The United States of America has been the most powerful country in the world for over seventy years, but recently the U.S. National Security Strategy declared that the return of great power competition with Russia and China is the greatest threat to U.S. national security. Further, many analysts predict that America's autocratic rivals will have at least some success in disrupting-and, in the longer term, possibly even displacing-U.S. global leadership.
Matthew Kroenig, author of The Return of Great Power Rivalry, will discuss how this conventional wisdom is wrong. Drawing on an extraordinary range of historical evidence and the works of figures like Herodotus, Machiavelli, and Montesquieu and combining it with cutting-edge social science research, Matthew Kroenig advances the riveting argument that democracies tend to excel in great power rivalries. He contends that democracies have unique economic, diplomatic, and military advantages in long-run geopolitical competitions. He considers autocratic advantages as well but shows that these are more than outweighed by their vulnerabilities. Kroenig then shows these arguments through the seven most important cases of democratic-versus-autocratic rivalries throughout history, from the ancient world to the Cold War. Finally, he analyzes the new era of great power rivalry among the United States, Russia, and China through the lens of the democratic advantage argument. By advancing a "hard-power" argument for democracy, Kroenig demonstrates that despite its many problems, the U.S. is better positioned to maintain a global leadership role than either Russia or China.
Matthew Kroenig is a professor of government and foreign service at Georgetown University and the Deputy Director of the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He previously served in several positions in the US government, including in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and in the intelligence community, and he regularly consults with a wide range of US government entities. He is the author or editor of seven books, including The Return of Great Power Rivalry (2020) and The Logic of American Nuclear Strategy (2018). His articles and opinion pieces have appeared in American Political Science Review, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, International Organization, Politico, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and many other outlets. He has been a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Harvard University, and Stanford University. Dr. Kroenig provides regular commentary for major media outlets, including PBS Newshour, NPR All Things Considered, Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN, and the BBC Newshour. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Stanton Foundation, the Hertog Foundation, and the Smith Richardson Foundation. He is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations and holds an MA and PhD in political science from the University of California at Berkeley. He lives with his wife and daughter in Georgetown.