Competition of Great Powers and Its Strategic Consequences

Blog ID : #971
Publish Date : 2018 May 14 18:39

Competition of Great Powers and Its Strategic Consequences


Dr. Mahdi Shapouri


In the new US National Security Strategy, it has been reiterated that what Americans think about the spread of liberal democracy, the fundamental change in the nature of international relations, and the replacement of the competition with peaceful post-Cold War cooperation, is wrong, and "the rivalry between great powers, is back.” According to this strategy, the main rivals of the US are China and Russia, who "want to shape the world against the values and interests of the United States."


It seems that the root of tensions and disputes between the great powers should be sought in the debate on the transition from post-Cold War order and the US effort to maintain its global supremacy.


The desire for endless search for power to change the distribution of capabilities in the international system for their own interests is the most important agenda of great powers, which, according to John Mearsheimer- a realist theorist of international relations- "never will end unless a state becomes a hegemonic power”.


preventing Russia's and China's growing power and influence at the expense of its relative weakness and curbing the potential challenger/ challengers in the current era, especially China, are two strategic goals of the United States that have been seriously pursued since Obama's time, and have been sustained and even strengthened during the Trump administration.


China's threat to the Americans is much more serious because the country, given its capabilities, is a major potential challenger in the current international order and if not contained in the current context would make its containment harder in the future.


In the new security and military documents of the United States, in particular its national defense strategy, it has been clearly stated that China is a threat to the supremacy of the United States and, therefore, these documents have repeatedly emphasized on the struggle against China in geopolitical and economic issues.


China and Russia appear to be reluctant to oppose the United States in the current circumstances, because they evaluate the cost of such an opposition very high. However, if Trump tries to make the situation difficult for them, they may find no way but to confront.


Although the possibility of a hegemonic war between the dominant power and the challenging power is unlikely in current situation, but according to Robert Jervis, history and experience have shown that “wars rarely occur without a kind of misperception."


Any trade tension between the two giants of the world economy namely the United States and China, affects the entire global economy. If the warnings by the Americans and the Chinese would be translated into action, the world will face a difficult situation, and the trade war between these two countries can lead to military and security tensions.


Political and geopolitical rivalries and tensions between Russia and the West on the one hand, and the United States with China, on the other hand, increase the possibility of the formation of a space full of tension in different regions, and may even lead to clashes between these actors.


The rivalry between the great powers will pave the way for the regional powers and even small and medium powers to have access to more alternatives and choices. However, it should be noted that as the distribution of capabilities in the international system is more dispersed and the competition between big powers is more intense, the probability of wars occurring at different levels and scales is greater.