Disruptive scientific and technological progress is not to me inherently good or inherently evil. But its arc is for us to shape. But it is quite incorrect that it unfolds inexorably according to its own internal logic and the laws of nature. Five causes of collapse appear paramount: major episodes of climate change, crises-induced mass migrations, pandemics, dramatic advances in methods of warfare and transport, and human failings in crises including societal lack of resilience and the madness, incompetence, cultic focus, or ignorance of rulers.
Liberal democracy and capitalism have been the two commanding political and economic ideas of Western history since the 19th century. Now, however, the fate of these once-galvanizing global principles is increasingly uncertain. She discusses the core values that have shaped her approach to work and leadership: authenticity, effective use of power and persistence, acceptance of change, and commitment to the team.
She shows why good work in her field is so hard to do, and how we can learn to apply core skills of diplomacy to the challenges in our own lives. More than years ago, Thucydides, the Athenian historian and general, wrote his history of the Peloponnesian War. Reviewing the past years, Allison finds that in 12 of 16 cases where a rising power threatened to displace a ruling power, the result was war.
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He notes that while a war between the U. The report emerges from a major study at the Center, headed by Rudd, on the possibilities and impacts of a new strategic relationship between China and the United States. Nye warns of the dangers of a self-fulfilling prophecy in his newly released book Is the American Century Over? Each side, believing it will end up at war with the other, makes reasonable military preparations which then are read by the other side as confirmation of its worst fears.
In The Next Great War? Steven E. One of the most troublesome aspects of the international order in is partially reproduced today. If there is one warning that particularly leaps out from the pages of this volume, it is the danger of entrapping alliances. This is not a purely hypothetical danger.
Trade totals include data from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macao. Many residents believed that Ma brought Taipei closer to Beijing without transparency and against the will of the Taiwanese people. In an effort to avoid outright economic dependence on the mainland, Taiwan has sought to diversify its commercial partnerships. The backlash against the ruling KMT in exit polls after the elections raised further questions about societal views over ties with Beijing. Though most people across the Taiwan Strait speak Mandarin as their first language, more than a century of separation has led a growing number of Taiwanese to feel they deserve the right to continue a separate existence.
By comparison, 38 percent identified as both Taiwanese and Chinese, down from 43 percent in , while only about 4 percent considered themselves only Chinese, a figure that has dwindled since Credit: CFR Editorial. Issues of Taiwanese identity and independence will come to the fore when the island holds a presidential election in early Voters will choose between Tsai and one of several possible KMT candidates , who are more favorably disposed toward Beijing. Michael S. CFR tracks the history of U. The Los Angeles Times investigates increasing Taiwanese pride through interviews with people on the island.
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Smith July 1, Asia Unbound. United States. In Brief by Zachary Laub July 3, Skip to main content.
Backgrounder Current political and economic issues succinctly explained. More From Our Experts. Adam Segal. Beijing has shown no signs that it would reject either development; to the contrary, it has professed some support for them and should be pressed more to back up its words with concrete actions.
Finally, the idea that China wants to overturn the global order is perhaps the most distorted accusation of all. Beijing has benefitted enormously from the post-WWII economic order. It also has taken advantage of that order in at times unacceptable ways and seeks to modify it to better reflect its growing influence. Beijing is certainly not a proponent of pluralist liberal democracy and in that sense does not support regional or global norms or practices designed to expand such systems internationally.
But it is far from clear that the continued expansion of democratic systems is essential to the maintenance of the global order. Indeed, in addition to supporting to varying degrees the major economic pillars of that order as noted above, China in fact supports many others, including WMD non-proliferation agreements, efforts to protect against nontraditional security threats such as terrorism, pandemics, climate change, and international crime, and many tenants of the UN Charter, e.
Ignoring the obvious benefits accruing from the balanced U. China policy of the past, the Trump Administration, many Republican and Democratic members of Congress, and some China experts, have endorsed a new, highly distorted narrative of a failed American policy of concession, weakness, and dashed expectations that has allegedly permitted Beijing to undermine U. Although U. China and the United States have not always agreed, and they have sometimes sharply diverged, but they have nevertheless managed to work together to strengthen the regional and global economy during difficult times, apply pressure on aspiring nuclear weapons states such as Iran and North Korea, and deal with a growing variety of transnational threats.
The idea of a failed U. While current U. As suggested above, in recent years, and especially under Xi, Chinese propaganda has become more hostile toward supposed foreign threats to domestic stability and prosperity. Chinese officials at many levels are now more assertive in cautioning the public about interactions with foreigners.
In addition, the overall expansion of intrusive Chinese government surveillance within China is extending to foreign business leaders, NGO staff, and students. All of these actions contribute to the growing climate of suspicion and hostility in the relationship. Such propagandistic emanations simply heighten U.
In sum, the U.
It is taking on water. Worse yet, some on board seem to be arguing that it should be allowed to sink. Amid this dangerous downward spiral, both Beijing and Washington have fewer incentives to undertake meaningful confidence-building measures, much less seek out areas of mutual accommodation and restraint. On the contrary, this state of affairs inclines both sides to rely more heavily on military and other coercive means to signal the firmness of their resolve. It heightens sensitivities to perceived challenges, both real and imagined, thereby increasing the possibility of truly dangerous crises, even over relatively minor disputes.
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Indeed, in the absence of serious and sustained efforts to moderate this current ugly dynamic, the chances of a significant political-military crisis in the not-too-distant future are increasing. This could take many forms. Beijing could decide that what it regards as aggressive U. For its part, Washington could decide that it needs to augment radically its deterrence capacities regarding Taiwan by allowing U.
For some misguided proponents of a supposedly more realistic, adversarial relationship, such crises would presumably serve a positive function by strengthening public and elite determination to push back against the other side. In the U. Some advocates of this reckless and ill-conceived approach insist that its positive results will prevent the emergence of a new Cold War environment by forcing Beijing to submit to U.
In truth, such an approach would almost inevitably produce a new Cold War, especially if U. And such an environment would prove far more destructive than beneficial for all nations concerned.
That is largely because U. Unlike present-day Beijing and Washington, Cold War—era Russia and the United States were largely separated from one another economically, culturally, and socially. Few Russians lived and worked abroad, and few foreigners beyond those from the Eastern Bloc worked and lived in Russia. Moreover, economic exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union was minimal.
Few countries relied heavily on Russia for prosperity and stability. Unlike Moscow then, Beijing today exerts major and deepening influence on countries both in Asia and around the globe. Its economic and technological advances are heavily intertwined with many nations in the West and beyond, and its military poses an increasingly credible challenge to U. The huge potential risks and dangers inherent in the current situation are compounded by the fact that the United States is more insecure, less confident, more internally divided, and more dependent on the world now than it was during the height of the Cold War.
As a result, in a new Cold War, a stronger China would be more likely to overestimate its ability to outmaneuver and pressure the United States. By the same token, a more insecure yet still very strong Washington could prove more susceptible to overreaction than it was in the face of Soviet Cold War threats. Taken together, these factors indicate that efforts by either or both sides to isolate or undermine the other in the spirit of the Cold War of the s and early s will produce major dangers for both countries and other nations.
For that reason, many other capitals would resist attempts by Washington or Beijing to compel them to choose sides in a zero-sum struggle for dominance.
The resulting disruption would severely undermine the world economy, cripple global and regional cooperation on many issues, and impel some nations to devote more resources to military defense instead of economic development. The net result of all this would be the increased likelihood of instability and crisis within nations, within regions, and ultimately across the globe. Given the above, there is little doubt that the U. That said, more intensely competitive interactions do not necessarily mean a sharply confrontational, zero-sum relationship of the kind now favored by the Trump administration and likely advocated by some in China.
There is an alternative to the emergence of what would amount to a new, extremely destructive Cold War. The challenge for both sides is to develop a bilateral relationship that more realistically addresses the genuine as opposed to imaginary or exaggerated concerns of the other side while recognizing the very real, common reasons to cooperate effectively where needed. Despite the current downward spiral, incentives exist in Washington, Beijing, and other capitals to fashion what amounts to a middle path that rejects the self-destructive, worst case assumptions increasingly evident today along with the unrealistic belief that the relationship can somehow return to the more easily managed cooperative and competitive dynamics of the past.
Finding this middle path requires, first, serious efforts to put a floor under the current near—free fall in relations by minimizing the chances of highly escalatory crises occurring over inadvertent incidents or volatile issues, especially in Asia. This is particularly important given the increasing likelihood of such crises, as I have indicated above.
Hence, more substantive confidence-building and crisis management measures are urgently needed. Track One and Track Two discussions have produced some notable successes in this area in recent years.
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But such exchanges have often focused too narrowly on the prevention or successful handling of purely military incidents or accidents, especially in the Track One arena. This larger context would be as critical a factor in determining the evolution and outcome of a future serious U. The problematic features of the broader decision-making context of U. These critical features have been examined in Track Two discussions, but have apparently not been seriously explored on an official or semi-official basis.
The growing levels of distrust and uncertainty in the relationship make it all the more imperative for the two countries to deal directly with these concerns. A first step in this direction should be the formation of a senior-level U. But for such a dialogue to occur, both sides will need to step back from the current use of simplistic, demonizing slogans and self-serving platitudes to characterize the relationship. Instead, they must internalize the reality that, under current conditions, a serious political-military crisis between the United States and China has the potential to escalate to a major military conflagration..
Given this stark fact, each side must recognize that the other is not necessarily interested in provoking and manipulating a crisis to achieve a decisive advantage in the relationship and that any effort to do so would likely result in disaster. That recognition is essential for the initial good faith effort required to engage in a frank discussion of the potentialities of crisis mismanagement on either side.