Strategists dwell on how the rise of China will affect the position of the United States in East Asia and the world. They debate strategies of containment, hedging, and accommodation. But they discuss less precisely which points of Sino-American friction could result in conflict. In A War Like No Other, published in April 2007 by Wiley and Sons, Brookings scholars Richard Bush and Michael O’Hanlon argue that despite the tricky dynamics of great-power transitions, Washington and Beijing can probably manage China’s rise to produce a cooperative relationship with the possible exception of one issue – the Taiwan Strait.
On April 26, Bush and O’Hanlon offered recommendations on how the two nations can improve communications, especially in times of crisis; avoid risky behavior, even when provoked; and, above all, remember which buttons not to push. Michael Green, former senior director for Asian affairs at the National Security Council, served as commentator.
In their provocative volume, Bush and O’Hanlon make two other compelling points. First of all, war in the Taiwan Strait will not occur through deliberate choice but because of misperception and miscalculation between Beijing and Taipei. Second, they suggest the real danger is that the ensuing conflict would escalate very quickly, and transform the close cooperation and friendly rivalry between the U.S. and China into the first-ever shooting war between two nuclear powers.
AuthorsMichael E. O’Hanlon Director of Research - Foreign Policy, Director - Strobe Talbott Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology, Co-Director - Africa Security Initiative, Senior Fellow - Foreign Policy, Strobe Talbott Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology, Philip H. Knight Chair in Defense and Strategy