Analysis & Opinions - Project Syndicate

Optimizing Decision-Making in a Dangerous World

| Sep. 04, 2017

The United States and China have reached a precarious moment in their relationship. Ensuring a peaceful outcome will be the greatest geopolitical challenge of the twenty-first century. Are our leaders up to it?

As things stand today, the risks seem only to be escalating. US President Donald Trump’s administration has imposed economic sanctions on Chinese entities with financial ties to North Korea, because it does not believe that China has done enough to constrain the North Korean regime. And, as Trump has said bluntly, if the Chinese don’t deal with North Korea, he will. As North Korea inches closer to developing a nuclear-tipped missile that can hit the continental US, Trump has threatened the country with “fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

China, for its part, rejects what its foreign ministry has called the “China responsibility theory” regarding North Korea. A recent editorial in a Chinese state-run newspaper asserted that while China would stay neutral if North Korea attacked first, US strikes aimed at regime change would cause China to intervene. The Chinese also responded furiously to the passage of a US naval warship through disputed waters in the South China Sea last month, a move that the foreign ministry called a “provocation” that “severely undermines China’s sovereignty and security.”

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For Academic Citation: Allison, Graham and Arianna Huffington.“Optimizing Decision-Making in a Dangerous World.” Project Syndicate, September 4, 2017.