Academic journal article McNair Papers

5. Coda on U.S. Policy

Academic journal article McNair Papers

5. Coda on U.S. Policy

Article excerpt

The United States need not fear a cold war with China. China's own priorities--economic growth and stability--propel it toward the core, toward legitimacy that can only come through reform, and toward the dominant technology. The Chinese know that their greatest asset is their human capital and that this potential cannot be tapped without information technology, openness, and integration. China's continued ascent should be accompanied by a growing commitment to economic and political freedom, which is needed to sustain success in the new era. China should be sought as a powerful partner-to-be. As an adversary, China will not be powerful enough to challenge the United States strategically. As a great power, it will have no reason to do so.

The policy of "constructive engagement" of China should not--and currently does not--feature coercion or linkage. At the same time, there is no reason to compromise American principles or interests in the face of Chinese misconduct--no reason to contemplate appeasing China. As its power grows, so too will its acceptance of the principles and interests of the United States and its current partners. Besides, China's options are severely constrained by China's goals.

As for Japan and the European Union, it is important for the United States to share with them the responsibilities of leadership--the prerogatives as well as the burdens. Clinging to the belief that only the United States can meet every international challenge overlooks the fact that it has neither the resources nor the popular support to do so. Moreover, as economic success and power spread, thanks to the information revolution, the United States should expect others of means, starting with the Europeans and Japanese, then China, to pull their weight. U.S. power, which will in any case remain unmatched in most respects, will not be diminished if the United States shifts more of its burden to European and Japanese shoulders.

Finally, the American policy elite should jettison its attachment to unipolarity; not because it is infeasible but because it is unnecessary and counterproductive to seek. …

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