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The strategist’s dilemma: Global dynamic density and the making of US ‘China policy’

  • Hugo Meijer (a1) and Benjamin Jensen (a2)


Combining the English School of International Relations and the study of grand strategy decision-making processes, this article investigates how dynamic density – growing volume, velocity, and diversity of interactions within international society – alters states’ strategy formation processes. By contrasting the perspectives of structural realism and the English School on the role of dynamic density in world politics, the piece illustrates the strategist’s dilemma: as global dynamic density in the international society increases, the ability of great powers to formulate coherent grand strategies and policies potentially decreases. Specifically, it contends that growing global dynamic density generates processual and substantive fragmentation in strategy formation. Building on a large body of elite interviews, US policy toward China – and the so-called US ‘rebalance’ to Asia – is used as a probability probe of the central idea of the strategist’s dilemma. In conclusion, we contrast our findings with complex interdependence theory and examine their implications for ‘great power management’ (GPM) as a primary institution of international society. We argue that, by generating processual and substantive fragmentation in strategy formation, global dynamic density complicates GPM by hindering the capacity of great powers to manage and calibrate the competitive and cooperative dynamics at play in a bilateral relationship.


Corresponding author

*Correspondence to: Hugo Meijer, European University Institute, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, Villino, Villa Schifanoia, Via Boccaccio 121, 50133, Firenze, Italy. Author’s email:


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3 Shambaugh, David, Tangled Titans: the United States and China (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2013), pp. 3 , 15.

4 Gray, Colin, The Strategy Bridge: Theory for Practice (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), p. 18 . For a discussion of the concept of ‘grand strategy’, see Nina Silove, ‘Beyond the buzzword: the three meanings of “grand strategy”’, Security Studies (2017), available at: {DOI: 10.1080/09636412.2017.1360073}.

5 Gourevitch, Peter, ‘The second image reversed: the international sources of domestic politics’, International Organization, 32:4 (1978).

6 Hedley Bull distinguishes an international system (or system of states) from an international society (a society of states). The first ‘is formed when two or more states have sufficient contact between them, and have sufficient impact on one another’s decisions, to cause them to behave – at least in some measure – as parts of a whole’. The later refers to ‘a group of states, conscious of certain common interests and common values [that] form a society in the sense that they conceive themselves to be bound by a common set of rules in their relations with one another, and share in the working of common institutions’. Hedley Bull, The Anarchical Society (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 1977), pp. 9, 13.

7 On dynamic density (also referred to as interaction capacity), a concept borrowed from the sociologist Emile Durkheim, see for instance, John Barkdull, ‘Waltz, Durkheim, and International Relations: the international system as an abnormal form’, American Political Science Review, 89:3 (1995), pp. 669–80; Barry Buzan, Charles Jones, and Richard Little, The Logic of Anarchy: Neorealism to Structural Realism (New York: Columbia University, 1993), ch. 4; Barry Buzan and George Lawson, The Global Transformation: History, Modernity and the Making of International Relations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), ch. 3. An earlier generation of International Relations scholars examined regional processes of functional integration. While there is a wide range of thinkers, two stand out: Karl Deutsch and Ernst Haas. See Karl Deutsch et al., Political Community and the North Atlantic Area: International Organization in the Light of Historical Experience (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1957); Ernst Haas, The Uniting of Europe: Political, Social, and Economic Forces 1950–57 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1958); Ernst Haas, Beyond the Nation-State. Functionalism and International Organization (Stanford CA: Stanford University Press, 1964).

8 While here we focus on great powers, and although further comparative research is required to test our hypotheses, we posit that our core argument may also apply to other states. For a definition and discussion of the concept of great powers, see Buzan, Barry, The United States and the Great Powers: World Politics in the Twenty-First Century (Cambridge, Polity Press, 2006), ch. 4 .

9 Examples include work in offensive and defensive realism: Layne, The Peace of Illusions; Mearsheimer, John, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (New York: Norton, 2001); Walt, Stephen, The Origins of Alliances (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1990). For neoliberal perspectives prefacing the benefits of hegemony, see Ikenberry, John, Liberal Leviathan: The Origins, Crisis, and Transformation of the American World Order (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2011).

10 On disincentives to challenge the United States based on the power gap, see Wohlforth, William, ‘The stability of a unipolar world’, International Security, 24:1 (1999), pp. 541 .

11 Christensen, Thomas, Useful Adversaries, Grand Strategy, Domestic Mobilization, and Sino-American Conflict, 1947–1958 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996); Dueck, Colin, The Obama Doctrine: American Grand Strategy Today (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015); Ripsman, Norrin, ‘Neoclassical realism and domestic interest groups’, in Steven E. Lobell, Norrin M. Ripsman, and Jeffrey W. Taliaferro (eds), Neoclassical Realism, The State, and Foreign Policy (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009); Snyder, Jack, Myths of Empire (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1991).

12 Taliaferro, Jeffrey, Balancing Risks: Great Power Intervention in the Periphery (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2004); Lobell, Steven, ‘The international realm, framing effects, and security strategies: Britain in peace and war’, International Interactions, 32:1 (2006), pp. 2748 .

13 On strategic culture and the role of culture in international relations, see Iain Johnston, Alastair, Cultural Realism: Strategic Culture and Grand Strategy in Chinese History (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998) and Lebow, Ned R., A Cultural Theory of International Relations (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008). On enduring ways of wars, see Echevarria, Antulio, Reconsidering the American Way of War: US Military Practice from the Revolution to Afghanistan (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2014).

14 Katzenstein, Peter, The Culture of National Security: Norms and Identity in World Politics (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996).

15 Haas, Mark, The Ideological Origins of Great Power Politics, 1789–1989 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2005); Hunt, Michael, Ideology and US Foreign Policy (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987); Mead, Walter R., Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How it Changed the World (New York: Alfred Knopf, 2002). Colin Dueck contends there is a push and pull of realist, material factors and constructivist, cultural factors shaping American grand strategy overtime. Dueck, Reluctant Crusaders.

16 On sectoral differentiation, see Albert, Mathias, A Theory of World Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), ch. 2 ; Buzan, Barry and Albert, Mathias, ‘Differentiation: a sociological approach to International Relations theory’, European Journal of International Relations, 16:3 (2010), pp. 315337 ; Buzan, Barry and Albert, Mathias, ‘Securitization, sectors and functional differentiation’, Security Dialogue, 42:4–5 (2011), pp. 413425 ; Cerny, Philip, ‘Plurilateralism: Structural differentiation and functional conflict in the post-Cold War world order’, Millennium, 22:1 (1993), pp. 2751 .

17 On probability probes, see Eckstein, Harry, ‘Case studies and theory in political science’, in Fred Greenstein and Nelson Polsby (eds), Handbook of Political Science, Volume VII (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1975) and Levy, Jack, ‘Case studies: Types, designs, and logics of inference’, Conflict Management and Peace Science, 25:1 (2008), pp. 118 . This is also what Lijphart defines as an hypothesis-generating case. Lijphart, Aaron, ‘Comparative politics and the comparative method’, American Political Science Review, 65:3 (1971), pp. 682693 .

18 A definition of GPM is provided below. On GPM as a primary institution of international society, see Cui, Shunji and Buzan, Barry, ‘Great power management in international society’, The Chinese Journal of International Politics, 9:2 (2016), pp. 181210 ; Rosemary Foot, ‘Power transitions and great power management: Three decades of China–Japan–US relations’, The Pacific Review, online version, available at: {} accessed 13 May 2017; Goh, Evelyn, The Struggle for Order: Hegemony, Hierarchy, and Transition in Post-Cold War East Asia (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), ch. 3 ; Goh, Evelyn, ‘East Asia as regional international society: the problem of great power management’, in Buzan, Barry and Zhang, Yongjin (eds), Contesting International Society in East Asia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014); Yuen Foong Khong, ‘East Asia and the strategic “deep rules” of international/regional society’, in Buzan and Zhang (eds), Contesting International Society in East Asia; Little, Richard, ‘The balance of power and great power management’, in Richard Little and John Williams (eds), The Anarchical Society in a Globalized World (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006); Zala, Benjamin, ‘Great power management and ambiguous order in nineteenth-century international society’, Review of International Studies, 43:2 (2016) pp. 367388 .

19 Durkheim, Emile, The Rules of Sociological Method (New York: Free Press, 1964), p. 115 .

20 See fns 7 and 16.

21 Buzan, Barry, From International to World Society: English School Theory and the Social Structure of Globalization (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004); Buzan and Lawson, The Global Transformation.

22 Bull, Hedley, The Anarchical Society (London: Macmillan, 1977); Bull, Hedley and Watson, Adam (eds), The Expansion of International Society (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984).

23 Bull, Hedley, ‘Society and anarchy in International Relations’, in Herbert Butterfield and Martin Wight (eds), Diplomatic Investigations (London: Allen & Unwin, 1966).

24 Buzan, From International to World Society, pp. 164, 181. See also Spandler, Kilian, ‘The political international society: Change in primary and secondary institutions’, Review of International Studies, 41:3 (2015), pp. 601622 .

25 Buzan and Albert, ‘Differentiation’; Buzan and Albert, ‘Securitization, sectors and functional differentiation’.

26 Buzan and Albert, ‘Differentiation’, p. 318.

27 Barkdull, ‘Waltz, Durkheim, and International Relations’. On the relationship between functional differentiation and security sectors, see Buzan, Barry, Wæver, Ole, and De Wilde, Jaap, Security: A New Framework for Analysis (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1998) and Buzan and Albert, ‘Securitization, sectors and functional differentiation’.

28 Waltz, Kenneth, Theory of International Politics (Reading, MD: Addison-Wesley, 1979).

29 Ibid., pp. 74–6.

30 Ruggie, John, ‘Continuity and transformation in the world polity: Towards a neorealist synthesis’, World Politics, 35:2 (1983), pp. 261285 .

31 Waltz, Theory of International Politics; Waltz, Kenneth, ‘Reflections on theory of international politics: a response to my critics’, in Robert Keohane (ed.), Neorealism and Its Critics (New York: Columbia University Press, 1986).

32 Barkdull, ‘Waltz, Durkheim, and International Relations’, pp. 673–4.

33 See fns 7 and 16.

34 Ruggie, ‘Continuity and transformation in the world polity’.

35 Buzan, Jones, and Little, The Logic of Anarchy.

36 This tripartition builds upon the pioneering work by Morse, Edward, Modernization and the Transformation of International Relations (New York: Free Press, 1976).

37 Henry Kissinger, ‘A new national partnership’, The Department of State Bulletin, 1860 (17 February 1975), p. 199. On this point, see also Maurice East, ‘The organizational impact of interdependence on foreign policy-making: the case of Norway’, in Charles Kegley and Patrick McGowan (eds), ‘The political economy of foreign policy behaviour’, Sage International Yearbook of Foreign Policy Studies, 6 (1981); East, Maurice and Salomonsen, Leif-Helge, ‘Adapting foreign policy-making to interdependence: a proposal and some evidence from Norway’, Cooperation and Conflict, 16:3 (1981), pp. 165182 ; Karvonen, Lauri and Sundelius, Bengt, ‘Interdependence and foreign policy management in Sweden and Finland’, International Studies Quarterly, 34:2 (1990), pp. 211227 ; Moses, Jonathon and Knutsen, Torbjørn, ‘Globalization and the reorganization of foreign affairs ministries’, Cooperation and Conflict, 36:4 (2001), pp. 355380 ; Sundelius, Bengt, ‘Interdependence, internationalization and foreign policy decentralization in Sweden’, Cooperation and Conflict, 192 (1984), pp. 93120 ; Underdal, Arild, ‘What’s left for the MFA? Foreign policy and the management of external relations in Norway’, Cooperation and Conflict, 22:3 (1987), pp. 169192 .

38 Plischke, Elmer, ‘New diplomacy’, in Elmer Plischke (ed.), Modern Diplomacy: the Art and the Artisan (Washington: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 1979).

39 Risse-Kappen, Thomas, ‘Bringing transnational relations back in: Introduction’, in Thomas Risse-Kappen (ed.), Bringing Transnational Relations Back In: Non-State Actors, Domestic Structures and International Institutions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), p. 4 .

40 Hocking, Brian, ‘Adaptation and the foreign policy bureaucracy: the experience of federal states’, Diplomacy and Statecraft, 5:1 (1994), p. 47 .

41 Putnam, Robert, ‘Diplomacy and domestic politics: the logic of two-level games’, International Organization, 42:3 (1988), pp. 427460 .

42 Gray, The Strategy Bridge, pp. 28–9.

43 Sundelius, Bengt, ‘Interdependence and foreign policy’, Cooperation and Conflict, 15:4 (1980), p. 194 .

44 On this point, see Hocking, Brian, ‘Introduction: Foreign ministries: Redefining the gatekeeper role’, in Brian Hocking (ed.), Foreign Ministries: Change and Adaptation (Basingstoke, Macmillan Press, 1999); Sundelius, Bengt, ‘Interdependence and foreign policy’, Cooperation and Conflict, 15:4 (1980), p. 197 .

45 This is what Hocking refers to as ‘catalytic diplomacy’. Hocking, Brian, ‘Catalytic diplomacy: Beyond “newness” and “decline”’, in Jan Melissen (ed.), Innovation in Diplomatic Practice (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 1999); Hocking, Brian, ‘Adaptation and the foreign policy bureaucracy: the experience of federal states’, Diplomacy & Statecraft, 5:1 (1994).

46 Buzan and Lawson, The Global Transformation; Kahler, Miles (ed.), Networked Politics: Agency, Power, and Governance (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2009); Khanna, Parag, Connectography: Mapping the Global Network Revolution (London: Hachette UK, 2016); Slaughter, Anne-Marie, The Chessboard and the Web: Strategies of Connection in a Networked World (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017).

47 Roberts, J. M. and Arne Westad, Odd, The Penguin History of the World (6th edn, London, Penguin Books, 2013).

48 Buzan and Lawson, The Global Transformation.

49 Ibid., p. 77.

50 Khanna, Connectography.

51 Buzan and Lawson, The Global Transformation, p. 70

52 Radicati Group, ‘E-mail Statistics Report 2009–2013’ (Palo Alto: the Radicati Group, 2014), available at:{} accessed 26 June 2015.

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54 The data is derived from, accessed 26 June 2015.

55 Chadwick, Andrew, ‘The political information cycle in a hybrid news system: the British prime minister and the “Bullygate” affair’, International Journal of Press/Politics, 161 (2011), p. 7 .

56 Goldgeier, James and Tetlock, Philip, ‘Psychology and International Relations’, Annual Review of Political Science, 4:67 (2001), pp. 6792 ; Zukier, Henry, ‘The dilution effect: the role of correlation and dispersion of predicator variables in the use of non-diagnostic information’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 43:6 (1982), pp. 11631174 .

57 This insight derives from earlier work on bounded rationality by Simon, Herbert, ‘Bounded rationality and organizational learning’, Organization Science, 2:1 (1991), pp. 125134 .

58 Schweller, Randall, ‘The age of entropy: Why the new world order won’t be orderly’, Foreign Affairs (16 June 2014).

59 Building upon the work of the homonymous Athenian historian on the mounting rivalry and subsequent war between Athens and Sparta, according to the ‘Thucydides’s Trap’ hypothesis, when a rising power threatens to displace a ruling one, the most likely – in not inevitable – outcome is war. See the Harvard Thucydides’s Trap Project that compares 16 historical cases, at: {} accessed 17 June 2017. See also the book by Graham Allison in which he summarises the findings of these case studies: Allison, Graham, Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap? (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017), Appendix 1.

60 Wayne Morrison, US-China Trade Issues, Congressional Research Service (17 July 2013), p. 2.

61 Department of Commerce, ‘2011 US Resident Travel to Asia’ (2012a), available at: {} accessed 19 July 2015; Department of Commerce, ‘2011 Market Profile: China, International Trade Administration, Office of Travel and Tourism Industries’ (2012b), available at: {} accessed 19 July 2015; Shambaugh, Tangled Titans, p. 3.

62 Terry Lautz, ‘The cultural relationship’, in Shambaugh, Tangled Titans, pp. 211–33.

63 Koehn, Peter and Yin, Xiao-Huang, The Expanding Roles of Chinese Americans in US-China Relations: Transnational Networks and Trans-Pacific Interactions (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2002).

64 Bonnie Glaser, ‘The diplomatic relationship’, in Shambaugh, Tangled Titans, p. 151.

65 Ibid., p. 152.

66 Tan, Qingshan, The Making of US China Policy: From Normalization to the Post-Cold War Era (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1992).

67 Garrison, Jean, ‘Managing the US-China foreign economic dialogue: Building greater coordination and new habits of consultation’, Asia Policy, 4 (2007), pp. 167168 . See also Garrison, Jean, Making China Policy: From Nixon to G. W. Bush (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2005).

68 Suettinger, Robert, Beyond Tiananmen: The Politics of US-China Relations, 1989–2000 (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2003), p. 426 .

69 Lampton, David, Same Bed, Different Dreams: Managing US-China Relations, 1989–2000 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), p. 292 .

70 Ibid.

71 Chen, Dongxiao, ‘Complexity and transformational structure of China-US relations’, in Suishen Zhao (ed.), China-US Relations Transformed: Perspectives and Strategic Interactions (New York: Routledge, 2008), p. 58 .

72 Interview by Hugo Meijer, 29 April 2010.

73 Tan, The Making of US China Policy.

74 Glaser, ‘The diplomatic relationship’, in Shambaugh, Tangled Titans, p. 158.

75 See The White House, ‘Statement from the Press Secretary on the United States-China Visit’, Office of the Press Secretary (7 April 2017); and The White House, ‘Briefing by Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Mnuchin, and Secretary Ross on President Trump’s Meetings with President Xi of China’, Office of the Press Secretary (7 April 2017). At the time of the writing the first meeting of the Comprehensive Dialogue has not yet taken place and thus cannot be discussed in any detail.

76 Glaser, ‘The diplomatic relationship’, in Shambaugh, Tangled Titans, p. 172.

77 This refers to the structure of dialogues under Obama, before President Trump’s recent change. It is still unclear which processes will remain under Trump and his push for more transactional, bilateral exchange.

78 Glaser, ‘The diplomatic relationship’, in Shambaugh, Tangled Titans, p. 158.

79 Interview by Hugo Meijer, 14 February 2017.

80 Dietrich, John, ‘Interest groups and foreign policy: Clinton and the China MFN debates’, Presidential Studies Quarterly, 29:2 (1999), pp. 280296 ; Dumbaugh, Kerry, ‘Ten years in US-China policy: Interest groups and their influence, 1989–2000’, Congressional Research Service (12 December 2000); Dumbaugh, Kerry, ‘Interest groups: Growing influence’, in Ramon H. Myers, Michel C. Oksenberg, and David Shambaugh (eds), Making China Policy: Lessons from the Bush and Clinton Administrations (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2001); Sutter, Robert, US Policy Towards China: An Introduction to the Role of Interest Groups (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 1998).

81 Teles, Steven, ‘Public opinion and interest groups in the making of US-China policy’, in Robert Ross (ed.), After the Cold War: Domestic Factors in US China Relations (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1998).

82 Sutter, US Policy Towards China.

83 Interview by Hugo Meijer, 12 April 2010.

84 Quoted in Karen DeYoung, ‘Obama’s NSC will get new power’, The Washington Post (8 February 2009).

85 Garrison, ‘Managing the US-China foreign economic dialogue’, p. 177.

86 See Michael Hirsh, ‘Team of bumblers? Are Susan Rice and Chuck Hagel equal to today’s new national security challenges?’, Politico (26 October 2014), available at: {} accessed 11 February 2015; and The Brookings Institution, ‘National Security Council Structure and Organization’ (2014), available at: {} accessed 18 June 2015.

87 Auserwald, David, ‘The evolution of the NSC process’, in Roger George and Harvey Rishikof (eds), The National Security Enterprise: Navigating the Labyrinth (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2011), p. 34 .

88 Lampton, Same Bed, Different Dreams, p. 308.

89 Jean Garrison, ‘Understanding Prospects for Cooperation and Competition in US-China Relations’, paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association, Honolulu, Hawaii, 1–5 March 2005, p. 2.

90 Interview by Hugo Meijer, 13 February 2017.

91 The S&ED has been replaced by the US-China Comprehensive Dialogue by the Trump administration.

92 Ibid.

93 Interview by Hugo Meijer with a former Pentagon official, 14 February 2017.

94 Interview by Hugo Meijer, 17 February 2017.

95 Hal Brands, The Promise and Pitfals of Grand Strategy (Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, 2012), p. 5.

96 Meijer, Hugo (ed.), Origins and Evolution of the US Rebalance toward Asia: Diplomatic, Military, and Economic Dimensions (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).

97 Public pronouncements of this shift include Hillary Clinton, ‘America’s pacific century’, Foreign Policy (1 October 2011) and Barack Obama, ‘Remarks to the Australian Parliament’, Parliament House, Canberra, Australia (17 November 2011).

98 Jensen, Benjamin M. and Shibuya, Eric Y., ‘The military rebalance as retcon’, in Meijer (ed.), Origins and Evolution of the US Rebalance toward Asia, pp. 81106 ; Friedberg, Aaron L., Beyond Air-Sea Battle: The Debate over US Military Strategy in Asia (New York: Routledge, 2014); LaGrone, Sam, ‘Pentagon drops AirSea Battle name, concept lives on’, USNI News (20 January 2015).

99 Scott Marciel, ‘Economic Aspects of the Asia Rebalance’, Statement before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (18 December 2013).

100 William Cooper, Mark Manyin, Remy Jurenas, and Michaela Platzer, The US-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA): Provisions and Implications, Congressional Research Service (7 March 2013); Sutter, Robert G., Brown, Michael E., and Adamson, Timothy J. A., Balancing Acts: The US Rebalance and Asia Pacific Stability (Washington, DC: Sigur Center for Asian Studies, The George Washington University, 2013), p. 2 ; Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee, National Export Strategy 2011, Washington, DC (11 July 2011).

101 Hugo Meijer, ‘The reconfiguration of American primacy in world politics: Prospects and challenges for the US rebalance to Asia’, in Meijer (ed.), Origins and Evolution of the US Rebalance toward Asia. See also Philip Saunders, ‘Rebuttal: the US isn’t trying to contain China … and China’s neighbors don’t want it to anyway’, Foreign Policy (23 August 2013).

102 Bader, Jeffrey, Obama and China’s Rise: An Insider’s Account of America’s Asia Strategy (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2012), pp. 6, 11 ; Lampton, David, ‘China and the United States: Beyond balance’, in James B. Steinberg, Thomas B. Fargo, Aaron L. Friedberg, J. Stapleton Roy, David M. Lampton, and Wallace Gregson (eds), Turning to the Pacific: US Strategic Rebalancing toward Asia, Asia Policy, 14 (2012), pp. 4044 ; David Lampton, ‘Cooperative Balance in Asia’, testimony before the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission (7 February 2013); Meijer (ed.), Origins and Evolution of the US Rebalance toward Asia.

103 Clinton, ‘America’s pacific century’.

104 Leon Panetta, ‘Shangri-La Security Dialogue’, speech delivered at the Shangri-La Dialogue, Singapore (2 June 2012).

105 Green, Michael and Cooper, Zack, ‘Revitalizing the rebalance: How to keep US focus on Asia’, The Washington Quarterly, 37:3 (2014), pp. 2546 .

106 The White House, ‘Fact Sheet: The Fiscal Year 2014 Federal Budget and the Asia–Pacific’, available at: {} accessed 18 May 2015.

107 Department of State, ‘The East Asia-Pacific Rebalance: Expanding US Engagement’ (16 December 2013), available at: {} accessed 5 July 2015.

108 ‘Bipartisan letter to Susan Rice calling for Asia-Pacific strategy review’, RealClearDefense (17 July 2013), available at: {} accessed 17 May 2017.

109 Rapp-Hooper, Mira, Cronin, Patrick M., Krejsa, Harry, and Suh, Hannah, Counterbalance: Red Teaming the Rebalance in the Asia-Pacific (Washington, DC: Center for New American Security, 2016), pp. 5455 .

110 Green and Cooper, ‘Revitalizing the rebalance’, p. 67.

111 Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel, The QDR in Perspective: Meeting America’s National Security Needs in the 21st Century (Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace, 2010).

112 Center for Strategic and International Studies, ‘Preparing for the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review’ (2013), available at: {} accessed 15 July 2014.

113 Interview by Hugo Meijer, 13 October 2017.

114 Interview by Hugo Meijer, 11 March 2010.

115 Evelyn Goh, ‘East Asia as regional international society: the problem of great power management’, in Buzan and Zhang (eds), Contesting International Society in East Asia, p. 169.

116 ‘International order’ is defined by Bull as a pattern of activity between and among states that sustain the basic goals of the society of states (or international society), which include: the goals of all social life (security from violence, the honouring of agreements and the stability of possessions); the preservation of state system of states; the maintaining independence of the separate units; and the preservation of peace. Bull, Hedley, The Anarchical Society (3rd edn, London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2000), ch. 1 .

117 Ibid., pp. 200–1.

118 On ‘complex interdependence’ theory, see Keohane, Robert and Nye, Joseph, Power and Interdependence (Boston: Little Brown, 1977) and Keohane, Robert and Nye, Joseph, ‘Power and interdependence Revisited’, International Organization , 41:4 (1987), pp. 725753 .

119 See Bull, The Anarchical Society, p. 201.

120 Interview by Hugo Meijer, 17 February 2017.

121 On this point, see also Jisi, Wang and Lieberthal, Kenneth, ‘An overview of the US-China relationship’, in Nina Hachigian (ed.), Debating China: The US-China Relationship in Ten Conversations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), p. 7 .


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The strategist’s dilemma: Global dynamic density and the making of US ‘China policy’

  • Hugo Meijer (a1) and Benjamin Jensen (a2)


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