Entertain with me a future based on a different path from what the United States and China actually took, a path that would have seen China follow in the footsteps of the fallen Soviet Union and neurotic North Korea. Imagine with me that the year is 2020. China’s new president, Liu Mingfu, has addressed the Chinese people in his first public television appearance since the dissolution of the country’s Standing Committee. Some outsiders are calling Liu’s ascent a coup, plain and simple. The reasons are not hard to understand: since the collapse of the Soviet Union in December of 1991, China has lurched forward, trying to bully its neighbors and intentionally destabilize the world order in the hopes it might gain some small advantage over the Western political and economic system China’s leaders fear.