The Asian Status Quo: Japan, USSR, China And War

0
The Asian Status Quo: Japan, USSR, China And War
aldirgsf / Pixabay

By Robert D. Kaplan and Matt Gertken

Arguably the greatest book on political realism in the 20th century was University of Chicago Professor Hans J. Morgenthau’s Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace, published in 1948. In that seminal work, Morgenthau defines the status quo as “the maintenance of the distribution of power that exists at a particular moment in history.” In other words, things shall stay as they are. But it is not quite that clear. For as Morgenthau also explains, “the concept of the ‘status quo’ derives from status quo ante bellum,” which, in turn, implies a return to the distribution of power before a war. The war’s aggressor shall give up his conquered territory, and everything will return to how it was.

This Multi-Billion Dollar Energy Fund Is Benefitting From The Recent Market Volatility [Exclusive And In-Depth]

EnergyHITE Hedge's alpha-only funds returned 0.62% for the second quarter, bringing their first-half returns for 2022 to 8.5%. The funds have grown their assets under management to more than $725 million as of Aug. 1. The firm has added about $200 million in assets since the beginning of the year, moving it closer to its Read More

The status quo also connotes the victors’ peace: a peace that may be unfair, or even oppressive, but at the same time stands for stability. For a change in the distribution of power, while at times just in a moral sense, simply introduces a measure of instability into the geopolitical equation. And because stability has a moral value all its own, the status quo is sanctified in the international system.

Let us apply this to Asia.

Because Japan was the aggressor in World War II and was vanquished by the U.S. military, it lay prostrate after the war, so that the Pacific Basin became a virtual American naval lake. That was the status quo as it came to be seen. This situation was buttressed by the decades-long reclusiveness of the Pacific’s largest and most populous nation: China. Japanese occupation and civil war left China devastated. The rise to power of Mao Zedong’s communists in 1949 would keep the country preoccupied with itself for decades as it fell prey to destructive development and political schemes such as the Gr