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Alexander Markovics examines the concept of the Thucydides Trap and its relevance to the escalating tensions between the United States and China, exploring the potential implications for global geopolitics.

Is the United States preparing for a conflict with China in 2025? ‘My gut tells me we will fight in 2025.’ These words are from none other than US Air Force General Mike Minihan, who warns of an impending war with the People’s Republic of China in a memo to the Air Mobility Command. And with this warning, which can be interpreted as covert sabre-rattling, he is not alone. Mike McCaul, the new chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a member of the more China-hostile Republicans, shares the assessment that the US must prepare for an armed conflict with Beijing over Taiwan.

Even the New York Times, which holds a position comparable to Pravda in the Soviet Union in today’s liberal West, published a report on the Pacific Ocean and geopolitical developments in Asia at the end of March, predicting a war with China. The Western world is thus being prepared for a war with China. But why Beijing, the largest trading partner of many Western countries like Germany, and why now, when the West is already deeply involved in a war in Ukraine?

Taiwan – the Bone of Contention

The island of Taiwan in the Chinese Sea provides the pretext for the West’s sabre-rattling. After they were defeated by the communists in the Chinese Civil War, the Chinese nationalists, backed by the US, withdrew to Taiwan in 1949. The Communist Party, despite its control over mainland China, was denied representation of the Chinese people in the United Nations until 1971. During this time, the representation remained in the hands of the nationalist Chiang-Kai-Shek. The reason for the particularly vehement support by the US was obvious. According to US General MacArthur, who wanted to deploy atomic bombs against Beijing at the height of the Korean War, Taiwan is an unsinkable aircraft carrier right off China’s coast, which one did not want to give up, particularly during the Cold War against communism.

But after Stalin’s death, this systemic conflict took place not only between the liberalist West and the communist East in Moscow but also within the socialist camp. There was a struggle between Khrushchev, who was intent on coexistence with capitalism, and Mao, who wanted to fight the West to the last. It was only in 1979 that the US gave up its position after establishing diplomatic relations with Beijing. From then on, Taipei was diplomatically dropped in order to mobilise China against the USSR. This also meant that the US recognised Beijing’s One-China policy, which envisages a peaceful reunification of Taiwan with the mainland in the future.

However, it is precisely the Democrats under Joe Biden, who were considered more China-friendly in the US, who put an end to this. In August 2022, Nancy Pelosi, then still Speaker of the House of Representatives, travelled to Taipei, leading to the hitherto most severe irritations with China. Although the US Department of State still commits to the One-China policy on its website, it is gearing up for war, which could be seen recently in the hysteria over an alleged Chinese spy balloon in the US. But Taiwan is only the pretext; the reason for the Sino-American conflict lies deeper.

The Reasons for the Conflict between the US and China: Multipolarity and Open Society

The US sees China, just like Russia, as a serious threat in the battle of systems. While in the case of Russia, it is Moscow’s military might and its ‘illiberal democracy’ that Washington wants to see destroyed, liberal oligarchs like George Soros see the biggest threat to the ‘Open Society’ of woke Liberalism 2.0 in Beijing. The US is militarily and economically exhausted after decades of wars and colour revolutions in Yugoslavia, the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Eastern Europe. While missile shipments for Taiwan are being redirected to Ukraine, infrastructure in the US is decaying, and the number of drug addicts is exploding in the context of the opioid crisis.

Washington is a power in decline, while China is on the rise to become the world’s most significant economic power. Where the USA drops bombs, China builds bridges and hospitals; where Washington wants to ignite civil wars, Beijing’s New Silk Road project creates prosperity, and while NATO is instigating wars, the Middle Kingdom brings the old enemies Iran and Saudi Arabia to the negotiating table. It seems an irony of history that it is precisely the aggressive foreign policy of the US neoconservatives since George W. Bush, intended to cement America’s position as world hegemon, which has led to a rapid decline of American power in the world.

The previous unipolar dominance of the US, with Washington as the centre of the world, is slowly giving way to a multipolar world order, in which Washington is only one centre among many alongside Moscow, Beijing, Tehran, and New Delhi. Nevertheless, the US views the situation as an opportunity to confront a militarily weaker China by intentionally provoking a war over Taiwan according to the logic of the ‘Thucydides Trap’ (a term coined by Harvard political scientist Graham T. Allison to describe a situation where a rising power causes fear in an established power, potentially escalating towards war). However, the time window for this is quite narrow. According to US military figures, it is said to extend only until 2025–2028, as it is anticipated that China’s advanced anti-ship weaponry and naval capabilities will surpass those of the US by that time, making it increasingly difficult to overcome. Given the crumbling of Washington’s anti-China alliance – New Delhi and Tokyo are now buying weapons and oil on a large scale from Beijing’s ally Moscow – General Minihan’s postscript to his prognosis could come true: ‘I hope I am wrong.’

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Alexander Markovics

Born in 1991 in Vienna, Alexander Markovics is a historian, journalist, and translator who follows the New Right, Fourth Political Theory, and Neo-Eurasianism. Alexander is the editor-in-chief of the German magazine Agora Europa which follows the real right. He has a BA in History and was the founder, first chairman and spokesperson of the Identitarian Movement in Austria from 2012 to 2017.

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1 year ago

You know if we go to war with China we will also have to fight a battle hardened Russia as well. There is no way Russia will stand idly by if they see their economic and strategic ally facing a possible loss on the battlefield to a hostile “collective west.”

Last edited 1 year ago by Brian Mallett
1 year ago

I have empathy for Taiwan (and Hong Kong too) but refuse to even consider the value of going to war over either.

Pretending to understand the ins and outs of these complex historical relationship when neither being able to read or understand the native languages is pure arrogance.

Let the Asians sort out their own problems without American or European interference.

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