CHAPTER 1 Competitive Strategy in a Changing International Landscape Christopher J. Bolan and Joel R. Hillison Great power competition is now the central organizing principal of Ameri- can security strategy. Both President Donald Trump’s 2017 National Secu- rity Strategy and President Joe Biden’s Interim National Security Strategic Guidance view a resurgent Russia and rising China as the priority threats challenging American interests.1 The 2022 National Defense Strategy goes further, describing China as the pacing challenge and Russia as an acute threat to U.S. interests requiring a stronger deterrence.2 This shift from a focus on global terrorism and globalization to renewed concern over great power competition suggests a return to the zero-sum game mentality of the Cold War. This sentiment was reinforced in the wake of Russia’s brutal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in March 2022 many pundits and former policymakers have concluded that the world is now in the throes of a new Cold War with the potential to end up in another World War.3 However, the international context of today’s competition with Beijing and Moscow is fundamentally different from that of the twentieth cen- tury. Power, in all its manifestations, is much more diffuse, giving non- state actors and smaller regional states newfound leverage in influencing outcomes. This diffusion of power makes collective action infinitely more complex, even within established alliances and international institutions. Adding to the complexity of the current environment, climate change, infectious diseases, and other emerging transnational security chal- lenges cannot be addressed successfully without the assistance of China and ­ Russia as well as our traditional allies and partners. In addition, the
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