There is No Thucydides Trap

And WWIII has already begun, so Ron Unz is incorrect to imagine that the lunacies of the neocons have saved the USA from the inevitable war with China et al.

The reality is that over the last year the Neocon-orchestrated war against Russia has collapsed any American hopes of forming a strong anti-China coalition.

For generations, India has had a troubled relationship with China and just a couple of years ago a bitter border skirmish had prompted a national ban on TikTok. But India and Russia had been strong allies throughout the Cold War and most of India’s military equipment is still Russian, while it has also benefitted from a very lucrative trade in refining and selling sanctioned Russian oil. So India has now clearly moved towards the Russia-China bloc.

In recent years, China has become the largest market for Saudi oil, while Russia is the other leading member of the crucial OPEC+ cartel. With both those countries joined together in a tight embrace, a Saudi shift away from its longstanding American alliance was hardly so surprising, but it still generated shockwaves.

Japan’s energy needs have led it to begin importing Russian oil despite the Western campaign of sanctions, so even our strongest ally in the Far East may be starting to reconsider its options.

In his 2014 analysis, Mearsheimer had logically presented Russia, India, and Japan as the three most important members of the balancing coalition that America would create against China, but we have now lost two or possibly all three of those countries.

The First World War lasted so long and cost so many millions of lives because the two contending coalitions were evenly matched, with the rising power of Germany so immensely strong that an alliance of the next three European powers—Britain, Russia, and France—could barely fight it to a draw over four years, and only American intervention finally turned the tide at the end. As Niall Ferguson cogently argued in The Pity of War, a swift German victory would have essentially resulted in the creation of the EU a century earlier and with negligible bloodshed.

But if the British government of the time had been so mad as to deliberately provoke a conflict with Russia on the eve of that war, thereby driving the Czar into the arms of his German cousin, the resulting realignment would have ensured a quick victory for the Kaiser, or more likely a German-led coalition too strong to even be opposed.

As envisioned by Mearsheimer, an America allied with Russia, India, Japan, and the NATO countries would have constituted a better than even global match for China, thereby allowing a highly aggressive American policy in the South China Sea. But Neocon blunders have now produced an entirely different correlation of forces, one so unfavorable to our own country that any armed conflict has become much less likely.

In his book, Allison considered a long list of geopolitical transitions over the last 500 years, and one of the few that avoided any bloodshed occurred when American power surpassed that of Britain early in the twentieth century. As he tells the story, by the time the British government considered challenging American dominance in the Western Hemisphere, our country had already grown too powerful to resist and their military leaders vetoed the idea. Lord Salisbury, the British Prime Minister, later wistfully reflected that if his country had intervened in the Civil War decades earlier and helped split the U.S. into rival, hostile nations, matters might have later played out very differently.

In similar manner, I think the developments of the last year have fostered the growth of a China-aligned global coalition far too powerful for America to directly confront, with even our subservient military leaders probably recognizing that reality.

Ron Unz is a smart and reasonably well-read individual. But, first of all, there is no such thing as a “Thucydides Trap”. It’s nothing more than a term coined by a Clown World pseudointellectual designed to capture the media’s attention and make other pseudos feel smart when stating the obvious, and it doesn’t even make sense, as anyone who compares the positions of Athens-Sparta to USA-China will immediately recognize.

“The front of the paperback edition was packed with a remarkable ten pages of glowing endorsements by a long list of the West’s most prestigious public figures and intellectuals, ranging from Joe Biden to Henry Kissinger to Gen. David Petraeus to Klaus Schwab.”

The “Thucydides Trap” is just another form of historical squid ink meant to obscure the observable patterns of the Empire That Never Ended from those capable of recognizing them. The only utility of the term is that one knows better than to take seriously anyone using it.

Second, China has been at war with the USA since 1999. It has been at war with Clown World since 2015. The fact that this war has been “unrestricted”, to use the Chinese word, rather than “hot” is irrelevant with regards to the possibility that the war might be avoided. But war that has already begun cannot, by definition, be avoided.

The historical truth is that empires always end. But other than a vague sense of discomfort, anomie, and being past the peak glory days, the citizens of the empire seldom realize that the imperial age has ended until it is long gone.