Title: Destined For War
Author: Graham Allison
The reason is Thucydides’s Trap: When a rising power threatens to displace a ruling one, the most likely outcome is war. This phenomenon is as old as history itself. About the Peloponnesian War that devastated ancient Greece, the historian Thucydides explained that “it was the rise of Athens and the fear that this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable.” These conditions have occurred sixteen times over the past five hundred years. Twelve ended violently.
In the seventeenth case, an irresistible rising China is on course to collide with an immovable America. Both Xi Jinping and Donald Trump promise to make their countries “great again.” But unless China is willing to moderate its ambitions, or Washington can agree to share primacy in the Pacific, a trade conflict, cyberattack, or accident at sea could be the spark that ignites a major war.
In Destined For War, the eminent Harvard scholar Graham Allison explains why Thucydides’s Trap is the best lens for understanding the competition between the United States and China. Can Washington and Beijing steer their ships of state through these treacherous shoals? Allison shows how imaginative statecraft has averted war in the past, and what painful steps must be taken to avoid disaster today. By masterfully blending history and current events, Destined For War aims not to predict the future, ut to prevent it.