As the Tory leadership candidates tussle over China, it is well worth reading this essay by the US strategist Hal Brands, who says that contrary to the common perception, the first world war did not happen by accident. Rather it was a product of ‘a determined but anxious Germany… willing to take risks to achieve goals it could not attain through peaceful means.’
The obvious parallel today is with China. It is a peaking power and it may well choose to take risks sooner rather than later.
The US, at the moment, is in danger of sending the wrong signals. Last week’s suggestion that Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, might go to Taiwan was followed by an even more foolish indication that the trip would not go ahead because the US military had concerns her plane would be shot down. This kind of approach encourages Chinese brinkmanship.
What is certain is that the Taiwan question will be the most important geo-strategic issue of this decade.
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