September 11th. a personal journey

September 11th, a date that now carries the weight of two decades, floods my thoughts with an overwhelming surge of memories. A decade ago, on this very day, the world was shaken to its core, leaving an indelible mark on my soul.

I recall that crisp Tuesday morning, ten years past, as I embarked on a journey from Boston to Toronto. The early hours saw me boarding a flight at Logan Airport, a time when Air Canada shared the terminal with United Airlines. Amidst the bustle of travelers, adorned in the light attire of summer, destined for destinations like Los Angeles, an eerie sensation gripped me.

Yet, in the depths of my semi-conscious state, I found myself drifting back in time, to a fateful day twenty-seven years prior. It was a day when news echoed of Salvador Allende’s fall in Chile, a democratically elected leader brought down by the merciless hands of a military “coup d’état.” In my youthful fervor, I held onto a fervent belief that Latin America was in need of leaders who could carve their path through the democratic process, champions of justice and architects of a brighter future for all.

In the wake of that seismic event, my youthful heart ached deeply. Like countless others across Latin America, the demise of Salvador Allende etched an indelible scar across my very being. The names and faces of that movement, which had intertwined with my life, resurfaced in my mind as I stood on the precipice of my flight. Enveloped by the whir of engines and the hum of anticipation, my thoughts cascaded through the corridors of time, a torrent of emotions intertwining past and present.

My ventures didn’t stop there, for destiny seemed to have a penchant for intertwining my path with the ebb and flow of nations.

The evening of November 9, 1989, forever etched in history as the night the Berlin Wall crumbled, holds a deeply personal significance for me. I was present during those tumultuous days, from November 6th to the 11th, navigating a business trip that had abruptly transformed into a front-row seat to history in the making. As I stood amidst the fragments of a divided world giving way to unity, I couldn’t help but reflect on the surreal journey that had brought me to that moment.

In January 27, 2008, I found myself in Jakarta, Indonesia, a witness to the seismic shift that saw Suharto’s regime crumble under the weight of change. My role as the head of the Polaroid Corporation in the country meant I was not merely an observer; I was a participant in the unfolding narrative of transformation. This, after three years of residing in the dynamic landscape of China, where each day presented its own tapestry of experiences and insights.

Yet, the tapestry of my life is woven from threads that span even further. Cast your gaze to March 23, 1994, and you will find me in Tijuana, Mexico, in the company of Luis Donaldo Colosio, who I met in Philadelphia in 1989. Little did I know that our encounter would be a poignant marker in my journey, as Colosio’s presence would forever be intertwined with a momentous period in Mexican history.

These instances, though disparate, form a connective tissue that binds the chapters of my life. They are not mere episodes but rather windows into the transformative power of human events. Through them, I’ve witnessed the collapse of walls both physical and metaphorical, the rise and fall of leaders, and the pulse of change reverberating across nations.

As I reflect on these experiences, I am reminded that life is a mosaic of moments, each contributing its hue to the larger canvas. The events I’ve encountered have imprinted upon me a profound understanding of the fluidity of existence and the resilience of the human spirit. From the fall of walls to the ascent of new beginnings, my journey has been a testament to the enduring force of change and the unwavering human capacity to adapt, evolve, and be present in the midst of history’s unfolding tapestry.

The Thucydides Trap: China and the United States on the Brink

The concept of the Thucydides Trap, as expounded by Harvard scholar Graham Allison, warns of the dangers posed by a rising power threatening to challenge an established ruling power. Throughout history, this scenario has occurred numerous times, often leading to catastrophic consequences. Presently, the world faces a similar situation, with China’s rise challenging the dominant position of the United States. This essay aims to explore the idea of the Thucydides Trap in the context of China and the United States, while delving into potential outcomes and implications for both countries and the global community.

The Rivalry between China and the United States

In recent decades, China has experienced rapid economic growth and development, transforming itself into a formidable global power. Simultaneously, the United States, though still a dominant force, faces challenges to its longstanding supremacy. This shift in power dynamics has led to heightened tensions between the two nations, with both seeking to assert their interests and influence on the world stage.

The Trap Scenario: Escalation to Conflict

If history is any indication, a rising power’s ambitions and a ruling power’s fear of losing their position can lead to a dangerous confrontation. The Thucydides Trap asserts that when the established power perceives its dominance at risk, conflict becomes a plausible outcome. Escalation to military conflict is the most catastrophic result of the trap and has the potential to plunge the world into turmoil.

Potential Outcome 1: War and Catastrophe

In the worst-case scenario, the tensions between China and the United States escalate into a full-scale war. Such a conflict would undoubtedly have catastrophic consequences for both nations and the entire globe. The economies of both countries would be severely impacted, leading to widespread financial instability and recession. Moreover, modern warfare capabilities could lead to significant loss of life and destruction on an unprecedented scale, affecting not only the two countries involved but also numerous other nations.

Potential Outcome 2: Cold War-like Standoff

Another possible outcome is a protracted cold war-like standoff between China and the United States. In this scenario, both nations would engage in a battle of influence, seeking to draw other countries into their spheres of alliances. This prolonged rivalry would fuel regional conflicts, as smaller nations might be forced to choose sides, leading to geopolitical instability and heightened military spending.

Potential Outcome 3: Constructive Rivalry and Cooperation

Despite the ominous warnings of the Thucydides Trap, it is essential to recognize that history doesn’t always repeat itself. China and the United States have an opportunity to learn from past mistakes and engage in constructive rivalry rather than destructive confrontation. Through diplomacy and dialogue, both nations can address their concerns and work towards mutually beneficial outcomes. Finding common ground on global challenges, such as climate change and nuclear proliferation, could foster cooperation and prevent an outright collision.


The Thucydides Trap poses a grave warning about the potential consequences of a rising power challenging an established one. While the rivalry between China and the United States presents real risks, history does not have to dictate the future. Both countries must recognize the dangers of escalating tensions and pursue constructive engagement and dialogue to mitigate conflict.

The world stands at a critical juncture, where cooperation and understanding between China and the United States are vital to maintaining global stability and prosperity. It is essential for both nations to transcend the Thucydides Trap and forge a path towards a peaceful and cooperative coexistence, working together to address common challenges and ensure a brighter future for all. Only through such efforts can we avoid the cataclysmic outcomes that history has so often witnessed in similar power struggles.