Russia, China and the United States: From Strategic Triangularism to the Postmodern Triangle Proliferation Papers, No. 32, Winter 2010 / Russie.Nei.Visions, n° 47, Février 2010
Over the past decade, there has been much talk about a new world order, in which American "unipolarity" would be superseded by more equal arrangements between the great powers. One such idea is a return to the Russia-China-US triangle. In truth, however, the time for such geopolitical schemes has long passed.
The contemporary international system is too complex and interdependent to be reduced to crude strategic balancing-a reality underlined by the global financial crisis. The most likely successor to US global leadership is not a "multipolar world order" dominated by the great powers, but a rough Sino-American bipolarity. This would bear little resemblance to the stark model of the cold war era, but instead foreshadow a new, post-modern triangle. The "third side" would not be Russia, but a mass of formal and informal networks involving nation-states, multilateral institutions, and non-state actors.
This paper is the product of cooperation between the Russia/NIS Center and the Security Studies Center, Ifri.
Bobo Lo is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for European Reform <www.cer.org.uk>. He was previously Head of the Russia and Eurasia Program at Chatham House and a Visiting Scholar at the Carnegie Moscow Center.