The Thucydides Trap

Are the US and China Heading for War?

Are they heading toward a “Thucydides trap?” – a self-fulfilling prophecy in which a hegemon and an emerging power end up at war.

As China challenges America’s sphere of influence, tension against each other by their respectiImage result for Thucydides Trapve tit for tat by raising tariffs and blacklisting each other could lead them into a deadly trap first identified by the ancient Greek historian Thucydides. It was the rise of Athens that raised fear to those citizens of Sparta to take arms that inevitably led to war.

Graham Allison who coined the term the Thucydides Trap at the Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government found that in 12 of 16 cases over the past 500 years in which a rising power has confronted a ruling power, the result has been bloodshed. This is a very high possibility of 75 percent.

Unless tensions between them are reduced and reversed, war between the United States and China in the years ahead is not just probable, but a real possibility. By throwing jabs at each other, war is more likely than not.

Moreover, current misestimations or underestimations of each other in their relationship could contribute to a titanic crack. As Allison observes, “A risk associated with Thucydides’s Trap is that business as usual—not just an unexpected, extraordinary event—can trigger large-scale conflict.”

Could these constant rufflings of feathers got out of hand one day, and a spark ignites unexpectedly, like the assassination of an archduke in 1914, that could end up with an explosion?


~ by Joel Huan on June 3, 2019.

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