THE COMING OIL WARS
China turns on the spigot on Obama’s pivot.
By Jed Babbin
Accidental wars only happen in the movies. What’s happening now in the East China Sea is a calculated Chinese provocation that could lead to war. At the same time, the Argentine-engineered crisis in the waters off the Falkland Islands is just as dangerous because Argentina may be more reckless than it was when Margaret Thatcher defeated it and Britain is so much weaker. It is of such events that wars can be made.
War for oil isn’t new. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, its principal grievance was the American decision to cut off most of its oil supply.
On November 23, China declared a new “air defense identification zone” that extends to the north close to South Korea, to the south within miles of Taiwan, and to the east to encompass the Senkaku Islands, a short chain of uninhabitable islands off southern Japan that the Japanese have claimed ownership of since 1895.
By imposing this zone, China is claiming sovereignty over the Senkakus and all the waters within the zone. In an immediate move to enforce that claim, the Chinese demanded that all aircraft flying into the zone declare themselves, file a flight plan, and obey the instructions of Chinese air controllers.
On Friday, two B-52s flew over the area without complying with any of the Chinese-imposed procedures. Since then, Chinese fighter aircraft have begun sporadic patrols. That is a clear threat to use force to defend their newly claimed territory. U.S. airliners have ordered their aircraft to obey the Chinese directives. Statements from the U.S. military indicate that we’ll continue normal patrol operations in the Chinese “zone” but don’t say whether the White House has ordered compliance with Chinese directives.
Media reports always emphasize that the US aircraft are unarmed. This seems to surrender the skies to the Chinese. The better course, which we always used to follow, is to refuse to say whether or not the aircraft are armed, and go where we damned well please in international airspace.
China’s claim of de facto sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands is a direct challenge to Japan’s. Around each nation is an “exclusive economic zone,” and Japan’s includes the islands. Implicit in China’s declaration of its “air defense zone” is an extension of its exclusive economic zone to match. So much for soft power.