"The U.S.-Japan Mutual Security Treaty of 1960 obligates the United States to treat any armed attack against any territories under the administration of Japan as dangerous to [America's] own peace and safety. This would cover such islets as the Senkakus also claimed by Beijing."
So this author wrote 15 years ago in "A Republic Not an Empire."
And so it has come to pass. The United States, because of this 53-year-old treaty, is today in the middle of a quarrel between Japan and China over these very rocks in the East China Sea.
This Senkakus dispute, which has warships and planes of both nations circling each other around and above the islands, could bring on a shooting war. And if it does, America would be in it.
Yet why should this be America's quarrel?
The USSR of Nikita Khrushchev and the China of Mao Zedong, the totalitarian Communist states against whom we were committed to defend Japan, are dead and gone.
Why, then, are we still obligated to defend not only Japan, but all of its island possessions? Why were the treaties that committed us to go to war for scores of nations in the Truman-Eisenhower era not dissolved, when the threat that gave rise to those treaties disappeared?
"The commonest error in politics is sticking to the carcass of dead policies," said Lord Salisbury. Of no nation is that truer than 21st-century America.
For some reason, we cannot let go. We seem so taken with our heroic role in the late Cold War that we cannot give it up, though the world has moved on.
Following China's declaration of an air defense identification zone over the Senkakus [Diaoyu to China], South Korea declared its own ADIZ, which overlaps upon those of both China and Japan.
South Korea is also in a quarrel with China over a submerged reef in the Yellow Sea known as Ieodo, but to China, Suyan. Seoul has built a maritime research station on the reef, the value of which is enhanced by the oil and gas deposits in the surrounding seabed.
These clashing claims of Beijing and Seoul could present problems for us -- for, under our 1953 mutual security treaty, an attack on South Korean territory is to be regarded as "dangerous to [America's] own peace and safety."
Thus far, China's response to South Korea's ADIZ has been muted. For Beijing's focus is on Japan.
However, South Korea also has a long-running dispute with Tokyo over an island chain in the Sea of Japan. To the Koreans these islands are Dokdo, to the Japanese, Takeshima.