- The Washington Times - Monday, December 2, 2013

President Obama needs to fire himself. Not literally, of course, but practically: He needs to shake up his team so thoroughly that the new blood imposes change on how he manages the federal bureaucracy and leads,” says Ron Fournier, a veteran national news correspondent and editorial director for National Journal.

“A series of self-inflicted wounds during his fifth year in office, capped by the botched launch of the Affordable Care Act, have Americans questioning the president’s competence and credibility. History suggests that second-term presidents rarely recover after their approval ratings fall as much as Obama’s have this year,” he says.

“History also suggests that there are two types of White House shake-ups. The first is mostly cosmetic and is aimed at sending a signal that the president is serious. He fires somebody, anybody, as a sacrificial lamb. The second is deep cleansing — that rare occasion when a president rebuilds his team to change himself,” Mr. Fournier insists. “The latter is what Obama must do.”


He’s jetted off: Vice President Joseph R. Biden departed Monday for a six-day trip to Japan, China and South Korea, all meant to “reaffirm our enduring presence as a Pacific power” and the “enduring strength of the U.S.-Japan alliance,” the White House says in its neutral description of the journey.

Yes, everyone can be “enduring” and maybe endearing on the visit. Crisis management skills and some sabre-rattling are likely requirements as well.

It’s only been a week since China established the Air Defense Identification Zone over a disputed portion of the East China Sea, requiring all foreign aircraft to reveal their flight plans and constantly communicate. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel deemed the designation “a destabilizing attempt to alter the status quo of the region”; officials in Japan, Australia and Europe voiced similar discontent. A pair of B-52s recently buzzed the airspace over islands that both China and Japan claim as their own.

“The rightist apologists of Japan’s atrocious past and belligerent present find it a thorn in their side and wish the world would forget about its existence. The China-hating politicians in Washington display collective amnesia when and where it gets in the way of demonizing China,” counters an op-ed published Tuesday in China Daily, the nation’s state-supported, English language newspaper.

“Like it or not, the Cairo Declaration, issued 70 years ago yesterday, remains the ultimate key to sorting out the convoluted territorial dispute between China and Japan,” the paper says. “In the Cairo Declaration, it was agreed that, ‘all the territories Japan has stolen from China, such as Manchuria, Formosa, and the Pescadores, shall be restored to the Republic of China’.”

The paper later concludes, “When Vice-President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister David Cameron visit this week, our new Air Defense Identification Zone may be a hard-to-navigate topic. But our leaders should review with them the Cairo Declaration, and tell them, challenging our legitimate claim to the Diaoyu Islands is an outright betrayal of the Declaration.”


Mr. Biden’s journey prompted the Pew Research Center to revisit its poll numbers about Asians, and their opinion of one another, even as the White House seeks to “rebalance” and rebrand its policy on China.

China’s military power is regarded with alarm in Japan and South Korea. Nearly all Japanese (96 percent) see China’s power as bad for their country as do 91 percent of South Koreans,” says senior editor Bruce Drake, who cites findings released six months ago.

But it’s complicated. Very.

“Almost seven decades after the end of World War II, a big majority of South Koreans (98 percent) and Chinese (78 percent) believe that Japan has not sufficiently apologized for its actions in their countries during the 1930s and 1940s, according to our spring survey,” Mr. Drake says.

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