There’s no dearth of post-scripts to the End of History. A quarter century ago, America was presumed to have become the sole gravitational centre of the world, with a monopoly over punitive power and soft power alike. And liberal democracy was to rain down over the universe. One sign of how the script has changed resides in an informal proposal, broached over a decade ago, that visualises a cosy relationship between the United States and China. Even without being implemented, just as a potential future, it sends waves of nervous anticipation—filling a whole host of US allies in different Asian capitals with a vague sense of dread.
As a concept, the Group of Two or G2 formalises what everyone by now implicitly concedes about the global distribution of power: we are really in a bipolar era. G2, if it ever comes to pass, will seek to bring the world’s two most powerful nations—the US and China—closer so they could address and look to resolve all major challenges together. The idea has been endorsed by several leading American foreign policy practitioners since 2005, when it was first floated. But George W. Bush and Barack Obama as US presidents were smart enough to keep the proposal on the table while dealing with China, without really putting it into force.
Under Donald Trump’s presidency, are things about to change?
From the time the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991, the US had been the sole superpower dominating the world—and it behaved like one. However, today that world looks like a historical relic. China looms large not only in Asia but everywhere, and seriously threatens American hegemony. The G2 concept is a pragmatic response to this changed reality: in effect, it will mean the US has been forced to make space and rearrange the political order because greater advantage may lie in...