A bit of news; after nine years doing the columnist thing at the Diplomat, I have decided to join 19FortyFive, a new site with contributors from around the political spectrum. It’s a chance to do a new thing in a new place, and while I certainly don’t share the politics of everyone on staff I do look forward to writing for a different audience that I’ve had at the Diplomat. Writing for the Diplomat for so many years has been intellectually and professionally rewarding, but it’s now time for a change.
Of course, y’all remain my first love. Anyway, here’s the first column, which uses an excellent new International Security article as a jumping off pointing for thinking about the US-China commercial relationship.
What does great power competition (GPC) mean for the future of the global economy? Put simply, the U.S.-China trade relationship has fueled a considerable portion of the world’s economic growth for the last forty years, and the prospect of a serious disruption of that relationship (which has yet to happen) should be disconcerting for everyone. GPC could have a range of outcomes from relatively restrained political nastiness to a Cold War-style disconnect to a punctuated series of hot wars. The question has particular resonance today given that extensive trade contacts between China and the United States have not prevented a growing sense of alarm about the prospects for war.
A recent article by Mariya Grinberg in the journal International Security points out that the idea that war means the end of trade is both recent and of uncertain accuracy. Nations at war can continue to trade if they require imports for long-term economic well-being and if they believe that exports cannot immediately be transformed into military gains. The reticence to completely cut off trade extends to the modern-day; Yugoslavia and Croatia continued to trade even as they conducted their messy war in the 1990s.