Statistically, the risks of conflict between China and the United States would be very high

If you read Meta-Defense regularly, you know that relations between Beijing and Washington are, today, even more strained. On both sides of the Pacific, the HQs are actively working to model conflict hypotheses, and to build scenarios to give shape to their Wargames, in a frenzy of simulation that had not taken place since the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq in 1990. These tensions had nevertheless been statistically anticipated, 5 years ago, by American researchers from the Belfer Center, in a statistical analysis which, at the time, went almost unnoticed outside specialized circles.

The starting point of the American analysis is an observation: historically, when an emerging nation comes to challenge the supremacy of an established power, the risks of conflict between these two powers are very high. This scenario is referred to in international relations by the term Thucydides trap, a reference to an episode in the Peloponnesian war which opposed the Lacedaemonians, a hegemonic power, to the Athenians, a rising power, in ancient Greece. American researchers then carried out a statistical study on comparable situations that had arisen over the past 5 centuries, to find that 12 times out of 16, the conclusion was a conflict between the two powers. Among the noteworthy references of the study, we can cite the wars between the Netherlands (reigning power) against England (rising power) in the 17th century, then France (reigning) against the United Kingdom (rising) at the beginning. of the 18th century and which found its conclusion in the two world conflicts opposing the alliance between France and Great Britain, the two European colonial reigning powers, to Germany, the rising continental power.

Thucydides Trap-like Situations Over the Last 5 Centuries Studied by the Belfer Center

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