The Power Transition Theory

Great Essays
World War 1 and our Multipolar World: Are we on track for another Great War?

Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has been able to enjoy being the sole great power within the international community. In a world where multiple states are beginning to increase their power economically and militarily while the United States’ power is beginning to decrease, one could point to the onset of World War 1 to asses the likelihood of war occurring today. While there are slight differences to the modern world, one could not deny the similarities of the environment within the international community. The similarities heavily outweigh the differences, with the security dilemma becoming more acute day by day between the United States and China,
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While almost everyone can see that China is growing more powerful in the world and could possibly pass the United States as the greatest superpower if they continue the trends they are on now, nobody is certain if the transition will be a peaceful one or something like what was seen in 1914. With a declining Great Britain and a rising Germany that was not satisfied with the status quo, one can begin to see glaring similarities to the current situation between the United States and China. A major issue in most transitions of power that is likely to cause war is uncertainty of what will come when the transition actually begins taking place. A confusing transition does not bode well for the likelihood of war, as a major question for matters of war or peace while a transition is occurring is how the system will evolve (Gartzke 374). The period right before World War 1 is in no way a time that was without confusion with the failure of heads of states to make clear decisions. As it is now, nobody can be certain what will happen when China catches the United States. We saw what happened in 1914 when Germany felt it was strong enough to begin war in Europe. While many recent assessments of China’s satisfaction with the status quo have attempted to pursue an optimistic outcome, all one has to do is look at the enormous growth of China’s military expenditures as well as their behavior towards regional institutions to see the truth. China is dissatisfied with the current structure of international power, much like Germany in 1914, and that points us towards an answer of believing that a peaceful transition is very unlikely for China and the United States (Lim 296). Germany before World War 1 first began with the goal of attaining regional hegemony over Europe, the same is said about actions that China takes today in the Asian region. Germany, who was the rising power before World War 1, made a

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