'The ghost of Thucydides' is hovering over the U.S. and China! - ABDULLAH MURADOĞLU

'The ghost of Thucydides' is hovering over the U.S. and China!

It seems that the "new cold war" between the U.S. and China will lead to serious breaks in the global power balances of the 21st century. According to the Americans, who do not want to lose their hegemony over the global system, China will displace the U.S. when it feels ready.

American strategists are also trying to establish "historical foundations" for U.S.-Chinese rivalry. prof. Many historians, especially Donald Kagan, adapted the rivalry between the "Sparta (Peloponnesian League)" and the "Athens Empire (Delos League)" in Ancient Greece, which resulted in a war, to the "Cold War" period. Known as the "Neocon historian", Kagan's source of inspiration was the "History of the Peloponnesian Wars" written by Athenian General Thucydides 2400 years ago. Thucydides attributes these wars to the fear that the rise of Athens aroused in Sparta. Kagan's stereotype was that the rivalry between "established power" and "rising power" would result in war. During the “Cold War” the U.S. was “Athens” and the Soviet Union was “Sparta”.

The cliché of "Rising Power-Established Power" was used for Germany and England in "Before 1914". In England, the center of Liberal Capitalism, those who reacted to the entry of German goods into the market were not few. British journalist Valentine Chirol told a friend in 1900, “Germany is more fundamentally hostile to us than France or Russia, but they are not ready yet. They see us as an artichoke to be plucked leaf by leaf,” he wrote. Ernest Edwin Williams, who criticized liberal politicians in his book "The German Threat and British Defenders" published in 1897, advocated "trade protectionism" (remember Trump's Trade Wars).

“Fear of the Germans” would also be reflected in English novels. In Erskine Childers' novel "The Riddle of the Sands" published in 1903, England was under the "German invasion". William Le Queux's novel "The Invasion of 1910" revolved around Britain's weakness in the face of Germany's rising naval power. The newspaper “Daily Mail” published the novel as a serial. British historian Margaret MacMillan describes them in detail in her book "The War That Ended the Peace."

An influential analyst in Defense and Security policies in the United States, Prof. Graham Allison, Prof. He developed the cliché of Kagan and introduced the concept of the "Thucydides Trap" in 2011. Allison has sought 'examples' of this trap in the past 500 years of history. For example, "He who seeks finds", published in 2017, "The Inevitable War: Can America and China escape the Thucydides Trap?" In his book, he pointed out that 12 out of 16 cases resulted in war between the parties. According to Allison, the 'Thukydides Trap' was the best perspective for understanding U.S.-China relations in the 21st century. This time, the role of "Rising power (Athens)" fell to China and the role of "Established power (Sparta)" to America.

 If “War” is destined in the context of “Thukydides Trap”, neither the U.S. nor China wants to be on the “losing side”. “Fear” pushes both sides to become even stronger. As a matter of fact, Chinese strategists say to their American colleagues, "We will prepare ourselves according to how you look at us."

In the previous article, I mentioned that the "China Scare" is the subject of novels in the U.S. China is also a huge cultural market. American filmmakers are removing negative Chinese characters or turning them into positive ones to enter this market. Some producers use themes and characters that will deepen the "China Scare". In the popular fantasy series, however, the portrait of the "terrible enemy" gives the "good characters" a "good" reason to fight and risk death. Such serials also make implicit references to current enemies that must be eliminated. Thus, Literature and Cinema are also battlefields of “culture wars”.

According to anti-Chinese hawks, the "rise of China" also threatens the so-called rules-based world order. The Hawks attribute "strategic importance" to even mundane developments in China. They want to enlarge the front against China by using diplomatic, economic, technological, military, ideological, and cultural devices. The American hawks have forty songs, and forty are on “China”.

"The ghost of Thucydides" haunts America and China. The distrust between the two powers is getting deeper. The U.S. fears being displaced by China, and China fears being blocked by the US. Both forces seem trapped in the "waxing-waning" dichotomy.


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