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Political Scientist Who Predicted US-China Conflict 2 Decades Ago Says ‘Cold War' Could Get Worse

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Last Updated: August 19, 2020, 11:00 IST

John Mearsheimer. (Credits: Britannica)

John Mearsheimer. (Credits: Britannica)

One of the leading theorists of “offensive realism" and professor of political science at the University of Chicago, John Mearsheimer talked about the 'cold war' between the nations, what the US elections could mean for the situation, and much more.

More than twenty years ago, this political scientist had predicted the current conflict between the United States and China. Now, John Mearsheimer says that an escalation of the intensified conflict between the two superpowers is "inevitable".

One of the leading theorists of “offensive realism" and professor of political science at the University of Chicago, Mearsheimer talked about the 'cold war' between the nations, what the US elections could mean for the situation, and much more, in an interview to the Asahi Shimbun.

Asked about whether since the Covid-19 outbreak, the countries had begun a 'real cold war', Mearsheimer says that the 'real cold war' had begun before the coronavirus, and that the pandemic did not "matter much".

He says that even ideology does not play a big role in the nations' conflict. The real deal, Mearsheimer says, is the balance of power. "China has become so powerful over the past 20 years. There is a serious chance that (China) could become a regional hegemon in Asia," he says in the interview, adding that the US does not tolerate peer competitors and the idea that China is going to become a regional hegemon is unacceptable to the nation.

He explains how it was this "clash of interests" generated by the fundamental change taking place in the balance of power, which was driving the competition. "And I would note that you'll hear a lot of talk about the fact that the United States is a liberal democracy, and that China is a communist state. And, therefore, this is an ideological clash," he said.

The report mentions that analysts in US and Japan argued that since US-China bilateral economic ties, political relations had grown in 14 years. Asked whether this would make it unfeasible for either country to instigate an open war, the political scientist says that there were many experts who said the same thing before the World War I happened.

According to him, the experts at the time had said that there was a tremendous amount of economic interdependence in Europe, which is why no one would dare start a war. "But nevertheless, we had World War I," he says, explaining that while nations can have economic cooperation, there was also "security competition."

He says that the economic cooperation between US and China is slowly beginning to disappear, and there was now economic competition as well as security competition.

He told Asahi Shimbun that US has its "gun sights on Huawei", and would like to destroy it, as they want to remain on the cutting edge of modern sophisticated technologies.

Asked to comment on whether US would be able to restore its relationship with key allies if Joe Biden became US President, Mearsheimer says that the Democrats would treat Japan, South Korea, Germany in the same way as the country treated them before Trump took over.

On the most effective way the Biden administration could contain China, the political scientist believes that the Democrats would be as committed to containment as Trump.

He says while he was in China for 17 days in October 2019, he talked to many Chinese foreign policy leaders. He points out that almost everyone he talked to believed that it didn't matter whether Trump won or lost the presidential elections, in terms of US-China relations "The Chinese believe that the Americans have their gun sight on China, and nothing is going to change that. I think they are correct," he told Asahi Shimbun.
first published:August 19, 2020, 11:00 IST
last updated:August 19, 2020, 11:00 IST