Nov. 4, 2020
3a. Contemporary Great Power Geostrategic Dynamics: Relations and Strategies
This chapter provides a comparative assessment of the strategic objectives for the three contemporary Great Powers: the United States, China, and Russia. It first traces the evolution of each power’s strategic interests from 2000 to 2017, indicating where important milestones transitioned the powers’ relations from relative cooperation and collaboration into de facto rivalry (by 2014 to 2015) and then a formally acknowledged rivalry (in 2017). The chapter next outlines the Great Powers’ current strategic viewpoints and how they contrast across the five major categories of state interaction: political and diplomatic, ideological, informational, military, and economic. It demonstrates that each power has many divergent strategic interests, making rivalry inevitable. The chapter indicates where varying strategic interest intensity combines to make risks of Great Power clashes most worrisome in the coming 5 years: the Indo-Pacific, cyberspace, outer space, and, to a receding degree, the Middle East. It concludes that Russian strategic aims make Moscow a transient security risk to U.S. geopolitical dominance, while China’s ideological vision and aspirations make it the most important, albeit presently less threatening, rival to the U.S. status as the head of the global liberal international order.