I became interested in China a bit over five decades ago. Back then, with the notable exception of Zhou Enlai and a few people he’d mentored, China’s diplomacy was all revolutionary bluster and bellyaching with no bottom line.
In 2012, China’s now-paramount leader, Xi Jinping, invited President Barack Obama to collaborate with him in developing a “new type of great power relationship.” It wasn’t clear to anyone what he meant by that.
Will Rogers once observed that “when you get into trouble 5,000 miles from home, you’ve got to have been looking for it.” It’s a good deal more than 5.000 miles to Baghdad or Damascus from here. And, boy, have we gotten into trouble!
We live in a time of great strategic fluidity. Borders are shifting. Lines of control are blurring. Long-established spheres of influence are fading away. Some states are decaying and dissolving as others germinate and take root. The global economic order is precarious.
We are here to discuss what we can learn from the failure of diplomacy to prevent, halt, and wrap up World War I. We just heard a masterful review of what happened from Geoffrey Wawro. He has already said most of the things I wanted to say.
A while back, the United States set out to reconfigure the Middle East. The result is that the region and our position in it are both in shambles. Much of what has happened seems irreversible. In the short time allotted to me, I want to talk about the region’s dynamics.
These days, people who talk about the Indo-Pacific region – the arc of Asia from Japan through China to Pakistan – always begin by noting that it’s becoming the world’s center of economic gravity. That’s true. The region’s economy is now half again as large as America’s or Europe’s. In pur
We live in an age of discontinuities. Internationally, at least, the past and present no longer serve as reliable guides to the future. Our expectations are regularly shown to be unrealistic. It’s clear that we misperceive the present as often as we comprehend it.
I’m honored to share a very brief moment with you tonight. I crossed the Atlantic to be here for two reasons.