Chinese planes flew near Japanese airspace Monday to assert its claims to Japan’s Senkaku islands (China calls them the Diaoyu islands).
The move came just as Japan announced its new prime minister.
Hugh White, a professor at Australian National University and a former Australian defense official, believes this is the latest sign the two countries are heading to war.
And the U.S. will be dragged in.
Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, White says we are now witnessing the types of conditions that have historically led to war — despite conflict being in no one’s interest.
Caught in a bind that threatens an Asian war nobody wants
THIS is how wars usually start: with a steadily escalating stand-off over something intrinsically worthless. So don’t be too surprised if the US and Japan go to war with China next year over the uninhabited rocks that Japan calls the Senkakus and China calls the Diaoyu islands. And don’t assume the war would be contained and short.
Of course we should all hope that common sense prevails.
It seems almost laughably unthinkable that the world’s three richest countries – two of them nuclear-armed – would go to war over something so trivial. But that is to confuse what starts a war with what causes it. The Greek historian Thucydides first explained the difference almost 2500 years ago. He wrote that the catastrophic Peloponnesian War started from a spat between Athens and one of Sparta’s allies over a relatively insignificant dispute. But what caused the war was something much graver: the growing wealth and power of Athens, and the fear this caused in Sparta.