Responding to Steve Walt’s Response
Adjunct Professor and Senior Fellow, International Security Program; Director, Project on U.S.-China Relations, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
My colleague Steve Walt and I agree that we may need a balance of power against China to reverse the US pattern of decline. Recently a Chinese official dubbed the U.S. “conceited” and claimed that China’s new aircraft carrier was “longed for by the Chinese people,” a somewhat romantic expression of popular sentiment.
To balance Chinese nationalism, Europe provides a better option than any Asian state. The historical record shows that far from declining, the EU overcomes its differences and continues increasing its GDP and military strength. Steve is right that the EU is not going to become a “United States of Europe,” but it will likely evolve into a fiscal union because Germany and France remain committed to assisting weaker partners. Further, the EU is expanding with five to ten would-be members waiting to join the enlarged Union, ultimately reinforcing NATO.
In Asia, few states will provide a counterweight, benefiting as they have from Chinese investment and trade. In contrast Europe and the United States are equally concerned about China’s worldwide authoritarian and one-sided economic influence. In the past, Western economic strength has been the key to power transformations and it will remain so. Therefore in my view, economics still essentially determines politics.