“‘In the first [term of the] Obama administration, the focus really was on trying to work so that China would be a responsible stakeholder in the international community,’ Work told me. ‘Competition was a word that… didn’t convey what we were trying to do. But by the end of the administration, the administration just said, “Hey, China is truly a competitor, and we need to hedge against future bad behavior.”‘
“…Colby, who recently left the Center for a New American Security to help launch an initiative focused on great-power competition, acknowledged that the word competition can distract from the main message: We now live in a world of multiple powers with divergent interests and objectives. Winning, he contended, would mean achieving ‘favorable regional balances of powers,’ especially in Asia and Europe, to prevent China in particular from dominating these regions.
“’I think we could get to a point with the Chinese where we’re okay with them if they stay on their side of the line, but we’re just not there yet,’ he said. ‘As much as we might like a different government in China, the point here is not to change the Chinese government or dismember China or something. The point is rather to say, “Look, we’ve got a position of power along with people who have similar interests to ours, [and] you can’t dictate to all of us.”’
“…And just when U.S. officials think they’re out of the Middle East, it could pull them back in. ‘What can do a lot of damage to the great-power-competition effort is starting a big war with Iran. That would be fatal,’ Colby said…”