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.

1 comment:

Chris C. said...

Have disputes over minor islands ever turned into real wars? I'm trying to think of any examples... and drawing a blank at the moment. I guess you could argue the Winter War involved some disputed and strategic islands, but usually the territory under dispute is something more than a deserted island.