The US cold war against China gained momentum last week with the election of a former dictator’s daughter in South Korea and a hawkish nationalist in Japan, both with American support. “The sighs of relief in Washington have almost been audible,” the New York Times reported. In both countries, voters turned down peace candidates “who raised at least some alarms in Washington.”
During the Cold War with the Soviet Union, the US built an encircling alliance of aggressive hawkish governments that ignored civil liberties and labor rights at home. Washington wants Japan to increase military spending to convince Washington “that Tokyo is doing enough to keep China’s aspirations in check.” New Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to amend Japan’s peace constitution, which was imposed after World War Two, to allow Japan’s military forces to join American ground troops in combat. A current treaty commits the US military to defend Japan in a regional war, which could be provoked by a skirmish with China over offshore islands. The losing candidate, Shintaro Ishihara, argued that the Japanese government was provoking a territorial feud with China “that the United States fears being dragged into.” The election of Abe, too, was a setback for Japan’s movements against nuclear power and US bases. (New York Times, December 21, 2012)
In the South Korea, the winner was Park Geun-hye, daughter of former US-supported dictator Park Chung-hee, who ruled brutally for two decades. Ms. Park defeated Moon Jae-in, a human rights advocate once jailed for opposition to her father. The US was frightened that Jae-in would restart aid and diplomacy toward North Korea, which would “undermine United States-led sanctions against the North’s nuclear program.” Washington saw Moon as a “more contentious ally” at a time when “the Obama administration is seeking to expand its influence in Asia.” (New York Times, December 21, 2012)
In summary, the US is pushing both countries toward more hawkish policies than their voting majorities would approve were it not for US diplomatic pressure. Both countries are capable of provoking conflict with China. Both new governments will be seen in Beijing as pawns in a policy of provocation engineered by the US. The spiral into a new cold war is inevitable.