The rise of China as the most important challenger of the US primacy in global politics and the revival of Russia in European and Eurasian geopolitics in recent years appear to have brought back the centuries-old question of how to manage great power relations in times of global power transitions.
Equally relevant is the question of how the established powers of the liberal world order, namely the United States and EU members, should adjust their position to the status-aspirants of the non-western world.
Are we heading towards a new world order in which solutions to global problems require the continuation of the US-led western hegemony; the formation of a dyadic cooperative relationship between the current hegemon, the United States, and the future hegemon, China in a G-2 format; a concert of great powers; a world government under the United Nations or any other international organization; the institution of a global governance structure in which all state and non-state actors engage each other through multiple platforms and at different levels; or a chaotic environment that would eventually engender a global order whose details are still known to no one?
This short essay argues that the years ahead will likely witness the emergence of a ‘concert of great powers’ as the most applicable and realisable form of power management. First, similar to the concert of Europe during the 19th century, a global ‘concert of great powers’ requires the approximation of material power capabilities among the existing and future great powers. Should any of them, such as the United States during the most of the 20th century, remain in a league of its own outstripping all other great powers in terms of hard and soft power capabilities as well as the adoption of a truly global vision, then the global system would continue to evince hegemonic characteristics.