Robert S. Ross
During the 1970s and 1980s, the United States, the Soviet Union, and China were involved in a unique strategic relationship that did not exist at any other time during the post-World War II era. Despite the ambiguities in the term and the tendency for it to be simplistically applied, international politics among these three states during this period can be understood, and in many respects must be understood, from a triangular perspective. As the preceding chapters reveal, there was sufficient strategic interdependence among the United States, the Soviet Union, and China that this three-way relationship was widely perceived by both statesmen and scholars as a "strategic triangle."
Nonetheless, as the preceding discussion also illustrates, the term strategic triangle can also be misleading, insofar as it can suggest that there was strategic equivalence among the three countries and that they were thus equally susceptible to triangular pressures. Indeed, there is a consensus among the authors in the volume that during the 1970s and 1980s China had not gained the superpower status of the United States and the Soviet Union and that this asymmetry was reflected in the dynamics of triangular interactions. The analysis shows that China was, by far, the most reactive state within triangular politics.
Nevertheless, the preceding chapters also reveal that despite the asymmetry among the United States, the Soviet Union, and China, there was also a significant degree of mutual attention to triangular interactions. Despite the ambiguities in power relations, policymakers in each state evaluated the respective policies of the other two and developed their own country's policy with attention to the triangular implications. Ultimately, this is the most important crite