Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Getting Complex

In our Westphalian way of thinking, a nation is an actor and we focus on what that actor does. We think it makes no sense for "China" to go to war and risk economic growth that keeps their people satisfied with Communist Party rule. The Chinese Communist Party no doubt doesn't want war with America. But what if they aren't the decision-makers who decide whether China stays at peace or goes to war?

The Japanese have noticed that the PLA is a force in politics, as well:

In its annual defense white paper, Tokyo said some believe that relations between the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and the Communist Party leadership were "getting complex" and said this was a matter of concern.

There is a possibility that the degree of military influence on foreign policy decisions has been changing, the paper said, without elaborating.

"This situation calls for attention as a risk management issue," it added.

The Japanese have reason to worry about who gets to order the PLA to war.

On top of the issue of determining what is rational for them rather than what makes sense for us, we have reason to worry about what crisis in East Asia might escalate to shooting.