The Japanese whaling fleet is trying to evade the Sea Shepherd activists in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Things will come to a head when the Sea Shepherds finally encounter the the giant whale processing ship and its armed Fisheries Agency escort vessel. If Japan is going to resort to violence that will be the moment.
The American, Australian and New Zealand governments must act to prevent violence. If they don’t then they will share responsibility for any injuries or deaths that may occur.
If Australia and New Zealand refuse to protect an international conservation zone of which they are the natural guardians then they will walk away from this with their wings clipped, no longer masters in their own domain. If the United States abdicates its traditional commitment to uphold freedom of navigation then it will abandon a fundamental tenet it has upheld since the earliest days of the republic. We should not literally sell a basic principle in order to continue living beyond our means by dependence on Japanese loans. If the U.S. demonstrates fear by appeasing an aggressor it will lose standing. People instinctively despise weakness. Once you lose respect you lose everything. If these three nations abandon scores of their most idealistic citizens to armed assault in international waters then they will lose both international and self-respect.
If Japan overturns the Antarctic Treaty and extends its military jurisdiction over the Southern Ocean then it will mean the beginning of the end for a cooperative world order. Others will see that they too can grab what they want by force. In a shrinking world of diminishing resources only the rule of law protects us all from anarchy. Only effective international restraints on exploitation ensure long-term ecological stability. This is the test case of whether or not the world community will stand up for them in a serious confrontation. There’s a lot at stake right now in the Southern Ocean.