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I wish to expand upon your excellent arguement by saying how often in the past it has been the totally unexpected event that has taken place and then expanded into confligration. Taking all you've said at face value, I can easily imagine China and Japan creeping towards conflict while the world's attention is directed elsewhere. They won't mean it of course but I can easily imagine shots being traded over fishing rights, mineral wealth or just plain jingoistic knuckleheadedness (is that a word?). And extending this arguement just a step or two, as we move towards helping resolve this crisis, those in the Middle East always looking for advantage decide to take their rhetoric to the next level, and (quite without meaning to of course) find themselves in an all out shooting war. I can just hear those in the halls of the State Department clucking their tongues and saying "Who knew?".