DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE:China & The U.S.: The Past’s Dead Hand

Conn Hallinan
Tuesday July 22, 2014 - 09:12:00 PM

A major cause of current tensions in the East and South China seas are two documents that most Americans have either forgotten about or don’t know exist. But both are fueling a potential confrontation among the world’s three most powerful economies that is far more unstable and dangerous than most people assume.

Consider what has happened over the past six months:

  1. In February, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry assured Japan that the Americans would defend Japan in case of a military confrontation between Tokyo and Beijing. That same month, U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert said the Philippines could count on American support if there were a clash with China in the South China Sea.
  2. In early May, the Japanese Self-Defense Forces practiced “retaking” islands of the Amami Group near Okinawa in a not-so-subtle challenge to China over the ownership of the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. That same week, U.S. and Philippine forces held joint war games, while President Barack Obama promised “ironclad” support against “aggressive” neighbors seeking to alter “changing the status quo” in Asia.
  3. In mid-May, China challenged Japanese ownership of Okinawa, stating it did “not belong to Japan,” challenging Tokyo, and indirectly calling in to question the presence of huge U.S. bases on the island.
  4. At the end of May, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged Tokyo would support the Philippines, Vietnam, and other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in their disputes with Beijing over islands and shoals in the South China Seas.
  5. On July 1, the Abe government “re-interpreted” Article 9 of its peace constitution to allow Japan to use military force in support of its allies. U.S. allies in the region supported the move. The Philippines agreed to allow the U.S. military use of the former American base at Subic Bay.
American naval vessels have accused the Chinese Navy of playing chicken off China’s coast. Chinese ships are blockading Philippine ships near a number of disputed shoals and reefs. Vietnam claims China rammed some of its ships. Japan scrambled a record number of fighter planes to intercept supposed incursions by Chinese and Russian aircraft. U.S. Senator John McCain called China “a rising threat,” and the Pentagon’s Frank Kandell told the House Armed Forces Committee that U.S. military superiority in the Pacific was “not assured.”

In short, “tense” doesn’t quite describe the situation in Asia these days, more like “scary.” -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Regaining Thinking Ability

Jack Bragen
Thursday July 31, 2014 - 09:21:00 PM

A psychotic episode and the ensuing recovery (and this generally includes being put on medication) can leave a person with somewhat of a blank mind. Or, on the other hand, the mind can be plagued with residual symptoms. Either way, a psychotic episode and recovery from it can sometimes leave a person not knowing how to think, and needing to relearn that. -more-


Ralph E. Stone
Friday August 01, 2014 - 10:01:00 AM

In response to an eight-year Israeli blockade of Gaza and the closing of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, Hamas shoots rockets into Israel, causing a disproportionate response from Israel, which in turn causes worldwide condemnation, furthering isolating Israel from most of the world. A ceasefire will eventually be negotiated, Israel will withdraw from Gaza, calm will again result for a short while, and then the cycle of violence will be repeated over and over again. And Israel will have another excuse for not engaging in meaningful peace negotiations with the Palestinians. -more-