Tag: air warfare

4 Quick Hypotheses on Why China Suddenly Declared this New Air Defense Zone


If you haven’t yet seen the zone’s geography, here it is to the left, complete with its overlap with the Korean and Japanese zones. The most important conflict of course is over Senkaku, but Korea watchers will also note that the Ieodo submerged reef, which Korea claims, is also in the zone. Gotta wonder what the Chinese were thinking by giving Korea and Japan common cause over anything. Foolish.

Dan Drezner asked the question I think pretty much everyone is wondering now: did the PRC really expect the US, Japan, and SK to just accept this out of the blue? Obviously they’re not, and it’s hard to find anyone besides the Fox News of Asia Global Times who thinks they should. The following are some quick ideas for where this suddenly came from. Each is more-or-less tied to a level of analysis, but the prose is laymen-style because it was originally written for media

1. Belligerence (anarchy, straight-up realism): the Chinese really are picking a fight with Japan. This is the worst possible reason. They may figure that the Hagel visit to Japan a couple months ago has made Japan into an open challenger to China now. And that is kinda true. America is hedging China, ducking and weaving, trying hard to avoid an open confrontation with it. But Japan is increasingly unabashed that is it balancing China directly as a threat. Abe is increasingly willing to call out China openly. So Asia is becoming a serious bipolar contest, and maybe the Chinese are thinking: ‘to hell with it; Abe’s playing tough; we have too also.’ Certainly my Japanese colleagues in this area increasingly talk about China this way.

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Bombs. Away.

I will be a attending a workshop at Cornell University on bombing norms for the next few days. (Presumably after I get back, I’ll never again bomb anything I’m not supposed to.)

On this note, readers may be interested to have a look at this new memorandum Stephanie mentioned from Human Rights Watch on incendiary weapons, which follows up on an earlier report by HRW’s Arms Division. The campaign I’ve been tracking for the paper I’m presenting is on a slightly different problem, “explosive weapons,” (their latest report is here) but I’m happy that HRW is outlining the specific issues with incendiaries as they are mentioned in humanitarian law but with so many loopholes that there is essentially no stigma against using them thus far:

Protocol III allows ongoing use of incendiary munitions in ways harmful to civilians due to definitional loopholes and narrow regulations. Its definition, which looks only at the primary design of a munition, fails to cover some incendiary munitions, such as white phosphorus, that are not “primarily designed” as weapons yet cause unacceptable civilian harm. In addition, the protocol’s key regulations apply only to use in populated areas and are weaker for ground-launched than for air-dropped models.[2]

Regardless of their type, targeting, and delivery mechanism, however, incendiary munitions cause cruel and lasting injury to people as well as start fires that can destroy property. The munitions produce exceptionally painful thermal and respiratory burns, which can lead to complications such as shock, infection, and asphyxiation. People who survive often suffer long-term physical and psychological damage.

A question I’m now thinking about is whether the two separate campaigns – against explosives and against incendiaries – will complement or work against one another. Each opposes a different type of weapon and a different type of humanitarian harm. Each is drawing support from slightly different transnational networks (see here and here). But there’s a lot of overlap. My research on the weapons campaigns suggests that either campaign needs champions within either HRW or the ICRC in order to gain sway, and of the two incendiaries clearly have that. At the same time, the “explosive violence” campaign may be able to piggy-back on these efforts.

Readers’ thoughts welcomed. More insights as mine develop over the next few days.

[cross-posted at Lawyers, Guns and Money]


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