Skip to comments.Patrick Buchanan: Are The Senkakus Worth A War? – OpEd
Posted on 12/13/2013 6:21:12 AM PST by Colonel Kangaroo
By Patrick J Buchanan
December 13, 2013
The U.S.-Japan Mutual Security Treaty of 1960 obligates the United States to treat any armed attack against any territories under the administration of Japan as dangerous to [America's] own peace and safety. This would cover such islets as the Senkakus also claimed by Beijing.
So this author wrote 15 years ago in A Republic Not an Empire.
And so it has come to pass. The United States, because of this 53-year-old treaty, is today in the middle of a quarrel between Japan and China over these very rocks in the East China Sea.
This Senkakus dispute, which has warships and planes of both nations circling each other around and above the islands, could bring on a shooting war. And if it does, America would be in it.
Yet why should this be Americas quarrel?
The USSR of Nikita Khrushchev and the China of Mao Zedong, the totalitarian Communist states against whom we were committed to defend Japan, are dead and gone.
Why, then, are we still obligated to defend not only Japan, but all of its island possessions? Why were the treaties that committed us to go to war for scores of nations in the Truman-Eisenhower era not dissolved, when the threat that gave rise to those treaties disappeared?
The commonest error in politics is sticking to the carcass of dead policies, said Lord Salisbury. Of no nation is that truer than 21st-century America.
For some reason, we cannot let go. We seem so taken with our heroic role in the late Cold War that we cannot give it up, though the world has moved on.
Following Chinas declaration of an air defense identification zone over the Senkakus [Diaoyu to China], South Korea declared its own ADIZ, which overlaps upon those of both China and Japan.
South Korea is also in a quarrel with China over a submerged reef in the Yellow Sea known as Ieodo, but to China, Suyan. Seoul has built a maritime research station on the reef, the value of which is enhanced by the oil and gas deposits in the surrounding seabed.
These clashing claims of Beijing and Seoul could present problems for us for, under our 1953 mutual security treaty, an attack on South Korean territory is to be regarded as dangerous to [America's] own peace and safety.
Thus far, Chinas response to South Koreas ADIZ has been muted. For Beijings focus is on Japan.
However, South Korea also has a long-running dispute with Tokyo over an island chain in the Sea of Japan.
To the Koreans these islands are Dokdo, to the Japanese, Takeshima.
What we have here, then, are three overlapping air defense identification zones of China, Japan and South Korea and three territorial disputes between China and Japan, China and South Korea, and Japan and South Korea.
And all three nations claim the right to fly warplanes into these zones, and to deny access to foreign warplanes.
America has little control over these countries, all of which have new governments that are increasingly nationalistic.
And this week there appeared an even more ominous cloud.
North Koreas 30-year-old ruler Kim Jong-un, who has been purging his party and army, ousted, on charges of corruption, his uncle and mentor Jang Song Thaek, the second-most powerful man in the regime.
Kim reportedly had two of Jangs aides executed, and he is now massing ships and planes along his western sea border with South Korea, a site of previous clashes between North and South.
Kim may also be about to conduct a fourth nuclear test.
Any collision between North and South could instantly involve the United States, which, 60 years after the end of the Korean War, still has 28,500 troops on the peninsula, with thousands right up on the Demilitarized Zone.
And, lest we forget, the United States has a 1951 security treaty with the Philippines that obliges us to come to the defense of those islands. Yet, Manila, too, is involved in a dispute over islets such as Mischief Reef and Scarborough Shoal in a South China Sea that has been declared sovereign territory by Beijing.
The U.S. security treaties with Manila and Tokyo were entered into to defend those countries against a Sino-Soviet bloc that no longer exists.
Our treaty with Seoul was signed when South Korea was ravaged and destitute after three years of war. Today, the South has twice the population and 40 times the economy of the North. Why are we still there?
Neither U.S. political party has shown the least interest in reviewing these open-ended war guarantees, though it seems certain that one of these 50- or 60-year-old commitments will one day drag us into a confrontation if not a major war.
U.S. foreign policy today appears rooted less in U.S. vital interests than in nostalgia for the Cold War. As Dean Acheson said of the British half a century ago, so, it seems to be true of us:
The Americans have lost an empire and not yet found a role.
GW...George Washington... wasn’t crazy when he warned about “entangling alliances.” They led to WW I.
That said I do not think this president is capable of doing anything convincingly.
Lets back down there like in Afghanistan, Iran, Egypt, Syria, Turkey.... totally give up to get along. Give the southwest back to Mexico. Give the Louisiana purchase back to France. Give Alaska back to Russia. Lets shut down all our energy operations to give up to Saudi Arabia/OPEC. This would give the liberals their UTOPIA in the cold and dark.
Is the Sudentanland worth a war?
Why die for Danzig?
They're testing us.
Its time to stop pretending that China is doing anything other than attempting to take over half the world by any means at their disposal
You’re dating yourself...
The issue in WWI was inherently conflicting interests and Great Power competition. The “entangling alliances” merely formalized those factors.
The only Power for which I’m aware that the existence of an alliance played a possibly definitive factor in its entering the War was UK and its guarantee of Belgium.
Yet even this claim falls apart on examination. Would UK really have been willing to stand by and watch as Germany took over Belgium and France, the likely result of a war with UK neutral? When this violated UK standard foreign policy going back many centuries of opposing any power that seemed likely to gain unchallenged hegemony on the Continent?
IMO, the definitive factor in the outbreak of general war was Germany’s belief (probably accurate) that their relative position vs. France and Russia was at its peak, and would only decline in future years as Russia’s political and economic reforms bore fruit. If Germany was to dominate Europe and the world, it needed to strike NOW.
This was a classic example of a pre-emptive war, just as Japan’s attack on the US was, and for very much the same reason. As such, they were example of offensive tactics used in what was perceived as a defensive strategy.
It should be noted that several countries, such as Italy, ignored their “entangling alliances” and acted in what they saw as their own interests.
Really? And who do you think won that war?
Not a bit of our business.
China IS going to regain status as a major economic and military power in the world. I don’t blame them for seeing it as their right to be a superpower.
We got into a world of hurt before getting involved in struggles between Japan and China.
The entirety of southeast Asia is not worth he blood of one American seaman.
War comes from weakness, not strength.
Let’s keep showing strength.
Then, war will not come.
No one lives on these rocks that China and Japan have disputed for centuries.
But if we endlessly show strength on the other side of the world we are dissipating the strength needed to protect the vital points closer to home. The military proverb says if you try to defend everywhere, you end up defending nothing.
In the mid 90’s the reds were firing ballistic missiles over Taiwan. We shouldn’t make more of this than it is.
I don't know if war is necessary - but we should definitely explore the options.
My understanding is China never contested ownership of the Senkakus until 69 when oil was discovered.
If we revisit the treaty with Japan, we also have to revisit the parts that limit their own military. That was the trade-off we made.
Pat may be old, but he’s as sharp as a tack, especially where foreign policy is concerned. The perfect antidote to the Krauthammers and Podhoretzes of the world.
Quemoy and Matsu: that’s when Richard M. Nixon let JFK look aggressive in defense of the homeland
Japan will find a work-around if they feel threatened, or doubt the US umbrella, treaty or no treaty. What are we going to do, enforce it? Our government would probably applaud.
Germany had such a treaty with the Austrians if memory serves.
Pat is 75; just four years older than Newton Gingrich.
The Dual Alliance?
“Is the Sudentanland worth a war?
Why die for Danzig?”
“We got into a world of hurt before getting involved in struggles between Japan and China.”
The answer is to cancel all such security pact trip wires that mean war.
BTW Is the Tea party in favor of growing government and spending for war or are they just for whacking Americans?
Just turn around the Walmart Navy.
Go long Mexico, it will become the new China.
What about all those US government securities in Beijing’s basement?
What if they fire across a bow? Or we do?
Where does this go?
So now Pat is shilling for the Chinese Communsts.
How low can he go?
And if it is, the Japanese need to pony up. Men, money, materiel.
The Senkakus are NOT independently the issue, and Mr Buchanan is not ignorant of that fact.
The Senkakus are but one of many such long territorial disagreements (in the oceans) between China and other Asian nations, as well as between two or more of those other Asian nations.
The difference is that most of those disagreements have not until recently generated much in the way of military confrontations involving the navies of Asia.
China has changed that.
It is attempting to bully those with whom it has such disagreements, even when its claims are much less feasible that could conceivably be the case with the respect to the Senkakus. Earlier this year it sailed a group of military vessels into the waters off the shore of an atoll that is just 90 miles from Malaysia and more than 1,000 miles from any piece of Chinese territory, just to announce to Malaysia that, if it wanted to, it would defend it’s (China’s) claim on the area.
It has taken similar moves with respect to the Philippines and Vietnam.
Then, as though to insure unhindered prospects for this bullying it has declared a swath of international waters as a security zone it will demand other nations give it, China, deference to in their transit through it.
The issue is not, independently, the Sekakus, or any other group of islands claimed by anyone.
The issue is whether China will be allowed to bully everyone into agreements on these issues to its satisfaction or will it be forced to make comprehensive and peaceful multi-national agreements with the rest of Asia.
China wants to bully nations into one-on-one agreements, offering both carrots and sticks in some cases, and even when such an agreement results in the same claims by other parties left out, and in effect dividing Asian nations outside of China from each other and from a common cause of obtaining settlements agreed to by all.
Chinese nationalism wants to pretend, to the Chinese populace, that its bullying is necessary for the expanding Chinese economy and its need for raw materials. This is imperialist mercantilist nationalism no different than Japan’s in the first forty decades of the last century. After WWII Japan learned that through peaceful and cooperative trade it could obtain the outside resources its economy needed, that demanding them by force was unnecessary.
The issue is not the Sekakus. Buchanan is an idiot.
If China is not careful she could become this century’s version of last century’s Japan, with the attendent backlash in Asia and the world that goes with it.
Flying B-52’s through that airspace isn’t “disipating” anything!
Adding fighter escorts isn’t either!
Let’s let the ‘chopstick countries’ sort things out for themselves.
I wouldn’t say ‘I don’t care’, but I will say it’s not worth one cent of taxpayer money or one drop of American blood. A lot of people forget that getting in the (profitable) middle of Chain vs. Japan in the 20’s and 30’s didn’t turn out too well.
“They werent worth a war, as far as the USA was concerned. Oahu was...”
Well....no, not Oahu, China. You ignore the oil embargo that drove the Japanese attack in the first place. Despite being warned very clearly by the Japanese that an embargo was their red line for war, the USA decided that China was worth a war with Japan and imposed the embargo. It’s a strange reversal from the situation today.
Sudentanland and Danzig, indeed.
Why in the WORLD do we care about these God-forsaken islands?