Shadow of 1914 Falls Over the Pacific

Nationalism and tensions in the Asia Pacific over small islands echo the mood prior to World War I, argues Gideon Rachman in Financial Times. He compares China to Germany in 1914, a rising power worried about competitors blocking its ascent. A US delegation has advised Beijing and Tokyo that a Chinese attack on the islands would trigger US security guarantees to Japan. “The obvious danger is that, as in 1914, a small incident could invoke alliance commitments that lead to a wider war,” he notes One event or miscalculation can trigger war, as was the case with World War I, ignited by the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, Austria’s heir apparent in Sarajevo. Military leaders then viewed war as a distraction from domestic difficulties; Germany had promised to stand by its ally Austria-Hungary. “America’s security guarantee is meant to reassure Japan, but there is also a danger that it might tempt Japanese politicians to take unnecessary risks,” Rachman suggests. War would benefit no one, and Rachman urges reason and restraint. – YaleGlobal

Shadow of 1914 Falls Over the Pacific

China, like Germany 100 years ago, fears the established power is intent on blocking its ascent; one event or miscalculation could trigger war
Gideon Rachman
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2013.

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