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Predictions for Japan

WSJ: China works to draw US allies into its orbit. FT: Europe risks becoming irrelevant. Economist: Sarkozy must reassert his reformist streak.

China works to draw US allies into its orbit

Andrew Krepinevich, president of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, writes in the Wall Street Journal that China is trying to disrupt the balance in military power between itself and the United States by exerting more influence over U.S. allies in the western Pacific.

QUOTE: China's goal is to stop the US from protecting its longstanding interests in the region—and to draw Washington's democratic allies and partners (such as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan) into its orbit.

Obama rules in an era of diminished power

Journalist Matt Bai writes in the New York Times that global markets as well as global threats have created a situation in which the United States can no longer determine its own path. President Barack Obama, dependent on the global community, has less control over national and world events.

QUOTE: “This is what will end up defining this era of the presidency — the diminished power, the diminished authority, the diminished capacity to shape events,” says Robert Dallek, the presidential biographer. “It’s the presidency in eclipse.”

Japan’s disarray may help reform-minded parties

Jesper Koll, head of equity research at J.P. Morgan Securities Japan, writes in the Wall Street Journal that the apparent disarray and confusion within the Democratic Party of Japan may help smaller, reform-minded parties. These parties might be successful at galvanizing a younger generation of politicians ready to bring reforms to Japan.

QUOTE: The ability of any prime minister to pass legislation now hinges on a group of small parties that hold the swing votes. Politicians with real ideas can use that fact to their advantage.

Stop Sri Lanka’s decline

Sonali Samarasinghe, an award-winning investigative reporter and editor, writes in GlobalPost that Sri Lanka is moving away from democracy and quickly becoming an authoritarian state. She argues that President Mahinda Rajapakse’s efforts to consolidate his power will hurt the country in the long run, and the international community must stop him.

QUOTE: Sri Lanka’s handling of its civil war must not be seen as a model of success for combating terrorism or a perfect model of counter insurgency but rather a harsh lesson like Hiroshima or Agent Orange. If the ruling regime is allowed to go on unabated, it will soon have a far more deadly, more organized and inevitably more global terrorist movement on its hands.

Europe risks becoming irrelevant

Columnist Philip Stevens writes in the Financial Times that Europe is at risk of losing its global influence and becoming politically irrelevant. He writes that the powers of Europe’s leading members are significantly diminished.

QUOTE: When national leaders are confident, they are ready to promote the Union. When, as now, they are in trouble they look for scapegoats – Brussels is one of them.

Japan’s election could damage relations with the US

An editorial in the Washington Post argues that if Ichiro Ozawa wins the Democratic Party of Japan vote this week, it would likely be a setback for U.S.-Japan relations. Ozawa would likely reopen discussions on realignment of U.S. forces in Okinawa and thereby stall talks on other issues of importance to the two nations.

QUOTE: [Ozawa] is less friendly to the US-Japan alliance, and more attracted to China's dictatorship, than most Japanese leaders -- and, according to polls, than most Japanese. 

France’s Sarkozy must reassert his reformist streak

An opinion piece in the Economist argues that French President Nicolas Sarkozy should reclaim his role as an aggressive reformer. He appears too fearful of his low approval ratings and possible anger on the French streets.

QUOTE: Before the next election there is still time for him to demonstrate the qualities that once made him so beguiling, and to reassert both his reformist streak and his previously open approach towards ethnic minorities and integration. Holding firm on pension reform would be a start.

Americans must get serious about their nation’s problems

Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, writes in an excerpt from her new book, "Third World America," that a can-do attitude on the part of Americans will enable them to overcome current social and economic crises. But she argues Americans must get serious about the problems the nation faces.

QUOTE: We have an unparalleled track record for marshalling our forces and rising to meet great challenges. It is one of our greatest strengths.

The European Union looks ready to implode

Christopher Booker writes in the Daily Telegraph that Europeans see the European Union as less democratic than ever before. He argues that the EU system is power-crazed and chaotic.

QUOTE: Since our Government seems quite happy to continue handing over even more powers to this crazy system, there is nothing we can do about it – until eventually the whole lumbering, labyrinthine, unaccountable, undemocratic mess implodes under the weight of its own contradictions.

Americans lose the values that made the country great

Columnist Thomas L. Friedman writes in the New York Times that Americans are losing the values that made the country an economic and military superpower. Earlier generations were willing and ready to sacrifice for the good of the country and willing to work hard and benefit later.

QUOTE: China and India have been catching up to America not only via cheap labor and currencies. They are catching us because they now have … a willingness to postpone gratification, invest for the future, work harder than the next guy and hold their kids to the highest expectations.