Obama's Mastery of Asiatic Way of Escalating Things Will Be Tested OK

Monday, February 02 2009 @ 10:25 PM JST

Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto

Now that America's Japanization has reached its final stage with the arrival of Obama, let us take a relook at how the Japanese, and some other Asian peoples, escalate things. Admittedly, though, I know very little about the Indonesians.

Even apes utter a war cry before starting their scratching warfare. Small wonder that the first thing the Japanese do when challenged is also to make a verbal response.

The problem is that everyone knows the Japanese will never scratch, or bite. What they call "diplomacy" is nothing but an endless exchange of words for its own sake, if they sometimes turn to something else such as their thick checkbook. They are silly enough to think that just hardening or softening rhetoric will produce an intended outcome despite their past experience which has more often than not proved otherwise. The last thing that would occur to them is that even in diplomacy, you lose unless you win in this world chronically facing short supply of resources. As a result of oversupply of words, their tactic seldom works.

Usually it takes quite some time, sometimes decades, for the Japanese to realize that words produce nothing. By that time, they always miss the right timing to take the right action. In ferocious international relations, the right timing, once missed, never visits you once again.

When they finally understand dialogue will not work, they "resort" to symbolic gestures which they call "pressure." The most typical way of putting pressure on the opponent is to refuse to draw a check. In dealing with the shrewd North Koreans, they have stepped up economic sanctions, little by little. Each time they did so, the North Koreans could shrug that off. They thought they could get by without Japanese aid primarily because they could always count on the deep-pocketed China to make up for the resultant shortfall.

Sounder people would act, if not proact, as soon as dialogue and pressure failed to bring about a desirable result. But the Japanese way of reacting to the same situation is always to become paralyzed like a spider falling into "thanatosis." In the past, this sometimes worked. Kamikaze, or Divine Wind, saved their ancestors from the Mongol invaders by dashing their malicious foes against the rocks. The single most important thing for them was to wait and see while doing absolutely nothing. But that was more than seven centuries ago. And it takes a once-in-a-millennium kind of luck.

Nobody can tell how they would conduct themselves when this tactic of inaction doesn't work either. They might desperately explode the way they did in Pearl Harbor 67 years ago. But it's more likely that they are taken with a fit of self-destruction.

This is the Japanese way of escalating things. Other Asian peoples, except the Chinese, share more or less the same trait. And I am afraid the same can be said of Obama's America.

According to today's Sankei Shimbun daily, North Korea seems to be readying a test-firing of the Taepodong-2 missile. If the move detected by the American spy satellite is not a fake, Pyongyang is going to celebrate Obama's inauguration a little belatedly. At the same time, North Korea is intending to test the Obama administration to find out how far it will play along with the same old Asiatic way of escalating things.

Most probably, Kim Jong-Il and his generals already know the result of the test; thanks to the half-century-old counterproductive ties between the U.S. and Japan, Obama will certainly pass the exam because like successive Japanese leaders, he has no resolve to act in the face of the provocation from North Korea, which will further embolden the reclusive, but still viable regime in Pyongyang. Thus, the farce will go on and on until the end of time.

In the meantime, I will part from all this with a big sigh, wasting as little time as possible.

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