Last year, I read Graham Allison’s book Destined for War. The book was initially captivating and expounded a compelling realist theory on the origin of war between rising powers and those they threaten to replace. Repeatedly, Allison quotes the ancient Athenian and historian Thucydides, stating “It was the rise of Athens, and the fear that this instilled in Sparta, that made war inevitable”. This single line, which rests at the heart of Allison’s argument, comes across as reductionist. If this were the case in Sino-American relations, we would expect to find the U.S. in a state of alarm, trying to hold back the red tide of Chinese power. This is what I wish to study: whether the U.S. is in this state of fear. If the U.S. truly is fearful of an impending clash with the Chinese, we would expect to see the U.S. strengthen ties with allies as it prepares for what could be the worst. My research would focus on the Trump administration’s foreign policy hitherto, examining whether this fear exists in either the rhetoric or embodied actions.
For future research, I am greatly interested in China’s so-called Century of Humiliation. I am fond of Allison’s attempt to prescribe a psychological state to contentious foreign relations, but I do not believe it is fear that most accurately describes the West’s attitude toward China. Instead, I think retribution and redress might better encompass China’s attitude toward the West. Other historical examples along the same mantra of revenge have proven to be rather significant, such as pre-World War 2 Germany. My future research might look at the collective psychology of revenge or something along these lines.
 Allison, Graham. Destined For War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap? Mariner Books, 2017.