The United States and China may be destined for war, with North Korea acting as the catalyst, a top national security analyst believes.
Graham Allison, who has advised every secretary of defense since the Reagan administration on nuclear disarmament, told Canada’s McLean’s magazine that the situation in North Korea is “like a Cuban missile crisis in slow motion.” He also is director of Harvard’s Belfer Center and Science and International Affairs.
“North Korea is either going to have the ability to launch a nuclear weapon against San Francisco or Vancouver or Los Angeles in the next year or so, or somebody’s going to prevent that from happening,” Allison told the magazine. “And that somebody, Trump said, is supposed to be China. As he said to [Chinese president] Xi, if you won’t do it, I will and you won’t like it.”
If China fails to act against North Korea, Allison said, then “it sets things up for blaming China for failing to do something that nobody could do, so it was an unreasonable demand.”
“I think in that sense it’s dangerous,” Allison said. “If you asked me what’s a good way to get to war, that would be a good way.”
Another danger would be the sudden fall of North Korea’s Communist dictatorship.
“Then there’s the possibility of regime collapse, with Americans and South Koreans coming from the south, Chinese from the north, racing to secure North Korean nuclear weapons or just stabilize the situation,” Allison said.
There may be as many as 150,000 troops from China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) near the North Korean border, Business Insider reported. The last time U.S. forces entered North Korea during the Korean War, it led to fighting between Americans and the PLA.
“If you end up having a war between the U.S. and China, China can deliver 50 or 60 nuclear weapons against the U.S.” Allison said. “Basically that’s the end of the country as you would think of it. That’s catastrophic. Can you have a war short of a nuclear war? You may be able to, but even that … One reason we never had a hot war with the Soviet Union was because both parties were afraid, rightly, there was no way you could have that war without the one that’s losing escalating until both are destroyed. I think if war was ever a good idea for staunching the rising power, by now with China as big and strong as it is, the idea has become less and less credible.”
War between America and China might be inevitable, he said, because the United States is an established superpower and China is a rising power. He studied 16 situations where a rising power challenged a dominant nation and found that in 12 of them, war was the result.
“For a century Americans have believed we’re No. 1 by nature or by constitution,” Allison said. “At the same time, the Chinese also have this sense that China is the center of the universe. It was only this century of humiliation, as they call it, where Westerners came and interfered in our country and then created these conditions — where American allies surround us and American ships patrol our seas — that has to be righted as we recover where we belong.”
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