International security in the post-Cold War era is driven by the deadly mix of nuclear proliferation, rogue states, and international terrorists. The second concern the potentially disruptive impact that China will have if it emerges as a peer competitor to the United States, challenging the international order established during the era of US dominance. While China remains relatively weak, the greatest danger in Chinese American relations is the possibility that the two countries will find themselves in a crisis that could escalate to open military conflict, based on debatable claims about the intentions of the two countries and uncertain forecasts about big shifts in their normal capabilities, the danger of mutual instability in a war threatening crisis and it’s escalation to catastrophic consequences. Disputes in the East and South China Sea suggest the danger of a military confrontation in the Western Pacific may be on the rise, involving a serious threat to vital national interests. A short time for resolution would sharply increase the risk of war. Stability is greatest when both sides strongly prefer to continue bargaining, instability is greatest when they are tempted to resort to the use of military force. The dangers of conflict are not likely to be based on the status of Taiwan. That tension has diminished as Chinese relations have improved with commercial and political ties. More important have become American operations in territories claimed by China. The fundamental disagreements are about rights of passage through maritime areas.