As Japan and China continue to feud over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, the US could set an example by settling a border dispute as old as the nation, Stephen R. Kelly writes in the New York Times. Machias Seal Island and North Rock in the Gulf of Maine lie in the "gray zone" where American and Canadian maritime claims overlap and are the only chunks of land still claimed by both countries. Canadians staff a lighthouse on one of the islands, which sits less than 10 miles from Maine, and the state's lobstermen sometimes clash with those from New Brunswick in the surrounding waters.
The boundary dispute has long been ignored, "no doubt reflecting the apparent lack of valuable natural resources and a reluctance to cede territory, no matter how small," but it is high time it was sent to an international court for arbitration, Kelly writes. The China-Japan dispute shows that "border disputes do not go away; they fester," and any number of factors could cause the stakes to rise and make it much harder to find a simple solution. "Before that happens, we should put this last land dispute behind us, and earn our reputation for running the longest peaceful border in the world," he writes. Click for Kelly's full column.