Kevin Rudd, the former Prime Minister of Australia and deeply knowledgeable China watcher, proposes a way forward for the US and China to avoid a superpower conflict, and offers a chilling vision of what that might look like if it was unleashed.
In a timely and insightful exploration, former Australian Prime Minister and international authority on China, Kevin Rudd, examines the growing sense that the US-China relationship is beginning to hurtle out of control. Hyper-nationalists have gained ground in the politics of Washington and Beijing and self-described 'realists' are pushing more confrontational national security policy agendas, while 'liberal internationalists' and 'multilateralists' have been written off.
The United States has formally declared that forty years of 'strategic engagement' between China and America has failed - and that we have now entered into a new era of 'strategic competition' where there are no rules. Meanwhile in Xi Jinping's China, Beijing now proclaims the rise of the east, the decline of the west, and China's rise to become the globally dominant great power.
This 'great unravelling' of the US-China relationship has given rise to economic, cyber and high technology warfare, and perhaps broader economic decoupling - with a widening gulf between the two superpowers over foreign policy, national security policy and international economic policy in both perception and practice. Kevin Rudd suggests we are not yet at crisis point. But we sometimes seem to be headed inexorably in that direction. As politicians, strategists and generals on both sides embark on the slippery slope of decoupling, containment, confrontation, conflict and a new Cold War, they face the prospect of the unthinkable: war itself.
The Avoidable War offers a compelling strategic narrative for the future that might still be acceptable enough to both sides: an understanding of the past and a vision of the future that might just reduce the risk of catastrophe.
Kevin Rudd is the global president and CEO of Asia Society and has been president of the Asia Society Policy Institute since January 2015. He served as Australia's twenty-sixth prime minister from 2007 to 2010 and then as its foreign minister from 2010 to 2012, before returning as prime minister in 2013. Rudd graduated from the Australian National University with honours in Chinese studies and is fluent in Mandarin. He also studied at the National Taiwan Normal University in Taipei.