The Atlantic

The Trump Administration Debates a Cold War With China

As the White House spars with a rising China, it can look to the United States’ postwar dealings with the Soviet Union for guidance.
Source: Andy Wong / AP

The president was furious. A member of his own cabinet had just blatantly contradicted him by giving a speech in which he argued that the U.S. should compromise, cooperate, and coexist peacefully with the world’s ascendant superpower.

“Getting tough” doesn’t work in the long run “for schoolyard bullies or businessmen or world powers,” the renegade official had noted, proposing that the two countries divvy up regional spheres of influence and engage in a mutually enriching battle of ideas while ensuring “open” global trade. Soon enough, the president was mocking his subordinate as a low-intelligence individual, a “leftist,” a “dreamer,” a “pacifist 100%.” Within days, he forced the official out of his administration, adding to the high turnover in his cabinet. “The reaction” to the firing “is terrific,” the president boasted. “The stock market went up twenty points!”

That president was not Donald Trump, but Harry Truman, and rather than facing off

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