Rahm Emanuel Is Bragging About Turning Japan into a Warmaking Nation

By David Swanson, World BEYOND War,  August 16, 2023

Hey World War II fans, Rahm Emanuel has got some great news for YOU! He’s turning Japan into a warmaking country, and bragging about it.

Fun fact: the U.S. tried that before and it kind of backfired.

Funner fact: this is at least Rahm Emanuel’s tenth opportunity to fail upward.

Rahm Emanuel is the formerly much despised mayor of Chicago who tried to cover up police murder.

Congressman Rahm Emanuel in January 2007, after antiwar voters handed his Democratic Party the U.S. Congress to end the war on Iraq, made clear to a friendly Washington Post/CIA reporter that he hoped to keep that war going for two more years in order to “oppose” it in another election.

Rahm Emanuel is on video telling a young Asian-American woman that he’d like to adopt her, that she’s probably quiet and does a lot of studying.

Rahm Emanuel twice volunteered for the Israeli military despite not even being Israeli.

Rahm Emanuel is so loved by corporate media outlets that they approved of his nickname Rahmbo and gave him credit for a big victory when some obscure study trumpeted the benefits of screaming and cursing in the office.

Rahm Emanuel, who was too disliked to get a political job within the United States, is now a “diplomat,” specifically the U.S. Ambassador to Japan. I hate to say I told you so, but a lot of us damn well told you he wouldn’t be a good diplomat.

Now Rahm Emanuel is bragging to Freakonomics Radio on NPR (which swears the P is not for Pentagon) that Japan has done lots of great stuff, first and foremost being spending more money on weapons:

“One is they agreed to go from one percent of their GDP in defense to two percent. They are going to become the third-largest defense budget in the world.

To put this in a little context, in the latest numbers on military spending, of 230 other countries, the U.S. spends more than 227 of them combined. Russia and China spend a combined 21% of what the U.S. and its allies spend on war. Of 230 other countries, the U.S. exports more weaponry than 228 of them combined. Here are the top 10 spenders:

1 United States of America 876.94 Billion
2 China 291.96 Billion
3 Russia 86.37 Billion
4 India 81.36 Billion
5 Saudi Arabia 75.01 Billion
6 Great Britain 68.46 Billion
7 Germany 55.76 Billion
8 France 53.64 Billion
9 Korea (Republic of) 46.37 Billion
10 Japan 45.99 Billion

Were the United States (which sells weapons to eight of the other nine) to sell Japan enough weapons for it to spend more on its military than Russia, a number of things would have to happen. The people of Japan would have to see their economy degraded as resources are shoveled into weaponry. Major U.S. weapons companies would have to get even more disgustingly rich, beyond today’s wildest fantasies. China would have to tolerate having a thousand guns put to its head. The people of Okinawa, where Japan puts most of its U.S. military bases, would have to be beaten and jailed and badgered into accepting even more occupation by the drunk drivers and rapists who maintain and train the new weapons and their users. And Guam had better be on the lookout as well. Oh and humanity’s luck at avoiding nuclear apocalypse would have to hold out even longer than it already has.

We have five years, according to Rahm, before Japan becomes the number 3 death machine on Earth:

Yeah. The runway is five years. And we got to do it right. They got to do it right. And we’re here to assist in that.”

Rahm Emanuel goes on to list three more great things Japan has done under his supervision. But they’re all matters of violating Japan’s Constitution by preparing to wage war:

“Second, is they’re acquiring some capabilities, like counter-strike, which is also a reach, and a change in strategic thinking. Third, they adopted a law kind of similar to ours called CFIUS, which deals with if companies are bought, strategic overview or you’re giving away kind of the family jewels. Fourth, in international issues, they give non-lethal assistance. They’re now in the midst of deciding whether certain defensive weapons, protecting populations, civilians areas, could they help other countries? They haven’t decided that. So that’s kind of like, at 10,000 feet. And those are all things that everybody, before I got here 18 months ago said, A, can’t happen; B, you get one of these, unbelievable.”

Japan’s Constitution echoes the Kellogg-Briand Pact by renouncing “war as an instrument of national policy.” The preamble says, “We, the Japanese people, acting through our duly elected representatives in the National Diet, determined that we shall secure for ourselves and our posterity the fruits of peaceful cooperation with all nations and the blessings of liberty throughout this land, and resolved that never again shall we be visited with the horrors of war through the action of government.” And Article 9 reads: “Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.”

At the end of World War II, long-time Japanese diplomat and peace activist and new prime minister Kijuro Shidehara asked U.S. General Douglas MacArthur to outlaw war in a new Japanese constitution. In 1950, the U.S. government asked Japan to violate Article 9 and join a new war against North Korea. Japan refused. The same request and refusal was repeated for the war on Vietnam. Japan did, however, allow the U.S. to use bases in Japan, despite huge protest by the Japanese people. The erosion of Article 9 had begun. Japan refused to join in the First Gulf War, but provided token support, refueling ships, for the war on Afghanistan (which the Japanese prime minister openly said was a matter of conditioning the people of Japan for future war-making). Japan repaired U.S. ships and planes in Japan during the 2003 war on Iraq, although why a ship or plane that could make it from Iraq to Japan and back needed repairs was never explained. More recently, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe led the “reinterpretation” of Article 9 to mean the opposite of what it says. Despite such reinterpretation, there is a move afoot in Japan to actually change the words of the Constitution to permit war. The people of Japan want their peace Constitution left as is and adhered to.

Freakonomics Radio interviewer Stephen Dubner asked Emanuel: “So how much of the Japanese military-buildup strategy was influenced or driven by the U.S.?” And suddenly Emanuel became diplomatic: “I can’t give you a percentage. I can say this. First of all, they’re a sovereign nation, they make their own decisions. And I’m not just saying that, they are. And they have to get it through their parliamentary system, so it’s their decision. The United States as the number-one ally and with a treaty alliance and here in Japan, probably one of the largest, if not the largest, American military presence in a single country anywhere in the globe, we obviously have an interest in that. And if you’re going to significantly not only go from one percent to two percent of your budget to defense, and you’re going to do it in a five-year window, you’ve got to be kind of strategic and disciplined about it, but the Japanese are. So we played a significant role up to a line, and then it’s a sovereign nation’s decision.”

Dubner mentions the weapons business on his show, in added narration, but apparently didn’t speak with Emanuel about it: “It’s worth noting that the U.S. is the world’s biggest dealer in military arms and equipment. So Japan’s military buildup is meaningful in at least two ways: having a stronger ally next door to China; and helping U.S. military manufacturers sell more of their hardware and software.”

Dubner does ask Emanuel about Japan’s history, though not its Constitution: “So neither you nor I are quite old enough to remember, but we certainly know the history of Japan after World War II, being forced to disband their military. Germany, the same thing. And now, of course, these are really nice military allies, that wouldn’t have been predicted. Is it strange? Is it just odd for Japan to start thinking of itself as a military power again, even if only a regional one?” Emanuel quickly changes the subject to thanking Japan for rounding up Asian governments to support the war in Ukraine.

Dubner returns to the U.S. role in militarizing Japan: “. . .  the military upgrade, which we’ve been reading a lot about here. You’re implying that you’ve been rather involved. That would be a natural assumption. I’m sure you’re not taking credit for having done any of this alone. It’s a big apparatus. But give me an example of how, let’s say, you and your U.S. counterparts, both in Japan and in D.C., were involved in one of these avenues.”

Emanuel returns to claiming that Japan is an independent nation that does what it wants: “I want to be clear. These are, you know, independent countries. They’re making independent decisions. But you, as a representative for the United States, play a role, and to Prime Minister Kishida, first, I want to give him a shout-out, because before even a tank was on the Ukrainian border and some in Europe were claiming would never happen, he, the Prime Minister here, thousands of miles away, said we have to increase our defense budget. And he was ahead of the curve there.”

Dubner jumps in to pretend China is threatening Japan: “He’s thinking if Russia can do that to Ukraine, China can do that to us, essentially?”

Emanuel happily agrees: “There’s that. There’s also, when there’s certain exercises, China’s become much more aggressive. They fired five missiles into Japan’s EEZ, which is their security zone and economic zone. That kind of wakes you up in the morning. And you got North Korea firing off 72 missiles. You’ve got to think different strategically. I believe, and I’ve said before, there are three C’s in the last three years that have changed the world — COVID, the conflict in Europe, and the coercion by China. And all three of those have upended every assumption we’ve had for the last 30 years. And we’re now making judgments, Japan no different. Not only did they decide to double their defense budget to the NATO standard at two percent of GDP, but also then to acquire skills and capabilities that give their deterrence a capital D. And our role, as ambassador, we had all these things that we were trying to get done and help shape, influence, discuss, what we thought was important. And so we ran an internal process and then back and forth with Washington, and we came up with six or seven things that we said, these are like, list A, not all things are equal. If you want to really spend these resources, you want to build up this level of deterrence, we think this is the things that you must get done.”

I’ll bet I can make seven guesses and hit at least three or four of Emanuel’s seven things. Here are my guesses: Lockheed, Raytheon, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Honeywell, CACI. How’d I do, Rahm?

Emanuel even has an idea for how to start a war with China: “. . . there’s a dispute around a set of islands called the Senkaku Islands. Japan claims them. China claims them. They’re in Japan, we actually have extended our security guarantee, any violation around the Senkaku Islands would be a violation of Japan’s security.”

Dubner is helpful here too: “Was Japan overly patient for a long time with China?”

Emanuel: “Well, we all were. And I think that one of the things that we’re catching up, and one of the things that President Biden’s been clear about, we were patient, hoping that engagement with China would alter the behavior. And the best example I use for this is in 2012, in the Rose Garden at the White House, President Xi said we’ll never militarize the South China Sea. I don’t think the wheels were in the belly of the plane when they were already building new military bases there. So my view is, how many times do you think you can lie to my face and I’m going to sit here and say, ‘Well, hopefully you’ll change.’ And everybody’s woken up. There is not a benign China. And I’m not looking to go round, have a problem, but I’m not going to play your fool anymore. Japan, like us, is onto the fact that the China that we were trying to engage is not the China that Xi is presenting or acting on. And therefore, we’re going to take very defensive measures to protect ourselves.”

Very very defensive.

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