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Is war between China and the US inevitable? | Graham Allison

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Taking lessons from a historical pattern called "Thucydides's Trap," 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.

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48 Comments on Is war between China and the US inevitable? | Graham Allison

  1. D. J the savant // 20th November 2018 at 8:34 pm // Reply


  2. Americans weapons suck they are made in China

    Ty ty I am here all week

  3. war…..war never changes

  4. None of you have actually finished the video yet

  5. With the Anti-Christ ” trump ” at the helm of ignorance ” anything is possible !

  6. Regardless of your opinion on these matters, you have to admit… This guy is super knowledgeable and it makes for an incredibly interesting talk.

    Thanks TED.

    • writerconsidered // 20th November 2018 at 10:20 pm // Reply

      Yes, also whether he’s right or wrong he at least wants to avoid a horror show for both sides. That makes him a humanitarian.

  7. The biggest crossover since infinity war

  8. “This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object.” I got this vibe.

  9. I think posing the question publicly moves the needle in the wrong direction, especially if the headline is all people see. There’s no fighting Pandora’s box. Be certain the future you imagine is beautiful.

  10. Trying to make sense // 20th November 2018 at 8:52 pm // Reply

    Violence is the problem, not the solution.

  11. The real question is why the US would view it as a threat? Also China and its people have always been the super power throughout the majority of human history. This is a country whose people have sacrificed everything for a greater future for their children. To understand them better and what made them so strong today, you’d have to look at their past. Their government also plans in the long term and look for the long term solutions and their people are tenacious and hardworking and do their best to be successful no matter where they go. They are also very conservative, efficient, and selfless because there is no individualism, your life was not about yourself but about what you can do to create a better future for your children and what knowledge and experience you can pass on to them, to give them an advantage that you never had. Their greatest strength is their unity despite their differences with each other, cause China’s history is a history of war among themselves for the longest time.

    • i mean you got a point but not really. During the 1700s-(early) 1900s china was known as the sick man of Asia that countries constantly exploited (particularly the British) for personal gain, it was one of the worst times in Chinese history, so China hasn’t always been a super power. And I think the United States definitely views China as a threat. China has a socialist one party government which is a direct ideological opposition to the US which we know from the Cold War is not a thing the US takes lightly, the whole fascism problem in South America is all the US’ fault in their efforts to keep socialism as far away from the western hemisphere as possible, the US even went to war just because an east asian country turned communist, that country being Vietnam. The whole prospect of the Cold War was the fight between democratic, capitalistic NATO (US, UK, France) against the socialist dictatorship of the Soviet Union and to a lesser extent China. Now that China has dramatically grown in power they have in many ways taken the role of the late Soviet Union as the US’ main competitor, in many ways its shaping up to be a repeat of the Cold War if the US’ carries on with its constant interfering with other countries and continents problems. However I do agree with a lot of points you made.

    • Caleb McFarland // 20th November 2018 at 10:34 pm // Reply

      Zarozian And who also murdered many of its children after and during various uprisings such as in Tiananmen square. They had nation wide oppression after that uprising. And also what is now China was divided and much smaller for a great deal of its history. The Japanese invasion forced them to unite. hence the wall of China. Also really the Roman Empire, the British empire, the Spanish empire, Mongolian, Egypt. They ruled massive portions of the planet for quite a while. I mean China is definitely a very old culture that has done a lot, but it’s not exactly what you’re describing.

  12. This is also a message from the Chinese Netizens from 2 years back when social media began antagonizing them again:

    “我们是东亚病夫时,我们被说是黄祸; When we were the sick man of Asia, we were called the yellow peril. 我们被预言是下一个超级大国了,我们被指是主要威胁。When we are billed to be the next superpower, we are called the threat. 那时我们闭关自守,你走私鸦片来强开门户; When we closed our doors, you smuggled drugs to open markets. 我们拥抱自由贸易了,你责骂我们抢走你的饭碗。When we embrace free trade, you blame us for taking away your jobs. 那时我们风雨飘摇,你铁蹄犯境要求机会均等; When we were falling apart, you marched in your troops and wanted your fair share. 我们要整合破碎的山河,你说我们“入侵”…… When we tried to put the broken pieces back together again, free Tibet you screamed, It was an invasion! 我们试行马列救国,你痛恨我们成为异己分子; When tried communism, you hated us for being communist. 我们拥抱资本主义了,你又恨我们当了资本家。When we embrace capitalism, you hate us for being capitalist. 当我们的人口到达十亿,你说我们在摧毁地球; When we have a billion people, you said we were destroying the planet. 我们要限制人口了,你说我们践踏人权。When we tried limiting our numbers, you said we abused human rights. 那时我们一贫如洗,你视我们贱如狗; When we were poor, you thought we were dogs. 我们有钞票借给你了,你怨我们令你国债累累。When we loan you cash, you blame us for your national debts. 我们发展工业了,你说我们是污染者; When we build our industries, you call us polluters. 我们有货品卖给你了,你说我们是地球暖化的因由。When we sell you goods, you blame us for global warming. 我们购买石油,你说我们榨取兼灭族; When we buy oil, you call it exploitation and genocide. 你们为石油开战,你说是为了解救生灵。When you go to war for oil, you call it liberation. 那时我们动乱无序,你说我们没有法治; When we were lost in chaos and rampage, you demanded rules of law. 现在我们要依法平暴,你说我们违反人权。When we uphold law and order against violence, you call it violating human rights. 我们静默无声时,你说我们欠缺言论自由; When we were silent, you said you wanted us to have free speech. 我们不再缄默了,你说我们是被洗了脑的仇外暴民。When we are silent no more, you say we are brainwashed-xenophobes. “为什么你这样憎恨我们?”我们想知道。“Why do you hate us so much﹖”we asked. “不”,你说,“我不恨你们。” “No,” you answered, “we don’t hate you.” 我们也不恨你; 只是,你了解我们吗? We don’t hate you either, but, do you understand us? “当然了解”,你说, “我们消息多的是,有AFP、CNN、还有BBC……” “Of course we do, ”you said, “We have AFP, CNN and BBC’s ……” 那么你究竟要我们怎样生存? What do you really want from us? 回答之前,请仔细的想一想…. 因为你的机会不是无限的。Think hard first, then answer, because you only get so many chances. 已经够多了…. 这个世界容不下更多的伪善了。Enough is enough, enough hypocrisy for this one world. 我们要的是同一个世界,同一个梦想,靖世太平。We want one world, one dream, and peace on earth. 这​​个宽广、辽阔的蓝地球,容得下你们,容得下我们。This big blue earth is big enough for all of us.”

    War won’t really happen unless the US wants it to. I also believe what’s most important is communication and actually talking to them and negotiating with them fairly and reasonably so that we are both fully understood. The moment communication stops is the moment where people begin to think and assume the worst and jump to conclusions and this is how wars begin.

    • Powerful message, the USA loves to have its cake and eat it to

    • +Zarozian The undeniable fact is that immigrants whether refugees or legal or illegal economic migrants work 100X harder than locals. They can;t be stealing your kind while being lazy and on welfare. The facts don;t stack up to your blanket statement sorry man

    • Eagle 367 But the ones coming here may not be looking for work. Only asylum and shelter. Believe me when I say this but we are only letting those who will work and become US citizens. We did get a lot of jobs back thanks to Trump so we will need those workers. It’s also very important that they came in legally. I believe you might be missing some information but the only ones that come in illegally are really just known criminals back in their home country who may be involved in human trafficking. Those caravans of immigrants were being picked off by them, which was why Trump sent troops there in the first place, but due to ignorance and the media twisting the truth to once again antagonize him, he was pressured and advised to have them withdraw, otherwise it would make him look bad, which it already did.

      You also seem fully convinced that all illegal immigrants can do no harm and will actually work, but I hope you one day realize that’s mere fantasy and naivety.

    • Eagle 367 You also don’t seem to be aware of how terrorists can easily come into our country under the guise of refugees. Who does the blame fall to when a terrorist attack happens and your loved ones die? Surely you will blame the republicans for letting them in, like how you do with everything else that goes wrong. Not only that but these attacks done by a few will paint the innocent refugees in a bad light as a whole. It will be people just like you who would attack them in retribution for those terror attacks.

      The Republican Party watches and anticipates, then they think of all the possibilities that could happen and they plan ahead for it but also make decisions that you enjoy antagonizing us for, even when it is the best decision for you.

      And all for what? Moral superiority? You think yourself a hero? A good person? No. You are nothing but naive, ignorant, and foolish.

    • Caleb McFarland // 20th November 2018 at 10:36 pm // Reply

      Zarozian China still has some of the worst human rights records, such as surrounding villages and taking and torturing villagers.

  13. History repeats itself……yet history is always made up by men and it’s funny how the creators of it cant change a dam thing.

  14. Timmeification // 20th November 2018 at 9:02 pm // Reply

    When the americans are done with being “No.1” they can finally concentrate on learning what real freedom looks like. I mean… when they survive this war.

  15. That last line, good thing to know that Winston Churchill plagiarized, thanks.

  16. My Name Is Totally Erik // 20th November 2018 at 9:14 pm // Reply

    12:45 ok just going to put it out there that none of these but one include Chinese history and the one that does, they were literally being invaded by a foreign power–even if they didn’t retaliate a war would still happen.
    You can’t use European/Western history to determine the future of China. It’s an entirely different system.

    • My Name Is Totally Erik // 20th November 2018 at 9:32 pm // Reply

      +Musabre I’m not saying they didn’t! You may have noticed that the speaker in this and white people in particular seem to dis the Asian battlefield of world war two. And China only had a part in it because our friendly neighbours Japan who just popped by last Tang Dynasty (and briefly before) to learn everything from us then use it all against us.

    • The point he is making isn’t really contingent on wether China was involved in any of these situations.
      He is pointed out a pattern. And although most ( but not all ) of the country’s where European, a range of political structures was represented. Why would China be immune from this trend.

    • My Name Is Totally Erik // 20th November 2018 at 9:46 pm // Reply

      Just one’s opinion 🙂 None of us really know what will become of any of the world’s superpowers. We can only try to hypothesize the likeliest outcome.

    • +My Name Is Totally Erik It changes nothing where and who caused the war. The idea of rising powers coming into conflict with ruling powers is just as prevalent in Asian history as it is everywhere else. Although yes, he doesn’t give a lot of Asian examples, a simple google search will reveal countless cases of this exact thing happening in Asia

    • erik do you know anything about the world wars? go read a book, watch the world at war, do something smart please.

  17. No, just the war in the TED comment section

  18. Pierpiero Pieri // 20th November 2018 at 9:27 pm // Reply

    Nice lesson from the people that give us hiroshima and nagasaki,,,

  19. I’ve never had a problem with the rise of China’s economic influence per se. I have a huge problem with the spread, even in the west, of their ideology. That is a true threat to American values. The only way to combat that ideology is economically. The alternative, at this point, is war. Very frightening. I’d love an alternative that does not include liberal democracies rolling over and becoming good little CCP members. I’m not willing to throw Taiwan and Japan under the bus either. Appeasement is an exploded theory, i.e. WWII.

  20. The US has shown a lack of responsibility as a global superpower, using its reputation as a peacekeeper to fuel (no pun intended) proxy wars for its benefit worldwide. China is the only country right now with the economic pull to alter the course for Africa and the middle east and Western Asia in my oppinion. I think with the rest of to the world the call them out on massive humanitarian violations, they are the worlds only hope in terms of preventing total chaos. This will actually happen wether we like it or not. But wake up call, they will be over 2.5 billion in 2050, Africa will be 4-5.5 billion, the surounding countries in Asia another 2 billion. The west will be less than 30 percent of that. The US ruling as a super power centred in the west just doesn’t make sense demographically.

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