Magazine article The American Conservative

More Allies, More War?

Magazine article The American Conservative

More Allies, More War?

Article excerpt

As the cynical Henry Kissinger so aptly noted, it's often more dangerous being America's ally than its enemy.

Once defeated, America's enemies often get large amounts of money and easy access to North Americas vast market, assuring they will stay within the U.S. co-prosperity sphere. Just look, for good example, at postwar Germany, Japan, and formerly Japanese-ruled South Korea. Arabs are excepted from this golden rule.

On the other hand, consider such faithful former U.S. allies as South Vietnam, the anticommunist UNITA forces in Angola, former Zaire leader Mobutu Sese Seko, the late Shah of Iran, Egypt's deposed dictator Hosni Mubarak, and Pakistan's late president, Gen. Zia ul Haq.

Once no longer useful, these leaders were cast aside or allowed to be overthrown. Zia, who was well known to this writer, won the Afghan anti-Soviet War for the West. His reward was his C-130 aircraft exploding in midair.

Gen. Jonas Savimbi, the legendary Angolan anti-communist fighter was assassinated by an Israeli hit squad paid by Washington, according to a senior U.S. diplomat in Luanda, Angola. The U.S. had decided that the Angolan Communists in Luanda were a more promising supplier of oil than America's formerly CIA-backed UNITA forces. So Savimbi, one of Africa's better leaders and a faithful U.S. ally, was ambushed and riddled with bullets.

As Stalin used to quip, "no man, no problem."

The United States has generally been fortunate in its choice of allies. Some, like Britain and France, are genuine allies sharing interests with Washington.

Others, like Germany and Japan, remain semi-occupied postwar states still steeped in the shame of defeat and generally accept Washington's lead. They are more traditional satraps than full allies, called upon to obey the U.S.-led world order and supply military forces or money when necessary in a process that would have been perfectly familiar to the Persian Emperor Darius. Luckily for the U.S., all its major allies are very wealthy, though loath to spend heavily on their military forces.

But Washington also has some allies who are as much a danger as a boon, and who could even drag the U.S. into a war it does not seek.

We start with aforementioned Japan and South Korea. Japan is getting ever more deeply embroiled in the dangerous conflict with China over the South China Sea and attendant waters. Some barren rocks, devoid of resources or any interest-the Senkakus-have become a focus of Chinese-Japanese rivalry as warships and aircraft from both sides play chicken over these waters.

An accidental clash could happen any day, sparking a Sino-Japanese conflict whose extent cannot be predicted. China has recently declared its right to an air defense zone over parts of the South China Sea, a major escalation. Japan's move to build offensive military forces is certain to raise Asian tensions.

In a careless act of past diplomacy that it now must regret, Washington became treaty-bound to defend the Senkakus as part of the comprehensive 1951 U.S.-Japan Security Treaty.

It is not impossible to imagine a fracas between Chinese, Japanese, or Taiwanese fishing boats leading to a nuclear confrontation. China appears set to continue challenging the maritime status quo. This is part of her strategic effort to make Japan lose face-and thus influence-in the region.

The South Koreans, who detest the Japanese, are happy to see their former rulers humiliated by China. …

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