Strategic Reassurance and Resolve: U.S.–China Relations in the Twenty-First Century, Michael E. O’Hanlon and James Steinberg

Reviewed by Andrew Scobell



This volume is a comprehensive and well-crafted study of U.S.–China relations focused on security issues. The authors not only exhibit an impressive grasp of China but also give due attention to both partners in the relationship. Moreover, because James Steinberg and Michael E. O’Hanlon are experts on U.S. national security affairs, their book provides analyses of both countries that are firmly grounded, nuanced, well sourced, and very balanced.

The book proceeds in logical sequence as the authors first identify the sources of U.S.–China conflict and move on to examine in turn the factors shaping China’s strategy and then those shaping U.S. strategy. They proceed to defense budgets and military modernization, crisis scenarios, and the strategic domains of nuclear, space, and cyber before examining actual military activities and defense postures. The authors’ conclusions are sound, and their policy recommendations—sprinkled throughout the book—are concrete and thoughtful.

Unfortunately, most of the advice proffered is unlikely to be heeded, for at least two reasons. First, Steinberg and O’Hanlon do not directly address a fundamental problem in U.S.–China relations: the reality that neither state views the other as an equal. Of course, the truth is that the United States and China are not equals&mda

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