Geopolitical Strategic Competition


  • Commentary

    Why Would Nations with Incentives to Avoid War Fail to Do So?

    It's tempting to think that interdependence between the United States and China has reached a level in which armed conflict between them is unthinkable. Unfortunately, history gives us little reason to be confident that peace is inevitable simply because the degree of interdependence is strong.

    Feb 23, 2024

  • Report

    How U.S. Rivals Think About Competitive Advantage

    China's and Russia's conceptions of societal sources of competitive advantage rely on powerfully centralized efforts that reflect decisive degrees of national unity, coordination, and will. The nature of this thinking poses greater risks to U.S. deterrence policy than differences in military power.

    Mar 12, 2024

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  • Report


    Climate Change and Conflict: Implications for U.S. Central Command

    RAND National Security Research Division hosted a panel discussion about the implications of climate change on the security environment in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

    Apr 23, 2024

  • China's Qinling Base in Antarctica, February 7, 2024 , <a href=


    What Are China's Long-Term Antarctic Ambitions?

    The recent opening of China's Qinling base, its third permanent Antarctic station, has worried some Australian and American observers. What are China's long-term ambitions? And how should Australia and its allies and partners respond?

    Apr 11, 2024

  • Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese speaks to the media after the release of the Defence Strategic Review in Canberra, Australia, April 24, 2023, photo by Lukas Coch/Reuters


    What Will Australia's Approach to Net Assessment Be?

    Australia's 2023 Defence Strategic Review is very clear: Australia must change the way it plans for and acquires defense capabilities. Doing so will require a net assessment to examine the various factors that may contribute to or detract from the country's military capabilities.

    Apr 11, 2024

  • U.S. President Joe Biden welcomes Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio and his wife Kishida Yuko at the White House in Washington, D.C., April 10, 2024. photo by Annabelle Gordon/Sipa USA/Reuters


    America's Best Friend in Asia

    Many describe NATO as the United States' indispensable alliance—and it remains a top priority. But with a growing slate of traditional and nontraditional security issues, many of which center on China, the United States' new go-to ally is Japan.

    Apr 10, 2024

  • Flags of the United States and China flutter outside the building of an American company in Beijing, China, January 21, 2021, photo by Tingshu Wang/Reuters


    Success and Failure of Great Powers in Long-Term Rivalries

    What does success or failure in a rivalry look like, and what varieties of success can great powers aspire to? Historical examples of strategic success and failure in great-power rivalries offer lessons for the United States and its rivalry with China.

    Apr 10, 2024

  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomes U.S. President Joe Biden upon his arrival at Bharat Mandapam convention center for the G20 Summit, in New Delhi, India, September 9, 2023, photo by Evan Vucci/Pool via Reuters


    U.S.-India Ties Remain Fundamentally Fragile

    Despite widespread optimism about the future of the U.S.-India partnership, relations are considerably more fragile than they might appear. Indeed, the two countries continue to experience friction in several areas that, if left unaddressed, could ultimately undermine or even derail future cooperation.

    Apr 7, 2024

  • Illustration of two people sitting at a negotiation table with U.S. and Chinese flags, photo by erhui1979/Getty Images


    Building a Foundation for Strategic Stability with China on AI

    In an atmosphere of deepening mutual suspicion, trying to engage with China on military uses of artificial intelligence may seem pointless. But if negotiations go somewhere, U.S. security might be palpably improved. It they fail, there is little downside.

    Apr 2, 2024

  • Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich stands inside an enclosure for defendants before a court hearing in Moscow, Russia, October 10, 2023, photo by Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters


    The Year-Long Detention of Evan Gershkovich: When Foreign Nationals Become Political Pawns

    Detaining foreign nationals incurs little risk for the detaining state, and can bring a large return. Negotiating to bring them home is not easy, as humanitarian appeals seldom work and there is always a quid pro quo. But the situation is not hopeless.

    Mar 29, 2024

  • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (r), with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson during the NATO ratification ceremony as Sweden formally joins NATO at the Department of State in Washington, D.C., March 7, 2024, photo by Chuck Kennedy/ABACA via Reuters Connect


    What Sweden's Accession Means for NATO

    Russia's failed invasion of Ukraine pushed neutral Sweden to embrace a role in NATO's collective defence and security. With this addition, NATO's toolkit gains Sweden's ground and air combat, nearshore and undersea warfare capabilities, as well as the country's expertise in niche areas such as cold weather operations.

    Mar 22, 2024

  • U.S. Army helicopters transport vehicles as part of an air assault mission during Saber Junction 19 at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, September 26, 2019, photo by Sgt. Thomas Mort/U.S. Army


    Don't Abandon Europe in the Name of 'Asia First'

    Allies are key to U.S. great-power competition. They are the only asset its adversaries do not also share. Instead of a strategic calculation, isolating European partners' vital interests because they are “less important” than Asia can only harm the U.S. relationship with Asian partners as well.

    Mar 22, 2024

  • A view of the U.S. Capitol Building behind razor wire fence, photo by John Webb/Getty Images


    The U.S.-China Rivalry in a New Medieval Age

    Trends like weakening governments and fragmenting societies suggest that the era of industrial superpowers is over and we've entered a new medieval age. The U.S.-China rivalry may have more in common with the fitful conflicts of the 14th century than with the cataclysmic world wars of the 20th.

    Mar 19, 2024

  • Illustration of data coming from a cell phone superimposed over Chinese and American flags, images by David Peperkamp/Getty Images and somemeans/Adobe Stock


    AI-Powered Information Warfare in the Indo-Pacific

    Advanced artificial intelligence technologies could enhance China's ability to conduct information operations at an unprecedented scale and sophistication. Collaboration with partner nations is crucial for sharing intelligence, building a collective understanding of threats, and coordinating responses.

    Mar 14, 2024

  • The flags of NATO, Finland, and Sweden, photo by Evgenia/Adobe Stock


    How Finland and Sweden Bolster NATO

    In response to Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine, Finland and Sweden have joined NATO. These two small Nordic countries have outsized strategic and military benefits for the alliance.

    Mar 7, 2024

  • Squad of soldiers running in the desert, photo by gorodenkoff/Getty Images


    Conflict in the Age of Fractured Publics

    Future real great power conflict is unlikely to resemble the world wars of the twentieth century. Instead of high-intensity wars, rivals may have little choice but to rely primarily on proxy, information, political, and economic warfare while avoiding large-scale conventional combat.

    Mar 5, 2024

  • Flowers at the grave of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny following his funeral at the Borisovskoye cemetery in Moscow, Russia, March 1, 2024, photo by Stringer/Reuters


    Moscow's History of Unforced Errors Is the West's Hidden Advantage

    In challenging the West, Russia often shoots itself in the foot. It has done so again with the murder of Alexei Navalny. While policymakers cannot count on Russian blunders continuing, it's worth considering the number of unforced errors Moscow has committed over the years and their consequences.

    Mar 4, 2024

  • Commentary


    The Emerging Competitive Paradigm: A Contest of Effective Governance

    This paper is part of a larger project that considers the theory that competitive success in great-power rivalries comes from being effectively aligned to the demands of a historical era.

    Feb 29, 2024

  • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Palau's President Surangel Whipps Jr., Micronesia's President David Panuelo and Marshall Islands' President David Kabua at the State Department in Washington, D.C., photo by Sarah Silbiger/Pool/Reuters


    Gridlock Has Put U.S. Strategic Advantages in the Pacific at Risk

    The United States is on the verge of an enormous geostrategic blunder in the Indo-Pacific region. Congress has yet to pass funding promised last year under pacts with the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, and Palau. Given the island nations' economic needs, further dithering by Washington could leave them little choice but to deepen engagement with China.

    Feb 22, 2024

  • A retired military tank on the beach with China in the background in Kinmen, Taiwan, December 20, 2023, photo by Ann Wang/Reuters


    Scared Strait

    The foundations of the longstanding U.S. approach to Taiwan-China relations are crumbling in the face of growing Chinese military power and aggression. Washington can no longer rely on its existing policies in the hopes that what worked in the past will succeed in the future.

    Feb 22, 2024