The Vital Triangle

China, the United States, and the Middle East

This volume explores the complex interrelationships among China, the United States, and the Middle East—what the authors call the "vital triangle." There is surely much to be gained from continuing the conventional two-dimensional analysis—China and the United States, the United States and the Middle East, and China and the Middle East. Such scholarship has a long history and no doubt a long future. But it is the three-dimensional equation—which seeks to understand the effects of the China–Middle East relationship on the United States, the U.S.–Middle East relationship on China, and the Sino-American relationship on the Middle East—that draws the authors' attention. This approach captures the true dynamics of change in world affairs and the spiraling up and down of national interests. Central to this analysis is a belief that if any one of the three sides of this triangular relationship is unhappy, it has the power to make the other two unhappy as well. The stakes and the intimacy of the interrelationship highlight not only the importance of reaching accommodation, but also the potential payoff of agreement on common purpose.

Learn more about this book by viewing the book launch event and Jon Alterman's Presentation Video with Slides.

Jon B. Alterman
Senior Vice President, Zbigniew Brzezinski Chair in Global Security and Geostrategy, and Director, Middle East Program

John W. Garver