"Competitor? Adversary? Enemy?"

@SusanPage posed that question about 🇨🇳's relationship with 🇺🇸 during #VicePresidentialDebate.

Are such distinctions useful and do any of the terms accurately describe 🇺🇸-🇨🇳 relations?

Let's break it down.

To start, notice what were NOT options given by Page:

"friends, partners, allies"

(though Page did acknowledge that 🇨🇳 could be a "potential partner" for addressing 🇰🇵 and climate change)

So we're starting with the presumption of a "confrontational" relationship.
From the standpoint of foreign policy discourse, there can be value in saying that someone is a "competitor" (competition is "healthy") rather than an "enemy" (who is "evil"). @EdwardGoldberg makes this distinction in a piece for @Salon https://www.salon.com/2019/06/22/china-enemy-or-competitor/
But do IR scholars distinguish "competitor", "adversary", and "enemy"?

To an extent. To understand when and how, consider the more widely used IR concept of "international rival"
When it comes to studying international rivalry, I start with this 2001 @ISQ_Jrnl piece by Bill Thompson

In the paper, Thompson presents new data "predicated on systematizing historical perceptions about competitors, threats, and enemies."

For Thompson, this means the actors must regard each other as (1) competitors, (2) there being a possibility of military conflict, & (3) enemies
This is why perception of "enemy" is so key to being "rivals".

"Enemies" are states that are "problems" due to being militarily threatening.
Key is perception of "aggressive intentions"
Having laid all of this out, Thompson's team then engaged in intensive reading of diplomatic histories and news sources to identify when states perceived one another as "rivals"
Thompson then provides a list of interstate rivalries over the past 200 years.

US rivalries include, among others:

- US v USSR 1945-1989
- US v Britain 1816-1904
- US v Chile 1884-1891
- US v China 1949-1978
- US v Japan 1900-1945
Other major power rivalries include

- Russia v Germany 1890-1945
- Russia v Japan 1873-1945
- Russia v Britain 1816-1956

I think you see a pattern https://twitter.com/ProfPaulPoast/status/1204745930144174080
So it IS useful to distinguish "competitor" from "rival" from "enemy". Great question by @SusanPage!

Of course, we should note that neither @Mike_Pence or @KamalaHarris answered the question (but instead used it as an opportunity to attack one another)

But maybe that's okay: after all, it's not yet clear into which category 🇺🇸🇨🇳 relations will fall.

You can follow @ProfPaulPoast.
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