The T-Trap (Present Day)
The United States has, for a long time, been commonly referred to as the superpower country. Therefore, every other country is at the heels of The United States. The standard of America is always being pursued. With this, you have all other countries as a competitor trying reach the place of America. There will be countries who are closer to achieving this than others, of course, and others that are just a pest trying to weaken the superpower country knowing that they will never reach the same status. With all these competitors, there will automatically be tension in the air. Especially between the superpower country and the other countries fast approaching. Currently, The United States is being tested by China as a threatening country. China is considered the country behind America as the superpower country. The tension that comes from this is leading to talks of a potential war. This situation is similar to what lead to the Peloponnesian War. “Fearful that the Athenians would use their navy to destroy Spartan control over its own alliance system, the Peloponnesian League, Sparta determined to destroy Athens’ power.” This situation was between Sparta and Athens. Sparta feared the growth of Athens. They knew that Athens was on the rise and that Athens was rising to the status of them (Sparta). This fear of growth and a rising of power is considered the Thucydides Trap. “Trap” refers to the trap of war, when a rising power is growing the leading power and rising power almost always go to war and fight to determine who is the superpower country. Now back to present tense, there has been talks that The United States and China are on the way to being caught in this trap. My take on this is that in order to determine if we are headed into this trap you have to take into account the time period and the leaders in both countries. If we take into account the time period, the present time is one that is very social, so word spreads fast and people are very aware of what is going on in the world. This makes it more difficult for leaders to declare war because if there is no clear reason to begin a war the people of that country will not be in full support. Also, the leaders of the countries play a big role in falling into this trap. Leaders who are very prideful and flamboyant are more likely to go into a war to remain or establish dominance. To qualify this statement, we can look back at Sparta and Athens. We see two cultures with leaders and societies full of pride and ego. This causes more of a “I have something to prove attitude,” having this attitude causes tension that leads to war, as it did.
All in all, The United States is not in the Thucydides Trap. However, it would be ignorant to not consider that America could be headed into the trap based off the history of Athens and Sparta.
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