"Every perception is to some degree an act of creation, and every act of memory is to some degree an act of imagination."
-- Gerald Edelman, Second Nature: Brain Science and Human Knowledge
1 Chapter 7: US-China Relations and Wars3 Chapter 7: US-China Relations and WarsChapter 7: US-China Relations and Wars2020-10-18Journal
My main principle about relationships that I think is relevant to the US-China relationship is:
Both parties in a relationship can choose whether they will have a win-win cooperative-competitive relationship or a lose-lose mutually threatening relationship, though it takes both of them to agree on what type of relationship they will have. If they choose to have a primarily win-win cooperative-competitive relationship they will take into consideration what is really important to the other and try to give it to them in exchange for them reciprocating. In that type of win-win relationship, they can have tough negotiations done with respect and consideration, competing like two friendly merchants at a bazaar or two friendly teams at the Olympics. If they chose to have a lose-lose mutually threatening relationship they will primarily think about how they can hurt the other in the hope of forcing the other into a position of fear in order to get what they want. In that type of lose-lose relationship they will have more destructive wars than productive exchanges. History has shown that small wars can get beyond anyone’s control and turn into big wars that are much worse than even the leaders who chose this path imagined so that virtually all parties wish that they chose the first path. Either side can force the second path on the other while it takes both sides to follow the first path. In the back of the minds of all parties, regardless of which path they choose, should be their relative powers. In the first case, the parties should realize what the other could force on them and appreciate the quality of the exchange without getting too pushy, while in the second case, the parties should realize that power will be defined by the relative abilities to endure pain as much as the relative abilities to inflict it. When it isn't clear exactly how much power either side has to reward and punish the other, the first path is the safer way because there is great uncertainty around how each side can hurt the other. On the other hand, the second path will certainly make clear which party is dominant and which one will have to be submissive after the hell of war is over. That brings me to my main power principle.