No doubt there is current media obsession with the middle east and developments in Syria and now possible Israel, hence this will not go away soon.

However, could Asia be next?

A few possibilities of note currently are : China's economic slowdown could lead to a political crisis that would not be assuaged by the purging of this or that official, in the way that Bo Xilai was purged. The political crisis could lead to a messy form of liberalization, which would lead, in turn, to increased, sustained unrest in the ethnic minority areas surrounding the ethnic-Han cradle. Tibet would come into play, as India maneuvers to take advantage of Beijing's relative weakness there. Thus could Chinese-Indian relations deteriorate. China would not unravel or fracture, but it would become a weaker state, less susceptible to central control. And that weakening of civilian central control would lead to a more autonomous, nationalistic military that, in turn, would become more adventurous in the Western Pacific, particularly in the South China Sea. In other words, counterintuitively, China could become weaker as a state, even as it becomes more aggressive militarily. The army would deal with ethnic unrest, while the navy and air force would posture more aggressively in the maritime sphere.

Japan, meanwhile, will awake from its decades long sleep, and continue to shed its quasi-pacifism in favor of a more normal attitude toward its military. This would be, in part, a reaction to China's own military aggressiveness. Japan is currently seeing the rise of regionalism. To be sure, Japan has no ethnic or sectarian problems. But it does have a variety of geographical interests based on being a large, north-south network of islands. Such regionalism would lead to a solution to internal problems of development that would culminate in a greater degree of nationalism and centralization later on.

In other words, China and Japan would be in more tumult, even as their militaries more aggressively eye each other.

At the same time, North Korea finally will begin to emerge from its hermetic, totalitarian state. In a world of instant, electronic communications, the regime in Pyongyang cannot perpetuate its unique brand of tyranny indefinitely. Because any sort of opening or liberalization under such conditions must ultimately lead to instability, the Korean Peninsula would finally be in play for the first time in almost 60 years.

Finally, the multitude of territorial disputes in the East China Sea, South China Sea and in the Sea of Japan, will continue to erode relationships in the Western Pacific. The legal complexities will make diplomatic solutions problematic, even as all sides build up their militaries, and China's particularly dramatic military rise will create a deepening imbalance of power.

These above trends are not fanciful; in fact, they are developing as we speak, however slowly. The only thing required for their fruition is continuity.

I thus will continue to watch the Middle East (particularly the environment of Syria and Israel) but I also will keep one eye on Asia.

 

 

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