The Once and Future Superpower (‘Foreign Affairs’)



The idea that the United States will relinquish its spot as the world’s foremost superpower to China is much bandied about, but it is “wishful, or fearful, thinking,” write Associate Professor of Government Stephen Brooks and William Wohlforth, the Daniel Webster Professor of Government, in a Foreign Affairs opinion piece.

“Economic growth no longer translates as directly into military power as it did in the past, which means that it is now harder than ever for rising powers to rise and established ones to fall,” they write. “And China—the only country with the raw potential to become a true global peer of the United States—also faces a more daunting challenge than previous rising states because of how far it lags behind technologically. Even though the United States’ economic dominance has eroded from its peak, the country’s military superiority is not going anywhere, nor is the globe-spanning alliance structure that constitutes the core of the existing liberal international order (unless Washington unwisely decides to throw it away).”

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