World View: Obama Says U.S. Will Defend Japan over Senkaku Islands

World View: Obama Says U.S. Will Defend Japan over Senkaku Islands

This morning’s key headlines from

  • France plans to keep young people from going to Syria for jihad
  • Obama says U.S. will defend Japan over Senkaku Islands
  • Warring Palestinian factions announce a reconciliation agreement

France plans to keep young people from going to Syria for jihad

I’ve written many times how disastrous Russia’s policy has been,supplying unlimited amounts of heavy weapons to Syria’s genocidalmonster president, Bashar al-Assad, who is conducting “industrialstrength” torture and extermination on his own civilians, particularlytargeting innocent Sunni women and children. This has enraged Sunnisthroughout the world. As a result, Syria has become a worldwidemagnet for would-be jihadists and terrorists, who go to Syriafor training before returning to make use of their new skillsin their homelands. 

France estimates that about 700 French citizens or residents have goneto Syria for training and to fight against al-Assad. Young people inFrance see the war as revolutionaries fighting against a dictatorshipthat’s killing its people. 

The administration of president François Hollande on Wednesdayannounced a new set of measures to stop young people from going toSyria and becoming Islamic radicals. Some of the measures are:

  • Intelligence services will increase surveillance of web sites showing how to make explosives, or which recuit people for armed groups.
  • Parents and family members will be asked to alert authorities if a relative has been attending fundamentalist mosques or visiting radical websites.
  • “Strong intuition” that someone is thinking of going abroad to fight will be sufficient grounds for putting them on police records, some of which will be shared with other European countries.

This all sounds a bit 1984-ish, but it’s the way things are going.Radio France Internationale (RFI)

Obama says U.S. will defend Japan over Senkaku Islands

A few weeks ago we reported that U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel,visiting Japan, failed to reaffirm its mutual defense treaty with Japan and that the U.S. woulddefend Japan if China attacked the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. But onWednesday, President Obama, visiting Japan, explicitly said that theU.S. would honor the mutual defense treaty: 

At the same time, the United States is going to dealdirectly and candidly with China on issues where we havedifferences, such as human rights. I’ve also told [China’s]President Xi [Jinping] that all our nations have an interest indealing constructively with maritime issues, including in the EastChina Sea. Disputes need to be resolved through dialogue anddiplomacy, not intimidation and coercion. The policy of the UnitedStates is clear — the Senkaku Islands are administered by Japanand therefore fall within the scope of Article 5 of the U.S. –Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. And we oppose anyunilateral attempts to undermine Japan’s administration of theseislands.

However, Obama did not say that they are Japanese sovereign islands. 

There is an increasingly widespread belief that despite anypromises, the U.S. under President Obama will not honor its agreementwhen the actual time comes. President Obama has backeddown from the role of the world’s policeman on several recent occasions,most notably when he flip-flopped on Syria’s use of chemical weapons. 

According to a Japan News newspaper editorial on Thursday: 

Perhaps one motivation for Obama’s directness is tochallenge a prevalent perception of weakness, both home andabroad. The U.S. Congress, media and think tanks have becomeharsher in their appraisal of Obama in general, particularly sinceRussian President Vladimir Putin annexed the Crimean Peninsula inUkraine last month using the threat of force asleverage.

The U.S. has also recently (in February) explicitly rejected China’sSouth China Sea, including regions that have historically belonged toother nations. However, the U.S. has ignored China’s “salami slicingstrategy,” by which it has already annexed small regions in theexpectation that the U.S. will do nothing — an expectation thatturned out to be correct. The Japan Newsand Radio Free Asia and The Japan News

Warring Palestinian factions announce a reconciliation agreement

The two Palestinian factions — Hamas, which governs Gaza, andthe Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas which governsthe West Bank — on Wednesday announced a reconciliation agreement.According to Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh: “This is the good news we tell our people: the era ofdivision is over.”

This announcement was apparently hastily negotiated by the two sides,after Abbas announced that if the Mideast peace talks fail, which nowappears to be a certainty, then he may step down and dissolve thePalestinian Authority, leaving the West Bank for Israel and the UnitedNations to govern. 

The agreement calls for new elections in the fall to elect aunity government for both the West Bank and Gaza. 

The two Palestinian factions had a major political split in 2006 andwent to war in 2007, when Hamas took control of Gaza. Two previousattempts at reconciliation failed because of disputes over powersharing. However, it’s thought that this new reconciliation attemptmight succeed for the following reasons: 

  • Abbas’s announcement he might resign and dissolve the PA shows, at the very least, that the PA has no real future. This announcement raises the possibility that the elections will put Hamas in charge of both Gaza and the West Bank, which would be a major generational change.
  • Hamas has been falling on hard times. The new government in Egypt has shut down all the smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Egypt and has declared some groups in Gaza to be terrorists.
  • Also, Hamas has lost its main financial backers, Syria and Iran, after Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, began conducting an extermination campaign again Sunni Muslim Syrians, including hundreds of thousands of women and children.

However, there are also plenty of reasons why this attempt mightfail. The differences that brought them to war in the first placeare still there. 

Israel has called off any further peace talks with Abbas on thegrounds that Israel can’t negotiate with a group, Hamas, that is committed to the destruction of Israel. BBC andReuters

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, France, Toulouse, Nicolas Bons, Jean Daniel,Syria, Bashar al-Assad, François HollandeJapan, Senkaku, Diaoyu, Chuck Hagel, China,Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security,Russia, Crimea, Vladimir Putin,Hamas, Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, Ismail Haniyeh 

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