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Graham Allison: U.S., China Must Work to Prevent War

- BELFER CENTER - Fall/Winter 2018-2019 - Graham Allison -

Graham Allison delivers a TED Talk on the stresses in U.S.-China relations.

Douglas Dillon Professor of Government Graham Allison took the stage at TED World Theater in New York in September to discuss the question: How will the U.S. respond to the rise of China?

Allison's TED Talk was part of TED's "We the Future" event that explored some of the world's most daunting challenges along with possible solutions.

Allison discussed the friction between the U.S. and China over trade and defense as a current example of a centuries-long pattern. he emphasized the importance of Thucydides' Trap, "the dangerous dynamic that occurs when a rising power threatens to displace a ruling power."

"Are Americans and Chinese going to let the forces of history draw us into a war that would be catastrophic to both?" Allison asked. War between the U.S. and China is not inevitable, he said, but both countries must actively work to prevent it.

To sidestep war, Allison said, "A combination of imagination, common sense, and courage" are needed. "A long peace" will also help, he said, noting that Athens and Sparta agreed at one point to a 30-ear peace so each could tend to domestic affairs.

Allison's TED Talk has received more than 900,000 views since it was posted online at the beginning of November.


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