A Sticky Solution: on United States and Chinese Relations

A Sticky Solution:
On United States and Chinese Relations

It is undeniable that China currently has one of the fastest growing economies and is quickly becoming one of the most powerful superpowers in the world. Political theorists, in particular realists, often point to a parallel between Britain/German relations leading up to World War 1 and current relations between China and the US. Before the war, Britain was the global hegemon while Germany was increasing in power hoping to find “a place in the sun.” Germany’s desire for increased power and internal unification was the driving factor for German involvement in World War 1. The events surrounding World War 1 are convoluted and do not perfectly mirror current US/China relations; however, they show how quickly chain reactions can produce catastrophic war among superpowers.
      Realists see China as a threat to the US as the global hegemon. From the realist perspective, this steadily increasing threat will inevitably lead to war. Liberals, on the other hand, argue that China’s increasing power alone is not enough to cause war and see certain causal mechanisms as the way to maintain peace. Both sides have strong arguments but tend to be overly pessimistic or optimistic. One thing remains clear: War between these two global superpowers would have devastating effects that should be avoided at nearly any cost. In order to prevent war, the U.S. should use the advice of Walter Russell Mead and strategically employ the use of sticky power. Sticky power is a term coined by Mead that uses trade as a conduit for peaceful relations. It combines the realist and liberal perspective to provide a more level headed solution to the situation. Sticky power uses the liberal ideas of economic interdependence, and democratization to avoid war. However, sticky power also accepts the realist possibility of war and prepares for war using historical precedent as a guide. Skillful use of sticky power could be the solution for the...