By Timothy Gamble
Is there a war brewing between China and America? Perhaps, but not because of the coronavirus. Rather, a hot war with China may be inevitable as a natural function of history - a concept called the Thucydides Trap.
The Thucydides Trap states that when a rising great power threatens to displace an existing great power, a war that will almost certainly lead to the destruction of one of the great powers is almost always inevitable. The concept is articulated by Harvard University professor Graham Allison, based on a quote from the ancient Greek historian (and military general) Thucydides.
Thucydides stated that the Peloponnesian war, between Athens (the rising power) and Sparta (the existing dominant power), had been inevitable because of the resulting structural stress on the established order. Dr. Allison's research, published through Harvard's Belfor Center for Science and International Affairs, has identified sixteen cases over the last 500 years in which a major new power arose as a rival to an already existing dominant ruling power. Twelve of these sixteen rivalries resulted in a major war in which one of the two powers was destroyed. Dr. Allison uses this research to speculate on the current rivalry between the United States and Communist China. (See Dr. Allison's book, Destined forWar: Can America and China Escape Thucydides's Trap?, for more information.)
Although some criticism of this theory exists in academic circles, the case laid out by Dr. Allison is compelling. And it certainly has gotten the attention of politicians, diplomats, and military leaders in the US and China, even at the highest levels. China's President and Paramount Leader, Xi Jinping, has publically used the term, although typically in denials of China's ambitions for hegemony. In 2014, does example, Xi stated "the argument that strong countries are bound to seek hegemony does not apply to China... China fully understands that we need a peaceful and stable internal and external environment to develop ourselves. We all need to work together to avoid the Thucydides trap" (quote as reported in the South China Morning Post, Feb. 7, 2014).
Unfortunately, China's actions and policies seem to indicate otherwise.
Areas of Rivalry
There are many areas of intense disagreement between the United States and Communist China, many of which are potential flashpoints on the road to war.
- Economic competition and trade deficits
- The independence of Taiwan
- The independence of Hong Kong
- Ongoing disputes over the Korean Peninsula
- The ongoing border dispute with India
- China's claims over the South China Sea, particularly certain important trade routes
- China's military build-up and its increased naval presence (and aggressiveness) throughout the Pacific
- China's recent nuclear tests held in violation of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty
- China's ongoing human rights violations, especially in Xianjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong
- China's lack of religious freedom, and its ongoing crackdown on Christianity
- China's use of cyber-espionage
- China's digital policing of the Internet, including its use of pressure on Western tech and social media companies
- China's use of Confucius Institutes to influence Western academia, and to gain access to Western technology
Will the Coronavirus pandemic cause the war? The coronavirus did originate in China, perhaps even in a Chinese biowarfare lab. The Chinese government did lie about, and cover-up, their coronavirus epidemic for weeks, even months, after they became aware of the problem. Most experts believe China is still lying about the true extent of their coronavirus outbreak. They have not cooperated with world authorities investigating the origins of Covid-19. And the pandemic has exposed America's, and the rest of the West's, supply-chain overdependence on China. Many Western, and even Asian, government officials are blaming China for the global pandemic and it's related chaos.
All this may further deteriate relations with China, but no one is calling for war over the pandemic. At most, we are likely to see some economic and diplomatic sanctions aimed at China, but no cruise missles. This is good news, as a hot war with China is not something to be eagarly anticipated. However, it does not mean we are safe from the theThucydides Trap. In fact, many experts argue a state of war already exists between the two countries, albeit currently as a Cold War.
Brig. Gen. Robert Spalding (USAF Ret.) stated in a recent op-ed published by The Hill, "The United States is in the midst of a 21st century cold war with China." He goes on to write "The very system of globalization has been used by the Chinese Communist Party to advance its agenda. By slowly taking over the world’s trading system and monopolizing manufacturing, they have turned global supply chains into a national security liability."
Please see his book, Stealth War: How China Took Over While America's Elite Slept, in which Spalding exposes a decades long effort by China to successfully wage a six-front war on America's economy, military, diplomacy, technology, education, and infrastructure, for more details on China's Cold War against America, and how they are winning.
What can we do about the coming war with China? Prayer. Beyond that, there is little most of us can do as individuals. Few people are truly in a position to influence policy on that high a level. Among those who are, few wish to take on China in any significant way. Unlike the first Cold War with the old Soviet Union, there is little desire to win this Cold War, or even to acknowledge it exists. Blame a combination of greed, fear, and political correctness. Even General Spalding has expressed doubts about our willingness to win this Cold War, saying it is already almost too late, considering the current state of America's political and corporate leadership, academia, and news media.
As individuals, our best response may be to prepare ourselves and our families and communities for what promises to be a very difficult decade. The 2020s may see a hot war between China and the US. Or it may see the US lose a Cold War it doesn't even want to admit its fighting. Either way, expect major economic, political, and social upheaval for years to come.
(For more on preparedness, please visit my Dystopian Survival website. Those new to preparedness may wish to read my article A quick, no frills, down & dirty guide to preparing for the End.)
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