Foreign Policy Magazine

The Thucydides Trap

When one great power threatens to displace another, war is almost always the result—but it doesn’t have to be.

In April, chocolate cake had just been served at the Mar-a-Lago summit when President Donald Trump leaned over to tell Chinese President Xi Jinping that American missiles had been launched at Syrian air bases, according to Trump’s account of the evening. What the attack on Syria signaled about Trump’s readiness to attack North Korea was left to Xi’s imagination.

Welcome to dinner with the leaders who are now attempting to manage the world’s most dangerous geopolitical relationship.

The story is a small one. But as China challenges America’s predominance, misunderstandings about each other’s actions and intentions could lead them into a deadly

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