Is war with China becoming inevitable?
"The Indians are seeing 60,000 Chinese soldiers on their northern border," Secretary of State Michael Pompeo ominously warned on Friday.
He spelled out what he meant to commentator Larry O'Connor:
"The Chinese have now begun to amass huge forces against India in the north. ... They absolutely need the United States to be their ally and partner in this fight."
Pompeo had just returned from a Tokyo gathering of foreign ministers from the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or "Quad," the group of four democracies -- U.S., Japan, Australia, India -- whose purpose is to discuss major Indo-Pacific geostrategic issues.
Exactly what kind of "ally and partner" the U.S. is to be "in the fight" between India and China over disputed terrain in the Himalayan Mountains was left unexplained. We have no vital interest in where the Line of Control between the most populous nations on earth should lie that would justify U.S. military involvement with a world power like China.
And the idea that Japan, whose territorial quarrel with China is over the tiny Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, thousands of miles away, would take sides in a Himalayan India-China conflict also seems ludicrous.
Yet, tensions are rising between the U.S. and China, as the list of ideological, political and economic clashes continues to lengthen.
And there is a transparent new reality: China seems in no mood to back down.
When, after a year of demonstrations for greater democracy, the Hong Kong government failed to quell the uprising, Beijing stepped in and took control. The U.S.-led democracies that had been cheering on the Hong Kong marchers and protesters did nothing, and they have done nothing since to reverse Xi Jinping's political coup but prattle on about "values."
Lately, the democracies have been protesting, and rightly so, the inhumane treatment of the Uighur peoples in Xinjiang in China's west.