social mediaFar away from the North American continent, China has been doing some saber rattling lately, and on social media has been on it. While most Americans have no idea what is going on between China and Japan and could care less, what with Thanksgiving gorging/shopping just over and Christmas shopping up next, the future of Western civilization may be at stake. I’m not joking. I write this just 100 miles away from China’s coast where 1800 missiles are primed and ready to fire at Taiwan, should this island nation make any mis-steps on this issue.

But social media, thank God, is on it. Strobe Talbott, former top advisor in the Clinton administration, tweeted: “Good on Japan for taking China’s unilateral claim to the UN, testing whether Beijing will play by international rules.”

Stephen Walt, another foreign policy expert, tweeted: “Did China declare ADIZ because it knew the USA was distracted by Iran negotiations [and Thanksgiving shopping]?”

There’s even a hashtag now for all this: #adiz

What’s this all about ? Well, November 23, 2013 — the day after China announced its new “air defense identification zone” –  may well go down in history as “the day America lost Asia,” as Michael Auslin put it in an oped on the Politico website in Washington the other day.

I’d like to suggest that the day before, Nov. 23, might well be remembered as a date — like  December 7, 1941 – that will live in infamy as the day China began a long, protracted ”soft war”  to control the world.

In his now-famous speech to the U.S. Congress that day after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, U.S.President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke of the previous day as “a date which will live in infamy.” And it has, even though the World War II is now long over and Japan has become an American ally in Asia.

Maybe now is the time for another U.S. president or Congressional leader to stand up and say, as Auslin wrote: “November 24, 2013 – the day after China announced its new air defense identification zone –  may well go down in history as the day America lost Asia.”

Of course, the future is never easy to predict, and Beijing’s “surprise move” in setting up its unannounced and completely unexpected ADIZ while the U.S. and its 300 million shoppers were busy getting ready for a relaxing holiday week during Thanksgiving cannot be fully understood in geopolitical terms yet. But the op-eds are flying fast and furious already, in both Tokyo and Washington, and even talking heads in China are getting into the act. And social media, not just in the USA but also in Japan and China and Taiwan, has been on it.

This ”shot across the bow” bu communist China was not a minor event. This might be seen as an opening act. The West – and Japan — must respond, in words and in actions. Diplomacy will be useful, too, one hopes. The twitterverse is in an uproar, pro and con.

Auslin believes that if the U.S. does not take strong action now, soon, China will have dramatically expanded its control over Asian airspace without even being challenged by any nation in the region or in the West.

“And with a whimper, not a bang, Washington may begin losing its influence in Asia despite its still-preponderant strength,” Auslin, an academic who works at the American Heritage Institute, the conservative think tank, said.

Since the demarcation of an ADIZ is not legally valid under international law, Beijing cannot unilaterally expand its territorial airspace to the large area over the East China Sea by setting up such an ADIZ. But it did, and it’s a done deal. The West blinked. Has China won the war already? Social media, or a part of it, is on it.

History is replete with events like the surprise move by China on November 24. What happens next is anyone’s guess, but one thing is becoming more and more clear: the date will live in infamy for a long, long time — or until the regime that controls China collapses as the former Soviet Union did.

We are living in confusing and ruptured times, and yes, these are the times that try men’s and women’s souls. The West needs to respond. But how? And who will do it? Japan? America? The United Nations?

Only #adiz knows.