The Age of Lexus

By: Professor. Satoshi Ikeuchi
Professor, Global Security and Religion, University of Tokyo.

“Twitter diplomacy,” “Instagram diplomacy” or “Selfie diplomacy”? No matter what you call it, diplomacy is getting faster and lighter.

Priority is given to getting as much attention as possible and filling up insatiable ego. What is sacrificed is the relationship built on mutual trust that have been cultivated over time, based on the cooperation between institutions in which countless people have exerted their efforts to nurture and preserve it.

President Trump called for talks toward the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Twitter on June 29 during his stay in Japan where he’s been visiting for attending the G20 summit in Osaka. The next day, he was in South Korea and met up with Kim in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) at the Panmunjom on the border that divides the Korean Peninsula from north to south.

The main accomplishment from the meeting was nice selfies between Trump and Kim. Trump’s daughter and son in law also joined and crossed the border in this highly expensive and much featured conflict zone tourism. In return for playing a role of a tour guide, Kim were exempted from being seriously pressured to abandon nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles program.

Very often it happens, a hegemonic country punishes allies and rewards challengers. It is of hegemonic country’s benefit to lower the cost of domination by appeasing the enemy.

On the surface, Japan will, as before, keep the alliance with the United States as the only reliable source of security, confronting more and more assertive and expanding China and countering the threat of nuclear-armed North Korea.

Under the surface, there’s going to be efforts to diversify security relationships and to search for alternatives. Balancing and hedging are the natural responses from the allies of the U.S. This could also happen to the allies of the U.S. in the Middle East. But what’s the alternative?

Do we cast ourselves into something of a World Resistance Camp? No way. The alternative is a mild way of collectively retain the U.S. power. It’s an alliance of allies.

If this trend of U.S. presidents punishing allies and rewarding foes continues, we’ll see in the near future a rising alliances of estranged U.S. allies. I’ve been advocating this since Obama years. A League of Ex-US Allies. It might be called in its acronym “LEXUS”: well-known Toyota hybrid luxury car. It will make a network of advanced and wealthy nations.