America Will Decide If There Is War in Asia


Aggressors, like China, start wars. Yet whether history’s next great conflict begins in East Asia will not be determined in the councils of a belligerent Beijing. If you’re trying to set your watch to the sound of gunfire, you must, most of all, observe Washington.

The region is in seemingly never-ending crisis because Chinese leaders believe their country should be bigger than it is today. As a result, China is pushing on boundaries to the south and east, using forceful tactics to both take territory under the control of others and close off international water and airspace.

The dynamic of aggression has started, and at this point China will not stop until it is stopped.

Unfortunately, Washington is in many ways responsible, or at least paved the way, for the latest round of Chinese provocation. That round began in the spring of 2012. Then, Chinese and Philippine vessels sailed in close proximity around Scarborough Shoal, in the northern portion of the South China Sea.

To avoid conflict in that critical body of water, Washington brokered an agreement between Beijing and Manila. Both agreed to withdraw their craft, but only the Philippines honored the deal. That left China in control of the shoal.