Research: Great Power Competition

Fall 2022 (Research):

Great Power Competition

Each year, the National Speech and Debate Association releases a series of debate topics for students to debate at contests. For the Winter Session (November and December), the topic asks us to consider the desirability of the United States strategy of “Great Power Competition,” which prioritizes projecting strength and containment of rivals rather than seeking cooperation with them. The documents and information contained here are designed to help students prepare for the upcoming contests. 

The formal topic language is as follows:
The United States strategy of Great Power Competition produces more benefits than harms.

For more information about the upcoming contests, and how you might participate, please use the “events calendar (see above),” which will be updated soon.

[Research] November/December 2022: Great Power Competition

This debate topic is for the public forum debate competitions taking place in the months of November and December:
The U.S. strategy of “Great Power Competition” is desirable.
Note: The “Free” evidence packet is currently in development. I am adding a ‘working’ copy for our students to get an early peak at it. [fyi]

World map with chess pieces with flags of Russia, China, and the United States, photo by theasis/Getty Images
Image: The Need to Think More Clearly About ‘Great-Power Competition’ (Rand, 2019-02-11)

Topic: U.S. strategy of “Great Power Competition” is desirable (or undesirable).
ex. The United States’ strategy of Great Power Competition produces more benefits than harm.


Great Power Competition [(Explained)]: Today, the United States and China, often with Russia at their side, are competing to shape security architectures, as well as norms and practices worldwide, including trade and investment regimes and the development and regulation of new technological infrastructures. These frictions will play out over decades, not only in Beijing, Washington, and Moscow, but in Africa and Europe, the Arctic, outer space, and cyberspace. — Wilson Center, Last Updated: September 27, 2022


Global China: Assessing China’s growing role in the world,
Brookings Institute, February 22, 2022 [4 min]
Note: Competition-minded students should read the articles too.

Indo-Pacific Islands: Caught in Between U.S.-China Competition,
Carnegie Endowment, September 2022 [3 min]

Testify with Mvemba Phezo Dizolele — Russian Influence and Activity in Africa,
Center for Strategic & International Studies, July 15, 2022 [3 min]
Note: Mvemba Phezo Dizolele, Senior Fellow and Director of the Africa Program.

Counterterrorism and great-power competition,
Ambassador Nathan Sales, Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council, September 7, 2021 [2 min]
Note: Please read the paragraph, and then scroll down a bit to watch the video.

Is the UN Useless in an Age of Great Power Competition?,
Foreign Policy Association, September 26, 2022 [2 min]


Ukraine Crisis Kicks Off New Superpower Struggle Among U.S., Russia, and China,
Wall Street Journal, February 23, 2022 [PDF]

With Us or With Them? In a New Cold War, How About Neither,
New York Times, April 24, 2022 [PDF]

The growing danger of great-power conflict,
The Economist, January 25, 2018 [PDF]

Great-Power Competition is a Recipe for Disaster,
Foreign Policy, April 1, 2021 [PDF]
Author: Emma Ashford, senior fellow, Reimagining U.S. Grand Strategy program at the Stimson Center.


[VIDEO too] DEF: Great Power Competition,
Defense Acquisition University, LA: October 2022 [5+ min]
Great Power Competition is the contest between the United States and its adversaries to shape security architectures, as well as norms and practices worldwide, including trade and investment regimes and the development and regulation of new technological infrastructures. These frictions will play out over decades, not only in national capitals and countries, but also in outer space, and cyberspace.

Great Power Competition: Is Great Power Competition a Constructive Framework for Formulating U.S. Policies in sub-Saharan Africa?,
Center for Strategic & International Studies, July 7, 2020
Note: This is a debate among top experts. I cannot yet find a transcript. Might be helpful to watch this! I had trouble following the arguments from the first two speakers — they are assuming things not yet proven and are making most of their arguments by implication. This is common for diplomats to use passive language that is meant to be a non-offensive manner of speaking. UGH!

[PODCAST] Great Power Competition [30+ min],
Center for Strategic and International Studies, January 15, 2020
Host Kathleen Hicks moderates a discussion on Great Power Competition with Michael Mazarr (RAND Corporation), Oriana Skylar Mastro (Georgetown University, American Enterprise Institute), Chris Preble (CATO Institute), and Kori Schake (International Institute for Strategic Studies).

Navigating great power competition – A serious planning start,
Bruce Jones, Stanford Professor, and Fellow, Yale Law School, Brookings Institute, August 3, 2022

Understanding Competition Great Power Rivalry in a Changing International Order: Concepts/Theories,
Dr. Michael J. Mazarr, Senior Political Scientist, RAND Corporation, March 2022

[VIDEO] Global China: US-China relations through the lens of great power competition,
Brookings Institution, June 23, 2022 [60 min]

[VIDEO] The National Defense Strategy and great power competition,
Brookings Institution, July 14, 2022 [80+ min]
Note: Mark T. Esper is a top expert in GPC!

[VIDEO] Great Power Competition and Cyber Conflict,
Council on Foreign Relations, January 7, 2020 [70+ min]

Counterterrorism and great-power competition,
Ambassador Nathan Sales, Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council, September 7, 2021
Note: Ambassador Nathan Sales is a nonresident senior fellow with the Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative and Middle East Programs at the Atlantic Council. Prior to this, he served at the U.S. Department of State as Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights (acting). Concurrently, Ambassador Sales served as Ambassador-at-Large and Coordinator for Counterterrorism. He was the principal adviser to the Secretary of State on international counterterrorism matters and led the State Department’s Counterterrorism Bureau. He was also the Special Presidential Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, leading U.S. relations with the 83-member Coalition and efforts to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS in the Middle East and around the world. Before joining the State Department, Ambassador Sales was Of Counsel at the law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP (formerly Bancroft PLLC). Ambassador Sales was also previously the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and served at the Office of Legal Policy at the US Department of Justice.

CON: Confrontation Poses Deadly Risks (Refusing to cooperate = dangerous)
S: Foreign Policy Magazine, April 1, 2021
It’s easy to dismiss this kind of rhetoric as silly, but it also carries substantial danger. For one thing, the focus on competition masks a whole series of underlying assumptions about the international system and America’s role in it. Washington’s policy community appears convinced that we are headed for a more dangerous world, one in which the United States must push back against the perceived aggression of states like China and Russia. Though articles almost always include an obligatory aside—that cooperation with China on climate change is a must!—the frame is almost uniformly confrontational.

PRO-01: Helping Prevent HR Abuse
1. Stopping Human Rights Abuse
2. Challenging Dictators/Oppressors

PRO-02: Helping Prevent Wars
1. Standing Up with Deterrence
2. Credibility Requires Projecting Strength

CON-01: Harming Global Security
1. US Gets Overwhelmed (China + Russia)
2. Harming Our Allies (ex. NATO or Allies involved)

CON-02: Harming The Economy
1. Harms Our Economy
2. Hurting Our Current Trade

They said… GPC = Threatens Global Security
We say… GPC = Does NOT Threaten Global Security
1. First… Standing Up with Deterrence
2. Also… Credibility Requires Projecting Strength
3. Finally… x
Therefore… GPC does NOT Threaten Global Security

PRO-01: Protects Relationships
A. China’s Islands (with Weapons) = Threat to Allies
B. U.S. Uses “Freedom of Navigation” to Challenge China

PRO-02: Protecting Global Security
A. Cooperation Favors China
B. U.S. Must Project Strength (ex. Gathering Allies)

CON-01: Harming Global Security
A. Risk of Nuclear Escalation (ex. Russia & China)
B. Provoking No. Korea Risks Nuclear War

CON-02: Threatening Our Economy
A. Risking Trade (ex. 100’s Billions at Risk!)
B. Harms to American Companies (ex. Apple)


Bill Eddy,
714.655.8135 (I prefer text)
When contacting me, please include your name and class information (day/time). Thanks

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