fredag 5. april 2019

Could an ancient Greek have predicted a US-China conflict?

Not so long ago, China's rise was seen as essentially benign. A growing economy, it was thought, would go hand-in-hand with a liberalising political system. China was, to use the phrase favoured by US experts, becoming a responsible global stakeholder. But today China is increasingly viewed as a threat. Indeed, many fear that rivalry between China and the US could ultimately even lead to war, a conflict with global ramifications.

In America, a new model is being proposed, one that harks back to the ancient world and the work of Thucydides, the historian of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta.

Prof Graham Allison, of Harvard University's Belfer Center, is one of the US's leading scholars of international relations. His groundbreaking book - Destined For War: Can America and China Avoid Thucydides Trap? - has become required reading for many policymakers, academics and journalists. Thucydides's trap, he told me, is the dangerous dynamic that occurs when a rising power threatens to displace an established power.