Durability of unipolarity

It seems that there are two “schools” around the question of durability: declinism and primacism. Whereas declinists assert that unipolarity is bound to end relatively soon, primacists reaffirm the long-term durability of a unipolar system.

In the crux of this dispute lies a deeper theoretical disagreement between balance-of-power realists, who believe in the stabilizing effects of power parity and hegemonic realists, who claim that power preponderance is the natural state of the international system and no change in the basic structure of international system will take place for the foreseeable future.

Waltz’s argument (1997) here is that the balance will be restored over time and “if a multipolar system emerges from the present unipolar one, realism will be vindicated.”

None of the three features regarding the unipolarity – durability, peace and strategy – has reached a consensus among scholars and researchers.

For the last 25 years this debate of durability has remained unresolved but now it seems that the solution may be found on this website.

Instead of trying to predict when the unipolarity will end, Monteiro explain why unipolarity may or may not be durable and specify the conditions under which its durability is more likely.

His argument is that durability depends on two variables: one systemic and one strategic. In the former, the question is of the expected costs of a war between the unipole and a potential challenger. In the latter, the question is of the grand strategy of the unipole.

Regarding the durability of unipolarity, Monteiro argues that:

  • “If the unipole implements a military strategy that either disengages from or tries to revise the status quo, or an economic strategy that attempts to contain rising powers’ economic growth, it gives the latter greater incentives to invest in additional military capabilities and put up a military challenge to the unipole. In other word, any strategy other than defensive accommodation will involve a competition costs.”
  • “The durability of unipolarity depends on the unipole’s implementing grand strategy of defensive accommodation towards rising powers, which is the only strategic option that will not entail a competition cost. In economic dimension, this requires that the unipole eschews any actions directed at containing major powers’ economic growth such as disrupting or limiting the flows of trade, investment, raw materials and so on.”
  • “In the military dimension, the unipole shall implement a strategy of defensive dominance in near regions by major powers maintaining the existing regional status quo.”
  • “Attempts by the preponderant power to contain the economic growth of major powers are likely to lead the latter to invest more of the current economic capacity in military capabilities. Therefore, economic containment of a major power is likely to undermine of the durability of a unipolar world. Putting differently, it is likely to fail before it has a chance to succeed.”

On this website, the durability and other main aspects of unipolarity, will be closely examined by analyzing latest available empirical data. Firm consideration will be given to how the unipole of the US has been affecting on the international system and on other major powers’ performance and vice versa in relation to each other.