While Americans crowd the stores in their annual Black Friday shopping frenzy, storm clouds gather darkly on the global scene.
The “breaking news” is China’s declaration of an “air-defense identification zone” over an area of the East China Sea that includes islands claimed by Japan. This move was followed immediately by intrusive flights from the US and its allies in the region. And those moves were followed (of course) by Chinese warplanes patrolling the disputed zone.
It seems so childish to me, like those kids at Guy’s Hill Elementary School who would poke each other in the chest, daring each other to throw the first punch. But the implications are as grown-up as it gets.
With China threatening to take military action against unauthorized intruders, the response by Japan and the US looks terrifying.
What kind of diplomacy is that?
Beyond any argument, China and the US are the world’s super-powers today. Any confrontation between them makes the hair rise on the back of my neck.
Ownership of these islands – known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China – has been in dispute for decades, although looking at the photo above, I can’t understand why. Japan even went so far as to buy three of the islands from their private owner recently.
Now, the US is backing Japan’s claim and sending bombers flying over the islands to make the point.
I did not expect this kind of brinkmanship from the Obama Administration. I would have thought President Obama’s style would be to pick up the phone and call President Xi Jinping (with Obama in photo above).
“Hey Xi,” he might say. “Wassup, man? What’s going on with you and the Japanese? How can we make everything all right between you two?” (Or words to that effect.)
Xi might respond by saying something like, “Man, these Japanese keep pokin’ me in the eye, you know? What they think they’re doing, buying up those three islands? You might better have a talk with them, bro.”
Surely there’s something else China (and Japan) wants more than a handful of barren rocks? Another General Electric factory perhaps? Or a few high-tech secrets? Whatever they crave, President Obama might arrange to help them get it – in exchange for giving up on the disputed islands.
Of course, he would also have to devise some kind of pride saving theater. You know how the Oriental cultures are about “losing face.”
Come to think of it, that might be just what’s going on.
I bet that wily Obama is on the phone right now, and cooler heads are going to prevail, after all.
Maybe world peace isn’t in as much danger as I thought at first. Not with Barack Obama in the White House.