“A Little Too Softhearted”: Cheney on Mearsheimer

by

May 27, 2012

You don’t understand the power of offensive realism.

 From Steve Coll’s Private Empire:

Vice President Cheney seemed particularly interested in China’s vulnerability to U.S. naval power. His experience of the global oil market while running Halliburton had left him with a deep understanding of oil’s fungible nature. But his thinking about national security was influenced, too, by historical narratives about the rise and fall of great powers, and particularly the history of control of the sas, which had been critical to Great Britain and the United States, in succession, as a means to ensure the physical supply of commodities necessary for industrialization, including oil. Cheney read and admired The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, the 2001 book by the University of Chicago’s John Mearsheimer. … The book’s final chapter … reviewed the prospects for military and economic competition between the United States and China … . Cheney told colleagues that he liked the book until he reached the last chapter, where he thought Mearsheimer was a little too softhearted and hopeful that the Great Power struggles that inevitably lay ahead might be contained and managed so that they produced disruptions and damage.

+ posts