February 24, 2021

The Return of Great Power Rivalry

Matthew Kroenig

The world in which we currently live is multipolar—the international political universe revolving around the United States, Russia, and China. At the top of this influential triad is the democratic United States, with the two autocratic states attempting to overtake this position. Dr. Matthew Kroenig says that this has been a trend in world history for the past 400 years—as democratic institutions better contribute to a state’s ability to run the world stage. The three hegemonic powers of the long global era—the Dutch, the British, and the Americans—have used the advantages of democratic institutions to forge strong economies, powerful diplomatic alliances, and able militaries to consolidate and keep power, even in the face of autocratic competition


Matthew Kroenig outlines in his talk an argument from his book, The Return of Great Power Rivalry. In his book, backed with political science theory, case studies, and data, he argues that although Russia and China—along with other authoritative regime—are on the rise, democratic powers like the United States are the only way to maintain power. To maintain global control a state must maintain economic power, diplomatic power, and military power and Kroenig argues democracies are better equipped in these areas. Kroenig says that the U.S. will remain the world’s leading system for the foreseeable future, but in his lecture, he noticeably leaves out the areas in which the U.S lack while continually pointing towards the downfalls of our global competitors—China and Russia.

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