U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“The United States is confronted with a condition in the world which is at direct variance with the assumptions upon which [our foreign] policies were predicated,” wrote a State Department official. “Instead of unity among the great powers . . . there is complete disunity.” The secretary of state concluded that the Russians were “doing everything possible to achieve a complete breakdown.” The president called for unilateral action to counter U.S. adversaries. “If we falter in our leadership,” he told Congress, “[we will] surely endanger the welfare of this nation.”

These precise words were spoken in 1947, by Russia specialist Chip Bohlen, Secretary of State George C. Marshall, and President Harry S. Truman. But they are being echoed today by a new U.S. administration, heralding another era of great-power competition in which adversaries jostle for global influence. “After being dismissed as a phenomenon of an earlier century,” the Trump administration’s National

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