Thucydides's Trap, a deadly pattern of structural stress that results when a rising power challenges a ruling one, is as old as history itself. About the Peloponnesian War that devastated ancient Greece, the historian Thucydides explained that 'it was the rise of Athens and the fear that this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable.' Over the past 500 years, these conditions have occurred sixteen times and and war broke out in twelve of them. Today, as an unstoppable China approaches an implacable America and both Xi Jinping and Donald Trump promise to make their countries 'great again', the seventeenth case looks grim. In Destined for War, eminent Harvard scholar Graham Allison explains why Thucydides's Trap is the best lens for understanding U.S.-China relations in the twenty-first century. Through uncanny historical parallels and war scenarios, he shows how close we are to the unthinkable. Emphasising that war is not inevitable, Allison also reveals how clashing powers have kept the peace in the past and what painful steps the United States and China must take to avoid disaster today.
Includes bibliographical references and index.