Steve Walt and other Experts on China.

http://blogs.ft.com/the-world/2013/02/the-origins-of-the-first-world-war-revisited/
Gideon, the big difference now is “nuclear weapons” … those two words suffice to narrow down the scope. Neither China nor the US is going to risk escalating Senkaku at all. So the scope is a game of bluff over pawns.

Steve Walt appears to be a good mind, a Harvard one at that. But gosh gollies Gideon just look at what he writes, it is totally academic and irrelevant. “It pains him to take issue” with you. To hell with that, it never pains me to point out when you’re wrong when I think you are. Why should he be pained, out of courtesy? Good for him to suffer. Then again you know I consider him as lightweight as a weather balloon so you should at least give him some credit. After all there’s a 10% chance he may have accrued his station for reasons other than always being contrary to the position of George W. Bush.

This is his banner image: http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/sites/all/themes/fp/images/blog_banners/walt.jpg
versus yours: http://media.ft.com/cms/80aaf67e-3f05-11e2-9214-00144feabdc0.png

Dear me Gideon you just don’t look that …. sharp and insightful. Better get a picture taken in which you don’t smile.

Anyway…

You made a good point, one that makes sense. China is trying to create an issue here with a player (Japan) that nobody in the area (other than the US) is going to look to rush to defend. But that also means the political victory here is limited. Even if the US and Japan park a carrier fleet at these islands, China can’t really win the perception of the outside world. The Philippines and Vietnam are still going to wait for what’s next and if belligrents wins the argument on the internal Chinese side, these countries will be rushing to side with the US and Japan only sooner. The Chinese army is lost in an ancient debate of colonialist victimization that the world doesn’t understand. And with those supposed former colonial powers being the #1 buyer of Chinese electronic trinkets, it is a debate that China can’t possibly sustain. Each time China engenders this debate, countries like Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and India will recognise the pattern and prefer the devil they know (being the US). How often has John McCain visited Vietnam in recent years? He shook hands with his torturers, joking about the good old times. None of these countries around China is going to buy the Chinese line of thinking, the US is a so much more compelling hegemon.