The Return of Great Power War: Scenarios of Systemic Conflict Between the United States and China

Via a thorough synthesis of recent and historical knowledge on appropriate variables, anticipated tendencies, and research-grounded speculation, the authors evaluate a number of scenarios of systemic U.S.-China conflict beneath hypothetical disorders in which China has neared the issue of world-wide primacy. Drawing on tutorial and exploration findings pertaining to the opportunity trajectory of global security and warfare in coming many years, China’s approach to potential warfare, relevant ordeals of previous great powers, and styles in interstate wars, the authors discover the probability of a U.S.-China war of electric power changeover.

The authors develop two eventualities of systemic U.S.-China conflict. The initially circumstance functions a low-depth conflict that unfolds across a great deal of the planet, across a lot of domains, and in excess of lots of a long time. The next characteristics a substantial-depth war that evolves out of the low-depth war. The higher-intensity war circumstance envisions intense steps by the two nations to damage the warfighting capability of the adversary and carries an exceptionally higher hazard of escalation to the most harmful concentrations. The two situations happen inside of the context of a deeply fragmented international problem in which the U.S. and Chinese militaries expertise huge strain from sustaining the war work although grappling with an array of nontraditional threats and responding to needs for aid from embattled partners. Despite the fact that their examination fears a hypothetical conflict circumstance in which China has neared worldwide primacy, the authors’ findings could inform defense arranging for probable contingencies even right now.

This study was sponsored by the Workplace of the Secretary of Protection and carried out inside of the Intercontinental Protection and Protection Policy Heart of the RAND National Stability Research Division (NSRD).

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