3Q: Shola Lawal on human rights and social justice
The Nigerian journalist is the recipient of a prestigious fellowship that provides residencies at MIT, the Boston Globe, and the New York Times
Michelle English, MIT Center for International Studies
It’s been a banner year for Nigerian journalist Shola Lawal. The young reporter, who focuses on human rights and social justice issues, was selected as the 2019 International Women’s Media Foundation’s Elizabeth Neuffer Fellow. The fellowship brought her to MIT this fall as a research associate at the Center for International Studies and provides further journalistic training at the Boston Globe and the New York Times. Last month, she got news from back home that she received The Future Awards Africa Prize for Journalism for making significant contributions toward that continent’s future. Finally, and just before year’s end, she is set to release her first long-form documentary. The film, “Where Powers Live,” chronicles the lives of marginalized indigenous religious worshippers in Nigeria and will be screened on campus next month.
Lawal began her career as a freelance correspondent upon graduating from the University of Lagos. She has covered such topics as women’s rights movements in Nigeria, migrants in Libya, forest reserves in Ghana, and political upheaval in Togo. During this fellowship, she is focusing on issues of injustice that sit at the intersection of certain US policies.
She sat down to discuss what it is like to work as a journalist in Nigeria, her reportage last spring on Boko Haram, and her recent trip to Mexico to investigate the migrant crisis.
Q: The Nigerian government is notorious for putting limits on press freedom, including detaining journalists and activists. How does this impact your work?
A: Compared to dictatorships on the continent, Nigeria has been fairly navigable for me as a journalist. There have always been stumbling blocks with institutional corruption, secrecy and insecurity but journalists have been able to pull through. This is not to say journalists are not killed or targeted. We’ve always been. However, it has been a particularly hard time for us under President Muhammadu Buhari. He was a former military dictator who got recently re-elected. Fears that dictatorial tendencies would emerge even as a democratically elected official are being realized now. This year alone there have been raids on newsrooms by the military and persistent persecution of journalists. Critics of the government have disappeared without a trace and as we speak, a media entrepreneur is in detention indefinitely for protesting against the government.
Worse, parliament was recently pushing a social media bill that will criminalize insulting government officials with a jail term. The presidency seemed ready to sign off on it with First Lady Aisha Buhari publicly citing China as an example of a country that ‘successfully controls’ social media. Public outrage forced parliament to drop it but it is still disheartening to know that it was being seriously discussed in the first place. Policies like these negatively impact journalists and citizens in an age where digital and social media have become crucial tools for bearing witness and exposing injustice.
There is a grand strategy of fear at play here, and to be frank, it is, for the most part, effective. It’s hard not to self-censor when you know you can be kidnapped or detained and that you’ll only become another statistic. It’s hard not to be scared when you see educated parliamentarians pushing such a regressive policy. I’m scared of what this means for myself and my colleagues, truly. But I’m undaunted. I continue to work even with that stomach-churning fear and so do my colleagues. That gives me hope.
Q: The founder of Boko Haram, Mohammed Yusuf, died in police detention ten years ago this past October. His death led to the radicalization of the sect and it becoming a jihadist terrorist organization. You reported from the heart of the crisis just last spring. Is there any end in sight?
A: The end is not nearly in sight, I’m afraid. While things have been quiet on the international front regarding Boko Haram coverage, the reality on the ground is that the group continues to control pockets of territory, in northeast Nigeria. A different faction, backed by ISIS, has emerged and calls itself the Islamic State’s West Africa Province, ISWAP. Although ISIS was defeated in Syria and Iraq, it seems to have settled in Africa. The group supports networks of militia groups now operating in West Africa.
Across the region, we’ve seen an uptick in insurgency movements. They have similar strategies of guerrilla attacks and suicide bombings and they kidnap people for funds. These groups operate in the West African Sahel region, a zone that is vulnerable to climatic changes, causing even more pressure on communities there. Several countries including Nigeria, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali have been especially affected.
In Nigeria, Boko Haram’s influence has shrunk, but we will reckon with the consequences of the group’s terror for generations. Millions are displaced, languishing in camps where resources are inadequate. Many are missing. In Borno, where the insurgency started, I spoke to mothers who have not seen their sons in 10 years. The military has rounded up hundreds of young men that are suspected of terrorism without trial. Their families don’t know if they are alive or dead. Trust has been destroyed: Trust in government but even trust within communities. For a society that is big on social connections, that says a lot. For example, teenagers rescued from Boko Haram enclaves are finding it difficult to re-integrate in their communities because community members see them as insurgents too. I know we will heal as a nation, but it will take a long time.
Q: You recently wrote an opinion piece for the Boston Globe on the Trump administration’s asylum ban. You described it as targeting Central American migration and that it will have a devastating impact on people who are fleeing conflict in African countries. You recently returned from a reporting trip to Mexico’s southern border. What did you learn?
A: It’s very easy to focus on the US-Mexico border with the administration’s emphasis on ‘the wall’, but a lot is happening on Mexico’s southern border. I was surprised to see not just Africans, but also Asians and migrants from the Caribbean in their thousands. They are all trapped by US restrictions in Tapachula, a border city with Guatemala. Mexico is cracking down on transiting migrants, containing them in its poorest region to avoid trade sanctions from the US. There’s no aid provided to these people so many are living in tents. Locals are nervous about the burden of housing all these people on already inadequate infrastructure. I think it’s only a matter of time before they lash out.
For context, thousands of Africans have travelled from countries like Cameroon and the DRC, both countries in conflict. They fly to South America and walk or bus north to get to the US-Mexico border. People from Haiti have done the same. It’s a difficult journey. They must pass through the Darien Gap, a jungle between Columbia and Panama where wild animals, flash floods and armed men have taken souls that we cannot account for.
Now, they are caught between a wall and a hard place. Living conditions in shelters are miserly. People are sleeping in tents on the streets and surviving on donations. Women are presenting with reproductive diseases and children with skin infections. I saw a woman cradle a 5-day-old baby who had not received proper medical attention. She looked so desolate, so helpless. It’s an emergency, to put it plainly. And we must all work, in any capacity we can, to call attention to it so that these policies are reversed and these people can be free.
Peter Dizikes, MIT News
First published here.
We are living in an age of populism, according to a wide array of pundits and politicians. But what does that mean, exactly? Some high-profile scholars examined that issue at an MIT public forum on Thursday, discussing the key hallmarks of populism, as well as its relationship to global economics.
While populist politicians have growing prominence and power in Europe and around the world, arriving at a working definition of the subject is not easy, noted MIT political scientist Richard Samuels, in introductory remarks.
Populism is “a very complex phenomenon,” said Samuels, the Ford International Professor of Political Science and director of the MIT Center for International Studies (CIS), adding that there is significant “diversity that’s hidden…within the simple label of populism.”
Moreover, Samuels said, the promises of populists during campaigns do not always match the reasons they seek power, making it all the more important to look under the surface of the movement.
“They run for the people, [and] they run against the establishment,” Samuels said. However, he added, “They run for themselves, above all.”
Thursday’s event, ‘The Rise of Global Populism,” was held in MIT’s Bartos Theater, with an audience of about 200 people. The panel was part of the Starr Forum series hosted by CIS.
The event featured two other scholars: Jan-Werner Mueller, a professor of politics at Princeton University and author of the recent book “What Is Populism?” and Suzanne Berger, a professor of political science and MIT’s inaugural John M Deutch Institute Professor. Berger has extensively studied both popular politics, especially in rural Europe, and the dynamics of globalization and industrial production.
As Mueller noted in his remarks, all kinds of politicans have been granted the populist label in recent years—even French president Emmanuel Macron, an unapologetic technocrat, has been called a “populist of the extreme center.”
Nonetheless, Mueller suggested, a useable definition of populism should be focused on a commonality of populist politicians: They always claim “a monopoly for representing the people” in politics.
“Populists are going to say that all other contenders for power are fundamentally illegitimate,” Mueller said, noting that this has “dangerous consequences” for democracies.
In a related vein, Mueller noted, populists consistently claim their own supporters are the “real” citizens of a given country. For instance, he explained, when the Brexit referendum won at the polls in June 2016, the pro-Brexit politician Nigel Farage declared the outcome a “victory for real people” in Britain, despite the narrow 52-48 margin.
“The populist decides who ‘truly’ belongs to the people, and who doesn’t,” said Mueller. “What is distinctive and dangerous about populism is, for shorthand, antipluralism, the tendency always to exclude.”
Mueller also devoted a significant portion of his remarks to his contention that populists, perhaps contrary to common perception, do not just win elections, but can also govern well enough to meet their political goals.
“Not only can populists govern, they can govern as, fundamentally, populists,” Mueller. Populist leaders might preside over deeply divided electorates, but they practice “mass clientalism,” with policies targeted to reward their own supporters.
While Mueller’s remarks focused more on building a robust definition of populism, Berger discussed the relationship between populism and globalization — which is often regarded as a driver of populist sentiment and unrest, by hollowing out wages and jobs in industrialized countries.
As Berger noted, an expanding group of scholars and writers has called for a halt or a slowing to globalization. Indeed, Berger—who is also working on a new book about globalization—noted that it is by no means an inevitable phenomenon. The world experienced what she called its first modern-scale globalization in the late 1800s and early 1900s, only for World War I to bring the process to a sudden halt.
“We’ve been here before,” Berger said. “The first globalization…ended on one day,” she added, referring to Aug 4, 1914, when Britian declared war on Germany.
“Border walls went up all around the world, and they didn’t come down again until the 1980s,” Berger said. “Capital markets were more integrated in the 1880s than they were in the 1970s.”
Using history as a guide, then, Berger noted, “globalization could end,” especially if economic barriers become a common part of populist policymaking. And in Berger’s view, that could lead to increased economic distress.
“The possibility that protectionism will lead to a recession is a very real one,” Berger said.
However, as Berger said in her remarks, while “slowing the pace” of globalization may help democratic politics, she does not regard a rolling back of global economic connections to be desirable. The larger problem, Berger suggested, is not globalization in itself, but a globalizing economy that has not been accompanied by inclusive politics.
The “first globalization,” Berger said, “was actually a period when democracy expanded and consolidated,” noting that it took place in an era of wider voting rights and other reforms in industrialized nations. “Most of these reforms were won in hard-fought battles [led by] unions, from strikes, and [from] large-scale mobilizations.” In those cases, she added, “elites acted out of necessity and out of concern for social peace...and in order to build coalitions that would support opening the borders.”
To sustain globalization without producing a further backlash from populist leaders and their followers, then, Berger suggested it was necessary to “build organizations that can bring the voices of those most affected by globalization into policy.”
To be sure, she added, “building such a coalition is going to be very difficult. But it’s what we need to make good on our old promises to make globalization a lever to help everyone. …We need a politics capable of massive initiatives in state and society.”
For his part, Mueller also suggested that mass democracy and greater political participation would not necessarily feed the current populist movement, and indeed might limit the trend.
“It’s not the people who destroy democracies,” Mueller said. “It’s the elites. You might say, ‘Well, sounds like a populist.’ But I remind you: Not all critics of elites are populists.”
Saudi money in US horse racing is the sport’s next moral jam
John Tirman, Los Angeles Tmes
First published here.
John Tirman, principal research scientist and executive director, of the MIT Center for International Studies.
Politics and sports don’t mix well. Just ask Colin Kaepernick. But sometimes politics intrudes on athletic competition in a way that can’t be ignored. Thoroughbred racing, already grappling with a terrible track record of horse deaths, is enveloped in yet another political and moral catastrophe that few in the business acknowledge.
For more than two decades, horse racing has been influenced heavily by the Arab dynasties of the Persian Gulf, notably Dubai, a city-state in the United Arab Emirates. Through their rich races in March, including the $10-million Dubai World Cup, and their enormous investment in purchasing horses in the United States and Europe, the Emiratis have a vivid presence in the sport. This extraordinary immersion is led by Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai.
Now the Saudis are entering this glittering arena with the $20-million Saudi Cup in February. Top trainers such as Hall of Famer Bob Baffert are reportedly heading to Riyadh. According to news reports, the kingdom is not only putting up a record purse, but it will also foot the bill for getting the horses to King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh. The largesse is hard to resist.
It should be resisted, however. Both the Emirates and Saudi Arabia are repressive states that have fomented and supported large-scale violence against civilians in Yemen, among other hot spots in the region. The Saudis have paid for terrorist militias in Syria and jihadi-oriented schools all over the world. The Saudi war against Yemen, until recently braced by the Emiratis(and still aided by the US), is considered one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters, with tens of thousands killed and millions on the brink of starvation.
Internal repression is equally disturbing. Saudi Arabia is in effect a totalitarian state. Its Shiite minority is marginalized and silenced. It imports workers from Pakistan (as does Dubai) who are treated like indentured servants. Women’s rights are almost nonexistent. According to the CIA, the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered the murder of a US-based journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, last year.
And yet, the kingdom has gotten a nearly free pass in US political culture because of its aggressive public relations efforts. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, in 2018 Saudi Arabia spent $34 million lobbying in the United States alone. After Khashoggi’s killing, Riyadh stopped promoting the crown prince as a dynamic, young reformer and turned sharply toward “soft power” efforts—including what’s known as sportswashing.
The Saudi Cup is one of the splashiest of those efforts, and the American (and European) horse racing industry implicitly endorses the Saudis’ charm offensive with their uncritical participation in the race. One can imagine the kingdom rehabilitating the prince on the world stage as he awards the trophy to the winning trainer and owner of the Saudi Cup, to wide applause and excellent publicity. As Dubai’s World Cup has shown, chumminess with European and American elites, built around a tony horse operation, goes some distance toward elevating even a government known for its dreadful human rights record.
At some point, the leading lights of the racing industry will have to take moral responsibility for lending legitimacy to thuggish regimes like the Emirates and Saudi Arabia. What does Mohammed bin Salman have to do to earn their opprobrium? Genocide, terrorism, oppression and murder are already afoot, so apparently the answer is that no crime will earn the racing industry’s disfavor. If it’s all about money, the Saudis’ oil economy can keep pumping out plenty of that.
We don’t expect horse trainers, jockeys and owners to be statesmen. We have a reasonable expectation, however, that they shouldn’t be collaborators, either.
3Q: Jonathan Gruber on academics engaging with policymakers
Professor of economics cites the importance of initiatives like the MIT Policy Lab, which helps academics focus some energy on influencing public policy.
Dan Pomeroy, The Policy Lab & Michelle English, Center for International Studies
First published here
Jonathan Gruber is the Ford Professor of Economics at MIT and director of the Health Care Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research. An associate editor of both the Journal of Public Economics and the Journal of Health Economics, he has been heavily involved in crafting public health policy. Gruber joined the MIT Policy Lab at the Center for International Studies as a core faculty member in 2017.
The Policy Lab works with faculty to create, support, and execute strategies to influence the policy community in an effort to maximize the impact of research on public policy. Launched in 2014, the Policy Lab has sponsored more than 90 projects with more than 50 principal investigators from all five schools at MIT. The lab distilled its experience connecting researchers to policymakers into a short online resource on the EdX platform, and it recentlyissued its fifth call for proposals.
Gruber sat down to discuss the importance of faculty members engaging in public policy, as well as some successes of the Policy Lab.
Q: What is the MIT Policy Lab and why did you decide to get involved with the program?
A: The MIT Policy Lab is a vital initiative begun out of the Center for International Studies, which provided seed funding that was then supplemented by the dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS) and the provost. The idea of this initiative is to build a series of connections between MIT faculty and policymakers.
While there is a whole host of policy-relevant research being carried out at MIT, there are two important barriers to that work influencing policy decisions: the translation of sometimes quite complicated research findings into policy relevant lessons, and making the connections between MIT faculty and relevant government policymakers.
So far, this initiative has been very successful in overcoming both of these barriers. Our excellent managing director, Daniel Pomeroy, has wide-ranging experience in a variety of scientific fields, as well as experience in science policy in Washington, DC, making him a perfect person to help faculty members translate their work into policy-relevant discussions. Our generous funding from SHASS and the provost has allowed us to provide financial support to faculty who want to dedicate time to this activity and/or hire students to help. And the connections of all of our leadership in government, as well as partnership with the MIT Washington Office, has allowed us to make valuable connections between researchers and policymakers.
I learned about the Policy Lab through discussions with MIT leadership about my frustrations with the lack of translation of MIT's research to the policy landscape. When I found out about the Policy Lab I was very excited to realize that an institution already existed to facilitate this translation.
Q: Why do you think it is important for faculty to engage with public policymakers?
A: In my view, one of the central fights in the US today is over the role of expertise and the scientific method more generally. Traditionally, when policymakers wanted to make decisions over technically complicated issues, they and their staff turned to subject-matter experts to help. This process was supported by the public's respect for such experts; after all, Time magazine once named “US Scientists” as Man of the Year!
Both the public support for scientific expertise and policymakers’ willingness to rely on evidence have diminished over time. Partly this reflects a set of political developments which have led to general lack of respect for expertise or the use of the scientific method over personal intuition and biases. But the problem is exasperated by an increasingly specialized and distant base of academics who are interested solely in impressing each other, and not providing translation of their insights to the general public.
For both of these reasons, it is a critical time for academics to focus some of their energy on engaging with policymakers and the public. The Policy Lab is an excellent resource for facilitating those interactions.
Q: Since joining the MIT Policy Lab as a core faculty member in 2017, what have you seen as the most successful aspects of the program?
A: Two different aspects of the Policy Lab have been very pleasant surprises to me. The first is faculty excitement and willingness to engage with the program. I thought that the Policy Lab would have to work hard to get any faculty to participate. But I was, fortunately, very wrong: From the beginning there have been an abundance of faculty who are very excited about this initiative and eager to participate. Indeed, we have been unable to support all of the requests that we have received! The fact that there is this pre-existing demand for an initiative of this type is very exciting.
The second is the ability of the Policy Lab to leverage relatively the limited time of our staff and small grants to make real and valuable connections in the policy world. A variety of projects have already yielded significant impacts, on topics as diverse as using fluid dynamics to predict the transmission of disease and using predictive modeling to help assess the environmental implications of deep-sea mining. These are vital policy issues that cannot be effectively addressed without the kind of scholarly work that MIT brings to bear—and we are seeing that expertise being used to make a real difference.
The model that the MIT Policy Lab has created over the last five years has proven to be an effective and efficient way to connect MIT research to public policy. I hope that we can continue to build on these successes to provide a platform for broadly sharing the enormous policy-relevant knowledge base at MIT with the world.
Mina Pollmann on Special Duty
Mina Pollmann is a PhD student in the Department of Political Science, specializing in international relations and comparative politics. Her research interests focus on Japan’s security and diplomacy, US foreign policy in East Asia, and international relations in the Asia-Pacific.
In Special Duty: A History of the Japanese Intelligence Community, Richard Samuels sympathizes with the challenges states face in reforming their intelligence community, but also asks why it took Japan so much longer than other industrial countries “to make the administrative changes that undergird effective intelligence.” (1*) Samuels identifies three drivers of intelligence reform and six elements that comprise the intelligence function. He analyzes the Japanese experience across five eras, and in his conclusion, Samuels considers Japan’s possible futures, which, as with the development of any other aspect of Japan’s security establishment, is contingent on the future of the US-Japan alliance.
The three drivers of intelligence reform–which are not unique to Japan–are systemic change, technological advance, and intelligence failure. These drivers do not affect each of the six elements of intelligence–collection, analysis, communication, protection, covert action, and oversight – equally, but depend on a country’s history and the particular combination of the three drivers in any particular historical moment. These three drivers shaped the five discrete periods in Japan’s modern intelligence history: Expansion (1895-1945), Accommodation (1945-1991), Tinkering (1991-2001), Reimagining (2001-2013), and Reengineering (2013-Present).
The expansion of Japan’s intelligence community after the Western powers forced the isolationist Tokugawa regime to open was over-determined by dramatic shifts in the international security environment Japan faced as well as by technological changes. Before and after the turn of the last century, entrepreneurial Japanese businessmen, diplomats, and military officers helped Japan achieve early successes in defeating Russia and China. But intelligence coordination between the civilians and military was “limited–and to a detrimental extent,” and even this paled in comparison to the Imperial Japanese military’s inability to coordinate intelligence within itself, between the Imperial Army and Navy (243). This led to some outstanding failures. Indeed, “few intelligence communities ever failed as often or as spectacularly as Imperial Japan’s, nowhere more consequentially than at Pearl Harbor, where one of history’s most impressive tactical successes temporarily masked one of its most costly strategic failures.” (244)
After the Pacific War, Japan was “locked into an unequal relationship with Washington that distorted the shape and capacity of its intelligence community and the limited intelligence community that did operate after the war often found itself in uncomfortable service to US power.” (245) Perhaps most detrimental from the perspective of long-term institutional development, the US preference for each US military service and civilian unit to connect separately with their Japanese counterpart reinforced existing stovepipes that prevented the creation of a comprehensive and effective Japanese intelligence apparatus. (246) There was, however, progress in oversight–following the unmasking of a secret US-Japan intelligence unit by the Communist Party and the public backlash to a Cabinet proposal for a draconian espionage law–but institutional inertia, US dominance, and public opinion guided and constrained Japanese intelligence reform. (248) While Japan intelligence excelled at economic analysis, they lagged behind on the diplomatic and military front.
When the Cold War ended, proponents of Japanese intelligence reform seized the moment. They began to tinker with the intelligence apparatus. Specifically, Gotōda Masaharu, one of the most prominent reformers, “hitched plans for military intelligence reform to the effort to achieve more comprehensive and popular administrative reform. He was betting that the Japanese public had become almost as disenchanted with the policy dominance of bureaucrats as they were with the [Imperial Japanese] militarists who had by then receded farther in their rearview mirrors. He read the mood clearly: there was support for budgeting to be more transparent and for the administrative state to be more streamlined.” (249) Military intelligence was consolidated with the creation of the Defense Intelligence Headquarters in 1997 on his watch. However, although Japan began reimagining how to conduct intelligence, the political leadership in favor of intelligence reform was still electorally unsteady and these administrative gains could not be consolidated. “Until Abe returned to power in early 2013, the endemic failures of units within the intelligence community to communicate with one another and the incapacity of the intelligence community as a whole to communicate with the political class continued to define Japanese intelligence and undermine national policy.” (252)
At this point Abe began to reengineer Japanese intelligence. He and his advisors in the Liberal Democratic Party and the Foreign Ministry seemed finally to appreciate that America’s unipolar moment may be receding. In the absence of an obvious alternative to the alliance with Washington, they worked diligently to shore it up without boxing themselves in. The most prominent reforms were the Designated States Secrets Law and creation of a National Security Council. These changes were designed to enhance communication across different Japanese bureaus and agencies, though more work still needs to be done to deal with Japan’s persistent tendency to generate stovepipes. Covert action “apparently remains a bridge too far” (though this could change), while oversight is “being tested” as the intelligence community and their political masters engage with civil society groups that push for greater privacy for citizens and transparency of government. (235, 238) As the Japanese public considers a relatively declining United States, a rising China, and a growing threat from North Korea, intelligence is garnering increasing public acceptance as a necessary state function.
Where does the Japanese intelligence community go from here? Samuels outlines three possible futures for Japan’s place in the region and the US-Japan alliance, and what each entails for future reforms of the intelligence community. First, the status quo—Japan’s effective and low-cost military alliance with the United States could prevail. Japan would focus on: “acquiring better intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities for the military, both seaborne and airborne, as well as boosting space-based image intelligence and signals intelligence capabilities”; doing more intelligence jointly across the Self-Defense Forces service branches; doing more intelligence combined with the United States; reducing inefficiencies in the relationship between National Security Secretariat and Cabinet Research and Intelligence Office; and installing the security protections necessary to join the Five Eyes countries in intelligence sharing. (258) “In this scenario, Japan could continue to use the alliance to transcend the alliance should that be necessary – and in the process would continue to derive benefits from intelligence sharing with [what Gotōda called] ‘the world’s longest-eared rabbit.’”(258-9)
Second, “whether by choice or (more likely) by default, Japan might opt to acquire and sustain an independent military capability.” (259) In the pursuit of “autonomous defense” Japan would likely have to: “rebalance its technology-heavy collection apparatus by adding considerable human resources,” including the ability to conduct covert operations (again); “acquire real-time ISR capabilities to support strike missions”; and “invest far more heavily in space and cyber capabilities than heretofore.” (259-60)
And finally, Japan could choose to bandwagon with China. In that event, “there would be considerable pressure on Tokyo to reassure its new partner and avoid provoking China by fiddling too overtly with its intelligence community.” (260) This could result in an intelligence capacity that balances civilian and military capabilities more equally, but that also self-limits its cooperation with the Five Eyes countries and stalls the development of enhanced capabilities to spy on China. (260-1) If such a radical shift occurred in East Asia, it could reduce pressure on Japan to break down domestic stovepipes to improve its intelligence community, and possibly even lead to greater intelligence cooperation with China as had tentatively begun in late 2018. (261)
While each of these three scenarios carries risks, the choice of “autonomous defense” is the most fraught for Japan because it is the choice most likely to weaken democratic oversight over intelligence and militarize the intelligence community. (261-2) It also would cost Japan the benefits of intelligence cooperation with the United States, possibly leading to a deterioration of Japan’s security. “Should Japan transition from its asymmetric alliance with the United States to one in which it relies entirely on itself, the most likely and most costly intelligence failure would derive from a reduction of access to advanced US technology on the newest and most untested intelligence frontier–cyberspace. … As [cyber] technologies advance, and as their connections to intelligence multiply and blur, we can expect more of what we have already seen: each of the traditional players will lay claim to this domain, and new entrants will be keen to raise their profile by formally entering the intelligence community. The likely result will be new levels of confusion and new vulnerabilities at just the moment when Japan would most need security.” (26)
*References correspond to the page numbers in Richard Samuels' book Special Duty: A History of the Japanese Intelligence Community.