Why a War Between China and Japan Would Be Sheer Chaos
A fight over seemingly minor stakes, then, could mushroom into a major conflagration arraying China against the US-Japan alliance. How much passion would an East China Sea imbroglio rouse among the combatants? China and Japan would be all in. Disputes involving sovereignty -- particularly territory and resources -- tend to drive the perceived value of the political object through the roof. Tokyo and Beijing, moreover, are acutely conscious that the post-1895 status quo is in play. In Clausewitzian parlance, goals of such value merit open-ended efforts of potentially vast magnitude.
American fervor is the key unknown. The United States could be conflicted about its part in a protracted endeavor. It could confront a mismatch between compelling yet seemingly abstract interests, and popular apathy toward these interests. Freedom to use the global commons is indubitably a vital U.S. interest. So is standing beside friends in peril. Everyman would doubtless agree if you put these questions to him. But how many rank-and-file citizens truly grok the system's importance to their daily lives? Few, one suspects.
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WNU Editor: Saying it would be "sheer chaos" is an understatement if there ever was one.