When an emerging power attempts to supplant a hegemonic power in international politics, major conflict often ensues. Harvard professor Graham T. Allison describes this scenario as the "Thucydides Trap." His recent book on the subject — "Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides's Trap?" — has received worldwide attention.

In this book, Allison asks whether the current power shift, namely China's precipitous rise and fierce pursuit of the world's postwar hegemon, the United States, will lead to war between the U.S. and China. Allison also identifies ways in which a war between these two powers could be avoided.

The term "Thucydides Trap" derives from the ancient Greek historian's account of the Peloponnesian Wars, which unfolded in Greece in the fifth century B.C., when the rapid rise of the maritime city-state of Athens provoked fear in Sparta, the continentalist hegemon, and ultimately plunged the two city-states into war.