National flags of U.S. and China wave in front of an international hotel in Beijing February 4, 2010. REUTERS/Jason Lee
Timothy R. Heath & William R. Thompson, National Interest: U.S.-China Tensions Are Unlikely to Lead to War
Washington and Beijing are wary competitors, but neither country regards the other as its principal enemy.
Graham Allison's April 12 article, “How America and China Could Stumble to War,” explores how misperceptions and bureaucratic dysfunction could accelerate a militarized crisis involving the United States and China into an unwanted war. However, the article fails to persuade because it neglects the key political and geostrategic conditions that make war plausible in the first place. Without those conditions in place, the risk that a crisis could accidentally escalate into war becomes far lower. The U.S.-China relationship today may be trending towards greater tension, but the relative stability and overall low level of hostility make the prospect of an accidental escalation to war extremely unlikely.
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WNU Editor: There are a lot of differences between the two .... but on the big issues .... both China and the U.S. have always found a way to work things out. My big fear is what happens if China is in an open conflict with a strategic U.S. ally (i.e. Japan). The U.S. may not want to go to war with China .... but treaty obligations may force it to do exactly that.