Event Details


Thursday, Apr 27, 2017




Carnegie Council for Ethics in Int. Affairs

The Coming War with China? The Ethics of Confrontation in the Pacific

The Coming War with China? The Ethics of Confrontation in the Pacific

Thursday, Apr 27, 2017  |  17:00:00   |  Carnegie Council for Ethics in Int. Affairs

On April 27, 2017, the Robert Strauss Center and the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs co-sponsored the special panel "The Coming War with China? The Ethics of Confrontation in the Pacific." This event examined the prospects for armed conflict in the Pacific and America's moral imperative to keep the peace while still maintaining its values and credibility.

Is there an ethical justification to escalate? Can the United States and China avoid miscalculation and instead find common ground? What can the multiple historical examples of crises over Taiwan and the South China Sea teach the great powers about regional security, deterrence, and avoiding total war? Is it true, as some commentators have argued, that policymakers and the public more broadly have forgotten the horrors and costs of great power conflict, and thus we are sliding into a great-power war? If so, what, if anything, can be done to protect the peace?

Ian Buruma is Paul W. Williams Professor of Human Rights and Journalism at Bard College.

Jennifer Harris is a senior fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations.

Joshua Eisenman is a Strauss Center Distinguished Scholar and Assistant Professor of Public Affairs at the LBJ School.

Moderator: Devin Stewart is a Carnegie Council Senior Fellow.

Dr. Eisenman argued that what the Chinese Communist Party intends is to fully control China, and requires Americans to accept that fact instead of taking the position of “what do we want China to become and let’s change China.” In addition, Dr. Eisenman stated that International Relations theory has damaged the U.S.-China relationship because it has allowed policymakers to take autocracy out of the equation. Since IR theory ignored domestic elements of the system, it propagated concepts such as the Thucydides Trap, which became a shorthand tool for people who don’t want to learn about the country they’re studying. Dr. Eisenman urged the audience to look deeper into China to understand and to predict its behavior in coming years.

You can find more information about the event, including a podcast of the discussion, here.



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