Foreign Relations & International Law

The Lawfare Podcast: Brooks, Wohlforth, and Keohane on the Strength of the United States in International Politics

Matt Gluck, Stephen Brooks, William Wohlforth, Robert Keohane, Jen Patja
Tuesday, November 21, 2023, 8:00 AM
Is the international order unipolar or multipolar?

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At the end of the Cold War, there was no question that the United States was the most powerful country in the world—militarily, economically, and technologically. International relations scholars call this system, where one country is more powerful than all others, a unipolar one. But most analysts now argue that America’s decline over the last two decades coupled with a simultaneous Chinese rise, has ended the United States’s predominance in international politics, and that the world is no longer unipolar.

Stephen Brooks and William Wohlforth, international relations professors at Dartmouth College, made the argument in Foreign Affairs that while it’s true that the United States’s lead at the end of the Cold War has shrunk, the U.S. remains ahead of all other countries in terms of its military, economy, and technological production. Robert Keohane, Professor Emeritus of International Affairs at Princeton, responded to Brooks and Wohlforth’s article, discussing whether polarity matters for the prevention of a conflict between the U.S. and China. 

Lawfare Research Fellow Matt Gluck sat down with Brooks, Wohlforth, and Keohane for a wide-ranging conversation about what it means for a country to be the strongest of them all, the balance of power between the U.S. and China, what the War in Ukraine reveals about Russia’s global standing, and much more. 

Matt Gluck is a research fellow at Lawfare. He holds a BA in government from Dartmouth College.
Stephen Brooks is a professor of government at Dartmouth College.
William Wohlforth is the Daniel Webster Professor of Government at Dartmouth College.
Robert O. Keohane is Professor of International Affairs, Princeton University.
Jen Patja is the editor and producer of The Lawfare Podcast and Rational Security. She currently serves as the Co-Executive Director of Virginia Civics, a nonprofit organization that empowers the next generation of leaders in Virginia by promoting constitutional literacy, critical thinking, and civic engagement. She is the former Deputy Director of the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at James Madison's Montpelier and has been a freelance editor for over 20 years.

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