As we sit calm and safely protected in our Villanova homes, most of us don’t realize how much tension there is around the world. Everyone knows about the Middle East. Israel is the unpopular kid in a dangerous neighborhood and Iran is the kid who you know is hiding a switch blade somewhere in his pocket. What has seemed more relevant and newsworthy lately, however, has been the tension in the South China Sea.

There, all surrounding Asian countries, China and Japan being the most powerful, are in disputes over a few seemingly meaningless islands which other would consider nothing but rock outcrops. Arguments over who owns the islands have led to large scale anti-China demonstrations in Japan and prompted diplomatic visits from U.S  Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. Both attempted to implore the Chinese to settle down and peacefully stop these conflicts.

The way I see this, the U.S is in a classic awkward social position. It’s like Japan is one of America’s best friends and China is the girl that the U.S is seeing. Sure the U.S has promises and pacts with Japan; they’re allies, friends for life. But the U.S has been seeing this girl (had extensive market relationships) named China. Japan is telling the U.S to remember who his friends are, while China is questioning whether the U.S really cares for her. “But don’t you love me, America?” whispers China from one shoulder. “Dude, you can’t really be siding with her?” questions Japan from the other.

What happens in the South China Sea will have a global impact if it escalates too far.

What should the U.S do about the situation? Are these disputes superficial or are they actually valid?