Be warned, this may be the fulcrum, the catalyst, the locus of the world's next major conflagration, even perhaps the start of World War Three, though the ten thousand reefs and islands which comprise the Spratly Islands have practically no arable land, absolutely no indigenous inhabitants, and virtually no drinkable water, so that logically there should be no cause whatsoever for conflict in, or about, this unimportant nowhere in the South China Sea.
Nonetheless, even now, as you read this over your complacent breakfast and think that all threats to world peace come from radical Islam and the International Zionist Conspiracy, military forces from China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam have already occupied between them some forty-five of the hundred small islands, and there is also Brunei, that major player on the world stage, which has laid claim to an entire continental shelf that overlaps one of the southern reefs, and insists, in what may be interpreted as a form of lebensraum if not yet Anschluss, that the entire region falls within its exclusive economic zone.
No Russian involvement as yet, no European attempts to enlarge its empire beyond the Balkans, no sign of America insisting that MacDonalds and Starbucks be allowed in, but the heat is palpable, the fishing grounds are still plentiful, and what are believed to be substantial gas and oil deposits still remain untapped.
Watch this space for updates on the crisis.
Marks For: 750 (the total number of reefs, islets, atolls, cays and islands, give or take a few that are mostly underwater)
Marks Against: 6 (the number of countries fighting over them)
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