Ten years after 9/11: What are key Asian states saying?
This past weekend, the U.S. commemorated the ten year anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Across the globe, other countries also took a moment to reflect on this day. In this post, we examine views from Russia, India, China and Japan.
InRussia, commentators asserted thatU.S.unilateralism in the “war on terror” has interfered in the internal affairs of sovereign countries. At the same time, they concede that the Kremlin also lost an opportunity to deepen U.S.-Russian relations in the 9/11 aftermath.
- The Russian Foreign Ministry stated that although the 9/11 attacks were “provocative and cruel,” they also led to broad international cooperation that has helped to bring global counter-terrorism cooperation to a higher level. The Foreign Ministry emphasized thatRussia supports an international coalition of nations, as opposed to some form of unilateralism, as the best mechanism for battling against the specter of terrorism.
Multiple commentaries described the 9/11 tragedy and subsequent global fight against terrorism as a missed opportunity for the Kremlin to boost ties with the West:
- The Moscow Times, which tends to express opinion that the Rising Powers Initiative characterizes as Pro-Western Liberal, favoring modernization and integration with the West, noted that although U.S.-Russian cooperation got off to a strong start after 9/11, it quickly fizzled. “Moscow was counting on getting something in return fromWashington…butWashington simply tookMoscow’s assistance for granted, interpreting it as a response that any civilized country would have taken to support a partner hit by a major terrorist attack.”
- Fyodor Lukyanov, editor-in-chief of the Russia in Global Affairs journal, corroborated this view, asserting that “good will and compromise on strategic issues are always the result of tough bargaining and never reciprocity.” Ultimately, Lukyanov concludes,Russia’s tough stance towards theU.S. was “the result of feeling that it had been betrayed,” leadingMoscow to conclude that “only power is respected in this world.”
- Another editorial in The Moscow Times attributes the dramatic increase in opium production and drug addiction-related deaths in Russia as an offshoot of the decline in U.S.-Russian security cooperation. The author insists that Washington has a “moral responsibility” to help Moscow control the flow of drugs from Afghanistan.
- RIA Novosti military commentator Konstantin Bogdanov remarked, “If there’s anything that the ten years of the ‘war on terror’ have demonstrated, it’s that the world leader is incredibly isolated. America is stubbornly and methodically trying to impose its own designs on a desperately recalcitrant world.” As the state news agency, RIA Novosti’s views are close to the current government position and reflect what the Rising Powers Initiative has identified as the Great Power Balancers viewpoint—those that seek great power status in relations with U.S. and China.
In India, 9/11 was an occasion to reflect on the country’s own problems with terrorism, in the context ofAmerica’s war on terror over the past ten years.
- “For India, the biggest change induced by 9/11 has been the world’s willingness to acknowledge jihadi terror as a common enemy, whether it targets Madrid or Mumbai,” says The Economic Times. The editorial criticizesIslamabad for allowing its armed forces to use terror tactics againstIndia, and says that “US funding ofPakistan is yet to come to terms with this reality.”
- On the other hand, the Hindustan Times features an op-ed by a MP from the Communist Party of India, who says “we can only share the agony of our [Pakistani] brethren across the border,” where over 35,000 Pakistanis have been killed between 2004 and 2010. Citing civilian casualties inIraq andAfghanistan, he laments that “state terrorism unleashed by theUS and NATO and terrorism perpetrated by individual fundamentalist organizations only feed on each other.”
- In contrast, an op-ed in The Hindu is more self-critical, reflecting a Neo-Nationalist perspective identified by the Rising Powers Initiative as primarily concerned with national stability and balanced growth. It points to “a larger political failure to transform a culture of exclusion that privileges religious and ethnic identity over citizenship.” The soul-searching piece continues, “India’s key failure since 9/11 has been the inability to hold honest national conversation about communal violence, and the ways it is embedded in our cultures.”
- Reflecting on how America’s own culture has been affected by the terrorist threat over the past decade, an op-ed in The Times of India asks whether the US has overextended itself, both financially and in its moral ideals. The writer characterizes overseas CIA and JSCO operations as “a secretUS killing machine abroad” that is “unparalleled in the history of the land of the brave and home of the free,” while domestic surveillance work in theUnited States has been of “the kind [that] totalitarian regimes and dictatorships are pilloried for.”
Chinese commentary was comparatively sparse, and where opinions were published, the tone was mild.
- The Jiefang Daily, which usually expresses a Realist or even Nativist school of thought, published an op-ed that reflected the Major Powers School. The latter perspective has been identified by the Rising Powers Initiative as one that advocates diplomacy with the world’s major powers and blocs, rather than concentrating on national strengthening or closing China’s doors to the world. The op-ed discusses changes in the balance of world power since 9/11, and points out that the economic development of China, India and Brazil has “advanced the world’s multi-polarization process.” It further stresses that “the trend of peace and development [inEast Asia] is irreversible. However, the op-ed refrains from directly challenging theUS role inAsia, noting that US has a “stronger resilience and correction mechanism” and still has a “leading role in military, economic and technological areas.”
Commentary in Japan focused on the costs of the post-9/11 global fight on terrorism, both to the U.S.economy and to U.S.-Japan relations.
- Citing various U.S.military engagements across the globe since 9/11, the Asahi Shimbun argued that “the quagmire of the war is hurting American society like a body blow.” Moreover, the editorial asserts, “Japan’s decision to support a war without cause, made under strong pressure from Washington, deeply damaged the [U.S.-Japan] bilateral relationship.”
- The Yomiuri Shimbun describes America’s wars as “ruinous,” and adds that President Obama’s inward-focus on rebuilding the American economy “indicates he feels strongly the United States is in decline.” Meanwhile, “newly emerging countries have achieved a high level of economic growth during the same period. China, which has shown remarkable growth, surpassed Japan to become the No. 2 economy in the world, and has been beefing up its military strength.” For these reasons, the Yomiuri concludes that both countries must deepen the U.S.-Japan alliance in order to stabilizeAsia.