Saturday, December 19, 2015

US-China relations: What Thucydides Trap?

These academics, intellectuals and diplomats they have overlapping thinking habits that make for a meaningful discussion when they come together.

I also thought Chan Heng Chee was quoting George Yeo without referring to him by name. The label of the US as a "missionary power" was a dead giveaway. Mr Yeo possess an impressive and imaginative intellect but I often wished he was more practical as well, which was LKY forte.

I read the whole article and what I found most useful was that America and China must always be careful not to underestimate each other. Chan was quoting LKY.

Thinkers love to think far more than appraise themselves if their ideas are practical and useful. They love concepts and models of thought, frameworks etc., But we have to get on with living successfully. Why do we care about the Thucydides Trap? Has it never occurred to them that Thucydides beguiling idea had guided the thinking of strategists and leaders down the timeline up to today? To a large degree it could just have been a self fulfilling prophecy. All that was always needed for Thucydides to be right is one party fear the other believed Thucydides logic and as competitors and adversaries there is no shortage of misunderstanding and mistrust. Adversaries build their own Thucdides Trap.

Put aside Thucydides and be practical. America and China should just keep working hard at building a constructive relationship and not judge or second guess each other. That way Thucydides would be defeated because that ancient philosopher ideas was just preying on human weaknesses. Better to invest in the better halves of our nature.

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