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George Friedman
George Friedman
The Coming War with Japan
ISBN: 0312076770
The Coming War with Japan
Ms. LeBard and Mr. Friedman discussed their book, The Coming War With Japan, which hypothesizes that increasing economic and political conflicts between the U.S. and Japan will lead to conflict, political or military, in the next two generations. As the U.S.-Soviet conflict dominated the global political scene during the previous two generations, the trade battles between the U.S. and Japan will expand into conflict that will dominate the next two. The authors discussed their work at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania where they teach, their experiences and research that went into the book, and related the book's hypothesis to U.S. policy concerning Japan.
The Coming War with Japan
Program Air Date: June 9, 1991

BRIAN LAMB, HOST: George Friedman, co-author of The Coming War with Japan, what's it all about?
GEORGE FRIEDMAN, CO-AUTHOR, "THE COMING WAR WITH JAPAN": Well, as the title says pretty bluntly, the idea that the United States and Japan are going to have a conflict; that in the same way that the Soviet-American conflict dominated the last two generations, the U.S.-Japanese conflict is going to dominate at least the next one.
LAMB: Meredith LeBard, do you really believe this?
MEREDITH LEBARD, CO-AUTHOR, "THE COMING WAR WITH JAPAN": I certainly do, especially after spending all the time we spent researching and writing the book.
LAMB: When did you start?
LEBARD: We starting thinking and talking about this topic in 1989, and we did some research in 1989 also. Events were happening so quickly that we realized if we were really going to spend the time writing this book, we would have to both give up our teaching schedules for at least one semester, and so we did. George took a sabbatical and I taught part-time so I gave that up for a semester, and we took the semester and a summer and wrote non-stop, 12, 14, 16 hours a day.
LAMB: When you say "the coming war," is it a shooting war?
FRIEDMAN: Yes. I mean, the shape of that shooting war -- whether it's going to be an all-out battle for the Pacific as the first U.S.-Japanese war was or a surrogate cold war where we back different sides in various clashes, that's very difficult to predict -- but certainly an overwhelming political conflict between two major powers for domination of the Pacific Basin. Our basic argument is that you do not have trade wars that are confined to trade wars. The economic conflicts the U.S. and Japan are having now are the preface to some much deeper conflicts -- conflicts that have been present for the past century in the Pacific Basin.
LAMB: When did you first really think something like this would be possible?
FRIEDMAN: When I realized that the Soviet Union had really collapsed as an international force, that the Cold War was really over and where everybody was really celebrating the coming of a wonderful age where the coalition that had defeated the Soviet Union -- the United States, NATO, Japan -- was going to live together happily and in harmony. I'm a political scientist, and the study of political science is the study of conflict. So as we went over the consequences of the end of the Cold War, I began to look for the signs of the new conflict and what would the new conflict look like. What I realized was that in history there had been a lot of victorious coalitions, a lot of coalitions that had fought a wonderful war -- the one against Germany is an example -- and that in victory couldn't hold together because all of the conflicts within the coalition had been suppressed. I looked at the war with the Soviet Union -- the Cold War was, in a way, a war, an intense struggle between the two powers -- and I realized the United States had put together this wonderful coalition and now the question was, could the coalition hold together? Would this victorious coalition go the way of, say, the 1945 coalition over in Nazi Germany? Then I started to think about the underlying issues between the United States and Japan, and that led me to the kind of conclusions I came to.
LAMB: How did you divide up the work?
LEBARD: We both researched and we spent the long days in the library together collecting material. When it came to the actual writing, George would do the first draft, expressing the ideas that he wanted to incorporate, and I would take that and craft that into the chapter.
LAMB: Where do you live?
LEBARD: Harrisburg, Pa.
LAMB: Why do you live there?
LEBARD: I don't know. We just ended up there. I came from Australia, originally, and that's where I did my university work there. I've lived in Harrisburg since 1978. Possibly we'll be moving out of the area very shortly to be closer to more research libraries. We found that the ones that we used the most were in the Washington-Baltimore area.
LAMB: Are you attached to a university?
LEBARD: I teach at a community college -- Harrisburg Area Community College.
LAMB: How about you, George Friedman? Where are you from?
FRIEDMAN: I was born originally in Hungary and I came to the United States in the early 1950s. Grew up in New York, went to the New York City school system, City College of New York, Cornell University for my Ph.D., and came to Harrisburg because I accepted a post in 1974 at Dickinson College teaching political science. My original interest was political philosophy. Most of my early work was on Marxism, and I've written a book on a group called the Frankfurt School, which is a group of 20th century Marxists. But I became increasingly interested in the problem of international conflict and moved away and became interested in the U.S.-Soviet balance from a military perspective. When that collapsed, that brought me to this. It's important to note that Meredith's contribution to the book, aside from a lot of excellent ideas and a lot of help, was that she made this readable. I'm a political scientist and political scientists are morally obligated to be incomprehensible to anyone but other political scientists. If I had my choice this book would be called "Dynamics of Political Instability in the Pacific Basin" and would be read by 13 colleagues. Meredith's contribution was to make this a book that could be read by what we call the learned public, which is who we wanted to address.
LAMB: How did you two get together?
LEBARD: We were friends before we started working on this book. We had talked about the possibility of doing something like this together, and when he came up with the idea of this particular topic and this particular subject in this particular point in history and asked me to work with him on it, I was very happy to.
LAMB: Did you change your views at all as you went through the research?
LEBARD: Growing up in Australia, I had the impression that Australia was a country that was trying to decide if it was part of Asia or not. Definitely it was no longer part of the British Empire. I think since World War II Australians felt much closer to the United States. Our identity was more with them. As far as Asia goes, they increasingly were getting involved in trade and business with Asia.
LAMB: Why did you come to the United States?
LEBARD: I married an American. Actually, I wanted to come here more than he did at the time. I was adventuresome and wanted to travel, although he would have been happy staying in Australia at the time. We came here and he set up a dental practice in the United States.
LAMB: And why did you come to the United States?
FRIEDMAN: Essentially because the Communists had taken over Hungary, and my parents, who had been concentration camp survivors were also persona non grata to the Communists, so by 1949 it was time to leave Hungary. They went to Austria and lived in a displaced person camp with me for several years. Finally, we got visas to the United States. Ours is a very classic story of refugees making a new life in America.
LAMB: Dickinson College -- what's it like?
FRIEDMAN: Dickinson College is your classic, small, liberal arts college. I couldn't have written this book without Dickinson College because one of its virtues is that you're not confined as you are in a university to one narrow sub- field. In a university there is a feeling that what you did your Ph.D. on when you were 23, 24 years old should be the dominant theme of your life for the next 40, 50 years and it's somehow improper -- lack of manners -- to go beyond the field. Dickinson College encourages -- urges -- its faculty to be interdisciplinary in a genuine sense of the term so where your interest leads you is where you ought to go. So, for example, this semester I am able to teach a course on U.S.-Japanese relations, which would be very difficult to do at a large research university -- to switch your fields from political philosophy. It's a small school. I, I guess, is one of your better schools as liberal arts colleges go.
LAMB: Who was Dickinson?
FRIEDMAN: John Dickinson, of course, was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and he was governor of Delaware, and I believe also governor of Pennsylvania at one point -- one of the few men who held both posts. He was a very important figure, a very conservative figure during the constitutional debates that went on, and the college was named after him. It was founded in 1773 and is one of the few colonial colleges in the country. I don't believe Dickinson had very much to do with the college but Benjamin Rush, a close friend of his, did and was a founder.
LAMB: How would you define your own personal political ideology?
LEBARD: Fairly conservative. I definitely would agree with points that we've raised in this book. Some people have considered that it's a book written by conservatives. We don't like to think it is. We like to think that it's a book written by people why are objectively analyzing the situation -- relations between two countries at this point in history.
FRIEDMAN: Up until 1989 I would have considered myself a classic conservative, my primary concern being the Soviet Union and anti-communism. In a way, that's become irrelevant. I mean, being concerned about the Soviet Union in 1991 is very different than in 1989. This book is partly the result of a conservative trying to make sense of a world where the Soviet Union is no longer a major threat. One of the things, I think, as a conservative I believe is there's a constancy in the human condition. There isn't dramatic changes, millennial changes, where everything is solved and we live happily in peace, and the book kind of represents the search for the unpleasant in history. But more than that, it's a question of what is going to be the role of the United States in a world where anti-communism is no longer a moral compass and where, in fact, international politics are no longer guided by the overwhelming moral considerations that the U.S.-Soviet or the U.S.-German -- Nazi -- confrontation represented. You know, for a very long time now all of our international relations have revolved around very important moral issues and the nature of liberal democracy and its relation to other sorts of regimes. Here we have a conflict between two liberal democracies, what I call two altogether decent nations. But what is the world going to look like when ideology is no longer the predominant issue? That is one of the themes that I look at. So, it's conservative -- the deep sense -- but it's kind of a conservative-lost after the end of the Cold War.
LAMB: In all of your research did you come to any kind of a conclusion as to when you think this war will happen?
LEBARD: Well, we have projected a period where economic rivalry between the United States and Japan, which is already in place, would turn into a period of political rivalry. If a cold war scenario were to take place, we are looking at maybe a generation before anything would turn into a hot war or a military conflict. So we're looking at maybe a 10- to 20-year period total, but the cold war period we would anticipate being somewhere within that 7- to 15-, 20-year period.
LAMB: Is it at all stoppable?
LEBARD: That's a good question.
FRIEDMAN: Why don't you look at it in these terms: Here you have two powers. Each wants to be dominant in the Pacific Basin. Neither necessarily admits that that's what they want, but that really is the issue that's dividing them. And so the question is, will Japan accept a long-term subordinate position to the United States? Will Japan accept the idea that in the next 20 or 30 years Japan's economic life -- the dynamics of its life; its growth and its expansion -- will depend on the United States? Alternately, will the United States accept the idea of Japan dominant in the Western Pacific? I think the answer is no to both of those, and therefore it seems to be one of those deep, intractable conflicts that can't be solved even for centuries, perhaps.
LAMB: If you look back at your research and what you put in this book, what would you say was the main reason that the United States and Japan went to war in the first place back in 1941?
LEBARD: Growing up in Australia, I think the history we were taught was that World War II between these two countries began with Pearl Harbor. From the research that we have done, I have learned that a lot went before that. As in any open conflict, there were a lot of political conflicts before that and economic conflicts. I would say that the conflict began when Japan entered China and the United States decided it really didn't want to be pushed out of the Chinese markets, so that the United States in a fashion that we're familiar with began a series of economic sanctions and trade sanctions and blockades against Japan culminating, in a blockading of oil to Japan which forced Japan into a situation where they had no choice but to either go to war or to submit to the United States.
FRIEDMAN: You know, Japan is a freak among industrial nations, and the reason it's a freak is it's the only industrial nation that cannot be self-sufficient in any of its key commodities. It has to import, and it's had to import, oil, iron ore, aluminum -- the entire range of industrial products. If Japan is going to be an industrial power, it's going to be an overseas power. It has got to get access to those raw materials. Japan has also historically had what we might call an export-oriented economy. It grows not by increasing domestic consumption, but by exporting to other markets, so Japan more than any other country if it's going to be an industrial power is going to have a foreign policy and it's going to have to be an aggressive foreign policy in the sense that it must secure those raw materials. What we saw prior to the Second World War was Japan doing what it had to do in order to be an industrial power, trying to secure those markets, trying to secure those raw materials that ran its industry. The United States understood Japan's actions, which were really in many ways defensive -- it simply wanted to get what it needed -- as aggressive moves -- its attempts to force the United States out of the Western Pacific. One of the results of its action with China was, of course, the Open Door Policy by Franklin Roosevelt to try to force an opening in China to keep the Japanese from closing China off. That set in motion a spiral of events, the Japanese seeing the United States as trying to strangle Japanese growth, the Americans seeing Japan as trying to force the United States out of the Western Pacific. The final explosion, of course, was at Pearl Harbor and at Hiroshima. We're in a very similar situation today, which is that Japan must have an overseas economy. It cannot simply stay at home. What we see today is an economic attempt to penetrate foreign markets, and if the Japanese encounter limitations from the Americans, for example, in that, they'll use the other tools that are available which are, of course, political ones.
LAMB: How did you organize this book?
LEBARD: Well, it started out chronologically, and I guess that's how it ended up. The first section is obviously the historical section -- the tracing of the first U.S.-Japanese war; the events that led up to it and the reasons for it. The second section deals with Japan in the post-World War II period, during the occupation by the United States. We then go on to current problems between the two countries -- economic problems, political conditions in both countries and how both countries were faced with their role in the new world order, what they were going to be doing after the end of the Cold War.
FRIEDMAN: One of the ways we saw it was there were the events leading up to the first U.S.-Japanese war and that war, and then a truce, which the past 45 years represented, then the new period of U.S.-Japanese conflict. The important conceptual vision, if you want, is this idea that the Cold War rather than the resolution of the U.S.-Japanese conflict simply was a suspension of the U.S.- Japanese conflict and that now with the Cold War ending, we're seeing the re-emergence of the basic themes we saw prior to World War II again.
LAMB: Now, a book called The Coming War with Japan, the first time you pick it up you kind of think this is an economic war. Then you get into this book and you realize that you're talking about the real thing. This book has had to have had some kind of reaction out there.
FRIEDMAN: The two kinds of reaction we've had so far are "ridiculous" from people who haven't read it. There was an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, for example, and that surveyed a group of Asian scholars who clearly hadn't read the book. The book hadn't appeared on the bookshelves yet. One U.S. State Department official was quoted as saying, "I own every important book on Japan, but I'm not going to buy this one!" which I thought was kind of neat for a U.S. State Department official to say. And then we've had a few reviews. The book is very early in the process -- it hasn't received reviews -- but we had an excellent review in Newsday and Publishers World and places like that. One of the things they say is that there is a contrast between the title and the work. The title is lurid, there is no question about it, and I have to say that it wasn't a title I myself had picked. I'm a political scientist and an academic. I went to an Ivy League school. I know I'm supposed to understate my thesis. So I wanted something like "Collision Course," subtitled "The Second U.S.-Japanese War" or conflict or something like that. But this is a more honest title. It's an honest title because what we're talking about is a war between the United States and Japan, and whereas we'd like to hedge our bets, our publisher persuaded us that this would be a better way to present it.
LEBARD: I think that's one of the reasons, too, for the picture on the front, that we didn't want people to think that this was a purely economic war that we were talking about. You definitely can't escape the fact that that's military. One of the reasons we did that was to make it clear that we were talking about a political and possibly military conflict between these countries.
LAMB: Another think you can't escape when you read the book is that you keep mentioning the Navy all the time as being critical to our future and to Japan's future, and you also mention almost on every page the Soviet Union. Now, you discussed that with us earlier why you think that's important, but why the Navy so much?
FRIEDMAN: There is an important political and military fact in the world which is so obvious that almost nobody notices how extraordinary it is. The United States Navy controls the oceans of the world more completely than the British -- the Royal Navy -- ever did and the Romans ever did, than any other navy. If a ship sails in the South China Sea, if an oil tanker wants to get out of the Straits of Hormuz, if someone wants to pass through the Panama Canal, the United States Navy is in complete control of those waterways. We fought the war in the Persian Gulf without once having to worry about our supply lines. We fought the war in Vietnam without once having to worry about our supply lines. No power has ever had this enormous control over the oceans. Japan is a country that exports all of its raw materials over these oceans and exports all of its raw materials. Japan is the second largest economy, the United States is the world's largest economy. Seventy percent of Americans regard the Japanese as the largest economic threat to the United States, and this is an explosive mixture. The Japanese are painfully aware of the power of the United States Navy, not only because of World War II but because they are aware that if they want to get their oil out of the Straits of Hormuz, where 65 percent of their oil comes through, or they want it to pass through Singapore, it's because the U.S. Navy will permit it to do so. Now, for the past 45 years the United States has been very eager to make sure that oil and other raw materials reach Japan. The question that a Japanese policy-maker has to ask himself today is, is this going to be true for the next 45 years. Are there circumstances in which the United States will be either indifferent to the needs of Japan or actually actively hostile to those needs? And when asked that question, the power of the United States Navy and the ability of the United States to order the pattern of trade in the world is without a doubt the most important political factor of our time.
LAMB: You have a chapter, 13, "The Japanese Self-Defense Forces" -- were you surprised to find out that they have the third largest expenditure on defense and weaponry in the world? Thirty-three billion dollars a year?
LEBARD: I wasn't surprised. The actual figures did surprise me a little bit. I knew that they had a substantial defense force -- maritime defense force -- and when we did our research I guess the surprising thing -- if I were to say anything were surprising -- was just that they were, in fact, the third largest in defense budgets. To that point I assumed, like a lot of other Americans assume, I think, that Japan doesn't have very much in the way of a military. We're under that kind of illusion that because of the constitution, because of Article IX, Japan doesn't have much of a military. In fact, when you study into it and you do the research, you find that they have substantial self-defense forces in air, navy and land forces.
LAMB: I've got it marked here -- you say, "Japan's total armed force of not quite 250,000 is smaller than the total armed forces of most other countries both in absolute terms and relative population. Japan's total armed forces are only 0.2 percent of its population." What does that mean? Does that mean that even though they spend a lot of money and they have a significant force that it will be easy for them to build up a larger force?
FRIEDMAN: I think the basic thing the Japanese are doing with their military is carefully learning the technologies they need to learn. One example, for example, is the tactical fighter they're building in conjunction with the United States where they are learning a whole bunch of technologies that they didn't know before.
LAMB: Is this the FSX?
FRIEDMAN: This is the FSX, and whatever its future is it may be now that it's an obsolete plane as conceived with the new YX-22 that the Americans are bringing out, and other aircraft.
LAMB: Could you stop and explain how this whole thing became a controversy and what exactly you're talking about with an FSX?
FRIEDMAN: Okay. The Japanese have traditionally bought their weapons systems from the United States, the advanced ones they couldn't build. The last important aircraft they bought from the United States was the F-15. After they had bought the F-15 from the United States -- and they didn't buy it outright; they bought licensing rights and they were able to produce it in Japan -- there was quite an outcry saying that the Japanese had really learned a tremendous amount about our technology and were going to become a threat in aeronautics as they are in electronics and a whole bunch of other areas. It became time for the Japanese to buy a new aircraft, as many of us are planning new generations of aircrafts, and many in Japan, headed by Mitsubishi Industries, said it was time for the Japanese to develop their own advanced fighter plane. The Americans, on the other hand, wanted the Japanese to buy another fighter plane but an older F-16 version. The compromise that was reached by the bureaucrats was, "We'll take an F-16, develop it jointly with the Japanese and make it an advanced, experimental fighter and develop from that." Everything was fine until the U.S. Congress exploded, and they exploded when they realized just how much technology transfer was involved in allowing the Japanese to learn these things. Congress expressed it strictly in economic terms -- that they are going to learn how to build aircraft, they're going to compete with us in the aeronautical market, we shouldn't be transferring these technologies.
LAMB: Let me ask you a quick question: They buy all of their -- like the 747s and the planes like that; the DC-9s -- they buy all of those from the United States?
FRIEDMAN: They buy most of their aircraft from the United States. I believe they buy some from the Europeans.
LAMB: But they don't produce their own commercial jet.
FRIEDMAN: They do not, I believe, produce a commercial jet. They do produce a jet trainer and they do have plans on the book for something called a "hyper-jet" -- a ram jet that can travel at five times, six times the speed of sound and actually go to the edge of space. They're putting a lot of money into that jet, and that is seen as a commercial jet, kind of a supersonic transport. What happened here was that the Americans worried about the Japanese competitive advantage and wanted to stop the sale of the FSX to the Japanese. The Japanese, interestingly, if you read what they were saying, were basically saying, "Look, we don't need the Americans. Why are we cooperating with the Americans?" The Japanese saw themselves as doing the Americans a favor bringing them in because they felt that their expertise in composite materials and things like that made it quite possible that they were going to build this plane alone. So by the time you got everything together, you had a major international incident that almost ripped U.S.-Japanese relations apart, and the underlying theme was never expressed -- do we want the Japanese to have an advanced tactical fighter? We always posed that question in terms of, "Yes, because the Soviets are a threat." Do we want an advanced tactical fighter in Japanese hands if the Soviets aren't a threat? That question has not yet been posed by American policy-makers.That's one of the interesting things about everything we do with the Japanese. We pretend there is still a Soviet threat. We haven't changed our policy on either side. The Japanese have kept the Soviet threat going for quite a while. They've kept this island issue going. We've all been very happy to put off the day of reckoning and we have to say, "What is the relationship with the United States and Japan without the Soviet Union?"
LAMB: What year did you leave Australia?
LEBARD: 1976.
LAMB: Are you an American citizen?
LEBARD: Yes, I am.
LAMB: Did you grow up having a view of the Japanese, and if you did, what was it?
LEBARD: The view I had was more from family members who had fought in places like New Guinea during the Second World War and the Pacific islands around Australia. The view, of course, is not a very pleasant view because most of them had come in contact with the Japanese in land combat. So I guess it was in some senses a historical viewpoint but with a certain slant -- a certain bias. Certainly, now I think it's much more important to look at the overall aspect between the two countries, between Australia and Japan, between the United States and Japan. Australia's place in the Pacific is certainly important because Japan imports a lot of raw materials from Australia. However, I think that a more important thing is not so much the view I had growing up of what Japan was then, but was is the future between the United States and Japan as these two economic powers collide.
FRIEDMAN: The reason I ask you about your own growing up, about the Japanese, is that I just wonder how this book will go down with your former countrymen in Australia.
LEBARD: I'm curious to see, too. I believe it will be coming out there. Macmillan in London will be publishing it in Britain and in Australia. I'm waiting to see, too, how it is received there. I imagine it will be received with some interest because Australia is very much concerned with its place in the Pacific, and I think a lot of them still remember, as other Asian countries do, the Japanese during World War II.
LAMB: You will remember an interview that we did over in Japan last year with one of the major anchor people on one of their networks. It was a general question, something to the effect, "What do you think of the American-Japanese relations?" Most of them responded diplomatically. One fellow said, "Well, you know, next year" -- meaning this year, 1991 -- "is the 50th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, and we are concerned because we think that there is a growing conflict between the two countries." What do you think the Japanese people think about the 50th anniversary, and have you thought about that, and also your book if it sells in Japan?
FRIEDMAN: Well, there's a Japanese translation that's going to be appearing in the next two weeks, I think, by a major Japanese publisher Takuma Shoten, and we're going to Japan, in fact, on tour in a few weeks. The response in Japan has been enormous to the book, much greater than the United States, obviously. In Japan most of the major news weeklies have carried stories, and we've been interviewed on most of the networks. The Japanese are on the edge of their seats about the United States, doubly so since the Persian Gulf. The Japanese have not figured out how to read the Persian Gulf, to give a very extreme view of the Japanese in it. In 1990, January 1, the Berlin Wall came down. Seven months later the United States invaded the Saudi Arabian oil fields, seized the Kuwaiti oil fields, seized the Iraqi oil fields. It is now in a position to strangle the Japanese economy. Obviously, this is an enormously ethnocentric view of the Persian Gulf operation, and each nation reads it that way. But certainly what the Japanese see in the United States is an unleashed tiger. With the Soviets gone, the power of the United States to create a new world order is enormous, and the Japanese feel that this world order is not going to be to their advantage. Now, what they are doing right now is trying to sort out what this means to them and how to respond. One thing we've seen recently very dramatically is the collapse of the Social Democratic party. In recent elections the Social Democrats in some districts have done worse that the Communists.
LAMB: Who are the Social Democrats?
FRIEDMAN: The Social Democrats are the main left-wing opposition to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, the Liberal Democratic Party being a vast conglomerate of basically right and right-center politicians. Their main opposition has been this left-wing group. What you would expect is that the opposition to the Liberal Democratic Party would weaken. What has actually happened is chaos in the Liberal Democratic Party and the collapse of the Socialists. What I think we're beginning to see in Japan is re-emergence of a right-wing tendency, a nationalist tendency, in the Liberal Democratic Party. Prime Minister Kaifu, who is a very weak prime minister and has a lot of trouble holding on to his position, is facing all sorts of opposition, subtle and not so subtle, from his right, from more nationalist elements. I think that what's happened is that our book has played right into that. We have said things in the book that the Japanese would like to say but can't for diplomatic reasons and political reasons. Coming from an American, they can point to this and say, "See! Japan is going to have to have a more nationalist policy. Even the Americans know it."
LAMB: We read a lot in our papers and books here by experts in our country and in other countries about Japan, and it would be helpful if you all could define their point of view. Let me just throw out some names: James Fallows, Atlantic Monthly bureau chief in Washington. He's been on this network. What's his political view of the world and what does he think compared to what you think?
FRIEDMAN: Well, I think James Fallows has developed a very critical view of Japan, and he's come under tremendous fire from the Japanese. He lived in Japan and was held kind of as violating the basic norms of propriety by criticizing the Japanese. What's he's basically pointed out is something that shocked the Japanese. Japan operates in a national self-interest. Japan is more interested in its own well-being than in good relations with the United States, and the Japanese are not particularly shy about doing what has to be done. Interestingly, it doesn't sell to the Japanese. I think Fallows -- and I learned a great deal from his articles; I think we both did -- ultimately doesn't take the next step which is, "All right. If this is the view of the Japanese or the Americans and this is the problem in dealing with the Japanese, what are we going to do about it?" I think he very politely doesn't talk about the kind of ruptures we would have.
LAMB: The reasons I'm asking this, and I'll ask a couple more -- would you call Jim Fallows a liberal?
FRIEDMAN: I don't think it's a meaningful label anymore.
LAMB: Why I'm asking this -- if you're a liberal or a conservative ideologically or politically, do you look at Japan in different ways? That's why I'm asking.
FRIEDMAN: Conservatives are split deeply. For 45 years there have been two principles in the Republican Party that have been very strong -- national security on the one side, free trade on the other side. Now, there are those on the right who feel that America's national security and the free-trade regime -- the post-war regime -- no longer coincide, that free trade is hurting the national security. You can be a Democrat, you can be a Republican, you can be conservative or liberal and believe that. But there are still certainly many people on the right who deeply believe that free trade with Japan and with every other country is the only way to proceed, and that that's the foundation of national security. And they would say, "Look, if the national security suffers a bit, free trade is an important principle." So you have in this free trade-national security issue an issue that cuts right down ideologies, and one of the things we're going to see, I think, in the 1992 election is a kind of resorting of ideologies. I as a conservative Republican am very comfortable with some of the things that Lee Iacocca, who is a Democrat, has to say. Certainly many of the Democrats who are opposed to increasing hostility with Japan are very comfortable with some of the things that Republican free-traders would say. There's a whole bunch of new issues going on.
LAMB: What impact did Pat Choate's book have on the whole process? He talked about the American lobbyists taking the Japanese money to make things better for them here.
FRIEDMAN: Well, I guess it just confirms that we're Rome and the colonies come to Rome to plead their case and bring gifts. That's not new, that goes back as far as any imperial dream went. All that Pat Choate pointed out, and I'm still not sure what anybody's upset about, is the Japanese are very good at playing the Washington game. He chronicled it effectively, and I've learned something about it, but all it taught me was that, gee, the Japanese are tough players. The really interesting point is going to be when the Japanese stop coming to Washington carrying bags of money. That's when it's going to be interesting, when they no longer go to Rome.
LAMB: Let me go back to the constitution, and you write about Article IX. First of all, what does it say?
LEBARD: Article IX states that Japan will never maintain air, sea or land forces, that it has renounced war as a sovereign right. Now, if you look at the fact that that's what the article actually states and you look at the Japanese self- defense forces today, you can see that Article IX is obviously a dead letter. Now, that may be that it has come about at the insistence of the United States, and in many respects that's true. We encouraged Japan to build up their forces during Korea. Ever since then, especially in the '70s and '80s we've wanted them to share the burden of defense in the Pacific. However, to use Article IX as a reason for not sending troops to the Persian Gulf is not a valid reason because they already have violated Article IX.
FRIEDMAN: The Japanese use Article IX very shrewdly. It's very wise how they use it. First they point out we wrote it.
LAMB: The Americans wrote it.
FRIEDMAN: Right. We American, the Supreme Commander Allied Powers-Japan wrote it. But the nice thing about it is they've tried to rewrite it as saying that Japan may have armed forces but can't use them overseas, which is not at all what that particular amendment says -- what that particular article says. What it says is Japan may not have any armed forces. What they've done with Article IX is use it as a shield against the United States when the Americans wanted them to engage in adventures on the Asian mainland -- in Vietnam, for example. The Australians, New Zealand, Thailand, Formosa, Korea all sent troops to Vietnam. The Japanese didn't. They were able to use Article IX as a shield. On the other hand, they were able to calibrate the increase of their armed forces to the precise level that was in their national interest, and they built a substantial armed force in violation of that. The Japanese simply have solved the problem by never taking it to court. But the entire question has never been challenged.
LAMB: Have the Japanese ever amended their constitution?
FRIEDMAN: I'm not sure there was ever an amendment to the constitution. They have certainly not amended Article IX. There was no amendment to Article IX. It still stands as it stands.
LAMB: Have either one of you ever been to Japan?
LEBARD: No. We're going to in a few weeks.
LAMB: Was it hard to write this book having never been there?
FRIEDMAN: I think not. I mean, it's very important to understand this is not a book about Japan. We try very carefully to avoid any cultural discussion. We focus on the international balance of trade. What this is a book on is the international system after the fall of the Soviet Union which happens to focus on the two world's largest economies and how they're going to interact. One of the things, again, as a conservative that I believe is that the nations are more alike than they are different; that they will behave in similar ways when confronted with similar stimuli. And so what we try to do is simply have Nation A and Nation B devoid of culture and take a look at what stimuli they're going to face -- economic, political -- and how they're going to interact. I would love to be able to write another book, if I were capable of it, which would examine the reaction of the Japanese culture to not only Hiroshima but this new necessity to be a normal nation. Somebody else will have to write that book. But this was a book on the international system, not on Japan.
LAMB: You mentioned Hiroshima, and I want to ask you more about that. You discuss that at some length in here on whether or not that had the influence on the end of the war that we think it had. I guess 160,00 people lost their lives in Hiroshima?
FRIEDMAN: I believe it was 130,000.
LAMB: Or whatever, but 100,000 lost their lives in the bombing of Tokyo. Why did you bring that up for this book?
LEBARD: I think what we were trying to do there was show that the actual loss of life in the regular strategic bombing in Japan was no greater in numbers than Hiroshima or the use of nuclear weapons. The reason we were doing that was to try to show that Japan claiming to be a pacifist country is based a lot on their reaction as a nation that had been bombed by nuclear weapons, and that, again, to use that as a shield or as a reason for their pacifism didn't necessarily correspond with the actuality of what happened.
FRIEDMAN: I think there are two reasons, from my point of view, of using that. The first, I was interested in the different reactions to Japan and Germany after the war. You hear a lot about Japan-bashing. You never hear about German-bashing, virtually. Anything can be said about the Germans. That is acceptable. Both had committed tremendous war crimes. I mean, the Japanese behavior in China was just horrendous. But Hiroshima was from the moment of surrender portrayed as a cleansing act, a balancing act. The Japanese had done horrible things. The Americans had done horrible things. The imperial rescript that ended the war basically said, "Look, a new and horrible weapon has been introduced and we have to save the world from the suffering and, in effect, the barbarians. And, therefore, we end the war." So Hiroshima became the justification for surrender and for turning surrender into that morality act of absolution. Ever since then, the Japanese have tried to claim a kind of exceptionalism for Japan, that Japan behaves in exceptional ways because it has learned certain things. The only thing we were trying to prove on that level was, look, Germany underwent horrible bombing. Without atomic bombing Japan underwent horrible bombing. They didn't even know when they surrendered that they had been hit by nuclear weapons. There was some debate whether it was just another carpet bombing. Therefore, the point that I was trying to make there, and it's a very difficult point to make, is that Japan has not become a very different nation. It is not an exceptional nation. Hiroshima has not raised it to a new moral or philosophical height. It's a nation like any other.
LAMB: George Friedman and Meredith LeBard have co-written this book called The Coming War with Japan. Did you teach kids in school? Did you teach or just research?
LEBARD: I teach. I teach writing classes.
LAMB: So going back to what we talked about earlier, you spent most of your time actually putting words down on paper for this book.
LEBARD: He'd write a rough draft of the ideas that he would want to express and I would shape them -- take them from his German sentence structure to English sentence structure.
LAMB: Did you write this in Harrisburg?
LEBARD: Yes, on a computer. We would not have been able to have done this book if we hadn't had the computer. It's the only modern technology that we have.
LAMB: Why?
LEBARD: The time. The amount of time it took. It would have taken us twice as long at least to do it.
LAMB: I know you teach English and writing, but do you find that your students are interested at all in the subject? Did you ever bring it up in class?
LEBARD: Actually I do, especially when we're doing research papers. I allow them to choose a topic, and invariably when we're discussing argument and how you must substantiate and give evidence to support your arguments, I use some of the research that we did for this book. Several of them have chosen to do papers on similar topics.
LAMB: What do you think of the students today?
LEBARD: I'm actually surprised. I think that we put down a lot of our college students and that we tend to say American education is not as good as it used to be. Now, I don't know what it used to be like because I didn't grow up in this system, but the students that I've come across seem to be highly motivated. They seem to be students who are interested in improving their skills, especially in the area of writing and research.
LAMB: Where were you educated?
LEBARD: In Australia.
LAMB: Where?
LEBARD: At the University of Sydney.
LAMB: And you studied what?
LEBARD: I studied English and history, and I did a post-graduate degree in English.
LAMB: What about you and your teaching? How much are you doing?
FRIEDMAN: I'm doing quite a bit. I'm doing three courses this semester, one of them on U.S. and Japanese relations, in fact. You know, there's a kind of cultural thing going on in campuses. The '60s professors have a golden view of how bright we were and committed, and, like every generation, knows that the generation after them is going to hell in a hand basket. Actually my students are quite as bright as we were and probably more decent than normal in many ways. What I do find effective in my students is something that the high schools have left them without, which is any real historical knowledge or understanding. They have all sorts of concepts, but if I bring up the French Revolution they probably will know it was in France, but they really wouldn't be able to give you a guess what century it occurred in.
LAMB: Are they at all worried about what you are saying will happen in the future?
FRIEDMAN: American students live in a very powerful country, and everything that happens is very distant and far away. I had trouble with many of my students -- and really, these are mostly upper-middle class students who don't tend to be in the reserves and national guards -- getting them to be frightened by the Persian Gulf War. I tried to make the argument in one circumstance where I said, "Look, in six months if this war isn't settled, given the level of approvement going on now, we're going to probably have a draft." It was almost impossible to get them to take seriously the connection between their lives and history. They just see themselves as invulnerable. I think that's the result of, again, being a citizen of a very powerful country. You don't see the connection between your fate and the fate of your nation. If you went to an Israeli or a Palestinian, you'd have no problem making that connection immediately. And so, therefore, I don't think that's a defect in them -- I'm not sure it's a defect -- it's simply the condition you live in in powerful countries.
LAMB: What age were you when you came to this country from Hungary?
FRIEDMAN: I was very young. I was a child, I think, 3 or 4 years old. Three years old. Basically, I grew up as a New York kid. I grew up in the Bronx and went to PS-67, and those things, and went to New York City schools right through City College of New York, where I majored in political science, and then went on to Cornell. So in many ways my upbringing was kind of typical New York-Bronx upbringing. Nothing very interesting.
LAMB: What do you think influenced you to become a conservative?
FRIEDMAN: Well, that goes back to conversations I had with my parents as a child, of course. It was a kind of deep and abiding hatred of totalitarianism. My parents had been Holocaust survivors and they had also fled from the Communists. If there was anything that they taught me it was how much they loved liberal democracy and the refuge the United States provided. From that I simply took a very logical step, even though my parents were people of the left in the European context, which is that if liberal democracy is worth having, it was worth defending. What made my position, I think, very different from my other students in the '60s was they had somehow come to see liberal democracy as corrupt and not worth defending. They'd, in some cases in CCNY, seen North Vietnam as a more decent regime than our own. I not only never believe that, I also felt very strongly that we had to defend that. And I suppose in the context of the '60s and the '70s that made one conservative.
LAMB: Where do you think you got your conservatism?
LEBARD: Probably similarly influenced by parents originally. My father was a professional and an architect in Australia -- in Sydney -- and I grew up with a lot of their influence -- a lot of his belief in capitalism. His desire would be to come and live in the United States which is even more free than Australia because of the trade union problems they have there. He sees, in some respects, Australian politics as suffering from some of the problems that Britain has suffered from over the last few decades. In coming here to the United States I felt, too, that this was a country worth defending. It was a question of should I give up my Australian citizenship or should I remain an Australian citizen, and I chose to give it up and become an American citizen. I wanted to be involved in this country and in the politics of this country.
LAMB: In the front of your book you have this dedication -- who are these two people?
LEBARD: Dorothy is George's wife and Lee is my husband.
LAMB: You both have children?
LEBARD: Yes, we do. Two each.
FRIEDMAN: I have David and Jonathan and she has Memi and Edward.
LAMB: How old?
LEBARD: My daughter is 18. She's a freshman in college, and I'm proud to say she's joined ROTC and wants to be an officer when she graduates.
FRIEDMAN: She's off to airborne camp this summer.
LEBARD: She is. I have a son who is 14 and just going into ninth grade who is a Navy buff.
FRIEDMAN: And I have a 14-year-old who doesn't want to have anything to do with the military because he might get killed, and I have an eight-year-old, Jonathan, who, although violent, also wants to avoid the military.
LAMB: In the front of your book you have this paragraph: "During the 20th century, as a whole, no country has more consistently regarded itself as in essential conflict with the United States than has Japan, and no country has been uniformly looked upon as a perennial enemy by the Americans. The burden of proof, perhaps, should rest on those who assume Japan-American friendship rather than those who expect the contrary," and that's Edwin O. Reischauer, who was a former ambassador from the United States to Japan, writing this in 1953. Why did you use that?
FRIEDMAN: Because he is also in many ways the dean of American-Japan studies. American-Japan studies today is the center of a file of Japanese sentiment -- a very reasonable one. Japan scholars love Japan and they want to see friendship between the United States and Japan. I wanted to remind them of what their founder Reischauer at Harvard said at the beginning of this epic back in 1953, that it is possible to have friendship between the United States and Japan but those who believe that you could have it have a tougher case to prove than those who think there is going to be conflict. I think what he was understanding -- what he was pointing to -- is not merely the appearance of conflict between the U.S. and Japan but the rootedness of that conflict -- the real issues that divided the two countries, the real problems that they both faced that couldn't be solved neatly and simply. One of the things I wanted to do with that, and we sorted through it very carefully and we talked about it quite a bit, and that was the motto of the book because we wanted to remind those who are Japan scholars and who draw their heritage from Reischauer how he himself viewed this relationship back in the beginning and that this teaching still is something worth holding on to.
LAMB: Fifty years ago -- and I don't want to sound naive because we just went through a war -- but 50 years ago you couldn't get on an airplane at Dulles Airport here in Washington and 14 hours later find yourself in Tokyo, nor could you flip a switch in the back studio here and pull in a satellite signal from Japan and have a two-way conversation in a call-in show like we did last year. Will any of those new technologies stop the possibility that there will be a war like you say?
FRIEDMAN: You know, we did 50 years ago hear Edward R. Murrow speaking from London. The electronic media isn't new. Ever since World War II we've heard how the media changes wars. We heard that in Vietnam, the first media war. We heard it in the Persian Gulf. Certainly it will bring the greater immediacy. It's not clear to me that it brings greater friendship or greater contempt. The presence of Peter Arnett in Baghdad hardly lowered the possibility of war. The presence of American reporters in Moscow through the Cold War hardly raised American understanding of the Soviet position -- Soviet interest. I think this adds a dimension to the relationship, but I think we delude ourselves if we think that it's going to change fundamentally relations among nations. I don't think that it's going to change very much.
LAMB: Can anybody stop this war from happening.
LEBARD: Neither country wants it to happen. I think that's obvious. If you were to speak to the political elite in either country, and I'm sure we'll hear from the political elite in both countries, they would consider the possibility of war to be fairly non-existent. However, what we wanted to stress in this book is that these forces are at work beneath the surface, that these are permanent forces, strategic forces that sometimes no matter how badly you don't want a thing, are going to happen anyway. Can anyone stop it? What do you think?
FRIEDMAN: The basic interest of the United States has been, really since World War II, the domination of the world's oceans. Japan's basic interest is access to its raw materials. So long as Japan has to depend on the United States for access to those raw materials, Japan is a hostage to the United States. So long as the United States is tied down with another conflict, the United States won't mistreat the Japanese. We're no longer tied down to another conflict and we have very, very hostile feeling toward the Japanese, so the Japanese, as any real great power would have to do, will have to act. They have two choices. Either they can accept permanent junior status to the United States, which means not that the Japanese will experience 4 or 5 percent economic growth instead of 6 or 7, it will mean that the United States will have the ability and the authority to determine the structure of Japanese life. That's what these structural impediment initiatives -- these talks we're having now on the Japanese economic structure -- are all about. If the Japanese are not prepared to subordinate themselves to the United States, then the only other hope is the United States is prepared to become a strictly regional power and let Japan have access to the raw materials and the markets that it wants. In other words, pull out of the Western Pacific. If the United States is not prepared to do that and the Japanese are not prepared to subordinate themselves -- and this is exactly what the issue of 1935 was all about -- if the United States is not prepared to do that, then somehow or other either Japan will have to force the United States out of the Western Pacific or the United States will have to compel Japan to remain an island nation and very limited. So you have to say, because I don't think either of those things are going to happen, the probability of a conflict -- how intense is debatable -- is almost certain.
LAMB: This book is published by St. Martin's Press. How come?
FRIEDMAN: Well, partly because they wanted to and they wrote a check, and partly because we met an editor at St. Martin's Press we sort of fell in love with and we can mention his name, Michael Denneny, who was a person who had studied political philosophy of Hannah Arendt years ago and I had studied political philosophy, as well.
LAMB: What is Hannah Arendt?
FRIEDMAN: Hannah Arendt was a political philosopher who taught at the University of Chicago at the New School for Social Research. She was a pre-eminent philosopher of her time -- a German immigrant who had written on all sorts of issues; a wide range of issues -- and Michael Denneny had studied with her. I had studied with another group of political philosophers, closely related, and we found that we spoke the language. He had also been the editor for all sorts of diverse people like G. Gordon Liddy and Buckminster Fuller and he wanted to do this book as part of his eclectic collection. We felt so comfortable with him that we not only did this book but we're now doing another one with him.
LAMB: What did you learn about this process that you would change if you do it again?
LEBARD: The whole process of writing, publishing?
LAMB: Putting out a book.
LEBARD: There is not much I would change. Maybe a little more time to do the writing. However, no matter how soon you start, it seems that you always have that rush at the end -- the deadlines. In many ways, we work better under pressure, both of us, and we get more intense about what we're doing, and so we work better under the deadline concept. As George just mentioned, we are working on another book now which will hopefully come out next year -- September of '92 -- and that's going to be on defending America or defense policy for the 21st century. That was kind of a spin-off from this book in some ways because when we got into some of the research in this book and in areas of national defense -- national security -- we found that there were other things that we wanted to write about, going back and looking at America's defense policy since World War II -- the Manhattan project, the people who were associated with the whole defense structure.
LAMB: Would you change anything the next time around?
FRIEDMAN: The maps. Maps are extremely difficult to make and we thought they were very easy to make. We found dozens of things we would have done differently in working on the maps. The other thing we would change is being very careful in what we say. We said that the conflict would begin with a war in the Persian Gulf, and on August 2 while we were writing the book the conflict did begin with a war in the Persian Gulf and U.S.-Japanese relations became very strained. Suddenly we had to go from a theoretical statement to daily changing by the news.
LAMB: This is what the book looks like. It's called The Coming War with Japan. George Friedman and Meredith LeBard, thank you very much for joining us.

Copyright National Cable Satellite Corporation 1991. Personal, noncommercial use of this transcript is permitted. No commercial, political or other use may be made of this transcript without the express permission of National Cable Satellite Corporation.