Saturday, January 12, 2013

Hegemonic Warfare Watch: Magical Thinking Phase

One way to get a bike clean: wash it down at one of the ubiquitous self-service car washes.

The LA Times reports that Japanese and Chinese warplanes played footsie over the Senkakus.
Chinese and Japanese fighter planes tailed each other over a disputed cluster of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, raising alarm that a miscalculation could set off an armed confrontation.

Chinese military authorities ordered two J-10 fighter planes to perform what China called “verification and monitoring” on Friday after a Chinese transport plane was tailed by Japanese F-15 fighter jets. The incident above the islands, known as Senkaku to the Japanese and Diaoyu to the Chinese, was the most potentially dangerous in months of escalating tensions over the islands.
This was followed by the usual warnings (same article)
"There is far more at stake here than a small cluster of islands. Crisis-mitigation mechanisms need to be urgently reinstated and communication increased between Beijing and Tokyo to reduce the risks of an accidental clash or escalation," warned Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt, China and Northeast Asia project director for the International Crisis Group, in an editorial last week.
Humanity's dominant mode of response to its problems is magical thinking and in our age, the two primary theaters of operation for magical thinking are advertising and politics. Crisis mitigation mechanisms and increased communication.... It's just magical thinking. Accio....solution! Imagine this as an essay question for an exam: Please explain how crisis-mitigation mechanisms will solve this problem. Be concrete. 

Good luck with that one.

Let's be concrete. The crisis isn't caused by a lack of communication or crisis containment mechanisms. It didn't arise because of "tension" or ambiguous and conflicting claims. It is caused by China's desire to expand its territory at Japan's expense. It can only be solved when that desire ceases.

Hence "crisis-mitigation mechanisms" -- whatever they may be -- won't work because they help legitimate China's expansionist tendencies, either by treating them as a non-issue for future treatment ("Look, we've got to solve this immediate crisis. We can deal with the cause later.") or by treating the Chinese claim as morally equal to the Japanese one. Either way, China wins. They also help China by lowering the risk that war will occur before Beijing is ready, a fear which might otherwise deter China from taking risky actions. Perhaps they will help extend the era of peace by giving Beijing the idea that it might get the Senkakus via negotiations brokered by the other powers....

The Abe government in Japan also announced increased military spending this week, thanks to the threat from Beijing. This will be adduced by Beijing as further evidence of Japan's "re-militarization" (to understand that, see this good piece from CSIS on the way Beijing says it sees Japan). China is also deploying the old "creating tension" tactic it used so successfully against Taiwan during the Chen years:
China accused Japan yesterday of “creating tension,” a day after China’s air force scrambled two fighters in response to a flight by Japanese jets to intercept a Chinese military plane near Japan-controlled islands, the latest incident between the countries following months of tension over the disputed islands.
Chinese officials have also attempted to use its old trick of transferring tension from the Beijing-Taipei relationship to the Taipei-Washington relationship, in this case, attempting to move tension between Beijing and Tokyo to the Tokyo-Washington relationship.

Jens Kastner, a local freelance reporter, argued over at World Politics Review that Japan may turn to Taiwan as it confronts China. It that happens, what will the Abe government find? A President and party allied to China in its quest to expand and happily enabling that expansion by "reducing tensions" across the Taiwan Strait -- which enables China to ramp them up elsewhere. How cooperative will such a Taiwan be? Imagine if the United States had supported the DPP candidate instead of Ma Ying-jeou. Japan (and the US) would then be facing a friendly government in Taipei with no place to turn to but Tokyo and Washington.

One key piece of positive fallout from Beijing's push in the Senkakus and the South China Sea may well be its ability to paint the next DPP government as "provoking tension." China has made it blatantly obvious that Beijing itself is the source of tension....
Daily Links:
  • Criminalization of adultery? You have to be caught in the act, and satisfying the standard is really difficult. It remains a total waste of police and prosecutorial time.
  • Executions put Ma Administration on the spot. Actually, the death penalty is quite popular in Taiwan. 
  • People's Daily on how Chinese tourists in Taiwan are treated like cattle by their travel agencies.
  • If Fourth Nuclear Plant isn't completed, electricity prices will rise! Shock doctrine fallout: if the government didn't make so many empty, stupid threats in order to get people to accept nukes, people would probably trust nuclear power more. Anyone remember the brownouts in the '90s when the government was trying to get the fourth nuke plant accepted?
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.


Taiwan FAQ said...

Good luck to Japan in getting the US to intervene militarily. The US has no interest in who owns those islands. The US has its own interests to protects and its defense commitents to Japan do not include saving Japan from self inflicted situations.

Japan is already fast becoming irrelevant in Asia (Korea is already becoming the next "Japan") and the last gasps of Japan's aging militarists will only hasten that day.

Taiwan FAQ said...

"Imagine if the United States had supported the DPP candidate instead of Ma Ying-jeou. Japan (and the US) would then be facing a friendly government in Taipei with no place to turn to but Tokyo and Washington"

I have difficulty imagining what actual assistence a DPP admininstration could provide Japan. Cheerleading? Emotional support? The ROC legislature certainly won't fund any Japan assistence. The ROC military fighting on behalf of Japan's territorial claims? Only in an alternate universe.

Taiwan FAQ said...

The DPP affirmed Taiwan's sovereignty over the diau yu tai islands in every one of the 8 years it was in power. Why would you think Tsai would have done anything different than CSB did? Of course we all know the DPP's old guard's heart is with Japan. But even they are politically savvy enough to know formally acknowledging Japan's claim is a non-starter in Taiwan. The DPP's strategy of asserting Taiwan's claim but engaging in open ended "negotiations" with Japan had the practical effect of respecting Japan's claim without having to take a politically unacceptable position at home.

yankdownunder said...

" ... or by treating the Chinese claim as morally equal to the Japanese one. Either way, China wins."

Thank you for this post.

It makes me crazy every time US says we have no position on who owns Senkaku but we will defend Senkaku per our defense agreement with Japan. Say what?

The diplomatic settlement which US and others keeps spouting is ridiculous!!

Someone is breaking into my house and I call the police and they say I should try to have a "diplomatic settlement" with the perp. WTF!?!?

Next time China sends a jet into Japanese air space, USFJ should respond by intercepting with US and JP jets.
Abe should tell Obama if US doesn't want to get involved then get out, now!

Feiren said...

P. S. said...

It's pretty obvious that China will nudge Japan as far as they can, until either one of the pilots makes an error or Japan's leadership can't take it anymore, and shots are fired. It Will be fun to understand the effectiveness of the respective air forces' training. The F-15 should be able to dominate the J-10, but the Suao fishing boats will not fare as well ;)

ACT said...

Mr. Turton, you might want to take a look at this:
according to the BBC, the PRC is planning a "survey" of the Senkaku islands. Unless I'm wrong, doesn't a survey usually involve actual soil and fauna samples taken directly from the area, as well as aerial photography?

yankdownunder said...

Special Report: China's military hawks take the offensive

"Since we have decided that the U.S. is bluffing in the East China Sea, we should take this opportunity to respond to these empty provocations with something real," he wrote in an August 28 commentary published in the Chinese-language edition of the Global Times, a nationalistic tabloid published by the Communist Party organ, the People's Daily.

"This includes Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan, who are the three running dogs of the United States in Asia," added Dai, a researcher at Beijing University's China Centre for Strategic Studies. "We only need to kill one, and it will immediately bring the others to heel."

"The chance of conflict in the South China Sea and East China sea this year is arguably high ... "

It isn't a question of if there will be a conflict. There already is a conflict. Started by China to seize land from other countries. The only question is when the first and last shot will be fired.