Sleeping Demons Have Begun to Stir: The threat of war in western Pacific

It’s been 68 years since World War II ended in the sudden, fierce glow of the second atomic bomb. Since that moment we’ve become accustomed to the relative stability of a world where conflict between the superpowers has seemed unthinkable. But the sleeping demons have again begun to stir.

China appears increasingly ready to assert territorial demands that have, until recently, remained dormant. Its rhetoric has become increasingly strident, accompanied by physical occupation of territory. The possibility of conflict over something stupid is increasing. China is particularly exercised about asserting its right to barren rocks; the so-called second island chain running from the South China Sea north to Japan. The dispute is ostensibly about oil reserves on the seabed and fishing rights.

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But it’s also about China’s rightful place in the world and how it will deal with its neighbours. The problem is that the danger of an unintentional, accidental clash suddenly escalating into a shooting war is mounting daily. Exacerbating this is the perceived military advantage of a first strike. The amazing precision of missiles offers massive rewards to the side that gets its shots off first. An enemy fleet can be destroyed before it’s even aware it’s in danger.

Demons of war resurface in western Pacific

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