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World View – Panetta: China and Japan Heading Toward War

World View – Panetta: China and Japan Heading Toward War

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Violent anti-Japan protests in China spread to more cities
  • Taiwan rejects China’s request to join forces against Japan
  • Leon Panetta says that China and Japan are heading toward war
  • Jund al-Sharia jihadists clash with Egypt’s army in Sinai
  • Bangkok Thailand may become a modern-day Atlantis
  • Europeans have mixed emotions about President Obama’s foreign policy

Violent anti-Japan protests in China spread to more cities

Thousands of Chinese held demonstrations, some of them violent,against Japan’s claims to the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, in cities acrossChina. Japanese officials warned citizens in China not to taxis aloneor speak loudly in Japanese while in public. In some cities, Japanesefactories, grocery shops, restaurants and car dealerships were damagedor looted. In Beijing, over a thousand marchers hurled water bottlesat the Japanese embassy, chanting, “Knock down the little Japanese,”The protests are expected to continue at least through Tuesday,the 81st anniversary of Japan’s 1931 invasion of Manchuria. 

Demonstrations also spread to some American cities. About 1,000people, organized by the Houston Diaoyu Islands Coalition, gatheredSaturday morning at Chinatown in Houston to assert China’s ownershipof the Sankaku/Diaoyu Islands. In Chicago’s Chinatown, more than 60overseas Chinese organizations and business entities joined force inorganizing anti-Japan protests on Saturday. LA Times and China Radio International

Taiwan rejects China’s request to join forces against Japan

Japan calls them the Sankaku Islands, and China calls them theDiaoyu Islands. But Taiwan also claims them as being part ofTaiwan (as opposed to mainland China), and Taiwan calls themthe Diaoyutai Islands. Beijing considers Taiwan to be partof mainland China, and so has no objections to Taiwan’sclaims on the disputed islands. China is requestingthat Taiwan cooperate with Beijing in opposing Japan’sclaims to the islands. But a Taiwanese official responded: 

The Republic of China [Taiwan] has indisputablesovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands. In light of thelong-running sovereignty dispute across the Taiwan Strait, theidea of cross-strait cooperation to resolve the territorial row isunseemly.

Taipai Times

Leon Panetta says that China and Japan are heading toward war

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta warned that Asiancountries could end up in war if governments keep up their

I am concerned that when these countries engage inprovocations of one kind or another over these various islands,that it raises the possibility that a misjudgment on one side orthe other could result in violence, and could result inconflict.

And that conflict would then have the potential ofexpanding.

Panetta made the remarks as he traveled to Asia, where he plans tovisit Japan, China and New Zealand.

To anyone who has been closely following this issue, as I have, it’sperfectly clear that Panetta is right. China is provoking militaryconfrontations with the Japanese near the Sankaku/Diaoyu/DiaoyutaiIslands, and will not back down under any circumstances, while abackdown by Japan would be extremely humiliating and destabilizing.AFP

Jund al-Sharia jihadists clash with Egypt’s army in Sinai

When Hosni Mubarak was president of Egypt, he was able to keep theSinai, the region near the border with Israel populated by Bedouins,under tight control. Since Mubarak’s overthrow, the Sinai has becomeincreasingly lawless, and infiltrated by al-Qaeda linked militants,particularly Jund al-Sharia in recent months. On August 5, armedmilitants ambushed and killed 16 Egyptian soldiers on the border withIsrael. The public was furious with the new president Mohamed Morsiespecially when it was revealed that Israeli intelligence had warnedthe Egyptians in advance that an attack was coming. Morsi reacted bysend army units into the Sinai to root out the militants, but theeffort has been largely a failure. 

On Sunday, al-Qaeda linked militants attacked Egypt’s securityheadquarters in northern Sinai with machine guns and mortar bombs andfought troops elsewhere in the desert region, killing one soldier andwounding seven. Two days earlier, on Friday, militias stormed a basehousing the international peacekeeping force, the Multinational Forceand Observers (MFO), wounding four. The MFO was established in 1981to implement the 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. The basehas some 1000 MFO personnel, mostly Colombian and Fijian, and iscommanded by the U.S. It’s believed that Jund al-Sharia wasresponsible for all these attacks. Long War Journal and Australian AP and Israel National News 

Debka, which sometimes gets things wrong, is quoting its militaryintelligence sources as saying that Sunday’s attacks by Salafi Bedouinand al-Qaeda militia market a major and dangerous escalation in theSinai situation, and that the jihadists now plan to attack Israelitargets. Debka assigns the blame to a different al-Qaeda linkedgroup, the Army of Islam, which it says are now “at the forefront ofthe violent Islamist protest against the United States sweeping acrossthe Middle East and Asia.” Debka notes that because of otherinternational issues, there is little public knowledge of the trueimpact. Debka

Bangkok Thailand may become a modern-day Atlantis

Last year’s floods were Thailand’s worst disaster in living memory.Since then, the country has been doing as much as possible to preventa recurrence. Water management through Bangkok has been improved,including the dredging of over 500 kilometers of canals inBangkok. Reinforced walls have been built around industrial centers,after worldwide availability of hard disks and other computercomponents was crippled over flooding at Bangkok factories forcompanies like Hitachi, Nikon, Sony and Honda. But in the long run,it’s a losing battle. The increasing population is sucking up groundwater, causing parts of Bangkok to sink further. And architecturefirm made headlines recently when it designed a Bangkok cityscapefloating on water. By 2030, Bangkok may have become a modern-dayAtlantis. The Diplomat

Europeans have mixed emotions about President Obama’s foreign policy

In my opinion, Barack Obama’s most important speech in the 2008campaign was his speech in Berlin, which I wrote about in July, 2008,in “Barack Obama in Berlin calls for greater European militarism.” The German press said thatcrowds. What was obvious at the time was that the German people andthe German press paid no attention to what Obama was actually saying,which was highly militaristic, but with promises to significantlyimprove America’s image in the Arab and Muslim world. 

Today, the German press are saying that Obama’s Mideast policies havefailed and “Obama’s Middle East policy is in ruins,” although the samecommentators hasten to add that Mitt Romney’s reaction was “not justnonsense, but partisan maneuvering.” One German commentator wrote ofthe Arab nations, “America hardly has influence in the region anylonger, and now sees itself confronted with anti-American sentiment inplaces where it no longer controls the dictators. Meanwhile, forcesthat simultaneously exploit and spurn America are gaining influence.”

However, there is still one group of Europeans that unabashedly adorePresident Obama – the minorities in France. Obama’s 2008 victory hadan explosive impact here, shining a harsh light on the dearth ofFrench blacks or Arabs in positions of power and offering thecountry’s minorities a new source of inspiration. For example,Anthony Borval, a 29 year old black Frenchman of Caribbean descent,says:

It was intense, I felt almost American. Obamaindirectly sent us a message that anything was possible, a messageof hope for minorities in France, where it’s difficult for us tosucceed…

His victory taught French people of colour to believe inourselves. Today, I still feel great pride that anAfrican-American is running the world’s superpower.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, if you ignorerhetoric, then there’s little difference in outcomes if Obama’s firstterm had instead been President Bush’s third term. What I think isinteresting about this situation is the difference betweenimportant in the current election. Polls indicate that Obama is farmore “likable” than Romney, but many Obama supporters are extremelydisillusioned about Obama’s policies.

A historical example of this difference is Winston Churchill. He wasnot well liked, but he became prime minister because of his policiestoward the Nazis. Churchill was still disliked during WWII and wasthrown out of office a nanosecond after the war ended. So as a newworld war approaches, anyone still alive when the war ends will haveleave to contemplate the roles that likability and policy played inthe war. Spiegel and France 24

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