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The waters of Pearl Harbor above the USS Arizona have an oily sheen, the result of persistent leakage from the once mighty battleship that was sunk by Japanese bombs nearly 80 years ago. Locals refer to the area as “Black Tears,” in memory of the 1,102 American sailors and Marines still entombed in the wreckage below. The memorial that sits above the ship commemorates the events of Dec. 7, 1941, that began with a Japanese surprise attack and led directly to the U.S. entry into World War II.

The USS Arizona Memorial is a place for quiet contemplation, and at Pearl Harbor it is nearly impossible not to reflect on the dangers that gather when rising powers like 1930s-era Japan and Germany confront dominant or status quo powers like Great Britain and its American allies. In 12 of the 16 cases throughout history where that dynamic came into play, the end result was war.

In his expansive office on a hillside high above Pearl Harbor, Adm. Philip Davidson, head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, spends much of his time contemplating the increasing assertiveness of another rising power in Asia. His office displays a large, scale model of Fiery Cross Reef, one of seven artificial islands built on shallow reefs that China has constructed in international waters in the South China Sea. At the time of their construction in 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping publicly promised not to militarize the manmade islands. As the model in Adm. Davidson’s office makes clear, however, Fiery Cross bristles with military facilities, which now include an airstrip, a protective harbor large enough to accommodate an aircraft carrier and anti-ship and surface-to-air missiles. Read more

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The waters of Pearl Harbor above the USS Arizona have an oily sheen, the result of persistent leakage from the once mighty battleship that was sunk by Japanese bombs nearly 80 years ago. Locals refer to the area as “Black Tears,” in memory of the 1,102 American sailors and Marines still entombed in the wreckage below. The memorial that sits above the ship commemorates the events of Dec. 7, 1941, that began with a Japanese surprise attack and led directly to the U.S. entry into World War II.