Book Talk: Are the United States and China Destined for War?

It’s a law of nature: rising states and established powers come to blows. But can the Trump administration avoid a clash of nuclear superpowers?

On this episode of The E.R., Max Boot joins us to discuss his new book "The Road Not Taken."
On this episode of The E.R., Max Boot joins us to discuss his new book "The Road Not Taken."

On this week’s first episode of The E.R., Ben Pauker, Christine Wormuth, and David Wertime sit down with Graham Allison to discuss his latest book, Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?

To talk of China these days requires superlatives: the world’s largest population, the biggest economy, an industrial — and increasingly a technological and scientific — giant. It’s also a burgeoning superpower, both geopolitically and militarily. If China hasn’t already surpassed the United States in most metrics, it will soon. And, as it does, it seeks to claim its rightful place as a leader on the world stage. But while Beijing challenges Washington’s hegemony, it’s not a certainty that this will lead to conflict.

With history as a guide, the panel looks at China’s chest-thumping at home and in the South China Sea, and how this new expansionism threatens the United States. Neither country wants hostilities, but what are the flashpoints that could lead to conflict?

Could China’s geopolitical leverage defang North Korea? Or could Pyongyang set China and the United States on a course for war? It’s no secret that Xi Jinping isn’t a fan of Kim Jong Un’s regime, but could Donald Trump’s loud mouth lead to missile launches? Or is there a road to peace and stability?

Graham Allison is the director of Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and served in the first Clinton administration as assistant secretary of defense. He’s the author of Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?, which was released in May 2017.

Christine Wormuth, is an FP Shadow Government contributor and the director of the Adrienne Arsht Center for Resilience at the Atlantic Council. She was previously the under secretary of defense for policy at the U.S. Department of Defense. Follow her on Twitter: @cwormuth.

David Wertime is the founder of Tea Leaf Nation, FP’s China channel. Follow him on Twitter: @dwertime.

Ben Pauker is FP’s executive editor for the web. Follow him on Twitter: @benpauker.

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