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2009年1月 4日 (日)

急変する世界 国際秩序安定をどう図るか、米新政権が背負う重い課題

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 4, 2009)

Ensuring global stability rests with Obama

急変する世界 国際秩序安定をどう図るか、米新政権が背負う重い課題(14日付・読売社説)

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, advocating "change," will take the oath of office on Jan. 20 against a backdrop of a rapidly deteriorating global economy.


The most pressing task he faces is to reconstruct the shattered U.S. economy. He also needs to tackle a number of difficult issues, including the two wars that the United States is engaged in--in Iraq and Afghanistan--while preventing nuclear proliferation and trying to secure peace in the Middle East.


The policies to be adopted by the Obama administration in its bid to reestablish the U.S.-led global order will have a decisive impact on the course of world events this year.


Under the eight-year administration of President George W. Bush, U.S. credibility and prestige have been badly tarnished by turmoil in Iraq and the ongoing financial crisis. The unipolar world of U.S. domination that seemed to have been ushered in after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union is now looking decidedly shaky.


New players have been emerging and remerging on the world stage. These include Russia, which hopes to regain its status as a major power; China, which is boosting its international presence with its increasing economic and military clout; and India and Brazil, which have the potential to become major regional powers.


Meanwhile, new frameworks have begun to settle into place to deal with global problems. The Group of 20 nations, comprised of the Group of Eight major nations plus China, India, South Africa, South Korea and others, is tackling the ongoing financial crisis, while a meeting of the biggest 16 emitters of global warming gases is working to combat climate change.


However, all these countries are hamstrung by recessions brought on by the financial crisis that began last year. As a result, there have been growing conflicts of interest between leading and emerging countries, which is making it difficult for them to reach consensus on pending issues.


Obama has said he will tackle important and pressing issues by making full use of the range of U.S. powers--its incomparable military strength, as well as its economic and diplomatic prowess--to revive U.S. leadership in the world.


Indeed, there apparently is no other major and responsible country capable of assuming a leading role and guiding the world to stability and prosperity.


Obama is responsible for delivering on his various pledges by crafting appropriate policies and implementing them decisively.



Attention on China, Russia

The world is currently in flux, economically and politically, with the situation apparently becoming ever more fluid.



China has been boosting its military might and indicated its desire to fulfill its international responsibilities by dispatching naval vessels for an antipiracy mission off Somalia late last year. Beijing's decision appears to have been aimed at showcasing its ability to deploy naval vessels on the high seas.


At home, however, there seems to be growing social unrest. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of modern China. It also marks the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan revolt and the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square incident in which the Chinese government forcibly suppressed the democratization movement.


Chinese have become increasingly frustrated with the hardships they face as the U.S.-triggered economic slowdown bites following the successful 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. Some believe there is increasing potential for mass action demanding the government correct social disparities.


Meanwhile, Russia's once healthy economy has deteriorated on the back of plunging oil prices. Russia was forced to tap its foreign currency reserves, and the vulnerabilities in its economy, which is heavily dependent on the country's natural resources, have been laid bare.


Russia also remains unchanged in its vehement opposition to the United States and European Union extending their influence eastward.


As permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, China and Russia must establish a cooperative relationship with the next U.S. administration and act responsibly for the sake of global stability.



Terrorism fight continues


The fight against terrorism also remains an important issue for the international community to address this year.


Obama has pledged to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq while sending more troops to Afghanistan, arguing that the front line in the fight against terrorism is not Iraq, but Afghanistan.


Is it possible to ensure stability in Iraq with U.S. troops being withdrawn as currently envisioned? It will be important to step up support for Iraq's reconstruction so that intensifying religious strife in the country does not escalate into civil war.


A number of important questions also remain to be answered, such as the degree to which North Atlantic Treaty Organization member countries, including Britain, Germany and France, would accept a request by the United States to boost their troop levels in Afghanistan. And is it possible to eliminate terrorist strongholds in Pakistan in cooperation with the Pakistani government?


Another concern is the deep-rooted animosity between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan, which is being rekindled following a series of indiscriminate terrorist attacks in both countries last year.


Getting North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions and halting Iran's nuclear development also are pressing issues.


With the ultimate goal of abolishing nuclear weapons, Obama has stressed a diplomatic strategy based on "unconditional dialogue," even with autocratic regimes. However, there remains some doubt over whether he will be able to achieve much in nuclear negotiations without resorting to the sticks of economic and military power.


Meanwhile, there is increasing uncertainty surrounding North Korea, including questions over who will succeed Kim Jong Il as leader following speculation about his health.


Japan, which must quickly settle the abduction issue and help realize a nuclear-free North Korea, needs to more actively deal with these issues as it negotiates with Pyongyang, while still maintaining close cooperation with the United States.


(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 4, 2009)

2009140134  読売新聞)


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