There is no "rules-based order" that the United States upholds and China threatens. It is simply not so. And it is dangerous to flatter one's own (often rule-breaking) power as consensual and demonize the other's as antithetical to world order.
Secretary Blinken insists he does not seek to contain China. But if U.S. leaders cast China as a challenge to the supposed "rules-based order" for which the United States supposedly stands, containment will become the response. Disavowing a cold war doesn't make it so.
This problem was already worrying two years ago, when I wrote: "For advocates of the 'United States-led liberal order,' what really counts is American leadership, even when supplied by Mr. Trump. In this respect, too, his presidency is clarifying."…

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More from @stephenwertheim

2 Oct 20
As America's political divisions grow only more intense, it can seem tempting to rally around U.S. global leadership — or armed dominance — as one of few areas of unity we have left.

That temptation should be resisted. It is one reason our civic life has broken down.
America's militarized foreign policy has fueled its divisions at home. Not only have weapons of war poured into police departments and onto U.S. streets, but U.S. leaders have constantly presented much of humanity as mortal enemies who must be feared and vanquished.
Bush and Obama often said decent things about Islam, that America was at war with terrorists, not Muslims. But what spoke louder, both in the greater Middle East and in American society, was that the United States was waging war across the Muslim world, with no end in sight.
Read 10 tweets
30 Sep 20
CNN right now: the candidates will attempt to create a contrast between them
CNN continues: this time Donald Trump is currently the president, whereas four years ago he was not
CNN: vile smears have never before been heard in American history (Jake Tapper actually said this)
Read 6 tweets
2 Sep 20
I think I can sum it up my idea for a think tank in one word: nothing. Other think tanks will do something. Mine will do nothing.
Donors will say, "What's your think tank about?" I'll say, "Nothing."
Why will people listen to it? Because it's in DC.
Read 4 tweets
24 Aug 20
If the Trump campaign wants to "Teach American Exceptionalism," it might start by teaching the president:…
The irony is that Trump forged a fresh and resonant message by rejecting exceptionalism in 2016. In place of confident exceptionalism, Trump offered insecure nationalism, casting the United States as a global victim.
But since his State of the Union in February, Trump has opted to wrap his arms around exceptionalism: "Our ancestors built the most exceptional republic ever to exist in all of human history, and we are making it greater than ever before."
Read 7 tweets
27 Jun 20
About time. I would add that Wilson’s racism infused his vision of nationalism and internationalism.…
Among others, see @JeanneMorefiel1’s Covenants Without Swords:…
Mark Mazower’s No Enchanted Palace features how Wilson teamed up with South African segregationist Jan Smuts to design the League of Nations mandates system to oversee colonialism:…
Read 5 tweets
25 Jun 20
Much to say about H.R. McMaster's reply to me and others in @ForeignAffairs, but one thing is that McMaster wholly invents the notion that I claimed that a restrained United States could cause "the cessation of Iran's proxy wars." Image
My essay never mentions Iranian proxy wars. Here is what it says about Iran:… Image
This issue speaks to McMaster's larger misinterpretation of my argument. I claim that a U.S. military pullback will reduce threats to the United States less by changing others' behavior (though that will happen) than by narrowing how the United States defines threats to itself.
Read 6 tweets

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