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October 14, 2015
China and the U.S. Are Long-term Enemies

Is China’s ascendancy a threat to the U.S.? China’s rise as an economic and military power, coupled with its aggression in the South China Sea, have led some to call for a major rebalance of U.S. policy and strategy. Can China be trusted to act as a responsible global stakeholder? And will they be a long-term ally, or adversary?

  • 00:00:00
    John Donvan:
    And with that round of applause, let's extend it, and please welcome Bob Rosenkranz to
    the stage.
    [applause]
    Robert Rosenkranz:
    Hello, John.
    John Donvan:
    Hi, Bob. Mic is on the seat there.
    Robert Rosenkranz:
    Right. Thank you.
    John Donvan:
    Bob and I normally chat a little bit about how we came to be doing this topic at this
    time. And an interesting thing about this one, Bob, is we've been thinking about this
    one for three years, which makes it, tonight, more or less timely than ever.
    Robert Rosenkranz:
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    Well, yeah. I -- I had, about three years ago, attended a conference in Singapore, a
    security -- regional security conference. And I heard a speech. The key note speech was
    by Chuck Hagel, who was our secretary of defense at the time. And he talked about the
    universal values of human rights, of democracy, of freedom. And he talked about our
    role, our pivot then toward Asia and the things we were doing to coordinate defense
    with Korea, with Japan, with Indonesia, with India and various kinds of weapons systems
    that we were supplying as part of that pivot.
  • 00:01:11
    And after his speech, a lady from the audience got up, and she was wearing a military
    uniform, and she turned out to be a Chinese major-general. And she said, "Well, I have
    a question. What you describe as maintaining regional stability, sounds to us a lot like
    encirclement and containment. And what you describe as universal values, sounds to us
    like interference with our domestic sovereignty. Do you have any words to say that
    would give us reassurance?" to which Hagel said, "humm-n-a, humm-n-a, humm-n-a--"
    [laughter]
    John Donvan:
    So did this general have a point?
  • 00:01:56
    Robert Rosenkranz:
    Well, she -- she raised, I think, a very interesting strategic point that ought to inform the
    discussion tonight, and it's that each side in a -- in a -- in a strategic contest almost
    always will assume the worst intentions from the other side. And that's simply the
    prudent thing to do. So her read of our intentions was -- was the read that she should
    have in her role and -- and our having a kind of negative read of China's intentions is
    what we should be doing. But with that in mind, and realizing that intentions are liable
    to be misled -- misread, each side to this both U.S. and China strategically have to feel
    each other out in a very smart and sensible way. China's not going to accept a coalition
    of democratic states whose purpose is to restrain and hem in China and maybe change
    their domestic rules of governance.
  • 00:03:12
    And we're not going to accept being ejected from the Asia-Pacific region and leaving all
    of our allies to fend for themselves against a powerful hegemonic power. So we have to
    have realistic expectations. China has to have realistic expectations, and those
    expectations have to be adjusted in a strategically smart way.
    John Donvan:
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    Intelligence Squared U.S. - 3 - 10/15/2015
    And -- and they have shifted some what in the last three years, so I'm wondering, were
    we wise to wait these three years to get to tonight.
    Robert Rosenkranz:
    Well, I think tonight's debate could have been held three years ago. It could be held
    today. It can probably be held three years from now or six years from now, because the
    challenge of accommodating the shifting power relationships in Asia is a huge challenge,
    and a long-term project.
  • 00:04:10
    And to me, it's analogous to the challenge that the world faced in the first half of the
    20th century of accommodating a rising Germany. And we see the disastrous
    consequences of that kind of situation being handled poorly by leaders on all sides. So I
    think this is an evergreen debate. And I'm anxious to have it.
    John Donvan:
    Well, I think it's going to be great. And we'll see that when we welcome our debaters to
    the stage. Let's do that right now. And thank you, Bob Rosenkranz.
    Robert Rosenkranz:
    Thank you.
    [applause]
    John Donvan:
    There will be times during the evening again for the sake of the podcast and the radio
    broadcast in which I will ask you to applaud spontaneously.
    [laughter]
  • 00:05:03
    And the signal will be -- I think you're already sort of on line on this one, but if it's not
    sort of happening I'll give you one of those and would appreciate it. And also there are
    bits of business that I need to do again for the radio broadcast. I'll say things like, "We'll
    be back right after this."
    [laughter]
    And you'll see that I don't actually go anywhere.
    [laughter]
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    So I just want to explain that it's not insanity or dementia but that it's for the radio
    broadcast. And I'd like to start, in fact, by asking you again for one more of those
    spontaneous rounds of applause.
    [applause]
    So eight presidents, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama, have
    all pursued in varying degrees a cooperative relationship with the great, glorious, and
    growing China, the People's Republic of, a partnership that was forged in the beginning
    primarily to balance power against the Soviet Union, but it also took shape at a time
    when China was frankly relatively weak at least economically and militarily was certainly
    an underdog.
  • 00:06:13
    But that's all changed now. The Soviet Union is gone, and China is big, modern,
    sophisticated, and becoming very well armed. So the question is, is that a good thing for
    this partnership, is it going to lead to a deepening, or are we seeing the seeds of a rivalry
    sown that will inevitably sprout across the Pacific as hostility? And, if so, what will China
    represent to the next president and the next president and the next president?
    Well, that sounds like the makings of a debate, so let's have it, "Yes," or, "No," to this
    statement, "China and the U.S. Are Long-term Enemies," a debate from Intelligence
    Squared U.S. I'm John Donvan. We are at the Kaufman Music Center in New York City
    with four superbly qualified debaters who will argue for and against the motion, "China
    and the U.S. Are Long-term Enemies."
  • 00:07:04
    As always, our debate will go in three rounds, and then our live audience here in New
    York will vote to choose the winner, and only one side wins. The motion, again, "China
    and the U.S. Are Long-term Enemies." Let's meet the team arguing for the
    motion. Please, ladies and gentlemen, welcome Peter Brookes.
    [applause]
    And, Peter, you are a former deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Asia and Pacific
    Affairs and a member of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. You
    are also a military man, a graduate of Annapolis, a Navy commander. You served in the
    NSA and the CIA, which suggests that you might know some stuff that the rest of us
    don't know. Curious to know what keeps you up at night.
    [laughter]
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    Peter Brookes:
    Well, actually I've been a bit sleepless. I was reading my colleague here on my side of
    the motion, John Mearsheimer's, biography, and I found out he went to West Point.
  • 00:08:03
    [laughter]
    So, you know, being an Annapolis graduate, that's a bit troubling. But being the giver
    that I am, I decided that I'll call a truce for tonight and until the Army-Navy game.
    John Donvan:
    All right, thanks very much, Peter Brookes, and --
    [laughter]
    [applause]
    -- and we want to give you the chance to introduce your partner once more.
    Peter Brookes:
    That's right. Well, sitting next to me and on this side of the motion is Professor John
    Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago.
    John Donvan:
    And he is also the author of several books, including one published in 2001 called, "The
    Tragedy of the Great Power Politics" -- "The Tragedy of Great Power Politics." In that,
    John Mearsheimer, you predicted an aggressive and destabilizing rise of China. We've
    heard you say that when you go out to China, which you do, that you're like a fish out of
    water over there with one exception. Intellectually, you say, you're in your element
    when you're in China. What do you mean by that?
    John Mearsheimer:
    Well, I'm a realist, a realpolitiker, and virtually all the Chinese I know, both policymakers
    and scholars, are realists at their core. So we speak the same language, and we think
    about international politics almost exactly the same way.
  • 00:09:12
    John Donvan:
    Thank you, John Mearsheimer.
    [applause]
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    The team arguing for the motion, "China and the U.S. Are Long-term Enemies." And we
    have two debaters arguing against that motion. Please, ladies and gentlemen, first
    welcome Robert Daly.
    [applause]
    Robert Daly. You're director of the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States at
    the Wilson Center. You lived in China 11 years. You served at the U.S. Embassy there
    and in the '90s, very fun fact, you helped produce the Chinese language version of
    Sesame Street.
    Robert Daly:
    Yes I did.
    [laughter]
    John Donvan:
    You've also -- you're also a trained interpreter. You've interpreted between Jiang Zemin
    and Jimmy Carter, but apparently they were not the most difficult interpreting
    assignments you ever had, because what were the most difficult assignments?
    Robert Daly:
    Yes, that would be Dr. Henry Kissinger at the bottom of one octave and Elmo the
    Muppet about three octaves up.
    [laughter]
    Equally lucid speakers, but sometimes difficult to follow.
    [laughter]
  • 00:10:10
    John Donvan:
    And we've been trying so hard to get Elmo on this stage.
    [laughter]
    This is the closest we're going to come. Tell us Robert Daly who your partner is.
    Robert Daly:
    I'm very pleased to be working today with Kevin Rudd, the former prime minister of
    Australia, former Australian ambassador to Beijing, and the current president of the Asia
    Society Policy Institute.
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    John Donvan:
    Ladies and gentlemen, Kevin Rudd.
    [applause]
    And Kevin, with that introduction, it establishes you actually as the highest-ranking
    former government official of any kind in the world we've ever had on our stage. It's an
    honor to have you here, all the way from Australia.
    [applause]
    You are also a long-time China scholar. You are fluent in Mandarin and you even have a
    Chinese name given to you by a Chinese teacher. What is it?
    Kevin Rudd:
    Well, I should add three disclaimers. I've never been to Annapolis. Never been to West
    Point. In fact, I got kicked out of Boy Scouts.
  • 00:11:07
    [laughter]
    And I was never ambassador for Australia in Beijing. I was a humble first secretary,
    which is the guy who carries the bags.
    [laughter]
    My Chinese name given to me by my teacher was Lù Kèwén.
    John Donvan:
    What does that mean?
    Kevin Rudd:
    It means a continental overcomer of the classics.
    [laughter]
    John Donvan:
    Can the classics be overcome? Did you do that?
    Kevin Rudd:
    No, and 40 years later they remain un-overcome.
    [laughter]
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    John Donvan:
    Ladies and gentlemen, the team arguing against the motion.
    [applause]
    So this is a debate. There will be winners and losers and you, our live audience here in
    New York, will determine who gets victory by your vote. By the time the debate has
    ended we will have had you vote twice, once before you hear the arguments and once
    again after you hear the arguments, and we determine victory by the measurement that
    comes from the difference between the two teams’ first and second votes in percentage
    point terms. Let's register your first vote. If you go to the keypad at your seat, please
    take a look at the motion: China and the U.S. Are Long-Term Enemies.
  • 00:12:10
    If you agree with this motion push number one. If you disagree push number two. And
    if you're undecided number three is the button for you. You can ignore the other
    ones. Just hold that button down until you see the light come on and that will tell you
    where your vote is. And we'll lock it about in about 15 seconds. At the end of the
    debate when we do the same thing, after you vote it's about a two minute lag between
    the time we close the vote and the time we have the results, so it happens quite
    quickly. Okay. Let's move on to round one. We're moving on to round one, opening
    statements by each debater in turn. Our motion is this: China and the U.S. Are LongTerm
    Enemies. Speaking first for the motion and making his way to the lectern, John
    Mearsheimer, professor of political science and co-director of the program on
    international security policy at the University of Chicago. Ladies and gentlemen, John
    Mearsheimer.
    [applause]
  • 00:13:09
    John Mearsheimer:
    It's a pleasure to be here. I'd like to thank the organizers for inviting me and thank all of
    you folks for coming out to listen to us debate this issue tonight. Of course Peter and I
    are going to make the argument that China will be a long-term enemy of the United
    States. I want to start with two preliminary points. One is the argument here is not that
    we're destined to fight a war. It's that these two countries will be long-term
    enemies. You want to remember that during the Cold War the United States and Soviet
    Union were enemies, but they never fought a war thankfully, and we're not arguing that
    that is the case with regard to China. We're just saying they're going to be enemies.
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    Second, when you talk about the future, there's no way you can talk about it without a
    theory of international politics or a theory of great power politics. And the reason is we
    have no evidence about the future because the evidence isn't there because the future
    hasn't happened yet.
  • 00:14:06
    So you need a theory to explain what you think is going to happen and that theory, of
    course, has to be able to explain past cases where great powers rose and fell, and it has
    to be applicable to the present as well. So the division of labor between me and Peter
    this evening is that I'm going to lay out the simple theory that explains why China and
    the United States are destined to compete with each other, to have an intense security
    competition that involves arms races, crises, proxy wars and so forth and so on. And
    then what Peter's going to do when he follows me, is he's going to show you all the
    evidence that's already out there that supports the story that I'm going to tell you. My
    story basically goes like this: If you look at the international system the way it's
    organized, there are three characteristics of that system that force states to compete
    for power and to pursue greater and greater increments of power.
  • 00:15:04
    The first characteristic of the system is that there is no higher authority that sits above
    states. There's no night watchman. States are like pool balls on a table. That means
    that if a state gets into trouble, there's nobody it can turn to rescue. As I like to say to
    students, "In the international system, when you dial 911, there's nobody at the other
    end." That means it is, in effect, a self-help system. That's characteristic
    one. Characteristic two is that all states have some offensive military capability, and
    there are invariably a few states that have a lot of offensive military capability. The
    third feature of the system has to do with intentions. It's almost impossible to divine
    the future intentions of other states because we don't even know who's going to be
    running China in five years or 10 years or 15 years. We don't know who's going to be
    running the United States in five, 10, or 15 years.
  • 00:16:03
    What this means is that when you operate in a world where there's no higher authority
    you can turn to when you get into trouble, and you may end up next to a store -- a
    country that's very powerful and has malign intentions, you quickly figure out that the
    best way to survive is to be very powerful. As we used to say, when I was a young boy in
    New York City playgrounds, you want to be the biggest and baddest dude on the block,
    not because you're malicious or you have bad intentions, but it's the best way to
    survive, because the more powerful you are, the safer you are. Now, what this means in
    practical terms is that states want to, number one, dominate their region of the world,
    and number two, they want to make sure they don't have a peer competitor. That
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    means you want to make sure there's not another state in the system that dominates its
    region of the world like you do.
  • 00:16:57
    Let's talk a little bit about the United States. The United States is the only regional
    hegemon in modern history. Most Americans don't think about this, but the Founding
    Fathers and their successors went to enormous lengths to ensure that we would
    dominate the Western hemisphere. That involved conquering huge swaths of territory
    and making sure that the power gap between us and Mexico and us and Canada, us and
    Brazil, us and Guatemala, was enormous so that they could not cause us any
    trouble. Second thing we did was we instituted the Monroe Doctrine. We basically
    threw the European great powers out of the Western hemisphere and told them that
    they were not welcome back in here, because we did not want any distant great powers
    coming into the Western hemisphere. That was all about establishing hegemony in the
    Western hemisphere.
    Second goal, which is reflected in U.S. foreign policy in the 20th century, is to make sure
    we do not have a peer competitor. There were four potential peer competitors in the
    20th century: Imperial Germany, Imperial Japan, Nazi Germany, and the Soviet Union.
  • 00:18:02
    The United States played a key role not only in making sure each one of those countries
    did not dominate either Europe or Asia, but also played a key role in putting all four of
    those countries on the scrapheap of history. The United States does not tolerate peer
    competitors. And the United States, to go back to my first point, is deeply committed to
    dominating the Western hemisphere. Now let's talk about China. As China gets more
    and more powerful -- and that's going to happen -- the question you have to ask
    yourself is what will China do with all that military power? My argument is that China
    will imitate the United States. They'd be crazy not to. They're going to try to dominate
    Asia the way we dominate the Western hemisphere. If you're in Beijing and you're a
    national security adviser, don't you want a China that is much more powerful than all its
    neighbors? The Chinese understand full well what happened the last time they were
    weak. They call it the century of national humiliation.
  • 00:19:00
    They know what the Japanese, the Americans and the European great powers did to
    them, so they want to be very, very powerful, and for good reason. And they're going to
    want to push the United States out of the -- East Asia. They'd be crazy not to. As my
    mother taught me when I was a little boy, what's good for the goose is good for the
    gander. If we can have a Monroe Doctrine, why do you think they're not going to have a
    Monroe Doctrine? So China's going to try to dominate Asia. Then the question
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    becomes, what do you think the United States is going to do? The historical record is
    very clear here. We don't tolerate peer competitors. We're not going to let them
    dominate Asia if we can prevent it. In effect, this is what the pivot to Asia is all
    about. We see them rising, and we want to maintain our dominant position in Asia.
    The end result of this is the Chinese are going to push in one direction, and we're going
    to push in the other direction, and it is going to be an intense security
    competition. Again, this is not to say we're going to have a war. But the Chinese are
    going to do this not because they have a voracious appetite for tromping on people or if
    they have a particular aggressive gene.
  • 00:20:06
    It's because the best way to survive in the international system is to be a regional
    hegemon. They understand that, and at the same time we're not going to let it happen.
    John Donvan:
    Thank you, John Mearsheimer.
    [applause]
    John Donvan:
    Our motion is "China and the U.S. are long-term enemies." And here to make his
    opening statement against the motion, Robert Daly. He is director of the Kissinger
    Institute on China and the United States and a former cultural exchanges officer at the
    U.S. embassy in Beijing. Ladies and gentlemen, Robert Daly.
    [applause]
    Robert Daly:
    Well, thanks to all of you for coming out tonight. Remember that our motion is that the
    United States and China are long-term enemies, are now and will remain enemies. The
    motion is not that the United States and China may become enemies in the future. Bear
    the wording of the motion in mind. It's very important. Our opponents' position is that
    the United States and China are now and have no real option except to continue to
    remain enemies.
  • 00:21:12
    Why? Because a social science theory says that nations base their strategies on a
    survivalist ethic. Even though the question the United States and China face is not how
    to survive, but how to flourish. We're reduced to our basest instincts. The dire
    outcome that our opponents are forecasting tonight is avoidable for reasons that Kevin
    and I are going to spell out. And it's also avoidable because the Chinese read
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    Mearsheimer, ardently. They’ve read this theory. An even though he tells them that
    seeking hegemony in the Eastern hemisphere is a good idea, that there are sound
    strategic reasons, he goes on to describe a world that would ensue that no one in China
    or the United States would desire.
  • 00:21:56
    In fact, he just admitted that when someone does what he tells China to do, the United
    States throws you on the scrapheap of history. This is a world we can avoid if we
    manage the relationship wisely. I am going to demonstrate that for the past 37 years,
    despite our disparate values, despite crises, despite a relationship that is already highly
    competitive, the U.S. and China have avoided enmity and have benefited from
    engagement. We are not enemies now. Our opponents don't even claim that we are, in
    contradiction to the motion. I will show you also that the world -- what the world would
    look like in our own opponents' scheme if we were to become enemies, in hopes of
    convincing you that we should expend every effort to avoid that outcome. Kevin will
    then challenge the predictive reliability of the social science model in question, and he
    will demonstrate that despite serious threats to the relationship, the United States and
    China have the motive and the means to contain our competition within peaceful
    boundaries.
  • 00:22:57
    Enemies, talking about enemies tonight. Fundamentally hostile powers who wish each
    other ill. For enemies, the prospect of war is always in the foreground of a relationship,
    although not all enemies fight. I want to emphasize from the beginning that the threat
    of enmity between the United States and China is real and it is not yet clear that we are
    going to have the wisdom to avoid this outcome. Our opponents have done a
    wonderful job of putting -- of raising this alarm in very stark terms. But we do have to
    note that we are not enemies now, despite our current concerns. The U.S. is not
    containing China's rise. In fact, we have promoted that rise. We have aided and
    abetted it. The record of engagement with China is lopsided. China benefits more than
    we do, but we benefit as well.
    Trade. China is our third largest export market after Canada and Mexico. The China
    market is essential to the work of American corporations and the Americans they hire;
    Apple, G.M., Qualcomm, Intel, IBM, Proctor & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Johnson &
    Johnson. Furthermore, the import of cheap goods from China was one of the key
    factors that helped low-income Americans to weather the storms of the 2008 financial
    crisis.
  • 00:24:06
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    China now invests in the United States. Cumulative foreign direct investment 54 billion,
    which puts 80,000 Americans to work. 7.3 million Chinese tourists will have visited here
    by 2021, bringing 85 billion annually. We benefit from trade. We also benefit from
    Chinese talent. Over 2 million Chinese students have studied here since the opening in
    1979. And many of them have remained to contribute to our society. Over two million
    Chinese immigrants now live in the United States. It is the third largest foreign born
    group after Mexicans and Indians. And they contribute greatly to every aspect of the
    society. Ten Chinese-Americans have won Nobel Prizes as United States citizens – I’m
    sorry, 10 Chinese immigrants. Five of them were born in China. There's a friend of mine
    at the Heritage Foundation, Mr. Brookes's organization, a couple of years ago who said,
    "United States-China relations are not just political, economic, and military, they are
    now personal."
  • 00:25:03
    The Chinese have become our friends, neighbors, colleagues, co-parishioners. It may
    seem like a cheap move to bring the personal element into this debate about
    international affairs, but it's actually an essential point. There is scant mention of
    individual wellbeing in John's theory. Nation states are the fundamental players in his
    anarchic world. But it is individual human beings that are imperiled by this contest for
    dominance.
    What does enmity look like? What would it be like to have China as an enemy? John
    Mearsheimer himself provides the answer in the final chapter of "The Tragedy of Great
    Power Politics." He says that even if we avoid full-scale war, which would be
    Armageddon, we will face crises, major disputes that threaten war; an arms race, which
    I don't think we can afford; proxy wars, in which third country citizens will die for our
    purported benefit; bait and bleed strategies to lure the other country into costly foolish
    wars; bloodletting strategies to prolong those conflicts. The U.S. will begin barring
    Chinese students from its universities and we'll cut down travel restrictions.
  • 00:26:04
    That's just a partial list. Enmity would also involve a betrayal of America's professed
    values. Why? As John Mearsheimer says, the United States' interests would be best
    served by slowing Chinese growth rather than accelerating it. He advocates that we
    harm -- deliberately harm the welfare of one fifth of humankind to maintain our
    position as the hegemon. Our opponents say that we are now and will remain long term
    enemies because of a theory and because of Chinese intentions and capabilities which
    dictate that it must be so. This is their idea. We should answer them -- we must answer
    them as Ebenezer Scrooge answered the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come in his
    dementor’s cloak, pointing a bony finger at a grave. Scrooge said, "Are these the
    shadows of things that will be or are they the shadows of things that may be
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    only? Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which if persevered in they must
    lead. But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus."
  • 00:27:08
    The message that Kevin and I bring tonight is that it can be thus and it must be. That is
    why you must vote against the motion tonight, again, that the United States and China
    are now and are going to remain long-term enemies. Our opponents are correct about
    the gravity of the challenge. That's why we're having this debate here tonight. But we
    do have choices about how we meet and manage those challenges, choices that Kevin
    will soon elucidate for you. Thank you.
    [applause]
    John Donvan:
    Thank you, Robert Daly. And a reminder of what's going on, we are halfway through the
    opening round of this Intelligence Squared U.S. Debate. I'm John Donvan. We have four
    debaters, two teams of two, arguing over this motion, "China and the U.S. Are Longterm
    Enemies." You've heard the first two opening statements, and now on to the
    third. Debating in support of the motion, "China and the U.S. Are Long-term Enemies,"
    Peter Brookes. He is senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation's Davis Institute for
    National Security and Foreign Policy and former deputy secretary of Defense. Ladies
    and gentlemen, Peter Brookes.
    Peter Brookes:
    Thank you.
  • 00:28:12
    [applause]
    My colleague, John, did a great job of developing a framework about how great powers
    act, and unfortunately it's not a happy story. I'm -- my job here tonight is going to give --
    in the first opening, my opening statement is to give some texture and context to what -
    - the paradigm that -- as -- that paradigm that John set up as it relates to China and the
    United States. In my opinion, China and the United States are strategic competitors,
    they're strategic rivals, and they're even enemies. The rhetoric itself bears this out. If
    you listen to the Chinese, they say that the United States is trying to “encircle” or
    “contain” China, the U.S. is an “hegemon,” a dominant power, which has a very strong
    negative connotation, "the U.S. wants to prevent China's rise --" this is coming out of
    Beijing -- "the U.S. feels --" and you see this in commentators here in the United States --
    "that China is trying to push the United States out of Asia, that China wants to replace
    the United States as the preeminent power in the Pacific as the number one world
    power.
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  • 00:29:13
    Both sides agree that there's a very high level of strategic distrust between the United
    States and China. It gets worse. The United States and China share important interests
    in several global hotspots or flashpoints. The oldest, of course, is Taiwan, not getting a
    lot of press lately, things have been quiet, but China says it's part of the People's
    Republic of China. The United States says don't try to change the status quo by
    force. China refuses to renounce the use of force, and the world -- the U.S. would
    probably resist China trying to unify Taiwan with China using force. This is unlikely to be
    resolved any time soon. It's been ongoing since 1949, and it's certainly going to remain
    a point of tension between the United States and China. Another old one is the Korean
    Peninsula. Most people don't think about this.
  • 00:30:01
    China and the United States fought there during the Korean War. China backs North
    Korea, its ally. The U.S. backs South Korea, its ally. War on the Korean Peninsula, in my
    estimation, is possible at any time. If you talk to U.S. forces Korea their motto is ready
    to fight tonight, and that's a possibility, especially when you're dealing with the
    leadership up there in North Korea. And if there is a fight there, it would likely involve
    the United States and China. The most recent flashpoints are the East China Sea and the
    South China Sea. Let me start with the East China Sea.
    The PRC, the People's Republic of China, has a territorial dispute in the East China Sea
    with American ally, Japan. The U.S. says that these islands, known in Japan as Senkaku,
    known in China as the Diaoyu, or the Diaoyutai, are under "Japan's administration,"
    quote unquote, and that they fall under the U.S. Japan defense treaty. That means that
    the United States could intervene if China decides to aggress against these Japanese
    islands.
  • 00:31:03
    To make this issue tenser, China has declared an air defense identification zone, an
    ADIZ, over the East China Sea that includes these islands. And right afterwards, the
    United States after China declared this ADIZ, the United States sent two B-52 bombers
    through this ADIZ to -- as a symbol of strength that -- and to make a point to China
    about their declaration. In the South China Sea, China now claims 80 percent of that
    body of water. They say it's Chinese sovereign territory. By Beijing's measure, the
    South China Sea is essentially a Chinese lake. Chinese says that the sovereignty over
    that body of water and the islands in it are indisputable. To ensure this, they’re building
    islands on coral reefs and rocky outcrops. On those islands they're also building ports
    and air fields. Of particular interest is that on one of the islands the runway is 3,000
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    meters long. That's about 10,000 feet. Longer than any commercial aircraft would need
    for landing, but it will host any of China's military aircraft.
  • 00:32:08
    The Pacific commander recently said that some of these air fields have revetments that
    are meant to house or hangar tactical fighters. The U.S. is concerned, to say the
    least. Seeding sovereignty rights to China could give Beijing the green light to control
    freedom of the seas and air in the South China Sea. Through the South China Sea flows
    1.5 -- or I'm sorry, $5 trillion worth of commerce. Thirty percent of the world's seaborne
    commerce flows through the South China Sea, $1.2 trillion of that is American. Eighty
    percent of Japan’s, South Korea’s, and Taiwan's, both either allies or partners of the
    United States, 80 percent of their imported energy goes through the South China
    Sea. Some islands in territory that China claims belong to U.S. allies, such as the
    Philippines. In the coming weeks, the Pentagon has announced that they will sail
    American war ships through the disputed waters around these new islands.
  • 00:33:06
    China isn't happy about that at all. While conflict over any or all of these scenarios is
    inevitable, both sides are bracing themselves for confrontation, crisis, and possibly
    conflict. Scholars on both sides of the Pacific are talking and writing about the what-if
    questions if crisis comes between the U.S. and China. Indeed neither side is beating
    their swords into plowshares. They're making new and better swords. China has an
    anti-access aerial denial strategy -- this is what the Pentagon calls it -- to deter, delay, or
    deny U.S. intervention in the western Pacific. The U.S. has the air/sea battle, a strategy
    to defeat the anti-access aerial denial strategy, although the United States that is -- says
    that isn't directed at any one country. China's involved in a massive military
    modernization program, double digit increases in its defense budget over the last 25
    years. Emphasis on power projection. They're building aircraft carriers.
  • 00:34:06
    They've -- they're sending their nuclear deterrent to sea in fleet ballistic missile
    submarines. They're building stealth fighters. They're exercising significant cyber
    warfare capabilities, including against the United States, and preparing to fight in
    space. The U.S. is countering with a Pacific rebalance. Sixty percent of American ships
    are going to the Pacific. The U.S. Army is growing its presence. Top U.S. weapons
    technology is being sent to the Pacific theater first. That includes F-22s, littoral combat
    ships, the J-35 strike fighter. None of this sounds very friendly, isn't it? That's because it
    isn't. It's clear that China and the United States are competitors, rivals, indeed
    enemies. This isn't going to change any time soon. It's a regrettable fact. I strongly
    recommend that you vote for this motion. Thank you very much.
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    John Donvan:
    Thank you, Peter Brookes. And that motion is "China and the U.S. are long-term
    enemies." Our final debater against the motion, Kevin Rudd. He is the inaugural
    president of the Asia Society Policy Institute and former prime minister of
    Australia. Ladies and gentlemen, Kevin Rudd.
  • 00:35:12
    [applause]
    Kevin Rudd:
    The proposition we're looking at tonight's a serious one. It's no ordinary
    proposition. Think about it. The proposition we're being asked to consider is that China
    and the United States are long-term enemies. Weigh those words carefully. These are
    important words. "Long-term enemies," that they cannot escape from this condition of
    enmity. This is extreme language. Using the term "enemy" in international relations is
    something we rarely do, but not in this proposition. It's a term we should use with
    extreme caution. Think of the definition of what an enemy is. A country you are
    fighting a war against, the soldiers, et cetera of that country.
  • 00:36:06
    Let us not gloss over the gravity of the language which is being employed in this
    proposition. It's not just words. It means something much more fundamental. What
    we intend to do tonight is to defeat this proposition on three grounds. One it is
    theoretically dubious; two, practically, as Robert has just demonstrated, it does not
    reflect the current reality, in all of its dimensions and in all of its complexity of the
    current U.S.-China relationship; and three, it is dangerously determinist in the sense that
    it says to us all, we can't do anything about it. It's written in the skies. And that
    effectively is what John's theory of offensive realism says.
  • 00:36:53
    John said before you needed a theory to explain what is going on because we can't
    predict the future. But then occurs the first fundamental logical step in his
    argument. That fundamental, logical step is as follows: He says that we should take,
    therefore, at face value, the proposition that a theory of international relations can be
    reliably predictive. Where is that mysteriously established? Is it written in the
    stars? No, it's not. It is simply an assertion. And in fact, if you look at the whole body of
    literature on international relations, there are as many people arguing against the
    proposition that you can be predictive about anything in the social sciences, let alone in
    politics, let alone in international relations, let alone a theory which says the United
    States and China are going to be and are now enemies. There is something that the
    scholars would describe, too, as overcoming physics envy. What do they mean by
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    that? That there’s the hard sciences out there, the biological sciences, the physical
    sciences. They have predictive laws. We can use that method. And the social sciences
    devise the same sort of principles which can therefore predict human behavior.
  • 00:38:08
    Well, pigs might fly. There is a huge body of counterevidence to that. But for this to be
    the foundational proposition of John's argument, that because he has a theory called
    offensive realism, international relations, it is, by definition, predictive of where the
    United States and China are and will be is of itself logically flawed. The second logical
    flaw in the argument is as follows: He said before that it is clear to us all that we cannot
    predict the future intentions of states. I think I've got that right, John. We cannot
    predict the future intentions of states. I then listened carefully to John list four separate
    predictions about China's attitude. China will want to demonstrate and demonstrate
    through its behavior its domination of East Asia, just like the U.S. did. That's a
    statement of intention. You then go on to say that they'll want to push the United
    States out of Asia.
  • 00:39:06
    That's a statement of your conclusions about Chinese intentions. You have said they
    want to be original hegemon. That's a statement of Chinese intentions, and that we,
    the United States, won't want them to do that. That's a statement of American
    intentions. You cannot have your cake and eat it too, and say, we cannot predict a
    state's intentions and list four areas in which you are making those precise
    predictions. It's not just logically inconsistent, it's dangerous, because by being so
    predictive, it infers that conflict and war are somehow inevitable. That is not our
    proposition, not our proposition at all. I also have a theoretical premise. Some would
    say it's Marxist. Listen to this. Politics, international politics, is the art of looking for
    trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong -- the
    wrong remedies, so says Groucho Marx.
    [laughter]
  • 00:40:03
    When we look at the proposition which is before us, it is theoretically flawed. And as
    my colleague Robert has demonstrated, it doesn't bear any relationship to the complex
    reality which is unfolding in U.S.-China relations, across politics, across commerce, and
    across people-to-people engagement. But what I'm fundamentally concerned about is
    additional argument against this proposition, it is dangerously determinist. It says that
    we, through diplomacy or political leadership cannot affect an action. It is basically
    saying that international relations, we've now got the application of Calvinist
    predestination. It's all out there and we can't stop it. That's what offensive realism has
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    as its core proposition. It's a bit like saying that Nixon and Mao had nothing to do
    through their individual diplomatic activity in changing the course of the future of U.S.-
    China relations. Well, they did through leadership. It's arguing that Deng Xiaoping had
    no impact possibly individually on China's economic future, that that was somehow
    automatically written in the stars. That's wrong.
  • 00:41:06
    Individual political leaders do make a difference. And so it goes on with others who
    have contributed to the U.S.-China relationship. The point is this: There is nothing
    determinist about international relations. We decide on our futures between countries
    just as we decide upon our futures between ourselves. It is a matter of what the
    theorist would describe as human agency. We get to make the choice. And through our
    political leaders, we can choose to make a choice. An alternative approach is what I call
    constructive realism; not offensive realism, but constructive realism. Recognize the
    realist differences which exist between America and -- and China; recognize that there
    are fundamental differences in the East China Sea, the South China Sea, over Taiwan, on
    cyber, in space, on human rights, but at the same time recognize that there are multiple
    domains of constructive engagement. How do you deal conjointly with the problem of
    North Korean nuclear proliferation? How do you deal now conjointly with the problems
    of terrorism in Central Asia which afflicts China as much as anybody else?
  • 00:42:09
    How do we grow the global economy through our combined growth strategies? These
    are areas of constructive engagement which can build political capital over time and
    help us deal with the fundamental problems of the future in this relationship as well.
    John Donvan:
    Thank you, Kevin Rudd.
    [applause]
    John Donvan:
    And that concludes round one of this Intelligence Squared U.S. debate, where our
    motion is "China and the U.S. are long-term enemies." Please keep in mind how you
    voted again at the beginning of the arguments, because we're going to have you vote a
    second time. And again to remind you that the way that we determine victory is the
    difference between the first and the second vote. It's the change between the two
    votes. Now we move on to round two. Round two is where the debaters address one
    another directly and take questions from me and you, our live audience here in New
    York City. Our motion is this: China and the U.S. are long-term enemies.
  • 00:43:09
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    We have two debaters for this motion, John Mearsheimer and Peter Brookes. We've
    heard them argue that while they are not predicting war, they are in a sense predicting
    something similar to Cold War, where hostility will rule between the two nations, where
    there is destined to be competition in terms of arms race, proxy wars, security
    crises. They say that a rising China inevitably will want to dominate its region which
    puts it in conflict, serious conflict, with the United States, and that at present, China's
    own rhetoric seems to prefigure this, a rhetoric of fighting words and an action in terms
    of local activities in its region where China is already attempting to expand its borders
    and seize territory of allies which will draw the United States into an even more hostile
    relationship. The team arguing against the motion, Kevin Rudd and Robert Daly are
    saying, yes, potentially all of that might happen, but it's not inevitable.
  • 00:44:06
    It does not have to happen. This dire outcome is avoidable and can be managed
    wisely. They say the term "enemy" is a word that must be used with extreme caution,
    and that there are very many venues in which the United States and China can work out
    their differences, which are real. But once again, they say that what their opponents are
    talking about is far, far from inevitable. I want to go to the team that's arguing for the
    motion, and particularly to John Mearsheimer because you put forward what's turned
    into the theory that for the last few minutes we've heard much critique of, and it's the
    theory that there's an inevitability at present to -- the sense of a conflict between the
    U.S. and China because of China's growing influence, power, and natural aspirations. I
    don't want to spend the evening dissecting your theory, but we're going to pass through
    that territory now. Your opponents are saying that you're contradicting yourself by
    saying on the one hand, "We can't really know the intentions of China," and, on the
    other hand, that you are citing the intentions of China, interesting attack on your
    position. I'd like to know what your response is to it.
  • 00:45:15
    John Mearsheimer:
    Yes, my three points about the structure of the system, the third point was that you
    cannot know intentions. That was a starting assumption. And what I did was I took all
    three of the assumptions and then you mix them together. And what that does is cause
    states to pursue hegemony and to prevent a peer competitor. So there's no question
    that once you mix all of the assumptions together, right, the uncertainty of that
    intentions, you do get certainty about intentions in that states do pursue hegemony.
    John Donvan:
    Okay, so I see the logic of that, and I want to see if your opponents do as well. Let's take
    that -- Kevin Rudd.
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    Kevin Rudd:
    I certainly don't.
  • 00:45:57
    You cannot on the one hand provide a theory which seeks to be descriptive of a current
    reality normative about what that future reality might be and at the same time suggest
    that you're not providing a description of predictive intent on the part of the other
    country and then walk away from describing the fact that, that is their predictive intent.
    John Donvan:
    But, Kevin, I think --
    Kevin Rudd:
    It is either determinist, which it is, of the level of determinism, which Georg Friedrich
    Hegel would be embarrassed, or it leaves an option for diplomacy and what we call
    "human agency." And if I've read John's theories carefully about offensive realism, it
    provides little if any opportunity for human agency to say, "Let's negotiate our way
    through."
    John Mearsheimer:
    I don't --
    John Donvan:
    John Mearsheimer, yeah.
    John Mearsheimer:
    -- I think the theory is deterministic. I think that's a legitimate criticism. I think my
    response to John's question about intentions clears that up. I don't think the intentions
    issue is a real issue. But the point about determinism is correct. John is -- I mean, Kevin
    is saying there's hardly any agency in my story, individuals don't matter, there's no
    possibility for managing this so it ends happily. He's correct in that regard.
  • 00:47:11
    John Donvan:
    For the high school senior out there listening to our podcast, five-syllable word,
    "deterministic," I think it would be useful, for me personally --
    [laughter]
    -- I'd like to take this burden upon myself --
    [laughter]
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    -- to just give us a definition of "deterministic" so that we all know exactly what we
    mean by that. And, Robert Daly, why don't you take that.
    Robert Daly:
    It means that it is bound to happen.
    John Donvan:
    It's inevitable.
    Robert Daly:
    It's inevitable. There's no agency. You have no choice. Tomorrow morning the sun will
    rise in the east. That’s determined.
    John Donvan:
    All right.
    John Mearsheimer:
    That's correct.
    Robert Daly:
    And I was just saying --
    Kevin Rudd:
    The morning after, there'll be war.
    [laughter]
    John Mearsheimer:
    Show me a -- but this just illustrates my point -- show me a country that had the raw
    capability to dominate its region of the world and passed that up, not a single
    case. Show me a case where the United States was up against a potential peer
    competitor and decided to sit it out, not a single case.
  • 00:48:09
    John Donvan:
    Robert Daly.
    Robert Daly:
    Yes, I would think that China will have the capability. I actually agree with our
    opponents about China's ideal state of affairs, that China would, of course, very much
    like to be the hegemon of East Asia. The question is not what China wants. The
    question in international relations is what China will settle for, just as the question is
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    what we will settle for. China is constrained. It can't have everything that it wants in its
    fondest dreams, and it knows it. Why? It faces tremendous domestic pressures,
    problems of political legitimacy and stability, the challenge of continued economic
    development -- you all know that the Chinese economy is slowing, we are feeling it here
    in our stock market -- problems of polluted, not only air and water, but land which takes
    longer to abate, a water shortage in the north, income disparity, no -- very poor social
    safety net. It goes on and on. Their primary objective is to maintain stability and to
    maintain the party's monopoly on political power.
  • 00:49:09
    That constrains them internationally. China has no allies to speak of. It has no soft
    power. It is also unlike the United States when we formed the Monroe Doctrine,
    surrounded by very strong countries. The combined population, economic power, GDP,
    and military budgets of China's neighbors are greater than that of China itself, and that's
    before you even add the United States into the formula. And the United States is by far
    the strongest military power in --
    John Donvan:
    All right, let's let's let your opponent break in, Peter.
    Peter Brookes:
    Yeah, I mean, I think what Robert is talking about is interesting, but I mean, I think the
    only thing I really remember from their lectures was Sesame Street, Christmas Carol,
    and Groucho Marx, in terms of the question here.
    [laughter]
    John Donvan:
    They have much to teach you.
    Peter Brookes:
    Right. Exactly. A lot of fiction in there and it continues. The issue here is that -- and
    they're playing -- their parsing on the word enemy, and if you look up the word enemy
    in the dictionary what you actually --
  • 00:50:04
    Kevin Rudd:
    That is a fiction.
    John Donvan:
    What's that?
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    Kevin Rudd:
    The biggest fiction is that deterrence theory says there's not an alternative. That is the
    biggest fiction which we are --
    John Donvan:
    You've made that point and I give the floor back to Peter.
    Peter Brookes:
    What I think they're overlooking, what Robert is overlooking certainly is that -- is
    aspiration and ambitions not capabilities. Aspirations and ambitions. And if China has
    these aspirations and ambitions, there's going to be a rivalrous relationship. There's
    going to tensions. There -- so the issue here is not can China do this. I think they're
    making, as I pointed out in my lecture, all of the stubborn facts about China's rise and
    their military modernization. But the fact of the matter is is that enemy does not
    necessarily mean war. Look it up in the dictionary. It only means someone who
    opposes something or someone. And we have -- we already have that. We have that
    situation with China today. So it's about ambitions and aspirations.
    Robert Daly:
    I looked enemy up in several dictionaries. It is not the same thing as an opponent nor is
    it the same thing as a nation that is ambitious.
    Male Speaker:
    We're under [unintelligible]
    Male Speaker:
    Enemy is an opponent or a rival.
  • 00:51:10
    Kevin Rudd:
    The Oxford dictionary says a country you are fighting a war against, the soldiers, et
    cetera, of that country, and we're debating under Oxford rules, I was told.
    [laughter]
    Peter Brookes:
    In an American -- wait a minute -- in the American dictionary it doesn't say that. Look at
    Merrian-Webster's.
    [laughter]
    John Donvan:
    Well, I -- wait, wait, wait.
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    Kevin Rudd:
    I'm not an American. I don't know why we're debating under Oxford rules, but --
    John Donvan:
    But you're -- I want to say to the side arguing against the motion that your opponents
    who are arguing that the U.S. and China are long-term enemies made an analogy with
    the Cold War in which the -- Russia and the United States never actually fought a war,
    but that this -- but that it takes place at the margins through proxy wars, arms races, et
    cetera. So I think it's fair for them to be making that argument that that constitutes
    enmity, as well as all-out war.
  • 00:52:01
    Robert Daly:
    There is a rivalrous aspect to the relationship. It is growing. It is dangerous and we have
    to work to counter it, but there is also a cooperative aspect to the relationship, whether
    it's climate change or fighting Ebola together or in peace-keeping missions. The United
    States gives more money to U.N. peace-keeping missions than any other country. China
    sends more people. We work together very closely in a way that we never did with the
    Soviet Union when we were containing it. We weren't educating the best and brightest
    Soviet minds. So it's not containment. There is a rivalrous aspect, but there's
    something else, too. The question is how do we balance them and try to keep a thumb
    on the cooperative side.
    John Donvan:
    John Mearsheimer.
    John Mearsheimer:
    Yeah, I want to respond to Robert's point. He's correct that when you look at economic
    intercourse it's not a rivalry. It's at the security level that there's a rivalry, and that's
    why it's not good to compare it to the Cold War as he pointed out, but what you want to
    compare it to is the pre-World War I period, because there was a tremendous amount
    of economic intercourse in Europe before World War I, but this was also an intense
    security competition, which centered around Germany.
  • 00:53:06
    And the question is in the end was it that security competition or that economic
    intercourse that was peaceful that trumped the other, and the answer is it was the
    security competition that won. And I think the argument that Peter and I are making is
    that the security competition will eventually overwhelm the economic cooperation
    correctly described.
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    John Donvan:
    Is there a reason, Kevin Rudd, for why it's different with China? Why that doesn't have
    to be inevitable with China?
    Kevin Rudd:
    To flip out of a question which John has asked, but we haven't answered, and I'll come
    back to the one you just put before, which is that he said point to a period in history
    where he's determinist theory hasn't applied. Look at the period after World War
    II. Britain, France, Germany. They'd been at it for how many decades? How many
    centuries trying to wipe each other off the planet? Well, they decided finally, finally
    after 1945 that it was timeout, and frankly diplomacy prevailed and eventually they
    formed something imperfect called the European Union, but guess what?
  • 00:54:08
    The historically determinist narrative about Anglo French relations, about FrancoGerman
    relations was finally resolved through the construction of diplomacy. A
    European Union was built. You may criticize its economic performance, but at least
    there hasn't been a war in Europe for 70 years. That's diplomatic intervention. In the
    case of China and the question of supremacy of economics over politics, all I would say
    is that there is a huge amount of positive economic engagement between the two
    countries, a whole lot of friction as well, but the totality of the relationship has got as
    much difficulty on the security side as there is engagement in the other dimensions as
    well, and now common security exercises as well behind the scenes. How do the two
    countries now deal with the problem of North Korean nuclear proliferation?
    John Donvan:
    Let's bring that point to Peter Brookes. What your opponent just laid out were several
    ways in which there are -- there are avenues for cooperation that could --
  • 00:55:06
    Peter Brookes:
    Such as the Trans-Pacific partnership that doesn't include China? I mean, I don't see any
    economic cooperation there. I mean, we are rivalrous with China on so many levels,
    whether you're talking about diplomatically, whether you're talking about -- whether
    you're talking about human rights, whether you're talking about economics. The United
    States just completed a trade pact in the Pacific that does not include China. How do
    you account for that? If you talk about human agency -- and I don't think anybody is
    looking for a fight.
    Kevin Rudd:
    But hang on.
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    Peter Brookes:
    But the fact of the matter is --
    Kevin Rudd:
    John's theory is [unintelligible]. We -- it doesn't matter whether you want to or whether
    you don't want to. According to his approach, which he says he shares with realists in
    China, a fight under those terms is inevitable. I have a different approach because
    diplomacy can choose other ways through. Kissinger did that in the early '70s. We can
    choose to do that again in the future.
  • 00:55:59
    On the TPP you just referred to, and it's a good example, what I note is once the TPP is
    passed, at least in terms of negotiations, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, what you now
    find is that China's public language is changed from one of outright hostility to one of
    saying, "I wonder how in fact we can now get into this." In the last three to six months,
    their public language has changed.
    Robert Daly:
    That's a very good example of the fact that we cannot determine, but we can shape
    China's decisions by our own actions and our own policies.
    John Donvan:
    We are focusing very much on shaping China's decisions so far, and on China's actions,
    China's motives, whether we can know them or not. I want to take to the side arguing
    for the motion, United States' action, motives and intentions and ask you whether there
    is a responsibility on the United States side, in your view, for aggravating this
    situation. And if so, is there something that the United -- does the United States need to
    retreat from its ambitions in order to stem off the sort of situation you're talking
    about? Or is that inevitably impossible? Peter Brookes.
  • 00:56:58
    Peter Brookes:
    I would -- I would say that countries try to protect and advance their interests. The
    United States is a Pacific nation. We have more trade with the Pacific than we do with
    Europe today. We have significant -- we have allies out there. We have five sets of
    allies -- in the Pacific theater. We have defense and security commitments. As I
    mentioned, $1.2 trillion in trade goes through the South China Sea. So I think the United
    States is trying to protect its interests, meet its obligations. Of course, putting into play
    human agency, the United States could move away from those commitments. It could
    move away from securing its interests. It could move away from trying to advance the
    interests of the American people in the Pacific. It could cede the prominent position to
    the Chinese. That is certainly a choice. But I don't believe that nations operate in that
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    manner. I believe that, just like the Chinese, they are trying to advance and protect
    their interests, and the United States is doing the same thing. And the problem is that
    the United States and China are not in alignment on their interests. This happens. And
    that's where this competition and rivalry comes from.
  • 00:58:03
    John Donvan:
    Robert Daly.
    Robert Daly:
    I would like to ask what the United States should do. I just met Professor Mearsheimer
    back stage, seemed like a very nice guy. But you have advocated the United States, in
    defense of its interests and to protect its current status, actively seek to harm the
    economy of China, a place that has brought hundreds of millions of people out of
    absolute poverty. You advocate for dropping some of them back into poverty. This
    would hurt their medical system, their educational system. Is this what we want to do
    and be? Are these sorts of methods that we have to use that we are predetermined to
    use?
    John Mearsheimer:
    Let me ask you a question.
    John Donvan:
    Wait, he just asked you a question.
    [laughter]
    John Mearsheimer:
    No, but it's --
    Peter Brookes:
    The best way to respond is with a question, right?
    John Mearsheimer:
    It's a rhetorical question. If you were in Britain in 1900, and you had been watching
    Germany rise since 1870, and you were really nervous about Germany, right, and you
    could see a security competition coming, would you -- and you could have hit a switch
    that would have slowed down German economic growth significantly, would you have
    hit that switch, given what you now know?
  • 00:59:12
    Robert Daly:
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    This is not an academic exercise.
    John Mearsheimer:
    No --
    Robert Daly:
    I don't pretend to know as much about Germany and Britain in those years. I know a
    great deal about--
    John Mearsheimer:
    Well, you know --
    Robert Daly:
    -- China and the United States.
    John Mearsheimer:
    -- did you know there was World War I and then there was World War II?
    Robert Daly:
    Real people --
    [talking simultaneously, unintelligible]
    John Donvan:
    All right, all right, all right. [unintelligible]
    [talking simultaneously]
    John Donvan:
    We're going to stop this a second and -- and John Mearsheimer, I still want to hear your
    answer to his question.
    John Mearsheimer:
    Which is the question?
    John Donvan:
    You don't remember his question?
    [laughter]
    John Mearsheimer:
    No.
    John Donvan:
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    His question is, what would you do -- and he says that you are talking about actually
    harming -- harming the other side.
    John Mearsheimer:
    No. If I was in a position to slow down Chinese economic growth, I would definitely do
    it. China is going to be a potential peer competitor. And we're going to have an intense
    security competition. And you go to countries like Japan, you go to countries like the
    Philippines, Vietnam, they see this one coming.
  • 01:00:08
    And people there, if they could have a switch that would slow down the Chinese
    economy, they'd do it as well because they know what's going to happen when China
    becomes really powerful. And remember, we're talk about a China that's much more
    powerful in 20 or 30 years than it is now; has a lot more weight to throw around. The
    Chinese have made it very clear that they're going to throw that weight around. They
    think they own the South China Sea. They want Taiwan back. They want the Senkaku
    Diaoyu Islands back. This is not a status quo power.
    Male Speaker:
    Of course, you know, the –
    John Donvan:
    Let me let your opponents respond. Kevin Rudd.
    Kevin Rudd:
    On the minds of every chancellor in the world today is this: What will happen in Chinese
    economic growth stalls? That's the question today, because it actually sucks out what
    little growth there is in the global economy today. It sucks out the job opportunities
    which were emerging in Africa and Latin America and other parts of the world. And as a
    consequence, the damage to American jobs is a consequence of global growth going
    down and global demand for U.S. goods and services goes down as well.
  • 01:01:11
    That is the most self-defeating argument I've seen. Your point about what alternative
    options exist other than seeking to economically strangle a country is as follows: In the
    period leading up to the first world war, if you read, I think, the seminal text called
    "Sleep Walking to War," published in 2013-14, it points to a [unintelligible] failure of
    diplomacy between Berlin, Paris and Vienna and London in the critical months of July of
    1914, where diplomacy could have averted conflict. That is the conclusion of the most
    seminal and recent study of the events leading up to the First World War, the idea that
    Britain could have even conceived of strangling the German economy in 1900 was
    simply not on the table and would have been injurious to general growth in Europe then
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    in a way in which such an action towards China today by the United States or anyone
    else would be injurious to the entire world's work force.
  • 01:02:12
    John Donvan:
    All right. I want to let Peter Brookes respond to that. But before he starts to speak, I
    want to say, after he answers and makes his point, I'm going to go to you for
    questions. Just to remind you of how it works. Raise your hand, I'll call on you. Please
    stand up, tell us your name and then ask a question. Please, I really don't want you to
    make a speech before you ask the question, but I'm fine with you, you know, stating a
    premise, but then really get to the question and really nail it. And if you can't do it, I will
    have to move on to somebody else. But go ahead, Peter Brookes.
    Peter Brookes:
    I mean, I -- Kevin’s spending a lot of time talking about diplomacy, and I appreciate that,
    and obviously, diplomacy can play a very positive role. But I have to say, diplomacy's
    failing. The state visit of Xi Jinping just recently to the United States was a very tense
    relationship, very tense meeting. Talking about cyber, the Chinese have pilfered 20 plus
    million, personal information, 20 plus million American government employees,
    including myself. And the U.S. chamber of commerce will tell you they're dealing with
    the most hostile business climate in China today that they've ever faced before.
  • 01:03:12
    And, of course, this issue of the South China Sea. So nobody doubts that diplomacy can
    have a positive role. But I'm telling you today, based on all the things that I've told you,
    that diplomacy's failing.
    John Donvan:
    Let's go to some questions. Right down front here. And then I saw you in the back. I'll
    come back to you after that. Thanks.
    Ethan Bronner:
    I'm Ethan Bronner. My question is for your side. Is there not any change in the
    international order the way countries relate to one another since World War II, World
    War II came up, that affects this sense of inevitability. Is there not something that says
    that countries actually need one another, that we relate to one another in ways that
    100 years ago and longer ago people did not know and therefore it didn't affect their
    behavior?
    John Donvan:
    John Mearsheimer?
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  • 01:04:08
    John Mearsheimer:
    I think the answer to that is no. And I think if you look at U.S.-Russian relations today,
    and you look at U.S.-Chinese relations today, and you look at U.S.-Iranian relations
    today, those are three glaring examples that contradict what you say. When we
    expanded NATO and the EU eastward, we thought that international politics had
    changed, that realpolitik was finished and we could get away with expanding NATO and
    the EU, and it would have no consequences. We found out exactly the opposite was the
    case, because Putin is a first-class realpolitiker. The same thing applies to East
    Asia. There's all sorts of evidence out there that the Chinese think in realpolitik
    terms. And if you look at the competition that's beginning to brew, it runs against the
    argument that international politics has changed. Look at the Middle East today. It's
    hard to believe that all these new theories that were put on the table when the Cold
    War ended apply there. So there are just lots of examples where there's trouble in the
    system.
  • 01:05:12
    John Donvan:
    Let me let the other side answer that question, whether, in fact, the world in some
    fashion is different today so that what happened 100 years ago is not destiny today.
    Robert Daly:
    Well, even within the constraints of John's determinist theory, there are real-politik
    forces that speak against China successfully becoming a hegemon. It will be balanced
    against and deterred by the very strong countries on its periphery, sometimes in alliance
    with each other and sometimes singly. We also -- we already see China's aggression in
    the South China Sea and the East China Sea, causing countries to draw closer to the
    United States, inviting the Marines in to northern Australia, letting American ships
    rotate through harbors, countries that in the past have been quite close to China. We
    see Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia. So even within the system we see balances that are
    going to constrain China.
  • 01:06:03
    John Donvan:
    Let's go to the question in the back. It's all the way -- second to the last row.
    Male Speaker:
    Thank you. Hi. My name's Sean Donahue [spelled phonetically]. And as China
    continues their development in their pivot westward into Central Asia with
    infrastructure development, do you think that will change the American foreign policy
    calculus more in line with China as we see them as an ally in global developments?
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    John Donvan:
    Kevin Rudd.
    Kevin Rudd:
    Well, with China there's always going to be competition, there's always going to be
    cooperation. Both these realities are always confronting us every day of the week. On
    this one in terms of China's investment program through the Asian infrastructure
    investment bank and [unintelligible] investment fund and other such financial entities,
    the Chinese spot an economic opportunity. They see there's overcapacity in the
    construction industry within their own country. They want to actually be able to export
    that and grow the infrastructure of Southern and Central Asia through to the Middle
    East at the same time. My argument is there's a market there.
  • 01:07:02
    There's a huge deficit in infrastructure in that part of the world. Why not U.S.-Chinese
    entrepreneurs get together and make a buck together, build infrastructure, and at the
    same time improve the livelihoods of those in that part of the world? There are a large
    list of cooperative possibilities in finance and in commerce between U.S. and Chinese
    firms. And at the same time there's going to be a whole lot of competition and a whole
    lot of aggravation as well. But that is life. It's never going to be clean. It's never going
    to be neat. But both those things are possible.
    Male Speaker:
    And if you could –
    [talking simultaneously]
    Robert Daly:
    I think truly and fundamentally [inaudible] will not cooperate.
    John Donvan:
    I want to bring it to the other side.
    Peter Brookes:
    I think that Kevin makes our point about the rivalrous -- in the competition the rivalrous
    relationship between the United States and China. The United States has its own Silk
    Road initiative. China's had their own Silk Road initiative. It's not with the United
    States. He talked about the AIAB, the investment bank -- the Asian investment bank,
    which challenges the Asian development bank. They're talking about the BRICs, Brazil,
    Russia, Indian, and China, which does not include the United States.
  • 01:08:06
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    So I spend a lot of time talking about how the military competition is heating up,
    because I think that's what really people feel comfortable about when they talk about
    enemies, but the fact of the matter, once again, is that there's competition between the
    United States diplomatically and economically. And I think Kevin just made that point.
    John Donvan:
    Another question? Right center there? Mike's coming from your right-hand side.
    Female Speaker:
    Thank you. My name is Linda Drumm [spelled phonetically]. And I wanted to ask you
    how you think the fact that China owns so much of our debt will affect our relationship
    in the future.
    John Donvan:
    And in terms of the enmity, is that a force for peace of conflict?
    Female Speaker:
    Yes.
    Peter Brookes:
    Well –
    [laughter]
    -- right.
    John Donvan:
    I'm just trying to help you hone to the –
    Peter Brookes:
    This is a very interesting question. And a lot of people are very uncomfortable with the
    fact that China owns so much of our debt. They're actually selling off some of our debt
    at the moment right now. It's changing.
  • 01:09:01
    But the Chinese, because their currency is not convertible, Chinese firms that do
    business here in the United States basically have to come back and sell their dollars to
    the government to get RMB. Or renminbi. So it's the way the system works because
    the currency isn't convertible. And then the Chinese have to do something with that
    debt, so they can buy Boeing aircraft, they can -- you know, they can buy soybeans, or
    they can buy U.S. debt. And obviously the U.S. debt is still considered to be the world's
    most stable and probably the best investment for them.
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    John Donvan:
    I'd like to let the other side respond to that if you'd like to take it.
    Robert Daly:
    Well, that's correct.
    John Donvan:
    Robert Daly.
    Robert Daly:
    Many Americans think that China owns the majority of our debt. They don't. They are
    the second largest foreign holder of our debt. Japan just surpassed them again. For a
    while China was number one. I think they have something like 7.6, 7.4, total American
    sovereign debt, so it's really not that big an issue for the reasons Peter just mentioned,
    because the total volumes aren't that great.
    John Donvan:
    So does it have a little impact on the debate tonight about whether China and U.S. are –
    Peter Brookes:
    Well, I think it's perception. It's a perception.
  • 01:10:02
    I think most Americans are probably pretty unhappy about that. I mean, I think we're --
    our culture says that debt is not necessarily a good thing and coming out of difficult
    economic times I think people are probably uncomfortable with that, and having the
    Chinese Communist Party hold majority or near majority of American debt is probably
    uncomfortable for some people.
    John Donvan:
    But it's a little hard to blame China for that.
    Robert Daly:
    No, I'm not blaming -- I'm not blaming China for that, but I think what an interesting
    point is, going back to what they criticized John about, I wasn't sure exactly what they
    were referring to in terms of John's writings, but the fact is, is that the money that China
    makes in the United States goes to a lot of things, including their military
    modernization. Now I was kind of rushed through my list there, but I want you to make
    sure you understand that over the last 25 years, China has had an average of double
    digit increases, that means 10 percent or more, in its defense budget. Now it's not the
    same as the United States. Of course, things are cheaper in China, but this shows a
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    commitment to increasing their military capabilities, which obviously will brush up
    against ours in the Asia Pacific region.
  • 01:11:02
    Kevin Rudd:
    I think we just did a bit of context in this. The U.S. defense budget presently runs about
    $700 billion a year. The Chinese defense budget, based on the external analyses, not
    the internal analyses, somewhere in the vicinity of $200, $225 billion at the upper range
    calculus, and that's by the Stockholm Independent Peace Research Institute who take no
    sides. So that's the current relativity. Secondly, the U.S. budget has been -- defense
    budget, has been massively in excess of China's for the last 50 years. You have nearly 10
    carrier battle groups. They've got a crapped out Ukrainian aircraft carrier, which can
    barely make it out to sea, let alone back. It doesn't have a single carrier battle
    group. It's developing a submarine capability, but let me tell you if I was in the betting
    race for the next 25 years you line up all the assets in order of battle of the Pacific
    command of the United States of America, with which I have some familiarity as an
    Australian, and the Chinese order of battle, let me tell you who I'd be backing any day of
    the week, and for the next 30 years plus.
    John Donvan:
    John Mearsheimer.
    John Mearsheimer:
    Yeah, but that doesn't contradict Peter's point. If you go back –
    Kevin Rudd:
    Oh, I think it goes some way towards it.
    [laughter]
  • 01:12:08
    John Mearsheimer:
    No. If you go back to 1980 and you look at the size and quality of the Chinese military
    and you compare it to the size and quality of that military today, there has been a
    fundamental change. It's a much more formidable military, and what we're talking
    about here is what's going to happen over the next 20, 30, 40 years as China turns into a
    giant Taiwan or a giant Hong Kong. It is going to have many more resources to spend on
    defense, and it's going to build a military that's probably the equal, if not the superior,
    of the United States.
    Kevin Rudd:
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    Well, I think in further response again, there is a thing called demography, John. The
    aging the Chinese population, the workforce began shrinking three years ago. It will
    start to decrease probably by the time we get to the late 2020s. As a consequence of
    that, with the rapid aging of the Chinese population, the pressure on the Chinese budget
    for the next 30 years in terms of looking after old people, is going to start to rival that of
    the western world.
  • 01:13:11
    As they say in China, we're going to get old before we get rich and powerful. This will be
    a huge constraint on military outlays as well.
    John Donvan:
    Yeah, Peter Brookes.
    Peter Brookes:
    I mean -- Kevin, you know, facts are inconvenient and stubborn things sometimes, but
    when you talk about the defense budget –
    Kevin Rudd:
    [unintelligible]
    Peter Brookes:
    -- well, you talk about the defense budget. The United States is also in war. China's not
    at war. Also, the Chinese -- most of the Chinese budget, a lot of the Chinese budget is
    not included in these figures.
    Kevin Rudd:
    That's why –
    [talking simultaneously]
    -- external –
    Peter Brookes:
    Right. It's a lot cheaper to build things in China than the United States, but the fact is by
    2020 China will have 300 modern submarines, ships in the Pacific region and the United
    States will have 180. As a Soviet general once reminded me, there's a certain quality in
    quantity, so don't overlook -- I'm backing as a Navy commander, I'm backing our sailors,
    our airmen, our marines, and our soldiers. But the fact of the matter is you cannot
    overlook –
    [talking simultaneously]
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    Peter Brookes:
    The Chinese are also build –
    [talking simultaneously]
    John Donvan:
    Kevin, can I –
    Male Speaker:
    [unintelligible]
    John Donvan:
    Kevin, hang on a second. Kevin, hang.
    Kevin Rudd:
    That’s a gross exaggeration.
    John Donvan:
    You finish your point.
    Peter Brookes:
    I'm finished.
    John Donvan:
    Great.
    [laughter]
  • 01:14:16
    You talk, Kevin.
    Kevin Rudd:
    They have 65 at present.
    John Donvan:
    I want to remind you that we are in the question and answer section of this Intelligence
    Squared U.S. debate.
    [laughter]
    I have to do this without your chuckling. I want to remind you that we are in the
    question and answer section of this Intelligence Squared U.S. debate. I'm Jon Donvan,
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    your moderator. We have four debaters, two teams of two debating this motion: China
    and the U.S. Are Long-Term Enemies. Robert Daly.
    Robert Daly:
    Quick response to John's last point about positing the People's Republic of China as
    Taiwan or Hong Kong writ large. China is currently about number 80 in the world in per
    capita GDP. To posit the People's Republic of China as wealthy as Hong Kong or Taiwan
    and to plan up against and to fight against that, this is not a prediction made based on a
    structural determinist model. This is simply an act of prophecy. There's no grounds for
    it.
  • 01:15:12
    John Donvan:
    Another question, right on the end there.
    Male Speaker:
    Don Laurie [spelled phonetically]. Stapleton Roy, a former ambassador to China, asked
    the current premier of China, "What are your two biggest problems?" He said, "How do
    I feed one and a half billion people every day, and how do I ensure a certain level of
    employment?" So my question is, what do the -- what should the relative leaders of
    these countries be thinking about the issues we're talking about?
    John Donvan:
    John Mearsheimer.
    John Mearsheimer:
    Well, very quickly, my argument is that for purposes of Chinese security, what the
    Chinese should think about doing is dominating Asia the same way we dominate the
    Western hemisphere. I think they'd be foolish to do otherwise. I know all sorts of
    Chinese who agree with that. And in fact Robert has made the point that if the Chinese
    could dominate Asia, they would do it. That's my point.
  • 01:16:09
    What should we do? My point is that the United States of America should make sure we
    don't have a peer competitor. I'm glad we fought against imperial Germany, imperial
    Japan, Nazi Germany, and we contained the Soviet Union. And if China continues to
    rise, I think the United States will continue to pivot to Asia, and we will do everything we
    can to check China. And I think that makes perfectly good sense. Is this a tragic
    situation? I think the answer is yes. But nevertheless, I think it's inevitable.
    John Donvan:
    Robert Daly.
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    Robert Daly:
    The United States must make sure that we do not have a peer competitor for our
    security. Think about what this means. This is a brutalist philosophy. The proposition is
    that even if China were to change in some of the ways that proponents of engagement
    have been said that we hope it changes, even if they just as a thought experiment,
    adapted our Constitution and our laws wholesale, we should still try to limit their
    growth merely because we shouldn't have a peer competitor. That is the proposition.
  • 01:17:10
    Regardless of beliefs, regardless of people striving for human flourishing along the lines
    that we have been prescribing to the world for decades, if they actually appear to be
    succeeding, regardless of their beliefs, we must stop them even if it means pushing
    them back toward poverty.
    John Donvan:
    Robert, I -- Robert, I don't -- I don't mean this question cynically or sarcastically, but
    what's wrong with that?
    Robert Daly:
    Well, I would sort of throw that out to John –
    John Donvan:
    You can move in a little bit closer to your mic, please.
    Robert Daly:
    Sure. I think that we're better than that. I think that it flies in the face of the values that
    we have been preaching to the rest of the world for the past 200 years. We have been
    given them a very careful text about how some form of liberal democracy, pluralistic
    political institutions, capitalist -- capitalism and markets will help them to flourish, that
    we can flourish together, that we can share our educational systems, science and
    technology and that this is what we are about. John, if I don't misunderstand you,
    you're saying that that's just not true. This is liberal hogwash?
  • 01:18:11
    John Mearsheimer:
    No. The highest value a state can have is survival.
    Robert Daly:
    That's the lowest value.
    John Mearsheimer:
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    No, no.
    Robert Daly:
    That's the precondition. This is -- I'm talking about flourishing.
    John Mearsheimer:
    No, I agree with that you it's a precondition. But the mere fact that it's precondition for
    pursuing all your other interests means that it is, by definition, the most important goal.
    Robert Daly:
    Here we sit surviving. And they're surviving in Beijing now. Haven't we moved beyond
    that?
    Peter Brookes:
    Can I ask something?
    John Donvan:
    Yeah. Peter Brookes.
    Peter Brookes:
    I think it's important for people to realize that we talk about states, but we're really
    talking about people. States are like -- there's a lot of human nature in how states act
    because they're run by people. States, just like people, care about their social
    status. People care about their social status. They care where they are in the social
    structure. And from states, that's the international system. And there's also a belief by
    states that the higher you are on that -- in that international system the more the
    benefits will come to you. And it's the same for people.
  • 01:19:12
    Male Speaker:
    I think to us –
    Peter Brookes:
    A state -- this means -- this -- this means that states, like people, are interested in power
    and influence.
    John Donvan:
    Kevin Rudd.
    Kevin Rudd:
    Just to add to that point, I think what Robert was saying, and to reemphasize his
    analysis, a clear reading of John's set of realism is that it doesn't matter whether a state
    is a democracy or not, doesn't matter whether they try to become a democracy or
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    not. If any liberal democracy, for example, grows and becomes a strong economic and -
    - and significant military power, that -- that of itself invites direct concern from the
    United States in his theory to do something about it and to stop that from happening. I
    think that's a fair characterization of your position.
    John Donvan:
    Great. That's great. Sorry. Yeah. Mic's coming on your left.
  • 01:20:00
    Male Speaker:
    Hi, everyone. I have a question. So I heard so far a lot of fighting for powers' sake. And
    you know, by that argument, we should be fighting the EU. My question is, what are
    some specific things that you see that we could fight over as the American people, like
    something that the American people would actually feel worth fighting over?
    John Donvan:
    Can -- I'm not -- do you understand the sense of the question? Because I'm not sure
    that I do. If you do, I'll let you go with it.
    John Mearsheimer:
    I think, and Peter has done this. You can point to specific issues that the United States
    could end up fighting China over, for example, one of those islands in the Spratlys,
    maybe over Taiwan, maybe over the islands in the East China Sea, and he pointed to the
    Korean peninsula. Your question was whether we could get the American people
    exercised enough that they would be willing to fight in those specific situations. And I
    think that the United States is so good at thread inflation and fear mongering that we
    have no problems with that issue.
  • 01:21:06
    [laughter]
    John Donvan:
    Robert Daly.
    [applause]
    John Donvan:
    Robert Daly [unintelligible].
    Male Speaker:
    [unintelligible] on the outside of the argument.
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    Robert Daly:
    I'm less -- I'm a little less certain that we could convince Americans to die for
    uninhabitable rocks in a part of the -- in a part of the world that they can't find on a
    globe.
    Peter Brookes:
    John, I have something.
    John Donvan:
    Peter Brookes.
    Peter Brookes:
    I mean, I -- I think, you know, my colleague John has, you know, laid it out quite
    well. But, I mean, for instance, look at the South China Sea contingency. If China were
    to build these airfields and ports and start sending war ships into their controlling --
    controlling the transit through that part of the world, I mean, that's a threat to our vital
    national interests. $1.2 trillion in U.S. trade, the movement of American war ships
    through the Persian Gulf. I mean, this is something that could happen. China could
    strangle Japan, Taiwan and South Korea, either allies or partners of the United States by
    cutting off the flow of oil that comes through the Malacca strait and goes to those
    countries, 80 percent of their energy.
  • 01:22:07
    So there are very much potential threats besides the Korean peninsula and other things,
    potential threats, strong threats to American national interests that could lead to -- lead
    to war.
    John Donvan:
    Kevin Rudd, very quickly.
    Kevin Rudd:
    I think -- to agree with Peter, there is a range of things that you can see around the
    region where conflict could erupt. You really can. Both of us have watched this
    carefully over many, many years. Our argument, and why we differ from our friends
    opposite, is as follows: That we believe that there is a way through these challenges,
    difficult and as hard and as uneven a course as it may be, which is to be able to
    negotiate through strength. No one is arguing that the United States of America should
    go to a negotiating table in weakness. That is not the argument of the either the U.S. or
    its allies. But as Kennedy once said, JFK, we should never, ever negotiate out of fear,
    but we should never fear to negotiate.
  • 01:23:02
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    And so all of these intractable problems which seem to be intractable, they may take
    years and decades to work their way through. But our argument, our core argument is
    that national political leaders and diplomats, backed up with sensible statecraft, can
    make a real difference and not yield to what John has confirmed as his ultimate thesis is
    a determinist view, which is it's beyond our control. China's rising. The U.S. is
    here. They're going to run into each other. Either the U.S. capitulates, China
    capitulates, or there's war. That's the three-ended result. We have a radically different
    view.
    John Donvan:
    All right. What I'd like to do here is something that we could summarize this round,
    that's a round that we introduced a few debates back that we call the lightning round in
    which each debater gets 30 seconds to make or respond to a point with a little bit of
    rebuttal built into it. And it's firmly timed with a bell that comes at the end of the 30
    seconds. And I -- pardon me? Somebody said something in my -- oh, I'm sorry. I meant
    to call it the volley round. We've been working through a series of names, and
    somebody just mysteriously spoke into my ear, in fact the person who's telling me to say
    everything I say tonight, every word in my mouth.
  • 01:24:11
    [laughter]
    John Donvan:
    Think of me as Elmo with a hand in my body.
    [laughter]
    John Donvan:
    We call it the volley round. And at the volley round, each debater gets 30 seconds. It's
    closely timed. They have to stop talking when the bell rings, and then the other side
    gets to speak. And I think the question I want to put, sort of summarizes where we are
    and the kind of argument that we heard, I'm going to go first to this side. But I think the
    proposition kind of boils down to this, that your opponents are saying that self-interest,
    economic self-interest, ultimately is going to be a more powerful force than superpower
    rivalry and power ambitions, that both China –
    Kevin Rudd:
    We didn't say that.
    John Donvan:
    Pardon me?
    Kevin Rudd:
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    That's not our argument.
    John Donvan:
    Oh, all right. Well, correct me.
    Male Speaker:
    Maybe it should be.
    John Mearsheimer:
    No, that was Robert's first point.
    [talking simultaneously]
    John Donvan:
    All right, well, let's not say it sums up your argument.
    [laughter]
    Kevin Rudd:
    Thank you. That's better.
    John Donvan:
    Let's say an important point that you made this evening was that –
    [laughter]
    -- let's say an important point that you made this evening was that there is just too
    much economic self-interest for both sides to risk letting things fall apart to the point of

    Male Speaker:
    Yeah.
    John Donvan:
    -- all-out hostility and conflict.
    Male Speaker:
    Right.
    John Donvan:
    Which of you would like to respond to that first?
    [talking simultaneously]
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    John Mearsheimer, your 30 seconds starts now.
    John Mearsheimer:
    Okay, okay. Well, the economic interdependence argument which John was just laying
    out says that prosperity is of enormous importance. The story that I was telling is a
    story about security. And in the security story what matters most is survival. So it's a
    tradeoff between survival on one hand and prosperity on the other. And my argument
    is that when those two come head-to-head survival wins every time.
    [bell rings]
    [laughter]
    [applause]
  • 01:26:03
    John Donvan:
    Robert Daly. Robert Daly, your 30 seconds starts now.
    Robert Daly:
    Remember that the United States and China have successfully managed frictions of this
    kind for 37 years. We have a record through diplomacy, through trade, sometimes
    through confrontation, through engagement, and through restraint, even after the
    Tiananmen massacre of 1989, even after we bombed China's embassy in Serbia in 1999,
    even after their hot dog pilot hit our plane and they took our crew basically hostages
    Hainan Island in 2001, we did not become enemies. There's no need to do it in the
    future.
    [bell rings]
    Peter Brookes.
    [applause]
    Peter Brookes:
    I'm surprised John didn't take this argument because it turns out that economic
    interdependence between countries empirically is a very weak variable and it doesn't
    protect, prevent countries from going to war. World War I is a perfect example. As I
    recall, Britain and Germany were each other's largest trading partners. The United
    States was a major trading partner of Japan before World War II. It does not always
    prevent people from going to war or for hostilities from breaking out. It's a weak
    variable, and it would be silly to depend on the idea that countries' nationalism and
    other security issues won't trump economic interdependence.
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  • 01:27:14
    [bell rings]
    John Donvan:
    Kevin Rudd.
    [applause]
    Kevin Rudd:
    Economic interdependence helps, but it is not the final answer to this question. I think
    we're all agreed on that. What is important is to have sufficient commonality of security
    interests long term, to have a diplomacy which can secure a path up the middle which
    doesn't go to the binary of capitulation or war. We believe diplomacy is capable of
    doing that. And if we look around the world today, what are the Chinese and the
    Americans doing? They're talking about North Korea and nuclear weapons. That's a big
    example of how they can do it, and I believe –
    [bell rings]
    -- the two are not mutually exclusive.
    John Donvan:
    Kevin Rudd, thank you. And that concludes round two of this Intelligence Squared U.S.
    Debate, where our motion is "China and the U.S. Are Long-term Enemies."
  • 01:28:03
    Now we move on to round three. Round three, each of the debaters makes a closing
    statement. It will be two minutes each. They will do it seated. Here to summarize his
    position for the motion, "China and the U.S. Are Long-term Enemies," Peter Brookes,
    member of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
    Peter Brookes:
    Thank you. China often speaks of 100 years of humiliation at the hands of outside
    powers, as Kevin mentioned earlier, from the opium wars in the 1840s to the standing
    up of the People's Republic of China in 1949. It's my sense that China never plans to
    experience that again and are making steps to do so. It plans to return China to its
    former glory as the middle kingdom. This is what President Xi Jinping has talked about
    when he talks about the "China dream." The major obstacle to achieving that is the
    United States. As a result, as evidenced by areas of disagreement and the buildup of
    military forces, China and the United States are in an intense struggle for power and
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    influence that could lead the two of them to the first great power war in 70 years. It
    could happen.
  • 01:29:11
    Whether we like it or not, China and the United States are enemies in the category of
    U.S.-Iran, U.S.-North Korea, and the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins.
    [laughter]
    It's that serious. We're enemies. We want the same things and that's to be at the top
    of the international system. Until one side gives up its challenge to the status quo or the
    other side acquiesces to the challenger's rise, it's going to be that way. In my opinion,
    that's not likely to happen. The China that our opponents have talked about is not the
    China of the past. It's a superpower. That means that China and the United States are
    long-term enemies and I recommend that you vote for this motion. Thank you very
    much.
    John Donvan:
    Thank you, Peter Brookes.
    [applause]
  • 01:30:03
    And the motion is China and the U.S. Are Long-Term Enemies, and here to make his
    statement against this motion, Robert Daly, director of the Kissinger Institute on China
    and the United States at the Wilson Center.
    Robert Daly:
    John Mearsheimer admits in his writing that social science theory is a crude
    instrument. Those are his words. But even if it were a far more precise instrument, it
    would still be only one of the tools in a very large toolkit that we have at our disposal, a
    toolkit that includes deft creative diplomacy, the balancing of interests, judicious
    restraint, economic and political lovers, our moral sense, a due fear of our capacity for
    violence, consideration for the opinions and the interests of other nations, and common
    concern for transnational threats like climate change and pandemics. All of these
    instruments, if we wield them properly, will enable us to manage this relationship such
    that we do not become enemies and we are not enemies now.
  • 01:31:01
    We are not helpless witnesses to the unfolding of grand historical loss. It's a dangerous
    world, but it's not a Risk board. There's more to it than that. There's far more to
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    interactions between nations to civilization than the disposition of forces. We must
    build and position our forces wisely, yes, but we must not reduce our collective life to a
    brutalist survival imperative. I work at a think tank, sometimes hard to explain to my
    kids what I do with this. I'm not a fireman or a policeman and they ask, so I just say well,
    I work all day to try to make sure that the United States and China don't fight, and as I
    was getting ready for this debate the other night my second son, Mateo, who was born
    in China and grew up there for six years, born to a Chinese mother, said, "Dad if we
    fight, who would I fight for, China or America?" And I said, "Well, you'd fight for
    America, Bub, but it need not come to that." It need not come to that. That is our
    position. We are not nor are we destined to become enemies and we encourage you to
    vote against the motion. Thank you.
  • 01:32:04
    [applause]
    John Donvan:
    Thank you, Robert Daly. And our motion is China and the U.S. Are Long-Term
    Enemies. Here to make his closing statement in support of the motion, John
    Mearsheimer, the R. Wendell Harrison distinguished service professor of political
    science at the University of Chicago.
    John Mearsheimer:
    Thank you, John. As I said early on, you can't talk about the future without a theory,
    and I think that they have a theory and it revolves around agency or diplomacy. They
    believe that the competition can be managed and that's very different than the way I
    think about the issue. But I want to ask you this -- when you look at American
    diplomacy over the past 20 years, does that give you confidence?
    [laughter]
    Does that give you confidence that American leaders can manage this relationship –
    [laughter]
    -- over the next 30 or 40 years? You know about Afghanistan. You know about
    Iraq. You know about Libya. You know about Ukraine. Seems to me the United States
    has the Midas touch in reverse. It's really quite remarkable.
  • 01:33:14
    [laughter]
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    And for their theory to work not only do you need Bismarck after Bismarck after
    Bismarck on our side –
    [laughter]
    -- but you also need it on the Chinese side, and just to add to the problem, we have lots
    of allies out there who could drag us into a war. We could have some crazy Filipino or
    some crazy Japanese leader or somebody who acted irrationally. There are a lot of
    moving pieces out there. There are a lot of ways you can get into a war, but what their
    theory depends on is having Bismarck here, there and everywhere. That's just not going
    to happen. Look. You should vote for us not because it makes you feel good about the
    situation –
    [laughter]
    -- you should feel very depressed about this.
    [laughter]
  • 01:34:02
    Really, really. This is a very depressing conclusion that he and I are putting forward.
    [laughter]
    I love going to China. I love the Chinese people and I hate to say what I've said up here
    tonight, but if you have any hope of managing the situation, you want to be realistic
    about where we're headed and they are not realistic.
    John Donvan:
    Thank you, John Mearsheimer. Your time is up. Thank you.
    [applause]
    The motion is China and the U.S. Are Long-Term Enemies and here to make his
    summarizing statement against the motion, Kevin Rudd, president of the Asia Society
    Policy Institute and former prime minister of Australia.
    Kevin Rudd:
    As former prime minister of one of your closer allies in the Pacific –
    [laughter]
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    -- therefore one of those moving pieces which could get you into all sorts of trouble –
    [laughter]
    And I remind you your oldest continuing ally in the 20th century and into the 21st, and a
    country that has fought with you in every war in the last century, "Comma " --
    [laughter]
  • 01:35:10
    I think we deserve to have a voice at the table on these questions. And I say that
    because we have a deep affection to the United States for a whole bunch of reasons;
    your civil tradition, the celebration of democracy, your economic creativity. And frankly,
    in the history of global super powers, the post 40 -- in the -- going back through time,
    America has behaved as a remarkably benign superpower. I say that, say it freely, and I
    say it openly. This say tough debate because we're dealing with something brand-new;
    the rise of a country which is not English speaking, which is not Western, which is not a
    democracy, and is on the verge of becoming the largest economy in the world. I get the
    complexity of being -- working with this country in one capacity or another for the last
    35 years, either as a student, an academic, in business, as a member of parliament, as a
    foreign minister, as a prime minister.
  • 01:36:06
    And the complexity is staring at us in the face every day because we're your ally in the
    region. But I say this: There is nothing determinist, nothing sketched into the skies
    above which says that the United States and China are and therefore will be long-term
    enemies. There is, in my view, nobody of any serious position in either Washington or
    Beijing who wants war. I've met most of these folks over the last decade. The challenge
    of diplomacy is to ensure that we prevent that from happening. I believe we can. For
    your kids' future, I -- I ask you to vote against the proposal.
    John Donvan:
    Thank you, Kevin Rudd. And that concludes our closing statements.
    [applause]
  • 01:37:02
    John Donvan:
    And now it's time to learn which side you feel has argued best. We're going to ask you
    again to go to the key pads at your seat. Same as at the beginning. Look at the motion,
    "China and the U.S. are long-term enemies." If you agree with the motion, push number
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    one; if you disagree, push number two; and if you remain or became undecided, push
    number three. We'll give that about 15 to 20 seconds to complete.
  • 01:37:55
    Okay. Thank you. We're going to lock that out. And while we wait for the results -- oh,
    no, we're not locking it out. The Elmo person is telling me that we're not locking it
    out. Well, I'm going to -- I'm going to talk in the meantime. I just want to say this: We -
    - we've been thinking about this debate for three years and -- and trying to think about
    who to put on the stage, who would be a terrific mix, bring intelligence and wit and
    civility to it. And I have to say I think we really, really succeeded.
    [applause]
    And I have a total surprise announcement tonight, and it's that we're going to have to
    ask you to vote a second time because we had a glitch.
    [laughter]
    So if -- I saw somebody leave. I'm afraid there goes your vote. But only one person,
    because you're all here and into this. So go back to the key pads, and we'll have you
    vote a second time.
  • 01:39:06
    Kevin Rudd:
    In Australia, we say, "Vote early, vote often."
    Male Speaker:
    Sounds like Chicago.
    Male Speaker:
    Vote early, vote often [unintelligible].
    Male Speaker:
    I lived in Chicago three times.
    John Donvan:
    So, actually, let me -- I'll be silent for 10 more seconds of your contemplation to make
    sure that you vote the way you want to, and then we'll start. Now you all got silent. All
    right. We're good. Everybody's voted. The vote's locked in. We'll have it in about a
    minute and a half. Again, I want to thank these guys. A good outcome for a debate is
    it's not a deterministic event. It doesn't always –
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    [laughter]
    It doesn't always happen. And usually it does, but this one was really superb, so thank
    you. I also want to mention this. This is very important. We had a total sellout
    tonight. In fact, there were a lot of people who couldn't get in, and it was delightful for
    us. But the thing I want to say is that we are a nonprofit organization.
  • 01:40:05
    And about 60 percent of the funding this program comes from individuals who support
    the program, including many of you in the audience tonight. We are incredibly,
    incredibly grateful for these contributions since the ticket sales cover nowhere close to a
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    all of our generous supporters, some of who are here. And to the millions -- now the
    millions who are watching our live stream or listening to these debates for free online
    and on the radio, that that gift to them is because of all of the donors here. So they will
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    everybody who came out.
    [applause]
    The other thing -- the other thing we are very, very proud to say is that Intelligence
    Squared debates are now disseminating to educational institutions, and we know this
    because we hear from them.
  • 01:41:01
    Teachers in high school and university level, and even some below the high school level
    have been using the debates as a teaching tool. And we are delighted by that and very
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    for civil engineers gives our state roads a grade of D. The news is better on bridges. It's
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    willingness to pay a higher gas tax to fix all of that.
  • 01:42:03
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    On November 2nd, we're going to be in Washington at George Washington
    University. We're going to be debating the use of smart drugs by students. We're
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  • 01:43:11
    So, it's all in. Our motion is this: China and the U.S. are long-term enemies. We had you
    vote twice before the debate and once again afterwards, and it's the team whose
    numbers have changed the most between the two votes who will become and be
    declared our winner. Let's look at the first vote. In the opening vote, 27 percent agreed
    with the motion that China and the U.S. are long-term enemies. 35 percent were
    against. 38 percent were undecided. Those are the first results. Let's look at the
    second result. The team arguing for the motion that China and the U.S. are long-term
    enemies, their first vote was 27 percent. Second vote was 32 percent. They pulled up 5
    percentage points. That is now the number to beat. Let's see the team against the
    motion. Their vote was 35 percent. Their second vote was 56 percent. They pulled 21
    percentage points. That means the motion, China and the U.S. are long-term enemies
    has been defeated. And the team arguing for that side is our winner. Our
    congratulations to them. And thank you from me, John Donvan and Intelligence
    Squared U.S. We'll see you next time.
  • 01:44:16
    [applause]
    [end of transcript]
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Post-Debate
Winner

Against The Motion
64 %
21 %
Undecided
14 %
For The Motion
Pre-Debate
Against The Motion
29 %
36 %
Undecided
36 %
For The Motion
Breakdown
Against The Motion
29% - Remained For the Against Side
14% - Swung From the For Side
21% - Swung From Undecided
Undecided
0% - Swung From the Against Side
7% - Swung From the For Side
14% - Remained Undecided
For The Motion
0% - Swung From the Against Side
14% - Remained For the For Side
0% - Swung From Undecided
Post-Debate
Winner

Against The Motion
71 %
18 %
Undecided
12 %
For The Motion
Pre-Debate
Against The Motion
24 %
29 %
Undecided
47 %
For The Motion
Breakdown
Against The Motion
24% - Remained For the Against Side
29% - Swung From the For Side
18% - Swung From Undecided
Undecided
0% - Swung From the Against Side
6% - Swung From the For Side
12% - Remained Undecided
For The Motion
0% - Swung From the Against Side
12% - Remained For the For Side
0% - Swung From Undecided
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The US' Role In Aggression
Clip: Debaters Peter Brookes, Robert Daly, John Mearsheimer, and Kevin Rudd contemplate what the US role should be in competing with China.
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What Would Bring Americans to War?
Clip: Debaters Peter Brookes, Robert Daly, John Mearsheimer, and Kevin Rudd contest over what cause would move the American people to willingly go to war.
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Two-Minute Volley Round: Will Economic Interests Keep Us At Peace?
Clip: Debaters Peter Brookes, Robert Daly, John Mearsheimer, and Kevin Rudd deliver 30 second arguments to whether common economic interests are enough to keep China and the US at peace.
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2-Minute Debate: Are China and the U.S. Long-term Enemies?
Are China and the U.S. long-term enemies? This debate short is part of a series co-produced by Intelligence Squared U.S. and Newsy.
About The Debaters
For The Motion
An image of Peter Brookes
Peter Brookes − Sr. Fellow, The Heritage Foundation
Peter Brookes is a senior fellow for national security affairs at the Heritage Foundation’s Davis Institute for... read bio
An image of John J. Mearsheimer
John J. Mearsheimer − American Political Scientist & Professor, University of Chicago
John J. Mearsheimer is the R. Wendell Harrison distinguished service professor of political science at the... read bio
Against The Motion
An image of Robert Daly
Robert Daly − Director, Kissinger Institute on China & the U.S.
Robert Daly has directed the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States at the Wilson Center since 2013. He... read bio
An image of Kevin Rudd
Kevin Rudd − Former Prime Minister, Australia
Kevin Rudd served as Australia’s 26th prime minister (2007-10, 2013) and foreign minister (2010-12). In addition to... read bio
Main Points
For The Motion
  • Conflict is inevitable as China challenges America as the dominant power in Asia, a role America is unlikely to cede any time soon.
  • Land reclamation in the South China Sea, cyber-attacks, and a growing military budget point to a more aggressive, less reactive China.
  • Despite its economic and military strength, China has not become a responsible global stakeholder, instead choosing to free-ride on the existing international order while pursuing its own interests.
Against The Motion
  • It is in the vital interests of both countries to work together and collaborate on shared interests like nuclear containment, climate change, and trade.
  • We should not automatically interpret China's behavior as aggression; their foreign policy has long been guided by the principles of sovereignty and non-intervention.
  • By treating China with hostility and working to isolate and diminish it, this predicted adversarial relationship will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.