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Destined for War – Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?

By Graham Allison

Thucydides was an ancient Greek historian who wrote about the structural stresses that occur making conflict likely, when a rising power threatens to displace a ruling power. 
He describes the impact of a rising China on the United States and on the  international order that the U S has organized for the past seven decades.

To avert war, both the rising power and the ruling power have to make painful adjustments.  Surges of strategic imagination must overcome business as usual.

He states that the three biggest factors acting as deterrents are: nuclear weapons and their mutual assurance of destruction; two economies that are deeply intertwined (both Wal-Mart’s and the Chinese factories would be empty); climate change – if both countries keep on doing what they are doing, we will create a climate that our grandchildren cannot live  in.

Edited from an interview of Graham Allison by NPR’s Robert Siege


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