Opinion / Editorials

Obama's loss of balance

(China Daily) Updated: 2014-04-25 07:12

US president barack obama may have congratulated himself in private for apparently pulling off a difficult balancing act, but if so, he is being a little too hasty.

He offered his anxious Japanese host the reassurance Tokyo was so desperately begging for: The confirmation that the territory it stole is covered by the US-Japan security treaty.

Then, so as not to infuriate the attentive owner next door, he stated that this "is not a new position", nor one of his making, as the US-Japan treaty preceded his birth, and he reconfirmed that Washington takes no sides in the sovereignty dispute over the islands.

However, swaying to and fro on the tightrope he was walking, Obama's balancing act was lopsided at best, because it was conspicuously biased in favor of the troublemaking Japanese prime minister.

By deliberately ignoring the Cairo Declaration, the Potsdam Proclamation, and the terms of surrender Japan agreed to at the end of World War II, Obama has betrayed the postwar international order and endorsed Japan's de facto control over the Diaoyu Islands, which should have been returned to China under the terms of these legally binding agreements.

Extending the US-Japan security treaty to those islands is both morally and legally wrong.

Obama should not expect Chinese connivance in his turning a blind eye to Japan's thievery and its claims of innocence.

It was the Japanese government that unilaterally changed the status quo. The dispute over the Diaoyu Islands had cooled down until Japan poured kerosene on it and set a match to it by "nationalizing" the main islands.

Obama's praise of "Japan's long-standing commitment to international peace and security" is grating on the ear - and not just to China - because he once again chose to ignore the elephant in the room, saying nothing about Japan's denial of its militarist past and rightist present. By tacitly endorsing Japan's actions, he is giving Shinzo Abe carte blanche to continue destabilizing the region.

That Obama has cast aside the strategic ambiguity others have tried hard to preserve may be good in one sense - it helps to relieve some of the wishful thinking that Washington doesn't condone the antics of Japan's right-wingers.

But since he has voluntarily bound his country to Abe's war chariot, instead of breathing a sigh of relief that he has completed his balancing act, he might want to start considering how he is going to untie the knots and tame the adventurous Japan under Abe, or prepare to be dragged into an unwanted conflict.

(China Daily 04/25/2014 page8)

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