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Posts Tagged ‘pacific power’

Keeping the Peace in Asia

December 12th, 2013

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If you’re an Asia-focused security analyst, you’ve certainly been earning your paycheck these last few months. To wit: In late November, Beijing unilaterally declared an Air Defense Identification Zone over a broad swath of the Pacific Ocean; the U.S. responded by flying two B-52 bombers straight through it a few days later. South Korea and Japan then followed suit. Just this week, South Korea declared its own zone that overlaps waters and a submerged rock that China also claims.

The situation underscores why the U.S. needs to maintain a robust naval and air force presence in Asia: because it keeps all the regional powers — rising, declining or otherwise — from escalating a crisis into a conflagration. Treaties and trade help ameliorate the jagged regional political dynamics, but American hard power on the seas and in the air is what keeps tensions from rising to a fever pitch.

How can the U.S. continue to stabilize Asia without firing a shot? One way is to continue to blunt Japan from making a serious move that would further enflame Chinese nationalist passions, and, to a lesser extent, vice versa. Once these nationalist fires are re-lit in Asia, it could burn down the whole continent, as we saw a few generations ago.

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