Territorial issues, which, for numerous centuries, were used and will continue to be used in the future by unscrupulous politicians to reach their self-serving objectives, are becoming the focal point of not only political conflicts but also wars. Historically, such issues were fairly often resolved in favor of the strongest as evidenced by the fact that many wars stemmed from the openly self-serving desires of opportunistic nations to conquer rich or strategically important lands.
Although, nowadays, there are attempts to resolve numerous conflicts by diplomatic means, any territorial dispute still threatens stability in the entire surrounding region and may even spark a new world war, especially if a world power is in any way involved.
Over its more than 200-year history, the United States has resorted more than once to the use of territorial disputes as a political tool. It has even initiated armed conflicts by invading other countries. In the first half of the 19th century, US ambitions were limited to the continents of the Americas, which even then were viewed as a region of interest by Washington. At present, USA’s reach has expanded to include other parts of the globe. And Washington, from its position of strength, wishes to make the Middle East, rich in energy resources, its own fiefdom. As a result, for several decades now, we have witnessed the White House triggering armed conflicts in the Middle East, engaging in military interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya, and attempting to spark “color revolutions” in order to destabilize this region.
Nowadays, similar actions are being taken by Washington in other regions that are either rich in natural resources or are of military strategic interest to the USA. Recent events in Latin America and Southeast Asia lend credence to the aforementioned statements.
Quite frequently, Washington has started using (especially recently) long-standing territorial issues involving third parties as a tool in confrontations with its opponents. Not only has the United States been instigating these conflicts, but also using its propaganda tools and media outlets to its advantage in these territorial disputes. For instance, one can observe how Washington has been actively fanning the flames of territorial issues between neighboring nations and China, a country the White House has formerly declared to be its “strategic opponent”. This is causing a deterioration of the situation in the entire Asia-Pacific region and of relations between Washington and Beijing.
As a result of such policies, disagreements over who controls the South China Sea have intensified, and the region itself has become a potential battleground for a confrontation between US and Chinese armed forces. These waters are home to the Paracel Islands and the Spratly Islands. And Washington is behind the ongoing disputes over these territories because it is interested in control over the islands and, therefore, the trade routes linking the Indian and Pacific oceans. Each year, goods worth approximately $5.3 trillion are transported via these sea lanes. Other critical issues concern the situation in the East China Sea, or more specifically China’s and Japan’s territorial claims to the Senkaku Islands (also known as the Diaoyudao Islands). It is worth reminding our readers that during his presidency, Barack Obama, said the islands in question had fallen under the purview of the US-Japan bilateral security treaty. Hence, even a chance incident there could involve the United States in an armed confrontation against China.
Similarly, Washington has been fanning the flames of the territorial dispute between Japan and Russia. And again the United States would not mind becoming involved in it as part of the US-Japan security treaty. However, in this particular case, there is a clear obstacle in Washington’s path. The “disputed” Kuril Islands became part of the USSR after the Allies and Japan had signed the San Francisco Peace Treaty on September 8, 1951 to officially end hostilities and re-established peaceful relations between them. In accordance with this treaty, Japan renounced all rights, title and claim to the Kuril Islands. Hence, the United States, as party to the aforementioned peace treaty, cannot actively support Japan’s claims to Russian territories. Still, Washington is fairly well disposed towards the revisionist propaganda, being spread by certain Japanese political circles, that focuses on the return of “disputed territories” by Russia and China and uses Ainu (native population of Japan) symbols in its messages.
It is also worth noting that, recently, Washington has started to more actively involve other nations dependent on it, such as South Korea, in these “territorial disputes” meant to serve USA’s interests. Supposedly, South Korea’s popular daily newspaper The Hankyoreh reminded its readers about the significance of Noktundo (a former island, currently a peninsula, on the border between Primorsky Krai in Russia and North Korea) for the nation’s consciousness.
Alluding to the ongoing territorial dispute, the author of the article wrote about the history of this land located on the boundary of the former Joseon Kingdom where Admiral Yi Sun-sin (a national hero in Korea) had once fought. The sheer scale of US puppeteers’ ambitions stems from the fact that the territory in question, located in the delta of a border river, was confirmed to belong to the Russian Empire by the First Convention of Peking more than a century ago.
It is also readily noticeable that any discussions about another territorial dispute of much greater significance to Japan than that over the Kuril Islands are being actively suppressed by the United States as it continues to use such conflicts as a political tool. The author is referring to the islands located in the central and western parts of the Pacific Ocean that became part of the US territories after World War II. They belonged to Japan since 1918. Their combined land area is approximately 1,200 km² and with surrounding waters it is around 200,000 km². After World War II had ended, the islands became a United Nations Trust Territory under US administration. Officially, they are now a sovereign state called the Federated States of Micronesia. In reality, practically all of its spheres of life are controlled by the US government. Local laws are almost identical to American ones. The official currency on these islands is the US dollar. The United States has apparently destroyed all traces of Japanese presence in this region, and almost all of the natives have been forcibly relocated from these lands. There are U.S. military installations throughout the Federated States of Micronesia…
In fact, it is highly unlikely that Japan will be prepared to make claims to any US territories. After all, since the end of World War II, Japan’s fate has been inextricably linked to that of the United States via the bilateral security treaty, and its policies have been dependent on those of Washington. Even Emperor Akihito, who abdicated the Chrysanthemum Throne a year ago, had expressed regret about the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States.
Valery Kulikov, political analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.