The causes of hostility among nations are innumerable.
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist #6
The second of those links is to a Telegraph story that shows why this latest flare-up is such a nightmare for U.S. diplomacy, especially since it pits both China and Taiwan against Japan. There you also find a link to a Telegraph story about a rock that could cause a war, this time one claimed by both China and the Philippines. Yes, there may be natural gas or oil deposits in the sea-beds nearby. But still, there is something beautifully and terribly absurd about protest rallies and rhetoric and diplomatic meetings over this :
Hey, I’m all for Filipino patriotism, but those even those guys must wish they had something more dignified to rally around.
Oh, and did I mention that the week before this, we had a couple of Olympic incidents and other diplomatic tensions between Japan and South Korea over yet another set of rocky islands, this one called (by the Koreans, mind you) Dokdo?
Since one of the few East-Asian blogs I regularly visit is the very pro-Japanese Ampontan, my view is skewed towards their side of things in these disputes. You could go to the Marmots Hole for a pro-Korean view on the Dokdo/Takeshima dispute. The Telegraph writer thinks a lot of this has to do with Japan never properly apologizing, as (West) Germany did, to the neighbors it had occupied and attacked during WWII, but Ampontan is pretty convincing in arguing that both the (authoritarian/communist) Chinese and the (democratic) South Koreans are holding on to their Japan-grudges suspiciously tightly, and that such has become a basic staple of nationalist appeals in both.
Has it not, on the contrary, invariably been found that momentary passions, and immediate interests, have a more active and imperious control over human conduct than general or remote considerations of policy, utility, or justice? Have republics in practice been less addicted to war than monarchies?
Good Luck, Hillary. And do read your Hamilton.