Accession Number:



Great Power Competition

Descriptive Note:

Technical Report,25 Jun 2018,23 May 2019

Corporate Author:

ARMY School of Advanced Military Studies FORT LEAVENWORTH United States

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The United States 2017 National Security Strategy and 2018 National Defense Strategy claim a return to great power rivalry. Within the rhetoric of a return to great power competition, it is axiomatic that an international order exists, and it is contested. This monograph examines the historical pattern of the creation of post-war settlements, and their subsequent dissolution through great power rivalry. Specifically, it examines the settlement created following the Second World War through the lens, as criteria, of theorist John Ikenberry. This monograph proposes that both Russia and China contest the post-Second World War settlement and presents evidence in defense of that hypothesis. The victors of Second World War set the principles, institutional ordering mechanisms, and norms that define the existing international order, which this monograph adapts as criteria to examine the behavior of Russia and China. Using Ikenberrys illustration of the creation of the post-war settlement, the monograph illuminates how the actions of Russia and China, as case studies, contest the three criteria of that settlement. With a breakdown in the postwar settlement, history points to a future of great power war. Russia and China benefit from the order but perceive that it limits their influence. Consequently, it is an order they look to revise, setting conditions for a power rivalry that may include war to resolve their challenge to the settlement. The implications for the US military are significant.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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