Swaine comprehensively reviews the U.S.-Chinese relationship, which he sees as marked by an awkward combination of suspicion and interdependence. When it comes to the medium term, he is judiciously nonalarmist, arguing that dialogue will trump confrontation over economic issues and that China will not displace the United States as the dominant military power in the western Pacific in the foreseeable future. He also reports the views of more than 50 current and former U.S. officials on what ails the Asia policy process. The problems include bureaucratic rivalries (especially between the State Department and the Pentagon) and the failure of the National Security Council to perform its coordinating function. The White House views Congress as disruptive, and Congress suspects the White House of manipulation and deception. Still, Swaine maintains that the United States’ China policy has essentially been on the right track and should continue to be defined by a combination of cooperative engagement and hedging. Over the long term, however, the United States must do a better job of managing its problems at home, or, Swaine says, it might be forced into a cooperative security arrangement with China in the Asia-Pacific region.
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