The post-World War II Euro-American consensus—the rule of international law and an open trading regime—is eroding. Great power competition has returned, with the inclusion of peripheral sources of instability (ISIS, North Korea, Iran). The liberal international order is under siege, and stable governance is collapsing. Sound bad? It is.
An essential goal in this new era must be to deter China. U.S. leaders must do everything in their power to make sure the Chinese leadership never gets to the point where it finds it acceptable to risk war with the United States. Deterrence is a strategy of forceful warning, not acquiescing to an adversary’s goals. There are too many vital interests at stake—for the United States and for the global system it underwrites—to simply accommodate the Chinese.