history of China's importance to the U.S., from Nixon's visit to China in 1972 to the present, which contributed to the implementation of Obama's 'U.S. Pivot to Asia Strategy'?
The Cold War represented one of the most important periods in the history of the world. It did not only changed the way in which the political world was configured following the end of the Second World War, but, at the same time, it marked a change in the perspective of the way in which relations among states and international actors are perceived. From this point-of-view, the end of this period marked the beginning of an era in which the political coordinates for international relations were uncertain and lacked a particular direction. The demise of the Soviet Union left the United States as the overall winner in the bipolar struggle. However, the entire state system was thrown into a state of confusion and disarray which made the situation from the early years of the post communist period rather uncertain. This however represented an inevitable consequence particularly because of the global nature of the Cold War.
China played a significant role in the Cold War and in balancing the relations between the U.S. And the U.S.S.R. The Cold War was the context in which China re-became an important power and, at the same time, it re-grouped powers around common ideas. After the fall of the communist wall in Europe and the demise of the U.S.S.R., China remained the single most important communist country in the world and is currently ranked second most important economy in the world, after the United States, with an economic growth of 10% average in the last decade. However, in order to fully understand how China reached this status as well as to further grasp the relationship China has in particular with the United States, it is essential to consider the Cold War period and most importantly the role President Nixon and his Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger had in un-locking the diplomatic stalemate between the U.S. And China and so, opening the road to diplomatic cooperation with the U.S.S.R.
The research focuses on several points. The first point takes into account the significant elements of the Cold War and more precisely the historical background of the confrontation. This research is not focused on providing a historical account of the era but rather a description of the elements that determined several key developments, one of which being the actual split between China and the U.S.S.R. that led to the un-locking of the relations between the U.S. And China. Another point taken into consideration is the evolution of the Chinese political and economic might during the Cold War and the post-Mao period. This aspect is important because it sets the stage for explaining the importance of the Chinese for the United States and inevitably the need for this complicated relation. Also, the ideological views are extremely significant for China in the sense that they are based on extremely solid ground that allows China to be, although sometimes uncomfortable, relatively predictable, which is crucial in foreign policy. Finally, all these elements lead to a justified American orientation towards China as the pivot of the U.S. foreign policy in Asia.
Historical background -- the Cold War, Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger
The Cold War can be seen as a particular, yet strange phenomenon in the history of humankind. It lacked the direct confrontation between the major parties involved, yet it is considered to have been an open conflict, as both the U.S.S.R. And the U.S. used secondary field battles and armed conflict did, after all, occurred. At the same time, from start to finish, politicians and strategy analysts suggested different lines of actions, leading from full confrontation to gradual reduction in tensions and eventually a diplomatic resolution. Henry Kissinger has been the advocate of both. In the beginning, he tended to give credit to those willing to confront the communists and defend each territory from the ideological threat of the socialist giant. Alongside Richard Nixon, he developed the shuttle diplomacy that eventually paid off in reopening talks with communist China and giving a new dimension to the Arab-Israeli conflict, which was, in part, a fragment of the Cold War.
The side wars, which took place throughout the period of the Cold War, are also a clear example of the global nature of the confrontation. Thus, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan in the 1980s were all wars with deep infiltrations in terms of ideology, politics, and economy (Kissinger, 1995). All this comes to point out that the reason for which the Cold War became a global war is the actual nature of the interdependent relations between states and leaderships.
The historical context of the war also influenced the way it developed. The ideological framework of communism had expanded in Russia and China, two of the most important countries in the world, after the First World War. Throughout this time, there were necessary factors to establish communism as the new ideology to be followed. Considering that China is the most populated country of the world, communism had a lot of adherents. Thus, the phenomenon expanded and enabled the West to take repercussions. Due to the escalatory nature of the conflict, it eventually became global and very difficult to stop.
The most important proof of the central roles played by the U.S.S.R. And the U.S. In the Cold War is the aftermath of this confrontation. Thus, once the demise of the U.S.S.R., the confrontation was put to an end and the victory of capitalism was proclaimed. Countries around the world went through important revolutionary stages to pass from a communist regime to a democratic one.
For the Cold War blueprint, the topic of great power was essential because the two most important countries, the U.S. And the USSS were the poles of power and the ones that determined the way in which the spheres of influence would be split. China at the start of the period was not in this arrangement. However, in time, it stepped up in terms of economy and ideological independence from the USRR.
The Cold War era showed once again the political segment of the notion of great power. Both the U.S. And the Soviet Union had established, by tacit agreement or latent conflicts, their areas of influence. However, the experiences following the Second World War proved the dimension of the political influence in exercising the role of super power. The U.S. had established itself as the upholder of democracy and liberalism, notions it promoted throughout the Free World, while the U.S.S.R., in trying to maintain its status of great power, imposed its communist ideology on Eastern Europe and Third World countries. (Kissinger, 1995) Therefore, the perspective of the ideological confrontation of the Cold War shows the way in which great powers manifest in terms of political influence and in a way justify their reason for being.
In order to reach the status of great power and to maintain it, the military component is rather significant. The most recent example in this sense is the Armaments' Race between the U.S. And the U.S.S.R. (Hobsbawm, 1996) At the time, it was both a means to express their particular supremacy and a way to preserve their own security. This eventually led to the so called security dilemma. (Nye, 2005) It only proved their true nature as great military powers because, taking into account their military parity and their comparable military capabilities, they had reached that point in which one's block security demanded the other one's insecurity or destruction. At the same time it underlined the importance of great powers to develop the means to support their claims for supremacy.
Finally, and probably the most important aspect to be taken into account is the economic dimension of the exercise of leadership as a great power. The Cold War era can again be seen as a worthy example in this sense. The economic system is defining for maintain the status of leadership. Although scholars did not succeed in anticipating the end of the confrontation, subsequent opinions argue that from the very beginning, the communist economic system was destined to fail simply because it would eventually suffer an implosion. (Calvocoressi, 1996) Therefore, in order to maintain the status in the international scene, a competitive economic system that would provide financial and human resources for both the military and political segments is essential.
Currently, it is rather hard to determine the actual need of the international system as it is today for the existence of great powers from a political perspective. The institutional perspective on international relations strongly argues the fact that not only the national state is no longer the main actor in international affairs, but that its status as the essential social structure is undermined. (Karlas, 2006) Indeed, the realists argue that the state, no matter its size and strength is in constant search for its security. Still, in terms of security as presented by…