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Unformatted text preview: than ours, and this could alter the global distribution of power. These trends could in the long term produce
a multi-polar world. If U.S. policymakers fail to act and other powers continue to grow, it is not a question of whether
but when a new international order will emerge. The closing of the gap between the United States and its rivals
could intensify geopolitical competition among major powers, increase incentives for local powers to play major
powers against one another, and undercut our will to preclude or respond to international crises because of the higher risk of escalation. The stakes are high. In modern history, the longest period of peace among the great powers has
been the era of U.S. leadership. By contrast, multi-polar systems have been unstable, with their competitive dynamics
resulting in frequent crises and major wars among the great powers. Failures of multi-polar international systems
produced both world wars. #page#American retrenchment could have devastating consequences. Without an
American security blanket, regional power...
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