New Asian Tensions Rooted In Old Grudges

Recent Tensions In Asia Have Roots In The Past
The recent increase in tensions among Asian nations have less to do with any actual disagreement over territory, says Jonathan Tepperman in The New York Times.

Rather, Tepperman contends, the region continues to be haunted by the ghosts of events that occurred during the first half of the 20th century when “a rapidly modernizing Japan set out to establish itself against the imperial European powers by brutally carving out and exploiting an empire of its own in Korea, Northern China and elsewhere.”

In an area where cultures are so invested in “saving face,” it is easy for today’s politicians to stoke animosities for political gain. It seems to outsides that it would be easy to apologize for historic wrongs, yet Japanese politicians see no domestic political gain in doing so. And they are not alone.

“Japan’s neighbors, meanwhile, are just as guilty of exploiting the past for present ends. For all China’s talk about lost sovereignty, for example, it’s no coincidence that Beijing only started expressing interest in the Diaoyu/Senkaku after a United Nations survey suggested the presence of oil nearby in 1969. Chinese politicians also know that playing the victim card goes over very well at home. Stoking resentful patriotism is a handy way to distract the population from a raft of social and environmental problems and the hollowing-out of China’s communist ideals,” he writes.

Remembering Foreign Policy Author/Analyst Kenneth Waltz
On May 12, author Kenneth Waltz died but his impact on international relations political theory will last for generations. Waltz, who was best known for this theory that a “measured spread” of nuclear weapons had a stabilizing effect because it would compel states to behave responsibly.

Another of his famed theories posited that the distribution of capabilities, rather than their culture or the nature of their political systems, determined the stability of the system,” writes Michael Desch in The National Interest.

“Despite its alleged failure to anticipate the end of the Cold War, Waltz’s structural theory was also relevant to the post-Cold War debate about U.S. primacy. Whereas Waltz saw bipolarity as stable and enduring, the logic of his structural theory led him to predict that the U.S.’s “unipolar moment” was likely to be fleeting because other states would eventually balance against us.”

Dr. Waltz also was the author of Theory of International Politics (1979) and the co-author, with scholar Scott D. Sagan, of “The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: A Debate” (1995).

Last year, Foreign Affairs magazine published Dr. Waltz’s article “Why Iran Should Get the Bomb.”

Weekend Reads

Christian Science Monitor makes the case for reforming US policy on delivering food aid.

Does Africa hold the solutions to global climate change problems?

In responding to the Woolwich attacks this week, The Financial Times’ David Gardner says security agencies can detect large-scale threats, but it is an open society that is better equipped at identifying lone wolves.

 

 

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