Friday, April 12, 2013

George Kenney: "Rod Wye on The Diayu - Senkaku Islands" @ Electric Politics

Dear Michael,

One of the dangers of repeatedly beating up on a series of small states is that the USG unconsciously develops an attitude that it can throw its weight around anywhere with impunity. Such is the case with the Diaoyu/Senkaku islets, seven square kilometers of rock in the East China Sea disputed by China and Japan. Intentionally left unresolved in the post WWII-normalization of Chinese-Japanese relations, but under Japanese jurisdiction, the islets both symbolize and are a flash point for how China's neighbors, and the US, adapt to China's rise as a great power. The problem here is that Japan is trying to fiddle with the islets' status while the USG, proclaiming neutrality, is actually strongly taking Japan's side. In terms of historical comparison this is exactly how a client state draws its sponsor into an unwanted, potentially serious military conflict.

To get a sense of the story I turned to Rod Wye, a 37 year veteran of British government service who in his last assignment was the head of the Asia Research Group in the Foreign Office, a position roughly comparable to the top Asia person in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. By experience and training, a China expert. Now affiliated with Chatham House, Rod occasionally gives interviews and I count myself extremely fortunate to have been able to talk with him. His analysis makes perfect sense to me though if I were to ding him anywhere it would be his reluctance to openly criticize USG policy -- although reading between the lines it's abundantly clear what he thinks.

This is a good one and I hope you listen. As always, if you like the show please forward the link.



PS With this show I'm now going on vacation -- the podcast will be back on the air in six to eight weeks. Please check the site for schedule details.

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