The Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) jointly organised with the Center for Security Studies (CSS) at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH) a Public Discussion entitled Strategic Trends 2018: “The US-Russia-China Triangle and the Future of European Security”. The discussion was moderated by Emily Munro, Deputy Head and Strategic Foresight Cluster Leader in the Emerging Security Challenges Programme at GCSP. The panel was composed of Dr Brian Carlson, Global Security Team (CSS), ETH Zurich and Dr John Thompson, Global Security Team (CSS), ETH Zurich. Dr Oliver Thränert, Head of Think Tank at the CSS, opened the event with an introduction to the Strategic Trends series, an annual publication of the CSS, and presented this year’s edition. The two contributors then presented their respective chapters.
Dr John Thompson focused on the constraints that the US is facing due to recent developments impacting its position. In this context he raised a number of key factors underlining his analysis. Firstly, he addressed constraints caused by changes in the international system. In this regard, Dr Thompson discussed the ‘forever war’ in which the US is engaged against terrorism and hostile regimes, and explained: “The US is a textbook example of imperial overstretch”. A further constraint is the impact of the US political system, which is affected by high polarization and tendencies towards extremism. As a result, US soft power is eroding.
Dr Brian Carlson highlighted constraints in geopolitical power competition, focusing on Russia and China in particular. While tensions between Russia and the US are rising, the relationship between China and the US is marked by the rise of China as a new global superpower. Amongst other reasons, these dynamics push Russia and China closer together. Dr Carlson pointed out that “the cooperation between both nations will likely continue in the future as they share common interests.” Nevertheless, this relationship will not result in an alliance of both nations. He provided an analysis of Chinese and Russian collaboration on the bilateral, regional and global levels.
The event ended with strong participation of the audience and an active Q&A round.