As U.S. relations with Russia and China become more tense, and as the Pentagon elevates its concerns about the military threats both countries could pose to the United States, Brookings Senior Fellow Michael O’Hanlon explains in a new book how conflict over seemingly minor stakes could escalate into a major war. In “The Senkaku Paradox: Risking Great Power War Over Small Stakes,” O’Hanlon makes recommendations for how such conflicts can be contained before they become a global disaster. He discussed the book and his recommendations in a recent event moderated by NPR host Rachel Martin.
What is the Senkaku paradox?
The Senkaku islands, or Diaoyu islands as they are called by the Chinese, are a string of tiny and uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. While Tokyo and Washington agree that Japan administers these islands as part of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, O’Hanlon explained, China also claims them. If China were to seize one or more of the islands, presumably the United States would be obligated to come to Japan’s assistance to reestablish control of the occupied territory. However, O’Hanlon said that if the conflict escalated, a major war between nuclear-armed countries could ensue—all over a few barren pieces of land with little, if any, inherent value……..
Credit: Brookings Institution, Brennan Hoban,, Monday, May 13, 2019
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