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Avoiding War with China

Two Nations, One World
Amitai Etzioni

BUY Cloth · 216 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813940038 · $24.95 · May 2017
BUY Ebook · 216 pp. · ISBN 9780813940045 · $24.95 · May 2017
BUY Paper · 216 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813941790 · $18.95 · Sep 2018

Are the United States and China on a collision course? In response to remarks made by Donald Trump’s secretary of state, China’s state-run newspaper Global Times asserted, "Unless Washington plans to wage a large-scale war in the South China Sea, any other approaches to prevent Chinese access to the [disputed] islands will be foolish." Some experts contend that conflict is inevitable when an established power does not make sufficient room for a rising power. In this timely new work, renowned professor of international relations Amitai Etzioni explains why this would be disastrous and points to the ways the two nations can avoid war.

The United States is already preparing for a war with China, Etzioni reveals. However, major differences of opinion exist among experts on the extent of military commitment required, and no plan has been formally reviewed by either Congress or the White House, nor has any been subjected to a public debate. Etzioni seeks here to provide a context for this long overdue discussion and to explore the most urgent questions: How aggressive is China? How powerful is it? Does it seek merely regional influence, or regional dominance, or to replace the United States as the global superpower?

The most effective means of avoiding war, several experts argue, requires integrating China into the prevailing rule-based, liberal, international order. Etzioni spells out how this might be achieved and considers what can be done to improve the odds such an integration will take place. Others call for containing or balancing China, and Etzioni examines the risk posed by our alliances with various countries in the region, particularly India and Pakistan.

With insight and clarity Etzioni presents our best strategy to reduce tension between the two powers, mapping out how the United States can accommodate China’s regional rise without undermining its core interests, its allies, and the international order.


Drawing on his encyclopedic knowledge of the history and current state of U.S.-China relations, Etzioni sorts out the many myths and common misconceptions and contrasts them with reality. His book outlines the truly essential issues concerning competition and cooperation between the two countries. His proposal for realistic ways to construct a more peaceful relationship is poised to inspire important debates over U.S.-Asia policy.

Ho-fung Hung, Johns Hopkins University, author of The China Boom: Why China Will Not Rule the World

Etzioni has written a brilliant little book that meticulously examines the issues between the United States and China and the interests and emotions that bear on them. There is no better way to get up to speed on the increasingly tense relations between Washington and Beijing than to read Avoiding War with China.

Ambassador Chas W. Freeman Jr., former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs

If the United States and China ever go to war, everybody on this earth stands to lose. And if the United States and China are friends, the entire world stands to gain. Indeed, things that make the United States and China interdependent in this world are much more and far greater than things that divide the two. In this book, Etzioni clearly points out that in this globalized world, relationships between great powers should adopt geoeconomic principles, which often result in a win-win situation, and should shy away from geopolitical considerations, which are always zero-sum games.

Patrick C. P. Ho, Deputy Chairman and Secretary General of the China Energy Fund Committee

In a short book pointedly titled Avoiding War with China, Amitai Etzioni has a more concrete idea of how China should be accommodated. Etzioni, a professor at George Washington University, is no softie. Having escaped from Nazi Germany as a child, he served as a commando in the Arab-Israeli war of 1948. Etzioni knows what war is like, in contrast to most armchair warriors in Washington or indeed Beijing.... [E]minently sensible.

The New Yorker

In Avoiding War With China, Amitai Etzioni says that even optimists give the U.S. and China only a one-in-four chance of peace. He thinks those odds can be improved.

The Daily Beast

Prepare for back-to-school political debates: Avoiding War with China – Amitai EtzioniWithout classes, club meetings and homework assignments taking up your time, summer is the perfect opportunity to catch up on current events around the world, and Avoiding War with China will help you do just that.

From the first chapter, readers will begin to learn everything about the U.S. relationship with China and why Etzioni thinks that war between the two countries could be coming sooner than we think.

The GW Hatchet

Anyone considering how the United States and China might avoid a devastating war will want to read this timely book. Stimulating and engaging, this elegant work not only offers a fresh look at these two nation's multifaceted relationship, but dissects major issues with precision. This is a must read for today's national debate on America’s China policy.

Chunjuan Nancy Wei, University of Bridgeport 

The originality of this work is that it addresses numerous policy recommendations to the United States, instead of to China, as is the case with the vast majority of publications, in order to ensure what is called a peaceful ‘transition of power’ between Washington and Peking, while not jeopardizing the fundamental interests of the United States in East Asia.

Phébé (published by Le Point)

[A]n important contribution to the burgeoning literature on the future of Sino‐U.S. relations.... Etzioni's call for a 'vigorous, comprehensive public debate about U.S.‐China policy' that can avoid 'a drift to war without compromising any of the core interests of the United States and its allies' is a valuable counterweight to the structural pessimism that infuses much of academic and public discussions of the future of Sino‐U.S. relations today.

Political Science Quarterly

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