This report assesses trends in armed conflict, the incidence of which has declined in recent decades. Key political, economic, and strategic factors, including the deterrent effect of the U.S. military, suggest this decline is likely to continue. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
This report describes the key principles of the Concert of Europe, analyzes its effects, and draws implications for future U.S. policy toward the international order. The Concert was a system of informal rules that were both recognized and practiced between the great powers of Europe beginning in 1814, after the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. In the Concert’s early years, regular consultation among these actors and a norm against unilateral attempts at aggrandizement on the continent fostered great-power peace and territorial stability in Europe. U.S. policymakers can learn from the strengths of the Concert system, which included accepting the realities of unequal power between its members and developing flexible processes for resolving disputes. The Concert’s stabilizing influence on great-power relations diminished by the outbreak of the Crimean War in 1853, partly because of disagreements about how to respond to revolutionary movements within states throughout Europe. As the United States considers future policies toward the post-World War II, liberal international order, it should develop agreed upon processes for resolving deep disagreements before they become insurmountable. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
Since 1945, the United States has pursued its global interests by building and maintaining various alliances, economic institutions, security organizations, political and liberal norms, and other tools — often collectively referred to as the international order. In this first report of a series on the emerging international order, RAND researchers offer several lenses to understand the character of the existing post–World War II liberal order. In addition to outlining the broad scope of the issue and the tools through which the order affects state behavior, the report categorizes and outlines the causal mechanisms that lead states to strengthen and work within the order. The report then reviews how U.S. policymakers have consistently viewed the international order as a key means of achieving U.S. interests in the world. Finally, the report concludes with potential questions for a research agenda that explores what type of international order — and, thus, what type of world — the United States should seek over the coming decade. [Note: contains copyrighted material].