Whenever a new great power has emerged and faced an existing power, military conflict has ensued

Nouriel Roubini writes: The biggest geopolitical risk of our times is not a conflict between Israel and Iran over nuclear proliferation. Nor is it the risk of chronic disorder in an arc of instability that now runs from the Maghreb all the way to the Hindu Kush. It is not even the risk of Cold War II between Russia and the West over Ukraine.

All of these are serious risks, of course; but none is as serious as the challenge of sustaining the peaceful character of China’s rise. That is why it is particularly disturbing to hear Japanese and Chinese officials and analysts compare the countries’ bilateral relationship to that between Britain and Germany on the eve of World War I.

The disputes between China and several of its neighbors over disputed islands and maritime claims (starting with the conflict with Japan) are just the tip of the iceberg. As China becomes an even greater economic power, it will become increasingly dependent on shipping routes for its imports of energy, other inputs, and goods. This implies the need to develop a blue-water navy to ensure that China’s economy cannot be strangled by a maritime blockade.

But what China considers a defensive imperative could be perceived as aggressive and expansionist by its neighbors and the United States. And what looks like a defensive imperative to the US and its Asian allies – building further military capacity in the region to manage China’s rise – could be perceived by China as an aggressive attempt to contain it.

Historically, whenever a new great power has emerged and faced an existing power, military conflict has ensued. [Continue reading…]

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1 thought on “Whenever a new great power has emerged and faced an existing power, military conflict has ensued

  1. josieamilburn

    What Mr. Roubini has to say is nothing new, even the person on the street, like myself, understands the geopolitical and economical problems, here. Certainly, It goes without saying that if either side sees a defensive action as expansionist and aggressive, there is going to be hell to pay. There is only one solution and it will sound naive and utopian, but maybe we should give it a chance, ’cause sometimes things are not what they seem. The problems with the planet, down the road, is going to be economical and social. And that will be enough to keep the heads of state taking Pepto Bismol. Sooner or later, whichever the world is ready for, nations are going to have to put their petty differences aside and work together to figure out what to do with the overpopulation: where to put them, how to feed them, how to keep them from each other;s throats and how to survive. If these aren’t the goals of the nations, then the alternative isn’t a pretty picture. The biggest problem, one might say and rightly so, is how to get the nations to trust one another. And that will be, unless we start to think of how to work out the problems we have with each other, now, without strife and war. We have to start with the people who hertofore, have been doing the thinking and talking. If you pay attention to what they say, they all sound the same. As though they all read the same book or took the same class.

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