWitt Attitude on Japs Upsets Plans,” Watsonville Register- Pajaronian, April 16, 1943. Reproduced by Santa Cruz Public Library, accessed April 6, 2008.

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Fareed Zakaria calls John McCain’s Foreign Policy Vision Radical

I won’t be posting much over the next week or so as grading and exams are taking up most of my time. I did want, however, to alert my students to this interesting article by Newsweek editor Fareed Zakaria on Republican Presidential candidate John McCain’s foreign policy philosophy. Zakaria agrees with Pat Buchanan and others at the American Conservative magazine that McCain’s foreign policy views are a radical break with past administrations (Democratic and Republican). Zakaria writes:

On March 26, McCain gave a speech on foreign policy in Los Angeles that was billed as his most comprehensive statement on the subject. It contained within it the most radical idea put forward by a major candidate for the presidency in 25 years. Yet almost no one noticed.

I guess that’s because the American media knows what the real issues are–Barack Obama refusing coffee for orange juice at a diner in Pennsylvania, Hillary Clinton doing shots in a Pennsylvania bar (were they body shots?), and lapel flag pins.

In his speech McCain proposed that the United States expel Russia from the G8, the group of advanced industrial countries. Moscow was included in this body in the 1990s to recognize and reward it for peacefully ending the cold war on Western terms, dismantling the Soviet empire and withdrawing from large chunks of the old Russian Empire as well. McCain also proposed that the United States should expand the G8 by taking in India and Brazil—but pointedly excluded China from the councils of power.

We have spent months debating Barack Obama’s suggestion that he might, under some circumstances, meet with Iranians and Venezuelans. It is a sign of what is wrong with the foreign-policy debate that this idea is treated as a revolution in U.S. policy while McCain’s proposal has barely registered. What McCain has announced is momentous—that the United States should adopt a policy of active exclusion and hostility toward two major global powers. It would reverse a decades-old bipartisan American policy of integrating these two countries into the global order, a policy that began under Richard Nixon (with Beijing) and continued under Ronald Reagan (with Moscow). It is a policy that would alienate many countries in Europe and Asia who would see it as an attempt by Washington to begin a new cold war.

This is bang on. Hillary Clinton and others, who have tried to trash Obama on his views about dialogue with putative enemies would do well to remember that it was ultimately dialogue with China and the Soviet Union that lessened tensions between these states and the United States. What McCain wants to do is to return the world to the situation ex-ante, for what strategic reason I’m not sure. This is, in the immortal words of Chazz Michael Michaels, “mind-bottling!”

I write this with sadness because I greatly admire John McCain, a man of intelligence, honor and enormous personal and political courage. I also agree with much of what else he said in that speech in Los Angeles. But in recent years, McCain has turned into a foreign-policy schizophrenic, alternating between neoconservative posturing and realist common sense. His speech reads like it was written by two very different people, each one given an allotment of a few paragraphs on every topic.

The neoconservative vision within the speech is essentially an affirmation of ideology. Not only does it declare war on Russia and China, it places the United States in active opposition to all nondemocracies. It proposes a League of Democracies, which would presumably play the role that the United Nations now does, except that all nondemocracies would be cast outside the pale. The approach lacks any strategic framework. What would be the gain from so alienating two great powers? How would the League of Democracies fight terrorism while excluding countries like Jordan, Morocco, Egypt and Singapore? What would be the gain to the average American to lessen our influence with Saudi Arabia, the central banker of oil, in a world in which we are still crucially dependent on that energy source?

How many of these questions do you think will be asked at the first Presidential Debate? My over/under is one. Zakaria is right that McCain’s foreign policy vision is a triumph of ideology over strategy. Here is where McCain would most clearly take the mantle from George Bush and embark upon a third term for the ideological and policy goals of the current administration. “The King is dead…long live the king!”

New International Crisis Group Report on Serbia

Taking a cue from Marshall Mathers, the ICG has released a new report on Serbia entitled “Will the Real Serbia Please Stand up?”, please stand up, please stand up: (actually, I just added the second part.  Serbia is facing critical parliamentary elections in May, which were called upon the collapse of the previous coalition government as a result of Kosovo’s declaration of independence in February:  The full report is here, while the overview is below:

Europe Briefing N°49
23 April 2008

OVERVIEW

Kosovo’s independence declaration on 17 February 2008 sent shock waves through Serbia’s politics and society, polarising the former in a manner not seen since the Milosevic era. Rioting led to attacks on nine Western embassies, destruction of foreign property and massive looting. The government fell on 10 March, split over whether to pursue a nationalist or pro-Western path. Belgrade’s efforts to create a de facto partitioning of the north of Kosovo threaten the new state’s territorial integrity and challenge deployment of European Union (EU) missions there, and Serbian parliamentary and local elections on 11 May are unlikely to change the basic policy towards the new state, even in the unlikely event a pro-Western government comes to power. They may, however, well give Serbia’s nationalist parties new leverage.

The election campaign is heated. Verbal attacks have increased against opposition parties, independent media and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that disagree with the hardline nationalist policy on Kosovo. After the polls, one of two main scenarios is likely, since no party will win enough votes to form a government alone. Nationalists from the Serb Radical Party (SRS) could form a coalition with the “People’s Bloc” led by Premier Vojislav Kostunica’s Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) and the late dictator Slobodan Milosevic’s old Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS).

If nationalist forces win, Euro-Atlantic integration will come to a halt, and Serbia will enhance its ties with Russia. They will support a more belligerent response in Kosovo, and Kosovo Serbs’ use of low-level violence. They may encourage Republika Srpska to leave Bosnia-Herzegovina and meddle in Macedonian internal affairs. A backlash against pro-Western parties and their supporters and an increased climate of media repression can be expected. Uncertainty will lead to a fall in foreign direct investment and economic growth.

Alternatively, pro-Western forces might form a weak government, but only with the support of nationalists, such as the DSS or SPS. Serbia could then anticipate the same kind of domestic instability it experienced under the outgoing government. If the more pro-Western Democratic Party (DS) tried to chart an openly pro-EU course, it would face the type of obstruction and opposition that led to Premier Zoran Djindjic’s assassination in 2003.

At best, the EU and U.S. will have limited influence for many months, until a new government is formed, which may not be until September or later. Meanwhile, the public anger over Western support for Kosovo’s independence is such that any attempt to pressure or even induce Belgrade into more cooperation risks strengthening the nationalist vote. Brussels and Washington would be well served to lower levels of rhetorical support for the more pro-Western Democratic Party (DS) of President Boris Tadic, G17+ and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and end interference in the campaign via promises of a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA).

More specifically, in this pre-election period the EU and the U.S. should:

  • stop intervening directly in support of one or another political force;
  • not sign an SAA unless Serbia gives full cooperation to the International
    Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY); and
  • offer increased support to civil society.

Israel and Syria once again Negotiating over Golan Heights

In intro to IR on Wednesday we addressed global environmental issues and we went over this chart outlining Thomas Homer-Dixon’s overview regarding the link between environmental scarcity and security. According to Homer-Dixon, environmental degradation is not only an important economic, social, and health issue, it is crucially an issue of importance for global security.

We see the important link between increased environmental scarcity and social effects (like ethnic conflicts, deprivation conflicts and coups d’etat), facilitated indirectly at times by the conditions of weakened states.

Homer-Dixon argues that these environmentally-driven conflicts will increase the more the environment degrades. Moreover, it is just those places in the world that have the least capacity to deal with the potentially negative effects of environmental degradation whose environments will be most likely to suffer.

In the far left column is “unequal resource access”. One of the most important resources to humankind is water. The conflict between Syria and Israel over the Golan Heights is crucially linked to water. As we learn from the New York Times:

JERUSALEM — Peace overtures between Israel and Syria moved up a gear on Wednesday when a Syrian cabinet minister said that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel had sent a message to President Bashar al-Assad to the effect that Israel would be willing to withdraw from all the Golan Heights in return for peace with Syria.

The Syrian expatriate affairs minister, Buthaina Shaaban, told Al Jazeera television, “Olmert is ready for peace with Syria on the grounds of international conditions; on the grounds of the return of the Golan Heights in full to Syria.” She said that Turkey had conveyed the message.

Israeli officials did not deny the statement from Damascus but would not confirm it either, offering a more general, positive reaction. “Israel wants peace with Syria; we are interested in a negotiated process,” said Mark Regev, a spokesman for Mr. Olmert. “The Syrians know well our expectations, and we know well their expectations…”

“…Withdrawal from the Golan Heights is a contentious issue in Israel. The territory is a strategic plateau that overlooks a large swath of northern Israel. Israel has objected to past Syrian demands for access to the shore of the Sea of Galilee, a main water source for Israel.

Yehuda Raizner/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

An Indian member of the United Nations force in the Golan Heights, a strategic

plateau that overlooks a swath of northern Israel.

The Onion on UN Report Declaring China Air Pollution Champion

In their inimitable way, the fine people at the Onion have used a new UN report on air pollution as the source for this satirical report. China is now the world’s worst (or best–I suppose it depends on one’s perspective) air polluter. Some memorable quotes from the Chinese “Ambassador” interviewed in the report:

“The labor of my people have [sic] made the sky black with the smoke of progress. We are overjoyed!”

“The sky over China is now a rainbow of grays reflecting all the shades of our prosperity.”

“Close to one million people will die of cancer in China this year. Cancer is a very modern disease!”

Happy Earth Day

Today is Earth Day, a celebration of our planet and a day to reflect on all that it gives us and all that we do to make it less likely to continue to provide for us into the future. While we are unlikely to be entering a neo-Malthusian period, we are putting an ever increasing strain on the fragile ecosystem. Here, from the Vancouver Sun, are ten things that you can do to make a difference. How many of these are you currently doing? I hereby publicly commit that I will ride my bicycle to work until the end of the semester (that’s only about two weeks from now, but still two weeks is two weeks.)

1. Leave your car at home for a day (or a week or a month) and try walking or biking. If work is too far away to walk, take public transit or carpool. One city bus eliminates the emissions of 40 cars.

2. Turn off the lights, the computer and the television when they are not in use. Using only highly efficient and money-saving appliances can reduce the electricity consumption of an average household to one-10th of the national average.

3. Try eating meat-free at least one day a week. A meat-based diet requires seven times more land than a plant-based diet. Livestock production is responsible for more climate change gasses than all the motor vehicles in the world.

4. Choose foods produced organically, locally and in season. Support your regional farmers and farming industry: buying locally and in season is better for the environment than buying foods that have been shipped hundreds of kilometres to your local market.

5. Put a composter in your backyard or use your green bin to reduce household waste. Composting organics has two key benefits: it reduces the amount of waste going to landfills and when added to your garden, helps nourish soil and plants.

6. Turn off your car’s engine if stopped for more than 10 seconds. If every driver of a light-duty vehicle avoided idling by five minutes a day, collectively, we would save 1.8 million litres of fuel per day, almost 4500 tonnes of GHG emissions.

7. Set your thermostat above room temperature in the summer and below room temperature in the winter. For each degree you adjust, you can save 5% on your utility bill and 1% on your energy use.

8. Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). A CFL uses only 25% as much energy as an incandescent bulb and lasts 10 times longer.

9. The simple act of recycling has more impact on the environment than the average Canadian thinks. The amount of wood and paper North Americans throw away each year is enough to heat five million homes for 200 years.

10. This is a great opportunity to brag. Tell someone what you’re doing to make the world a better place. Support the cause. Encourage them to get involved too.

Source: Earth Day Canada

Rising Food Prices Have Global Political Implications

The issue of rising food prices globally has come under increasing scrutiny lately and has political leaders concerned. The annual meetings of the World Bank and IMF gave prominence to the problem and newspapers and magazines are weighing in with their opinion on the potential short- and long-term implications of the dramatic spike in world food prices. Will this last? Are we finally facing a neo-Malthusian future or will we be able to find a feasible and politically palatable solution to this crisis?

The Economist has a new article on the potentially devastating impact that the rise in food prices. In an article called “The silent tsunami” the editors (who generally espouse a free-market oriented, classically liberal view of the relation between markets and the state) argue that what is needed to avert disaster are “radical solutions.”

PICTURES of hunger usually show passive eyes and swollen bellies. The harvest fails because of war or strife; the onset of crisis is sudden and localised. Its burden falls on those already at the margin.

Today’s pictures are different. “This is a silent tsunami,” says Josette Sheeran of the World Food Programme, a United Nations agency. A wave of food-price inflation is moving through the world, leaving riots and shaken governments in its wake. For the first time in 30 years, food protests are erupting in many places at once. Bangladesh is in turmoil (see article); even China is worried (see article). Elsewhere, the food crisis of 2008 will test the assertion of Amartya Sen, an Indian economist, that famines do not happen in democracies.

Famine traditionally means mass starvation. The measures of today’s crisis are misery and malnutrition. The middle classes in poor countries are giving up health care and cutting out meat so they can eat three meals a day. The middling poor, those on $2 a day, are pulling children from school and cutting back on vegetables so they can still afford rice. Those on $1 a day are cutting back on meat, vegetables and one or two meals, so they can afford one bowl. The desperate—those on 50 cents a day—face disaster.

Roughly a billion people live on $1 a day. If, on a conservative estimate, the cost of their food rises 20% (and in some places, it has risen a lot more), 100m people could be forced back to this level, the common measure of absolute poverty. In some countries, that would undo all the gains in poverty reduction they have made during the past decade of growth. Because food markets are in turmoil, civil strife is growing; and because trade and openness itself could be undermined, the food crisis of 2008 may become a challenge to globalisation.
After arguing that the first step in any proposed solution is for states to adequately fund the World Food Program, the editorial argues for a free-market solution to the underlying problems:

In general, governments ought to liberalise markets, not intervene in them further. Food is riddled with state intervention at every turn, from subsidies to millers for cheap bread to bribes for farmers to leave land fallow. The upshot of such quotas, subsidies and controls is to dump all the imbalances that in another business might be smoothed out through small adjustments onto the one unregulated part of the food chain: the international market.

For decades, this produced low world prices and disincentives to poor farmers. Now, the opposite is happening. As a result of yet another government distortion—this time subsidies to biofuels in the rich world—prices have gone through the roof. Governments have further exaggerated the problem by imposing export quotas and trade restrictions, raising prices again. In the past, the main argument for liberalising farming was that it would raise food prices and boost returns to farmers. Now that prices have massively overshot, the argument stands for the opposite reason: liberalisation would reduce prices, while leaving farmers with a decent living.

Here is a world hunger map from the UN Food Program. What do you think the various colors represent?