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The Return of Great Power Rivalry

Democracy versus Autocracy from the Ancient World to the U.S. and China

Matthew Kroenig



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Oxford University Press
01 May 2020
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. Brilliant and engagingly written, The Return of Great Power Rivalry argues that 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 actually 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. A vitally important book for anyone concerned about the future of global geopolitics, The Return of Great Power Rivalry provides both an innovative way of thinking about power in international politics and an optimistic assessment of the future of American global leadership.
By:   Matthew Kroenig
Imprint:   Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 245mm,  Width: 170mm,  Spine: 30mm
Weight:   544g
ISBN:   9780190080242
ISBN 10:   0190080248
Pages:   272
Publication Date:   01 May 2020
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active
Also by This Author Preface Introduction PART I. Democracy Versus Autocracy Chapter 1. The Democratic Advantage in Theory Chapter 2. The Autocratic Advantage? PART II. The Democratic Advantage in History Chapter 3. The Democratic Advantage by the Numbers Chapter 4. Athens, Sparta, and Persia Chapter 5. The Roman Republic, Carthage, and Macedon Chapter 6. The Venetian Republic and its Rivals Chapter 7. The Dutch Republic and the Spanish Empire Chapter 8. Great Britain and France Chapter 9. The United Kingdom and Germany Chapter 10. The United States and the Soviet Union PART III. The Democratic Advantage Today Chapter 11. The Russian Federation Chapter 12. The People's Republic of China Chapter 13. The United States of America PART IV. The Democratic Advantage in the Future Chapter 14. Implications for American Leadership Bibliography

Matthew Kroenig is Associate Professor in the Department of Government and the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and Deputy Director of the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He is the author or editor of seven books, including The Logic of American Nuclear Strategy and Exporting the Bomb: Technology Transfer and the Spread of Nuclear Weapons.

Reviews for The Return of Great Power Rivalry: Democracy versus Autocracy from the Ancient World to the U.S. and China

In this age of widespread pessimism about the future of democracy, this book makes a powerful argument: democracy is not only better for the people, but may have the edge against autocracies in the coming great power rivalry. It is an erudite, well-argued and uplifting book. * Daron Acemoglu,, Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and co-author of Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty * We already know that democracies are more humane and usually better governed than autocracies are. But despots like Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping continue to claim that their regimes are better at delivering national security and greatness in the global arena. Matthew Kroenig confronts the autocrats' claims head-on and demolishes them. In remarkably accessible and delightful written text, he mines social science theory and two-and-a-half millennia of history to show that democracies are more powerful-not just fairer and better governed-than autocracies are. At a time when the global struggle between democracy and autocracy is reaching a critical new stage, this book promises to touch nerves and influence minds from Washington to Moscow to Beijing. Policy-relevant social science at its best! * M. Steven Fish, Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley and author of Democracy Derailed in Russia: The Failure of Open Politics * In The Return of Great Power Rivalry, Professor Kroenig explains why democracies have prevailed over their autocratic rivals in the past and outlines how the United States and its democratic allies can better compete with the more sophisticated autocratic challenges we face today. This is an important book on the defining issue of our time with real implications for policymakers and scholars alike. * General James L. Jones Jr., UMSC (Ret.), Former National Security Advisor to US President Barack Obama * Professor Kroenig makes a powerful and provocative case that the world's democracies, and especially the United States, enjoy deep and lasting advantages over their autocratic rivals. He brings to this investigation a rare combination of first-rate scholarship and a lively prose that all readers will find engaging and informative. An important work for our times. * Robert Kagan, Stephen & Barbara Friedman Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution, and New York Times bestselling author of The World America Made * In Return of Great Power Rivalry, Matthew Kroenig, a rising star among the next generation of strategic thinkers, brilliantly counters the current political narrative of autocratic ascendancy and democratic decline. Drawing on historical examples of great power competition between autocracies and democracies from Ancient Greece to the Cold War, he highlights democracy's enduring, structural advantages. By underscoring the importance of strong political institutions, his reflections serve as a handbook for contemporary leaders on how to prevail in a new, and more complex, era of great power competition. * Fredrick Kempe, President and CEO, the Atlantic Council, and New York Times bestselling author of Berlin 1961: The Most Dangerous Place on Earth *

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