The biggest challenge, as Nixon understood before his death in 1994, was whether the United States and China could sustain the relationship that he helped launch in the absence of a common enemy, the Soviet Union. Nixon believed we could, and should. He was right. But leaders on both sides will need to identify and work together on common interests, internationally and bilaterally, more effectively than they have since 1990 if we are not to be overwhelmed by the security dilemma, economic clash, and ideology. This may not sound like a task as heroic as Nixon’s trip to China, which spawned an opera, but it may be as important to the prospects of continued peace for the next forty years as Nixon’s visit.
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