The Enemy We Need?

David Rothkopf
David Rothkopf (Photo credit: New America Foundation)

In Foreign Policy, David Rothkopf offers one reason we are looking to turn America’s relationship with China into the next Cold War.

Many in the United States have a rampant, untreated case of enemy dependency. Politicians love enemies because bashing them helps stir up public sentiment and distract attention from problems at home. The defense industry loves enemies because enemies help them make money. Pundits and their publications love enemies because enemies sell papers and lead eyeballs to cable-news food fights.

I have lived in and dealt with China long enough to know that we should not delude ourselves about that country or its intentions. This is a relationship unlike any we have known in recent history, at once a market, a resource, and a competitor with whom we share a mutual dependency. We are confused about how to deal with them, and they with us.

China may well wind up being our enemy at some point. But we serve ourselves poorly by creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. There is a fine line between wise preparedness and reckless provocation. Our debate should be on where that line is, and once decided we should step right up to it – but not across.

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