Like Bull’s superpowers of the Cold War, neither [US nor China] has a “continuous tradition of involvement as a great power manager in co-operation with other great powers”. Neither seems capable of realizing that “the overweening power of a state … provides other states and peoples with grounds for legitimate concern”. Rather, in each there is “an instinctive belief that the menace to others of superior power is cancelled out by virtuous purposes” – whether those purposes are a peaceful rise or the advancement of freedom. Both are “societies … that are self-absorbed and inattentive to values and perspectives other than their own, in a way that only very large societies can be”.
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