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Monday, 06 January 2014


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and here I was thinking

"It was a fine thing, the finest thing you ever saw."

Time to hit the archives I reckon.

As soon as I saw that someone had hit my search-thingie I just knew it was you, JK. I checked the wording with WikiQuotes but, heh, what do they know?!

With excellent good taste and discernment TypePad placed your second impertinent comment in the Spam Box from which, with my usual generosity of spirit, I have rescued it. I won't bother following the link because I know what it says!

You're surely not suggesting that the USA enter another war, are you? The population will presumably assume it's just another blunder like Afghanistan or Iraq (or Vietnam). They'd perhaps be right, too.

Even now, O'Bama has his atlas out. The big danger is that he watched Tora Tora Tora over Christmas

I'm not suggesting anything, DM, merely pointing out (with the expert help of Mr. Holmes) that there are 'matters of great moment' beginning to rise in the East:

"Permitting any one coastal state to change the rules by fiat -- to abridge freedom of the seas and skies, or wrest territory or waters from another -- would set a dangerous precedent. If Beijing gets away with amending the system once, why not again and again? And if China, why not regional powers elsewhere in the world? For the United States, then, this is a quarrel not over flyspecks on the map, but over principle. That's why the Senkakus and the ADIZ matter to Americans. Call it entrapment if you must. But it's doubtful any U.S. administration could lightly abstain from a Sino-Japanese trial of arms."

Read the article!

As you know, Duffers, a Germany to which the industry (and military manpower) of France and Belgium was, and perhaps Austria-Hungary's too, AND which held the channel ports, AND had been looking for trouble for years, was understandably viewed as one hell of a threat to Britain.

Now, is China's grabbing some rocks in the same category?

You think the Japanese have little confidence in the American umbrella and you apologize to us for bringing it up? Hell, David WE have little confidence in the American umbrella. For six decades we had a pretty good balance between our natural isolationism and a forward defense strategy. This balance has been utterly abandoned,and we can only suppose that it is because the current occupant of the Resolute Desk does not wish to defend us, much less our allies. The world will have a super power. Will it be the USA,or someone less benign? Think China can be no worse than your American cousins? Wait, and see.

No, DM, it is not just about "rocks"! I'll let Mr. Holmes explain:

"This competition is about more than islets or ADIZs. Nothing less than the nature of the Asian order is at stake. Making the world safe for democracy, or oligarchy, or whatever regime holds power at home constitutes a basic impulse for foreign policy. From the age of Thucydides forward, nations have spent lavishly to preserve or install regional orders hospitable to their own national interests and aspirations. By surrounding itself with like-minded regimes, a nation hopes to lock in a favorable, tranquil status quo. As it was in antiquity, so it remains today. Imperial Japan upended the Asian hierarchy in 1894-1895, smashing the Qing Dynasty's navy and seizing such choice sites as Port Arthur on the Liaotung Peninsula. It began making Asia safe for a Japanese empire. [...]

In short, Imperial Japan ousted China from its place atop the Asian hierarchy through limited war. China would like to repay the favor, regaining its rightful -- to Chinese minds -- station through similarly limited coercive diplomacy. Classical strategist Sun Tzu instructs commanders to look for opportunities to achieve disproportionate effects through minute amounts of force. Beijing evidently discerns such an opportunity in the East China Sea. It hopes to make Asia safe for its brand of communism-cum-authoritarian capitalism."

The freedom of the seas and the free passage of commercial shipping is a vital interest to *everyone*. The Chinese will begin closing this down in the China Sea but where will they end? Rather as the Prussians/Germans began in Schleswig-Holstein, then in the Austrian Empire and then in France and finally, in Belgium. Anyway, in this case it will be very much up to the Japanese to decide on war or peace when the crunch comes. The American decision will be on how much or how little to support them.

Michael, your country is the most powerful in the world and it needs to use that power wisely and with subtlety - not, alas, something they're particularly good at! But as always, whatever your government does, or does not, do must be decided by an intelligent assessment of your own national interest. Put two politicians (of any country!) in a locked room and they will come out with three different notions!

Pick your fights carefully. I'd suspect it would be in the Japanese interest to buy time to let them build up their forces, and also to see whether China spontaneously falls apart. Alternatively, the USA and Russia could agree on a pre-emptive missile strike.

I just don't know and I am hugely grateful not to have the job of deciding what to do. My guess is that this will start small but escalate. It goes back to that post of mine on the subject of an off-shore strategy whereby the Americans would avoid any direct infringement of the Chinese mainland but use whatever force it takes to keep the China Sea open. Also, and further to your "Pick your fights carefully", if I was Chinese I would hesitate before getting the Japs stirred up - as Confucious never said: 'He who poke stick in hornets nest get his arse bit big time'!

David,"wisely"?"effectively"? We are not currently doing either one. Besides which, there are people who would like very much to see that power diminished. One of them currently occupies the Resolute Desk. One most certainly owned the living room where Occupy Resolute Desk launched his first political campaign.

To be honest, Michael, I'm not too sure what American policy is in East Asia and I don't envy whoever is responsible for it! Read John Everard's piece which I feature two posts up. Your president, alas, shows no signs of understanding - or even caring much!

While the "Community Organiser" occupies the Oval Office it behoves all of the allies of the US to look to them not turning up in the event of a party being thrown.

To an outsider it seems he achieved the pinnacle of his abilities prior to becoming a Senator. Since then it has been all down hill.

Seems one of his favourite throw away lines is "America has no greater friend than [here insert country of origin of person being spoken to]". Just don't count on him remembering he said it if there is no teleprompter present.

Hopefully, for the sake of the West, he will be replaced with someone with a bit of CDF.

Sorry, Cobber, but happily these days the worth, or otherwise, of American presidents is of far more importance to you lot 'down under there' than it is to us lot 'over here'! Still, if the Yanks rat out on you and leave you to face the Chinese hordes alone then you can always rely on those strong bonds of kinship and fellow feeling from the Mother Country! No, honestly, I mean it, 'cos I'm sure we have a spare mine-sweeper somewhere.

If you sent us a Mine-sweeper that would effectively halve the once mighty Royal Navy would it not?

We have to revert to standing on our own two feet. Past honouring of treaties of mutual defence and co-operation doesn't carry much weight in the modern world and we have done our share of those.

With all its available power the US abandoned its representative in Benghazi and lied about it afterwards. Doesn't send much encouragement to the many "No greater friends" when you won't look after your own.

With a son an Officer in our army I sincerely hope for his parents peace of mind we don't get in another punch up. This family has committed four generations to conflict over nearly 100 years. I'd like to think my grand children never have to emulate their ancestors.

Hope all is not too cold in the UK for you. This gerbil worming is really playing havoc with life - I have a nice ice-breaker going cheap if you are interested.

Not at all cold, AussieD, just wet, wet, wet! More thunder and lightning this morning and rain the like of which I haven't seen since my Singapore days! And hanging over it all is the fact that we have yet to 'enjoy' our annual dollop of snow and ice! So that's something to look forward to!

Singapore. Squaddy? If you were was Bugis Street still in business when you were there?


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