Former U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt’s famous statement that U.S. citizens had nothing to fear but fear itself was powerfully effective. Despite China’s increasingly fearsome reputation, the United States’ greatest fear of the country should be fearing China too much.
Although a rethink of U.S. policy is warranted, given China’s dramatic advances and growing assertiveness, Washington should develop its response from a position of confidence. This certainly is not “the most dangerous time arguably in our lifetime,” as Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe said. The Soviet Union might not have manufactured Apple products, but it was a bristling, paranoid nuclear state—as was, at points, the United States. That fear brought the world close to nuclear war on several occasions, including as late as 1983 with NATO’s exercise Able Archer 83 that almost frightened the Soviets into war.