Friday, January 21, 2011

Not helping, Jan 2011 edition.

The military has a quaint term for those who screw over their friends and team mates, especially if it was done for personal gain or convenience: 'Blue Falcon'.

The term isn't really applicable outside the team structure, but... if I were to encourage its application in the Foreign Policy area... this pretty much qualifies. Thank you ever so much, Junior. You have apparently let your promotion from Speechwriter to Title-that-means-speechwriter convince you that what you say is somehow useful or helpful. It wasn't:
HONG KONG, Jan. 21 (AP) - (Kyodo)—The United States recognizes no claims to the sovereignty of a set of islets in the East China Sea, an adviser to the U.S. president said Friday.
"The U.S. does not have position on the question of sovereignty regarding the issue of the Diaoyu Islands," Benjamin Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications in the White House, said in a video conference with Chinese bloggers set up by the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

He was responding to Chinese blogger Ma Xiaolin, who questioned the United States taking the side of Japan on the issue by including the islets under the Japan-U.S. security treaty.

"We do not recognize the sovereignty claims by neither China nor Japan," Rhodes said.
First, that isn't historically correct. The U.S. in fact was the author of the postwar partitioning of territory in the area, and specifically mandated their return-by-transfer as part of the Okinawa reversion to Japan. P.R. Chinese and ROC claims to the area postdate that.

Second, it isn't correct as extant policy. The status quo is expressly covered in the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty (1960 Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security with the United States, under which the territory is specified as part of the territory of Japan to be defended, as amended since reversion).

Third, if this statement reflects the Obama administration's official opinion as to what position it would take were the matter to be open to negotiation, that would be a matter for the President and his Secretary of State to make known through their Ambassadors to both interested countries... and even then, if Madame Secretary inserts her opinion into other people's sovereign business, it is still not meaningful or helpful and she can rightly be told to mind her manners.

If his boss... the top boss... is willing to publicly stand behind B. Rhodes words, then there should be a quick trip back to Washington D.C. for U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos... and little invitation for a speedy return. But that's not what has happened so far, and that's not what's going to happen if there is a whit of sense left in the U.S. government.

I'll posit that as "likely", so that leaves only one alternative:

Public refutation of B. Rhodes' statement by the administration.

It would help if a public humiliation of Rhodes could be scheduled as well, but that's likely asking too much. Pity, that.

edit: description of status under the Security Treaty clarified.

addenda: Welcome, Legal Insurrection readers and thanks to Professor Jacobson for making this thread the "Post of the Day" for 22.January.

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