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The Challenge of Great-Power Competition: A Conversation with Ali Wyne

October 10, 2022

In the past few years, seemingly out of nowhere, the term “great-power competition” became a buzzword around the foreign policy circles and think tanks of Washington DC. It quickly attained a level of resonance comparable to such other foreign policy constructs as “containment” and “global war on terrorism.” Ali Wyne decided to delve into this issue and write a book about it.

“I wanted to figure out, what exactly is the United States competing over; what is it competing for?” said Wyne, a senior analyst with the Global Macro-Geopolitics Practice at the Eurasia Group. The result is America's Great-Power Opportunity: Revitalizing U.S. Foreign Policy to Meet the Challenges of Strategic Competition, published in July 2022.Wyne discussed his book during a Dean’s Speaker Series appearance at Johns Hopkins SAIS on October 10, 2022. He stated that, in dealing with such rival powers as Russia and China, the United States needs a balanced approach that does not swing too far toward either complacency or consternation. Otherwise, U.S. policy could become too defensive and reactive.SAIS Dean Jim Steinberg, who moderated the discussion, asked Wyne: “Is it sustainable for us to basically concede that we have to live in a world in which the Chinese model is tolerated, accepted on either a moral or a political level?”“A resurgent China is not a problem to be solved; it’s a condition to be managed,” Wyne responded. He noted that, in dealing with foreign policy challenges—whether the challenge is a resurgent China or an irredentist Russia—the options are very rarely between good, better, and best.“The options are usually [between] bad, worse, even worse, and apocalyptic,” he said. “That’s usually the gamut you’re talking about. You’re dealing with suboptimal choices, so there isn’t some silver bullet for managing a resurgent China. But I think it would be premature to suggest that [coexistence with China] is impossible, in part because the principal beneficiary of the U.S.-led international system established after World War II, next to the United States, is China.”In his work at the Eurasia Group, Ali Wyne focuses on US-China relations and great-power competition. He has served as a junior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a research assistant at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and a policy analyst at the RAND Corporation.Wyne is also a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council's Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security. He received dual bachelor's degrees in management science and political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a master’s in public policy from the Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.Wyne is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a David Rockefeller fellow with the Trilateral Commission, and a security fellow with the Truman National Security Project. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Foreign Policy for America, and on the Leadership Council of the American Pakistan Foundation.

Join SAIS Dean James B. Steinberg for a conversation with Ali Wyne, author and senior analyst with the Eurasia Group's Global Macro-Geopolitics practice. The conversation will focus on his new book America's Great-Power Opportunity: Revitalizing U.S. Foreign Policy to Meet the Challenges of Strategic Competition -- the first detailed critique of great-power competition as a foreign policy framework, warning it could render the United States defensive and reactive.