Asia’s Worst Nightmare: A China-Japan War by James Holmes | National Interest | January 5, 2014
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.
Given President Obama’s history of feckless dithering on foreign policy issues this could get really ugly. It seems likely that China will push to take advantage of our real if self inflicted weakness. In effect the administration’s habit of appeasement makes war more, not less, likely.