As an adult, the most amazing display of how old or even ancient animosities can surface with destructive force was the disintegration of Yugoslavia.
Best friends and neighbors one day, mortal enemies the next. It was something to behold, a modern-day lesson on how mankind can be slaves to the past, even to the degree it erases current circumstances. Slaughter and blind rage must be locked in our DNA like the color of our great grandparents' eyes, or diseases cured in one generation, but looking for a chance to reemerge once more. There is often a preamble to the cascade of violence and hatred. It's still a small rumble compared to the ultimate onslaught, which comes swiftly. So, the world lives on edge, though without conscientiously worrying about global implosions, yet knowing they've happened before and will happen again.
This week, we'll keep an eye on events between Japan and China. Last week, their dispute resulted in Japanese companies closing shop in China as Chinese burned Japanese stores and cars. Ostensibly, the disagreement is between a chain of tiny islands called Diaoya in China and Senkaku in Japan. The islands were returned to its Japanese owners (descendents of original inhabitants) along with Okinawa in 1972. Recently, the Japanese government purchased the island sparking anger across China. The Japanese claim China didn't care about the island until the discovery of natural gas, but this dispute is much deeper. The rumblings of this volcano began a while back with Chinese emergence as an economic power.
The Mukden Incident
On September 18, 1931, as a pretext to invade Northern China or Manchuria, Japan blew up a train and blamed it on Chinese dissidents. The invading Japanese Imperial Army walked over Chinese opposition. Through World War II, atrocities committed by Japanese throughout Asia never got the kind of press in America as Nazi Germany. But make no mistake, they rank high on the list of worst things one group of people have done to others.
Fast forward and today Chinese are feeling strong and feeling like it's time to finally put those Japanese imperialists in their place. The experts say there will not be a full scale war, but a trade war between $345 billion partners could rock the entire planet. Talk about a volcano erupting.
The world is a tinderbox, and sooner or later, part of it will blow. Against that backdrop, it's amazing America is on the verge of going into a trade war with China over solar panels and windmills of all things. Japan is talking about cutting back on its direct investments into China (last year $12.0 billion), but China is scoffing and returning the economic threat by asking the rhetorical question "how could it be that Japan wants another lost decade." The People's Daily (Communist party newspaper) even goes further asking if "Japan is prepared to go back two decades."
Finally adding, China has always exercised caution over "playing the economic card." In other words, China is prepared to play hardball. In the meantime, America continues to be reluctant to play the economic card mostly because of dependency economics at home, which means we need our bankers to be happy. And yet, we are ready to take the dragon to task to protect a clean energy industry that's not ready for primetime with or without international competition.
Class Envy Erupting
By the way, in America, a different sort of volcano is rumbling brought to life by a poor economy and deliberate antagonism. Class envy is being used as a pretext for supporting unions, raising taxes, and bringing justice for those whose forefathers were locked out or mistreated in capitalist America. America isn't Yugoslavia in the days after the death of Tito, but the public relations machine of the White House, Hollywood, and main stream media are working overtime to awaken strands of DNA that harbor resentment and anger. This doesn't magically create jobs or job skills. It could get people elected, and would surely erase opportunities for everyone.
There is also ruble and piles of bodies in the aftermath of war, and this is what America is facing right now. People will not lay dead on the streets, but their hard work and dreams could. Yes, America needs to get tougher on China and bring the same kind of intent over inflated currency, piracy, and closed markets as it's doing for glass panels. Moreover, if the administration exhibited the same disdain for China's unlawful trade practices as it does for success in America, the situation would already be resolved.
Lingering animosities around the world threaten to boil over more and more, just as they have over the past decade. The results have been war, genocide, and the creation of a lot more nations. Last week, I wrote about the million and a half Catalonians that marched through Barcelona demanding sedition just the week earlier. That story didn't catch on with the press, but the budding battle between China and Japan is capturing more attention as the stakes are enormous. The second and third largest economies on the planet have much history. In fact, I find it amazing how animosities linger beneath surfaces ready to blow at any moment like giant volcanoes covered with lush forest and tropical birds.