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Why the US Should Pursue Cooperation with China

Cooperation is not cowardice, as American conservatives repeatedly claim. Both the US and China have much to gain from it: peace, expanded markets, accelerated technological progress, the avoidance of a new arms race, progress against COVID-19, a robust global jobs recovery, and a shared effort against climate change.

NEW YORK – American foreign policy since World War II has been based on a simple idea, perhaps best expressed by President George W. Bush after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks: Either you are with us or against us. America should lead, allies should follow, and woe be to countries that oppose its primacy.

The idea was both simple and simplistic. And now it is antiquated: The United States faces no implacable foes, no longer leads an overpowering alliance, and has far more to gain from cooperation with China and other countries than from confrontation.

Former President Donald Trump was a grotesque caricature of US leadership. He hurled insults, threats, unilateral tariffs, and financial sanctions to try to force other countries to submit to his policies. He ripped up the multilateral rulebook. Yet Trump’s foreign policy faced remarkably little pushback inside the US. There was more consensus than opposition to Trump’s anti-China policies, and little resistance to his sanctions on Iran and Venezuela, despite their catastrophic humanitarian consequences.

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