The Thucydides's Trap Project has received hundreds of comments about the Case File since launching our website in 2015. Selections are posted below, and we will be continually updating this page (and the Potential Additional Cases page) with responses that advance the conversation.
Potential Additional Cases
Argentina vs. Brazil
- "The regional power transition in the Southern cone between Argentina and Brazil, with the establishment of Brazilian primacy in the mid-twentieth century."
Sweden vs. Russia
- "The Great Northern War (1700-1721) between rising Russia and the Swedish Empire may fit well into the Case File. Sweden, led by King Charles XII, represented an overwhelming economic and military power in and around the Baltic Sea. Russia, in the midst of Peter the Great's many modernization efforts, was set on increasing it's role on the European stage and deploying a navy within the Baltic Sea and opening a port closer to Europe than Archangel. Russia joined an alliance with August II, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, and Frederick VI of Denmark to upset Swedish power. While Denmark and Saxony were quickly defeated, Russia waged twenty years of war that effectively ended the Swedish Empire and opened Baltic trade routes to Russian ships, entirely upending the status quo of the region."
Spain vs. England
- "Perhaps you could include Spain vs. England. After all, the Spanish Armada led to Britain's emergence as a naval and colonial power."
Japan vs. Korea
- "I would like to suggest adding the 1592-1598 Japan-Korea War to the Case File as a good example of hegemonic warfare in Northeast Asia."
- "The rise of Qing dynasty and collapse of Ming dynasty, which triggered a great war. This is a classic case of violent power transition: about 25 million people were killed or displaced during this period."
Case File Interpretations
Impact of Ideology
- "Many of the countries mentioned at least shared the same cultural values (the most prominent exceptions being cases where the competition involved China, Japan, and at least one Western nation). There can be no doubt that cultural perceptions about the trustworthiness of 'the other' exert a strong influence over decisions that either lead to, or prevent, conflict."
Impact of Geography
- "Only in Case #14 (US vs Japan) did a war erupt between two countries on different sides of the ocean, and this was because Japan was dependent on resources from abroad for survival while the US was unwilling to allow Japanese aggression abroad to go unchecked (and had the power to strangle Japan). Compare and contrast this with the UK-US relationship (Case #11), where the US never attempted to strangle the UK nor cared about what the British did outside of the Western hemisphere."
World War I (Case #12)
- "Some scholars attribute the outbreak of WWI to the power transition between Germany and Russia. According to this view, the war was caused by German leaders’ fears about the rapidly rising power of Russia, which was quickly recovering from the wounds of the 1905 Russo-Japanese War. For more on this interpretation, see Dale Copeland, The Origins of Major War (2000).
US vs. USSR (Case #15)
- "To describe the Cold War as 'no war' ignores the economic cost of the competition, which ultimately bankrupted the Soviet Union. Furthermore, the end result was that the Russians lost the Cold War with drastic results comparable to the Russian loss in WWI."
UK and France vs. Germany (Case #16)
- "It is true that the re-unified Germany "militarily remains a eunuch," but this does not get at the heart of it. Germans are racked with guilt over the Holocaust and WWII. There is no appetite for conflict in Germany."
- "An infographic of key geographic resources and military presence across the most contested areas between the US and China could be informative. On the one hand, China has grown in economic power, but in many regions does not have a significant military presence. On the other hand, China has a growing economic presence and interest in regions such as Africa, and Brazil where the US shares a development interest of its own."
- "Have you considered that all cases of great power rivalry always included proxy wars? This is especially important in the age of nuclear weapons and economic interdependence. They both limit the opportunities for direct violent confrontation. Yet, if anything can draw two or more great powers into direct military conflict, escalating proxy war is the most likely candidate."
- "A factor not mentioned explicitly is the problem of environmental degradation. This may be one of those significant differences between the present situation and historical ones, as it has aspects that affect all parties whether they go to war or not, and whether they win or not."