Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Not Ready as Perm-7 Players

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Not Ready as Perm-7 Players

Article excerpt

PRESIDENT Clinton has announced his support of including Germany and Japan as permanent members of the UN Security Council. This initiative may appear wise. After all, the two nations have attained the status of economic superpowers. It would be difficult to launch an international peacekeeping operation absent their economic support. A closer examination of their domestic politics, however, suggests that, while the American position may be correct in principle, its timing is precipitate. Pressing ahead could undermine the Security Council's credibility.

The fundamental problem with Japan's and Germany's inclusion at this time derives from the two nations' constitutions. In the aftermath of their disastrous World War II experiences, both nations wished to distance themselves from becoming involved in overseas military adventurism. In Germany, this isolationist tendency was mitigated by the Federal Republic's accession to NATO in 1954. Nevertheless, while Germany discharged the responsibilities incumbent upon it under the NATO Charter (including a response to an attack on a NATO member), it also asserted that German troops could only be deployed off German soil in fulfillment of NATO obligations.

Japanese hostility to overseas military involvement is even more entrenched, largely due to the absence of a regional security alliance like NATO. American drafters of Japan's post-war constitution held that it in no way undermined that nation's ability to participate in regional security or United Nations activities. However, Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida and his successors constructed an elaborate set of policies to buttress their assertion that the constitution did prevent Japan's involvement in overseas security.

Happily, both the German and Japanese governments appear to have realized that these isolationist policies cannot continue. …

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