Thucydides Trap

Don’t presume that tensions between China, a rising state, and the United States, the status quo power, will lead to conflict.

Like several states in the Asia–Pacific region, Australia faces a defining foreign policy challenge in coming years: how to reconcile a rapidly expanding trade relationship with China with a deepening security and defence alliance with the United States. Given the significance that this dilemma poses for states throughout the region, it is worth discussing the rise and fall of great powers — the dynamic that occurs historically when the expanding influence and rapid growth of one state actor threatens the interests of the established hegemonic power. More often than not, the subsequent competition between the rising and status quo powers results in increasingly bitter conflicts and ultimately ends in all out war.

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