When one great power threatens to displace another, almost always the result is — WAR. That is the basis of a theory called “The Thucydides Trap”, proposed by Graham Allison, an American political scientist and professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
The theory is named and formulated after the experience of the Greek historian and general, Thucydides (460-400 BC):
“It was the rise of Athens and the fear that this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable.” —Thucydides from The History of the Peloponnesian War
Let’s see then who is in our story the rising power, and who is the declining power. These are the data published by the Harvard Belfer Center:
Source: Harvard Belfer Center
Having clearly in mind which power is declining, we can easier explain its erratic behavior. The base of its irrational acts is — fear! Not having the control all over the world is equal to death of “the Empire”, and that fear now can be seen in the open.
New American Age?
Trump’s wrecking ball is destroying all the remnants of the International Law system which was long and painstakingly built since the World War II. And now we had a chance to see Mike Pompeo, openly speaking of “reforming liberal international order”. And he openly says:
“America intends to lead, now and always…”
Of course it is not possible. You just have to look at the table above again. Since 2014, all the numbers got even better for China. Insisting on the neocon-neoliberal slogan “America first!” reminds on a guy who in the 20-Century Europe insisted on “Deutschland uber alles!” Remember his name?
Steps Into War
The Thucydides Trap implies that declining power will not fall from the throne peacefully. It will start a war. And the sequence always go like this: Currency war — Trade war — Hot war.
Currency war China already won. Yuan got into the IMF currency basket, and China is increasingly trading all over the world with their own currency, exiting the dollar system. Realizing that it is losing the war, the declining power then raises the stakes, stepping to the second phase: Trade war. Enter Trump and his tariffs.
“The Tariff Man” concluded frivolously that he cannot lose tariff war against the state that has $500 billion trade surplus in trade with U.S. Results were VERY unpleasent. Bringing jobs back to US? GM just sent “Christmas Greetings” to 14,000 of its employes!
And the declining power has to escalate again…
Taking Prisoners of War
In a worst escalation so far, the declining power has started taking trade war prisoners. Chief Financial Official of a Chinese techno giant Huawei, Ms. Meng Wanzhou, was detained in Canada on a request from the US, under the outrageous accusations of “business connections with Iran”! The situation is even more scandalous, knowing that during the tariff negotiations between Trump and Xi at the G20 meeting in Argentina, John Bolton (and Justin Trudeau) knew about the detention! It’s a clear sign that the “Deep State” inside US Administration has gone mad, and that it will use any means, even illegal ones, to ensure leverage in the trade negotiations — or sabotage them. Because Ms. Meng Wanzhou is not just anybody…
Meng Wanzhou (47) is a daughter of Ren Zhengfei, a 74-year-old former military engineer, who founded and built technological giant Huawei into one of China’s largest and most global private business empires.
Huawei Technologies Co. is the greatest threat to U.S. IT corporations like Apple, not only because Huawei makes better phone then iPhone at half the price, but because they are leading in telecommunication electronics and they are leaders in the development of the 5G wireless network. Despite its success in most of the world, Huawei has not made major inroads in the U.S. due to security concerns. The U.S. government has discouraged U.S. carriers from buying Huawei telecom equipment. They accused Huawei for the ‘spying chips’, stealing semiconductor technology, dumping prices and now and for evading unilateral and illegal U.S. sanctions on Iran…
And actually, all “five eyes&ears” countries reacted as a single organism: Australia, New Zealand and Britain rejected some of the company’s services over alleged security concerns, while Canada has done the arrest.
First reaction of the China’s Foreign Ministry was a stern warning to Canada to release Huawei executive or face consequences. If extradited to the US, Meng would be charged with conspiracy to defraud multiple financial institutions and could face up to 30 years in prison for each charge. Of course China considers this act abduction, and will have to retort. And of course that will have a huge impact on international trade and relations. Imagine if Tim Cook have to go to China, or any other country of the region, over some Apple business…
While this is happening, there is no sane person (it’s certainly not Peter Navarro) in the administration who could explain to Trump that nobody in history has ever won a trade war. On the contrary, trade wars always led to hot wars. A smart person would stop and think. Unfortunately, that’s not Trump’s way.
This is probably just the beginning of a much larger, very hot global events, and it will not be a happy ending…
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THE WAR — step by step:
Universal Basic Income