Friday, October 01, 2010


"Wen Jiabao, China’s premier, has brushed aside Japan’s call for calm in a dispute over a detained Chinese ship captain, threatening retaliation unless Tokyo “immediately” released the man recently picked up in disputed waters.

In the first comments on the diplomatic row by a senior Chinese leader, Mr Wen said Japan was “solely responsible” for the “severe damage” done to bi-lateral relations by the incident. If Japan clings to its mistake, China will take further actions and the Japanese side shall bear all the consequences that arise,” Mr Wen said.

The Chinese premier was speaking to a group of Chinese citizens and Chinese-Americans after his arrival in New York on Tuesday to attend meetings at the UN. Naoto Kan, the Japanese prime minister, reiterated his call to China to deal with the matter calmly, before leaving for New York where he is also scheduled to attend UN meetings.

Mr Wen said it was “downright illegal and unjustifiable” for Japan to detain the Chinese fishermen because the islands – known in Chinese as Diaoyu and in Japanese as Senkaku – are 'China’s sacred territory'".

"Wen turns up heat in row with Japanese," 22 September 2010 in

"The commonality of interest is no guarantee of common action. That is where we see our central challenge. When nations fail to cooperate, even though it is in their interests to do so, we face what my former colleagues in the Academy call ‘the collective action problem’: challenges of the commons, free‑riders, incentives to the fact and others. Nations, including sometimes even the United States, define their self-interests too narrowly. They allow mistrust to trump common interest, and they disagree about how to share of the gains generated by cooperation and apportion the burdens....

It is especially important that we manage the inevitable tensions that will rise as these powers grow and expand their military capability. That is why we place such importance on establishing a more durable and effective military-to-military dialogue with China. Both sides recognise the importance of strategic trust, but without dialogue we cannot provide the kind of reassurance that will allow us to avoid the trap of great power competition. It is vital that China restores the military-to-military dialogue with us. This should not be a bargaining chip. It builds trust, prevents miscalculation, and lets both sides address our disagreements, including in areas like the South China Sea and Yellow Sea....

To an important degree, our ability to achieve these positive sum outcomes with emerging powers will depend on our ability to go beyond these important bilateral engagements, to construct the kind of regional and global arrangements in which we embed our bilateral ties and foster needed cooperation. That is the third pillar of our approach, and nowhere is that strategy more evident than our deepened engagement in Asia....

Similarly, the strong international response following last year’s North Korean nuclear test, and our own efforts to strengthen security ties with our Northeast Asian allies following the sinking of the Cheonan, offer at least some prospect of moving forward there. Our own recent dialogue with Chinese counterparts convinces me that China shares our view on the urgency of the North Korean nuclear question, and, at bottom, recognition that China cannot achieve its desired goal of stability on the Korean peninsula and the avoidance of further proliferation in the region so long as North Korea continues to pursue its nuclear and missile programmes.

I see a glass that is more than half full, from the global efforts on the economic crisis to the Copenhagen Protocol to the Nuclear Security Summit and the international reaction to Iran and North Korea. I believe that President Obama and Secretary Clinton’s commitment to the twin pillars of global cooperation and U.S. leadership have played an important role in moving these agendas forward".

James B. Steinberg,"Global Security Governance and the Emerging Distribution of Power,"
11 September 2010, in

A different attitude towards strategy exists in Asia, where major countries are emerging into confident nationhood, and the term ‘national interest’ has no pejorative implication. For example, China has announced a number of ‘core interests’ which are, in essence, non-negotiable and for which China is prepared to fight, if necessary. India has not been similarly explicit, but it has, by its conduct in the region it considers vital, shown a propensity for strategic analysis more comparable to 19th century and early 20th century Europe than the dominant trends in Europe today. I have personal experience of the ferocity [with] which countries like Vietnam vindicate their definition of the national interest.

In these circumstances, the classic concept of collective security is difficult to apply. The proposition that all nations have a common interest in the maintenance of peace, and that a well-conceived international system, through its institutions, can mobilise the international community on its behalf, has not been borne out by experience. The current participants in the international system are too diffuse to permit identical, or even symmetrical, convictions sufficient to organise an effective global collective security system on many key issues, including nuclear proliferation. A good example has been the impossibility of achieving a common definition of what took place in a very constricted area of the shores of South Korea a few months ago.

Henry A. Kissinger, "Keynote Address," 10 September 2010, in

"By the Anglo-American Convention regarding Egypt and Morocco England is the gaining party in Egypt, and France in Morocco....It is the duty of a Great Power not merely to protect its territorial frontiers, but also the interests lying outside them. In this sense all interests are to be held justified, which are not opposed by another and stronger right. We can never admit that France, as Morocco's neighbour, has a stronger right to Morocco than we have....If we let ourselves be trampled on in Morocco, we shall encourage them to do it again elsewhere."

Freiherr von Holstein, "Memorandum," 3 June 1904, in German Diplomatic Documents, 1871-1914, Edited & Translated by E.T.S. Dugdale, Volume II, pp. 220-221.

The events dealing with the Sino-Japanese dispute (now somewhat settled via a partial Japanese capitulation to Peking), highlight points made by former American Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in his speech referenced above. Namely that contrary to those who posited that we were entering into a Leibnizian, best of all possible worlds as it relates to International relations, should think once again. That far from say Peking or even for that matter New Delhi, being willing to play the role of ‘responsible stakeholders’, in the existing International system, both powers are firm adherents, both in the past and currently of real politik and machtpolitik, `a la Holstein. Indeed, one can well imagine that Holstein would have engineered the sort of diplomatic force majeure that Peking has recently employed vis-`a-vis Japan. If nothing else, this incident demonstrates that the new American ‘National Security Strategy’ document, unveiled earlier this year, fully deserve British emigre historian, Paul Kennedy’s characterization of it as: ‘especially vacuous’ (For this document see: 'National Security Strategy,' 27 May 2010, in With Kennedy noting that ‘since the Bush-Baker-Scowcroft team, nobody in Washington thinks strategically’ (see: Paul Kennedy, “Rise & Fall,” The World Today (August-September 2010), p. 9. All one can say is that while there are opportunities available to the Americans to exploit diplomatically both the diplomatic primitivism of both Peking and New Delhi, that does require that the USA, think and act ‘strategically’. Failing which, look for a real return of the Hobbenesian ‘omnium bellum contra omnes, in International politics.’


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