Saturday, September 26, 2015

Graham Allison — The Thucydides Trap: Are the U.S. and China Headed for War?

Must-read weekend reading. This is where the action will in this half of the 21st century. (The second half will be occupied with the consequences of climate change.)

The Atlantic
The Thucydides Trap: Are the U.S. and China Headed for War?
Graham Allison | Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School

See also

This is extremely relevant to the above and suggests that the US will inevitably fall into the Thucydides trap owing to "messianic universalism follows easily from providential exceptionalism" as a longstanding foundation stone for the edifice of US foreign policy culturally and institutionally.

How America built its empire: The real history of American foreign policy that the media won’t tell you
Patrick L. Smith interviews Perry R, Anderson, Distinguished Professor of History, UCLA

Tomgram: Nick Turse, A Secret War in 135 Countries
ht Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism


Dan Lynch said...

I vote for climate change as most likely to do us in. Sooner than we think, too.

The current rulers of China don't seem interested in war, they just want to do business. Of course China's next rulers may be different.

Nor do the American people have any appetite for war with a 1st world power -- not the kind of war where their sons get drafted or their homes get bombed. However, Americans do have a naive belief that any conflict can be resolved with air power. We're so used to thinking of war as something that happens "over there" that we may be in for a rude awakening if it happens here.

If China wanted to exert influence over the US, all they have to do is stop selling us stuff. We have become highly dependent on China for manufactured goods, including most computer stuff. In the long run, Chinese economic sanctions against the US would force us to rebuild American manufacturing and be a good thing, but in the short run we would be in a world of hurt.

Tom Hickey said...

The Chinese plan calls for doubling GDP from 2010 to 2020 and they are no track to do it. At that point, the US looses it's status as the world's largest economy and faces a China that will be come dominant militarily if it chooses, which it will as a matter of course.

I don't think that either the US or China want war. No one wanted WWI either. But can the US handle being supplanted as the exceptional power that is to be emulated universally, especially when the supplanting power is a communist country. It's going to be a stretch. Will the US be mature enough to handle it is the question.

Peter Pan said...

We're headed towards a multi-polar world. No doubt there will be more proxy wars, as a way to maintain spheres of influence, but a direct conflict is out of the question. Stalemate is the only rational outcome between nuclear armed belligerents.
The fortunes of various powers will depend on what they do to themselves. The US, for example, is harming itself through its domestic economic policies.

John said...

"The Chinese plan calls for doubling GDP from 2010 to 2020 and they are no track to do it."

And what will its economy look like by 2030 or 2040? The US won't go down without a fight, which may or may not mean a direct military confrontation, although its much more likely it'll be confrontation through proxy, but by then, as Dan says about climate change, China, and the developed world, will have polluted the world to such an extent that there may be no rowing back. Get ready for tens of millions of refugees.

A global shift to renewable energy is what's required, but since it won't be done, it may be farewell to the human race.