Destined for War : Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?

Seyi Osinowo
2 min readJul 13, 2019

My biggest takeaway from Lee for the new CIA director addresses the most troubling question about China’s trajectory: What does its dramatic transformation mean for the global balance of power? Lee answered pointedly: “The size of China’s displacement of the world balance is such that the world must find a new balance. It is not possible to pretend that this is just another big player. This is the biggest player in the history of the world.”

I have been fascinated by the rise of China for a couple of years. In my maiden post for 2019, I argued that as power dissipates in the West, China will take over and this geopolitical shift will define 2019. I might have been on to something. From the mess called Brexit to a slowdown in Europe, it became evident of a slow implosion of the Western hegemony. Then the bummer; the United States to blacklist Hauwei, meaning American companies like Google’s Android can no longer do business with China; in other words, American businesses were banned from doing business with China.

Although the ban was reversed 6 weeks later, this effects of this ban were far-reaching. For one, it gave flesh to the narrative that this ban was actually a first-to-market move to prevent the Chinese companies from winning the 5G war; thus painting America as a bully. It also revealed how more dependent America was on China vs the other way around as analysts speculated on the impact on both countries and the world in general.

But for me, I really was more interested in the impact of their collision what conditions could prevent same: and that is what Graham Allision attempted to frame in this book. The book was about the “Thucydides trap”, which happens when the expansion of a rising economic power begins to threaten the sense of sovereignty the ruling nation at that time has. This situation spurred by other tendencies to include national pride, might compel both parties to opt for war despite full knowledge of the disastrous implications. And to illustrate, he examined instances in the past to include when the rise of Athens threatened the Spartans and Thucydides comment became the source of the term “Thucydides trap”.

He was of the opinion that the rise of China was inevitable and both parties must adapt to a changing global polarisation..they must adapt to a world where both parties trade and work as equals.