Cover: Alternative Futures Following a Great Power War

Alternative Futures Following a Great Power War

Volume 2, Supporting Material on Historical Great Power Wars

Published May 9, 2023

by Alexandra T. Evans


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What happens after great power wars? The deterioration of U.S. relations with China and Russia in recent years has refocused attention on the possibility of a major conflict. But while substantial research has illuminated potential pathways for escalation, the long-term consequences of such a conflict remain poorly understood.

To inform an analysis on the possible consequences of a great power war, the author examined ten cases of great power conflict since 1853. The author found that prewar predictions about conflict duration, intensity, parties to the conflict, and the post-war world have often been incorrect.

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The research reported here was commissioned by Headquarters Air Force, Directorate of Strategy, Posture, and Assessments and was conducted within the Strategy and Doctrine Program of RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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