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Zone Warfare
South Korea Counters China's ADIZ with a Zone of its Own

Two weeks ago China provoked its neighbors by declaring an Air Defense Identification Zone over disputed islands in the East China Sea. Not to be outdone, South Korea is now expanding its own Air Defense Identification Zone to overlap with China and Japan’s zones, all of which now intersect over—what else—a disputed underwater reef in the middle of the ocean, as the NYT reports:

With South Korea’s newly expanded zone, the air defense zones of all three countries now overlap over a submerged reef called Ieodo in South Korea and Suyan Rock in China. The reef is controlled by South Korea, which maintains a maritime research station there, but China also claims it. The seabed around the reef is believed to be rich in natural gas and minerals deposits. […]

But the announcement of the expanded zone raises the risk of an accidental military clash in the region. A military plane entering another country’s air defense identification zone must notify that country in advance. If it fails to do so, the country operating the zone may order it to leave, or dispatch military jets to confront the intruding aircraft.

One thing worth noting here is that the Asian instability is driven in part by the belief among a number of Asian countries that the US is on the way out. People are taking preemptive steps to position themselves for an era of declining US strength in the region.

As we’ve seen elsewhere in the world, this is an illustration that even the perception of US withdrawal can lead to greater instability. Retreat is not a recipe for calm.

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  • S.C. Schwarz

    They’re right, we are on the way out. Obama can talk about an “Asia pivot” all he wants, but the budget realities mean that retreat and retrenchment are inevitable.

  • Anthony

    To overthrow established power is hard enough; to grasp the loosed power in your own hand is harder still. The latter is the real name of the game.

  • Hubbub

    Who knows, we may find ourselves in a power vacuum similar to that which existed between the two world wars where the British were retreating from the world and where the United States waffled, wavered, and crnged in its approach to world leadership – except this time around in ‘history repeats itself’, the United States is the nation on the retreat.

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