With Sino-American relations increasingly coming to resemble the geopolitical dynamics of the original Cold War, the world is heading toward a fraught new equilibrium. While some in the West long for a new “Sputnik moment” to motivate investments and reform, they should be careful what they wish for.
The challenge today is to create a coexistence model that allows competition between incompatible world views and cooperation on geopolitical and climate issues. This doesn’t mean that the West shouldn’t worry about possible human rights violations in the world or abandon its allies in Asia, but it shouldn’t let itself fall into a cold war-style trap either. A principled foreign policy should still be possible, especially if Western governments allow their civil societies to control abuses in China and abroad.