Friday Headlines

Is War Inevitable When A Rising Power Challenges A Dominant One?
Throughout history there have been instances in which a rising power has taken on a ruling power, such as was the case in 1914. Athens challenged Sparta in ancient Greece. Germany challenged Britain a century ago. Whatever the historical example may be, most such contests have ended badly.

In fact, writes Graham Allison in The Atlantic, in 12 of 16 past cases in which a rising power has confronted a ruling power, the result has been bloodshed.

And, he notes, more often than not the eventual conflict was at some point considered to be “inconceivable” among foreign policy analysts. Whether those wars resulted from a failure to think imaginatively or to properly assess humanity’s capacity to wreak havoc, the consequences have been deadly.

Few truly believe a conflict between China and the United States is likely, but Allison argues that it is time to consider the inconceivable.

“Based on the current trajectory, war between the United States and China in the decades ahead is not just possible, but much more likely than recognized at the moment. Indeed, judging by the historical record, war is more likely than not. Moreover, current underestimations and misapprehensions of the hazards inherent in the U.S.-China relationship contribute greatly to those hazards. A risk associated with Thucydides’s Trap is that business as usual—not just an unexpected, extraordinary event—can trigger large-scale conflict,” he writes.

Better Evaluation of Global Food Security Needed
In a recent speech on investment in Africa, Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice noted that since 2010, the United States has invested more than $5.5 billion to improve food security in Africa and other regions. While Rice asserted the administration’s efforts, including the Feed the Future program, have rescued 9 million African children from starvation, it remains difficult to adequately evaluate the efficacy of those investments.

In a new paper released by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Charles Hanrahan lays out several recommendations to reform outdated definitions and opaque budgeting practices to ensure a more accurate assessment of US aid.

The paper recommends that the US government provide a more detailed accounting of how Feed the Future and nutrition monies are being spent and better leverage the strengths of federal agencies and assign clear agency roles and responsibilities.

He also suggests Congress act legislatively to strengthen coordination and consultation between the 11 agencies involved in global food.


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