November 29, 2007

Small Government Conservatism in the U.S.

As a rule, I avoid delving into discussions and comments as regards to American Politics however I draw your attention to a weighty but very good piece posted on Monday over at American Power. Incidentally, the blog offers “commentary and analysis on American politics, culture, and national identity, U.S. foreign policy and international relations, and the state of education - from a neoconservative perspective.”

Donald Douglas considers the “diversity among Republicans of late on the question of which set of conservative values will prevail in the post-Bush era.” I pondered a related question this week following John Howard’s election loss after reading a post suggesting that one of Howard’s failures was in not building in conservative base during his 11-year rule. However, back to Donald’s piece, he wrote:

“The current ferment has got me thinking: Is Reagan the model, as he's often mentioned in the debate over the conservative future?”

There are many ideas, views and references throughout the article, I suggest you read the whole piece here.

He concludes:

“My neo-conservatism supports a muscular national security policy, and a large, well-funded defense bureaucracy to back it (and I deeply distrust the antiwar fringe libertarians backing the Paul campaign). I also see that with our international preponderance comes great responsibility. Perhaps we'll need more prudence in a post-Bush world, but we should not recoil from the robust use of power to achieve American interests.”

“Note, though, that some observers forget that neo-conservatism also offers a powerful domestic agenda of support for traditional values, personal responsibility, and the rejection of the social welfare paternalism of Great Society liberalism. Neoconservatives are especially upset by the descent of traditional morality as a guiding ethos for the new generations.

“In other words, government is not the problem, but is a possible solution to many policy dilemmas. The key, I would argue, is to move with intelligence and pragmatism. An ideological agenda along these lines - one that recognizes that government, i.e., the state - holds a promising avenue for a restoration of conservative ideology after the Bush presidency.”

As I said it is weighty and, one could argue, best left to the experts (as in political science gurus/pundits) to comment upon, to judge, decide rightly or justly. I do not constitute part of the latter and considerately, do not wish to pretend, but I did put in my bit:

“A nation as complex and powerful as America needs a measure of statehood and Governance to manage affairs and facilitate growth. One can argue all day about matters of size and scope, this representing a challenge for represented leaders. In this context, we need to differentiate between management and leadership for it is far preferable to have the state manage though, in accordance with the guiding principles of elected representatives – leaders – who embrace traditional conservative principles as opposed to populist conservatives who are merely at odds with conventional liberalism.”

“Without fear or favor, I am drawn to small, non-intrusive but intelligent Government idealism, a robust national security policy, adequately funded defense establishment, the advancement of time-honored values and morality and a check on the state and scope of social welfare programs. America must also need to confront islamification and related radical creeds, staunchly defend the constitution, and promote individual enterprise, liberty, and self-reliance for the welfare of capitalism; actions that will further American Interests both within, and outside your borders.”

My regular readers will note the incline toward a robust U.S. foreign policy, aside from this, very small Government ideology is a good idea however, to borrow Donald’s words, “utopian.”

Over to you...

November 26, 2007

The U.S. and prospect of another war in the Balkans

We know how the European Union has glorified its 'soft power’ in the past; we do not want an additional demonstration of just how soft it can be.

Remember Richard Holbrooke, he was the chief architect of the Dayton peace agreement, which ended the war in Bosnia and formerly America’s UN Ambassador under Bill Clinton. In an interesting op-ed piece in the Washington Post on Sunday, he argues that the United States should consider sending more troops to the Balkans to address possible repercussions in light of Kosovan declaration of independence due next month.

As Holbrooke notes, if Kosovo declares independence then the Serb portion of Bosnia will likely follow suit. On top of this, the Russians will try to link the issue to that of breakaway republics in the former Soviet Union.

According to Holbrooke, Vladimir Putin is the concern arguing that the Russian leader would view forcing the West to back down as another measure designed to restore “Russia’s dignity” on the world stage. The U.S. has no interests in appeasing the Russians…

This could potentially present another explosive situation in Europe and we know how ineffectual the Europeans were in dealing with the Balkans in the nineties. They may well be almost as bad in 2008. Even though Holbrooke says, “It is not too late to prevent violence, but it will take American-led action and time is running out”, President Bush should make use of the newfound warmth with Europe to engage some local resolve and possible action.

"Exactly 12 years after the Dayton peace agreement ended the war in Bosnia, Serb politicians, egged on by Moscow and Belgrade, are threatening that if Kosovo declares its independence from Serbia, then the Serb portion of Bosnia will declare its independence. Such unilateral secession, strictly forbidden under Dayton, would endanger the more than 150,000 Muslims who have returned there. Recent American diplomacy led by Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns and special envoy Frank Wisner, working closely with E.U. negotiator Wolfgang Ischinger, has largely succeeded in persuading most of our European allies to recognize Kosovo rapidly. But NATO has not yet faced the need to reinforce its presence in Kosovo".

Read the whole piece here

Interestingly, Holbrooke warned of flaws in the Dayton Accord as early as 2000.

The disarray was fashioned eight (8) years ago and the prospect of more ethnic cleansing and another war is hardly appealing. We know how the European Union has glorified its 'soft power’ in the past; we do not want an additional demonstration of just how soft it can be.

Personally I am looking for some evidence of hard power from within the continent for a change.

Comments welcome

November 24, 2007

Australia went into reverse gear today

Today’s loss has ended the career of one the Asia-Pacific region's most enduring conservative leaders and a key partner of U.S. President George W. Bush in the region.

Labor has scored an emphatic victory over the John Howard's' Government today. The outgoing Prime Minister has conceded defeat to Labor in the federal election, saying he had bequeathed his successor a "stronger and prouder and more prosperous" country than it was 11 years ago when he came to power. In departing, Mr Howard said it had been a tremendous "honour, opportunity and privilege" to serve as Prime Minister and work as an Minister of Parliament for the past 33 years.

The Governments resounding defeat is bewildering given the strength of the Australian economy. Usually Governments do not get defeated in a strong economy; a result that is almost uncanny.

There are many flawed remarks circulating already, one in particular caught my eye, "that Howard ruled in an ere of serendipity". Interesting, I guess it's convenient to ignore Bali, Afghanistan, Iraq, the Asian financial crisis and bird flu pandemic preparations to name a few.

This election may be remembered as one that was won for no good reason. I suppose we're to welcome the rule of the looney left, out of Iraq, a return to strikes and industrial disputes, union domination, high interest rates and muted business confidence.

The incoming leader Kevin Rudd has promised to boost relations with China, pull some troops from Iraq, and re-make Australia as a leader in the global effort to stop global warming by ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 international accord aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In doing so the U.S. will be deprived of one of its key supporters on climate change issues. Today’s loss has ended the career of one the Asia-Pacific region's most enduring conservative leaders and a key partner of U.S. President George W. Bush in the region.

Our Prime Minister may have lost the election but anyone who witnessed his speech conceding defeat cannot deny his class, apart from party politics if you could not see the grace and sheer elegance of the man then you have neither heart nor soul.

John Winston Howard, thankyou...

Feel free to comment...

November 23, 2007

Australia votes 11/24/2007

In the context of this blog, as allies in Afghanistan and Iraq, Australian American relations have never been stronger and deeper and the friendship between the American President and Australia's Prime Minister has never been warmer.

There is only one choice for Australia on election day. The choice facing Australians is the most significant in a generation. Why put at risk the outstanding achievements of the past 11 years, high economic growth, low unemployment, relatively low interest rates, tax reform, a more flexible workplace, zero Government debt, excellent international credit rating, strong investment in defence force funding, the list goes on. Achievement's that have provided an immense human dividend for all Australians.

In the context of this blog, as allies in Afghanistan and Iraq, Australian American relations have never been stronger and deeper and the friendship between the American President and Australia's Prime Minister has never been warmer. In 2005, Prime Minister John Howard was presented with the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars Award, an unprecedented honour for a serving leader and person outside of America and Europe. US President George W. Bush heaped praise on Mr Howard as a friend, leader and ally, adding:

"Prime Minister Howard is an ideal recipient of this award. He is a leader of exceptional vision and exemplifies the finest qualities of one of the world's great democracies. He's a great friend of mine and he's a great friend of America".

It was an inspiring ceremony taking place in a ballroom decorated by a giant red, white and blue curtain showing the US stars and stripes melding into the Australian flag; quite a site.

To simply say that Australia and the United States are very close allies in an understatement. We share almost identical cultural traditions and values with the United States and have been a treaty ally of the United States since the signing of the Australia-New Zealand-United States (ANZUS) Treaty in 1951. Australia made major contributions to the allied cause in both the first and second World Wars and has been a staunch ally of Britain and the United States in their conflicts. Through John Howard, Australia was one of the first countries to commit troops to U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Disturbingly, opposition leader Kevin Rudd remains unequivocal that he will withdraw all Australian combat troops out of Iraq by mid 2008.

The Howard Government negotiated a bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA)
between the two nations and has further demonstrated a strong commitment to its alliance with the United States through its commitment of combat troops, including special forces, in America's war on terror.
Under the leadership of Prime Minister Howard and President Bush the United States and Australia have strengthened an important relationship between two long-term allies. Shared perspectives on the war against militant Islamists have also enhanced the relationship.

The polls are worrying and point to an opposition win but I am holding out and remain optimistic that common sense will prevail for we conservatives will not give in. I am drawn to drawn to the words of Con George-Kotzabasis at “Australia calls America”.

…”at the vicinity of the real poll on November 24, when the prospects of the two parties will be very close, “subjective reality” will be given its knockout punch by objective reality, and the electorate will chose the current economic security against the uncertainty generated by union dominated Labor occupying the treasury benches”.

"Once the voters enter the secrecy of the ballot box it’s at that moment that they will express, unhindered by the fashionably designed momentum, their "secret longings". And in my opinion the latter will favor John Howard for his mature solid leadership that will continue to secure, as his long tenure exemplified, the long term interests of Australia"

And I may venture to add, the United States of America, VOTE JOHN HOWARD!

Visit my earlier post "Australia: An Election looms", where I consider the impact a change of Government (in Australia) may have on the relationship with Washington.

Finally let us never forget, we still need America.

Over to you...

November 20, 2007

Europe and America update

"The signs are encouraging but Europe still lacks what it takes to share the global responsibilities that America takes on board" ...

"A Europe that wants more say in world affairs and NATO is acceptable and advantageous but as it stands today it is unable to shell out for it "...

A new sense of warmth has appeared between Washington and Berlin and Paris. We recently witnessed President Bush and German Chancellor Angela Merkel talking frankly about Pakistan and Iran. A week earlier, President Sarkozy was given rare honor of addressing a joint session of congress with one senator suggesting that Mr Sarkozy had outdone even Mr. Blair's 2003 address, adding that the response to a foreign leader had been the “most positive that I’ve heard in 30 years”. And finally Gordon Brown pledged stronger ties with the U.S. The latter was particularly welcomed as relations between Downing Street and the White House were cool following the U.K.’s withdrawal from Southern Iraq not to mention Foreign Office Minister, Lord Malloch Brown’s inflammatory remarks; comments that embittered Republicans when at the U.N.

I draw your attention to Gordon Browns recent and first major Foreign Policy speech, although lengthy let's focus on three (3) points deemed pertinent to the central premise of this blog.

Firstly, on matters of foreign interventions, Mr. Brown appears to have adopted a let’s wait and see approach. The broad rhetoric is only slightly more interventionist that that of the conservatives accordingly, British politics is keeping its foreign policy options open.

Secondly, on continuity with Mr. Blair, Mr. Browns overtones were positive and signaled no detrimental break from Blairism. Like many commentators I found some comments illuminating.

“resolutions matter results matter even more.” Now I might be vastly over-interpreting this line but in foreign-policy speak this kind of reasoning is a standard defense for working outside the framework of the UN when necessary."

Thirdly, on elements of anti-Americanism in Britain, in a recent speech at the Lord Mayor of London’s banquet Mr. Brown said

"It is no secret that I am a life-long admirer of America. I have no truck with anti-Americanism in Britain or elsewhere in Europe and I believe that our ties with America - founded on values we share - constitute our most important bilateral relationship. And it is good for Britain, for Europe and for the wider world that today France and Germany and the European Union are building stronger relationships with America."

The new found accord with Europe is welcomed and contrasts greatly with the impetuous days of Schroeder and Chirac. Even Bush appears to have softened showing a willingness to seek consensus and to pursue a multilateral methodology to internal affairs. When meeting with Chancellor Merkel the President stressed the importance of finding a diplomatic solution to the present Iranian crises.

The signs are encouraging but Europe still lacks what it takes to share the global responsibilities that America takes on board. To date both France and Germany have not gone as far as committing troops for Afghanistan to assist NATO with a resurgent Taliban. Furthermore the Europeans lack the necessary resources to offer tangible support, here I do not refer to military hardware’s, more accurately I foresee problems with the financing of any operations over a long haul due to matters economic.

The continents economic decline is pronounced with GDP per head over 20% below America’s. Population factors (something I touched on here), specifically, growth and fertility rates have declined markedly. The latter being fuelled by poor economic performance amongst factors associated with culture. Businesses face demanding tax burdens, Labour laws are restraining growth and constrictive regulation is rife. Based on current developments U.S. citizens (and Australian) will be far better off than there Euro counterparts in the coming years.

A Europe that wants more say in world affairs and NATO is acceptable and advantageous but as it stands today it is unable to shell out for it. Unlike the United States, European nations have not acknowledged nor addressed, the relationship between power and responsibility.

Comments always appreciated...

November 16, 2007

National Intelligence Estimate and Iran

...we can expect some loud noises from Washington, London, Canberra and thankfully now, Berlin and Paris just to name a few ...

It's almost upon us, the Washington Post reports that intelligence services have just about completed the latest National Intelligence Estimate on Iran's nuclear program. The NIE is quite a piece as it combines the assessments of most all US intelligence agencies on a given issue.

Being of a highly sensitive nature we will not be privy to its findings, but details most always find there way into the public domain. Hence, someone will see to that.

The critical question will be: How long before Iran is able to produce its own bomb? Depending on your source to date, the consensus seems to be around 2009 - 2010. Arms Control Today qauntifies Irans uranium enrichment process here.

"What a difference a year makes. In November 2006, Iran had slightly more than 300 gas centrifuges running at its pilot uranium-enrichment plant at Natanz, approximately 200 kilometers south of Tehran. One year later, Iran has close to 3,000 centrifuges installed in a vast underground hall of the commercial-scale Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) at Natanz. It has also stockpiled enough of the enrichment feedstock uranium hexafluoride to produce enriched uranium, whether for nuclear energy or for nuclear weapons, for years to come".

It concludes however that a military attack is not a viable option. But if, through the NIE, U.S. intelligence analysts bring the 2009 forward, we can expect some loud noises from Washington, London, Canberra and thankfully now, Berlin and Paris just to name a few.

Meanwhile the Guardian reports Iran is but one (1) year away from a bomb according to the U.N.

Referring to a report by Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, this will "intensify US and European pressure for tighter sanctions, increasing fears of a potential military conflict".

"The installation of 3000 functioning centrifuges at Iran's enrichment plant at Natanz is a "red line" drawn by the US across which Washington had said it would not let Iran pass. When spinning at full speed they can produce enough weapons-grade uranium (enriched to more than 90% purity) for a nuclear weapon within a year. The atomic energy agency says the uranium being produced is only fuel grade (enriched to 4%) but confirmation of the 3000 centrifuge benchmark brings closer a moment of truth for the Bush Administration".

And what a difference 2 years makes, it was August 2005 that a major U.S. intelligence review concluded that Iran was a decade away from a bomb.

Finally, in whats been seen as a blow to Western efforts, China has just pulled out of a November 19 meeting to discuss tougher sanctions against Tehran.

It's a clear indication that the Chinese place great value on economic interests with Iran. In fact, China, like Russia have extensive business interests within Tehran, little wonder they firmly oppose a third round of UN sanctions.

Over to you...

November 13, 2007

U.S. Economic Power: A positive forecast

Britain's Telegraph ran an interesting piece, U.S. will retake economic superpower crown where the author, Ambrose Evans- Pritchard offers an intelligible analysis of the American Economy.

Like a great battleship at sea, the US industrial and export machine is slowly turning around. Within a couple of years, its big guns will be sweeping the world again, ready to silence pious talk about America's trade deficit - and to menace chunks of Europe's manufacturing base.

The fast-inflating economies of China, emerging Asia and Eastern Europe will be reminded globalisation cuts both ways. Jobs can flow from Shanghai to Los Angeles.

US exports reached a record $140bn (£66.5bn) in September, powered by Prairie grains, Texas cotton, semiconductors, chemicals, even cars. "I put the US economy up against any in the world in terms of competitiveness - that's a fact," said US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson.

The US trade deficit has fallen to $56.5bn, down 14pc in a year. The current account deficit has slimmed from 7pc of GDP in early 2005 to 5.5pc, and is narrowing fast. Bad, but no longer catastrophic.

This is the first fruit of devaluation, enough to hobble Airbus and prompt French president Nicolas Sarkozy to warn of "economic war" on Capitol Hill last week.

Evans - Pritchard also cites population factors as a principle reason for growth and paints a gloomier picture for other notable nations.

At the end of the day, the US remains the only major power still producing babies a rate high enough to survive through the 21st century as a dynamic society.

China's workforce will peak in 2015. The country will then tip over into the steepest demographic decline ever recorded. It will be old before it becomes rich, doomed to second-tier status.

Japan began to shrink in 2005. Russia will shrivel to 104m by 2050, on UN data. Germany, Italy and Spain are all going grey, succumbing to that status quo outlook that comes with age. Their economies may even start to contract. Yes, birth rates can rise, but only by cultural revolution, and with long lags.

Read the whole piece here.

I can foresee some of anti-American sentiment brewing in relation to his upbeat view on the U.S. His remarks challenge a chorus of writers who, every so often, dismiss the U.S. economy as, passé.

Comments always appreciated...

November 9, 2007

Time person of the Year

Time magazine are inviting people to vote for their person of the year.

The shortlist is:

Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, Hu Jintao, Steve Jobs, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Barack Obama, General Petraeus, Vladimir Putin, Condoleezza Rice and JK Rowling

Yea, I know what your thinking. Who on earth devised the the list?

Says Time:
"Now it's your turn to tell us who is really the most important person of 2007. Should it be a Nobel Prize winning former Vice President or quite possibly the future first woman President? Is the rabble-rousing President of Iran a more deserving choice, or what about the man behind the iPhone? Vote for your choice, though the editors reserve the right to disagree".

For mine it ought be General David Howell Petraeus!

As the Spectator put it: "At the beginning of this year, Iraq looked like a lost cause but now thanks to his strategy there are real grounds for optimism. When you think of the consequences of failure—an emboldened Iran, a weakened America, a base for terrorists in the heart of the Middle East, the real risk of a region-wide sectarian war—you realise what a difference Petraeus has made".

Cast your vote/rating here.

Comments more than welcomed...

November 6, 2007

Pakistan: How dangerous …

Make no mistake, President Pervez Musharraf’s declaration of martial law intended as it were, “to save the nation” is in effect, a savage blow against the West’s war on terrorism.

Pakistan’s constitutional crisis is the biggest problem the world has faced since 9/11. It is quite possible that the nation, a nuclear one at that, could end up being run by radical Islamists or as a failed state. Stephen Cohen, perhaps the pre-eminent Pakistan expert in Washington, is forthright that he does not “know what’s going to happen” and warns, "I don't think any Pakistan expert knows what will happen even tomorrow”.

Osama bin Laden and those allied with his followers are well aware that the nation is disposed to takeover. The General’s imprudent decision to declare martial law has gone firmly against the wishes of Washington (recall the 2 a.m. phone call from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that helped pull Musharraf from the brink of declaring a state of emergency back in August). It will only embolden militants along with enhancing the support that already exists for them. Indeed, it will strengthen militant action aimed directly at Musharraf’s regime.

The nation is facing extraordinary challenges that spell trouble for Western interests. As unsettling as it already is, that democracy remains a distant dream for a nuclear-armed country, we now have Islamic militants with allegiance to al-Qa’ida and the Taliban collectively spreading a campaign of terror beyond the traditional trouble spots of the North-West Frontier and hitting major targets in Islamabad and Karachi. Suicide bombers are repeatedly humiliating the army and extremist madrasa's (I refer to buildings and mosques used for teaching Islamic theology and religious law) remain completely unreformed.

What hope for stability with the dictatorship destroying the very institutions (courts and bodies of law) central to normality, let alone democracy? What hope too, given the media is censored?

However, it is important to note that with al-Qa’ida and Taliban elements having formed sanctuaries in Pakistan, as unpalatable as Musharraf is, he remains preferable to a nation of potential extremists possessing not one, but dozens of warheads. Undoubtedly, the logic behind Bush’s continued support of the regime.

It remains intricate to foresee the path for U.S. policy. A short-term fix may warrant consideration, if only to address the degree of immediate volatility. Above all else, all foreign measures must seek to prevent civil strife for if it were to go that way, the clear beneficiaries would be those groups that pose the greatest menace. Make no mistake, President Pervez Musharraf’s declaration of martial law intended as it were, “to save the nation” is in effect, a savage blow against the West’s war on terrorism.

Finally, for those concerned about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, Washington considered this long ago and has both real and categorical contingency plans in place. For details see here and here.

Your comments are most welcome ...

November 4, 2007

Iraq: Mission Largely Accomplished

Unexpectedly comes an article set to provoke the anti-war pundits no end. Andrew Bolt, in writing for the Australian Daily Telegraph has come out boldly to declare that, ‘The war in Iraq has been won.

In easy read no-nonsense terms, Andrew, simply presents the evidence that’s points to an impending formal victory and justifies American involvement in the first place.

Lord knows why the Howard Government (and Republican/Administration interests in the U.S.) remains timid and hence refrain from seizing the moment. Indeed, Iraq is far removed from opposition assertions that it remains the ‘greatest … national security policy disaster that our country has seen since Vietnam’.

In light of this, (and many similar reports) Mr Rudd and hordes of anti-war, anti-America crusaders will run for cover or offer and endless, now hackneyed barrage of claptrap that demonstrates how little they know about Iraq, past and present.

Michael Yon also reports from his latest tour in Iraq that al Qaeda is indeed defeated:

“Al Qaeda in Iraq is defeated,” according to Sheik Omar Jabouri, spokesman for the Iraqi Islamic Party and a member of the widespread and influential Jabouri Tribe. Speaking through an interpreter at a 31 October meeting at the Iraqi Islamic Party headquarters in downtown Baghdad, Sheik Omar said that al Qaeda had been “defeated mentally, and therefore is defeated physically,” referring to how clear it has become that the terrorist group’s tactics have backfired. Operatives who could once disappear back into the crowd after committing an increasingly atrocious attack no longer find safe haven among the Iraqis who live in the southern part of Baghdad. They are being hunted down and killed. Or, if they are lucky, captured by Americans.

And Lieutenant General Raymond Odierno draws some pictures for those who can’t believe Iraq really has survived the worst:

As much as I am tempted to quote from the piece it is much preferred that you click on, The war in Iraq has been won, and read the words of one who sees Iraq as I do.

See also Donald Douglas’s take on this at, American Power.

Feel free to comment ...

November 1, 2007

Japan’s support of U.S. led war in Afghanistan set to end

It is unfortunate that like here in Australia, we have an opposition using the nation’s involvement with America to appease those opposed to U.S. foreign policy ... an ultimately self-defeating conduct through an increasing propensity to engage anti Bush and anti American sentiments ...

It seems political aspirants - witness Kevin Rudd (Australia) and now Japan’s opposition parties - are practicing an ultimately self-defeating conduct through an increasing propensity to engage anti Bush and anti American sentiments within their national electorates essentially for political mileage purposes

For the past six (6) years, Japan has been using its Maritime Self-Defense Force for the re-fuelling of allied vessels and other logistical operations engaged in military operations in Afghanistan.

A valued role in the United States led war on terror turned to political drama in mid September with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe signaling an intention to resign if he lost a critical vote in relation to the continued support. The collaboration is set to end on November 1 when the existing mandate expires. Meanwhile, the Japanese opposition party has vowed to use its control of the upper house to block and moves to extend the mandate beyond this date.

The man who replaced Abe, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda has moved swiftly to introduce lower house legislation that would provide support for an additional twelve (12) months however, by arguing that the current mission violates the Japanese constitution (because they provide logistical support to vessels engaged in combat operations) and, that the act never gained a U.N. mandate, the opposition has remains defiant, that the support must cease.

Ending the support may harm Japan’s international reputation and exacerbates tensions with the U.S. coming in spite of pressure from the latter. US ambassador Thomas Schieffer led diplomats from other coalition countries, including Afghanistan, Britain and Pakistan, in a meeting at the Canadian embassy with about 70 ruling and opposition members of the parliament. Said Schieffer, "I hope that after whatever debate goes on … will accept the fact that this is an international undertaking and I hope that (it) will supported it in the end," adding, "We tried to answer whatever questions we could and provide as much information as we could, to emphasize how important Japan's contribution is to what we are doing in that part of the world,".

For all the effort it seems likely that by the time this post is published, Japan’s support will have ended.

Evidently, in Japan there has been a marked change in support for the U.S. led war on terror, with the percentage of people who expressed support having dropped to under 25% down from 61% in 2002.

It is unfortunate that like here in Australia, we have an opposition using the nation’s involvement with America to appease those opposed to U.S. foreign policy.

Granted that much of the rhetoric amounts to nothing more than political posturing, all the same, it undermines an important relationship where both the USA and Japan have a common interest in curbing the rise of China. With the latter now replacing Japan as a economic and military threat to the U.S. one would think that level heads would prevail; obviously not.

Update: AFP has just reported that Japan has ordered home its naval ships from the Indian ocean today ending for now, the six year mission and effectively halting the close US Ally's main role in the "war on terror" due to domestic opposition.

Meanwhile Australia voiced "concern" about Japan's move saying that defeating terrorism was a global responsibility. "Australia is concerned by the imminent cessation of Japan`s refuelling activities in support of coalition operations in Afghanistan," Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said in a statement.

Comments always appreciated...