Imagine a World with U.S.-China Cooperation

by Lawrence Wittner

reposted from Z Blogs

On September 10, 2021, during an important diplomatic meeting that occurred by telephone, U.S. President Joseph Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping affirmed the necessity of a better relationship between their two nations.  According to the official Chinese summary, Xi said that “when China and the United States cooperate, the two countries and the world will benefit; when China and the United States are in confrontation, the two countries and the world will suffer.”  He added:  “Getting the relationship right is . . . something we must do and must do well.”

At the moment, however, the governments of the two nations seem far from a cooperative relationship.  Indeed, intensely suspicious of one another, the United States and China are increasing their military spending, developing new nuclear weapons, engaging in heated quarrels over territorial issues, and sharpening their economic competition.  Disputes over the status of Taiwan and the South China Sea are particularly likely flashpoints for war.

But imagine the possibilities if the United States and China did cooperate.  After all, these countries possess the world’s two largest military budgets and the two biggest economies, are the two leading consumers of energy, and have a combined population of nearly 1.8 billion people.  Working together, they could exercise enormous influence in world affairs.

Instead of preparing for a deadly military confrontation—one that appeared perilously close in late 2020 and early 2021—the United States and China could turn over their conflicts to the United Nations or other neutral bodies like the Association of Southeast Asian Nations for mediation and resolution.  Aside from averting a potentially devastating war, perhaps even a nuclear war, this policy would facilitate substantial cuts in military spending, with savings that could be devoted to bolstering UN operations and funding their domestic social programs.

Instead of the two countries obstructing UN action to protect international peace and security, they could fully support it—for example, by ratifying the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Instead of continuing as the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gasses, these two economic giants could work together to fight the escalating climate catastrophe by reducing their carbon footprint and championing international agreements with other nations to do the same.

Instead of blaming one another for the current pandemic, they could work cooperatively on global public health measures, including massive production and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines and research on other potentially horrendous diseases.

Instead of engaging in wasteful economic competition and trade wars, they could pool their vast economic resources and skills to provide poorer nations with economic development programs and direct economic assistance.

Instead of denouncing one another for human rights violations, they could admit that they both had oppressed their racial minorities, announce plans for ending this mistreatment, and provide reparations to its victims.

Although it might seem that such a turnabout is impossible, something roughly comparable happened in the 1980s, when the U.S.-Soviet Cold War, long a staple of international affairs, came to a sudden, unexpected end.  In the context of a massive wave of popular protest against the heightening Cold War and, particularly, the growing danger of nuclear war, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev had the wisdom to see that the two nations had nothing to gain and a great deal to lose by continuing down the path of rising military confrontation.  And he even succeeded in convincing U.S. President Ronald Reagan, long an ardent hawk but beleaguered by popular pressure, of the value of cooperation between their two nations.  In 1988, with the U.S.-Soviet confrontation fast collapsing, Reagan strolled pleasantly with Gorbachev through Moscow’s Red Square, telling curious onlookers:  “We decided to talk to each other instead of about each other.  It’s working just fine.”

Unfortunately, in subsequent decades, new leaders of both nations squandered the enormous opportunities for peace, economic security, and political freedom opened up by the end of the Cold War.  But, at least for a time, the cooperative approach did work just fine.

And it can again.

Given the current frosty state of relations between the governments of the United States and China, it seems that, despite the promising rhetoric at the recent Biden-Xi meeting, they are not yet ready for a cooperative relationship.

But what the future will bring is quite another matter—particularly if, as in the case of the Cold War, the people of the world, daring to imagine a better way, decide that it is necessary to set the governments of the two most powerful nations on a new and more productive course.

Dr. Lawrence Wittner ( ) is Professor of History Emeritus at SUNY/Albany and the author of Confronting the Bomb (Stanford University Press).

Peace & Change Editor Applications Are Due November 1, 2021 — There’s Plenty of Time to Apply!

The Peace History Society ( invites applications for the position of Executive Editor of Peace & Change: A Journal of Peace Research.  

Peace & Change is published by the Peace History Society (PHS) in conjunction with the International Peace Research Association (IPRA).  Its scholarly and interpretive articles engage with topics related to the achievement of a peaceful, just, and humane society.  The journal, whose medium is English, enjoys a global audience.  We endeavor to build bridges across disciplines and among peace researchers, educators, advocates, and activists.  Peace & Change recognizes the longstanding underrepresentation of scholars from marginalized groups within the fields of peace history and peace studies.  We are committed to inclusive editorial leadership that reflects the growing diversity of our scholarly community.  To this end, we seek applicants from all ethnicities, races, religions, sexes, sexual orientations, gender identities, national origins, dis/abilities, ages, and backgrounds.  Applicants should review the following information about the journal and the position.  Launched in 1972, Peace & Change publishes four digital issues a year.   It is co-owned by the PHS and Wiley (, with PHS exercising editorial control over the journal content and review process.  The successful applicant must demonstrate an ability to represent Peace & Change in interfacing with the PHS Board, PHS’s IPRA partners, the scholarly community, and various other constituencies.  The applicant must also have institutional support, which traditionally includes a one-course release and a graduate assistantship or the equivalent for the accompanying Managing Editor position.  The time commitment is estimated to be ten hours per week.  The key responsibilities and tasks of the Executive Editor include:  

  1. Receives all new submissions.  Screens all submissions for originality and fit to the journal’s mission.  Reads all valid submissions with the managing editor and determines which articles are sent out for review and which are declined.  
  2. Oversees double-blind peer review.  Identifies appropriate readers and sends out anonymized manuscripts for review.  Tracks due dates for readers’ reports and revised manuscripts for authors and send reminders as needed.  
  3. Keeps a database of reviewers, seeks new reviewers.  
  4. Evaluates readers’ reports and makes decisions about reviewed articles.  Communicates decisions to authors and includes anonymized readers’ reports (unless a reader requests to be identified).  
  5. Works with the authors to revise manuscripts to address reviewers’ and editors’ concerns.    
  6. Schedules articles for publication and forwards final versions to Wiley for Early View publication online.  Articles are submitted to Wiley for individual publication when drafts are in final form.  Wiley assembles the issues from the tables of contents provided by the Executive Editor.  
  7. Prepares articles for publication, from preliminary copyediting for house style and readability to reviewing and approving proofs and verifying the securing of permissions and copyright clearances prior to publication.  The Managing Editor may assist with copyediting and verification of copyright and is responsible for writing the Table of Contents and Notes on Authors for each issue.   
  8. Reviews the final draft of each issue and approves or enters final changes before publication.   
  9. Review final drafts of book reviews (solicited, developed, and edited by the Book Review Editor), assigns them to issues, and submits them to Wiley for production and publication.  
  10. Works with the Peace & Change Editorial Board on significant issues, nominates board members, and uses board members to review manuscripts.  
  11. Serves as the point person for communications between the PHS Board, the IPRA, and Wiley on matters concerning the content, publication process, policies, and production of the journal.  The PHS Board oversees matters related to subscriptions, profit sharing, and contractual matters with Wiley and IPRA.  
  12. Conducts outreach to potential authors, reviewers, and other contributors to the journal at conferences and other events.  The Executive Editor and Managing Editor will attend Peace History Society conferences to identify manuscripts that might be appropriate for submission to the journal.  
  13. Oversees publication of short-form pieces and news items on Peace & Change Blog.  The Managing Editor can review, edit, and post these features.  

    Wiley is migrating Peace & Change to a Scholar One platform, which will automate some parts of the work, including screening for originality and plagiarism and keeping the review process on track (sending reminders, etc.).  This will involve 2-3 meetings with Wiley developers at the start of the Executive Editor’s term to set up the automated workflow to suit their preferences.  

Please submit applications and inquiries to by November 1, 2021.  The search will continue until the position is filled.  Your application must include a vita and a letter setting forth your interest in the position, your relevant background and experience, and your vision for Peace & Change and the field of peace research.  Please also convey your institution’s commitment to yourself and to the journal.  We are open to applications by potential co-editors.  Please provide a joint letter of application, vitas, and information about support from your institution(s).