Latest Issue

The anti-China syndrome

For 50 years, the cold war provided the US with a moral purpose. Now American conservatives are looking for a new enemy. Owen Harries argues that they are wrong to pick on China. Although increasingly a competitor, China is not an enemy

By Owen Harries   July 1997

Since the end of the cold war, many Americans have been suffering from an enemy-deprivation syndrome. This is not surprising. After all, for 50 years they had experienced a clearly identified, formidable, and agreed upon enemy. That enemy provided a simple organising principle for foreign policy, and imbued it with a sense of heroic moral purpose.

As soon as the initial euphoria over the Soviet Union’s collapse had passed, most of the US foreign policy cognoscenti-and especially a large section of its conservative component-began to search for a substitute enemy. For a short while Japan was favoured. Scores of books…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect