Are We Really Committed To War Against China Over Some Disputed Islands?

We are committing ourselves to a forever war in Afghanistan, to more drone strikes, and to still imposing regime change in Syria. But, in the midst of those and other commitments we are also saying we will go to war with China on behalf of Japan. Seriously.

In a move that US ally Japan branded as “very dangerous,” China said it was setting up the “air defense identification zone” over the islands administered by Tokyo to “guard against potential air threats.”

In similar statements, Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said that the United States was “deeply concerned” about the moves by China, which also scrambled air force jets to carry out a patrol mission in the newly declared zone…

“We urge China not to implement its threat to take action against aircraft that do not identify themselves or obey orders from Beijing,” Kerry said.

Hagel reiterated that the Japanese-administered Senkaku islands – which the Chinese claim and call the Diaoyu – fell under the US-Japan security treaty, meaning that Washington would defend its ally Tokyo if the area is attacked….

“We are in close consultation with our allies and partners in the region, including Japan. We remain steadfast in our commitments to our allies and partners,” Hagel said.

The defense chief made clear that the United States, which stations more than 70,000 troops in Japan and South Korea, would not respect China’s declaration of control over the zone.

“This announcement by the People’s Republic of China will not in any way change how the United States conducts military operations in the region,” Hagel said…

Japan last year nationalized the islands last year and has vowed not to cede sovereignty or even to acknowledge a dispute with China, accusing its growing neighbor of trying to change the status quo through intimidation.

China and Taiwan both claim the islands, which fall near potentially energy-rich waters.

The United States says that it has no position on the islands’ ultimate sovereignty but believes that they are currently under Japanese administration.

So, we don’t even agree with Japan’s claims on the islands, but we are willing to actually commit the American people to war against China over those islands. The Japanese nationalized the islands last year, but we accuse China of changing the status quo. (Not to mention that the whole point of Obama’s “Asian pivot” is to change the status quo and box China in.)

Why do you think that Japan suddenly nationalized those islands and then refused “even to acknowledge a dispute with China”? It isn’t hard to figure out. They did it because they were confident that the United States Federal Government would back them up.

Consider a bit of history:

The dispute over these uninhabited specks in the East China Sea islands goes back to the Sino-Japan War of 1895 when Tokyo wrested them from Beijing. In 1971, the Americans — caught up in the Cold War and refusing to recognize communist China —  made the matter a lot more complex by ignoring two post-World War II treaties requiring Japan to return its conquests to their original owners, and instead handed the islands over to Japan.

Frankly, it is reckless endangerment to commit the US to hostilities over these islands. We have already enough useless and self-destructive engagements across the world right now.