The authoritative Atlantic Council, whose members include key Obama advisors, is urging the president to retune his second-term agenda to "accommodate" China's needs and dive head first into the climate change debate by pushing a tax on carbon emissions.
In a weighty "companion" to the official U.S. National Intelligence Council report also issued Monday, President Obama was advised to stop fighting with China and take a more cooperative approach since both countries have emerged as the world's remaining economic and military superpowers.
"Quite simply, if the United States-China relationship becomes more competitive than cooperative, if the historic pattern of a rising power posing a strategic threat to the status quo becomes reality, then this could be catastrophic for the world," said the council whose members include Obama insiders like former national security advisor James Jones.
The Atlantic Council report, "Envisioning 2030: U.S. Strategy for a Post-Western World," said it is time for Washington to give on some Chinese demands, mostly on economic, military and human rights fronts, if the distrust between the two nations is to ease.
"To find a path to a U.S.-China relationship that achieves a balance of interests tilted toward a cooperative future, U.S. strategy will need to accommodate legitimate, essential Chinese interests. At the same, China will need to make reciprocal adjustments in regard to US essential interests," said the report.
What's more, the council said that the U.S. has to let China have more world influence. "Critical to how Washington and Beijing define their core interests is the broad acceptance of both to act as 'responsible stakeholders' within the framework of global rules and norms. Accepting that in a rules-based world, China will have a larger role in shaping the rules is an aspect of power-sharing that the United States will need to adjust to," said the council.
The 59-page report also nudged Obama to take a firm stand on global warming and revive his effort to level a carbon tax on polluters. "While there may be debate over the degree to which human activity is responsible and over the most effective means of mitigating and adapting to climate change, the physical evidence-from melting glaciers and polar ice to extreme weather patterns, droughts, and floods-is overwhelming," said the council.
The solution: More energy efficiency, support for green energy and a carbon tax. "A carbon tax as part of broader tax reform would send clear market signals to investors and accelerate the transition to a post-petroleum economy."