Alexander Sakaki, Hanns W. Maull, Kerstin Lukner, Ellis S. Krauss and Thomas U. Berger. 2019. Reluctant Warriors: Germany, Japan, and Their U.S. Alliance Dilemma

Date01 August 2020
Published date01 August 2020
Subject MatterBook Reviews
Book Review
Alexander Sakaki, Hanns W. Maull, Kerstin Lukner, Ellis S. Krauss
and Thomas U. Berger. 2019. Reluctant Warriors: Germany, Japan,
and Their U.S. Alliance Dilemma. Brookings Institution Press. 294 pp.
ISBN: 9780815737360
The giant of the international order, the USA, has recently cocooned itself in its
nationalistic ambitions since the election of President Donald Trump. Since 2017,
the USA has shaken up previous alliance commitments, notably labelling North
Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) obsolete and withdrawing from several
international treaties, forcing its allies to be on tenterhooks. In such a backdrop,
can Japan and Germany’s rearmament drive be seen as a recognition and
acceptance of a long-outsourced responsibility or a yearning to regain lost stature
and preponderance? Is the road to remilitarisation smooth or impregnated with
abrasions? Reluctant Warriors: Germany, Japan and their U.S. Alliance Dilemma
edited by Alexandra Sakaki et al. provides an excellent empirical-based study to
help one navigate these and other perplexing questions.
Fundamentally, Reluctant Warriors aims to understand how Tokyo and Berlin’s
security policies are affected by their post-war anti-militarism, domestic
institutional structure and political context, which often exist in tension with their
respective external security environment and the expectations of their allies
(primarily the USA). The book rightly characterises Germany and Japan as
reluctant warriors as the two countries have traversed with circumspection,
cognizant of numerous inextricable factors that operate domestically and globally.
The origins of this tension lie in the unrelentingly ambitious and unsparingly
brutal agendas of Japan and Germany of the Second World War, which tarnished
their reputation, destroyed international institutions and killed civilians in the
millions. Both nations, after surrendering unconditionally to the USA, were
forced to disarm and delegate the task of guarding their territory to Washington.
Although this responsibility was quickly seen as a burden by the USA leading it
to frequently accuse its allies of ‘free-riding’, Sakaki et al. also note that this
allowed them to secure firm control over two of the most geo-strategically
significant regions in the world. However, the international situation has clearly
changed significantly since the 1950s. In a world where the USA in the tide of
protectionism and is juggling between the policies of retrenchment, off-shore
balancing and deep engagement, and a weak European Union owing to Brexit and
immigration crisis, Japan and Germany find it more urgent than usual to be
Journal of Asian Security
and International Affairs
7(2) 256–264, 2020
The Author(s) 2020
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/2347797020939036
Book Reviews

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