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Home » Graham Allison: Is War Between China and the US Inevitable? (Transcript)

Graham Allison: Is War Between China and the US Inevitable? (Transcript)

Graham Allison

Taking lessons from a historical pattern called “Thucydides’s Trap,” in this TED Talk political scientist Graham Allison shows why a rising China and a dominant United States could be headed towards a violent collision no one wants — and how we can summon the common sense and courage to avoid it.

Graham Allison – TED Talk TRANSCRIPT

So, let me thank you for the opportunity to talk about the biggest international story of your professional lifetime, which is also the most important international challenge the world will face for as far as the eye can see.

The story, of course, is the rise of China.

Never before have so many people risen so far so fast, on so many different dimensions. The challenge is the impact of China’s rise — the discombobulation this will cause the Unites States and the international order, of which the US has been the principal architect and guardian.

The past 100 years have been what historians now call an “American Century.” Americans have become accustomed to their place at the top of every pecking order. So the very idea of another country that could be as big and strong as the US — or bigger — strikes many Americans as an assault on who they are.

For perspective on what we’re now seeing in this rivalry, it’s useful to locate it on the larger map of history. The past 500 years have seen 16 cases in which a rising power threatened to displace a ruling power. Twelve of those ended in war.

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