The 3rd meeting of the Policy Council of JFIR on "The Change of Situations in the Middle East and the Trend of International Politics" Held

The 3rd meeting of the Policy Council of JFIR on "The Change of Situations in the Middle East and the Trend of International Politics" was held on March 20, 2014.

At the outset, Prof. Dr. ITO Kenichi, Chairman of the Policy Council, made an opening remark, saying "the Policy Council has advanced deliberations under the general theme of 'The Change of Situations in the Middle East and the Trend of International Politics' since last November. In the meantime, there has occurred a dramatic turn in the situation of Ukraine, which has led us to raise a new questions about what Russia, as well as President PUTIN, has in mind and is up to. While it is true that the situation in Ukraine has driven away the "post-Cold War" euphoria celebrating interdependence or globalization, it remains to be seen what would ensue in the next phase. Some may argue that the current confrontation could not be referred to as 'the Second Cold War' because it is not of an ideological nature. However, the confrontation between liberalism and communism is not the only example of an ideological confrontation. The confrontation between the political culture of the West as represented by the spirit of 'rule of law' and that of Russia as represented by the spirit of 'might is right' which could be traced back to Czarist Russia or former Soviet Union well deserves to be called an ideological confrontation. Given such idiosyncrasy of Russia, there is no completely denying that the current crisis in Ukraine now turning into a war should be escalated into 'the Second Cold War' in the future. The coming war in Ukraine should be seen as an extension of the Chechen war and Georgian war. If the response of the U.S. and the European countries should fail to serve as a deterrence thereby leaving a power vacuum in the region, it is fairly possible that Russia would also venture into east Ukraine, Pridnestrovie, Baltic states, Kazakhstan, etc. Should it be the case, there is an undeniable possibility that the fundamental principle established after the World War I, which rules out 'expansion of territory by force' might be trampled upon. Today, with attendance of Prof. HAKAMADA, the highest authority on Russia in Japan, as the keynote speaker, the Policy Council would like to delve into the fundamental trend of international politics in the 21st century."

Subsequently, Prof. Dr. HAKAMADA Shigeki, Trustee of JFIR, made a kickoff presentation, saying "Since the end of the Cold War, the international community has been swept by the 'post-modernist' optimism disregarding the state, national border, territory and sovereignty. But the recent actions of Russia led by PUTIN proved it wrong. The essential feature of international relations today closely resembles that in the first half of the 20th century. In Russia, even reformist leaders had long announced definitely that 'the mission of Russia is to build a liberal empire' (Anatoly Chubais, former Deputy Prime Minister), or 'Russia will return to a world super power' (Tretyakov), and even suggested the possibility of 'annexing Central Asia to Russia.' Russia got through with its policy of defending its territorial integrity (prevention of secession of Chechnya) in 2006 and since then has returned its attention to respecting the right of self-determination (support the independence for South Ossetia and Abkhazia) in a more vigorous manner. It is against this background that President PUTIN says about Crimea that he intends 'to respect the will of inhabitants,' and we must bear in mind that the overriding ambition of PUTIN is 'the return of the great Russian empire.' President PUTIN is thought to have assumed a hard-line stance, gauging the reaction of the U.S. and the European countries. First of all, he must have made a decision with conviction about President OBAMA's lack of ability, vitality and strategic awareness. Although the U.S. had announced to the world that it would undertake military intervention if the Syrian government uses chemical weapons, President OBAMA did not implement the intervention and delegated the entire responsibility to the Congress. As it turned out, the U.S. could barely save its face by the support of President PUTIN, who had proposed an option of putting the weapons under international control. The European countries, on the other hand, expressed bitter criticism against Russia at the time of the Georgian war, but in the end, the situation was settled with France serving as an intermediary and a tacit approval was given to incorporation of South Ossetia and Abkhazia into Russia as protectorate. Subsequently, free discussion among the members of the Policy Council took place.

Meanwhile, Chairman ITO introduced an emergency motion, saying "While we have hitherto discussed 'the Trend of International Politics' laying emphasis on 'The Change of Situations in the Middle East,' in the face of a dramatic turn in the situation of Ukraine, the scope of discussion should be expanded to issues of global scale. With this awareness in mind, I would like take this opportunity to propose that the general theme be changed from 'The Change of Situations in the Middle East and the Trend of International Politics' to 'International Affairs in Great Transformation and Japan's Response'." The motion was unanimously approved. 29 members participated in the discussion.


The Japan Forum on International Relations (JFIR)