Monday, October 26, 2009

Michael J Green's Blog

This post was going to analyze the dearth of analysis and reporting on Secretary Robert Gates' visit to Tokyo last week. In the process of researching this piece, I stumbled across Michael J Green's Blog! This is much more fun.

This was a surprise as I did not think he even read blogs, let alone respected anything said on them. He is, after all, the Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, an associate professor at Georgetown University, Vice Chair of the Japan-US Friendship Commission and involved in any and everything Japan in Washington. He is part of the Team Armitage Franchise and shared a consulting business with the current Assistant Secretary of State for Asia, Kurt Campbell.

I am mystified as to why he thinks he needs a blog. Although long out of office and wedded to the policies of the Bush Administration, journalists and government officials still call him. Thus, his is the anti-blog blog. It is on Foreign Policy Magazine's website under the Shadow Government blog.

In his latest of only three posts, he criticizes "Japan experts" who counseled patience with the Hatoyama Administration and who now "blog" that Gates provoked an unnecessary crisis with Japan. Blog? Those bloggers, how dare they! What makes them think they are relevant?

One problem, with his blog, besides its tedium and inability to use survey data properly, is its transparent use of Green's intern to write the posts. The most amusing indication of this is the declaration in his latest post that the failing alliance was being splashed on the October 22 front pages of the Washington Post and the New York Times. Huh?

Only the Washington Post published anything in print that day.

In fact, the print editions and editorial pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post have been strikingly quiet. Reporting has been brief and limited to the Washington Post, the Washington Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Japanese press. Only the Post ran a front page story and only the Journal had an op ed. Even the wire service reports have been sparse and rarely found in print editions. There is no crisis to report.

What discussion there has been has been on the Internet, on the blogs. Some quite interesting, especially on the NBR Japan Forum. Old Japan hands dismiss the "newness" of the Japanese reaction and wonder at the sheer lack of understanding by those in Washington to Japan's sensibilities toward contracts, American troops, and the peace constitution. The so-called "golden age" of U.S.-Japan relations was a fabricated illusion woven from dramatically different value sets that seemed to have a common goal. It was unsustainable.

Here is the front page of the October 22nd New York Times. I also have a hard copy sitting besides me. I subscribe. No where is there any mention of Japan on the front page, and no where in the edition is there any mention of Japan.

It is unfortunate that Mr. Green's intern is not made to read the print Times every day like most professionals in Washington. Otherwise he would know that the Times would NEVER put a Reuters article (which is what his blog links to) on its front page. More important, if the intern had looked more carefully at the Reuters article on the Times website, it gave no page number for the print edition. If it had appeared in the Times, a page number would have been noted. Even in blogs you got to sweat the details to be taken seriously.

My advice: Mr. Green should shoot for less hyperbole, more humor, and more of himself in his blog. He may want to take lessons from Our Man in Abiko.

In the meantime, Mike welcome to my world!

P.S. Why is the photo leading into Green's blogpost about U.S.-Japanese relations showing US Secretary of Defense Gates with South Korea's Minister of National Defense Tae Young Kim at the 41st Republic of Korea – United States Security Consultative Meeting (SCM)? (the above photo is a more appropriate image) The flags or the Korean script should have been a give away. Or maybe there is a message here?

1 comment:

  1. Be happy to lend my services to Mr Green. ¥3,000 for a private lesson, ¥1,500 for a group lesson. Mr Green may benefit from private tuition, as the teacher can slow down to his pace, if necessary. Always do your own homework too, don't forget. Cheats only cheat themselves.


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