Understanding the Emerging Era of International Competition Through the Eyes of Others: Country Perspectives

The U.S. National Security Strategy is built around the expectation of a new era of intensifying international competition that the United States is expected to confront. Yet there is little rigorous analysis of what such an era might look like or how it might unfold. This report is the second describing a study in which researchers evaluated the emerging strategic competition, focusing on the relevant views and policies of key countries around the world (China, India, Russia, Germany, Japan, Brazil, Indonesia, France, United Kingdom, Iran, Australia, Mexico, Vietnam, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia). This report presents the findings from the second part of that overall study—an evaluation of how the competition looks through the eyes of other major powers, beginning with the primary challengers to the U.S.-led international order. The authors sought to deepen the thinking about the nature of the emerging strategic competition by focusing on the roles and perspectives of the states that will conduct it. This report describes four basic elements about each major actor. Four categories of countries are considered: challenger states; U.S. allies; global emerging democracies; and other key actors. The report examines the essential character of the actors; their goals, principles, and grand strategy; their views of Russia, China, and Iran; and their relations with the United States. It concludes with several general lessons from these perspectives. The primary research for this study was completed in 2019, with updates made in September 2020 to touch on the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, prior to the February 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The research reported here was commissioned and sponsored by the Director of Strategy, Concepts and Assessments, Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans and Requirements and conducted by the Strategy and Doctrine Program within RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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