PDA

View Full Version : China:USA - The Thucydides Trap



David G
09-04-2014, 10:55 AM
Foreign policy is not something I know much about - but this was forwarded by someone who does. Any thoughts?


09/03/14JapanTimes


China,U.S. moving closer to viewing war as inevitableBY MARKJ. VALENCIA (http://www.japantimes.co.jp/author/int-mark_j-_valencia/)SPECIALTO THE JAPAN TIMES


KANEOHE,HAWAII – TheAug. 19 dangerous encounter between a U.S. Navy surveillance planeand a Chinese fighter jet over the South China Sea was in thePentagon’s words “certainly not in keeping with the kind ofmilitary-to-military relations” the United States seeks with China.Political relations are tenuous as well.
Manyanalysts in both the U.S. and China have warned of a “tippingpoint” in China-U.S. relations beyond which the two conclude thatconflict is unavoidable and begin preparing for it in earnest whiletrying to hide their true intentions. This is different from hedgingin that there is no easy way back.
Beyondthe tipping point the national mind-set and policy decisionsinexorably tilt and then flow toward conflict.
Sucha clash of titans would not be a new phenomenon. In classic realisttheory, established powers strive to preserve the status quo thatassures their position at the top of the hierarchy and view emergingpowers as potential threats. Rising powers feel constrained andstrive to stretch the sinews of the international system. They fearthat the dominant power will try to snuff them out before they becomean existential threat.
Thucydidesdescribed this “natural” process regarding Athens and Sparta as acombination of “rise” and fear — which inevitably leads to war.Today this is known as the “Thucydides trap.” The internationalrelations question of our age is: Can China and the U.S. avoid it?
Thismay sound like Chicken Little warning that “the sky is falling.”But the situation really is quite bad and growing worse by the day.It is now clear that China expects to play a role at “the center ofthe world’s political system.” It wants to be a new rule makerand an old rule breaker if it is in its national interest to do so.It wants to be an “exceptional” country like the U.S.
Theaccommodation of such a role for China by the U.S. is what PresidentXi Jinping presumably meant when he proposed a “new” type ofmajor country relationship at his Sunnylands summit with U.S.President Barack Obama in June last year.
Butas Ashley Tellis argues in his new book “Balancing WithoutContainment: An American Strategy for Managing China,” the loss of“primacy to China would fundamentally undermine the nationalsecurity interests of the United States in the most comprehensivesense imaginable.”
TheU.S. ideational, political, cultural and economic dominance of theinternational arena and decision making process would slowly erodeand be replaced by that of China. America would no longer be the only“exceptional country” and the envy of the world, if it everreally was. The very way of life of Americans would be diminished anddisparaged in the eyes of the world.
Inshort, we may be witnessing a fundamental U.S. foreign policy failurein East Asia. The U.S. has not been able to unify the 10-memberAssociation of Southeast Asian Nations against China, stem China’sassertiveness or even enhance stability in the South China Sea.
Its“pivot” has made the region more unstable and a cockpit ofcontention between it and China. Its attempts to impose an interimsolution to the disputes there have so far failed.
Thechairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey, believesthat the risk of war in Asia will increase over the next 10 years asthe U.S. military technological edge over China erodes.
Inan even stronger indication of a change in mind-set, the U.S. AirForce is deploying more B-2 stealth bombers and advanced B-52Hstrategic bombers to Guam.
Ina clear allusion to China, a frustrated U.S. Defense Secretary ChuckHagel warned those who violate the territorial integrity of nationsby “force, coercion and intimidation” against doing so. Hagelalso stated that “the United States will not look the other waywhen fundamental principles of the international order are beingchallenged.”

TomF
09-04-2014, 11:11 AM
IMO it will be a cold war, for the same nuclear reasons that the cold war with the USSR was what it was. And I believe it's already underway, if we accept not only Thucydides but Clauswitz.

What we haven't seen for a while, though, is a multi-polar rather than bi-polar world. That's what's coming, complicated by variations of non-state actors like ISIS, major corporations, etc.

Gerarddm
09-04-2014, 11:17 AM
Chinese nationalists still seem to be hung up on their history of humiliation, which shows how juvenile their foreign policy is. Combine nationalism with political adolescence and you have a toxic brew that could get out of hand in some hot skirmishes at least. Let us hope not.

Waddie
09-04-2014, 12:55 PM
China's foreign policy is one of "creeping forward". They have the patience to wait and see progress little by little. Their strategy is very much like the US; create economic dependency first, as they have done in Australia, where much of the Australian economy depends on China trade. That gives them leverage. China also has a long term strategy to undermine the dollar as the reserve currency, and is building relationships with Germany and Russia.

China's biggest problem is internal; keeping their people under control while their economy slows down and other problems develop. Nationalistic policies that play on their "victimization" go a long way toward pacifying their population.

So cold war it will be, and a new arms race in the region, with selective episodes of intimidation on both sides. In this scenario I believe the Chinese have the advantage if they can manage their internal conflicts.

regards,
Waddie

skuthorp
09-04-2014, 05:24 PM
China's foreign policy is one of "creeping forward". They have the patience to wait and see progress little by little. Their strategy is very much like the US; create economic dependency first, as they have done in Australia, where much of the Australian economy depends on China trade. That gives them leverage. China also has a long term strategy to undermine the dollar as the reserve currency, and is building relationships with Germany and Russia.

China's biggest problem is internal; keeping their people under control while their economy slows down and other problems develop. Nationalistic policies that play on their "victimization" go a long way toward pacifying their population.

So cold war it will be, and a new arms race in the region, with selective episodes of intimidation on both sides. In this scenario I believe the Chinese have the advantage if they can manage their internal conflicts.

regards,
Waddie

Got to agree with your general slant there Waddie, the big, mostly OS owned mining companies have undue influence on Australian governments and foreign policy, and especially this one and their market is mostly China. But we are irretrievably tied militarily, popularly and also to an extent diplomatically to the US, which in any sort of stand off, hot or cold, will make Australia's position somewhat uncomfortable.