On March 3, 2021, Dr. Matthew Kroenig gave a webinar lecture entitled “The Return of Great Power Rivalry.” Dr. Kroenig is the deputy director of the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council and the director of the Center’s Global Strategy Initiative. He is also a tenured professor of government and foreign service at Georgetown University.
Dr. Kroenig began the lecture by examining the position of the United States and other states in the international system. He discussed why some states can achieve enduring international leadership and why others cannot. Dr. Kroenig claimed that democracies have a built-in advantage in the struggle for global mastery. He believes that, for the foreseeable future, the U.S. will remain the leading state in the international system.
For over seventy years, the U.S. has been the most powerful country in the world. However, the 2017 National Security Strategy brought attention to the fact that Russia and China are threats to U.S. national security because of their increasing power. Moreover, many analysts believe that these autocratic nations will have some success on the world stage which could result in the U.S. no longer holding a global leadership position.
Despite these claims, Dr. Matthew Kroenig firmly believes that democracies excel in great power rivalries due to their economic, diplomatic, and military advantages. Dr. Kroenig provided case studies, including the Roman Republic, Venetian Republic, and the Dutch Republic, to illustrate and compare autocratic versus democratic rivalries. He recognizes the threat that Russia and China pose but stated that these autocratic nations have too many vulnerabilities to displace the global position of the U.S.
In closing, he asserted that for the U.S. to remain as the global system’s leading state, it must defend against serious threats; get its own house in order by focusing on democracy; revitalize, adapt, and defend the rules-based international order; and work towards a competitive strategy with Russia and China.