January 21, 2015
America’s Global Balancing Act

by Zbigniew Brzezinski

With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, the disintegration of Iraq’s and Syria’s borders, and increasing Chinese assertiveness in the South and East China Seas, the post-Cold War era appears to have ended in 2014. Is that true?

The post-Cold War era was not really an “era,” but rather a gradual transition from a bilateral Cold War to a more complex international order that still involves, in the final analysis, two world powers. In brief, the decisive axis of the new order increasingly involves the United States and the People’s Republic of China. The Sino-American competition involves two significant realities that distinguish it from the Cold War: neither party is excessively ideological in its orientation; and both parties recognize that they really need mutual accommodation.

America’s supposed “pivot to Asia” took a back seat in 2014 to the crises in Ukraine and the Middle East. To what extent has uncertainty about the US commitment in Asia stoked tension between China and America’s Asian allies?

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