[…]It’s easy to engage in pre-season speculation about the future of U.S. power and the international order. But, ultimately it is a distraction. Understanding how the world is changing in terms of GDP growth is important but it’s not the same as understanding how the game of strategy is changing or how to play it. The real question that foreign policy experts must grapple with is this: how does the rise of the rest change the strategic competition for international influence.
There is little doubt that this will be a new strategic environment. The United States is economically interdependent with its only potential great power competitor, China. That is new. America’s allies in Asia are increasingly dependent upon China for their economic growth even as they seek to deepen their security ties with the United States. That is new. The United States will probably be more of a status quo power than it used to be. That too is fairly new.
These changes, and others, will transform how states compete in the coming decades. The state that masters these dynamics will have a much greater chance of coming out on top. For the United States this means understanding how the liberal international order must adapt and change. For others, it may mean something different. But one thing is shared: the state that spends its time and energy building a crystal ball to pick the winner will probably lose.
“Winning the 21st Century” by Thomas Wright, GT2030.com