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Rock Fight -- James Holmes, Foreign Policy
Japan could win a war for the Senkaku islands, but it wouldn't be easy. And certainly not without U.S. help.
In recent weeks, Japan and China have squared off over who owns a minor group of islands in the East China Sea. The unthinkable -- a perilous maritime war for seemingly trivial stakes -- no longer appears unthinkable. So how do you defend a group of uninhabited rocks and islets like the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands?
Mainly by positioning yourself to win the air and sea battle around the disputed archipelago. The obvious way to ward off attack -- stationing garrisons and artillery on the tiny, resource-poor islands -- should be a secondary measure. And it would likely prove a losing one, absent superiority in nearby seas and skies. Forces left ashore without external support would find themselves stranded and outgunned, not to mention hungry and thirsty.
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My Comment: China will probably win a military confrontation (if the U.S. does not get involved), but the repercussions would be a disaster for not only China's economy, but for it's soon to be new leadership who are trying their best to signal to the rest of the world that China has "come of age" in international relations.