The following is an excerpt of an essay in Foreign Affairs.
This November, we will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of what was called “the war to end all wars” between the great powers of the early twentieth century. Of course, the war to end all wars turned out to be anything but. Because of a catastrophic series of unintended consequences, more wars followed in its wake, and the geopolitical map of the world has been redrawn three times since then.
When future generations look back on 2018, it could well be as the year in which the relationship between the two great powers of the twenty-first century—the United States and China—shifted from peaceful coexistence to a new form of confrontation, although its final trajectory remains far from certain.
In a speech at the Hudson Institute earlier this month, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence accused China of unfair trade practices, intellectual property theft, increasing military aggression, and interference in the United States’ domestic politics. The vice president’s speech is the latest in a long line of authoritative statements and policies from the Trump administration redefining future U.S. strategy toward China. These include the U.S. National Security Strategy published last December, January’s new U.S. Defense Strategy, last month’s Department of Defense report on the future of U.S. defense manufacturing and, of course, the initiation of the trade war with China in June.