Otto Von Bismarck, probably the greatest diplomat of the second half of the nineteenth century, once said that in a world order of five states, it is always desirable to be part of a group of three. Applied to the interplay of three countries, one would therefore think that it is always desirable to be in a group of two. That truth escaped the chief actors of the China-Soviet-U.S. triangle for a decade and a half-partly because of the unprecedented maneuvers of Mao. In foreign policy, statesmen often serve their objectives by bringing about a confluence of interests. Mao's policy was based on the opposite. He learned to exploit overlapping hostilities. The conflict between Moscow and Washington was the strategic essence of the Cold War; the hostility between Washington and Beijing dominated Asian diplomacy. But the two Communist states could never merge their respective hostility toward the United States-except briefly and incompletely in the Korean War-because of Mao's evolving rivalry with Moscow over ideological primacy and geostrategic analysis. From the point of view of traditional power politics, Mao, of course, was in no position to act as an equal member of the triangular relationship. He was by far the weakest and most vulnerable. But by playing on the mutual hostility of the nuclear superpowers and creating the impression of being impervious to nuclear devastation, he managed to bring about a kind of diplomatic sanctuary for China. Mao added a novel dimension to power politics, one for which I know of no precedent. Far from seeking the support of either superpower-as traditional balance-of-power theory would have counseled-he exploited the Soviet-U.S. fear of each other by challenging each of the rivals simultaneously.