Monday, September 20, 2010
Random Islands, Not So Random Conflict
This is the first I have heard of this dispute: China and Japan squaring off over some disputed islands. It is not clear that the islands have any intrinsic value, but it appears to be the case that the realists do have some insights here--rising power and declining power have friction as one wants to take advantage of its new status and the other is concerned about precisely that process. Sprinkle in some Chinese nationalism and voila: territorial conflict over random islands. This will not lead to war, but it bodes poorly for the future. Chinese leaders are definitely none too shy about stretching the country's muscles. At some point, misperceptions of capability and resolve may lead to more than just friction.