The Tripolar Strategic Balance in 2030

By Linton F. Brooks Center for Global Security Research Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory


Assessing the tripolar balance in 2030 is particularly difficult because of the uncertainty of the future U.S. strategic approach, which could depend heavily on the results of the November 2020 election. It is also difficult because it is important to consider the entire strategic posture and not look at the tripolar balance in purely nuclear terms. Even this may not be the most important factor. Whether our strategic deterrent will be adequate in 2030 may depend on the nature of Russian and Chinese leadership and on China’s overall strategic approach.

In what follows I argue that the greatest threat to the United States in 2030 and beyond does not come from disparities in force structure. Rather, the risk arises from a possible failure to deal with policy innovations in both Russia and China. The Russian case is immediate and reasonably well understood. China poses different and longer-term challenges. But both require thinking that does not now appear to be going on within the United States. I also argue that the trilateral situation between now and 2030 is best thought of and managed as a set of bilateral relationships and that the convergence between Russia and China in politically opposing the United States is unlikely to lead to significant military cooperation. READ MORE (PAGE 90)>>>