Eagle against the dragon: American experts predict the future world order

Eagle against the dragon: American experts predict the future world order
Eagle against the dragon: American experts predict the future world order
17 November, 12:02Photo: Соцсети
America will be able to maintain world leadership in the confrontation with China only with the help of a systematic approach, overseas analysts are sure

Ivan Zubov

One of the oldest and most famous American expert centers RAND Corporation released a report “Competition for the system. The Meaning of Growing Strategic Rivalry”, which was a continuation of the previous report released in August, “The Return of the Great Power War. Scenarios for a systemic conflict between the US and China, where two extreme scenarios for the development of events in the US-China rivalry were described.

The first scenario is a low-intensity conflict that affects most of the world and unfolds in many areas and over many years (similar to the Cold War scenario between the USSR and the US in the last century). In the second, a low-intensity military conflict at some point turns into a full-fledged war - mutual military aggression aimed at destroying the enemy's combat capability. Both scenarios imply a deeply fragmented international system in which the US and Chinese armies are under enormous pressure to support the war effort, combat a range of non-traditional threats, and respond to requests for help from partners embroiled in local confrontations. Although this analysis concerns a hypothetical conflict, it is necessary to comprehend its likelihood and conditions already now, the authors of the report insisted.

The main rival is China, not Russia

In the new report, which was studied by the experts of the Re-Russia online publication, the emphasis is on the systemic nature of the unfolding confrontation and much more space is given to Russia. All three rivals have different ideas about what the international system should look like, RAND experts write. America disagrees with Russia and China on five key points. First, the United States seeks to create an international system in which alliances play a key role, for the participants in which Washington is the guarantor of security. Russia, by contrast, seeks to fragment the international system that the US is creating by weakening NATO and following a revisionist strategy. China pursues a much more complex goal, hoping to establish a China-centric order at least in the Asia-Pacific region, and potentially throughout the world. Secondly, the United States is striving for the systemic protection and development of democracy and human rights. Thirdly, Washington prefers a free economy and minimal government intervention in economic processes. Fourth, freedom of information is very important for America to prevent manipulation. On all these points, Beijing and Moscow adhere to fundamentally different approaches and values.

RAND experts argue that in this situation, the biggest risk for the United States is that Washington will confront Chinese and Russian goals and initiatives reactively and piecemeal, without having a coherent and global strategy. Thus, RAND believes that in the case of Russian actions in Ukraine, the United States acted mostly reactively, without having a systematic approach to solving a new problem.

The US should see China as a more serious competitor than Russia, RAND experts say. Russian revisionism seeks to undermine the foundations of the current international system and restore its "traditional" spheres of influence. However, Moscow uses military, informational and diplomatic tools, as well as energy resources only reactively: its approach to the future international order is not complex and systemic.

A systematic approach will help to confront China

China's strategy, on the contrary, is complex and systemic both in terms of its goals and in terms of ways to achieve them. Beijing has consistently invested massive resources into projects and organizations that move world politics towards a China-centric order. The most famous example here is the One Belt, One Road project aimed at creating economic corridors connecting more than 60 countries of Central Asia, Europe and Africa. China is investing in infrastructure in many countries around the world and is seeking to reorient global currency markets towards the yuan. In addition, China is encouraging many countries to build their digital infrastructure based on Chinese technologies (the “Digital Silk Road”), which will give it access to global data and increase the dependence of these countries on it. Finally, Beijing established the Confucius Institute, instituted research scholarships for international students, and began to actively organize Chinese language courses in other countries in an effort to increase its global cultural influence.

The United States will be able to resist this expansion and maintain its leadership only with the help of a systematic approach, which should be based on the vision of the world system that is being formed today as a system with a pronounced multilateral character, RAND experts write. A systematic approach is fundamental, because only it can lead to systemic effects. For example, alliances with Europe, Japan, and South Korea after World War II were necessary for the United States in terms of security, but led to systemic consequences — increased confidence in the United States, increased trade with these regions, and institutional rapprochement. With a systematic approach based on common values, norms and rules, institutions, organizations and mechanisms are growing that can cope with new challenges, RAND experts write.

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