The Perils of Bipolarity:
Subnational Conflict and the Rise of China
The United States emerged from the Cold War as the sole superpower in a unipolar international system. However, evidence suggests this unipolarity could soon change as a new bipolar system emerges with China as the next challenger superpower. Scholars debate the likelihood of future war with a rising China, each side arguing whether direct conflict is inevitable. Yet this debate does not consider what I suggest is the most probable future of US-China relations; while direct conflict with China is indeed a possibility, it remains remote. I offer a quite different theory, in which subnational conflict will rise once more as the United States engages in proxy conflicts with China over resource access in Africa. These conflicts will place great demands on all US instruments of power, as involvement in counterinsurgency operations in Africa trends upward. Bipolarity and renewed proxy conflict will require rethinking of long-term national and military strategies focused primarily on large-scale interstate wars; this will impact defense acquisition and military doctrine as US strategic focus shifts from conventional conflict to counterinsurgency operations.