EYELESS IN THE ORIENT OR BIDEN IN JAPAN?
"Joe Biden, the US vice-president, on Tuesday sharply criticised China’s declaration of a new air defence zone over the East China Sea, but stopped short of joining Japanese leaders in demanding that the zone be scrapped. In Tokyo at the start of an Asian tour that will take him to Beijing on Wednesday, Mr Biden sought to reassure Japan, the US’s most important military ally in Asia, that it would defend the country against any overt aggression from an increasingly assertive China. But even as he reiterated that the US was “deeply concerned” that China’s declaration of a wide air defence identification zone in November risked “accidents and miscalculations”, he did not demand that the perimeter be formally withdrawn – something Japan has said it wants but to which analysts say Beijing is extremely unlikely to agree. “I told the prime minister that we will remain steadfast in our alliance commitments,” Mr Biden told a joint news conference after a meeting with Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister. He also urged Japan and China to improve communication and crisis management procedures to avoid any escalation of military tensions".Jonathan Soble, Demetri Sevastopulo and Geoff Dyer, "Biden fails to back Japan on call to scrap China's new air defence zone." The Financial Times. 4 December 2013, in www.ft.com. [Nota bene: the online edition has a revised headline].
"Much of the coverage of China’s November 23 announcement of a new Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over waters claimed by Japan and South Korea has focused on the reactive and blundering nature of Chinese diplomacy. China’s sudden insistence on its right to take defensive action against foreign aircraft in this zone, the argument goes, was either an attempt to play to domestic nationalism or else to respond to Japan’s own increasing assertiveness in the region. Either way, the coverage concludes, China underestimated how quickly and vigorously other countries in the region would respond, including with flights directly into that airspace. The implication of this analysis, which may be tempting to the overstretched Obama administration, is that Beijing made a hasty move that the region will now correct with a little help from Washington. Unfortunately for the administration, however, this was not just an ill-conceived slap by Beijing against a testy Japan. The reality is that the new ADIZ is part of a longer-term attempt by Beijing to chip away at the regional status quo and assert greater control over the East and South China Seas."Michael J. Green, "Safeguarding the Seas: How to Defend Against China's New Air Defense Zone." Foreign Affairs. 2 December 2013, in www.foreignaffairs.com.
"Promise was that I Should Israel from Philistian yoke deliver; Ask for this great deliverer now, and find him eyeless in Gaza at the Mill with slaves."John Milton. Samson Agonistes (1671). There are few choice mots which one may employ in describing American Vice-President Biden's performance in the Far East so far this week. Maladroit and wrongheaded seem to me to be at the head of the list. As the Michael Green correctly notes, Peking's aim in its dispute with Japan over the Senkuku Islands is to change the status quo ante. Pur et simple there are no other words to describe what Peking's aims are in this matter. And to reiterate what I have already stated on a number of occasions in this journal, the only realpolitik and indeed machtpolitik policy by the Western Powers is to indicate both directly and indirectly that any endeavor by Peking to change the territorial status quo ante will be resisted, by if need be the ultima ratio: force. It is that, and not disgustingly servile and craven appeasement policies `a la British Prime Minister, David Cameron which are now truly needed in this affair 1. 1. Jonathan Mirsky, "David Cameron’s craven surrender to China follows a pattern." The Spectator. 3 December 2013, in www.spectator.co.uk. See also in particular, a very harsh and indeed needed attack by the usually bien pensant, Phillip Stephens, in the Financial Times: "A painful lesson in how not to deal with China." The Financial Times. 5 December 2013, in www.ft.com.